Saturday, December 19, 2009

Updating The Background For The Holidays

Learning a little code, so cross your fingers for me. Here is the background I'm hoping to upload!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

One-Uping the Husband... And Then Some

So I get this text message about a week or two ago... "UR TOASTER CAUGHT FIRE. U NEED A NEW ONE. WHILE UR OUT, PICK UP DETERGENT AND LAUNDRY SOAP." Roughly rephrased, but that was mostly it. So I call the Hubby, and he says, "Um... YEAH, about the toaster oven... well, I found the fire extinguisher, and put it out, but yeah, it's gone."

That was a Thursday. Two days later, a beautiful late Saturday afternoon, apparently, I decided to get even. And then some.

Short Version: Ka-BOOM!

Long Version:
Well... It was my last fun run of the day at an autocross. I had better times than most of the boys in my class, C-Street-Prepared -- okay, I had better times than ALL of the boys in my class -- and I was really close to both boys in C-Stock, my previous class before we installed the new radiator. (Yeah, that "improvement" moved me to a different class.) So I decided to go for a couple of fun runs after the event and get my time down a little further... and I did. I got a clean (no cones) run in 32.8 seconds! (0.68 seconds behind the guy in first in the other class, by the way.) It was awesome!... until I came across the line, and suddenly the engine started making some weird noise.

The guy who's been coaching me, immediately motioning me stop. I stopped the car, popped the hood. Apparently to every guy within hearing distance, it was like a homing beacon, and they all came running. Four of them were standing in front of my poor Miata, shaking their heads. (Not a good sign. EVER.) On of the guys, Joe says, "Oh yeah. Cylinder Number Four." Then he looks up at me and says, "Sorry. It's toast." Then he adds, "Don't worry, I did this same exact thing last week. We could probably get you a new engine this week, and have you back on the road by the weekend." Geoff, my coach, says, "Yeah, I could probably pick it up tomorrow, get it to my place and get bearing by Monday." So they got me to wheel it into a parking spot at the Orangeburg Mall where we were holding the event, I locked it up, and that's exactly what happened. Crazy, right?

I called the next day, just to see if he had gotten by the mall to get it, and he says, "Oh yeah, I got it. I took it apart this morning to get a look at what happened. Joe was right. Cylinder Number Four." Awesome. Just awesome. I managed to blow my husband's daily driver to pieces.

But I can't imagine getting more lucky. Half of the guys there had car trailers already, and Orangeburg isn't that far away from Lexington, where both of my aunts live. Additionally, I got a diagnoses in less time than it took for me to get the car to come to a complete halt. Not only that, these guys managed to figure out what was wrong, the parts I needed, how to get them economically, PROCURE all the parts (except for a head gasket) and had it ready to put back together before the week was over. Not only that, he made some "adjustments" to my flywheel on a lathe he had in his shop. It was really cool. Geoff himself is freaking amazing and awesome and wonderful. Seriously.

Now, mind you, I don't have the car back. When I left, they were waiting on the head gasket. So I haven't talked to anyone since I left for Thanksgiving vacation. Not only that, I'm sitting on my in-laws' couch in Iowa, and my phone is dead. Even if it weren't dead, to paraphrase, "I get NO BARS in this tiny little town in the middle-of-nowhere-Iowa!" NONE. Not even a BLIP. There's supposed to be a hot-spot for my service at the Barnes & Noble, but my phone died moments before I got over there. Of course. And I keep forgetting to charge the damn thing up. However, I should be able to do that tonight, get the number and call on the Hubby's phone. Hopefully.

Anyway, so that's the story. I guess I'm even with the Hubby for my toaster oven... and then some, I think.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Coma Recovery!

So I gave up my weightloss goal, right? Perfectly timed RIGHT BEFORE THANKSGIVING, right??? Yeah. Exactly. Oh, and what did I volunteer to do? Yeah. Make dessert. Go ahead and guess what happened? Yup. I made two. Two delicious cheesecakes after I made cheesecake just LAST WEEK for the guy who's helping put back together my engine. (Oh, did I mention I blew up my car? No? Another post then, promise!) And not just ANY cheesecake. One Paula Deen recipe. You ever notice that all of her recipes (and The Barefoot Contessa's) usually include four sticks of butter? Yeah. But damn, it was delicious. But how could Apple Pie Cheesecake NOT be delicious? I mean, seriously, go ahead and read that again without drooling: APPLE PIE CHEESECAKE. See?

The second cheesecake? Pumpkin, also a tribute to the traditional desserts. I figured I couldn't get too out-of-the-box here, being a Traditional holiday, and all. Sometimes it's better not to mess around with a proven thing. Which is probably why we always have turkey... Dressing/stuffing directly from the bird? How could it be any better?

My mother-in-law did a great job as always, especially considering her normal partner-in-crime went to California this year to spend the holiday with her kids. But I think my favorite part is always the stuffing from the bird. I really wonder why it's called dressing in some areas. Especially since it's never really on the OUTSIDE of the bird. But it's still delicious, no matter what you call it. My family always have a HUGE get-together way out in the woods on the family property. Somewhere between forty and sixty people usually show up, which means it ends up like your wedding day: you see about five minutes of everyone, but never actually get to just hang out and spend quality time. My in-laws, on the other hand, spend the whole holiday (all four days, not just the three hours before and after the meal, together, and all in one house, so it's really nice and cozy.

The downside of Thanksgiving for me: it's in Iowa. And Iowa, if you have never been there, usually looks like how I imagine the tundra of Alaska: completely frozen solid and covered in white stuff. (Fact: when we returned to their house after visiting relatives in Missouri, the top of the Jeep's hood scraped along a wall of snow, and my father-in-law actually said, "WOW. We hardly got any snow at all!") Not that I have anything against snow. In fact, snow is pretty cool itself, especially since, being from the South, we don't get a lot. But it's still freezing, and the wind is pretty vicious. The few times I've been here in summer, it was like a wind tunnel, and it never let up.

However this year, my in-laws installed a hot tub. A FREAKING HOT TUB WITH MASSAGE JETS!!! It's the most wonderful thing ever. It even has massage jets for your feet. So the last few nights, I've spent outside in the thirty-degree night (fairly warm for Iowa at this time of year, honestly) sitting in the dark in the steamy hot water up to my nose, staring up at the stars while the steam billows up into these columns above my head, then disappears into the night sky. It's amazingly calming. The jets are so strong I have to wedge myself into the seat so I don't get shot out across the tub. And I don't have to badger anyone to rub my neck or shoulders or back or anything, and I even get that weird little place just above my tailbone massaged. Again: freaking fantastic. The really interesting part: the deck on the way to the hot tub was covered in ice from where we had gotten water on it, making the trip into the hot tub just a little thrilling.

But yeah, so Thanksgiving Dinner (turkey + stuffing + gravy + rolls + mashed potatoes + corn + sweet potatoes) plus Beer plus Wine plus Dessert (Cheesecake*2) plus HOT TUB = Three Day Coma. This year, Thanksgiving has been really stupendous. We can definitely make this a repeat experience.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sleep Update

I was going to say how wonderful it was the past few weeks with my daughter sleeping through the night... and then last night happened. Again, it wasn't as bad as it has been -- although I could be completely wrong about this, considering it was the hubby who got up with her all night last night. But it wasn't like he had much of a choice, since the little brat kicked me out when I went up to check on her, and screamed NO!!!, GO!!!, and DADDY!!! at me on my way out the door. And I absolutely cannot sleep when she screams like that. It honestly sounds like she's being beaten and stabbed up there, yet when I go up, she doesn't want anything to do with ME; she wants DADDY. Yippee. For both of us.

Now, while we were in the middle of the last sleep crisis, I made an appointment with a Pediatric Sleep Clinic. (Are you surprised too?) Unfortunately, like all specialists, they were booked out until the end of December. If this keeps up, of course I'll keep the appointment, but what about if it stays this weird intermittent thing? There's no rhyme or reason to it, that I can tell. And I know what I hear from everyone: consistency is the key! And we do keep a fairly stable schedule during the mornings. It's the nap where it gets all wacky.

It's like Russian roulette napping. An hour? Two hours? Three hours? Forty minutes? Twelve-thirty? Two? Four o'clock? There's no telling with this kid. Sometimes she passes out cold on my way home from the gym; sometimes she's up for two more hours, and going gangbusters. So I never know how the afternoon will go, or when the nap will take place. Even when I know she's sleepy and tired, it still may or may not happen. I've driven her around for miles before, and nothing. I've also put her in the car at 11am before, gone back inside to get my keys or shoes, and come back out to her snoring away in the backseat.

So, as of yesterday, I was going to say that things were going great... but now that we had another relapse, I'm not sure how long this is going to last or how bad it will be.

There's also a nice hole apparently in her room, because on Sunday, I got a text message saying that there was a massive leak in the ceiling. I got home, and apparently water had dripped down between the seams of the drywall sheets, and there was a water line halfway across her ceiling, and the drywall was mushy. I called my neighbor over to look at it, and he just pushed a finger straight up through it and into the insulation, which was soaking wet. Of course. There's no water lines and no water heater up there, at least, so that does narrow it down... but this is only one of several leaks we've gotten over the last year, so our ten year roof may be on its last legs. Again. Great. Fantastic. WHEEEE.

And then there was the exorcist-like happening on Sunday, where water just began to randomly drip out of the light fixture below the upstairs bathroom. At least now we have a good idea as to why that light went out.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Alright, So It's Offical: I Give Up

At least with actively trying to get the weight off. Because NOTHING I have tried works. NOTHING. I get all kinds of advice, and have now compiled a short list:
  • You need to eat LESS.
  • You need to eat MORE.
  • You need to watch your snacking.
  • You need to lift weights.
  • You need to add more aerobic activity.
  • You need to eat less carbs.
  • You need to have your thyroid checked.
  • Blah blah blah blah...
Yeah. The short list. Okay, so I've done all of these things. And more of course. But nothing seems to work. I can skimp by on nothing, and it doesn't help. I eat more, and still nothing. I lift weights, I did step aerobics, the treadmill, the track, the machines, the stairmaster (for which my back has its revenge on me if I use it for more than 15 minutes -- I found out the hard way), I cut back on all carbs, cut back on snacks, cut OUT snacks, had my thyroid checked. You name it. Nothing. Just hanging out here at 136. And to be fair, 136 is a fine number, but that doesn't make my wedding rings fit again or my pants. Both of which I miss terribly.

And people will tell me, "Oh, but I'm sure it's MUSCLE." Honey, if this were ALL muscle, I would look like a GODDESS. I mean seriously. And my pants would probably fit again. But it isn't, and they don't.

SO. Here's the new plan: there IS no plan. No calorie counting, no diets, nothing except trying to eat healthy, not go overboard, and keep my activity level at least where it is. I have turned my attentions to another goal, another obsession -- Ihor, my Ukrainian drill sergeant, and trying to not feel like a redheaded stepchild every time I come out of my dance lesson. (If you're wondering how to promounce that, think an internet prostitute, adn I'm sure you're work it out correctly.) He asked me to compete in this year's Harvest Moon Classic. I said no, mostly because it's ungodly expensive -- starting with the $300 entry fee, and the $60 dance fee for a minute and a half for each dance. (Keep in mind this is one of the CHEAP competitions.) But then I went to watch, and realized where he wants me to be. And I'm nowhere near that good.

I also realized that if my technique were better, he would spend less time drilling me on basics and more time on teaching me cool stuff. And that would also be a better use of my time with him. So what I've been doing is going to the gym as much as I can, and working on drilling basic CRAP over and over until I either "get it" or get sick of it. But it's really hard to get sick of samba music. Or salsa. Or cha-cha. Rumba too. Ooooh, the TANGO. Did I mention waltz? Much better than watching Rachel Ray or The Andy Griffith Show (no, I'm not kidding) for the five-hundredth time while my eyes glaze over on the elliptical. Or while going around the track for the eighth time, only to realize that's only four miles. Much better use of my allotted nursery time, I think.

I can also work on my posture -- on which I get lectured on endlessly. Okay, it's less of a lecture and more of a surprise sharp poke to the ribs with a Ukrainian behind me scaring the crap out of me yelling, "SHAPE UP!!" It's not awful, but it's really irritating. And it'd be really nice to have my instructor not say after a dance, "That was GREAT! Except your posture was TERRIBLE."

My arm styling too is fairly lousy, since I'm terrified to do anything with my arms. I don't know why, I just am. Oh, and I'm not exaggerating. One of the other teachers had me for a one-time lesson, and his words were, "Your arm styling? It is terrible." I think that was about two years ago or so. A little less. So at least now, I can take some time to work on it and get more comfortable with it.

I think I have also discovered my inner hippie. I started poi or "spinning." I picked it up a little in martial arts in college and always liked it. Then a few weeks ago, I saw a group of performers called Thee Inner Cirkus at a bellydancing show, and loved it! So I picked up some practice poi and have spent a few days this week and last trying not to give myself a concussion or brain damage. I may even start hoola-hooping. The hoop girls were FANTASTIC. They could do such amazing things with a hoola-hoop. It was insane.

So there you have it. I'm dropping one obsession to spend more time on another. I don't know what it'll do for me, if it'll help me accomplish previous goals, but hey, at least I'll have a good time with it. So anyway, we'll see how it goes. Hopefully my husband won't kill me when I ask for a $30 "professional" hoola-hoop.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Sleep War Continues

I guess if you're one of Facebook friends, you can guess what this is about.

I should actually just re-post the blog entry from July 1st right here. It's the same story with just more screaming. At least then, she would at least stop screaming when we got upstairs. Now she just keeps going until we're sitting down with her, and she's actually back in her bed.

We're hoping she's starting to calm down, since last night she only woke up twice -- meaning that the hubby and I actually got more than four hours of sleep in ONE night. I think we may have even possibly achieved six hours, but I'm not really sure.

I'm really starting to understand why I've been so slow to get moving in the mornings lately, why it's so hard to get to the gym. Especially these last two weeks. I don't mind being sleep deprived for a day or two, honestly. And usually when it happens, it's just because I had something that caught my interest and consumed me while I sort of forget that whole am deadline -- namely, when Cutezilla wakes up. But these past few weeks, I'm too tired to do much of anything during the day or night. and when I do end up doing something at night, it's usually just trying to reclaim some time for myself; I almost always pay for it on the back end, when Cutezilla gets up. If I'm lucky, we don't end up yelling at each other because I'm too tired and burnt out to deal with anyone, much less my toddler tyrant, who, while she is very sweet and loving and smart, is also very demanding when it comes to her activities and the necessity of Mommy as company. You know, since no one else is around.

What has been nice, is that some people are coming around to understanding. My babysitter, after spending an evening with Cutezilla in full grump-mode, said upon our arrival back to the house, "Boy, that kid sure has some lungs." Most people don't see her in Mr. Hyde mode. She's cute, she's sweet, and perfectly adorable, a perfect Dr. Jekyll... until you put her in bed. Then it's all on for the All-Night-Scream-A-Thon.

I honestly think this is some sort of separation anxiety. This fight with sleep started back when the hubby had to leave for work for five days. I took her Cuteness down to honor the grandparents with her presence, and instead of passing out cold for my mother in a delightful eight minutes flat, she fought going to bed for almost the entire visit. Two words: NOT FUN. Especially with my dad recovering from surgery, and grumpy as hell, because we were all cooped up in the house due to recovery and rain. Which means he was driving my mother insane, and I ended up playing referee. But at least they weren't hen-pecking ME.

But it's two weeks later, and like clockwork, at 12:45am, the screaming begins. One of us goes up, gets her settled back down, we wait until she's out again, come back downstairs, get all cozy, and then BAM. Round Two begins. Repeat process until dawn. Preferably until fifteen minutes before hubby has to get up to go to work. Or at least that's what the rules seem to be, according to the 'Zilla. And then she gets up an hour or two later, happy and bouncing through the kitchen.

What worries me is that the hubby will be traveling again in a few weeks -- NINE days. I really have no idea what that's going to do to us, if this thing really is separation anxiety. But I guess we'll see.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Okay, So I'm Sure There's A Good Reason

For not blogging. I'm sure it was... um... well... hmm. Er, let's just assume there was and just be happy that I got back around to this, shall we?

Address of The State: nothing much has changed. The summer break with no Mother's Day Out (heretofore known as MDO) went better than expected, and I did not actually lose what's left of my mind. Not that anyone can tell, but hey, I'll call it a success. Cutezilla is doing well, and her vocabulary gets bigger by the day. Including starting to call her daddy by his actual NAME. We were sitting in the bathtub, and I called him to get something for me, and the next thing I know, Cutezilla yells, "KWISS? KWISS!?!" Plain as day. The hubby's response?

"Well that puts her 11 years up on the sass scale."

In other news, I bought a miata. Okay, the hubby bought it FOR me, I guess. Which still works. So I drive it to the grocery store after he gets back from work. You know. The whole quarter mile. We haven't been able to make it to an autocross lately, and I think it's been getting to me. I got a speeding ticket last night, then found out my tags were expired, and that apparently, I hadn't paid my taxes. YIP-FREAKING-EE. So I tore the house apart looking for the paperwork, and yeah, lo and behold, there it was. The upside? I finally went through the mail that's been sitting on the dining room table since [apparently] before June.

We also got the carpets cleaned on Tuesday. Cutezilla broke out into hives at her school so I had to go pick her up -- missing my Zumba class, mostly because, I couldn't in good consciousness drop her off at the nursery there when I didn't know what the hives were going to do. So we got home, and no sooner had we hit the door when I smelled this awful waft of something... and found whatever it was coming from Cutezilla's diaper. I won't go into detail (for once) because I think that you should be able to go to sleep tonight and not have nightmares about it. See what a thoughtful person I am? Suffice it to say that the hubby rented a steam cleaner on his way home from work. The positive here is that the floors actually got vacuumed AND steam-cleaned, which was awesome. And the baseboards finally got dusted. Okay, some of them, but not all. Cutezilla is full-time, okay?

And yeah, I did get sick for a few weeks, too. Stuck in bed while Cutezilla runs rampant is not my favorite way to go with that, but it's what happened. I love it when I go to see the doctors, and they say, "Well... you don't have flu." Great. What if I wanted the flu? What if I wanted, for once to be able to say, "I KNOW WHAT I HAVE!!! I AM ACTUALLY SICK, AND NOT MAKING THIS SH*T UP!!! I HAVE PROOF!"

And yeah, the baby-weight is still here. I had actually lost enough to get my damn engagement ring back on, and then I gained it back. (I visited my parents for a week after my dad had surgery on his shoulder, and we were all cooped up in the house, and I had nothing to do but cook. Can you guess what happened?) But I'm trying to get back to it. Supposedly the MDO days will help, but as it is, I only have 2 hours left today, and I need to do some more writing. Fiction, of course. But the jones for that is bad too, and it's not illegal. Thank God.

So hopefully I'll be able to get back here a little more often and post. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cute from the 'Zilla

Today's epsiodes, Cutezilla woke up from her nap this afternoon, and cried out for me. I was upstairs, so I came out onto the balcony, and she started to "shhh" me, which is her way of asking for her pacifier... However the paci was IN her mouth, so she lifted up her finger to make the shhh gesture/noise, and was really surprised when her hand hit it. She pulled it out, looked it over a few times, popped it back, and laid back down, happy as a clam.

This morning when I went to get her out of her room, she decided that the only way I was going to be allowed to change her diaper was if I proved I was worthy of the challenge -- which is to say, I chased her, tackled her and wrestled her to the ground, and pinned her to the floor while I got my dirty work done. She was none-too-thrilled. So when I picked her up from the nursery today, you can imagine my surprise when the ladies who look after her informed me how helpful Cutezilla is when she needs a diaper change -- to the point of unlocking the little staircase under the changing table, pulling out the stairs, climbing up and handing them the latex gloves they use when they change diapers. The upside is, she's also the only kid in the nursery who can open the locks on the changing table. The downside is, she can open the locks, and they look suspiciously like the "childsafe" ones on my dishwasher.

A Post? Really?

Yeah, really. I'm as surprised as anyone is, I'll bet. But while I haven't been blogging much, at least I have a few good things going on -- mostly, that I've been pretty happy, and I'll say that's pretty big. Not that I'm not usually happy, but most of the time I'm just preoccupied by whatever cloud is hanging over the horizon. I'm your consummate worrier, and I'm really an overachiever here. However, what with Cutezilla's new nap schedule, there seems to be more time to take care of things, and get to things that have been driving me up a wall. Not that this means the house is clean, mind you, but for example, it means that today I was able to mop the floor. And since I haven't done that in at least six months or longer, that makes it kind of a big deal.

Today I even managed to make the bed (again, HUGE, if you know how often I normally make the bed... that's probably the second or third time this year), mop the floor, and start laundry. Okay, I haven't done laundry in about three or four weeks, I think, but still, I got it started today, and for a change, I even got some of it hung up within 24 hours of starting the load. This time, since it was within 12 hours, it's even more of a miracle. Seriously crazy. I even got to do some leisure writing, which I've had a serious jonesing for lately.

The other huge thing that's happened lately: I sent off my/our manuscript. It was in the mail on July 9th, arrived on July 13th or 14th, and as they instructed on their website, I sent along a self-addressed, self-stamped postcard, so that when they opened it, they could drop it in the mail to say, "Hey this thing's been opened." I guess that heads off a lot of phone calls from neurotic wanna-be writ-- uh, I mean perfectly reasonable persons who want to know that their manuscripts reached their intended destination. Um, no, no completely neurotic wanna-be writers here... :looksnervouslyatblogtitle: But I actually have no idea what that could possibly mean, other than the manuscript has been opened entirely. I'm just going to assume it's sitting on someone's shelf somewhere, waiting for said someone to briefly browse a page or two just far enough to send my "you suck" letter. But hey, I sent it, and that's a start.

Beyond that, Cutezilla has been pretty happy too, and even moderately manageable. I have no idea if this is a function of me getting extra time to myself because of the extended nap, or if she's napping longer, because I keep her moving and happy... but either way, the result is something I am supremely happy and thankful for. Life does not get any better than this.

Or does it?

A few weekends ago, while we were in Houston, I was finally compelled to buy new underwear -- and not for the normal reasons like, say, it disintegrated in the wash because it was falling apart, or the elastic finally gave out, or a hole developed in someplace uncomfortable. I realized at some point, that my underwear was wrinkly and loose because I'm finally seeing some sort of result from all of my hamster-wheel-workout routines... and I am ecstatic and elated. My jeans are finally feeling loose, and this past weekend, I bought a pair of size 6 capri's and found they too were a little more loose than I realized.

Okay, so I wasn't in the junior's section this time, but WHO FREAKING CARES???? My pants are finally loose, and my husband is severely complaining about my butt-crack showing. It's freaking awesome. My legs even look a little thinner, which is nice because they felt like hamhocks or even mammoth thighs, especially during my pregnancy. I'm not going to tempt myself with actually trying on my old jeans yet, but I'm starting to feel a lot better about things, even if my scales say I'm still up fifteen pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. If I can get back into my old jeans, even if I stay at this weight, I'll still be completely thrilled. They'll have to sedate me I'll be so sickeningly happy.

I tried on my engagement ring today too, and while it's not quite ready to go back on my finger, it's certainly more comfortable that it has been. I'm really hoping to get it back on by Cutezilla's birthday in a few weeks. I honestly think that could really happen.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back in the Airport, The Return Trip

So I'm here in the airport again, and we have another hour or two until the next flight takes off. (From Charlotte to Greenville, so technically we could have been home two hours before we will land, but we originally scheduled our flights to accommodate having Cutezilla with us. But it's relaxing, and it's all just fine with me.)

We had an excellent weekend with our Notre Dame co-exile-ee's. We came in from the airport, got picked up, no problem. Our luggage even showed up. Got back to the house, the boys left for the bachelor party, and the girls went out to go see the new baby, Libby, and have a little stitch-n-bitch, minus the stitch'n. After awhile we went out to dinner, and the table next to us was very obviously celebrating. They came over to see the baby -- who was quite happy to accommodate them with smiles and flirting -- and after playing with the baby for a few minutes, told us that they were celebrating their own future new addition. When our food came, they came over and asked to hold the baby while we ate -- which was awesome, I thought. Libby seemed happy, so we got a nice peaceful meal without having to juggle her around. Next thing we know, we get the baby back, and they've paid for our meals... including the margarita! So the baby is already ahead of the game in the flirting department.

The next day, Phil took me out for a bike ride in Memorial Park, I got in a little mini-workout, since I knew I would be spending the weekend gorging myself. (And I did.) Then we went to the pool and played water volleyball, and it was AWESOME. We got home, and Phil made some rockin' stuffed spicy peppers and sausages. And somehow I managed to drag his wife out dancing with me at a sister dance studio to my own, and it was WONDERFUL.

The next day we drove out to Gonzales, Texas for the wedding, grabbed some kolaches (KO-lah-chees) on the way (one egg, ham and cheese, two cinnamon twists, and a blueberry for ME) and spent the day catching up with the rest of the exile-ee's. Our buddy got hitched; we got a little blitzed. (We were sitting on top of the margarita machine. Poor seating choice? More like inspired.) We spent most of the night too, chatting it up. We didn't get back to Houston until 2am, and got back up around 9am and headed out to the Cadillac Bar for an amazing brunch. The Belgian waffle bar, crepes, blintzes, fruit, the taco and fajita bar with four or five different kinds of meat, every topping you could imagine, the omelet bar, and the dessert bar. I didn't eat until again until 9:30 that night. I haven't been that full since I was pregnant. I felt swollen. And it was delicious.

I also managed to talk our buddies into one last hurrah at The Cafe Adobe. It has a dish that was so good, I had it twice the last time we were here, and I've been thinking about for OVER TWO YEARS now. An avocado, stuffed with shredded chicken and cheeses, battered and lightly fried. It may not sound great, but it's freaking amazing. It comes out looking like a softball covered in salsa. It's so damn good. I cannot for the life of me figure out how they batter this puppy and FRY it. It's baffling to me, and I don't think I can wait another year to have it again. What if they go out of business, and I can never have it again? This would be a crisis of epic proportions.

After that, though, we went home, and I watched Twilight while everyone else went to bed. We said our goodbyes, but I think they're planning to come out our way soon, and I think this will be an awesome trip to look forward to. So yeah, I'm sad to be leaving, but happy we got to see our friends, and happy to be getting back to Cutezilla.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Up, Up and Away!

I love airports. I really mean LOVE airports. Nothing to think about, nothing that needs doing, no one that needs my attention. The only way it could be any better is if it had a tub, a bed, and a tv. I don't even need the tv. Obviously, though the computer would be nice. You know, so I could blog or write, for a change.

Cutezilla is in Charleston with her Grammy and Grandad, and apparently having a blast. But I'm a little disappointed we couldn't bring her with us. It will make arrangements infinitely easier. No car seat to haul or rent, no nap schedules or bathtimes, no insistent demands for the pool-- oh wait. No, we'll still have those. I brought my bathing suit, and Houston is supposed to be BAKING this week. Despite that, I also brought my workout wear. I've been feeling pretty good about my workouts, and frankly, Houston scares the crap out of me, since the food was freaking amazing last time we went. Cafe Adobe has this amazing chicken stuffed with cheeses and avocado, Texadelphia has a perfect Philly Cheesesteak, that in my opinion is even better than the real thing from Philly, although the natives would probably disagree with me. And then there are the kolaches. KO-lah-CHEES. OMG. The perfect breakfast. Pastry stuffed with cheeses, sausage, bacon, ham, fruits -- whatever you want. I love them! I need to get some recipes. And to top it all off, being so close to New Orleans, they also have beignets. How did I get this lucky to have real beignets twice in one year? Because you bet your rear end, I'm going to have one. And probably more than one.

And thus the reason Houston scares the crap out of me. I'm going to leave this city as big as I was last time, and I was at least 6 months pregnant then. Every time we ate, I loaded up until I hurt. I mean my skin felt like it was literally splitting. I was afraid to go near any sharp-cornered coffee or dining room tables in case I leaned in too much and popped a seam and exploded right there as I tried to sit down for dinner. I would hurt for hours after I ate, too. It was awful. And delicious. Probably one of the reasons I gained sixty pounds during my pregnancy. If I had lived IN Houston, though, I would have gained twice that.

The additional problem? I can have beer this time around. And my buddy, PG, has a favorite little bar right down the road from his place. And it's a cool little bar, with an open air beergarten in the back. But the hot weather may be a nice deterrent at least for going to the bar and getting schnockered. Which of course means we'll be getting schnockered elsewhere. One of the other grad students from the hubby's ND days will be getting married too, so we'll be driving out to Gonzales, Texas for the wedding, and I'm spectacularly excited about it. Again, there are some good things to come out of leaving my little booger at home with my folks. Getting schnockered with my friends while she's awake doesn't exactly nominate me for Mother of the Year, but it might get me down-graded from Beta Mom. And personally, I like my status as Beta Mom.

But I'm excited about our trip. And we're loading, so it's from Airport Bliss that I leave you. Hopefully I'll blog more as the trip progresses.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One Or The Other, NOT BOTH

Well, I think I'd told you that I'd has a few days where I was feeling pretty down. Then the last weeks or two, Cutezilla started napping... and I mean SERIOUS napping, especially for Cutezilla. Her naps are normally 30 to 40 minutes, with an upward limit of an hour and a half. The last two, almost three weeks, she's been napping for two and a half or three hours.

Unfortunately, I think I figured out why: she's not sleeping at night. AT ALL. Last night she had a stretch from 10pm until 2am. The hubby -- bless that man -- was up with her for over an hour, and by the time he came back downstairs, she was up again. We've been trying to let her cry it out, which is the advice everyone tells you when your kid won't sleep. Five minutes... ten minutes... fifteen minutes... twenty minutes... thirty minutes... forty minutes... forty-FIVE minutes... etc. And she just keeps going. We can't pull her into bed with us, because she tosses and turns, punches and kicks ALL NIGHT. That is, if she doesn't wake up completely and want to play. And this screaming is just that: SCREAMING. It's not little whines or howling. It's SCREAMING. Like someone hit her favorite dog with a truck or something while she was watching.

On bad nights, it's every hour, hour and a half. We go upstairs, settle her back down, wait until she's out... and twenty minutes later, she's at it again. And on those nights, even when she's NOT screaming, I can still hear it in my head like a soundtrack or something. I think technically, it's called an earworm, but that mostly refers to a song you get stuck in your head. This is not nearly as friendly. So I spend ALL NIGHT listening to her scream in one way or another.

Benedryl doesn't work on her. Neither does Zyrtec. We give her ibuprofen before bed, to make sure her teeth aren't bothering her. We have NO idea what's going on or how to fix it.

But on the other hand, she is napping, and it makes me obliviously happy during the day. I can even take a shower AND eat! It's amazing. And today? I'm getting to blog, and I'll probably work on another project I have in the dining room. Last week, I MADE A SHIRT! I've even gotten to load AND UNLOAD the dishwasher here and there, AND I've made some headway in the house. Not a lot, but it's enough to let me feel a little less crazy about it than normal.

I've also been able to get to the gym and get in some good workouts. The weightlifting and kickboxing class additions have been doing me some good, I think, although the scales are only slightly moving downward. Nothing drastic. On Friday, I'm going to try and get on one of those scales that will tell you what percentage of body fat you're carrying around -- Body Mass Index or BMI. I haven't been as sore lately as I want to be, but I think that just means I need to step up the weight I'm using. But maye in a few weeks, I'll see something definite. At least for the time being, I feel good. Even with the nighttime issues, which says a lot really.

I'm still not sure if she's A) having night terrors, or B) if she's teething, or C) if she's just screwing with us. Some nights, I think it's C, because you go upstairs and see her sitting there at the gate, and she says, "HEY!" Then she jumps up and runs back to her bed, and climbs right in. The night before last, she even brought me a pillow before she climbed into bed. Which makes me not feel terrible about when things like last night happen, and she falls asleep at the gate while she's screaming for you to come upstairs. But Sunday night, she was in misery. Her tummy hurt, and I think her teeth were bothering her, too. She hadn't eaten anything in almost a day and a half either, and if you asked her if her teeth hurt, she'd point to them and say, "OW." Not a definite sign, mind you, but more of a possibility.

So... apparently it's EITHER sleep at night... OR sleep during the day. Not BOTH. But if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Naps Make The World Go 'Round

Seriously. Cutezilla has been napping for the last few days, and it's been like HEAVEN. Yesterday, she took a THREE HOUR NAP, and even fell off the couch in the middle. I thought for sure it was over when she woke up and cried, but a sippy cup and a paci later, she was back asleep. I'm not sure if it was the fact that I turned on the dishwasher or what, but I did it again today, and she fell asleep without any trouble at all. And it was MAGICAL.

I know I haven't been blogging, and I'm not thrilled with that, but after stating that I was going to try and write about more positive things, I had a bad few weeks, and literally nothing felt good. So I started back to allergy shots a few weeks ago, Cutezilla started napping, and I got a few things accomplished, started back on the diet and the workout routine, and lately I've been feeling fairly good. I still have very little to show for all my working out, but I've added in heavier weights, and decided my new goal is to hurt. I figure if I don't hurt, then what do I have to show for all my hard work anyway? The scales don't read much different, and neither do my clothes. So if I hurt, at least I have something to say, "Yeah, you worked out, and you're doing yourself some good."

Except I'm new to the heavier weights, and coordinating the cardio with my weighlifting. For instance, it is a VERY BAD IDEA to do a leg workout the day BEFORE you go to step interval aerobics. My legs just decided they had enough somewhere in the middle and would barely get off the ground, much less get over the step. And I think I've discovered the reason why the boys all set up shop in the rear of the class. If the scenery ain't doin' it for ya, the entertainment when I trip over my step and somehow throw myself across the class is definitely worth it. I still need to find some more activities to do, but there just aren't enough hours in the day.

I have been working on a new sewing project (which I will be going back to after I make another attempt at cleaning my counters), and I finished the cover/query letter for the manuscript which is FINISHED. I also finished Cutezilla's height stick, which I think turned out pretty awesome, and I did a new diaper cake a few months ago, which I have pics of that need to be posted. All in all: pretty awesome. I'm hoping to get the manuscript sent out this week. At which point Jake and I need to do some serious celebrating... but can you get schnockered with 200 calories or less? (Everclear is not a decent option there either. Beleive it or not, I have standards!) Maybe we'll just pop open a bottle of wine.

But with Cutezilla napping, I have a little bit mroe time for things like blogging. Hopefully it'll keep happening.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I've been tagged with an EIGHT meme! And I had a few minutes, and figured, it was already 1am, so what the hell? Sure!

Eight Things I Am Looking Forward To:
*Spending the weekend in a hotel
*Seeing my friends
*Any point where I get something finished and it looks good
*Losing my baby weight, and having my clothes and BOTH wedding rings fit... (yes, two years later, still)
*Any month where there isn't a birthday or a national holiday (I need some down time.)
*Alone Time
*A Clean House

Eight Things I Did Yesterday:
*Worked on a new shirt
*Read a chapter from Spellbinder by Melanie Rawn
*Wrote a blurb for a cover letter
*Ran/Walked 5 miles/Weighlifted
*Designed a t-shirt
*Played with Cutezilla
*Paid bills
*Went swimming

Eight Things I Wish I Could Do:
*Keep the house clean... or at least clean enough that I have more than a postage-stamp-sized piece of counter space clear
*Lose the baby weight and be able to wear my clothes and wedding rings again
*Get my email inbox below 300 and have it STAY THERE (currently at 900 and counting)
*Not stick my foot in my mouth every ten minutes when I'm talking to someone... or ANYONE
*Not worry so much
*Be able to give more and do more
*Work magic like in Harry Potter... what I would do for some of those house charms Mrs. Weasley has!
*Be telepathic.

Eight Shows I Watch:
*BAA! (Cutezilla's name for Shaun The Sheep)
*The Mentalist
*Lie To Me
*History Channel documentaries

Eight Favorite Foods:
*Filet Mignon with a reduction sauce... unless the steak is *THAT* good... then just all by itself
*Creme Brulee
*Chipotle Burritos
*Roly Poly Wraps
*Alice Springs Chicken
*Dark Chocolate

Eight Places I'd Like To Travel:

Eight People I've Tagged:
*...and that's about it as far as friends who have blogs that haven't already been tagged.... :sigh:

I'm exhausted and need some sleep so I can make it to Zumba without falling asleep behind the wheel on the way over! G'night!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Train Wreck

It feels like these last few weeks have been a complete and total disaster. Like reverse karma for having such a fantastic vacation or something. Cutezilla and I had a great week following NOLA, and then she and her daddy headed off to the great midwest for a visit to the Land Beyond The Land of Snow and Ice. (We lived in South Bend, Indiana, and I addressed my mail from "The Land of Snow and Ice." My mother-in-law wanted to know what I considered Iowa which is even colder and snowier, hence the name, "The Land Beyond The Land of Snow and Ice.")

Anyway, so off they headed, and I cannot tell you how excited I was. I was beyond excited. Not only was it time by myself, but it was extended time by myself, and there would (theoretically) be plenty of time for me to work on the mundane crap I'd been steadfastly ignoring -- namely the fact that I hadn't seen my counters in weeks or more, and that I was starting to lose floor space, too. The bathrooms were (and still are) a wreck, and so is my bedroom. There is crap everywhere covering the floor and any horizontal hip-height space available, and I have to shuffle my feet to get to my bed at night so I don't kill myself on whatever might be hiding in the darkness. (How my husband hasn't killed me over this yet, I'll never know.) But that weekend was going to solve all my woes, and give me plenty of time to get all of that finished and work on fun stuff: like planting my window boxes for the deck, getting Cutezilla's shelf made, some sewing projects, and half a dozen other things that I'd been itching to get to but haven't had the time or space to do so.

Wednesday night, the hubby is packing up, and I realize somewhere that I can't find my phone. ANYWHERE. I normally have some inkling as to where it could be. Usually I can say, "Oh, it's in the house... somewhere." Or "Probably somewhere in the backseat of my car." I may not know exactly where it is, but I can be pretty sure where it's not... like say in a restaurant or still sitting on the counter at the bank or something. This time? Not so much. And that sets off all my crazy genes. So I ripped the house apart. When I couldn't find it, I enlisted the husband -- who is normally got some serious mojo going on when it comes to finding my unfindable things. Generally speaking, he's amazing at it.

So, instead of spending my last night and morning with my husband and daughter, hanging out and relaxing and enjoying my time with them, I spent it instead, worked up, neurotic and anxiously pulling apart every box, corner and crevice in my house. We never did find my phone that night or the next morning, so I ended up spending the whole weekend sans phone or any means of communication except via email or internet. Great. Just great.

So Thursday, I started the morning off by pulling everything off of the counters, off of shelves, and going through everything. I cleaned every corner of my counters twice over (Soft Scrub ROCKS, by the way), and then pulled out all of my pots and pans and scrubbed all of the cooked-on black gunk that's been on them for the last several years. (Which was not my best move: cleaning the countertops first.) And then I cleaned the counters again. I finished around 2am, I guess, then went to bed and got a late start on Friday. By Friday evening I wasn't feeling all that great, and by the time I woke up on Saturday, I knew I was sick again. AGAIN. Plague Number EIGHT. I was sick enough that I decided to try to see if my doctor's office was open -- it was not -- and then I headed back home to sleep off my misery and watch serial Lost episodes. (I'm only on Season 2, so don't spoil it for me!)

My throat was so sore I couldn't eat or drink anything for almost the whole day, and when I woke up on Sunday and felt worse, I scraped myself off the couch and went over to the Urgent Care facility -- much nicer than the Emergency Room, by the way. They tested me for strep, and got a negative, then gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my merry way. By Sunday evening, I was feeling good enough to finally eat something, but still ended up sleeping until Monday when the hubby and Cutezilla were supposed to get home.

Since we didn't know exactly what I had when I talked to the hubby via webcam, we decided to call an audible, and get my parents to pick Ava up in Columbia, and ship her down to Charleston for a few more days until I recovered. When my folks came up on Wednesday, I still wasn't 100%. But Thursday and Friday went a lot better, but the hubby was feeling pretty lousy by Saturday, and Cutezilla picked up a nasty little rash somewhere. I took her to the doctor for a regular checkup on Friday, but he said the rash was fine... except that it hasn't gone away and it looks worse than before, and it's crawling up her shoulder around her neck and into her hairline. And she screams and cries for her bathtime, which is normally something she really enjoys. For the whole weekend, she's been not feeling great -- which I just chalked up to shots, mainly, but I think the rash is a real problem, so back to the doctor we go. Yay.

The weekend was so-so, even for being Mother's Day. We had a good time going to the new park we found, Herdklotz, had a nice dinner with MamaE, her hubby and the irresistible Sam The Man. I think the hubby had had too much "quality time" with Cutezilla, who can be really difficult and needy when she doesn't feel well. (And I can't blame her.)

I had to cancel my dance lesson with Ihor, and then Sunday night, I managed to get pink food coloring all over my shorts, underwear and couch, and I have lost a beer somewhere in the house. Yep, that's right -- it's still gone, and I haven't been able to find it. I last saw it in the bathroom upstairs, and I know I took it downstairs, right before I went outside to do some weeding, and that's the last I saw of it. My shorts are still pink, too. And despite laying on a couch for three days, doing nothing but drinking clear liquids, I managed for the first time ever to lose not a single pound. I'm really depressed over my weight, not having lost anything and having gained enough to put me back at the same weight as two months after I had Ava, I've lost all motivation whatsoever, because nothing is working -- despite having the time to devote to it, getting in plenty of exercise, and being careful with my food choices and having a decent plan. I even talked to the doctor on Monday about the whole thing, and he seemed really confused and baffled by it all. Always reassuring. And yes, they've checked my thyroid. On the upside, he finally decided the sinus infections were a little on the outrageous side, and is sending me back to an allergist. Hurray for allergists!

Finally, last night, since I had nothing planned for dinner and since I've decided if I'm not going to lose any weight, I'm going to finally have some GD pasta for a change, we tried a new restaurant for us -- Capri's Italian -- and it was pretty good, really reasonable, and they had a special BOGO Spaghetti, which was delicious.

So, hopefully I'll be able to post something a little less bridge-jumpy, and a little more positive in the next week. Wish me luck.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New Orleans, The Review

My hubby tragically had to go to New Orleans for a conference. Tragically. A whole three days. During the middle of the week. How terrible. I heard about it, and promptly said, "Oh hey, look! Inexpensive plane tickets!" CLICK.

So on Tuesday, I loaded up my little booger into the car, and off we headed to Charleston. Okay, so we took the long route. But the babysitters were down there, and the plane tickets were cheaper out of CHS, so I decided it was a win-win situation. I dropped her off with Grammy and whatever it is we're calling my dad until Ava vocalizes something, and off I flew to beautiful Bayou country. I got off the plane, and took a shuttle to the hotel, The Royal Sonesta -- which isn't just on Bourbon Street. It's situated in the heart of Bourbon Street. We drove up, and literally there were two cabaret show and sixteen bars in various locations surrounding the building on all sides, with intermittent t-shirt shops.

The best part is, we're on Bourbon Street -- which is normally a place I might typically avoid completely -- at an odd time of year. Meaning, it's a lot less crowded and exponentially more bearable than I had expected. We walked down Bourbon Street the first night, and my husband got a ticket for being a sour puss. He offered us a hat "for a donation," and since he made the hubby laugh, I figured it was worth it. We strolled forever down the street, went to another little bar area just southeast of Bourbon, then walked back. We stopped at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, and had a beer. It was the perfect thing, too. There was a slight, cool breeze flowing, the place was dark and not very crowded at all, a girl was playing songs on a piano, and the place is entirely candlelit. I loved it!

The next morning, I got up, did a little browsing down Bourbon, then got some beignets (ben-yays) and cafe au lait at Cafe Beignet with the hubby -- I know, I know, "No Cafe DuMonde???" But the place was right across the street, and the concierge said it was the best beignet in town, unless you were looking for the Cafe DuMonde experience. I was not disappointed in any way. It was a perfect way to spend breakfast/lunch with the hubby, who got a very tasty shrimp po boy. And they were in fact somehow better than the Cafe DuMonde!

I went back to the hotel, sprayed down with sunscreen, and headed out to the Garden District. It took me forever to find the place to get a pass, but, hey, I needed the exercise. I jumped on the streetcar -- which was an awesome ride, especially if you manage to grab a window seat -- and took it down to Washington Avenue, where I walked down through the Garden District to Magazine Street where a lawyer I had met on the plane directed me for some shopping. And it was a pretty cool little area. Mostly boutiques, antique shops, and local food, which was awesome. A little gelato shop, La Divinia, offered me a sample of a strawberry sobretto, and it was knock-your-eyes-out-delicious. (That's a technical term.) I meant to grab some on my way back to the hotel, so I wasn't carrying it around while I was shopping, and somehow I missed it, and now I'm kicking myself for it. But at least I know what I must do next time I come here.

I did manage to not walk out of there with lots of large, heavy and expensive things. Actually I only bought a book for Cutezilla, Blueberry Girl, by Neil Gaiman, master of science fiction. I meant to pick up a little New Orleans story book, but so far I haven't found the right one. I also picked up a magnet for the fridge... and that was it! Ta-da! I jumped back on the streetcar and went back to the hotel, where I caught up with the hubby. We saw the concierge again, who set us up with a table at Muriel's Soiree, where I had probably the second best filet mignon of my life. It was amazing! The appetizers were a fantastic goat cheese and shrimp crepe as well as hubby's favorite, escargot. My steak came on a bed of oyster dressing with a reduction sauce that, while it was very good, had no business being near this steak. It was that good. Hubby ordered a pretty tasty seafood au gratin, and both of us were pretty much stuffed by the time dessert came around. We had orginally intended to split dessert -- a vanilla bean creme brulee -- but when the waiter came around with two of them, we were all a little surprised, including the waiter. He said, "I'm not sure why, but the kitchen had two for you, so here they are!" And oh my God, am I glad I didn't have to share. In the realm of creme brulees, maybe it wasn't extremely special, but creme brulee is something of a specialty in my mind, and always a preferred dessert. You bet your butt I'm making this one at home. And again, I'm probably NOT going to share!

After that we walked over a block or two for what was probably the most graphic ghost story tour I have ever been on. And it was fantastic. The best part was, the guide had done research on every facet of every story and had evidence for every single gruesome detail. It was awesome! I was actually a little worried when we started the tour. The guide said he'd disillusion us on other ghost stories we might have heard, and tell us why those stories are bad ghost stories, that he would tell us the real stories, stories based on fact, not hearsay or reports of impressions from random sources, and so on. Randy, our guide, took us to a few places where ghost stories are rampant -- including one where a guy had recorded creaking boards in an old building from the 1700's.

"Gee. Imagine that!" Randy said. He then proceeded to tell us of Jean Laffitte, a notorious pirate who controlled the entire coast from New Orleans down to Brazil. He was also a massive slave smuggler, since Governor O'Reilly, New Orleans Spanish governor (yes, that's correct, I swear) outlawed the importation of slaves. Apparently his prices were so affordable, plantation owners could buy enough slaves to work the planting and harvesting seasons, then slaughter them all in the down-time, and just buy more in the spring. While extraordinarily gruesome, they only estimate those figures to be in the tens of thousands -- however, in comparison to the actual production numbers of those seasons -- the highest of any in Louisiana's history before or since -- many people feel the numbers are highly underestimated, and could be as astronomical as a million or more.

The next stop was more macabre than any movie producer could have ever imagined. Delphine LaLaurie, a New Orleans socialite, was born to a prominent family who was killed in a violent slave uprising. She was a widow (twice over under mysterious circumstances) who married a third time to a doctor who graduated bottom of his class from a medical university in Germany. Our guide proceeded to tell us about the LaLauries and how they bought a house on Royal Street to throw parties. Our guide related the details of reports from the local fire departments when a fire was set in the kitchen and put out, only to discover two slaves chained to the stove, who did not just set the fire -- they set themselves on fire. Some stories say it was a valiant effort to gain the attention of authorities, but our guide maintained that the slaves set themselves on fire to escape their mistress. Not only were they worked to death with no nourishment, but the LaLauries were also performing horrible and beyond grotesque experiments. Several incidents happened, all with reports or mentions in the social columns. When the LaLauries were finally going to be taken to justice, they escaped and fled the city, and presumably lived in France and died of old age. There is much more to the story, but there is no way to do the it justice without a few thousand words or so. But even our guide admitted, while cynical to the extreme, as well as obsessed with the historical truth, could not explain away the numerous reports of seeing a woman fitting the description of Delphine LaLaurie on her roof, whipping a slave girl until she took an out from her existence and pushed herself off the roof to her death.

Our guide then told us the story of Marie Laveau, the [Catholic] voodoo priestess, who duped the New Orleans wealthy into paying her masses of money to help her free hundreds of slaves as they and their families came off the boats to be sold in New Orleans. He also told us of her twelve children, at least five of which were girls, and almost all named Marie in some way, and how it is possible and even probable that her girls took up the family business, thus creating the myth that Marie Laveau was always young and beautiful, that her powers of Voodoo kept her that way until her death at the age of 90.

There are much more to the stories, of course. We spent almost three hours on the tour, listening to our guide. In the end, while the stories were graphic in the extreme, their horror made even more poignant because of the historical records to back them up -- the tour ended on an amazingly positive note, about humanity and it's ability to overcome the odds set before it. About the fact that while some ghost stories are vague and easily picked apart, there are others that are truly unexplainable, that speak incredibly of other forces in this world that people are rarely asked to acknowledge, no matter what you believe their sources might be -- spirits or Hand of God, alike. Our guide sang an old Catholic song in Latin, his voice eerily filling and echoing in the alley alongside a church where a priest and his followers sang this same song as they walked, carrying the bodies of executed French rebels to a nearby graveyard, against the judgement passed that these men would not be allowed burial of any kind.

We hung out with the guides for some time, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We passed by some shops on our way home, and I picked up a few things, and then in the morning, we checked out, and headed to the Cafe DuMonde, where we lounged along the river as we ate our beignets and drank our cafe au lait by the river and enjoyed the glorious gardens in bloom. Then we walked around some more, did a little more shopping, then joined up with some friends from the Hubby's grad school days at our hotel. We grabbed some lunch at Mother's, a famous little hole-in-the-wall that is so fantastically famous, they can charge $14 for a sandwich and still have a line out the door and around the corner. We actually went at a good time though and managed to get a seat immediately. The staff was really polite every time they came to take something away, and even though the sandwich was expensive, it was still pretty good.

We got our friends checked into their hotel, left our bags with them, and then headed out to Jazz Fest. Even though I know almost nothing about jazz, neither the music nor the history, the festival was really enjoyable. They had a Mahala Jackson tribute in the gospel tent, Joe Cocker played(who was also staying at our hotel), and my favorite: a congo group with a full band behind them, being led by Wynton Marsalis, who is apparently pretty famous even if I was totally unaware. The band list was amazing and HUGE; they had twelve stages worth of performers just for ONE DAY. Even if we only went for a few hours, it was still pretty awesome.

We spent our last real night in New Orleans back on Bourbon Street, at the Bourbon House Seafood, one of the top five ranked seafood houses in the United States... and I came in craving a hamburger. I ordered a steak, and yeah, it was decent, but I should have ordered another plate of the appetizer we had: a triple helping of Oysters Rockefeller, Oysters Fonseca, and Oysters Bienville. They were unbelievably delicious. After dinner, we grabbed a hand grenade on our way back to our friend's hotel, where we nearly passed out. Probably the combination of the hand grenade and the Abita Andygator (which was also delicious) did me in. But we got our things, grabbed a taxi and headed out to a hotel by the airport where we crashed until our flights left. (After, of course, our taxi driver took us to the wrong hotel, and then after we grabbed a second taxi, the driver had to run back into the first hotel after the drunk guy he had just dropped off forgot to pay him.)

I got home to Charleston on Saturday around 2pm. I took a nap while waiting for Cutezilla and my mother to get back from a baby shower. (I made another diaper cake -- but that's another post.) Cutezilla wouldn't even speak to me when she saw me. I asked for a hug and she threw herself... at my mother. She snubbed me for most of the day, but on Sunday, she was pretty happy to see me. Then we headed home to meet up with Hubby and spent the rest of the day lounging and rolling around on the bed and playing. I have to say, we've had some pretty awesome vacations -- England, San Francisco, Houston -- and this one, like the rest will be hard to beat. But it's hard to beat the high of elation after such a fantastic week in such a fabulous city with friends and loved ones.

Blueberry Girl:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Allergy Season Has Arrived

And in mad, fabulous style. If I'm lucky, I may not drown in my own snot tonight while I sleep. But I wouldn't count on it. Every time I lean over for any reason at all, my nose leaves a thin trail of ooze on whatever happens to be under it. It is yet another glorious spring in the South.

The pollen is so thick, there's a thin dusting of yellow on everything. Cars here now vary on color as follows: yellow, grayish-yellow, greenish-yellow, blue-ish yellow, orange, and of course, YELLOW.

However disgusting the by products of spring are, though, the flowers are everywhere, and it is gorgeous everywhere you look... aside it's not directly at my poor swollen face, of course. We -- Cutezilla, MamaE and Sam and I -- have been to the parks almost every day this week, and I have to say Greenville has the most amazing park facilities EVER. The latest one we visited was a new one we discovered: Herdklotz Park. While the name is dreadful, the park itself is amazing. The smaller park for the little ones is really nice, with the normal slides and whatnot, but the bigger one... MamaE and I decided we needed to get a babysitter to go to this park by ourselves! There is a three-level tower big enough for adults, with a small climbing wall up to the second level, and three-story twisty slides. It's awesome. I'll post pictures when I can.

Anyway, just wanted to get in a note while I had a chance. Wish me luck on not drowning in my sleep tonight.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Back to the Blog...

Finally got back to the computer. It's another "day off" for me finally, which means I finally have enough time (and energy) to sit down and type for a few minutes. The last few weeks have been crazy. Even for me, it's been crazy. The good news is that we've been busy; the downside is that I'm way to tired to do much of anything lately, including blog. Last week was Cutezilla's "Spring Break" -- MamaE phrased the question perfectly: "So what? Do all the little babies get to go to Daytona for a week???" And that whole week the Hubby was gone to San Diego.

Oddly enough, Cutezilla and I did okay together. She had just gotten back from her Grammy's in Charleston, and apparently decided I was okay to hang out with after all. That was a really nice change of pace. As a result, Cutezilla and I will be taking regular separate vacations from now on. I think it's best for both of us.

I had also spent the last few weeks being insanely hormonal, too, so it was probably a good thing I didn't blog too much while that was going on. MamaE has been a godsend and a blessing. If it hadn't been for her a few Fridays ago, I would have fallen apart at the seams -- literally, too, probably.

My birthday was a few weeks ago, too, and while it was a fairly quiet one, it turned out to be really nice. We had Caribbean Jerked chicken, which I thought turned out really well -- and it was a double dessert birthday! MamaE made Bananas Foster Bread Pubbing, and my buddy Jake made the cake: a decadent rum-soaked concoction with homemade icing! It was awesome! After that, MamaE and Jake and I went over to the 2nd Annual Salsa Congressita for a show and some dancing. I didn't do a whole lot of dancing, but it was fun just to sit down and chat and be relaxed with friends for a change instead of being on a schedule and only having a small amount of time.

The other really wonderful thing about it was that I have gotten in some relatively quality "girl time" lately, which is a rare thing for me. While I'm not a girly-girl, sometimes even I need to indulge my girl genes, and it's not entirely fair for me to expect the Hubby to fulfill on that. It's not like I can fill in for his buddies for "guy time," and I don't expect to be able to. So that has been one of the more subtle, but truly wonderful gifts this year, and it's been long overdue. I miss all of my now non-local girlfriends quite a bit, and while I'm thankful for things like this blog, Facebook, cell phones, and email for keeping us in touch, I still miss getting to hug them all in person.

It also turned out to be a Furniture Birthday: Hubby gave me the bedside tables to match our dresser finally! The bedroom almost looks like adults might inhabit the place! And as a result of sheer luck in timing, the new entertainment center came in at the same time! Well, parts of it, at least. The main center console and the hutch behind it came. The towers are still in transit. Which is fine, because we're still getting the wiring figured out. But I think it's beautiful! A bonus perk: Cutezilla can't reach the power button anymore! At least for a few more months...

But I suppose I should at least make an effort on the house while I have a few minutes... sad that my "free" time goes to domestic bull, but on the other hand, it makes me crazy (*ier) when the house is that much of a disaster. And for those of you who ever saw my dorm room, this should say volumes.

Oh well.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Choices, Choices, So Many Choices

I feel like I haven't blogged in ages. Since it's warmed up, I've been taking Cutezilla outside to get her worn out so she'll sleep better at night... and as it turns out, I'm the one who's getting exhausted. Which means the few hours I spend doing things like blogging disappear when I go to bed before midnight. It's sad. Very sad.

Usually at night, I try to cram in all the stuff that I can't normally get to with Miss Ninja Fingers around. You know, anything that involves:

A) the computer
B) anything delicate
D) anything tiny
E) anything needing minor concentration or better
anything involving machinery

That list boils down as follows:
  • Blogging
  • Art
  • Beading
  • Scrapbooking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Movies
  • Sewing
  • Woodworking
It's also amazing how Cutezilla has involuntarily reevaluated what's important in terms of my day-to-day life. For instance, she is currently at her Parent's Day Out program, and I have FIVE whole hours to do ANYTHING I WANT, and yet, the things that end up on top are generally pretty boring:

  • Straighten the bedroom
  • Straighten the kitchen
  • Go to the grocery store ALONE
  • Start dinner
Additionally, it's interesting what gets tossed out of the list labeled as "total waste of time." For instance:

  • Eating
  • Showering
  • Napping
I mean, I can eat with Cutezilla around. I could take a shower with her, if I really wanted to get clean, but I can also wait until the hubby gets home. I could probably really use the nap, especially given how hard I sleep at night right now, and how early I pass out... 9:30 is about 3 hours waaaaaay too early.

Eating? Yeah. You're surprised too? Well, of it takes me 2 minutes to microwave something and 3 minutes to eat it, that's 5 minutes of the allotted 300. Minus transit, to and from, which makes that about 10-15 minutes, that's now 270, plus transit to go anywhere, say Walmart, take off another 20-30 minutes, now you're down to 240-ish. A real meal would bump me down to 200 minutes. Take out time for a shower, and now I'm down to 160. Even a half-hour nap would leave me with barely 2 hours to myself. Plus whatever time I spend "out" and that leaves me with about 15 good minutes to work on projects or the house.

Crazy, huh? Today I went to WalMart and bought a new elephant ear plant for the yard. I even managed to get it into the ground within 24 hours! It's a new record for me. I re-assembled a new bracelet for a friend of mine, and managed to get in a blog entry, so I'll call today moderately successful. But after blogging, I now have about 1 hour and 20 minutes left (again, minus transit).

Wish me luck that somehow, I start getting more energy back. (And NO, I'm not pregnant!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Two Hours of Freedom Left

It's amazing how fast time goes by when you're on a time-budget. Cutezilla went to Mother's Day Out this morning, and one of the few things I managed to get done was make dinner (we'll call it "Half-*ssed Curry", since I was missing half the ingredients, and didn't want to "waste" my time by going to the store, which would have actually been 3 or 4 stores considering I needed an extra can of the mythic Patak's Madras Sauce; I cannot seem to find this stuff anywhere, except Kiawah Island). I did also managed to sand and reapply a coat of paint to my two basement projects -- Cutezilla's Height Chart and her shelf, that my sister gave us, and I wanted to reapply the paint, just to make sure everything matched.

Oh and I did cash some checks. Okay, maybe it wasn't a total loss of a day.

But tomorrow, Cutezilla and I are heading to the City By The Sea to see Grammy and my sister. Should be an interesting trip, to say the least. We pick her up on Sunday, so I will have a day or two to finish some of these projects, start a few new ones, and maybe get her room more put together. I am EXCITED.

We went to see the Terracotta Soldiers (all 12 of them) at the High Museum in ATL this weekend, and the exhibit was AWESOME. I highly recommend it, should you wander that way. I really wish I knew where it was heading next, but so far, I have found no information on that.

Anyway, need to run. Got more cramming to get into my free time!

And if anyone wants to try some awesomely delicious Beef Curry, here is my friend Stephanie's recipe:

Beef Madras from Sri Lanka via Canada

3 lbs beef
3 onions sliced
3 green chilies
3 cloves garlic
1 piece ginger minced
8 green cardamom pods, cracked
5 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
3 tbs curry powder
1 tbs cinnamon
3 tbs Patak’s (Madras) Curry paste
2 tbs chili powder
1 can Patak’s Curry Cumin (Madras) Sauce
½ can coconut milk
Cilantro minced for garnish

Remove fat from beef. Brown onions, chilies, ginger, and garlic on high heat. Reduce to medium heat and add spices, browning to release flavor. Add beef, lightly brown, then add curry paste, cumin sauce and coconut milk. Reduce to low heat. Simmer for one hour or longer.

Editor's Note: I might brown everything, but then I
usually pop it into the slow cooker for 8 hours.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another Boring Weekend

The cold is back. I should say the "cold" is back. As in, it's 50 degrees outside. Not awful, but I'm not thrilled. I was looking forward to being able to go outside a little more, and to start really working out again. (I've been slack. I only went to the gym once last week.) And I would love to start walking every day. (Not sure what Cutezilla thinks of the idea yet, but I'm sure she'll find a way to object.)

I did finish one major project today with my buddy -- we finished editing our novel for the very last time. (So far I think we've edited it each twice. At least. It's been ridiculous.) The last time I edited was either while I was pregnant (29 months ago) or a few months after I had Cutezilla (19 months ago). So yeah, this has been long in coming, and he and I are thrilled. My next serious project is to reformat the whole thing, and send it to a publisher. Which means it goes directly into the slush pile. Yippee. But at least we're done. Editing sucks.

So even though Cutezilla was fussy because she's teething (again), and the hubby wasn't feeling very well for most of the weekend, AND even though we did little to nothing and I was bored out of my mind for most of the weekend and got almost nothing done in the house, I will still call this weekend a partial success, just because of the novel.

I think I'm going to try and finish up a replacement heart for the sign I sent my little niece (it broke in shipping) and then maybe read a few more pages of the new book I'm reading, before I hit the sack. I'm pretty syked, that I have managed to actually read more than one book, and the last one I just [re]read was 560 pages. And teeny, tiny type, too! The new one is the sequel, titled, The Wilding. While the last one was unbelievably complicated, the new one is much simpler so far, because the world doesn't need as much explaining. I will admit, I enjoyed In Conquest Born much more on the second read-through.

And the hubby sent me this very cute pic, so I was thinking maybe he might still like me after all. It's hard not to call that a success!

funny pictures

moar funny pictures

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

End of the Plague, Take Six

Okay, so maybe this is the last one. Maybe. Hopefully. Please?

I'm finally feeling better, and it's just in time for Spring! Ah glorious Spri-- what? I missed it? Summer already? Okay, maybe you're right, because it WAS 80 degrees yesterday. Mind you we had a snowstorm last week, and it was awesome!

I know, I know, I hate cold weather. But I love snow! Even more I love not living in snow! It means instead of having to contemplate shoveling your driveway and scraping off your car, and how to get out of the house, you just go home, find something warm and waterproof to wear and you run around like an idiot, flailing yourself around in what we Southerners pitifully consider snowfall. (We actually got like 4 or 6 inches, which is unbelievable, really. Especially for the first week of March.)

Oh, and you must also perform your Southern civic duty to go to the grocery store and buy milk and bread. Not soup. Not something hot and wet to warm your poor freezing body while the temperature outside drops below and out of sight of what we could normally call cold here. No, of course not, that would be silly. I'm not sure why this is standard, but somehow it seems to call out to your soul to perform this action. At least it did mine, and apparently two-thirds of my zip code population as well. I somehow managed to get out without buying bread, but the milk was a must-have for some reason.

Cutezilla sat in the buggy (Southern for "grocery cart" for you non-Southerners) while I loaded the car, and huge clumps of the stuff were falling from the sky covering us both. She laughed and giggled but we weren't equipped to stay out, and she was snotty, so we went home and watched it from the house.

But yesterday, we went outside, and it's really shorts weather out there. We even went to the zoo, and it was a perfect day, all in all.

Today is my day off! So it's even better! But somehow instead of reeling in the joyous celebration of my emancipation from all things baby, I am doing laundry. LOTS of laundry. I even have a whole load of PINK. How did I get to this point in my life?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Another Freaking Sinus Infection?!??

Okay, so since I began [counting] my trials and tribulations last September, this makes my sixth sinus infection in less than a year. SIXTH. That's not adding in the stomach bugs either. It's completely unreal. I used to get two infections per year.

However, instead of cursing God, like I had planned, I decided to try a new tactic. It's an odd one, but at this point, I'm a little desperate, you know? I know a few people who have done this, but I guess I was just holding off until the very last minute possible. Which, I guess, must be Sinus Infection #6. But I decided to try a neti pot.

If you've never heard of it, welcome to the crowd. It's a device for "nasal irrigation." You put lukewarm water in the pot with a salt solution (mine came with packets), and then stick the spout in one of your nostrils and pour the water into your nose. Very sexy, I assure you. The water runs into your nasal cavity, and out the other nostril. Unless, like me, you have a blocked off air-passage even on a good day, in which came it pools in the back of your throat, and you spit it out. See? What'd I tell ya? SEXY.

Mine, unfortunately, looks a lot like a tea pot with a penis sticking out of it. Just when you thought it couldn't get any sexier, right? Seriously, somehow, someone thought that by sticking the head of a penis on the pour spout, that that would make the whole idea of using a tea pot to pour salt water up your nose a little less ridiculous. If I'd been in a better mood, I'd have probably laughed really hard about the whole thing. If it really works, then I might consider upgrading to something a little less phallic.

I finally got over that little issue, mixed up the solution, stuck the spout in my nose, and started pouring. I really did think I was going to drown, but after my nasal passage opened up a bit, it really did flow from one nostril and the other. It was a very weird sensation, honestly, but if it works, then who cares? It's not like I'll be doing this every day.

I will say my nose has felt much better than normal during the course of a sinus infection. I'm still not great, but overall, the whole mucus thing is at an all-time low, considering what I woke up with. I feel pretty decent too, but that could just be the ibuprofen talking. I've done it twice today, so far.

I'm sort of hoping this works like getting a cold at the beach. I have yet to come home from the beach with a sinus infection. Mostly because I always get knocked over by a few good waves and end up snarfing half the Atlantic. A little trivia for you: the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest of the five oceans. So, I'm hoping that the salt and water help clear out the infection a little faster than normal.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why The Tranquilizer Gun Is A Bad Idea

Over the past few days, with Cutezilla teething pretty badly, I have on numerous occasions cursed the legal community for their position that tranquilizer guns should not be used on young children. Well, up until I had a moment of realization. The scenario went a little something like this:

CUTEZILLA, halfway through her third hour of screaming: "WAAAAAAHHHH!!! WHAAH!!!! WHAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!"

HUBBY: "What is it, sweetheart? Do you want a cracker? How about some milk?"


HUBBY: "Yogurt? Cheese? Juice???"


HUBBY: "Are you tired? Are you hungry? What do you want? TV? American Idol???"




CUTEZILLA: "WHAAA...Whaahh..wha....zzzzzz....."

HUBBY: "Oh thank God. Finally some silen--"

WIFEY, Entering: "Honey? Did you go through the mail yet? I've asked you four times to look at this bill, now, and it's still here, exactly where I left it for you the last time I mentioned it. Is that my gym ID on the bureau??? Did you put it there??? I've been looking for this thing for a month now--"


WIFEY: "How many times have I told you not to move my stuff!!?! I can't find anything when you--"



WIFEY: "Was that a tranq gun??? Where the hell did... did you... get a... zzzzz...."

HUBBY: "Oh thank God. Finally some silence."