Sunday, December 9, 2012

Back to Work

It's official.  I'm back to work on Monday.  I am actively trying not to dread it but not doing a very good job of it.  I don't want to have to leave Lala everyday for hours.  The past weeks have zoomed by.
I am jealous of women who can afford to stay home with their kids.  I greatly enjoy it.  As the start of my workday looms, I am more and more reluctant.  I sulked much of today, and cried to my mother.  How can I feel like those moms that are excited to get back to work?  They talk about wanting to have the time to themselves, about being happier when fulfilled by their work, and appreciating the family time that they get more for the time spent away.  Intellectually, I understand this.  But my heart aches when I think about being away from Lala.  On the other hand, I think if I liked my work more I might be less reluctant.
I'm afraid of the effect working will have on my breastfeeding.  My goal is to breastfeed for a year, though I will be satisfied with myself if i make it to six months.  We have had a successful two months so far.  I'm not sure what to expect or even what to do as I try to negotiate work and breastfeeding.  Most of the internet advice I read is for women with predictably scheduled desk jobs.  Close the door to your office, they suggest.  I suppose that speaks to the type of working woman who is breastfeeding.  If I figure it out, I'll let you know.
The other issue I think I'm having is that I finally feel like I've gotten into a good groove.  I'm sleeping more regular hours, and I'm actually getting things done during the day.  Initially, I was amazed if aside from caring for Lala I managed to get myself bathed and fed.  Things have started to get more predictable and a little easier.  Getting myself onto some semblance of a schedule was making me feel stable.  Going back to work means adjusting to a whole new schedule.  And, unfortunately, due to the nature of my employment, it will likely be a sporadic one.
I have to tell myself that going to work is what is best for my family right now.  Lala will be better off if I'm bringing in an income and we have the benefits that my job gives me.  I have to believe it.
Playing all day

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Jennas?
I never liked Sloppy Joes until high school when I ate them at a friend's house.  Before then I had only had Joes from school or from a can.  These Joes were unlike any I had had before.  They were homemade.  I loved them, and greatly enjoyed the occasion that I went to stay at her house and they were on the menu.
These Joes are not those Joes.  As delicious as they were, they were but the first step on my Joe journey.  These are a recipe I adapted over time from a recipe I found online several years ago.

Sloppy Joes

1 lb. ground beef
1 C. ketchup
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
2 Tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1/2 C. water
salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder

Brown the beef.  Drain well but don't rinse.  Return to the pan.  Add ketchup, mustard, Worchestershire, water.  Stir well to coat.  Add a dash of salt and around 1/4 tsp. of pepper, garlic and onion powders to taste.  Stir.  Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat.  Drop the heat to low and cover.  Cook, stirring periodically for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Serve on your choice of buns.  My husband also likes the meat on tortilla chips covered in cheddar cheese like chili nachos.

I am a picky eater in a lot of ways, so these are not chunky, pepper-laden Joes that some people may be accustomed to.  Pretty quick and easy dinner that travels and reheats well.  A winner-dinner for me.  :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A nearly perfect Sunday

It's raining today: a sort of misty half-hearted rain.  This morning was very dark; the day was very slow to start.  I woke up cranky.  I'm not a Sunday fan.  They feel like a missed opportunity.  The week is over, perhaps it could've been better.  The new week looms.  They feel dreary, simultaneously too short and too long.
I spent my Saturday fairly slothfully so I was determined to actually do something with my time.  I ran laundry, listened to Prairie Home Companion, cleaned up, made meatballs.  I attempted to spend time with Lala, but she was pretty insistent on sleeping and very fussy when awake.
I still wasn't feeling very happy, so I insisted my husband and I take a walk for the first time in a while.  The air was refreshing and it was unseasonably warm.  I started our walk with heavy talk and it didn't get better as we went.  I am discontent.  I wanted to analyze and explore and I wanted my husband to be party to it.  We don't make enough money, we aren't trying hard enough, we haven't figured out where we're going.
I rounded the corner and caught myself.  Why wasn't I happy?  This day had been excellent.  Dinner and a conversation with my sister awaited me.  I realized that I was building up the power of Sunday in my head.  There was no reason to be unfulfilled.
I straightened up a little, I stopped griping about our prospects, and allowed myself to actually be happy for a little while.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Clothespin People

When my mother was a kid, someone made her siblings and her Christmas ornaments.  They were soldiers made out of old-fashioned wooden clothespins.  When I was a kid, we had a number of them, including my mother's and her brother James'.  Since it is Lala's first Christmas, I wanted to recreate the ornaments after the members of my family.
Bard, Lala and me

This project is crazy easy and cost me about $14.  It would've been less if I hadn't had to replace my paint markers.

Parts list:
Wooden clothespins.  I prefer the flat ones because it is easier to work with them.
Paint/permanent markers in several colors.
Fine-tipped black permanent marker.
Something to protect the surface you're working on.
Raw materials

The clothespins come in bags of around thirty for $4 at craft stores.  Sometimes you can find them cheaper at dollar stores.  If you're only making a few, take the time to pick the smoothest ones.  The results are smoother.  The larger ones tend to be better for this than the little ones.
Decide whether you're modeling the people after anyone.  The pictures that follow are the process I followed to make my dad, step-mom and half-sister.  This will determine the colors and details you use.  The clothespins I used have a shape that easily separates into a head, shirt, pants and shoes.
Blue shirt, blue pants, pink shoes
Pick the colors you want to use for each person's outfit and use the permanent markers to color in each outfit.  Using the fine point marker, draw on a simple face.  This is generally the first detail that makes them recognizable.  Keep it simple for the best results.  Don't use too much pressure on the marker or it will bleed.

Outfits and the faces on the front
Using flat makes it so there are four distinct sides to color.  If using round clothespins, just continue the outfit colors all the way around.

Second side
 If you are using paint markers, you need to wait until the paint dries before moving to the next side.  Using permanent markers speeds up the process but there is some drying time involved.  You can do the first two sides, take a quick break and then come back to finish the last two sides.
The last part of the person's look should be the hair style.  This way, long hair falls over clothes.  If you're using dark colors of clothes or light color of hair, my suggestion is to use paint markers.  Even if you're using permanent markers for the rest, the opacity of the paint markers is better for hair.  Do the top, front and sides first, wait for them to dry, and then do the back.

 An option for further personalization is to write the person's name on the side of the leg.  Again, using paint markers is preferable here.  I also added the year since I am planning on re-doing these in the future when Lala can participate.

 The finished product!

These are super cute and very fast.  I did all the members of my immediate family in a few hours.

Side updates: still no word on the job front and I ate a whole bag of Twix while making these.  But that's alright.  I've got my lovely family and adorable clothespin versions of them.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Weight Struggle

My god.  I can't believe I'm writing this post again.  No, that's dishonest.  I completely believe it and it bums me out.  I've been struggling with my weight since I was in high school and I have written a journal or blog entry that this is the final straw too many times.
I don't feel too bad about the way I look, exactly.  I'm not happy but I'm trying to make peace with it.  I'm not always successful.  I definitely still see some evidence of Lala's birth but it's only been two months so that's not too bad.  But I know that my weight will not get better on its own.  I know that it would be better for my body and my future if I could get it under control.  I know that if I can get my weight under control early enough that Lala will benefit.  I know I will be happier and less sick.
I want to do it.  I have started my weight loss journey several times but am generally undone by my lack of discipline.  I have a serious sweet tooth and my husband and I both love fried and sauced food.  I drink way too much soda.  I don't exercise.
In short, it's going to take a lot of change to do this.
Change isn't easy.  But I want it.  So I'm going to try again.  And again, if I have to.  And again.
At this start, I have a hundred pounds to lose.  I'll add some fitness and nutrition goals as I go but that's the long term goal.  First things first, cut back on the crap and stop sitting on my ass.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Whoopie Pies

I recently started birth control for the first time in my life.  I am on a serious sweets and fried stuff kick and I am cranky as hell.  In that spirit, my grandmother's whoopie pies!  They are quite good but as I have gotten older I want the cookie to be a little darker and more bitter.  The filling is super sweet, so it would be a nice contrast.  But for now:

Whoopie Pie Classic

Mix together: 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, ¼ tsp salt, 1/3 cup cocoa and 1 cup sugar. Mix together: 1/3 cup oil, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla and ¾ cup milk.  Add to the dry ingredients.
Drop batter on ungreased cookie sheet by tablespoon. Bake 12 mins @ 350 °
Beat together until smooth: 1.5 sticks butter, 1.5 cup 10XXX sugar, 1/3 cup marshmallow creme and 2 tsp vanilla.  Spread on bottom side of a cookie and top with another to make a sandwich.

Be prepared for cavities!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I guess not.

This year I applied for the Teach for America program.  This isn't the first year I've tried.  Two years ago my sister and I applied at the same time.  I made it to the second round of interviews (second step in a three step process) but no further.  My sister made it all the way and is closing out her commitment to the corp this school year.  I didn't make it past this phase again.
I'm trying not to take it too hard.  I know that it's better that I didn't get knocked out in the final round of interviews, since it would definitely hurt more to have made it so close and have it come to naught.  But it's hard not to take it personally.  Since I graduated college I've only had one successful job interview.  It was for a substitute teaching position and they never really called me.  I think I substituted for the district a total of six days in a year.  It was completely pathetic.  Every other resume I've filled out, every application sent out was either met with silence or form letter rejection.
I'm underemployed.  I work part-time (not a choice) at a big box retailer where I got a job before I was finished with college.  I hate my job.  I don't feel like I have to use my brain at all.  Everything is cyclical and bureaucratic.  I count myself lucky to have a job but I have a college degree and $20,000 worth of debt to fold T-shirts and occasionally run a cash register.  It is a strange tightrope walk.  I am glad that I have work. I am grateful for it.  But I want to feel like my work matters.  I can't figure out why I don't feel like my work matters.  I don't think lowly of people that do my work and enjoy it.
I feel like an apologist suddenly.
I want a career but I feel guilty wanting more than I have.  But mostly today I feel rejected.
Maybe homemade sloppy joes will make me feel better.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nice to meet you.

Lala is seven weeks old today.  My daughter is finally here and it feels like   These past seven weeks have been among the hardest and most rewarding in my life, but they have me mired in thought a lot of the time.  Since I graduated college I have been considering the direction of my life: whether I'm reaching my full potential, whether I'm happy or doing what I need to be to get there.
My wants and my interests are as varied as anyone's, I guess.  But I feel like my attention to them is so fractured that I flit from one to another.  This blog, besides helping me process my life, will help me explore my interests in a way that should allow me to incorporate them into my life in a meaningful way.
Now that Lala's here and I'm beginning to settle into our new life I feel like I need to get some of the stuff that's been swirling around my head out.  I need to process and refine and expand.  I want to better my life.
Maybe my meandering thoughts might serve someone somewhere along the way.  That's really the most I can hope for.