Friday, December 30, 2011

So faaaar away, doesn't anybody stay...

Why does family spread?  Boo for family spreading.

Our Christmas was family coming back together for a few precious days to love, cook, wander and laugh heartily with each other.  Men folk went out to shoot empty bottles and cans in the beautiful high desert and women folk gathered in sunny spots on chairs to chat about, well, anything and everything.  In the cool dark hours, after bellies were full to brimming and wine glasses were replenished we all sat around together and laughed voraciously at things that would hardly translate into re-countable words.  Cheeks ached and tears streamed.  "Good times" is all at once the perfect description and an understatement.

My father's family is the kind of people who I can count on to extrovert love upon me and to fold me into to their fabric as if I had been there the whole time.  I feel a freedom being held in such love and I get swept up in emotional upheavals when I watch my child have the same experience.

It was a special Christmas.

We're special people

We're creative

We can be pretty entertaining

We're gorgeous

We love to have fun (and force our children to take a picture mid-fun, before sending them on their merry way)

And we love each other to pieces

It's a pretty rad time to be a Joris (I still lay claim to the name don'tcha know) and now I know why my dad made up a chant about how awesome it is to bear such a name.  This one's for my peeps down south, Joris Pride!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 30: Self Portrait

Today is the last day of my 30 days of gracious blogging!  I started on November 11th, and am ending 30 days later...on December 23.  Do the math.

Day 30's assignment is "self portrait".  I was going to use an old, goofy picture from pre-Ro times.  That'd hardly be accurate however, as I don't see myself as the same person I was then.  So I actually took this one today.

Merry Christmas ya'll

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 29: Bellies

My belly can be the bane of my existence.  I have an inkling that this is true for lots of other females.  I get swept up in endless comparisons, laying judgement to my shape and making myself miserable.  I cannot remember a time when I was happy with my belly area (I don't count being pregnant, I LOVED the shape of my pregnant bellyness).

I have an idea of what it "should" look like, this mid-section of mine, and yet I haven't been willing to do the work.  I suppose you could say I am committed to my misery.  Otherwise, I'd get 'er done and eliminate my ugly-zone.  It's because of this that I rarely vocalize my dissatisfaction.  Because I am accountable for it.

I've seen some posts on other blogs lately whose goal is to expose some realness to combat the f*cked up ideas of what a female body should look like.  As a female, I can attest to feeling bummed out about my shape after seeing an ad (or movie or other kind of media) that glorifies a certain body type.  Ever notice that only the thin, perfectly gorgeous girl gets the guy in movies?  Lumpy, saggy breasted women are left to be silly sick kicks, hilarious grumpy hags or disenchanted, overwhelmed, long-married martyrs with lots of kids who are snarky about their lives.  Naturally I'm drawn to the girl whose got it going on, and I'd like to think my brain isn't so soft that I can't be happy unless I have HER body.  But who are we kidding?  Being bombarded with such images hundreds of times a day, thousands of days in a row is bound to wear on a gal.  It's only a matter of time before my brain naturally goes: "Hey, why don't we look like that?  There must be something inherently wrong/bad about us!  Fix it, or else we won't have any friends!  No one will ever love us!"  etc.

So I wanted to take on my own blog posting that shows off all kinds of realness.  I can say, confidently, that I'm not alone in my feelings of body disgust.  When I send out a request for women in my life to send me a picture of their belly, some were horrified.  Many refused, despite my promise to leave out names.  Most of the photos I did get came with threats that I had better not post their names and that they really hated their picture. I think this speaks pretty blatantly to the fact that women mostly feel like their bodies aren't lovable unless they look a certain way.  They (I) feel that until they look this certain way, they have no business being proud of their body or showing it off or speaking about it as if it were already perfect.

My mantra is that I am already perfect.  I don't always buy into this mantra, but I know it's true.  There is nothing that is "wrong" with me.  All of my disturbances, upsets, sadness, anger and fear comes from a belief that I am somehow lacking.  If I stay present to "I am perfect" there is nothing that I cannot do or say.  Thank about it.  You are perfect too.

My fears had me convinced to not identify myself in the line up, but because I am perfect I am going to.  That's me, second row, far left.  That's a woman who's had one baby, one surgery to remove an ovarian cyst, one D&C, who doesn't exercise (except running after a toddler), who loves to bake for her family and her friends and has a incessant sweet tooth.

Soak up the realness!  (Thanks to the brave ones who contributed and to my Rosie whose belly was used to fill in the last square).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 28: Sonny Girl

From Reese's Facebook page:

"Way back in 1990 I asked Mason, who was about 11, to go down the street to borrow a funnel from a neighbor.  Mason came back with a beautiful kitten.  "Daddy, can we keep her, an we, can we???"  We named her Sonny Girl.  What an amazing cat and friend she has been all these years.  Today we had to say goodbye to her.  We will miss her and will always love her.  :( RIP Sonny Girl"

I HATE LOSING PETS.  This year we're on number two.  It ain't one of those things that gets easier either.

Sonny was Mason's cat until she adopted me when he moved out.  For the past ten years she has been my baby.  She's been through five houses. two dogs, two cats, three boyfriends, one husband and one baby with me.

She was simultaneously the most mellow and demanding cat I have known.  Nothing about moving phased her.  As long as the couch showed up at the new place, we were in business.  She didn't like for her food bowl to be below a certain line and if it was, she'd sit near it an yell at me until I filled it to par.  She was a sun bather and moved across the carpet, following the sun and sleeping in it's rays until she was a in shadow, then moving again to the sunny spot.  

She was a love.  She loved to be loved.  

Of late, she stopped bathing herself and had become matted.  She never peed in the litter box any more and had dropped to just 7 pounds.  Her movements looked painful and she spent all her time sleeping on the couch.  She hadn't slept in our bed in months.  

I really didn't know how to make such a decision.  I still don't.  Because of a decision I made today, the cat I was sitting next to and cuddling this morning will never be in my arms again.  Ever.  I'll never again kiss the soft hair behind her ears and smell her Sunny Girl smell.  I'll miss it like crazy.  I'm tore up.

The veterinarian was kind and gentle.  Sonny's blood pressure was so low that finding a vein was practically impossible and was making her upset.  So they asked me and I agreed to give her a sedative so as not to have her last moments be so traumatic.  It worked.  She was practically limp she was so sedated.  I held her while they gave her the shot, and then she really was limp.  That was it.  Gone.  I was crying.  Loudly.  I was not ok.  Everything seemed unreal.  She looked perfect and peaceful and like she could be roused if I wanted.  Watching her belly not rise and fall made me feel hysterical.  My longest love had passed.  

I freaking hate it.

I want to roll around on the floor sobbing.  There is no old, sleeping cat on my couch to snuggle up with.  

In my distress there are small comforts: she won't be hurting as hobbles across the floor to the water bowl anymore, she won't be peeing on (and then walking through it) the floor anymore, she won't puke up half the food she eats, she won't not make the jump up onto the couch if the stool isn't there.  

The vet assured me that we were on the downward slope of this life for her.  Her condition wasn't going to stay the same, it would worsen.  I had the loving and immensely difficult task of choosing her end date, if I wanted.  I could let her life get more uncomfortable, more undignified or I could spare the possible hurt she'd be in for and let her life end on more pleasant notes.  

I hated it.  I'm sobbing now.  It's such an impossible position to be in.  I told her over and over how I loved her, how I'd miss her so, so much.  And I do.

I freaking do.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 27: Silly Little Things

It's silly little things that make me really happy.  Mostly silly little things come from little people and our little person is a riot.

Like today, she wanted to sit on the kitchen counter while I made dinner.  Sometimes this is ok, today it was not (see: raw chicken, large knife, etc).  But she REALLY wanted to so she was attempting to climb the side of the cupboards to get to the counter top, complete with grunting noises from her effort.  Then she breaks this one out, "Help, I'm stuck Momma".  Looking at her, she is clearly not stuck.
Me: "How are you stuck?"
Ro: "I stuck on the floor!"

Thanks baby Ro, I love you.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! Pumpkin Suicide Cookies

I follow......a lot of blogs.  Thanks to Google reader, this is possible- thanks Google!  A month or so ago I came across a post on this little number: that invited food bloggers to participate in a Blogger Cookie Exchange.  Guess who has two thumbs and was excited to play?  This girl!

Then it hit me: I am not a food blogger.  I blog about food occasionally, but I'm not actually a food blogger.  So I sent off a request to be included in the fun, regardless of my blogging intentions and voila!  I was accepted!  I was one excited puppy, an excitement that was only mildly reciprocated by the people near me who had to field my joy.

"What-evs" I thought (cause that's how I talk to myself) I'm gonna rock this!  So I set out to find a cookie recipe to make my own.  My goal?  Find a recipe for non-cakey pumpkin cookies where I could incorporate my new find: cinnamon M&Ms.  So I found a few, combined the best parts, then raided my cupboards.  I'm gonna apologize ahead of time, I'm not sure this is entirely "make again" friendly.  I say that because I found a bunch of stuff that I wanted to use up (and fit well for my recipe) and so it's a bit of a mish mosh.  Oh, and I've never created my own recipe before...eek!
They are called "Pumpkin Suicide Cookies".  Named as such because during the baking process one of them took a dive off of my flat baking stone and burned up on the floor of my oven.  Suicidal cookie behavior had me questioning my recipe building skills.  But I think I did a-ok.

In the past two weeks we've received two batches of cookies from across the states- so cool!  The cookies' makers did a flipping amazing job with their presentation.  I began to feel a bit sorry for the people who received mine, since I sent them in ziplock baggies surrounded by wadded newspapers.  One was a cranberry coconut cookie that lasted approximately 12 hours.  Yum!  The other was a peanut butter cookie that was firm and a bit chewy.  Perfect!

Let the games begin!  Here's a breakdown of my cookie making experience, it was a bit of a comedy routine and maybe that's why I continue to bake it up in my wee little kitchen?  Probably.

Melt up the butter and let it cool.

Stir up your dry stuff: flour, sea salt, cornstarch, spices & baking soda- set aside.

In another bowl whisk the butter, sugar and syrup until combined.  Add the egg, yolk and vanilla and stir until combined.  Add in pumpkin puree and work it until it's smooth.

If you're known for your grace and elegance, like me, you'll surely not have the same problem I did while getting the rest of my unused pumpkin in a tupperware container.  I got it in the container, then tapped it down on the counter to make room for the lid....sending splatters of pumpkin EVERYWHERE.  Including on me, awesome:

Gradually add flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir it up until your dough forms,

Lastly, add in all the goodies!

Then, get excited because those are some delicious looking goodies!

Have I mentioned my favorite cookie tool?  It's my ice cream scoop.  It makes my cookies look so uniform, so professional.  Makes the people who eat them think, "Wow, this chick really knows what she's doing!", at least I imagine that's what they are thinking.  I love you, scoop.

The next step is.....refridegerate!  I know, it's boring and lame to have to wait even longer for cookies.  But alas, it's what we must do next.  So refrigerate that dough!

NOW you can use my scooper to make lovely little balls that you can cook in your oven for 15 whole minutes.  This part was not fun for me since I really wanted them ready after eight minutes.  I kept checking them...adding more minutes, repeating.  This made me a bit annoyed.

Then they came out and I ate one....resulting in a full recovery!

I hope you enjoy these if you make them.  I thoroughly enjoyed them and loved being a part of a cookie baking community.  Thanks for visiting and Merry Christmas!

If you are interested in playing with us next year, sign up to get kept in the loop here:

(makes about 24 cookies)
1/2 cup of butter; melted & cooled
1 1/4  cups packed light brown sugar
1 tbs maple syrup
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 2/3 cups AP flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp Apple Pie Spice
1 cup Cinnamon M&Ms
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup toffee chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the flour, salt, cornstarch, spices and baking soda in a bowl, set aside. In another bowl, mix the melted butter, sugars and syrup until they are combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Stir in pumpkin puree until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until a dough comes together.  Fold in the rest of the goodies.
Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes, then scoop into small egg sized balls. Bake for 15 minutes, then let cool completely. 

Day 26: Wifery

Hmm, is "wifery" even a word on it's own?  I think no.  I like to think of myself as a wife-in-training.  This is a learning process that is compounded by our decision to also raise a child.  I love the old fashioned ideas of service and I simultaneously struggle with our agreements for me to do so.

I love to cook and I love to be proud of my living space.  I am not, however, an enthusiastic cleaner.  I get laundry done...and folded a day or so later.  I get lunch and dinner made....and dishes done days later (as in, I need a pot to cook with, so I guess I should clean up).  So I have yet to perfect my status as wife.

My new motto?  Just do it.

My brain goes like this, "I reeeeally am liking sitting here.  I'll do dishes later." and my motto goes, "Don't even think about it, just do it".  It really works.  There is no internal conversation and the job gets done.

My job title means that I am responsible for: keeping a clean house, laundry, food and unmentionables.  The result of my best effort at these tasks is a tremendously happy husband.  All it takes is my best effort.  He doesn't care if it's not done to perfection.  I don't mean to sound crass, but I think it's really that simple to have a happy husband.  Men don't require lots of complicated song and dance.  Do these few things (including loving their children, if you have them) and they will "swim through shark infested waters to bring you a lemonade" as Dr. Laura would say.  If you (as a woman) have ever had the chance to love a man in this way and have given and honest chance to this philosophy, you know what I mean.

I have a suspicion that the message in our world lately is that taking this position of service is somehow demeaning.  It's too bad because I think the rate of divorce can be attributed to this in some respect.

I am not going to sit here and tell you I am a pro (yet).  I struggle with staying on task and I battle laziness.  I am clear about what it's going to take, however.  And when I pull it off, I get the doting of my husband, his glowing smile and his willingness to take care of my every need.  It's a pretty sweet deal.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 25: Cooking

I loooooove cooking!  I follow *ahem* about 150 food blogs.  While I don't read every single entry of every single blog, I do read the ones that catch my eye and fit into my diet choices.  I snag recipes from these people for dinners and lunches every week.

I don't much repeat recipes.  I love making something new every time, it's like creating a new piece of art everyday.  It helps that I'm not terrible at it and my hubs dishes out compliments on a regular basis.

This week we had some of our best buds over for dinner and I made roasted garlic mac & cheese.  For lunch this week we tried a toasted tuna fish sandwich that included beans in the mix.  Tomorrow I'm gonna go for chicken enchilada puffs.

I do love to soft center is a testimate to that!  These cookies were fantastically wonderful:

I have always wanted to be an artist, and I suppose creating food is it's own art form.  I follow recipes loosely (unless I'm baking) to create dishes that are specially mine.  It's even more fulfilling because it nourishes my family.  I put my hands and effort on veggies and meat and fruits and they gobble it down.  It's a pretty awesome thing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 24: Nighttime

I'm such a girl.

I had our kitchen windows open while I was baking about an hour ago (so 9pm-ish), I'm home alone with a sleeping baby, and I was really enjoying the contrasting breezes.  Hot air from the oven and cool air from the window.  Then there was a suspicious noise- outside the window and into the darkness there is something or someone and I couldn't see them or know what they were up to.  And just like that the nighttime was transformed from a sweet relief into a predatory monster.  I was practically in a panic cranking the windows closed and yanking the curtains shut....because shut curtains provide protection, don'tcha know.

On another note, the nighttime is a time of sweetness that was unmatched until 22 months ago.  Since Rosie was born she has slept in our bed.  It was (is) a controversial move and solicits it's fare share of criticisms (until I just stopped sharing it with people).  Comments along the lines of how we are spoiling our child and we will be sorry we did it.  Or, how we must not be the kind of people who need our own personal space or even the occasional remark about how our sex-life must be non-existent.  That's just a taste.  So you may be able to see why I just stopped sharing that info with people.  When babies are small (like, 1 year and under) people are compelled to ask you ALL THE TIME about the wee-one's sleeping habits, and then give their opinions/advice based on what you say- regardless  of whether or not you were seeking such opinions/advice.

Co-sleeping (as it's known in the parenting world) was something I knew I needed to do.  I didn't go through my pregnancy knowing this.  It became glaringly obvious as soon as she was bundled up in my exhausted arms that this little person had just spent months in the closest of quarters to me- and to put her in a place that was wide open (a crib/bassinet) and so separated from me was just wrong.  Not to mention, co-sleeping made nighttime breastfeeding a breeze, I mean, I hardly had to wake up (score!!).  And no, I never rolled over onto my baby.

It has been some of the most awesome times with Ro.  She wakes up in the most fantastic mood and in a vibrant tone says, "Hey Momma!".  She is right there with us, not crying and lonely in another part of the house.  It just makes the most sense to me.  At one time we had a conversation about moving her into her own room (when that was actually a possibility) and the notion had me in tears.

I can see now that she will transition into her own space in time.  We won't have to force the issue, she will just do it, and I will be a sad and proud Momma.
Nighttime snuggling with my true love on one side of me and my heart on the other is the most content and peaceful place I could hope to be.

NOTE: I don't intend to bash people who make different choices for their children's sleeping arrangements!  No need to defend your choices- I get we all are given this life to live how we choose, and I love you just the same.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 23: Gratitude

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of "gratitude" is my life.

In high school I didn't take the SATs or apply to colleges.  I didn't have a clear direction I was interested in.  I wandered and stayed uncommitted through a few years of community college.  Then came Italy.  I went within a few weeks of becoming "official" with E.
The possibilities for my life were whatever I wanted them to be, and the possibility that got me the most excited was being married and being a stay-at-home mom.  I struggled with this because I had remnants of thoughts along the lines of:  staying at home is a repressive role, having my husband support me totally is degrading, and strong women do it all: work, mother and be a wife.  I am happy to say that I am fully recovered of these thoughts, that I am a bit embarrassed that I bought into them in the first place.
Because I was sure that staying at home with my babies was what I wanted, I asked E early on what he wanted for his wife and babies.  He told me he wanted his wife to stay home and raise his babies.  That was that.
There were a few moments where my need to please my family was tested.  The over-arching desire from them was that I would go to college, get a degree and become established in a profession.  So upon hearing what my actual game plan was, I was presented with questions about what I would fall back on when my kids were no longer in the house, and maybe I could just get a degree because you never know when that might come in handy, etc.  In those moments my will was tested, my passion challenged.  I am, historically, a pleaser.  I avoid or resolve conflict with a quick hand, and this challenging of my resolve looked like confrontation.  It was scary for me to ward off the comments and suggestions that I might be making a silly choice.
Today I am grateful that I stuck to my guns.  I am grateful for a husband who sees the importance of having a parent raise our child and is willing to make the sorts of sacrifices to maintain that lifestyle.  I am grateful that my husband sees and acknowledges how the time I spend with Ro is resulting in a confident, vibrant and brilliant child.  I cannot begin to describe how this life choice fills me up and how I don't feel like I am missing out on anything.  It is the career I didn't always know I wanted and am so glad that I committed to.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 22: My Body

My body.  Oye vey.  I struggle with this one.  Yipes.

In high school I was crazy uncomfortable.  I physically dreaded the summertime because it meant I couldn't hide under my clothes anymore.  I loved the cold rainy months that let me hunker down in a sweatshirt and become an undefined shape.  Summertime meant the reveal of my flaws and my chub.  Something that, in high school, doesn't earn you popularity points.

Since then my unease has led me into the gym and into 10 day cleanses.  Twice E and I have done the Master Cleanse.  I felt amazing afterwards.  My brain felt clearer and my body looked thinner.  I actually wanted to eat healthy foods and my self esteem went up.  It was wonderful.  It's probably the best I've looked (according to industry standards) ever.  I weighed 160 pounds.

After the baby I am a mess.  I weigh 215 pounds.  The ironic part is that I care less about my self image than I ever have before.  I can't imagine what I was so unhappy with when I weighed 40 pounds less.

Maybe it's because I have something else to put all my focus into.  It's no longer about me.

My body has brought me to the top of Half Dome and back down again.  

My body has run 13.1 miles twice.

My body has covered 26.2 miles in 5 hours.
**pics are MIA**

My body held and grew a new life.

My body pushed that new life out and into my arms.

My body nourished that baby for over a year.

So I guess I'll be happy and proud of my body.