Sunday, January 31, 2010

So, not to get all political, but...

For those that are getting to know me, I am a proud Libertarian. The motto I try to most adhere to in my own political leanings is pretty much "give everyone the freedom to take care of themselves". I think that most Federal government initiatives are a complete waste of taxpayer money and resources, and that more rights should be left to the states. During the last "big" election, I found it abhorrent that so many people were much more interested in the Presidential election than their Senatorial and Gubernatorial races.

But I digress. The real reason I'm discussing my politics is for one thing: food. I like it. I like to cook it. I like to read about it. I especially like to enjoy it. Three things that will almost always be in my refrigerator are butter, milk, and heavy cream. How else would I be able to make steak au poivre or a luscious chocolate souflee topped with whipped cream? Valentine's Day is coming up, and dear hubby and I will more than likely be spending it at home, making a nice meal after our little one goes to bed. I need butter!

I used to laugh every time I saw that "can't believe it's not butter" commercial where they point out that Sweden or somewhere is the only place in the world so far to ban trans fat. Except some US States have also done that, or are trying to. The fact that there are people out there that want to live in a place that tells them what they can and cannot eat astounds me. What's next? No red meat, because it clogs the arteries? Although I guess if they ban red meat there is no longer any reason to drink red wine, so wine could be out, too.

Now, I am an avid fan of wine and beer, but let me play devil's advocate. Do you seriously think that obese Americans are putting more of a burden on other Americans than drunk drivers? Yet we continue to allow people to drink, despite the various other health problems it causes. I am a working mom with a little blog for my own enjoyment. I am not going to go google-crazy trying to find statistics to back up my argument. I am simply pointing out my own common sense view that if I want to eat chocolate and butter and whipped cream, I am going to do it anyway. Like most drugs, I would just do it behind my government's back, and they would still be paying my higher health costs eventually. By the way, at this point in time what I eat has little effect on most people since I do pay for my own health insurance. Maybe it affects a few other people that work for my company since we share health insurance costs, but I'm sure some of them smoke. Some are alcoholics. Some are just old and have many more health problems than I do. In fact, the fact that I have a 5 month old probably has more bearing on my co-workers insurance burden than the fact that I am overweight. The kid has been to the doctor more times in the last 5 months than I had been in 5 years until I got knocked up.

So, thanks-but-no-thanks to our government trying to ban trans fats, or any other food product for that matter. I'm Southern. I eat Spam. I'm sure there's something in Spam that I can't pronounce that could do just as much damage as any trans-fat. Does that mean we shouldn't be allowed to eat it? should just be our choice whether or not we want to put that crap in our bodies.

If you think I'm wrong, I dare you to come over to my house, indulge in my chocolate-on-chocolate made from scratch cake, and argue your point. What's sinful is not that cake. It's taking away my right to bake it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

So, So Thankful Beyond Words, But I'll Try...

As I've mentioned before, I participate in an online message board forum with other women that are new moms. Most of the time, it is for entertainment and to pass the rare down time at work, but sometimes we actually discuss meaningful topics about child-rearing and life as a mother. This week, the main topic of conversation has been the controversial debate about whether it is harder to be a Stay at Home Mommy or a Working Mommy. Obviously, having been a working mama for the last two and a half months, I have my place in that discussion.

But as I sit here this morning with my sweetheart in my lap, nursing and watching me type, all of that conversation pales in meaningless comparison to the struggle that my fellow blogger is going through. Laura over at Embracing Elijah, if you are not already following, is doing the hardest thing I can imagine after the meager loss I suffered before conceiving Jacob. She is 24 weeks pregnant with her second child, her first son, who has been diagnosed with Trisomy 13. (For those that aren't familiar, a fatal congenital defect that usually causes a miscarriage somewhere in the first two trimesters.) I encourage you to read her blog because it will stir the kind of emotions that can only be felt when you are so, so very thankful to be holding your own child.

This morning, I woke up feeling immense pressure to "get things done". I still have a Christmas tree (barely live and a total fire hazard) fully decorated and sitting in my dining room. I need to bake a cake for my dad's birthday. My house has not been vacuumed or mopped in over two weeks. There is so much on my to-do list that I was hoping Jacob would take a very long nap this morning.

Instead he napped for 30 minutes while I cleaned up breakfast, and then I brought him upstairs to get my blog on. I read Laura's recent post just as Jacob got full, and as I read about her struggle, I looked down at my son and noticed how very alive he is. How his cheeks are perfect and rosy, his eyes are so wide open, how he is now totally enamoured with his very own tongue, and I cried. These things that make my life more difficult are also the things that make it so worth living, the things that so many women will not have with their children.

So today, I will get done what I can get done, and I will hug and play and kiss Jacob as often as humanly possible, because I have a sweet baby that can do those things, and her blog reminds me that I never know just how long I have with him.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This Year's Love

I don't know if anyone is interested in what I'm interested in or not, but I figure while I'm "blogging", I'll lay it all out there.

I have a long and varied list of musical tastes that tend to range from Andrew Lloyd Weber to Patsy Cline to Pearl Jam to Black Eyed Peas. (I happen to own, in fact, a Black Eyed Peas album from the late 90's, pre-Fergie and Taboo.) Despite my various musical loves, however, I do have a stand alone favorite artist, and that would be one David Gray. He has the kind of music that requires a long drive or a rainy day and a bottle of wine (don't get confused: I don't mean a long drive and a bottle of wine). It's soulful, it's challenging, it speaks to me and makes me feel alive. His voice is raw and powerful, his lyrics are some of the best, and his music is haunting.

It also helps that I seem to associate the music of his that I have owned with major life events. My first David Gray "album" was really more of a mix CD made by a friend that contained a lot of music from White Ladder, but with some of his other songs mixed in as well. I could sing almost every word to that CD. I was listening to that CD almost daily when my husband and I first started hanging out more often. That mix tape will always remind me of a time when I was letting go of one man and accidentally falling for another one.

When "Life in Slow Motion" came out, I bought the album and listened to it several times for a week or two. I shared it with my best friend on a trip to visit her in NY. I remember listening to it while we sat on her couch drinking wine, eating olives and caprese, and catching up on life the previous 18 months. But I will always, always associate that album with my honeymoon. My dear hubby and I had wanted to go to Italy and Germany, but instead of a European vacation, what we got was spending nearly $1500 on tickets to the hockey playoffs and watching the Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup. (It was worth every penny and giving up Europe to see that.) So, instead, we decided to pick the next best thing as foodies and wine snobs, and we visited Northern California. We spent 5 days and nights driving around between San Fransisco, the Pacific Coast Highway up through Muir Woods and past Stinson Beach to Tomales Bay, where we stayed in a wonderful gourmet B&B in Olema. From there we continued north through Sonoma County's beaches and across to wine country. It was a lot of driving, a lot of fog, a lot of time just spent hopping out of the car to stretch our legs and take pictures of the rocky cliffs beside the Pacific. And it was almost entirely narrated by David Gray. We must have listened to that CD 20 times in 2 days. It was the perfect soundtrack to the start of our lives as husband and wife.

And now, David Gray has a new album out, Draw the Line. And I listen to it almost daily as I leave work and pick my son up from daycare. He usually sleeps in the car, even through me pretending to sing along with David and his guest Annie Lenox on my favorite new song. I haven't learned all of the words to this one yet, but it definitely shows promise, and soon I will be remembering this album as the one I bought around the birth of my child. He'll be 14 in the back of the car on the way to school, and I'll be telling him all about buying it and listening to it when he was a baby and how much it means.

And then he'll roll his eyes and put his earplugs back in, listening to whatever metal-space pop kids will be calling music in 2024.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

That One Corner

I don't know why exactly, but I've been thinking about my grandmother a lot the last few days. She passed away last summer after a long period of convalescence that was particularly difficult on my immediate family. Mema spent the last 11 months of her life living in my parents' home, with my mother as her primary caregiver. My mom is a nurse by trade, so her schedule went much like this:

M-F: wake up at 4AM, get ready for work, and work from 6-12 ish(a nurse never works a real set shift, it's kind of up to whenever she feels least guilty for leaving). Get home as soon as possible to "relieve" the daytime caregiver, and spend the next 8 hours battling with my grandmother to eat, watching judge shows and Jeapordy on TV, never get a minute to herself, etc. until time for bed, when a huge argument ensued between the two of them about the use of a guardrail so that my very weak but strong-willed Mema wouldn't roll out of bed. Throughout the night, Mema would call out in her sleep either in pain, or yelling the names of her dead sisters over and over. In the morning, she would accuse my mother of not coming to her when she called. Saturdays were much teh same, except without the distraction of leaving for work. Most Sunday she was able to leave for about 6-8 hours while my uncle came over. For nearly a year, she could not have a peaceful time in her own home. It was devastating and made the relationship between them very strained.

As bitter as her end was, I feel like the cherished memories of Mema are finally flooding back, and it hits me like a brick some days that I will never walk into her home again and see her quilting.

On our way to an N.C State basketball game today, we passed her old neighborhood and I thought about the times when my husband and I were dating and had just moved in together. "Now John, don't you let me watch this next basketball game by myself, you hear?" She'd say when she found out I had to work and evening that our men's basketball team was playing. I know she probably didn't watch the games when we weren't around, but she liked having a common bond with the man she knew I would marry before I even knew it. Now, I am sad to know that he never will be able to take her up on the offer, and I wonder if she was alone the last time she watched a game.

I think about her favorite Christmas tradition. She had all of us over on Christmas Eve, and the next day she spent travelling from place to place, seeing what Santa had brought all of her grandchildren. She always came to our house first so that she could have Christmas breakfast with us.

I miss some of the things we made fun of, especially her funny dialect. The way she would say "unh-huh", and how for nearly two solid years how almost every time she saw our (female) dog, she would point and ask, "is he gonna get any bigga?" The way she ended every phone conversation with, "well, bye." I really miss coming over and picking vegetables from her garden, and then having a huge meal of fried okra, butter beans, cucumbers in vinegar, field peas, corn, and always sliced tomatoes.

The thing that I will most cherish, though, is the quilt she made me. She made one for each of her family members, and for some reason she constantly consulted my opinion for mine. Instead of surprising me like she did for the rest, she made me come and pick out fabric, she showed me patterns and wanted to know which one I wanted, she showed me the stitched top before she battened and quilted. I vividly remembering noticing the one square in the corner that was turned the wrong way. As a perfectionist, I almost pointed it out when she asked if I was satisfied, especially because I knew it would have been a fairly easy fix, but something stopped me and made me just report that it was, in fact, exactly what I was hoping for. These days, that one mistaken corner is my favorite reminder of Mema, proof that my quilt is handmade, proof that she wasn't perfect but loved me enough to sew each one of these squares painstakingly together, proof that she was so distracted by her love for me that she rushed through this corner, trying to have it ready in time for whatever she was planning.

I miss Mema terribly these days, but through my quilt and my memories, I know she is always here with me.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


As I look ahead to what life will bring me in 2010, I am choosing to not participate in "Resolutions". However, the last year has definitely brought me some revelations about changes that I need to make to my life, and I will share those here.

I should be keeping a cleaner house. This should not be too difficult in the next year, even given the fact that I now have a child to care for, because the standards are not set very high. If I vacuum more than once a month, clean the bathroom more than once every other month, dust once every six months, and make sure there are no dirty dishes before I go to bed, I will pretty much be making a huge leap from the past 30 and one-half years.

I must continue to eat at home more. I am very excited about the prospect of making baby food for my little guy, and after two weeks of shop and prep on Sunday for the week ahead, I can make this achievable. My husband and I like to cook, and little man is becoming more content to play alone in the exersaucer or playmat (although this morning while we were eating oatmeal and watching the VH1 countdown, he kept rolling onto his tummy, pushing up, and looking at us sideways grinning, which is absolutely the most adorable thing I've ever seen)! I actually watched a Taco Bell commercial last night and went "ugh...that no longer looks appetizing in any way". Not to say that I don't like a good Big Mac now and then, just that maybe I can really stick to the rule we're trying to set of only eating lunch out once a week at work. Also, we're trying to get into breakfast casseroles to cook on Sunday so that neither of us will be tempted by Bacon biscuits and Bo'Rounds before work. I'm a Southern girl...bagels don't cut it...I need something with egg, meat, and cheese to really feel satisfied for breakfast. If I bring yogurt to work I will do anything possible (including arriving 5 minutes late) to get that salty fix.

Which brings me to a not-so-subtle revelation that I've kept on a corner in the back of my mind for some time now: at 5'9" and 235 pounds, I am obese. I am no longer in the "barely obese" category, but in the full-on, at risk for every disease imaginable level of obesity. My husband, god bless him, still calls me sexy and makes me feel pretty, but I know I haven't felt that way for a very, very long time. And I really can't chance the fact that my little boy's mom could die of heart disease when he's only twelve years old. Now, I know myself and there's no way I could do this quickly with some drastic diet or lifestyle change. I can't even commit to Weight Watchers. But I can make little changes here and there that will add up: I can't wait until it's not dark when I get home from work so that I can start taking walks again. Until then, I may try out the new indoor track at the community center near work. I can bring Jacob with me and wear the Bjorn or push his stroller, serious runners be damned. I need to eat a serving of fruit with breakfast and make sure I have a serving (or more) of veggies with each meal. I can start replacing my 3PM chocolate snack with a yogurt or applesauce most days. I say most because what I cannot commit to is never having another slice of that 3-level Chocolate Mousse Cake from the Greek boys' deli. But maybe I can save it for a reward every time I lose 5lbs. And I can remind myself that until I hit my goal of 175, I cannot start trying to conceive a second child.

So, with that, I will sign off so that I can add some tickers to this blog!