Thursday, March 30, 2006

I Am Such a Looooser!

I am such a loooooser...really, I am. What happened to me?!? I really was cool once upon a time (I think, well maybe). But, now I seem to have stooped to a new level of looser-ism.

Okay, first I am getting my haircut and telling my hairdresser about this girl who doesn't use diapers on her children. It is called elimination communication. Way over my line, but whatever. My hairdresser asks, "So how do you know this person? I was left with no alternative answer (I am not a good liar on the fly and even a worse liar with time to consider) but to say, "Oh, I don't really know her know her. I read her blog ever day, you know...I check in to see what is going on in her life." And, her reply was of course, "so, this is a total stranger?" Feeling like I really shouldn't have shared this interesting tidbit about Mother Anarchy's interesting approach to addressing bodily functions with her babies, I replied, "Well, yes." My hairdresser obviously isn't in to blogs.

And, that--the word hairdresser. That isn't what they are called, is it? See, I am such a looser. Maybe I should say stylist. Just ask Emily about the time I asked her something about "buddy-chatting" only to learn that it is now referred to as instant messaging, or the really cool way to say it--IM. I think I am really operating in my own world and protecting myself from those things I don't understand. I have got to find a way to know what is cool.

I think maybe I am just getting older. Not old, but you know, older. I don't understand most of the shows on MTV now (except for Laguna Beach, I mean Stephen trying to decide between rich and thin Kristin and slightly more intelligent and super super rich LC). I haven't even seen the last few seasons of Real World and am bored by the RR/RR Challenge within seconds.

I think this is the precursor, to the precursor of the stage where you are an old woman and let out big farts every time you go pee in a public restroom. So there you have it. My future looks good: I will let big farts as I share randomnesses of my friends, who I don't even know with strangers in public restrooms. Oh, my future looks good!!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Feng Shui

So, you may be wondering about the entry below with the pictures...Feng Shui. Well, here is the short version. My dad and his wife have decided to move to Indiana. They sold their house in Miami in just six days. He came to Indiana this week to find a house and found one. She stayed back in Miami, as she was busy with work. She is an incredible artist, who is fortunate enough to make her living as an artist. My dad, in his infinite wisdom and abililty to pick out winners, found a house and purchased it in less than 24 hours of arriving in Indiana.

He is very excited about this and invites me over to see the house. But, he cautions me not to act "too excited" and give away the deal he just closed. The house is adorable. Very charming, warm and obviously well-cared for. With just one owner, it is immaculate. And, it is in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in town. The house has a warm spirit and was no doubt a house of love. It has a beautiful back yard where I can see my kids running in the summers with Grandpa Keith and Oma.

He returns to Miami and tells his wife of his purchase. This beautiful creature, who I deeply admire, is a unique combination of a tall and thin Dutch woman who has converted to Judaism and is a strong believer and interpreter of Feng Shui. What a combo, right? But, what a woman (and I am not just saying that because she may be reading!). Well, turns out they had seen this house once before when it was on the market for a short time around Thanksgiving. She remembers it (perhaps a little wrong) and is deeply concerned about its fundamental Feng Shui. A hill in the backyard--bad news. An "L" shape--bad news. All Feng Shui can be counteracted, but this issue has divided the happy Hoosier-bound couple.

I sent the pictures below to try and reassure her of the house's great appeal and warm feel. But, I don't think it helped.

Feng Shui

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bikini Season in the Near Future

Dinner last night: Domino's Pizza
Dinner tonight: Popcorn (Jeff is at the Pacer's game)

Bikini season is fast approaching. While I am not feeling a need to loose a huge amount of weight, I am in need of some serious toning. I play tennis once a week, but that really isn't enough to reign in the thighs on this girl. So, back to the gym. Well...sort of gym.

My favorite is Curves. Yes Curves. Here is why.

1) I am often the youngest person in there and I as continue to age (and come to the realization that people in their twenties are no longer "my age") this a good thing.

2) I move faster than most people in there, which makes me feel extra fit (even if I am not).

3) There is no childcare available. They were on to me when I would go to the YMCA, and always wanted to go-an extra twenty minutes loading in and out of the car, ten minutes signing in and out of childcare, and ten more minutes explaining in the lobby why we were not going swimming.

4) It is quick, easy (or as hard as you want it to be), and still feels like a workout. Oh yes, I will be sore tomorrow.

5) Everyone is really nice (well, almost everyone). The exercise area is set up in a circle and you rotate stations every thirty seconds. Throughout the whole workout, everyone chats and it certainly makes the time go by quick for people like me who are incredibly board with exercise.

6) Did I mention no childcare? This is just for me--alone. So, if you read and subscribe to Dr. Lair's "The Proper Care and Feeding of a Husband" this place probably isn't for you. And, my therapist keeps telling me Dr. Laura isn't for me...But it is so weird, I just have to listen and always end up feeling a bit inadequate as a mother, wife, sister, daughter by the end-really, I swear she hates women).

7) They all talk about how "skinny" I am and how they cannot believe I have three kids. Well, this is nice, but really it is just because they are all old, can't see, and are often incredibly out of shape.

8) I am in and out in under 30 minutes, including my commute. They sell this as a 20-some minute workout, and it is. No conforming to a schedule, fighting for a good spot and having to watch some buff bitch smoke me in crunches.

9) No mirrors. Yes, no mirrors. I can't see me! And, chances are most of the people in there can't see me either. No need to wear cute workout clothes or even shave my legs. Anything goes.

10) No childcare. Goodbye--I am leaving and you are NOT coming under any circumstances, no matter how many times you ask, how much you whine, or how guilty I feel that I worked too much yesterday. Ahhh...

I joined February 28, 2005 (baby #3 about 4 months old at the time). I went back in today for the first time in a while and got measured and weighted. They ran a report and here are the results. Since joining, I have lost 30.5 inches on my body (bust, arms, hips, abdomen, thighs) and 24 pounds. My percent body fat (which they measure with a device that I just cannot believe is accurate) was 33.5% and is now 21%, and probably still dropping since I just quit nursing two months ago. My BMI went from 24.5 to 20.7 today.

Keep in mind, it was not the primary source of my weight loss over the past year. But, I enjoy it and feel it--it is quick, fast-paced, and cheap ($29/month)! Oh, and no childcare.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Let Me State the Obvious

Dinner last night: Rigatoni with Mushroom Sauce, Salad and Bread

Let me just start this long-overdue entry by stating the obvious. It snows in Indiana. Yes, its true and you may be shocked.

Much of northern Indiana is in the snowbelt (seen in this picture from NASA to the right) and is prone to lake-effect snows. The rest of the state is just in the rust belt, the bible belt, and the big belt because some many Hoosiers are grossly overweight. Because of the close proximity to the snowbelt, it seems intuitively obvious to me that we are "close enough" to expect that snow is part of our regular progression through the four-seasoned calendar year. But, apparently not so. For many Hoosiers, a snowy day could be considered a natural disaster.

Now, I have thought long and hard about this and inquired with friends, family and older and wiser colleagues. The fact is, it hasn't always been like this. Back in the day, snow was a normal part of life in Indiana. When I was a child, school was rarely canceled. Businesses certainly didn't close in a snow storm, and the stores tended to be business as usual. And, on the verge of turning 34, I can remember many winters in Indiana, and only a handful of those were without any snow at all. Most had at least two big storms, some even blizzards. Everyone else in the state seems to have forgotten about our previous experience with snow.

Here is how it works in 2006. A few days before the predicted snow fall, the buzz begins. "Getting a big storm" the teller at the bank says, "gonna ruin my weekend plans" the checkout girl at the grocery complains. "Have you seen the forecast lately, they are saying ten inches," says the UPS guy. Everyone is abuzz with information, facts, and opinions about this predicted storm. It consumes the community. People rush to the grocery store to stock up on crappy food, like bacon that doesn't need to be refrigerated (what is with that? If you eat that...whoever you are...please leave me a comment and tell me why). The shelves are empty and provisions are prepared.

I am all for preparation (uhhm...Katrina...hello? We were in Florida during Katrina, anyone who didn't prepare-chose not to-there was no escaping the local media attention the severity of that storm...unless you are Ray Nagin). Back to the snow--Schools send out notices to watch WTHR for closings or listen to WIBC for their announcement of a delay. People prepare. Then we wait. Soon it begins. The closings, that is-not the snow (at this point, it hasn't even started yet). Nonessential activities are cancelled. No class at PJ's Beauty College, Missionettes cancelled, no Little League meeting. Emails begin arriving rescheduling meetings for fear of the morning or evening rush hour commute in snow.

Then, the interruption in regularly scheduled programming to bring the latest predictions from the storm center, apparently located in the core of the earth. Six, twelve, ten, wait now maybe only three inches. The snow begins to fall. Plows prepare. More cancellations-schools, gyms, churches, daycares, and service agencies (sorry folks, the trip to Argosy Casino is off).

Everyone is encouraged to stay off the roads, unless they must travel. The snow is still falling. Some disregard the warnings and brave the elements. Do you know who they are? Most of them are one of three people. 1) the idiot who still buys American cars that are rear-wheel drive. Hmmm, I just cannot figure out why GM is loosing so much money. 2) the idiot who bought the world's largest SUV-but in 2-wheel drive instead of four-wheel drive. 3) the idiot who has four-wheel drive and thinks it makes them better drivers on ice. If you are one of those idiots...well, your just an idiot. Live broadcasts continue from the storm center.

This is pretty much how it wraps up in Indiana (especially during March storms)..."Well, the storm appears to be breaking up and the snow showers are tapering off and we expect to see a high tomorrow of 62 degrees." Looks like we will end up with a total around four inches. A far cry from the six to ten they predicted. But, wow! That sure was exciting...not.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Peter Pan Leaves Me in the Poor House

Tuesday night, I took Phillip and my mom to see Cathy Rigby's farewell tour of Peter Pan at Clowes Hall. A beautiful production and we had fantastic seats. Phillip was clearly taken by the magic of theatre. I have waited a long time for that moment. When I was growing up, live theatre was part of our life. My parents took me to see almost every major production that came to town. I had never heard of places like Beef & Boards, but had tenth row seats to see a Broadway production at Clowes. REAL theatre (sorry Beef & Boards fans...its descent community theatre, but I talkin' the big guns).

We saw shows in Indianapolis, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. I even saw Starlight Express in London. So, for me, this moment is completing the circle. Taking my child to the theatre like my parents did with me. And, sharing this moment with my mom was extra special. Phillip may have been a little less "in awe" because of today's numerous opportunities to introduce kids to performance through this insane live shows--Disney on Ice, Elmo's World, Dora, etc.

Yes, we did it. We took Phillip to Toy Story on Ice when he had just turned three. He loved it. Then, we took him to Nemo on Ice when he was four and we swore we would never take them again (for the most part). The tickets are outrageous and the shows, well...sort of stupid. And, the worst part is that the focus is rarely on the show, but instead on the crap they sell. Flashlights for $20, t-shirts, giant snowcones for $12 in plastic cups that will break in two weeks, and the dreaded cotton candy wrapped up neatly in more overpriced plastic crap.

Somehow, we always convinced him to stick with the t-shirts. And, of course we have to get a matching one for Sam who is already pissed he didn't get to come. So, I brought extra cash along with me to Peter Pan because this, THIS was special and t-shirt would certainly be a must for Phillip (which means Sam, too). And...guess how much those "must" t-shirts were? Size 4-6 (kids)--a mere $30 each! I almost got Andrew a black one so he too could be included, but the smaller size was still $20--really, that is two outfits at the Carter's store (the potential for six outfits for the price of Phillip and Sam's shirts).

Most importantly, Phillip had a life-long fantasy come true. My mom bought him, and Sam, one of those hand-held things with the flashing lights inside that spin around (they always have these at Disney on Ice and we always say "no" launching into the, "that junkie toy will be broken in ten minutes"). Did I mention they were $15 each? Yes, $15. That might trump what they sell for at the Disney shows. So far, though, they are still working!

It was a wonderful night and well worth the "investment" to experience that with Phillip. The next night was our 9th wedding anniversary and Jeff and I enjoyed dinner out--never once talking about the kids! It was wonderful. Gee, I sort of had a social life this week!?!

The boys in front of the Happy Anniversary sign they made us (thanks to our wonderful Nanny). Note the Peter Pan shirts.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Car for Sale

Anyone interested in buying a car? This beautiful and fun 2000 sleek black Beetle will wow your friends and family with its 1.8L Turbo engine, sweet leather interior, 6-disc CD player and huge sun roof. The car is in great shape, to prove it...take a look at the service we have had done!

1) 4 brand new engine mounts and brackets installed. Yes, that is right. An engine mount snapped and the whole transmission fell out on day 2. No worries, they replaced all the parts that fell out on the street and all the engine mount brackets.

2) Two working windows. No bother that the driver side window didn't work--it does now!

3) All new vacuum hoses. Well, apparently when that mount broke, a few hoses got torn as the transmission dropped about 6 inches and shifted to the right. But hey, new hoses are a good thing!

3) A new oxygen sensor. That pesky oxygen sensor, causing all of those "check engine lights."

4) A new trunk latch. No trouble for the new owner of this car getting the trunk opened and closed, it has a brand new latch!

5) New keyless entry fob. Everyone loves a key fob, right?

6) New oil pan and gasket. It was a small leak, but its fixed.

7) Turbo in great working order. It has a brand new turbo by-pass valve, and a vacuum line to the turbo by-pass valve.

8) Miscellaneous other repairs that we are confident were done without our knowledge to protect us from knowing "too much."

Here is your chance to join in with thousands of other dissatisfied Beetle owners. The car has just 49,000 miles on it. We have put a mere 3,500 on it since we bought it six months ago--and hey, 300 of those were driving it back and forth to the dealer for repairs. You will love this disaster, I mean roadster of a car. Come on, take a chance and make an offer! Glorious days will await you sitting in the waiting area at Duke Gold's Speedway Volkswagen.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

One, Two, Three--Are You Sure These All Came From Me?

Dinner last night: Turkey tacos! A fun, easy family dinner.
Dinner tonight: Popcorn for Desperate Housewives!

This will come as no surprise to most of you with children. Yes, it is another entry about children. Dad, I know you want me to stop writing about food and kids and get to some real issues...sorry. (Actually, there are lots of real issues I could write about, but I think its more than you really want to know about me.

I often wonder...can these kids really all be from me? All so different, from the moment they were conceived until today--and including what I think their futures may hold. Let's take a look at the evolution of numbers 1,2, and 3. Oh yeah, its going to be another long one.

1: devastated after it didn't happen the first try, second try was executed with great precision and determination. Yielded a pregnancy.

2: Thought about it, was prepared to try several months, happened almost right away.

3: Just stopped nursing number 2 and ooops. I am pregnant?!?

1: So relaxed, little stress, taking in every moment, reading literally dozens of books on childbirth, parenting, development, and more. Took classes at the hospital, plus the Bradley Method classes. Read some more. Did yoga, pelvic tilts every day in the last six weeks, stretched, walked at least five times a week, and even pereneal massage (if you don't know what that is, you probably don't want to ask). I took pictures of my belly every month to document the wonderful journey. No real sickness, felt great the whole time but occasionally bothered by some smells.

2: More stressed. Working, taking care of number one, and big changes in Jeff's career (as he entered the police academy). Still did occasional yoga, walked fairly regularly with number one in the stroller, did pelvic tilts more like the last four weeks of pregnancy, took maybe six pictures of my belly. Developed acid reflux when I ate peppers, tomatoes or anything with tomato sauce, sausage, etc. Tums, this is Kris. Kris, this is Tums. Lots of belly kicks, sitting on nerves, stepping on bladder, etc.

3: I spent the first three weeks in denial. The next six weeks downing Unisom and B12 to prevent morning sickness. I rarely walked because it meant most of the time pushing or pulling 50+ pounds of number 1 and 2. I still had reflux and had increased problems with varicose veins in my legs (nothing serious, but I would have to put them up at night). Did a few pelvic tilts, no yoga.

OB/GYN Visits
1: Lots of questions, couldn't wait for my office visits, loved my 16 week ultrasound.

2: I remember just fine, thank you very much! No ultrasound.

3: Yes, it's me again. Ultrasound a must because I am thinking I have been so blessed to have two healthy kids, I need to know everything is okay because I am really pressing my luck to have three healthy kids.

Preparing for Labor and Delivery
1: Suitcase packed, filled with tricks for labor (birth ball, honey straws, music, tennis balls, etc.), labor guide for labor assistant (my mom--Jeff is main guy), birth plan. Progression on schedule, things right on track.

2: Nothing happening. Due date fast approaching, get my membranes stripped (again, if you don't know what this means, you might not want to ask). Suitcase still packed, same now "lucky" labor aides, birth plan, labor guide for labor assistants, and plans made for the care of number 1 during the big event.

3: Breech. Then, not breech. Breech again. I did the elephant walk every day, pelvic tilts, got down on all fours and let my belly hang, got in the pool, inverted myself on an ironing board, bounced on the birth ball, and more-all under doctor's instruction. Still breech. Went in for a version (turning the baby using exterior manipulations--very, very painful), unsuccessful. Agreed to a schedule c-section one week before my due date. Arranged for help with 1 and 2 during my extended stay in the hospital and during recovery. Cooked extra meals for freezing.

Labor and Delivery
1: Labored overnight at home. Arrived at the hospital early morning and was 6 centimeters, 75% effaced. Dr. broke my water at about 8AM when I was 8 centimeters. Fully dilated by 10AM, ready to push. Pushed for 3 hours. Dr. told me baby was bald, but when he came out, we realized he was sunny-side up. He actually had lots of blonde hair but presented with his forehead instead of his crown. On due date. All natural, 2nd degree tear.

2: Labor started at Toys R' Us. Jeff went to work, I got number 1 to bed and at about 10PM, I called and told him I needed to go to the hospital. Arrived 8 centimeters dilated, 90% effaced. I got into a room, they broke my water, quickly progressed to ten, pushed for two hours, Dr. Realized this baby was also sunny-side up and used the vacuum to help me through the last part and save me another hour of pushing. Two days past due date. Mostly natural (many would say the vacuum doesn't classify as natural), 1st degree tear.

3: Labored, apparently, at Target one week from the date of my scheduled c-section. Got home, contractions got much stronger, put 1 and 2 to bed (sweating with contracts now-but really, they were not regular). Lost my mucus plug. Called Jeff. He came home and ATE, yes, ate. The contractions were now very strong, a bloody show (too much info, right?), and we raced to the hospital (police lights on in intersections!). I arrived at 10 centimeters and 100% effaced. Debated the use of morphine with the anesthesiologists, debated the position of the baby with the nurses, Dr. Arrived to tell them they are all nuts, and rushed me to OR for emergency c-section.

1: Left the hospital at 24 hours, felt like myself after just about a week.

2: Left the hospital after 24 hours, felt like myself after about two weeks (due to lack of sleep and caring for number 1 during the day).

3: Why would anyone choose this?!?

1: Full head of blonde hair, the Trump brow, looks just like my dad and nephew.

2: Full head of dark hair. Looks just like my husband.

3: Full head of black hair. No idea who he looks like (and he was interesting looking because he was c-section, no features were squished).

1: Quite, slept through the night since day two. Very happy.

2: Colic, up every two hours to eat, difficult to settle.

3: Up ever two to three hours to eat, easy to settle, happy.

1: Walked at 9 1/2 months. Cautious, but had a strong natural curiosity. Talked early. Ate anything I put in front of him (any Super BabyFood concoction). Good sleeper. Never touched an outlet, went for poisons, or thought about climbing out of his bed. Say "no" twice and he never went back. Sometimes shy in groups. Loved quite activities, played with his cars for hours at 18 months. Happily would go with the flow...What's next mom and dad? Still ooks like a Trump.

2: Walked at 8 1/2 months. Talked very early. Feared nothing. Wanted everything. Challenging sleeper (light and restless sleeper). Difficult to redirect. Was fascinated with outlets, sought out poisons, was out of the crib by 18 months (because we couldn't keep him in it). Used duct tape to keep his diapers on (much preferred to be naked, which can be a problem when not potty trained). Looked for groups to entertain...where's the party?! Couldn't sit through a book (even a board book) until he was well past 2 and never, never stopped moving his body. Sought out the flow and went the other way. Spitting image of his dad.

3: Walked at 9 months. Isn't talking too much. Fears some things, but if his brothers do it, it must be okay. Great sleeper, but doesn't like to miss the action. Has a few outlets he fancies, and a few poisons he is always after (mmmm...Windex anyone?). Enjoys nudity, but in appropriate daily doses, loves reading books, and playing age-appropriate games (on, off, on, off or opened, closed, opened, closed). Happily goes with the flow, unless he really had his heart set on something else--in which case, forget it. Eats anything put in front of him, but if he sees something else that looks more interesting, he won't stop until he gets it. Looks just like me, or just like his dad, depends on who you ask.

They all look the same, but also look so different. Yep, they are brothers, but there is no getting these guys mixed up. And the future? The rest remains to be seen. Although, even at this stage in the game, number 1 and 2 remain opposites. Three continues to appear to be a hybrid of 1 and 2, which I suppose I am now fully trained to successfully deal with (well, mostly successful, except when I choose to blow it and loose my patience). I am sure it is the same in most families. But, how? How can it be boys as different as 1, 2 and three all came from me?

Waiting to hear he did a great job, my rule-following number 1. number 2. Please note the outfit he selected for himself today (pants and shirt on backwards) and pay close attention to the red socks with the green pants. Ask him--he is looking mighty fine!

Middle-of-the-Road Number 3.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wouldn't You Think?

Dinner night before last: Big salad with left over grilled chicken, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and honey mustard dressing with dinner rolls.
Dinner last night: Salad and a big bowl of ice cream (OYO--Jeff working odd hours due to Big 10 detail).
Dinner tonight: More OYO (Jeff working weird hours again...I have planned for a big bowl of popcorn for myself).

Wouldn't you think that after being gone from my kids all day--I left before they even woke up--that I would be so happy to see them that I would roll on the floor, tickling them and laughing, playing games and singing and telling them how fabulous they are? Wouldn't you think?

Well, I would think too. And I always do think I will do that and it will be great when I get home. But, it never is. In fact, the longer I have been away, it seems the worse my behavior is when I get home. No, I am not rolling on the floor or dancing to silly songs. Instead, I am snapping and yelling at them and they are bickering at each other and throwing punches. Andrew usually cries, unless I hold him. And, of course I try to hold him because I am guilty that I have been gone all day. But, then he just plain gets heavy, even in the sling and I want to put him down. Tears, tears, screams of disappointment (I see therapy in his future).

Being away from home all day, for some reason, makes me overwhelmed when I get home. I really need time when I get home to catch up and cross a few things off my to-do list. Emails to read and respond to, phone calls, and grants to write by Sunday morning (that I haven't even started). Fridays bring the added element of building my to-do list for the weekend. Really, I should plan to spend Friday afternoons in my office so I can end the day ready to take on the next week (or next morning).

At the end of my day out of the office, I head for home and build great expectations that I will check work at the door and join in family fun. On rare occasions I can. But most of the time, I am sharply disappointed in myself. Today, I have once again let myself down and am ending a day away from home as someone much different than the mom I want to be.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Photos of Our Rhythms of the Night

Andy, looking very droopy-eyed (but this was the only shot where his eyes were not completely closed) and beginning his routine of emptying the cabinets while I make dinner.

Knights preparing for battle! I wish this had sound on it--you cannot imagine how loud this is--CLANK, CLANK, clank, CLANK...

Another wild bath! Everyone enjoying the warm water.
Warm Ovaltine while watching Raven on the Disney channel. Yes...we watch television before bed, go ahead--judge me! See the wall behind PJ's head? Andy's handiwork. He methodically picked at the wallpaper for weeks to achieve that look! Add to the list of child-induced home repairs.

The Rhythm of the Night

Last Night's Meal: Salad, grilled chicken marinated in SoyVay Teriyaki, kebob of red pepper and mushrooms from the grill, baked potatoes, bread.

Tonight's Dinner: Salad with left over grilled chicken, honey mustard dressing, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese with dinner rolls.

December 31, 2005 marked a monumental day in the life of our family. Jeff officially changed shifts. For over four years, I fed, bathed, and put the kids to bed on my own (unless he had the night off--he works six days on and three days off). First, just one--then two, and finally all three. I was up before dawn working in my office and couldn't stay up much past 9:30PM. He would sleep past 8AM and not get home until after 10PM. Beyond the normal stresses and demands small children put on a marriage, we had to contend with the craziness of this schedule.

Evening activities were out--there was no neighborhood meetings or dinner with friends unless I had a babysitter. I thought really sucked. But, he loved it. It was the best shift for rookies. Even after he gained seniority, he continued to choose "middle shift" from 1PM to 10PM. All his friends worked middle and the action was on middle shift.

I tried. I switched from cooking dinners to cooking big lunches. I occasionally would get brave and arrange a babysitter and go out, and I tried to stay awake until he got home. But, it just got old. I grew tired of it and resented the fact that I felt like he was always leaving. Things were really pushed to a breaking point with the addition of number three. I just couldn't do it anymore. I had grown short with the kids, angry with Jeff, and hopeless that things could turn around.

Finally, it became clear that changing shifts was not an option, but was a necessity if we were going to improve our marriage. I will spare you of the internal dramatics we went through to get this switch of shifts, but finally, it happened. While he is less than excited about working the day shift and misses the excitement of middle shift--I am convinced it is the right thing for our family. The boys spend the day at school or at home playing with Melissa (the nanny). I work in the day like a normal person, and so does Jeff. We meet as a family in the late afternoon.

Then, the rhythm of our night comes to life. Lately, it has been going a little something like this. I start dinner, which means Andrew comes in the kitchen and opens all cabinets that are not locked--pulling out all my pots, pans, pot lids and more. The bigger boys come in and collect pot lids for a medieval battle in the family room. Finally, we all gather around the table. After dinner, it is clean up that includes all chairs back on top of the table so Andrew cannot climb them.

After some time in the family room playing, it is up to bath. And, back down for warm Ovaltine or milkshake on the couch in jammies to watch "That's So Raven" on Disney. Or, as the boys call it (despite how many times I try and tell them that isn't the name) "Maxso Raven." We love this show and think it is hilarious. We giggle and laugh and then upstairs for stories, teeth brushing, and tuck-ins. One of us reads to Andy and one of us reads to the other boys. Andy is too wild to read with his brothers. But, when alone, he enjoys every second of story time. Plus, he probably really needs the one-on-one time.

I love evenings now and look forward to them every day. I am excited for summer to have Jeff home in the evenings so we can go for family walks, play in the yard, and go out for ice cream. Thought I would share some photos from our evening routine.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

City of Compton

Last Night's Meal: Donato's Pizza
Sunday Night's Meal: OYO (affectionately known as "on your own" at our house--I had popcorn)

We planned for pizza last night because I had to drive to a client's office that is about 45 minutes one way, so I knew I would be home late. Whenever I am the car alone, I always listen to NPR. I am a total NPR junkie. Jeff thinks it is just too liberal, but I argue even in its most liberal moments, it provides an important element of yin and yang in my life. Not sure if it is the yin or the yang.

In fact, I heard a story on there one day about how segmented America has become (gee, really?) because of the large number of choices we now have on how to get news and information. Cable news networks, XM Satellite Radio (which I love)with its America Right and America Left channels, websites, and more printed publications than ever. The story was talking about how people now make choices not to listen to something that provides a point of view that they disagree with, therefore, they never have the opportunity to even HEAR the other side. They immediately say, "this person, channel, writer, etc. doesn't think like me--this isn't for me" and they seek out something to read, watch, listen to that features like-minded people. How boring. I have always felt like in order to know what I DO like, I have to see something I don't like.

Anyway, I am getting way off the issue at hand and will end up with yet another very long blog entry. Do you read the whole thing when they are that long? Yesterday's NPR story that struck something inside of me was a story about the city of Compton in California (link to the full story Things are going from bad to worse in Compton these days. They have have had a 70+ percent rise in the crime rate. Almost every murder there is connected to gang violence and the tension between gangs continues to rise.

Of course, residents feel like police are not doing their jobs. And, that certainly could be the case. But, two other key factors that have been identified by experts as potential sources for the rise. First, the growing numbers of OG's getting released from prison after doing their fifteen, twenty or more years; these "Original Gang members" are angrier and more prepared than ever to die for their gang.

Second, the police have in fact changed the way they patrol the area. The Sheriff's department decided that officers, like United Methodist pastors, need to move around on a regular basis. So, unlike before, when one officer would patrol a beat for 15 years or more--and know every person on the streets of that beat--they rotate in and out. But, the problem has gotten so bad that now they have assigned officers to particular gangs and are trying to find ways to integrate officers into the community.

Naturally, when I hear this story I think of Jeff (my husband, the police officer). First, just thinking about him knowing and chatting with all of his known trouble-makers or sources of information on his beat. The hookers, homeless, drunks and crackheads. Yep. Those are his buddies. It isn't rare that he will be reading the paper, watching the news, and there will be a smile on his face like he has just seen a friend in the paper, "Oh, look--it is Antonio." While Antonio is in the paper facing charges of assault or criminal recklessness, Jeff is amused to see someone he knows in the paper.

I am totally confident, in some weird way, that Jeff is respected and trusted by his crew of misfits. I have no doubt that he treats most of them with respect and they respond. And, I have no doubt that Jeff, odd as it seems--a boy who was raised Penecostal Holiness and burns in the sun if he is out for more than fifteen minutes--finds connections with these people.

Next, I worry about the consolidation. Now he has a beat. And, while he might not work it every shift, he works it often enough to know his way around it with his eyes closed. He can sense trouble and knows when things look out of place. Really, this is comforting to me not for the increased level of police effectiveness I think it provides the citizens, but because I think it is an extra layer of protection for Jeff against something going terribly wrong. At this point, I don't know what the consolidation will mean for changes in his beat, no one does.

The story continues. They are rolling down the street in a police car, talking about the neighborhood and the gangs. You here the officer making conversation with residents (obviously young gang members) and listen in as they describe a recent shooting on their street. Next, you here a panicked call over the radio, "taking shots, taking shots." And the tone of the report changes. They speed to back up an officer who attempted to make a traffic stop on a car with four gang members on it and they opened fire. The reporter describes the sea of red lights, I hear sirens, and I just get chills.

Really, I don' t want to know. The suspects flee the car and run into a house--a stranger's house. The woman runs out and tells of her family members still inside. She saw the suspects come in and head for her dining room, so she ran out. Is this real? I feel this huge sense of disappointment. This story that seemed so interesting has now turned my stomach. They go on to describe the S.W.A.T. team's tactics in what becomes a long standoff, with helicopters and all. Honestly, I cannot even think about things like this.

Ever day, I kiss Jeff goodbye and he heads out for situations just like this, or situations that are all on the verge of ending like this. I keep as far away from this as I can. And the interesting part of it is that situations like this are exactly what he loves. Adrenaline rush. He loves the rush. He also loves to use his training. I completely understand that. But, I just cannot think about what that involves. I know it can happen to anyone, anywhere...But how many of you watch your husbands put on a bullet-proof vest to go to work?

He comes home and is excited that he got to use his shot gun to search a house; all I can think about is someone hiding behind the wall as he enters a room. I am such a scaredy-cat and he is unphased. But, I think about how crazy people are and how desperate someone is in a situation that causes them to flee from police (or commit the crime that is the reason they were fleeing from the police). Really, these days I think it is by the grace of God every time he arrests someone and it doesn't end badly.

Me being who I am, when he tells these stories, I conjure up visuals to go along with it. I am the girl who is always disappointed in the books they turn into movies because I like the way I saw it in my mind's eye better. I see the inside of the crack house, dirty blue walls and unclaimed clothes on the floor next to a moldy and stained mattress that probably sat through a rainstorm on the curb before someone drug it six blocks on the sidewalk to dump it in that house.

Images like that usually appear later that night in my dreams. This summer he broke his foot trying to apprehend someone who decided to flee after a traffic stop. He tells the story of this guy emerging from his car, over six feet tall, looking at Jeff square in the eye and saying, "I am not going back to jail, mother fucker" and he takes off running. Jeff is beaming--the chase is on. I am sinking--the chase is on.

Really, I cannot think about this every day. And, I don't. I put so much faith in God on this one. I believe Jeff is doing what he was put on this earth to do. I truly believe his spirit is needed to nurture these tired crack whores and homeless felons. I have to believe that God will protect him. And, I continue to encourage him to shoot first and ask questions later. I rather be embarrassed and have him be fired, but he will be alive--driving the U-Haul as we move to a tiny town where he will start his career over. He laughs, and says, "that is not what it says in the general orders."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Last night's meal: Turkey-Jasmine Meatballs with Bok Choy
Rating: 2-thumbs up! Delicious if you love Asian flavors

Today, making homemade granola bars. The article about my business came out yesterday in the Indianapolis Business Journal. I am very pleased with the article, but am rather disappointed with the picture they selected. It isn't the worst I have ever seen, but I have certainly seen better pictures of myself.

I was so nervous about this for a variety of reasons, and continue to be as I think about this coming year. But, it all seems to be okay. I am hoping they will have a link to it on their website after tomorrow. I will post the link if it is available.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Food, Glorious Food!

Reader Warning: There is definitely no point to this entry. I am such a foodie. I love to read cooking magazines (in fact, those are the only ones I subscribe to), I love to save recipes, plan menus and grocery shop. I absolutely love to feed friends and family. There is nothing like gathering around a table full of good food, sharing sweet wine, and lots of discussion. Although, I must confuse with three little kids, meals rarely meet my romantic expectations these days. But, I remain hopefully that one day, all of the sudden I will think, "hey, I just got through a meal without someone saying I have to pee, falling out of their chair, spilling their water, or dumping 10 ounces of Parmesan cheese on their pasta."

My obsession with food starts by going through my magazines and cutting out all the recipes that sound sort of interesting. Fish, pork, chicken, turkey and pasta--plus every once in a main ingredient of something else, like polenta. No beef in this house. I haven't eaten beef since I became a vegetarian when I was about 12. Actually, for years, I didn't eat any meat products. I slowly started again with chicken and turkey about 10 years ago. Then, sometime in the past three years, I decided pork sounded good--and I was right!

Now, there are two exceptions to the beef rule that, to be fair, I should share. I love Arby's roast beef sandwiches when I am pregnant. And, I do indulge in an occasional steakburger at 96th Street Steakburgers, but that is the only place. As a general exception, if I go to someone else's house and they have prepared a meal that includes ground beef, I do eat the meal--but while carefully avoiding the beef (however, I am sure I get some bits and pieces here and there).

So, once I neatly cut out the recipes, I file them in this expandable file folder with labels like pork, fish, baking, side dishes, etc. Then, each week I plan a menu of meals. I try to cover the basics--one fish, one chicken, one pasta, etc. I make my grocery list from these recipes. I make everything I can from scratch, as time allows and as is practical. For example, if they really matter in the recipe, I will make my own sourdough bread crumbs. Otherwise, I will use store-bought. I plan a salad, side dish and bread selection to go with each meal.

And, as if that planning isn't enough, I plan much of my day around food. Banana for breakfast around 10AM (unless I have a meeting at Panera, then it is a pumpkin muffin). Lunch? A handful of crackers, maybe some cheese or a fist-size portion of some leftovers. All in anticipation of dinner. I want to be hungry and eat until I am stuffed. Usually, I enjoy a glass of wine while cooking dinner and I try to have everything ready between 5 and 6. On top of our meal, I must make something for the kids. Rarely to we all share the same meal--but we almost always share the table and the dinner experience.

If I have lunch with someone and actually eat a full meal, or if evening activities would make it impossible to cook, dinner is out of the question for me. Instead, I wait until the kids are in bed and pop a huge bowl of popcorn with warm butter and salt. I would say that on average, about every two weeks our dinner consists of something to-go, usually pizza.

For the most part, I just don't like restaurants. With the exception of a handful that are reserved for dates with Jeff, and a handful that I enjoy for the occasional lunch out, they all suck. The food is over-salted, over-cooked, and otherwise tasteless. For most major restaurants in this world, the food all starts out the same--in a box from Sysco stored in the freezer. It kills me to pay $50 for the five of us to go out to eat and have some nasty guy in a dirty kitchen essentially reheating food for us.

Not to mention the fact of the three kids. Have you been to a restaurant lately with three kids? I am sure there are many who behave beautifully in restaurants. And, to be honest, mine are pretty good given their limited exposure (you know, if you want your kids to behave in restaurants, you would actually have to take them on a regular basis). But, I get riddled with anxiety about it and the stress leads to me snapping at them for every move--or the opposite, letting things go to the point where they get so wound up that things are totally out of control. Plus, they only like the "bunny" mac & cheese (Annie's brand), or sandwich on "our" kind of bread. They are picky, picky eaters. That is a whole other entry within itself (and it is on my list to cover).

However, given their limited palette, they of course love McDonald's and have fallen prey to the marketing ploys of the big McD. I, on the other hand, do not eat fast food and could not think of one thing I would get on the McDonald's menu. Salad, you are thinking? Have you tried it?!? Given limited options sometimes in the middle of Georgia on a road trip, indeed it has to do. But, for day-to-day meals..Never. Now, I believe I am officially rambling. See, I love to talk about food.

This is all leading up to the fact that I have decided to post on my blog a sort of food journal. Before I started my blog, I checked out a lot of other blogs (and still do read some on a regular basis). Some gave you the book they were reading, others the music they were listening to. So, in addition to my general ramblings, I will give you a daily dinner post. We have a system in our house that you will need to become familiar with.

Each meal receives a rating (since I so often try new recipes). Two thumbs up is the ultimate. And, Jeff is a tough grader (and a very picky eater). My grade usually includes some points for ease of preparation as it relates to taste. Really time consuming to prepare and not exceptional taste? Couldn't get more than a thumb. If you ever see something that looks interesting, I would be happy to share the recipe. Here is a picture of my cooking "bible." It is a composition book with each recipe glued right on the pages, with just about four dots of Elmer's. Decide it is a dud or I have found something I like better? I just rip it out and replace it with something else.

Tonight on the menu? Turkey-Jasmine Rice Meatballs with Baby Bok Choy. Check back tomorrow for the full menu and the results. Here is a picture of a page from my main cook book. This one is dedicated to main dishes. I have two others devoted to side dishes and baking.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Right Brain vs. Left Brain

Here I sit; amidst my own mess. Papers all over my desk. Looks like a real disaster, right? For some reason this is how I work. I am writing a grant for a nonprofit and am obviously struggling with writers block (hence a switch to a blog entry).

The rest of my life is a sharp contrast. Closets neatly organized, clothes hung in a rainbow and a pantry sorted by the food pyramid. It doesn't stop there--shelves in the garage labeled and directional laminated signs hanging in the attic like it is Target. I am only scratching the surface.

This is what it is, it is my life long battle between right and left brain. I guess most people are a combination, but for me, it seems to be a regular struggle. When I am finished with a project, I neatly package it up in a file folder with a label. But, while I am working on it, I am only comfortable and feeling creative when there is a big mess in front of me. Papers across the desk, all out of order, files on the floor, Post-it notes everywhere.

Honestly, I consider myself to be a creative person. Which, sort of doesn't really fit with my high (and I mean high) need for organization. When I cook, the kitchen is a disaster. The counters are covered and I love it. I get into the creative moment, but all along, I am making notes of how I will tackle the clean-up. The whole time I am planning for the other side--I anticipate the emergence of the "closed" sign on creativity and hear the neon flickering as the "open" sign warms up on my organized side. I tackle all the spots with antibacterial cleaner where I dripped raw meat juice. I methodically stack items that go back in the fridge in one spot and move dishes from the counter to the sink and prepare them before they are sorted into the dishwasher. I really struggle sometimes when someone else cleans up because throughout the meal making process, I have been planning my clean-up strategy.

Okay, so not that big of deal, right (or maybe you are thinking I am much weirder than you thought)? You can be creative and organized I suppose. In fact, I am rather creatively organized. Everything in our house has a place and I certainly like everything in its place. I am one of those people who can walk in the room and tell instantly that something has been moved--even the slightest bit. Within just a few more seconds, I can usually identify what it is.

How to deal? I am not sure. Except to say if you come to my house and see me cooking or working, know that the rest of my life isn't really such a mess. And, if you come to my house and open a closet and think, gee she is organized, know that I don' t work like that, sew like that or cook like that (although I do almost everything else in a highly organized fashion).

Last note, oddly enough, there are actually a few things that should be organized that I need messy--weird, hu? A few activities that would probably take less time if I did them in an organized fashion, but something about them feels better to do them messy.

Which is dominate, my right or left brain? For now, the needs of my life pull more left brain out. While my job requires creativity, it is sometimes bogged down with the "business" side of things. Regular life often requires more left brain responses. But, it is interesting to think about what life would be like if I just let that right brain rule a bit more often!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Forest

My boys have a secret place in our yard called the forest (photos complements of the boys). All kinds of magical things happen in the forest. Phillip drives his Gator and Samuel drives his tractor deep into the forest (it is a mere three or four overgrown pine trees). Sam's trailer and Phillip's Gator bed are full of junk. Boys have this interesting fascination with everything broken, cracked or smashed. Apparently, these toys are the ones that make the best weapons for play.

When they finally emerge, they are often full of stories about what was in the forest. Pirates, witches, big animals, dinosaur tracks, the police, and more. The forest is an amazing place for both of them. It is cool in the summer with the shade cast by the oversized evergreens and sweet with the smell of sap in the fall. They take friends back there, spy on the neighbors, and even pee back there (despite the fact that it is against the rules). As a woman, you sort of have to respect this about men. It really is an admirable trait.

So, as they play in the forest, I wonder where on earth is my forest? Where would I go to "pretend" and let go? Where would I go to explore and be free, to find adventure and open myself to experiences of my own imagination? It seems that while I have been busy being a mom, building my business, and trying to be a somewhat decent wife, I have lost that place.

I remember where it was when I was little. The cornfield next to my house. Carmel was a much different place in the late 1970s-early 1980s. I would fly my kite or spread out a big blanket and drag my babies out to play. Within an hour or so, I would bring my art supplies out, and maybe a chair. By the end of my adventure, I would have half of my life on this postage stamp of a blanket in this enormous cornfield.

When I was a teenager, there were lots of special places I can remember where I would go to be alone--sulking, heart broken or mad at something that now as a parent, seems ridiculous. Smoking cigarettes and listening to Neil Young or the Grateful Dead. As a young adult, those places seemed to mean less as the real world needed more of me. Those places got farther away and I visited less frequently. Instead of my back yard, I now needed to go to a beach to free my thoughts and spring my imagination.

Today, I wouldn't even know where to begin. Except to say that I long to be, once again, close to home and in my own world. I want another cornfield. Rare are the occasions when I have the house to myself for more than a few hours--I mean totally to myself. I think that now my island, my beach would be my own house. Me, inside alone. No shower, no dishes, no email (okay, maybe email), no to-do list, no need-tos. Just me. Wonder how long that would last until I would miss everything else? Sure would like to give it a try and see. But, for this moment and for the next few years, there is no doubt that my forest is, and will remain, a ten minute hot shower.

Another Boy

My brother and his wife had a baby boy yesterday! Mom and baby are doing just fine, he was 7 lbs. 9 ounces. And, after two difficult labors and deliveries with her other children, my tiny sister-in-law had a rather pleasant birth experience.

The baby's name is Mathias Victor Trump. Yes, Trump. Did you know that is my maiden name?! I will have to inquire further where the Victor came from, but the Mathias makes sense--a nice biblical name.

For those of us keeping score, that is two boys for them and one girl. Overall, among my our cousins (6 boys and two girls), that brings the total to 11 boys (one is still in the oven) and 6 girls.