Monday, June 30, 2008

But...Butt Fat

I've been pretty proud of myself lately for maintaining a good workout schedule and being a little more mindful about what I'm eating (although that week before my period?  All bets are off.  And I mean ALL).  I haven't shed a noticeable amount of weight or anything, but I'm feeling much better, and my clothes aren't quite so tight.  Most important, the stress is way, way under control.

This makes it all the more disappointing when I was bending over the girls' tub tonight, filling it up with water, and all of a sudden realized that Nolie was helping herself into the tub by grabbing on to the oh-so-accessible handles formed by my butt fat.


Plus, on top of that, I screeched, "Nolie, quit grabbing my butt fat!"  And being the little idiot parrots that they are, now both girls are running around the house screaming "Butt fat, butt fat, butt fat!"

They are SO grounded.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's Alive!

I'm alive, I'm alive, I swear it!  I said I was going to write more often, didn't I?  And then I completely disappeared, didn't I?

I'm reminded of that old, old commercial for The Ricky Lake Show where a sassy audience member stands up, head bobbing, and points at the cocky guest, saying, "Someone done lied to you, sister!"

I done lied to you, sisters.

Or, rather, I was fooled.  Fooled into thinking summer had somehow begun.  Or rather, fooled into thinking this summer might be somewhat like summers past, with free time and lolling about.  You non-academics can roll your eyes all you want (we WORK all summer, you want to say.  What do you have to complain about?  Welcome to the real world, muffin!).  But it's been a transition for me, me who has been in school--literally in a school--since I was five.  Me who calculates time by the academic year and not the calendar year, me who still gets excited about buying new school clothes, me who classifies much of the world into "teachers," "students," "colleagues," "staff," and "administrators."  Me not used to working, working, working, no break.

But it hasn't really been all work.  It's just been so nuts it has felt like that.  Since school got out at the beginning of May (see?  There I go again!), I got that article out (tentatively accepted, thank you very much!), went to Tampa, presented another paper at a conference, had family come visit, went to Vegas for a wedding, went to Rhode Island for a week, became full-time single mom when Eric went to Seattle for a week, scraped all the popcorn off of my bedroom ceiling (hate, hate, HATE whoever thought that was a smart idea, to put that crap up there, full of asbestos and dust and mucky-muck) and painted the whole thing a color Addie sweetly refers to as the "color of Nolie's poo."  Also got an MRI on my knee (don't know results yet), my mom has had horrendous knee surgery herself, and Addie's going in for tubes and a sinus sweep on Wednesday.  Most importantly, the stress and weirdness of the last year have somehow dissipated, been washed away, mellowed in the time I've had away from campus.  Hallelulajah for that.

For July, I need to revise the article that has been tentatively accepted, revise another, revise the conference presentation into an article, get a book prospectus out, read another friend's (amazing) book of poetry, and design two courses and a lecture. 

Easy peasy.  Summertime, and the livin's nothing but smooth sailing, baby.  We teachers have it good.


Anyway, there's a bit of bragging going on here, too, right?  I'm not really complaining.  Because I'm proud of myself to be working so hard at things I love, and proud to be accomplishing all this, much as I'm a bit overwhelmed and sick of it all.  And I know most of you reading this work your asses off all the time, so you ain't got any pity for me anyway.  And, too, I've been taking a whole lot of time for myself.  Been going to the gym, doing yoga, soaking in the gorgeous beaches of Rhode Island, glorying in the greenness outside my windows, getting massages, cooking, watching tv, reading, spending much time with the girls (completely guilt free, I might add) and generally ignoring my email, this blog, and anything else that doesn't seem completely necessary.   So, I'm good.  Living a full, engaged, slightly nuts life.  But good.

I'm going to start writing more now.  I promise.  :).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Brownie Out

Our next-door neighboor Bill is retired, and in addition to maintaining an impeccably beautiful lawn and Alice-in-Wonderland-like garden outside my window, he also spends a good portion of his time crafting gorgeous wood furniture.  There was a neighborhood yard sale last summer, when we first got here, and I coveted a table and chairs set he had made, but at the time we didn't feel we could shell out the $150 he wanted for it (and deserved).

Anyway, Eric came in from working in the yard this weekend and said, "Hey!  Bill is going to give us that teeter-totter he made."  I couldn't believe it.  He made this teeter-totter, with hand-crafted horseheads for decoration, last year.  And now he was giving it to us?  I was touched beyond belief.  And the girls love it. "You'll have to make him cookies," Eric said.

Because, let's face it.  When it comes to crafts/baking/handiwork, a batch of chocolate chip cookies is just about the pinnacle of my achievements.  What's not to like?  They're easy to make, bake up in ten minutes, and you can say they're homemade.  But for that reason, they're not exactly impressive, either.  They're not exactly a handmade teeter-totter.

Still, I am what I am.  Baking is it for me, given my limited time and abilities.  So!  Addie and I waited until Nolie went to bed last night and then decided to bake up a homemade batch of brownies, complete with buttercream frosting.  Still not teeter-totter worthy, but a little closer.

Here is what I learned:

1)  Holy cow, they do not call it buttercream frosting for nothing!  I put two sticks of butter in there, along with milk, melted chocolate, cups of sugar and cocoa.  This was a huge eye-opener for me.  I have been known to eat a half-carton of Duncan Hines frosting in one sitting.  With a spoon.  Now that I've seen what goes into those things, never again.  I am still reeling from the sight of all that butter, whipping into a froth.  Yowza.

2)  I think it matters that they were homemade.  Yes, they were just brownies, but it took a good two hours to make them and clean up and then plate them all pretty this morning.  I'm glad I went through the from-scratch exercise, because next time someone brings us something homemade, I will have much more appreciation for the work that went in to making them.

3)  It also matters that they were for a friend.  Addie kept trying to cut deals while we were making them, like, "Mom?  Couldn't we just make Bill cookies and keep the brownies for ourselves?"  For a second, I was tempted.  These brownies were no joke yummy-wise, and Bill would never have known if we did the swap-out.  But it was good to make something delicious knowing somebody we love would enjoy them.  So over to his house they went this morning, and after complaining we were giving him a sugar attack, he ate one and fell in love with us forever.  Definitely worth it.

Leave it to me to read so much meaning into a batch of brownies.  But I can't help it.  This whole knowing more about food thing is useful, and interesting.  Spending those two hours on the brownies is what the extra hours of summer daylight are all about.

Monday, June 2, 2008

It seems like all I write on this blog is how busy I am, how stressed.  Frantic, frantic, frantic.  Blah, blah, blah.  How tiresome.

It would be interesting to write, instead, about how rich it all is, how filled with new experiences, and how happy and grateful I am for this.  Because that is what really goes on.  Blessing upon blessing is heaped upon my head, and I live fully every one of them, and love them all.  Don't believe my bitching for one minute.

Take the last three weeks, for example.  Those weeks that happened after the semester ended and my time shifted.  In those weeks, I had divine experiences floating in the gulf of Mexico; I saw my brother get married in a lovely, seven-minute Vegas ceremony (during which Nolie pooped, and announced that fact to all in the chapel.  Swell); I finished a paper and got it sent off for review (again.  Man).  We had a lovely, crazy visit from Steve and Julie and their beautiful little ones Gwen and Raiff.

And I have spent days with my kids.  Daycares have been closed as they make their transition to summer camps, and rather than kill myself trying to find alternate care, I've decided to mom up.  So I've had more time with these little ones in one long stretch than I've had in a year.  Maybe more.  I think in the past I might have dreaded this a little, wondered what I would do with the kids for so much time.  Definitely would have felt stressed about not working for that long.

But it was absolutely delightful.  I just gave myself over to it, didn't set any crazy agendas, and rediscovered my children.  We remade some of our ways of interacting, and felt our love for one another deepen.  We had a chance to interact without the stress of scheduling and expectations.  We swam.  We went to the aquarium.  We read books and hung out and did art.

This also coincided with my starting to work out again.  This seems to be a pattern for me--get in shape in the summer, then treat my body like a turd for nine months while the school year consumes me.  Would be nice to rethink that pattern.  In any case, I am way happier when I care for myself physically.

It also helped that I was 100% completely, totally, globally fed up with work, and didn't mind taking some time off from it.  Didn't miss it.  Briefly flirted with the idea of being a stay-at-home mom.  Am still flirting with it, to be honest, but maybe not so seriously.  I'm pretty excited to do some of the projects I have planned for July.

But for now I have the taste of a slower, sweeter motherhood on my lips, and I liked it.  I'll be thinking about how to taste it more often even when I go back to work.  Sweeeeeet nectar cheese.  Yum.