Thursday, January 22, 2015

A recipe for a great "sick meal" for a friend

It's been almost exactly a year since my back injury and subsequent surgery, and during that time so many people helped me. I don't like to brag, but I had some amazing meals brought to me while I was laid up.

I feel like getting all of those meals brought to me has given me insight on what makes an awesome "sick meal". Since this blog is so educational and informative, I wanted to put all my tips together in one delightfully Pinteresting post.

Use an online coordination website. This is a great way for a group of friends to space out meals and it makes sure that the friend in need doesn't get two meals on one day. It's also a good way to let the meal recipient know what to expect and to let everyone contributing know about food allergies or preferences.

Caring Meals

Take Them a Meal

Meal Train

Care Calendar 

Fresh ingredients are appreciated! Before I hurt my back, I would usually bring someone a dish like lasagna because I wanted them to be able to freeze it if they didn't want it on that day (like for new parents). It turns out getting things like a prepared salad or cut up fruit is amazing if you've been laid up for a while.

More is better. Maybe my friends are overachievers (probably) but they would bring over multi-course dinners. We're talking soup, salad, main course, and dessert. I'm not saying it's required, but it is a nice touch! Now when I bring meals to people, I (try) to put together a salad, main dish, and dessert that all go together.

Think of the children. If you're not sure the kids in the family will like what you're making, it's a nice touch to include something like a pack of frozen chicken nuggets as an easy kid's meal. Some (most?) kids can be picky about food and if someone is laid up to the point of needing meals delivered, it's nice to spare them a food battle with their kid.

Spring for disposables. It's not a requirement, but it's a nice touch. That way the sick/injured person or family member doesn't have to wash containers and remember to return them. This is especially nice if the person receiving the meals is on drugs.

Pizza is caring. If you don't have time to cook, or you don't want to inflict your cooking skills on someone else, there is always pizza. You can either order it for the friend in need or give them a gift card. Either way, everyone loves pizza.

Err on the side of too much food. My favorite part of having delicious dinners delivered was when there were leftovers for lunch the next day, or in some cases enough for another dinner.

No one wants their friends to be sick or hurt, but I definitely feel more comfortable making meals for people after getting so many delivered to me.

What's your go-to meal to make for other people? Currently, I enjoy any excuse to cook with gluten and non-coconut milk dairy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bad music choices and applesauce butts

For years now, I've cultivated skills in denying my love for awful pop music. In high school, I was all about Korn and Limp Bizkit and I would never admit to enjoying Backstreet Boys or N'Sync. As a mini-van driving adult, I don't know if it's worse to blast Audioslave or Pitbull. Either way, I'm pretty much uncool.

I did stumble upon one reason I should be playing cooler music in the car: Faith now loves Taylor Swift.

Sure, I listen to Taylor Swift, but in a "Wow, this song is awful yet catchy!" way. I guess I need to train my children in the ways of cynicism before things really get out of hand.

I haven't talked about working out for a bit, but rest assured that I'm still hitting the gym regularly. I know you were worried, but it's OK. I haven't gotten fat. Yet.

It's a lot easier to write about running than gym workouts. I'd rather read about someone's run than their list of exercises and reps at the gym, but that's probably just a preference. My back has been feeling better and my nerve pain is reduced and I credit a lot of that to more intense strength training and time. I don't want anyone to think that immediate high intensity lifting is the best way to recover after back surgery.

By "high intensity lifting" I mean the kind where you're drenched in sweat and can barely lift your arms to fix your hair later and it hurts to laugh. My previous weight training (Body Pump, cough cough) never achieved that. I enjoy being able to push myself after almost a year of being physically broken. This is probably the point where a smug flexed arm selfie would be fitting, but I forgot to take one.

You'd think the increased feeling of strength or range of motion would be the best part of weight training, but you'd be wrong. It's still the verbal diarrhea from the class instructor (remember when he told me to clench my umbilical cord?). He loves to spout off motivational sayings like "Tough times don't last, but tough people do!" which is weird, but whatever. The amusement really starts for me when he yells things like "Do you want APPLES or APPLESAUCE?"

I've been taking this class for months now and I still have no clue what that means. I think it has something to do with the shape of our butts. I'm pretty sure I want an apple, not applesauce?

Whatever happened to Ryan Lochte anyway? Last time I checked, he had some show on E! about getting drunk and being even stupider than normal.

What song is your guilty pleasure right now? The kids and I really enjoy "Uptown Funk" I'm not sure I feel guilty about that though, it's a damn good song.

Give it to me straight, do you want apples or applesauce? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

We know how to have a good time

My long holiday weekend has been full of exciting adventures. Well, that really hinges on your definition of both "exciting" and "adventure" but let's just go with it.

On Friday, Faith's preschool had an open house where the parents could come in and see what the kids are learning. It was pretty interesting to see the Montessori style teaching in action and it was amazing to see how much Faith has learned already.

Spelling out "ug" words

One of the coolest parts of seeing a Montessori classroom in action is the self sufficiency of the kids. Faith got all the separate parts of her letter lesson and rug all by herself and assembled it with almost no help, and put everything away when she was done...without prompting. Now I'm really going to stop cutting her slack at home when she acts like she has no idea where to put her coat when she comes in the door.

Cordelia was certain that it was her first day of school and she was not happy when we left and Faith got to stay.

I can't talk right now Mommy, I have a big project 

At home both kids are much less focused and much more liable to do ridiculous things like dress up the dog than to sit down and work on letters or math. It's OK, the dog doesn't mind.

Excuse me, speak for yourself

 Other weekend highlights included having breakfast for dinner (best eaten in just a diaper).

Where's the gluten??

Cordelia can now have most gluten free baking mixes (on her FODMAP diet) so I got some King Arthur pancake mixes. I used it for waffles and it was the first time I didn't feel like I was eating wet sand for my meal. I'm either acclimating or King Arthur is the best gluten free baking stuff I've tried so far.

Since there is nothing more fun than getting up on a day off and driving an hour to see a 9:30am showing of Paddington Bear, we took the kids to a movie yesterday.

This movie requires serious face

The girls both enjoyed the movie. Luckily there were a lot of noisy kids at the (sold out?) showing, so my kids didn't stick out too much with their inability to speak quietly. Cordelia was repeatedly shouting "Look Ma! It's a BEAR!" and whenever there was a non-bear scene, she would loudly ask "Where da bear go?" Faith was a little scared by some scenes. I would say that the movie would be more scary/disturbing for an older kid who actually understands what is happening, like when the evil taxidermist trying to kill and stuff the bear.

On the topic of movies that will haunt you, we watched The Hill Have Eyes (the 2006 version) this weekend. When I read the movie description, it said something about mutants attaching people, so I thought it would be more...whimsical? The movie had a slow burn build up to some seriously disturbing violence and gore. I'm all for some gore, but this movie successfully made me feel uncomfortable. That feeling lasted long after we finished watching, so yay?

As a palate cleanser, we watched Hot Shots, which is like the Naked Gun of Top Gun. I had never seen it and while it had some pretty cheesy parts, it was still a welcome respite from The Hills Have Eyes.

What is the most disturbing movie you've seen? I saw the movie The Descent in theaters and I only recommend it to people I don't really like. I'd say The Hills Have Eyes was worse, like Deliverance level disturbing.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Snowed In?

Whenever I see news reports of northern weather, I'm always slightly confused about how they just keep functioning with the extreme cold and snow. I think my confusion stems from growing up in northern VA where everyone panics about flurries and everything shuts down when snow sticks to the pavement. I think if I moved up north it would take me a while to get used to being totally causal about snow.

That being said, even I think it's a little silly that our entire town shut down yesterday for an inch of snow. I'm not complaining too much since they closed the base and my husband was home. He had to work all day (telework) but he was able to take a break to come outside and take a turn being the snowball target. 

Step one, make snowballs
Step two, DUCK!

Faith has been asking for snow since November and she was thrilled to wake up to a snow day today. Even though there was a cold wintry mix coming down, she was happy to just stay outside.

This is what I get for asking her to hold still for a second

No, those aren't some kind of stylish snow capri pants, that's just what a size 6 snow pants look like on her. I have a feeling that I'm going to become an expert on where to find women's clothing in "tall" by the time she's 13. 

Cordelia HATED the snow last year. I wasn't sure how she'd feel about it this year. Luckily for Faith, she is now a fan and also wanted to never, ever come back inside.

Stop asking me if I want to go inside already

The weather this week has really cramped my ability to attend Zumba classes. Every time I complain about that aloud, I'm mocked so feel free to continue that trend in the comment section. I'm also keeping a running tally of how many requests I get to post a video of myself doing Zumba.

You might think you want to see a Zumba video, but what you'd really want to see would be the dance parties that I have with the kids. No one has dance moves like Faith and Cordelia. 

What's your favorite snow day activity? Mine is avoiding the outdoors. I don't get the appeal of playing in the cold, wet snow when there is a warm fire inside and Sex and the City on TV. 

Do you have dance parties at home? My husband's reaction has led me to believe this is not normal behavior for most people.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


It's no secret that Faith has a deep love for cats.

Back when Catniss was skinny

Faith has cat-themed everything. Her hat and gloves? Kitties. Her pajamas? Hello Kitty. Blankets on her bed? Yet more Hello Kitty. If she gets a choice about something, she's going to pick the cat one.

Faith might be the true cat lover in the family, but Cordelia may be some kind of Cat Whisperer. Her favorite part of going to the gym with me in the morning is when we stop in the pet store after to visit the cats and fish. Before anyone gets their pitchforks out, these cats aren't for sale, they are rescue cats on a public relations tour. The fish are for sale. No one cares about them.

The cats rotate in and out on a regular basis and all except one has actually responded positively to a two year old squealing "HI KITTIESSSSS!" outside their cage. Yesterday there were two new cats there and one of them was all about Cordelia, rubbing against the cage and letting Cordelia touch her nose (her favorite cat-related activity). The store workers said that cat had been hiding and not letting anyone pet her...until Cordelia. Clearly she needs her own show on Animal Planet.

When she's an adult who owns 5 cats, she can look back at this and know who to blame.

To the surprise of no one, my kids really appreciate the internet's obsession with all things cat. This video is their latest favorite and a fantastic way to entertain a toddler during a diaper change.

Yes, a whole post about cats. You're welcome.

Did you have an specific animal fixation as a kid? I remember really liking wolves and wanting all kinds of books about them. I was a weird kid.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

So fancy

Yesterday we had winter weather and the local schools had a delayed opening. By "winter weather" I mean cold rain. Yes, they delayed schools for that. I don't even care though because Faith's school doesn't follow the county's schedule. It was great that she didn't have to miss a day of school for rain. She loves going to preschool so I was spared from trying to explain why she couldn't go because it was raining colder than usual water outside.

Even though Faith had school, the gym follows the public school closing schedule so there weren't any AM classes. It was hilarious to be high up on the Stair Master and watch so many people come in all excited to take a class and then watch their dreams die when they saw the darkened fitness room and "Closed" sign. Maybe I should spend less time people watching and more time focusing on my workout, but in my defense, Netflix kept randomly pausing. How am I supposed to work out without watching something?

Because my brain has a sense of humor, I didn't remember until today that I partially failed on my task of providing preschool snack last week. Sure, I brought crackers and applesauce pouches and fruit leathers, and sent in fresh fruit to supplement the supplies mid-week, but I didn't remember that I was supposed to supply flowers. Yes, you read that right. I forgot the fresh floral arrangement to give the snack table "ambiance".

Hopefully the shame of this will help me remember the flowers on my next snack duty rotation. Why are these kids so fancy? My idea of a centerpiece for the table at home is the napkin holder and salt and pepper. Freaking flowers.

I'll only be in trouble if Faith starts expecting "ambiance" in her home meals. That will really clash with the whole "Here's some marginally seasoned chicken and plain rice" meal plan we're on for Cordelia's GI issues.

Does your kitchen table have a centerpiece? Now I'm concerned that most adults do this.

Monday, January 12, 2015

My inner Samuel L. Jackson

Like everyone else, I have an internal monologue that usually doesn't bubble to the surface in daily interactions with people. Unlike some people (I assume at least), my internal monologue could be fittingly read by Samuel L. Jackson.

Don't get me wrong, my mind isn't constantly filled with profanity laden rants, but it can get saucy in there. Here are some examples of things that make my brain explode:

Personal space intrusions. There is a certain workout class that I attend every week, and every week there is this chick who shows up after me and picks a spot that just a few inches shy of a reasonable distance from me. I've tried moving to give her more space, but she just got closer. It's distracting as hell to have someone constantly right next to you, especially if they are being weird about it instead of friendly.

Maybe I'm standing in "her" spot and she's trying to get me to move. Who knows, maybe she likes the smell of my sweat. This is one of the many reasons that I miss running. The only person who ever got in my space when I was running was Peanut and I was OK with that. Yes, I just called my dog a person.

My favorite bitch

Playground assholes. When the weather is nice, I take Cordelia to the playground. When the days were longer, we sometimes go twice a day, once when Faith was at preschool and again when Faith had speech therapy. Usually, the playground is a fun, happy place...until there is some little asshole running around and no parent to correct them and it's up to you to step in.

Once I had to climb up the playground equipment to physically remove two older kids who were horsing around in the little kid elevated tunnel and they were trampling Cordelia. She was trapped under them and screaming and I honestly thought my head was going to explode with rage. Their father was sitting on the bench, with headphones on and deeply engrossed with his phone, and didn't even notice. I spent the rest of the playground time glaring at him and thinking about going over and just jumping up and down on his sandal clad feet and seeing how he liked it.

That incident is also my proud moment of making children cry at the playground. If you don't want a shame lecture from an angry mother, maybe don't come to the toddler side and step on people's babies.

People who want to talk to me about their diets. I'm not really good at controlling my facial expressions so I'm not sure why anyone would want to tell about how many Weight Watcher points they get in a day or how this juice cleanse they are doing is totally detoxing their liver.

Food thievery. This doesn't really come up too often in my current life (and I don't count the kids wanting part of my food in this), but is there anything that elicits self righteous rage more than someone swiping your food from the office fridge?

I've never known anyone who admitted to doing it, so I don't even know the thought process behind it. Are there people out there who are confused by the office fridge and they think the food in there is for everyone? Even in our house, my husband and I have food that "belongs" to a particular person and we wouldn't eat it without asking first. Maybe we're the weirdos?

Cashiers who want to discuss my purchases. Usually by the time I get to the check out line at the store, I'm pretty close to the end of my patience. It's a pretty common side effect of shopping with small children. I know that being a cashier must be boring and making conversation is a good way to pass the time, but I still get pissed on the inside. My favorite is when they hold up a particular grocery item and ask "Is this good?" No, it tastes like shit. I'm buying it because I love the taste of shit.

Just over the weekend, I was at Target buying groceries and random other stuff and the cashier was especially chatty. When she rang up the nail polish I had picked out, she stopped what she was doing and exclaimed "This nail polish is almost TEN DOLLARS. Did you know that??" No, I'm always shocked by my bill by check out because it's not like things are labeled with their price in the store.

I'm sure I could think of more examples, but I'd really rather hear about your hot button issues that make you go all Samuel L. Jackson in your head. Let's have a Festivus inspired airing of grievances in the comment section!