31 December 2009

A Bilious New Year's Eve

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen a couple of my posts about having a stomach ache. I felt sick after eating lunch on Tuesday, made a slight recovery, and then had some gut-busting stomach pain at bedtime. I woke up on Wednesday feeling just fine, and assumed the previous day's complaints were caused by questionable leftovers.

I ate breakfast (pancakes by Charlie, yay!) and lunch (whole wheat pasta) without any issues. Dinner was a turkey sub from Jimmy John's. I had to head for bed early because I was scheduled to open the next day. Almost as soon as I lay down, the same god-awful abdominal pain came back with a vengeance. Unlike the previous night, where the pain came in waves and I was eventually able to fall asleep, the pain was unrelenting. Eventually, I horked up my dinner.

Charlie was there next to me, rubbing my back and saying how sorry he was that there was nothing he could do. I felt beyond awful. Finally, we decided that I should probably go to the ER and get checked out since vomiting, severe abdominal pain, and fever can be signs of really serious problems. Charlie took care of all the phone calls -- my mom, my boss, etc. I bundled myself up in the Jeep and then we were on our way.

I tell you what, I must have had the magical combo of symptoms that ensures speedy admittance, because within about ten minutes of arriving, I was in a hospital gown (hello! there's my butt hanging out the back!) and laid out on a bed. The nurse started an IV, then a doctor came in and asked me the usual questions. She suspected right away that my gall bladder was the culprit, and ordered an ultrasound.

Fast forward a few hours and I was full of painkillers and anti-nausea drugs, and my ultrasound was done. The nurse came back and told us that I had gallstones, but that I wasn't in need of immediate surgery (whew!). She referred me to my regular doctor, and sent me packing with a nice kit of drugs.

So that's where we are today. I'm feeling better, although there were some twinges after lunch (nothing fatty, just more wheat pasta). My doc's office is closed until Monday, so I've got to wait until then to make an appointment. In the meantime, I'll be back at work on Sunday, and eating bland, non-fatty, non-spicy food for the next few days (bleh!).

All I can think of is that a) I'm glad we didn't have any fancy or expensive plans for New Year's Eve and b) I'm REALLY glad they didn't whisk me off to surgery last night. I mean, waiting for my regular doctor, waiting for more test results, waiting for a surgical referral, that's all going to suck, but I'd rather be home with my family (and my drugs, bwahahaha) instead of putting my life on hold for God knows how long.

Here's hoping that 2010 is a better year for me, health wise. I sure would like to try and go a year without any major medical procedures.

30 December 2009

The Weekly Austin - Christmas Wrapup

ZOMG! - 12.25.09

We had an absolutely fantastic Christmas. Austin's just old enough to "get it," and his excitement was contagious. His expression in this picture really conveys how we all felt throughout the day: WOW, how lucky are WE?!

My parents, along with Charlie's mom and grandma, joined us for the day. Our dear friends Jack and Lauren also came, and their gifts to Austin have been two of his favorites. One is a giant rubber dinosaur that Austin is now treating like his baby -- feeding it, giving it sips of juice, and even wiping its face in the morning. The other is a sort of wooden tower with balls that have to be hammered through holes in the top.

Charlie's mom gets the award for Gifts Most Likely to Give Mommy A Migraine -- four plastic cars that, when shaken, make extremely loud engine-revving sounds. Austin loves them, though, so I have to put up with it. Next year I'll have to ask for earplugs and a case of Excedrin.

My parents gave Austin mostly noise-free toys (THANK YOU, MOM!), including some bad-ass construction equipment (dump truck, front loader, bulldozer), a basketball hoop, and a Leapfrog Tag Junior reading system.

I haven't even come close to listing everything that was given to Austin -- that would take days. I'm blown away by everyone's generosity. And Austin really loved everything. (He even went apeshit over some Thomas the Tank Engine pajamas.)

More important than the presents, though, was the presence of our family and friends. I looked around the room and saw people who love me, love my son, love my family. And I love them all back!

29 December 2009

Pugtastic Tuesday - 12.29.09

Guardian of the Presents - 12.25.09

Bama enjoyed plunking herself down in front of Austin while he opened presents on Christmas day. I think she did it to make sure she'd be in as many pictures as possible. What a ham.

25 December 2009

24 December 2009

The Magic of Christmas (Eve)

What a day we've had! I baked, I cleaned, I had Thai food. I got to spend time with two of my most favorite people. I got to see my little guy get ridiculously excited about Santa, the tree, and the whole works. Just plain awesome all around.

Tomorrow will be a busy day, and I'll be thinking of you all. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. And if it gets stressful, or sad, or just not fun, try to remember how magical it all seemed when we were kids. Remember how lucky we all are, how blessed we are to have each other, our families, our friends, our homes, our jobs...all of it. Remember what it's really about -- not just the birth of Christ, but also hope, and family, and love.

Santa's Little Helper - 12.24.2009

23 December 2009

The Weekly Austin - 12.23.09

Forgetting that I'd left a box of Kleenex on a low shelf, I turned my back on Austin for about five minutes. When I walked back into the dining room, this is what I found:

The Great Kleenex Incident - 12.21.09

As soon as he spotted me, he started jamming all the tissues back in the box.

As Good As New!

I don't punish Austin for doing things like this. He's a toddler, and this is what toddlers do. (And really, it's my fault for leaving the Kleenex within his reach.) But just like any other time he makes a mess, he knows he has to help clean it up.

22 December 2009

Pugtastic Tuesday - 12.22.09

What A Pair - 12.12.09

It used to be much easier to tell these two apart. Lately, though, Pugly (on the left in this shot) has gotten thinner and 'Bama has gotten fatter, so from behind, they're almost identical.

17 December 2009

Turkey Soup!

It's getting to be the time of year where we get a lot of "Soup Weather" here in Virginia. You know, the kind of weather that makes you want to put on an LL Bean sweater, listen to soft jazz, and eat some fantastic soup?

So this week, I dragged out a turtleneck and some Kenny G CDs (hahahahaha...no, really), and made some soup with a leftover turkey breast that I roasted on Saturday. And kids, this is a soup you must try for yourself!

I cut up some carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, into big chunks, and sauteed 'em in a large stock pot with a little olive oil. Then I tossed in the turkey breast carcass, and filled the pot up with enough water to cover the turkey. Brought it to a boil, and then let that sucker simmer until it reduced by at least half. At this point, I added some herbs - parsley, sage - and pepper, but only a TEENY bit of salt. If you add too much salt now, the broth will be extremely salty at the end (because you're going to boil off most of the water, which will concentrate the salt).

After that, I strained it, and put it back into a clean pot. (You can reduce it again if you want a super-concentrated turkey stock.) I was expecting to have to skim the fat off as well, but there wasn't much; I didn't leave a lot of skin or meat on the carcass.

The next steps turned that broth in to fo' reals soupy goodness. I added:

Chick peas (garbanzo beans)
Diced tomatoes (canned, drained well)

It just occurred to me that rice would be a great addition, or some fresh spinach (it'll wilt as soon as it hits the hot broth). Might try that next time.

I also dumped in a container of chicken stock (LOW SODIUM!), just because there wasn't quite enough liquid for all those veggies.

Then, I added the leftover turkey meat - I had about 1/2 a pound. I grabbed a spoon and took a slurp. It tasted SO good, but needed a little seasoning, so I added some more parsley and sage, along with a little more salt.

Here's the end result:

Man-o-MAN, was this tasty! And it's pretty healthy, thanks to all the veggies. It really hit the spot on a cold, drizzly December day. Give it a try next time you have a leftover bird.

The Weekly Austin - 12.16.09

This was supposed to post automatically yesterday. Not sure why it didn't! Anyhoo...enjoy!

Smile for Daddy! - 12.10.09

15 December 2009

Pugtastic Tuesday - 12.15.09

Mmmm, Carrots! 12.09.09

Last Wednesday was unseasonably warm, so Austin and I headed outside to do some work on my now-dormant vegetable garden. We pulled up the last of the carrots, and Austin decided to share some with Pugly.

09 December 2009

08 December 2009

Pugtastic Tuesday - 12.08.09

Wrapping Presents is Tiring! - 11.23.09

02 December 2009

The Weekly Austin - Holiday '09 Edition

Last year, I had grand plans to take a fantastic Xmas picture of Austin and make it into a card to send to everyone we know. (SEE? SEE HOW CUTE OUR KID IS? SUCK IT!) My mom got him a great little outfit, the tree was perfect, and I had borrowed kick-ass gear with which to shoot this masterpiece.

What'd I end up with?

That's right. That's a SCREAMING BABY. And we all know, nothing says "Hooray for the Birth of Jesus" like a screaming baby.

With these memories fresh in my mind, I decided to take another crack at it this year. He's so much older! I thought. He can follow instructions! And he co-operates with me most of the time! I just knew I'd get much better results. (I can hear my mom laughing her ass off all the way from Virginia Beach as she reads this.)

I'm not sure if it's the button-down shirts, the Xmas tree, or what, but Austin and holiday snaps? DO. NOT. AGREE. Behold, Screaming Baby's replacement, SCREAMING TODDLER:

And in case you're wondering, I had to do a tight close-up because the only way to keep this writhing demon spawnI MEAN MY BELOVED CHILD still was to wedge him into his Bumbo seat. This was pretty much the best shot I got.

So if you get a holiday card from me this year, don't be surprised if it's a stick figure scrawled onto a Post-It note. Because Mommy is packing up her camera gear and climbing into the bathtub with a bottle of wine. (Isn't that what all the pros do?)

22 November 2009

Down on the Farm

Austin and I took a ride out to Suffolk yesterday to pick up our Thanksgiving turkey. My mom and stepdad were there as well, and I got a few really cute pictures of Austin enjoying the sights and sounds of the farm.

His favorite? The cat.

But there were also cows, including a two-week-old calf...

And chickens...

And football...

And lots of running around with Grandpa...

And much toddler handsomeness...

It was a great day. We'll definitely be back next year!

All pictures were taken at Full Quiver Farm in Suffolk, Virginia. And no, I didn't get a free turkey for blogging about them.

18 November 2009

17 November 2009

Pugtastic Tuesday - 11.17.09

Licking Her Own Eyebrow - 11.12.2009

16 November 2009

At Ease

I remember reading Jane Kenyon's poems at one of the worst points in my depression. Her collection "Constance" sat on my bedside table and I read it over and over and over again. She described the pain and anguish I was feeling better than anyone (save Sylvia Plath) I'd ever read. The words in this piece, from "Having It Out With Melancholy," pressed against my pain like a tourniquet, making it surge before it dwindled:


Once, in my early thirties, I saw

that I was a speck of light in the great

river of light that undulates through time.

I was floating with the whole

human family. We were all colors -- those

who are living now, those who have died,

those who are not yet born. For a few

moments I floated, completely calm,

and I no longer hated having to exist.

Like a crow who smells hot blood

you came flying to pull me out

of the glowing stream.

"I'll hold you up. I never let my dear

ones drown!" After that, I wept for days.

I read these poems now, the poems that pinpointed my agony, made me feel less alone, brought on wave after wave of uncontrollable tears, and they're like memories of a battle. They're the stories you tell about a scar.

I still feel as though I'm floating now. The days are flowing by, but for once, I don't feel disconnected, adrift, aimless. There's no one, no malevolent thing, to snatch me out of the light. The fear has faded, the panic is gone.

11 November 2009

The Weekly Austin - 11.11.09

Where's Your Bee-Bo? 11.4.09

Austin really likes the Sandra Boynton books. His favorite is "The Belly Button Book," in which a tiny hippopotamus refers to hers as a "bee-bo." While he doesn't actually say "bee-bo" yet, Austin does know where to look for his (and anyone else's). In these pictures, he's having a little trouble finding it.

10 November 2009

Pugtastic Tuesday - 11.10.09

Pugly: "If I stare at him long enough, he'll give me that tomato."
Bama: "ismellsomethinginhispocketWEEEEEEE!"

06 November 2009


Most of the time, I feel like I have the most perfect kid in the universe: affectionate, funny, not a picky eater, sleeps like a brick, loves everybody. And then there's this afternoon.

This afternoon, I am the proud mother of a screaming, head-butting, slapping, fit-throwing T. Rex who apparently does not want me to make dinner. How do I know? Because every time I walk in the kitchen, he wedges himself in between me and whatever work surface I'm trying to use, and caterwauls until I pick him up. I have tried ignoring him -- I get hit with whatever toy is handy. If I pick him up, he immediately wiggles and squirms to be put down, then cries when I DO put him down (lather, rinse, repeat). I've tried a snack, I've tried a drink (for him, not me, although MAN does that sound good right about now), I've tried reading together, watching a show together, ad infinitum ad nauseum.

And now we've reached the point that I like to call "OH FOR THE LOVE OF PETE WOULD YOU PLEASE STOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!" I don't yell this out loud, or even say it in a regular voice. But it blares in my brain at full volume -- almost like in The Shining, when Danny sends a telepathic message to Dick Hallorann that's so strong, Dick feels like he's going to pass out (or something like that):


This is the point where I have to carry the screaming, kicking T. Rex up the stairs, put him in his crib, shut the door, and walk away. Because seriously? Mommy needs a time out.

I'd never, never, NEVER do anything to hurt my son. Even at the worst of these moments, when I feel my blood boiling, and all I want to do is scream right back at him, it never enters my mind to hit him out of anger. But I also know that sometimes very scary things happen in the brains of tired, stressed, hungry mommies on the verge of their own little meltdown.

So I walk away, and I turn the volume down on the baby monitor (it's up just enough for me to hear if he's doing anything other than peevish whining), and I wait for the transformation -- his, not mine. I get my shit together, and then I go upstairs and get him. Lather, rinse, repeat.

05 November 2009

Thanksgiving Fever

Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the leaves on the ground, or maybe it's the fact that the Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving catalog arrived a few days ago, but MAN! I am ON FIRE for the holidays this year!

Not to make anybody sick with my crazy organization/planning, but I've already decided on the Turkey Day menu. The majority of the recipes are from Williams-Sonoma, including the same stuffing I made the last time I did a holiday dinner. What I'm saying is, this food is going to be THE JAM.

We're having about eight people over, so with us, that's ten. Well, ten and a half if you count Austin, who will probably chew on a roll and a piece of celery for thirty seconds and then proclaim, "All done!" Aside from parties, I haven't cooked for quite this many people before. But you know what makes it extra super fantastical? My new kitchen! I will have counter space! And a work island! AND IT IS CLEAN! There are not enough caps or exclamation points to express my excitement, so forgive me for typing like a thirteen year old girl. I'm filled with the urge to type ZOMG TKSGIVING! over and over again.

Anyhoo, what's YOUR big plans for the holidays?

04 November 2009

The Weekly Austin - 11.04.09

Plainclothes Jedi - 11.03.09

Austin was Yoda for Halloween. His costume has been washed and put away, but the lightsaber remains. He loves it. L-O-V-E LOVES it. He's unbearably cute running around the house with this thing. Totally a safety hazard, but really...is there a cooler way to get injured than with your very own LIGHTSABER?!

03 November 2009

Pugtastic Tuesday - 11.03.09

Sad Face - 10.21.09

Oh, Mr. Pugly. Still not feeling well. Still limping around. We're doing our best to keep him comfortable, but he just looks so darn pitiful. Poor old man.

02 November 2009

Die! Die Crickets! DIE!

I've spent the last half hour or so trying to find a video clip of Dave Matthews telling a really funny story about crickets. No luck -- it's from an episode of MTV Unplugged from about a million years ago. Anyhoo, the gist of the story is that one of his friends from South Africa wigged out and set a bunch of crickets on fire in a bathtub.

I totally and completely identify with the desire to light those fockers up.

Now, I'm not talking about good ol' Jiminy, or even the shiny black crickets you find in the backyard. I'm talking about these things:

Camel cricket, cave cricket, spider cricket, NASTY SCARY MOTHERFUCKING ALIEN CRICKET MENACE, whatever you want to call them, I hate them. With a passion.

I don't hate them because they do damage (they don't) or because they bite (they don't) or even because I generally dislike insects (I don't). I hate them because they hop, they hop FAR, and they hop in a very erratic fashion. Like, HOLY HELL IT'S COMING RIGHT FOR MY FACE. They're also huge, at least around here.

Why do I bring this up, you might ask? Well, guess what I found in my bathtub at 4 AM today? That's right. NASTY SCARY MOTHERFUCKING ALIEN CRICKET MENACE. Definitely not what I wanted to see as I was about to hop in the shower. I had to run to the utility room and grab a bottle of Clorox Cleanup -- the chemical of choice for cricket elimination. (Not really, but we didn't have any bug spray.) After hosing him down with the stuff for what felt like an eternity, he finally died. I put on a glove, wrapped him in TP, and flushed his alien cricket menace ass down the toilet.

I'll still be checking that toilet every time I use it for at least three days. For all I know, he's some sort of alien cricket ninja whose compadres will climb out of the sewer to avenge his death.

01 November 2009

Halloween Weekend Recap

This weekend has been absolutely nuts. I haven't been to this many social events since, well, forever. First, there was the Halloween party at Peggy and Brandon's house. My costume?

It was a great night, despite the fact that I ate too much and drank a little too much. Everyone's costumes were awesome -- we had a Vikings superfan, a potted flower and her box of Miracle Gro, and of course Dorothy and the Scarecrow, our hosts.

Saturday, we went to Little T's pirate-themed birthday party. Austin did pretty well, despite the fact that we didn't let him help T open his presents. There was cake, which he totally chowed down on...

...and Charlie actually managed to get a good picture of the two of us!

After the party, we ran a couple of errands, and then it was time to get ready for trick or treating. Austin wasn't really happy about his costume at first.

By the time we got to my mom's house (we trick or treat in her neighborhood because it's safer, and well, they give out better candy!) Austin was in a much better mood. He kept his costume on the whole time and didn't get freaked out by anyone except a random ten year old in a Michael Myers mask (ugh!).

Mom took us out for Mexican food, and then we headed home. I'd planned on having some folks from work over to watch scary movies, but by the time we hit the door, I was so freakin' tired. I could barely keep my eyes open. I put the word out that movie night was cancelled. Nobody seemed disappointed -- I think most everyone had other plans anyway -- so I didn't feel too bad about it.

To finish up the night, we kicked back on the couch and watched "Jeepers Creepers" (which I think would have been a much scarier movie if the bad guy was just a psycho and not some sort of alien monster bug thing).

Today's been kind of boring. I'm not feeling so hot (might be getting a cold, I think), Charlie's painting the trim in the kitchen, and I'm trying desperately to avoid the Halloween candy.

How was YOUR weekend?

30 October 2009

Le Sigh

Well, it's Friday. I opened this morning (fourth time this week) and I got my run in (also the fourth time this week) but DAMN am I tired now. I took a power nap, about thirty minutes or so, but the chill in the air is making me want to go fetal on the couch and watch TV all day.

However, today I need to:

1. Check out Costco (I hear they have a better selection of organics than BJs).
2. Get the last couple of pieces I need for my Halloween costume.
3. Clean up my office.
4. Prep dinner for the boys.
5. Check out running shoes (this is a maybe, depending on our finances).

Well poop. That seemed like a whole lot more stuff before I typed it out. Heh.

28 October 2009

The Weekly Austin - 10.28.09

I Walk The Line - 10.21.09

Austin's striking out on his own more and more these days. He still circles back for a squeeze and a kiss every once and a while, but for the most part, he flies solo. It's a good thing, really; he's becoming a little more independent, a little more self-sufficient. I can see how it could make you sad, the fact that your baby needs you less and less as time goes by. But I'm not sad. I love watching this transformation from little helpless bug to little grown person. It happens so fast, faster than I ever imagined it would.

27 October 2009

Pugtastic Tuesday - HALLOWEEN EDITION!

Generally, I'm not a fan of putting clothes on animals. Dogs are not people, they're not children, no matter how much you love and care for them. I make an exception for Halloween, mostly because the pugs just look too funny with costumes on.

When we had just Pugly, I didn't bother. But after Alabama joined our gang, I knew I had to do something with the two of them. On their first Halloween together, back in 2006, I dressed them up as Team Deviled Eggs (a chicken and the devil):
Doesn't Pugly look THRILLED? He later tried to attack the giant inflatable pumpkin seen behind them in this shot.

In 2007, we went with an insect theme, Beetle and the Bee:

This time Alabama looks mad; Pugly enjoyed his bee costume and the attention he got while wearing it at our Halloween party.

I'm really getting a kick out of these pictures today, mostly because I know our days of doggie costumes are done. 2008 was Austin's first Halloween, so he got all the attention. And this year, with Pugly still not at 100%, it seems a little mean to force him into a costume. I may throw something together at the last minute, just for a picture or two, but I don't think it'll be anything elaborate.

Anyhoo, the pugs have asked me to tell all of you HAPPY PUG-O-WEEN, and they're accepting candy donations if you have any to spare.

22 October 2009

This IS Being Productive

Can't think of anything to do before 9 o'clock on a Thursday night? Why not surprise your hubs or housemate or whomever in the kitchen while they're making dinner? But, just as you're trying to be all paparazzi-ninja, realize there's no memory card in your camera. Then, for real fun, almost burn yourself while trying to take pictures. Hilarity will ensue, I assure you.

Once you finally manage to get a memory card in your camera, you too can capture AMAZING paparazzi-ninja quality images, such as these:

Stop Making That Face. STOP! STOP! I'M GOING TO PEE!

Kissy Kissy (or, I MARRIED THE TICK! See the spoon?)

What? What do YOU do until your favorite show comes on?

21 October 2009

The Weekly Austin - 10.21.09

More! 10.18.09

Since he was a baby, we've tried teaching Austin a few signs to help him communicate. The only two he's really picked up are "ALL DONE" and "MORE." I'd hoped that signing would help him express things to me before he could say the words for what he needed, but so far...not so much. He also doesn't really talk yet. I'm told it's nothing to worry about; lots of kids don't talk until they're two or even three years old. He interacts with everyone really well, he can identify all sorts of things from pictures, and he definitely gets his point across when he wants something (or when he's happy -- "SCREEEEEECH!"). His ears are fine, he's not autistic; so why do I worry? I don't know. I guess it's just my job as a mom.

20 October 2009

The Charles

The Charles in His Natural Habitat

I'm having one of those days where I feel very appreciative of my husband. So, in lieu of Pugtastic Tuesday, I'm having a Hooray for Hubby day.

For two days in a row, he's taken care of Austin's bedtime and morning routines, just so I can go to bed early and get up early to run and go to work. And he rotated the laundry for me. And cleaned up the kitchen. When I came home from work this morning, I hardly had anything to do. It was an extra-nice surprise.

Sometimes it's easy to fall into the pattern of thinking only about his faults (few though they are) or the times when we don't always get along so well. I have to remind myself to focus on the good stuff, because there's so much of it. Like this:

The picture itself isn't much. But the fact that he still has it on his computer nearly six years after snapping it with a cell phone? Awesome.

19 October 2009

My Triumphant Return to Teh Intarwebs

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...


I made Easy Mac as part of the kid's dinner the other night (yes, I feed my child uber-processed, microwavable crap from time to time -- so sue me!), and as happens every time I make it, I ended up staring at the bowl when it came out of the microwave. I love, and I do mean LOVE, how the noodles manage to stand themselves up on end. The picture above shows a pretty good arrangement, but I've had bowls in the past where all but one or two macaroni (macarono? I mean, if macaronI is plural...just sayin'.) are vertical.

I'm sure there's an explanation for it, probably something to do with the fiber in the pasta, steam, etc. But quite frankly, my dear fellow noodle-phile, I don't give a damn. It's a small, small thing that makes me smile. AND SO I SHARE IT WITH YOU, INTARWEBS!

Note: If you're looking for The Weekly Austin, it's been moved to Wednesday.