Friday, December 04, 2009

Bah Hambug! Who put the X in XMAS?

I'm just not feeling it. I'm not in a festive mood. I'm not eagerly unpacking my cd's of Christmas carols or anticipating how pretty the tree will look when we decorate. I know it's because of our money crunch. I can't afford to window shop these days. I love buying presents for friends and family but there's just no extra money for much. I know we'll buy Ryder one or two small things, since it's his first Christmas. And we'll get my parents a little something. Jaime and I have agreed on a joint Christmas gift that's practical, useful and needed (and not pricey). With these restrictions, it's just not that easy to get into the spirit of the season. Not the whole "what am I scoring for gifts" part, but the giving. I love the giving part.

I have to figure out a way to retool my thinking. I can't do much but I could buy a few cans of tuna and a jar of peanut butter for the food bank. And I'm still delivering Meals on Wheels. If I use my social media outlets to promote the charitable events going on around town then it's giving, in a different way. Maybe then I won't feel so glum about the season.

And I need to remember that the catalyst for the celebration is the birth of Jesus. As far as I know he didn't have much in the way of physical things to give away. Of course there was that whole nifty water-to-wine trick and the loaves & fishes buffet. But 90% of what JC was all about couldn't be seen or heard or touched. It could be felt, though. I need to focus on the purpose of Christmas and maybe then I'll have the courage to untangle the Christmas lights.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A foodie vacation in Panama

Fall in Central Texas is in full swing, bringing with it chilly morning fog and afternoon breezes with a snap to them, a reminder that colder days are ahead. When the weather turns cooler, my favorite activity is to plan a vacation. With our trees scattering brown leaves on the yard my thoughts turn toward visiting a land of vibrant flowers, lush green fauna and, of course, delicious food. I want to visit Panama.

Panama has it all: mountains, beaches, rainforests and bustling urban living. Forbes Magazine recently named Panama as one of its top retirement havens. Paradise, it seems, comes in the form of a country framed on one side by the Pacific Ocean and on the opposite by the Caribbean Sea. The long, narrow country is home to teeming wildlife, is extremely popular with birders, offers a multitude of activities from surfing, diving and hiking to eco-retreats and cooking tours.

The cuisine of Panama is as diverse, as the population is mainly Mestizo, a mix of European and Amerindian people. Throughout the years the food of Panama became a mix of African, Spanish and Native American cooking. Immigration over the years has left a mark on Panama. It’s simple enough to find Italian, Greek, Chinese, French and American restaurants in Panama City. But when I think of vacation I think of cooking tours. Others may relax by rappelling down a Cliffside; I relax by learning how to make a new dish or utilize an unusual spice.

Chef Charlie Collins has opened his home to foodies like me who wish to spend their days chopping, stirring, learning and eating. His Panamonte Culinary School is most prestigious, offering a chance to sample native foods like yuca and plantains and other tropical fruits, vegetables and ingredients from organic hydroponic farms and local markets. Guests take a “hands on” approach from selecting ingredients to cooking them, under Chef Collins instruction. The day ends with a tasting dinner of the dishes made in the chef’s professionally equipped and designed kitchen. Chef Collins’ masterful cooking has led to many awards including Life Time Achievement Award from the Bon Appetit Gourmet Club. He’s cooked for presidents of many countries at some of the most important events in recent Panamanian history. In short, if you are a food loving person in search of an unforgettable vacation, look no further.

Panamonte Culinary School is in the highland town of Boquete, in an area of Panama well-known for its coffee production. With verdant green mountains and a cooler climate, it’s a highly desirable tourist area. Chef Collins has both cooking school guests and those who wish to simply enjoy his Panamonte Inn & Spa. The boutique hotel has much to offer, from its gourmet restaurant and highly rated spa to arranging canopy rides and river rafting trips. And so, with the turn of the seasons here, I dream of a charming inn, of deeply flavored coffee, empanadas, patacones, meals of comfort foods like sancocho and ropa vieja. I dream of Panama.

In Austin, those wishing to book a trip to Panama with ease can do so by contacting Panama Boutique. The staff of Panama Boutique are experts in travel to and from the country. Their first-hand knowledge of Panama means a trip can be tailored to fit your desire, from cooking tours to lazy beachfront resorts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Belated Veteran's Day Thank You

Thank you, American military personnel, both active & retired, for your service. Thank you for surrendering your opinions so that I can have one. Thank you for sacrificing your time in the states with family and friends in order to serve in a foreign land. Thank you for every time you ate a substandard meal so that I can have the freedom to choose from a bazillian fast food options or indulge in fine dining. Thank you for those deployed in the Middle East who place as high of a value on lip balm & months old magazines from home as we do on getting a new iPod or iPhone. Thank you for not complaining so that I have the luxury of bemoaning all day long. Thank you for your time, your sweat, your hard work. Thank you for serving so that our country stands strong and we at home are able to enjoy our families. My son thanks you, too, in his own babbling baby way, drool & all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ryder digs Tyler Florence's Sprout Foods

Not that my kiddo is a picky eater at all but he does have a discriminating palate already. Ryder dislikes the flavor of most baby food brands we've tried so far. I don't blame him--I taste tested and thought they were nasty, too. The one brand we both think tastes good and is a great value for the money is Tyler Florence's line, Sprout. I'm not fond of the pouch/envelope packaging but Sprout has a page dedicated to why they chose the container. It's okay, it's just a little messy when you spoon out some food, then reuse by zipping it shut. Once Ryder eats more at one sitting it won't be a problem. Right now, though, he can easily get 3 meals out of one pouch.

The difference in taste is definite. The fruits taste fresher and there's no strange aftertaste or chemical zing. The way I see it, if I'd eat it, he'll eat it. And I know that other brands, not that I'm naming names, don't taste good to me. But oh, my he loves his Healthy Times maple teething biscuits!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pissed About Balloon Boy

I'm pissed about the whole Colorado balloon boy saga. All afternoon, I was glued to the internet watching the live video feed of the helium balloon floating over Colorado. Stressed out and worried about this child that I didn't know, I couldn't tear away from the news. As a parent, it hits home hard when a child is endangered. All I could think of was how terrified the boy had to be, how desperate his parents were to have him back safe and unharmed. When the balloon did land and he wasn't inside my imagination churned up the fear that he'd fallen out shortly after takeoff. Who could I call to suggest searching the rooftops in his subdivision?

Imagine my emotions when the reports come in that he is alive and hiding in a box in the family's attic. Angry. I'm angry that I allowed a drama unfolding in a different state to hijack my day. I'm irritated that my emotions are so easily ruffled. And I'm unhappy that I'm such a media junkie that I couldn't let go, back away from the monitor and chill out. No, I had to hang on every snippet of news tweeted, Facebooked, emailed and posted to websites of all kinds, network news sources included. And I'm sad that it made me agonize over future what if's of my own. What if Ryder is too adventurous and fearless for his own good? What if I can't keep my child safe?

Hopefully Falcon Heene is getting hugged and punished. Hugged because he is loved by his family and punished because there are consequences for your actions. And his family may very well get a honkin' big bill from the state of Colorado for all the resources used to track the balloon and prepare for emergency medical treatment. I'm thankful they spared no expense but now the Heene family needs to foot the bill.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Busy, busy, busy

Haven't updated in a while simply because I'm busy. In the last month I've:
  • Attended the Austin Cocktail Throwdown (loved the winning libation).
  • Took a week long vacation to visit my twin in the St. Louis metro area where I got to eat the most delicious Vietnamese cuisine, ever.
  • Managed to go see my man mate's band play a gig (first time in forever that I've done that).
  • Sadly neglected my Examiner page but a concerted effort on my Twitter site has paid off in followers.
  • Completed a 9 mile walk/run followed the next week by a 10 miler, then a 9.5 miler and soon, another 10 miler for my San Antonio Rock & Roll Half Marathon training.
  • Missed sweet baby Ryder saying "Mama" for the first time (and two more times after that) because I was away from home. Perhaps he only says it when I'm not around. If a baby says "Mama" in the forest, does it still mean I have to change his diaper?
  • Had my last chiropractic appointment for my shoulder problem. Thanks, Chris!
  • Unpacked exactly one box from the huge stash in our garage...leftover from moving the contents of our storage room to our house a few months ago. It'll get done. Sometime.
And there's more, most of which is too dull to post. What've you been up to?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Six Months Old & Sleeping Through the Night

Technically Ryder's 6.75 months old but hey, that's alright. What's important is that he went down to sleep at 10pm and didn't wake up until 6:30am. And he really didn't wake up much. The milk faucets were dripping and I, as Dairy Overseer, made the executive decision to gently remove my child from his crib and hold him to my chest. He didn't even open his eyes but immediately latched on for breakfast. That's my kid, not gonna miss a meal.

I think he would've slept an hour or more longer had I not woken him. Perhaps tomorrow morning I'll pump if he's still asleep when my boobs demand relief. Please, God, let there be a repeat of last night's good sleeping. Yes, I've gone from bargaining with God to let me live through this hangover (always uttered while worshipping at the porcelain throne) to pleading with Him for sleep. That's life, always begging our deities for something. Don't think I'm not appreciative. Once I bolted awake (wet sheets + ceiling fan = cold) and rushed to the nursery I was thanking God that Ryder was okay. I automatically assumed something must be hideously wrong since my sweet babe let me sleep for so long of a stretch. One for the baby books!

Another one for the baby book is Ryder's first diss. His first insult was dished out by his cousin Michael, oh so wordly at the ripe old age of ten. We were visiting Kim in St. Louis and riding in the car on an errand. Ryder was playing with Michael's favorite toy as an infant, a stuffed purple rhino. The rhino's horn is a bit worn from when Michael used to gnaw on it. My baby must've trying to mouth it's bum because Michael suddenly exclaimed "Wrong end, Baby Einstein!". It was said affectionately but with a hint of sarcasm. We exploded into laughter. Okay, so maybe not as amusing in the retelling but at the time it was quite funny.

Friday, August 21, 2009

At Least I'm Not Octomom

Every day I feel like I'm the best mom in the world. And every day I feel like I'm the worst. Yesterday evening when I got in from work my sweet Ryder was happily playing on the floor while watching "How It's Made" on tv. What? He likes the colors. Don't judge. You know your kids are parked in front of the boob tube watching Elmo or Spongebob or :::shudder::: The Wiggles. Creepy. But my baby was excited to see me, babbling and smiling and drooling hello. Couldn't wait for me to pick him up so he attempted crawling to me. He can hump up on all fours and stick his butt in the air, scoot forward a little bit on his knees but other than that, no decent amount of forward motion. When he couldn't get to me, he bawled. Even though he was upset, it made me feel like a celebrity. Rock star mom!

Fast forward to bedtime. Ryder is tuckered out, has nursed to contentment and is snoring softly on my shoulder. Until I put him in his crib. Then the wailing begins. Loud wailing. So loud I wonder if the neighbors can hear it, and if so, will they be calling CPS? After an eternity of heartrending sobs (two minutes) I put my hand on Ryder's chest, patting and shushing him. He gives me a look that says "How could you, Mom? Why did you rip me away from the warmth of your body and the comfort of hearing your heartbeat?". I cave, pick him up. We repeat this scenario several more times until Ryder's exhausted from crying and passes out. I'm almost too exhausted to pour a Maker's Mark & water. Worst mother in the world.

In all seriousness, each day I soar between feeling ultra-confident in my parenting abilities and being despondent at how little I can do right. Every time I rejoice in some developmental goal met by Ryder there is a list in a baby book telling me all the things he should be able to do at his age, but isn't. Self doubt will kick in before I reach the end of the paragraph. Should I be doing more? What about baby signing? Reading to him? Speaking in Spanish as well as English and sign language?

And nursing goes hand in hand with my highs and lows. One day I'm making a decent amount of milk, the next day Ryder's getting a formula supplement. It's taken six months for me to finally be (almost) guilt free. I wish my body could support my baby's total dietary needs but it just doesn't make enough all the time. I'm satisfied that on most days I can produce just enough. It's happy, happy me when I come home with 11oz for Ryder's next day meals. No extra, but enough. We don't have bags of frozen milk in our freezer but my baby has had mainly breastmilk for six months. I'm good.

Another Austin mom who empathizes with my special brand of crazy when it comes to motherhood put it into perspective for me. "At least we aren't Octomom", said Chelsea. My worries come to a screeching halt when I compare myself to that trainwreck of a mother. Yup. Could be a whole lot worse.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Being a working mother

My Austin Mamas group had a discussion going on in email about being a working mother. Someone wrote a post with bullet points that really got me thinking. It's hard to be a working mother. Not to ignore that working fathers would love to have more one-on-one time with their children, but I don't have a man's point of view, so this is all me, all my perspective.

I get up, nurse Ryder and get ready for work. I spend 10 hours away, including commute time, excluding any additional errands that suck up more time. Upon arriving back at home, I nurse Ryder, talk to Jaime unless he's off to band practice or a gig, play with Ryder, eat dinner (rarely do I make dinner on weekdays anymore), possibly maybe throw a load of laundry in or fold clean clothes & put them away, play with Ryder, get him ready for bed, nurse him, put him down and then I might have a half hour of free time. I'd kill to have time to decompress/de-stress after work but the only down time between the paying job and the Mama job is my commute.

On Saturday mornings I make time for my half marathon training group. After that it's all about Ryder, somewhat about Jaime and a little bit about our house (making meals, mostly). I don't have much time just for me other than my training. I can't remember the last book I read at home. I know I was still pregnant. This is a HUGE departure from norm for me. I spent the last oh probably 35 years before Ryder as a daily reader.

I don't feel like life is in balance or that it is the way it should be. I feel guilty. Guilty at the time spent away from my child. Guilty for the the many meals that I don't cook. Guilty that Jaime and I don't have much in the way of quality time for each other. I'd love to go on a date with him. Soon. And I feel guilty in wishing he had a job that paid well enough for me to stay home with our son. Add a big ole heaping spoonfull of me feeling guilty that I didn't stay in school, get a degree and have a job that pays me better than my current salary and you've got a steaming tureen of guilt. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

It's hard to be a working mother. I'm sure stay-at-home-moms have their fare share of troubles, too. Sorry, I don't share your perspective, either. So this post is a me me me guilt trip.

What makes it all worthwhile is that in between my dragging ass in the mornings trying to get ready for work and succumbing to exhaustion at night, two very special things will happen. Both are magical and beautiful. It is when, in the midst of my craziness, my baby will look at me and smile, an amazing whole face smile and that is my moment, my shining moment of balance...and it's all worth it. I'll lose myself in that smile, with all its promise and love and sweetness. And the second thing is that I'll then turn to look at Jaime, the man who gave me this marvelous creature. It's then that I'm certain I, too, am smiling with my whole face while I thank him for our son.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Trapped intelligence: the baby package

I've discovered that my idea of a baby as a blank slate waiting to be filled is wrong. My role of a parent as teacher and holder of the keys to the universe is only partially right. Damned if I know how, but babies are intelligent all on their own. They're trapped intelligence, wrapped up in a baby package with few skills to communicate with us. But don't think their lack of speech means they aren't sentient. Oh no, this is like being an English-only American in a country that speaks zero English. We know we're smart but the guy behind the counter at the little store doesn't understand our hand gestures to mean "where do you stock the feminine hygeine products?".

My son and I communicate in several ways. Of course there's the usual crying, which is actually multiple types of cries meaning different things. The hungry cry. The look-at-me-look-at-me cry. The bored cry. The fussy cry. And there's different categories of laughter, too, depending on the situation. Daddy gets more belly laughs than I do because he can make funnier noises. My baby uses his hands and his feet now, to get his point across. Don't want to be held closely? He'll push with arms and legs away from me. Want to be closer? He leans in, grabs a fistful of hair and rubs his face into my shoulder or chest.

But the communication that strikes me the deepest isn't verbal. It's the times when my baby is quiet, nursing or not, and he'll stare deeply into my eyes. I look back into the depths of his and marvel at how gorgeous he is, how pure and innocent. We'll gaze, unblinking, savoring the moment and the bond and then he'll smile. And oh, what a smile! That smile will bloom on his face like a swiftly opening morning glory flower, lighting up his features as if they were sun-kissed, with eyes sparkling. It shocks me, the swiftness of the smile, and I feel as if there is an electrical current running from my heart outside my body to this amazing little creature. The unbridaled, unconditional love he has for me shines through that smile in a way that I can only hope will never be lost. And that years later during expected less fun parts of parenthood, I know these smiles will sustain me.

My explanation of these magical moments is feeble, at best. It's hard to put it into words. But the intelligence and love I see in my son's eyes at that moment when he moves from seriousness to joy tells me that beyond a shadow of a doubt there is an intelligent being inside that tiny little body. There is a sharp mind locked behind a temporary communication barrier. I have to wonder, is it all about teaching a child about the world or is it the child teaching us about himself that's important?

Monday, August 03, 2009

My weekend: Miles walking, cupcakes & no sleep

Here's my weekend in one sentence: I got next to no sleep but I did walk 5 miles before emcee'ing the Cupcake Smackdown. To break it down, I'll address each part with the most important one first.

How the hell do I get Ryder to go to sleep? This kid is either a developing superhero who's power is never needing sleep or else he's been put on earth to be a torture device. Seriously, have a Guantanamo POW babysit for a weekend and in no time we'll not only know where to find Bin Laden, we'll have his cell phone number AND we'll know who killed JFK. Ryder's ability to stay awake has resulted in severe sleep deprivation for both Mommy & Daddy. Sanity must be saved. We tried the "cry it out" method. He'll scream until he's hoarse, pause for a moment and resume screaming. He is a happy boy unless you try to put him down for a nap. Then my sweet, playful babe turns into a hellspawn demonseed. He's perfectly content to live on a total of 6 hours of sleep per night while we are struggling to survive. Oh, but he'll nap if you're holding him. Only if you're holding him. The moment his back hits the bed, the couch, the quilt on the floor he's wide eyed and good to go. If he wants to continue sleeping, he'll cry voraciously until you pick him up again. Then he'll sleep 5 more minutes. Arrgggh!!! I want to burn my copy of On Becoming Babywise because it's been no help at all.

A much nicer part of my weekend was spent emceeing the Cupcake Smackdown 1.0. I was slated to be a judge but got pressed into emcee duties instead. My waistline thanks the organizer of the Smackdown for that good decision. I did eat one cupcake, a french toast one. It was frosted with either maple syrup flavored buttercream or perhaps a light cream cheese frosting and topped with candied bacon. Bacon!! I'm totally making these at home once we finish moving my kitchen stuff from storage. Need my blender for the frosting. The Smackdown was a huge success with approximately 1,000 folks attending. Exhausting and fun. You can see me, in a red shirt, standing on the stage in front of the windows in the very full bar in a pic on the blog Foodie is the New Forty. There's also a pic of the french toast cupcake.

I'm still training for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in San Antonio. Not sure how I'll come up with the money for the entry fee. It's $90 until the end of the month when it goes up to $95. I just don't have an extra almost hundred bucks in the budget. At any rate, I did 5 miles with my more-faithful-than-me workout partner Stephanie Delk. Stephanie rocks, in more ways than one (follow the link to her website). She keeps me going when I'd like to lay down on the sidewalk or catch a cab. Or a bus. Or commandeer a private car by pretending my water bottle is a large grenade, anything so that I don't have to finish our route. It was humid and hot on Saturday morning and I was ticked that my heart rate monitor stopped working. Or at least we think it did, since it kept giving me a reading of 238 yet I was still upright, mobile and conscious.

Next weekend I have no plans. I'm going to try to keep it that way, too.

Friday, July 31, 2009

It's a Cupcake Smackdown!

And I'm a judge. Woohoo! Come out to Cupcake Smackdown 1.0 on Saturday at the One2One Bar (kid & dog friendly) from 4-7pm. Free admission unless ya wanna enter the cupcake eating contest ($10). Proceeds benefit the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Just Keeps Getting Cuter

I don't know why his hair always looks red in pictures. I promise when you see him IRL it's brown. But here, like in other pics, he looks like a ginger kid. This picture is of Ryder in his fav spot in the house: on the floor underneath his playgym.

Flavor Tripping, Part Deux

The flavor tripping party at The Belmont was so much fun and such a success that the organizers have scheduled another for tomorrow evening. Read about it here and don't forget to buy tickets through the link I provide in the article--my readers get a $10 discount.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chicken Feet!

I tried chicken feet today. Yup. Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat. How was it? For the full review, go here. I can honestly say that I probably won't order it again. Definitely an unusual "treat".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Etouffee Recipe for the Microwave? Say what??

Yes, it's true. I made this over and over during my time at LSU. It was a roommate's mother who puttered around with an etouffee recipe, tweaking it until she had an easy one that utilized the microwave. The ingredient list calls for canned soup, something you don't normally find in an authentic recipe but the result is a very authentic tasting etouffee. And the addition of green onion as well as regular onion is not a typo. Just do it. The green tops add a slightly different flavor and color.

Nowadays I'll add more Tabasco than the recipe calls for and sometimes more garlic & tomato, too. Just depends on my mood. I've subbed crawfish tail meat for the shrimp, too. I cook it on the stovetop, not the microwave but heck, if pressed for time I won't hesitate to throw it in and nuke it.

Microwave Shrimp Etouffee
1/4 c margarine or butter
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped green onion
1/2 c chopped bell pepper
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 c diced celery
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
3 T tomato paste
1 can (10.75 oz) cream of chicken soup
1lb cleaned, shelled raw shrimp
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t hot pepper sauce
1/4 t cayenne pepper

In a 2qt microwave safe bowl combine first six ingredients. Microwave on high for 8-9 minutes until veggies are soft. (May break it up into 3 minute segments, stir). Stir in parsley, tomato paste, soup and spices and heat for another 2-5 minutes until mixture thickens. You want a gravy-like consistency. Add shrimp and heat until opaque and "c" shaped, about 1-2 minutes. Serve over cooked white rice.

Years ago I added this to the allrecipes database. There are some reviews where folks share how they changed the recipe to suit them. Check it out here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

First Time Swimming

Ryder wasn't certain he liked the water. He isn't crazy about baths. After a short while in the warm water, he decided it wasn't so bad after all.

We most assuredly enjoyed our time lounging in and around the rooftop pool at our friends' condo. The luxury condos had a doorman in the lobby, where you stop to sign in. He called upstairs to announce us and, I'm sure, find out if we were welcome. After getting the greenlight, he walked us to the elevator and unlocked it with a swipe of a key card. Swanky. Jaime kept humming the theme to The Jeffersons.
They don't make swim diapers for babies under 16lbs so Ryder wore a regular diaper. Talk about super absorbency! Poor guy weighed 80lbs when we took him out. Had to refill the pool.
It was wonderful to catch up with friends, to laugh and talk, eat great food and drink a few beers. The babies (Ryder has a new girlfriend, just a few weeks younger than him) were held and kissed and showered with attention. Can't ask for a much better time with good people.

20 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Marriage

I lifted this from Sara's Blog.
  1. Live by herself for at least a year. Done!
  2. Live with someone else for at least a year. Yep
  3. Recover from a broken heart. Done, done and done.
  4. Have a vacation fling. Oh, yeah. BTDT
  5. Take a road trip with a group of girlfriends. There was the trip to Mexico which resulted in me being held at the border for no ID. I'd left it in the hotel in the good ol' US of A.
  6. Relish sleeping in a queen sized bed by yourself. I still relish that, when I can get a nap alone. Otherwise I'm all for snuggle bunnying.
  7. Get her finances in order. Hmm. Did this with help. Thanks, Jaime!
  8. Learn to love her body. Finally do, jiggly bits and all.
  9. Have sex with at least one person she'd never want to marry (or introduce to mom). I plead the fifth.
  10. Find reliable birth control. Yeah, I have a surprise son.
  11. Pay off as much credit card debt and student loans as possible. Do you know how long it's been since I was in school?
  12. Spend way too much on something frivolous. I've done this way too many times.
  13. Exorcise all past relationship demons. It took a bushel of sage for smudging and several gallons of holy water but I've finally purged the ghosts of relationships past.
  14. Travel somewhere exotic. Does Cancun & Cozumel count? Or Yellowstone?
  15. Establish a strong circle of friends. My friends ROCK!!!
  16. Forgive her parents for not being perfect. Yes, I did.
  17. Have at least one night she can't quite remember. Just one?
  18. Experience some really bad first dates. Jaime+quesadillas=sour cream in moustache doesn't quite top the "warm from my balls" guy*.
  19. Find hobbies that fulfill her. Finding the time for my hobbies is the new quest.
  20. Celebrate her 25th birthday. Do they make you wait until 26 to get married now? I've done that and celebrated 30, 35 and 40...will be celebrating 42 on Sunday.

*Worst bad date ever involved a man who, while going into the movie theater, offered me a handful of starlight mints. I declined, and as he was stuffing them into his pockets he said "I know, you want one later, when they're warm from my balls." After throwing up a bit in my mouth, I politely replied "I didn't want to know you had balls." Never went out with him again.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dear Past Lovers: You Totally Screwed Up

I had a moment this weekend when I stopped the whirling stream-of-consciousness that is my thought process and concentrated on the moment, thankful of how amazing my life has become. I'm grateful that I have an incredible life partner who's a wonderful father. And I'm happy with the way I turned out, too. Dear Past Lovers: You totally screwed up when you dumped me. I'm a catch that's been caught.

The pianist Arthur Rubinstein said "Love life and it will love you back." I firmly believe his words although there were years when I felt like I was pouring my love out and not getting much in return. Now, with my family, I understand what life was saving up for me. It's like being a child and expecting to get a small piece of candy as a treat but instead you're served an enormous ice cream sundae. I love life and life's loving me back, all the chocolate fudge and whipped cream covered minutes of it.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Not Latina Enough

I've always been proud of my Mexican American heritage. Very proud. I'm much closer to the Mexican American side of the family than I am to my Anglo relatives; therefore I identify as Latina. But I'm never Latina enough, it seems. I know this is an insecurity within myself that has been nurtured over the years by the many times that people see only my pale skin, not the fiery Mexicana-americana underneath. And it's a nerve that I hit myself, when I clumsily converse in Spanish.

Although it was my first language, I have never been fluent. Nunca. I want more than ever to become fluent now, with a son to teach to speak. I want his first words to be bilingual, like mine were. Yet for him I want more. I want him to grow up speaking both languages. And for myself, quiero ser bilingüe. It's important to me to help my three-fourths Anglo son learn about his culture, his familia, his roots. And that involves me learning to speak better Spanish.

We're on a severely limited budget, so I'm doing what I can by checking out bilingual books from the library and reading. I've found that when I read Spanish it touches some distant memory inside me, sparking a moment of recognition, as if my brain already contains the knowledge but needs me to learn the pathway to fluency.

I wince when I speak aloud, though. I hear my terrible accent and feel like a sham, not Latina enough. But I find myself whispering to my son in Spanish without thinking about it. "Shhh, mi hijo. No llores." I sing to him the few songs I know in Spanish, a lullaby and La Cucaracha.

There's many, many versions of the last verse of La Cucaracha. I think most people have heard of the one that ends "marijuana por fumar". Interestingly enough, one version pokes fun at American Anglos who can't deal with the rising tide of bilingual culture:
El tonto Anglo, el tonto Anglo
ya no puede platicar,
porque no tiene, porque le falta,
español que hablar.
I feel like that song was written about me. The silly white girl who can't make conversation because I don't have any Spanish to speak.

I can at least take comfort in knowing that mi hijo will grow up eating tortillas, caldos, enchiladas, menudo and other home-cooked ethnic comfort foods. Por la gracia de Dios I will feed him like a Latina mamí.

Ryder's Not Sure About His Bumbo Chair

Diaper Bag is My New Purse

It was bound to happen. There's too much to carry when you have a baby. You have to start jettisoning belongings and paring down what to schlep around. My diaper bag has replaced my handbag.

And for my babydaddy, he's gained a bag. I have my chocolate brown & light blue diaper bag; he has his plain black daddy bag. I keep a camera, mascara, ID, credit card, lip gloss and cell phone in the extra pocket of my bag. I think he usually carries a camera as well.

We both have the usual assortment of baby-related items: diapers, extra change of clothes, clean burp cloths, blanket, Mylicon (that stuff is gold, I tell ya), Boudreaux's Butt Paste, wipes and gallon sized Ziploc bags. The Ziplocs are perfect for sealing off baby clothes in the event of a nuclear reactor melt down and ginormous blow out poo. Ryder's odd microwave buttered popcorn poo stench can be safely contained.

I feel like the mama-hood equivalent of a "What's in your wallet" commercial.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Lush Life: My Alcoholic Fantasy World

Life is great. I can't complain but I will. Those statements are quickly becoming my Summer 2009 mantra. What am I whining about today? I want drinks. I want happy hour. I want to get kacheery. I want the Lush Life that I've enjoyed in the past. Hah! I realize that life is long gone. It was a crazy carnival ride while it lasted, my misspent youth. And by "youth" I mean all the years between 15 and 41. It was a helluva time.

I drink one beer a day, normally a dark one, as a lactation aid. It's somewhat controversial on whether a single beer a day can help a nursing mom produce more milk but hell, I enjoy it and my baby isn't being harmed. Yes, I could simply take brewer's yeast but what's the fun in that? My lone beer is a gift from Bacchus for being a working mother.

But I'd really love to throw caution to the wind and breastmilk down the drain guilt free and go out on the town for multiple drinks. I'd love to fork over my hard earned dollars and do a shot of Jack, Coke back while waiting for my col'beer to arrive. And repeat that scenario an hour later, preferably in one of my favorite gay bars being served by one of my favorite gay bartenders, the ones who really know the meaning of "cocktail" (nothing dirty, just a beautifully poured drink).

I think back fondly on the days when relaxing after work meant pouring a glass of wine and arranging a plate of cheese and bread or crackers to nibble on while cooking dinner. I'd have a big red or maybe a prosecco with whatever cheese I fancied at the store that week. Nowadays my one beer is usually warm by the time I finish it between nursing Ryder and eating my own dinner.

I've become a beer snob, too. If you can have only one drink you'd make sure it's a good one, no? My favs this summer so far are Breckinridge Vanilla Porter and Shiner Smokehaus, the delightful "smokin' sommer bier" from the folks at the little brewery that could. I go back and forth between the dark & deep porter with the hint of vanilla and the refreshingly bright Helles-style Shiner with the little bit of smokiness.

I want to drink copious amounts of margaritas with my girlfriends on some sunny patio somewhere. Only with our current heat wave make that a sunny yet air conditioned enclosed patio somewhere. And top shelf ritas, please. I'm not wasting my time on cheap tequila. Republic will do me fine and I'll be keeping it local. Patron for shots, of course.

Alas, the Lush Life is no more. Long live the Lush Life! I can't afford to waste my baby's meals by polluting it with alcohol to the point that it's garbage. But I can still dream of the day, 8 months or so ahead in time, when I can call all my friends and squeal "happy hour after work!". I'm sure by then I'll be the cheapest drunk you can find, kinda like junior high was for me. Life is cyclical, right?

And por favor, no e-mails or comments listing the nearest AA meeting. I'm not an alcoholic. I'm just a reformed bar girl who's finding out that forbidden fruit is the sweetest.


Friday, June 12, 2009

SuperCrash & Sound Wars

Jaime's band is vying for the headlining gig at the Austin Chronicle's Hot Sauce Festival later this year. The Chronicle is choosing the band through an online battle of the band contest dubbed Sound Wars. You can vote once a day...and I'd surely appreciate you voting for SuperCrash. Each band has an mp3 up of an original song so you can listen before voting. SuperCrash posted "Another Lover" the sweet sweet song about love...and murder. A singer songwriter in the contest has posted what I think is the best song title ever: "I Knew I Knew I'd Hit Rock Bottom (When I Woke Up On Top of You). John Ford gets props for that.
So go vote for S'Crash....mama likes hot sauce.

Friday, June 05, 2009

3 Month Old Baby Toes

This little piggy went to market.
This little piggy stayed at home.
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy cried "Wee! Wee! Wee!" all the way home.

An updated picture to the one of my hands and Ryder's month old toes. This one has Daddy's hands, my ring and in the background, my hand on Ryder's chest.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Austin Restaurant Examiner

I'm venturing into freelance writing these days. I'm still finding my feet (and my voice) but I think it's a good gig. I'm covering Austin restaurants for a website called the Examiner. "Examiners" are writers who have expertise in their area. There's all kinds of examiners such as the Austin Budget Travel Examiner, Austin Gay Parenting Examiner and me, the Austin Restaurant Examiner. Check it out sometime.

Sweet sleeping babe

We had Ryder's three month birthday pictures taken. In my opinion he's breathtakingly beautiful. Thank you, Burnett, for such a great photo session!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sleep Resentment

Ryder's getting better at sleeping. He's even managing one long stretch of about 5 hours each night. Unfortunately, he still prefers to stay up late and sleep in, much like his father. My sweet partner-in-crime is a SAHD. He's also a night person. Mornings, according to him, shouldn't arrive before noon.

The way Ryder's schedule is set up at this point, he doesn't fall asleep for the night until midnight, sometimes later. He wakes me up sometime between 4-6am. He'll nurse and then I shake Daddy awake and hand Ryder off for burping and a diaper change before going back to sleep. If the baby wakes up in the earlier part of the morning, he's sure to want to eat again before I go to work. I'll kiss both my men goodbye and hit the road while they hit the sack, sleeping in until noon or even later.

Is it wrong to be resentful of my wonderful babydaddy's extra sleep? Probably. But with my limited amount of rest I can't summon up the strength to be magnanimous. Nope, what I want instead is the freedom to go to bed at 8pm a few nights a week. Unfortunately this isn't realistic. But a girl can dream, can't she?

I can't complain (but I will) since I'm well taken care of at home. Jaime cooks dinner most every night in addition to doing laundry. My mister is one damn fine househubby. If only there was some magic potion I could quaff that would leave me feeling refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated! Instead I'm waking up tired, crabby and with what may be permanent bags under my eyes.

Then I look at my beautiful child and I smile through the exhaustion. He is gorgeous, pure and innocent. His sleepy smiles in the wee hours capture my heart. And so I pour a cup of coffee, just one. I am nursing, after all. Babies grow fast. I can do this. In a month it'll be better. In three more months it will be much better (I hope). One day I'll look back and remember how tired I was but that thought will quickly be replaced by memories of how small Ryder was at 2 months and 3 months old. I'll smile at the memory of how in the early morning he'd be so sleepy and pliable, his tiny, warm body molding to my curves as he nursed. These thoughts sustain me, keep me optimistic and hopeful. Sleep will come, in time.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Our First Austin Fire Department Event

Over the weekend, our little family had its first Austin Fire Department event. No, Jaime wasn't burning his resume in a "screw The Man" fit of rebellion. Nope, Ryder hasn't started walking yet so the knobs on our gas stove are still safely off when we're not actively using the burners. And nuh uh, I did not succumb to a fit of hysterics and barricade myself into the bathroom screaming "I won't come out until someone promises me I can have 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep!". Although I admit to thinking about that one.

No, we did the ultimate of awesome parenting: we locked the keys and our sleeping son in the car while at a gas station. Yup. Locked our baby in the car. In Texas. In summer. Technically it's not summer yet but when temps are hitting the high 80's/low 90's it's close enough to call it summer. And so we had Ryder, asleep in his car seat, and the keys dangling from the ignition.

I learned that when you call Pop-a-Lock they will dispatch the nearest technician, who will drop whatever they're doing and come to your location. They also call the fire department. Whomever gets there first opens the car.

As we waited, listening for sirens, I circled the car several times, fighting the urge to break a window. I knew Ryder wasn't in danger. He was asleep, not crying. The car was parked in the shade and it was early, so the temperature was mild. These rational thoughts were swirling through my head just as quickly as the irrational emotion was churning up inside me. The best way I can describe it is a burning, raw lava flow inside me. It pulsed hotly in time with the thoughts "you have to get to him" and "you can't get in there". It was most definitely primal and if Jaime hadn't been there to calm me I probably would've given in and smashed a window.

A very nice locksmith happened to pull into the gas station just as AFD arrived. He offered to open the car for free. AFD deferred to "the professional" and watched him use two inflatable car door wedges and then reached in with a long tool and hit the power locks button. They compared notes, since AFD uses a blood pressure cuff (now they'll use two). Pop-a-Lock came and went, seeing as we had plenty of people surrounding our car.

Ryder was still sleeping when I yanked open the back door and leaned in, kissing him and checking his body temp. He was fine, of course. A firefighter checked the indoor temp and asked if I wanted her to give Ryder a once over. I declined, he was fine. We'd been joking with the firefighters about my blood pressure and feeling hysterical so they kindly offered to check me out as well. I declined but thanked them. Once the door was unlocked my agitation subsided.

Nominate us for Parents of the Year but know this, we won't be locking our keys in the car again. Lesson learned. Keys go in pockets or palm as soon as you turn off the engine.

Breastfeeding Lies I've Been Told

I've always been a strong proponent of breastfeeding. Heck, for over 9 years I've been a member of a group of women who's sole purpose in forming was to offer breastfeeding advice and support to each other---and I was the only one who'd never lactated. That's a story in itself but here we are, close to 10 years later and I've finally fulfilled our nickname of "lactating loopies". For the record, the Loopies have never steered me wrong, never uttered untruths about breastfeeding and never painted a rosy picture over a landscape that should include lots of browns, greys and black. Here are a few of breastfeeding myths and lies that others have told me:

Breastfeeding is the easiest way to feed your baby.

Uhh, no it isn't. There isn't anything easy about it in the beginning, when you're trying to squish something the consistency of an ultrathick milkshake out of your nipples. And there's nothing easy about helping your baby learn to latch on correctly. When you have a newborn screaming the "I'M STARVING" cry and you're having to pop him off the boob and back on again there is simply nothing easy about it. And you can't leave him latched on wrong or the pain hits...oh yeah, the pain. Think of what it would feel like if someone froze your nipple, then pinched it as hard as possible. When your nip is compressed completely into an unnatural shape, they let go and the painful sensation turns from frostbite ouchie into needle stabbing sharpness.

So...let's just be honest and say it is much easier to feed your child from a bottle, be it breastmilk or formula. And I'll follow that by saying that although it is harder than bottle feeding I believe that the skin-to-skin contact elevates the mother-baby bond to a much higher level. If you can't or won't breastfeed I suggest taking off your top and the baby's onesie and feeding with bare skin. Call me crazy, but there's something very comforting for both mom and child when you utilize skin-to-skin contact. Just try it, if you haven't already.

Breastfeeding is more convenient.

I've been told that breastfeeding is more convenient because I don't have to worry about carting around bottles and expressed breastmilk or formula. There's plenty of inconveniences such as when you're out running errands and the baby wants to nurse but you aren't anywhere close to home. If you don't have some nifty nursing shirt or wrap that allows you to modestly feed your baby then you have to deal with the pervy stares and outright glares of uptight people. I've already fed Ryder in several parking lots...I use a receiving blanket to cover us but he doesn't like having a meal under the covers. When we're over at a friend's house it isn't every friend who's comfortable with me whipping out a boob nor is it convenient to ask to use a private room to feed Ryder.

Breastfeeding will help you lose weight.

Breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day, that's true, but helping you to lose weight? No. What happens if you were to engage in an activity that would burn an equivalent amount of calories, say running? You get hungry. Uh huh. You want to eat. This is not conducive to weight loss. Breastfeeding makes me hungry. All the breastfeeding books tell you that you need to concentrate on good nutrition. Seriously, you finally get away from feeling like a ground walking whale but can't diet. Exercise, yes. Dieting, no. Healthful eating yes. Restricting calories below 2600/day, no. And whaddya know, the number one change that has happened in my body since I started nursing is craving carbs. Crave 'em! I want them with an intensity on par with a junkie needing a fix. I salivate over the thought of sweetly yeasty buttered dinner rolls, sinfully dark and moist chocolate cake with rich, thick fudge icing, a pile of mashed potatoes with a little flecks of potato skin here and there, topped with peppered country-style white gravy....I could go on and on revealing my carb porn dreams.

Now you know the truth, that there are some myths being bandied about by well meaning folks. Or maybe I have it all wrong and there are women to whom breastfeeding is easy peasy and they never have a moment's trouble. I'm still advocating for breastfeeding if at all possible. I'm happy that Ryder prefers me to a bottle even when he's indulged in cluster feeding and has drained me dry but is still insistent on more, more, more. And I'm not opposed to formula. Ryder started off being supplemented with formula and still is, albeit a very small amount compared to breastmilk. So please, La Leche Leaguers, no hate mail or nasty comments. I know breast is best.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Nothing More Adorable

Absolutely nothing is more adorable than baby feet. These are Ryder's one month old toes. I kiss them often.

House of Night

I've been indulging in guilty pleasure reading again, this time with a teen vamp series. The House of Night books tell the story of Zoey, an average high school student until she's "marked" as a fledgling vampire and sent off to a vamp finishing school. The story lines have been interesting but there's a few things that annoy me:
  • I solve the mystery before the end of the book. That means I'm reading along wondering when the imaginary characters are going to catch up with what I already know. I hope this is simply immature plot development and that the writers, a mother/daughter duo, will become more skilled as time goes by. I'm only on the third book in the series so I'm hopeful this is the case. I had the same opinion of my favorite pleasure-read author, Laurell K. Hamilton, who has grown light years as a writer from her earliest books.
  • I loathe the use of the term "brown pop" for a dark colored soda. The authors, P. C. & Kristin Cast don't hesitate to use brand names such as Doritos or Starbucks but they can't seem to make themselves write "Coke", "Pepsi" or "Barq's". Seriously ladies, cut it the hell out. It sounds stupid. I googled, to make sure I wasn't hating on some regional colloquialism but no, "brown pop" isn't one.
  • U-we-tsi-a-ge-ya. The Cherokee word for daughter. After the first time you explain that "u-we-tsi-a-ge-ya" is the Cherokee word for daughter, there isn't a need to keep explaining. Each time Zoey's grandmother visits or is on the phone you use the term AND the explanation at least twice. Trust me, we've got it by now. Define it once per book and be done with it. I realize you're writing for teens but even they have a memory.

To be fair, here's a few things I love:

  • The mark. What a nifty idea! When a teen who carries the vamp gene enters into the period of time where he develops into a vamp (or dies, read the books, you'll understand), he is marked by a crescent shaped tattoo. When a fledgling finishes vampire puberty and enters adulthood, that tattoo is filled in and more decoration is added, such as Celtic symbols or other intricate designs. This is so much more exciting than just being an extraordinarily beautiful vampire.
  • Teens being teens. The authors don't sugarcoat teenagers. They portray them as they are: nice, bitchy, thoughtful, catty, scatterbrained, horny, shopaholics and more.
  • Diversity. There's gay fledglings. Can you imagine coming out to your parents as a gay vampire?

Don't take my word for Gospel, go out and pick up a copy of the first book, Marked, and read it. Let me know what you think. If nothing else, it's better than watching mediocre television.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Singing the Parenthood Blues

All I'd like is to be able to sleep for as many hours at a time as my body would like. And that is something that apparently won't happen Or at least not until after I stop nursing and/or Ryder goes to college. This morning I was so exhausted after the 3am feeding and the 7am marathon nursing session that I slept through the next demand for food--an hour later. Jaime says I mumbled "Mama called it" when he brought our crying son to me. He asked "what?", wondering what I called. I replied "the green box". Of course. Makes perfect sense. Uh huh. I don't even recall hearing Ryder crying much less the talking in my sleep part. It's a good thing my boy had already hoovered the boobs dry or else they'd have possibly exploded. I did get a little extra sleep, though.

But the good news is that he laughed today. My sweet papoose actually laughed. Why did he laugh, you ask? Because he'd just finished peeing. On his daddy. Oh yeah, we are in for a wild ride with this child.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Month Old

Already! Ryder's already over a month old, really. One month and 4 days old. Growing like crazy, sleeping (except when we want him to), eating, pooting, pooping and peeing. Oh, and puking. We've entered the spit up phase of newborn life. I don't have a scale but I think he weighs in the 7lb range...maybe 7.5lbs or close to 8lbs even. He's still in newborn clothes but has outgrown his preemie outfits.

Just when the sleep deprivation was at it's worst, Ryder's aunt came to town. Tía Kim was a miracle worker with a gassy baby boy. She left after five days during which I don't recall doing much other than sleeping. Oh, and visiting The Salt Lick for lunch. Here's my boy with his first BBQ dinner. Too bad he chose breastmilk with a Similac chaser instead of that delicious pork rib.

This week we've had milestones. Ryder slept for more than two hours in a row overnight! He's also mastered the art of belching like a trucker. And one day, in the Newborn Trifecta, he managed to pee, puke and poop on me all in the space of a few short hours. The poo part was most amusing to Jaime but not so much to me, considering I was changing Ryder's diaper at the time and will now need to have my comforter dry cleaned. I'm washable, so it's all good.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

And Baby Makes Three...

Ryder Joseph in his first family photo. He weighed in at 5lbs, 14oz. None too happy to leave his warm & cozy womb, he loudly protested his entry. Trust me when I say he has rock & roll lungs. He might've practiced his pedal kicks in utero but this little drummer is destined to be a lead singer.

Ryder's original due date was March 15, 2009. My c-section was scheduled for February 18th. My body decided that waiting was no longer an option and jacked up my blood pressure, resulting in a birthdate of February 16, 2009. The emergency c-section was interesting and slightly scary but all's well that ends well. I didn't get to hold my son until 26 hours after he was born but I'm making up for that now, snuggling him as much as I want.

Ryder was born on his grandfather's birthday, a quirk of fate since we'd discussed my grandpa's name during the name-choosing-negotiations. My grandfather is Lonjino S. Contreras. We'd chosen Joseph for his middle name, just like Jaime's. It's a Dilworth family name and I wanted a family name of my own for our baby's first name. However, everyone agreed that Lonjino would become Lonnie and that a Lonjino Joseph in Texas would surely be called Lonnie Joe. And a guy named Lonnie Joe sounds like he's headed straight for the penitentiary. Definitely for a life of crime. Can't you hear it? "Lonnie Joe, where you headed with that rifle?". Or "Damnit, Lonnie Joe! I told you I'd help rob the gas station but I don't wanna cart off the ATM. It's so heavy it'll ruin my truck winch." Luckily I had the fateful dream that would bring the name Ryder into play.

I'm happy with my name change. I whisper to Ryder over and over that Mommy loves him. Daddy loves him, too. Life is good.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Day in the Life

Randomness about me today...

I'm sitting at home being a good, good girl on bedrest and thinking ahead. If all goes well, then on Wednesday we'll get to meet Ryder. I'm excited and nervous. As usual when I think too much, my brain starts working in weird ways and I came up with Ryder's personal ad:
Strong but sweet HWPD&DF male looking to find MF couple for mutual love, affection and life adventures. Anticipating much cuddle time, great meals and learning about this crazy but gorgeous world together. Likes: naps followed by tons of activity. Dislikes: sudden loud noises, green chile.

Jaime's out this morning, playing at mile 25.2 for the Austin Marathon. This is the first time I've missed being at the marathon in years. I was ultra-disappointed to stay home but my blood pressure was elevated this morning. I have to do what's best for my baby & my body right now. So...I caught a little on the news instead. The weather is awesome, possibly a little too warm for the runners. I wish I could be out in the sunshine, cheering them on. Umm...okay, I'll stop whining now.

I'm always proud of my runner friends when they tackle something like a 13.1 mile run or a full 26.2 mile marathon! I think it's incredible what your body can do even when your mind says "you think you're gonna do what??". For several years I've coached a walking group for the Cap 10K. Some of my walkers had never gone more than a mile before starting our training. It felt wonderful to know that on the day of the Cap 10K they walked 6.2 miles to a fantastic finish.

Yesterday was a great Valentine's Day. Jaime surprised me with a beautiful flowering cyclamen and a wonderful meal. The man who can't cook whipped up a surf & turf meal of steak, Jonah crab claws, pasta carbonara and garlic bread. It was delicious! Here's a picture of the feast:

Yummy! And in return, I gave Jaime his engagement ring. He'd told me on many occasions that it's unfair that women get a sweet piece of jewelry to show they're taken and men have to wait and wait until finally they get a band. And sometimes that band isn't much, other than plain gold. I made sure Jaime's ring is what he wanted, a tungsten carbide (translation: indestructible) ring with an intricate engraved design. The pictures I took don't do it justice, so here's one I ripped off from the manufacturer:

I hope everyone's having a great weekend. My plan now is to move to the couch and watch some silly & terrific chick flick.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I <3 Taste No Evil Muffin Company

In a city fast falling in love with food-from-a-trailer, I've started to become somewhat jaded when a new one opens up off a busy street. And then I was introduced to Taste No Evil Muffins, a colorful trolley in front of Maria's Taco Xpress on S. Lamar.

Last week, a friend asked me to run over from downtown to the trolley at lunchtime, specifically because he'd gotten a tweet that the Blueberry Buttermilk Bliss muffins had been involved with a scandal that morning: an extra cup of blueberries had sneaked into the mix. Extra berries or not, that muffin rocked! Slightly crispy top, moist interior and full on packed with flavor.

Because I like to ensure my food recommendations are spot on, I went back again yesterday only to realize that the trolley's closed on Mondays. No worries, TNE is on my commute to work. Today's muffin was well worth the wait. I purchased a Chocolate Sinsations for myself and Stuffed Cream Cheese Coffee Cake one for my friend. These are the two most evil muffins on the menu, healthwise. Mine was loaded with divinely rich dark chocolate chips that were just on the edge of melt-y and perfectly complimented the dark chocolate sweet bread. Ultra-chocolatey without being overly sweet, it was nothing but seduction in a paper muffin cup.

The coffee cake muffin looked and smelled fabulous but the only description I can give you on flavor is the mumbled "deelishus" I heard my friend mutter as he wandered away with his treat.

Try it for yourselves. I guarantee you'll enjoy these muffins. And for you gluten free folks, there's even one for you, the Chocolate Almond GF muff. There's a lower fat Strawberry Citrus Sunrise Muffin heading the top of my "Must Try" list. TNE uses organic ingredients as much as possible, which I appreciate. And if you really want decadent, try a Muffin Top Ice Cream Sandwich, a dark chocolate muffin top sliced in two, gently embracing your choice of the following Amy's Ice Creams flavors: sweet cream, dark chocolate or coffee. I've died and gone to muffin heaven and it's name is Taste No Evil.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Butt Rot & Other Joys of Modified Bed Rest

I'm still practicing modified bedrest when I'm not working. That means I spend all evenings and weekends on my couch or in bed. Now this may sound delightful to many, but after a while it grates on my last nerve. Or at least on my butt nerves. Yes, you can get butt rot, that numb & uncomfortable feeling you get on road trips just from the couch or bed. I think it comes on sooner than the normal 5 hour mark, though. It might have something to do with positioning, since my feet are supposed to be higher than my heart (not easy when you're pregnant with what must be a baby wildebeast). I've given up all dreams of being comfortable.

Sleep is elusive, something other people do. I wake up often to pee. Very often. Like every 1.5 hours or so. The days I can sleep for 3 hours in a row are wonderful, although then I wake up and realize that my body is cramped up like the Hunchback of Notre Dame because I didn't move a centimeter while unconscious. Which is really okay because...

It takes a LOT to roll over. Clutch the belly with one hand, wriggle away, push or pull with the free hand and finally, with a lot less finesse than Shamu coming out of the water and sliding across the loading dock thingy at a Sea World show, I've rolled over. Then I have to re-position the body pillow under my belly and between my knees, flip my pillow to the cool side, move my hair out from under my neck so I won't be trapped in a funny (funnier?) position and then try to go back to sleep. At this point I will realize that a) I haven't peed yet or b) I'm starving, c) I'm thirsty or d) all of the above. And that's not counting the times when I find myself completely wide awake. Awake enough to get up, do three loads of laundry and cook a meatloaf, if I was only cleared to do so.

Cooking. I love my babydaddy. He's learning to cook while I'm on bedrest. But I completely miss being able to stroll into the kitchen and whip up whatever I want to eat. I also dislike it that he's transitioned from lovah to butler. Seriously, I feel ridiculous asking him to refill my water. I must have never been super rich in a former life...I'm pretty sure I was a servant, not the one being served. And I want to be in the kitchen, creating delicious meals. His meals are yummy but I love, love, love to cook.

No matter how many cable channels you have, after a set amount of days watching television you will find that nothing holds your attention. New netflix movies can't get here fast enough. There's only so many times I can watch "Paranormal State" reruns.

Okay, bitch over. I am THRILLED that Ryder will be here in 10 days. I'm ready for the next step in my adventure, the land of sweet baby smell and soft, soft skin...of puke & poopy diapers and even the anticipated ultra sore nips from breastfeeding. I still look down and think "holy smokes, there's a baby in there!". It's amazing and humbling. But don't think that at some point in time when he's being a little stinker I'm not going to trot out stories of butt rot and insomnia, because I will. After all, I'm having a scheduled c-section a month early so it's not like I'll get to use the "I endured intensely painful labor for 34 hours to have you and here you are treating me this way?!!" line.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Things I See On My Way to Work

You know, I see some normal stuff and then some weird things. I see good stuff & bad. I see a lot. I see dead people, too, but that's off topic for this post. Here are things I've seen on my commute in the past week. And let me just say I love Austin and all it's freak flag flying ways.
1. A goth-guy dressed all in black and sportin' a ginormous cherry red mohawk (seriously, at least 7" out from his skull) waiting for the bus. I see him often since he lives near my 'hood. I always admire his hair and then wonder when goth kids starting wearing emo skinny jeans?

2. A rock sculpture in the front yard of a house I pass every M-F. The sculpture is one that looks like a strong puff of air would blow it over but it stays upright anyway. One day I'll stop and take a picture of it. It's oddly asymmetrical with smaller rocks positioned under larger ones. Kind of like this one, but not so pretty:

3. A man peeing on the side of a music rental store. He was kind enough to turn mostly away from traffic. It was cold out, so I imagine his penis was teeny & shrunken.

4. Not one but two people dressed up like Uncle Sam in red, white & blue tuxedos with top hats trying to wave the morning rush hour traffic into the parking lot of a tax preparation business. Because having your employees dress up in what appears to be a desecrated American flag guarantees you'll get my business.

5. The Taste No Evil muffin trolley. Well, at least a side view from the street when I pass by. My gay ex-husband turned me on to these delicious treats this week, introducing me to the owner, Karisa. I have since spent each day this week resisting the urge to turn into the lot and get a muffin or a dozen. These are tastylicious and tantalizing must-have muffs. We went on a day when the Blueberry Buttermilk Bliss muffins "accidentally" had an extra load of blueberries added to the mix. I think it was all an unaccidental plot to coerce me into muffin love...and it worked. I've had no cupcake cravings since tasting Karisa's muffins. Here, ripped off from my ex's blog are pics of the trolley and a muffin. You have got to go by and have one or seven. My next choice will be Chocolate Sinsation...a dark chocolate delight that is rumored to be better than Democrats in the White House, sex on any given occasion and having someone else clean your home for a year.

And...don't be fooled by the pic, these are NOT small muffins. The angle doesn't show off the muffin very much but my pics I took with my crappy camera phone didn't come out at all, so this is what you get, peeps. Just remember I rarely ever steer anyone wrong with my food rec' hightail it over to TNE and savor the flavors.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

8.5 Months Pregnant

A few thoughts...
  • If another person tells me that my not sleeping more than 1.5 hours at a stretch is "preparation for when the baby wakes you up to eat" I may just lose my mind. (No offense to my friends who've said it). I realize it's true but hey, I just want to sleep longer. Last night I got in a 3 hour nap from midnight to 3am and thought it was the best thing since Bud Light was invented.
  • Speaking of adult bevies, the reason I slept for 3 hours last night was ultimately because of the 2 fingers of white wine Jaime gave me to drink at bedtime. My first cocktail since my Tom Jones Girls Gone Wild Gambling Adventure at the end of June 2008.
  • My baby boy has begun developing quite the personality in utero. So far he has made it clear that he does not tolerate hard sleeping surfaces at all. If my body pillow somehow un-wedges from beneath my belly while I'm asleep, he will kick continually at the bed until I wake up and replace it. Then it's back to sleep for him while I have to get up, pee, get back in bed and get comfortable before maybe falling asleep.
  • Trust me when I say that getting up & back into bed isn't easy when you're this pregnant. Turning over is a feat in itself.
  • I feel much like a thanksgiving day parade float, lumbering down the street no matter if I'm actually on a sidewalk or going down the office hallway. The good thing is, most people like parade floats. People in general are so much nicer to pregnant women than to anyone else.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Let's Change that Due Date, Okay?

We only thought we were having a March baby. Due to my body's freakish ways with growing a baby, we anticipate a February baby. No, Ryder isn't oversized, but thanks for asking. I realize I am now the size of a small house. I prefer the term "cottage-proportioned". I really haven't gained much weight, a total of 15lbs so far. Sorry, back to the topic at hand.

With my placenta previa not wandering about like we'd hoped, the docs have decided it just isn't in the best interest of my health to allow me to enter my last month of pregnancy. There were vivid discussions of what could happen should I naturally enter labor and they all made it sound as if the prom scene in the movie Carrie was simply a small accident involving a sippy cup of cherry Kool-Aid. Hence the lovely photo with this posting.

Ryder is doing well, chilling out in utero and practicing his soccer kicks or grand jeté or bass drum pedal kicks (he likes variety). He's about 3.5lbs right now and has also learned to simultaenously elbow check me while kicking the opposite foot out. Talented, my boy.

Friday, January 02, 2009

My Spawn is an Early Morning Baby

And he's also a late night baby. He doesn't seem much interested in mid-day. I was hoping he'd sync to my schedule but he appears to be truly both his mother & his father's child. Of course he's still in utero so who knows what he'll be like once he makes his appearance? Apparently he will know how to wake me up, as he did at 7am, kicking against the pillow wedged under my side. He doesn't care much (read: hates) anything confining or binding, such as my pants waistline or my seatbelt. I've tossed the notion of a sweet, swaddled papoose baby and am hoping to at least keep clothes on him.

I'm a little freaked out that I have only 10 weeks until I'm due. Ten. Two months and 2 weeks. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em cause I sure can't. Babydaddy is hoping for a great report next week at the January OB/gyn and high risk prenatalist appointments. We'll find out if my placenta wandered off anymore. I went from a fully centered over the cervix placenta previa to a 50% previa. For those of you reading this that are scratching your head and saying "huh?", here is a simple explanation: Previa is a fancy word for "the exit is blocked by the placenta, who apparently wants to keep you pregnant forever, but the doctors have this great surgical thing called a c-section that ensures you will not look like Mama Cass forever AND they get the scratch they need to book their next trip to the Azores".

But I digress. Jaime is excited about the impending birth but is, in reality, pulling for a c-section. He is completely freaked out by the idea of a regular, shoot 'em out the nether regions process. In fact, when he reads this blog post he will most likely turn a medium shade of puce and feel light headed. I'm not certain I'm thrilled with either method, but if I can have a regular birth I will, if only to discover the limits of my pain threshold. Yup, I want the option of an epidural & good drugs but only after I stubbornly hold out to see if I can do it all naturally and such. (The latter part of that sentence was typed in a redneck accent). If we find out that my previa has moved enough to even consider the possibility of a regular birth then I'm going to enroll in a birthing class that will teach me the stages of labor, breathing & relaxation techniques. I am Woman, Hear Me Roar. C'mon, sing it with me.