Friday, May 22, 2009

The Vanishing

A couple of months ago I met a nice woman at the Mc Donald's playground. (stop judging me for my love of McDonalds!) Our kids were playing and we all hit it off. We had a few more play dates and she and I met up for a couple of night's out without our families. I really liked her.

Well... she has disappeared.

For real.



Her email bounces back.

Her cell phone number has been cancelled.

Her house phone has been disconnected.

The last time I had heard from her was about 2 months ago. Sometimes she and her children travel with her husband on business so the first month seemed relatively normal. Than I noticed it had been awhile since we'd spoken... but hey we're all busy. Then after about two months had passed I tried contacting her and that is when I discovered something was up.

Of course, my first instinct was to think ...
"What have I done to offend her so much she had to change all her numbers and her email?!" (WHAT?!! I told you I'm naturally guilt ridden.) Then when I dismissed that as a bit over the top I started to really worry about her.

What happened? They weren't planning to move and her husband works for himself FROM HERE. She told me many times that they were here permanently. They own their home so it's not like their lease was up and they had to move. Plus none of that would effect your email anyway. I suppose they could have just changed email/phone carriers but wouldn't you send out a mass update? And that wouldn't disconnect your home line... even with a new carrier you'd keep your number.

I Googled them to see if maybe they had had a bad accident. I don't know what else to think.

Witness protection program?!

So what would you do if you were me? Stalk them relentlessly?

I drove by her house to see if it was for sale... it wasn't. But that doesn't prove anything. Her car wasn't there but of course they doesn't prove anything either.

I think I have a job for The Brown Sugar Detective Agency... It might be time for Sugar Mahoney and I to reunite and solve this case.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shout Out

As much as I love the Amish books (which Kid mistakenly calls my Mormon books... who can blame her for getting her mother's religious obsessions mixed up?) I want to give a nod to the brilliantly written Ramona books by Beverly Cleary.

Sure you read them. You loved them... but you probably do not remember how clever they really were.

Ladies and gents they are freaking hilarious. Kid and I laugh hysterically every night. It's hard to stop at just one chapter. They are fantastically descriptive and true to the thinking and emotions of latency aged children (THESE ARE NOT JUST FOR GIRLS!). I also love that the writing is sophisticated and not dumbed down for young readers/listeners. This is one of those rare series of books that are just as entertaining to read for the adult as they are for the child.

These books are written using "big words" that your kids might not have been exposed to yet (well for today's kids... you might remember some of these words from your youth). Remember when kids didn't have to learn vocabulary for the SATs? You know... back when the test was a test of their actual vocabulary knowledge and not a test of what they memorized in order to pass the test. Tonight's chapter had "chagrined" in it... one of my favorite words... and not one often used in books written for second graders these days. WHY ARE WE DUMBING DOWN OUR CHILDREN!???!!

As an added bonus for today's readers several of the books in the Ramona series deal with economic issues and job loss and how it effects their family in a very real honest way. If this is something that has touched your family these books might be a really good outlet for your children.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Can Play That Game Too

Have you ever just had a completely unexpected wave of moody sullenness sweep over you? No identifiable cause but you feel an intense negativity that you can't shake?

That just happened to me.

And no I'm not getting my period.

The only thing that I can think of is the impromptu play date Kid had with our neighbor girl (aka my nemesis). You know how sometimes you just hate a kid? I know no one likes to say it... but kids are just people too... and sometimes people just don't get along. This girl grates my nerves like no other. (It is exceedingly unfortunate that she lives right NEXT to us... and that she is more or less Kid's age)

The neighbor girl is one year older than Kid. She is also a royal pain in the ass. And it's not just her ridiculously squeaky voice. It's the way she talks to me like I'm her freaking peer. It's how bossy and condescending she is to Kid. How she demands drinks and snacks (go next door and eat your own damn food you crazy moocher!). But most annoyingly she's just a plain old snob and an all around bad influence on our PRECIOUS ANGEL.

After a conversation wherein she bragged that she'd been to NYC Kid shared that she had been there to. Neighbor girl, who does not like to be one upped, called to me from the yard...

"Um, Rachel? (I also hate that) Did Ruby go to New York City?" She asked me.

Oh I can see where this is going...

"Yep. Didn't you ask Ruby?" I challenged her.

"Yeah..." She replied.

"You didn't believe her?" I offered.

"ehhh.." She muttered.

"Ruby doesn't tend to lie; in fact she's been to New York several times." I said

and then called over my shoulder...

"We're from there."

Ha! Top that you little %&^*$.

I Should Win A Prize For This One

"Who thought up this recipe?" Kid asked.
"I did." I answered.
"No I mean... Did you invent it?" Kid clarified.
"Yep." I replied.
"Oh Mommy, you should have your own cooking show." Kid declared.

Mini Strata Muffins

Preheat oven to 375 (I used convection and if you have it you should too)

This recipe makes 16-18 individual muffins so get out your muffin tins accordingly. Non stick or silicone pans are important here as are using non stick muffin liners (either silicone or If You Care brand 100% Unbleached Large Baking Cups ... they are made of parchment paper which is non stick and you can get them at the regular grocery store). You will need to grease your tins BEFORE putting in your muffin liner... this is just for ease of clean up and you will thank me later. If you don't have non stick pans and you can't find these parchment paper liners than grease your pans really well and do not use a liner at all. Regular paper liners are not going to work for these and will stick to the muffins.

You can change this recipe up anyway you want. You can make them with anytype of cheese or filling or omit all the fillings for a plain egg in a nest type muffin.

For the eggs:
12 eggs
1/3 c milk
season with salt and pepper (seriously, don't skimp)
beat together

1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions thinly sliced
3 oz deli ham cut into small pieces

bread, one piece per muffin tin
butter (about 2-3 T)

For the muffins you will need one loaf of soft bread. A smaller (skinnier that is) loaf will be easiest to work with. I used Sara Lee Soft & Smooth 100% Whole Wheat.

Cut the crust off of 18 pieces of bread.* You should be left with a bread square.

Grease your muffin tins. Place your muffin liners in if using.

Butter the bottom of a piece of bread lightly (about 1/2 t butter).
Place in the muffin liner with the butter down. You will center the square over the liner and then push the bread in pressing it into the muffin tin. Once it's in the tin you will press it into the bottoms and sides thinning the bread out and getting rid of the air in the bread. You really can't go wrong just do it. You are turning it into a shell for your egg mixture.
Repeat with all your bread.

In the bread shell place your strata fixings.
We used diced ham, green onions, & cheddar.
You will only be able to put in about a teaspoon of each topping into your bread shells.
We used a few pieces of ham and a sprinkling of onion in each shell. We covered it with about 1/2 t of cheese and reserved a little cheese to sprinkle on top of each strata muffin before baking.

Now with some patience you are going to fill each bread shell with your egg mixture.

This all sounds complicated but it's not... I swear... it's just wordy!

The bread will soak up the egg so it is important to pour a little in at a time... let it soak up... then add a little more. If you fill it up to the top right away it will overflow and seep down the other side of your muffin liner. (If you are NOT using liners this step will be easier... just fill them up and once it soaks up top it off again). So I suggest you pour a small amount in each shell and then as it soaks up (almost immediately) go back through and top them off. Repeat until your egg mixture is gone. Top each with a little more cheese and bake.

These muffins took 20 minutes to set and cook through.

After about 7 minutes I loosely (really just place on top) a sheet of aluminum foil to keep the bread shell edges from burning. You will just need to check your muffins and when they are golden brown put some foil on top. Continue cooking until the centers are firm.

Take the strata muffins out of the muffin tins and cool on a wire rack.

Once cool you can freeze these! I placed my cooling rack in the freezer for a couple hours and then popped them all into a freezer bag. For best reheating results just pop your mornings muffins into the fridge before bed. Reheat in the microwave in 30 second intervals until heated through.

150 calories each

*go ahead and save all those crust in a freezer bag for bread crumbs (or if you're me bread pudding).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Behavior Modification

Mr F was working late tonight. For once he actually gave me the heads up that this would happen ahead of time. With a little warning (would be even better with say 24 hours or more of warning... but hey beggars can't be choosers) late nights really don't bother me... I just need to know so I can plan accordingly and not burn out on the homestretch.

He checked in at around 8 to tell me he would in fact not be home at 8:30 as he suspected but more like 9:30. Again KUDDOS to you, Mr F, it seems like 10 years of my yelling at you upon your late return is starting to make a difference.

At 10:30, however, I started to wonder if my dearly beloved (and yes I say that tongue in cheek... we do not talk like that... I usually call him "you MF" and that doesn't stand for Mr F if you know what I mean) had been killed in a car accident. So I called him... and after establishing that he was still alive we had a little conversation..

"I love you." Mr F says.

"Why?" I ask.

"I just do." Mr F replies sounding particularly smitten.

"What's motivating you to say that?" Mrs F asks suspiciously.

"It's weird... but I'm just excited to come home." Mr F says somewhat wistfully.

"Yeah that's so weird." I reply sarcastically.

"Well... I hope you are excited to come home to a kitchen full of dishes that you need to get done, in the next 20 minutes, before I go to bed." I add.

"Can't wait." Mr F replies through his laughter.


Do you ever feel like you are on the verge of success... but... you just can't see it yet?
That's kind of how I feel these days.

Overall I've been sticking within a pretty good calorie range and working out consistently. Sure I've had a few bad days... but my approach to this (this time) is that I need to approach my exercise and eating with more reasonable expectations for LIFE. I can't control everything as I could when my days were much more predictable and I could count on a certain amount of exercise time everyday. That just isn't my life anymore and I need to adjust the way I had done things in order to allow for me to be more consistently successful... instead of in fits and spurts followed by long periods of FAILURE.

Let's face it the fits and spurts just haven't gotten me very far this year. I have gone in one year from being my thinnest and fittest to just kind of feeling ho hum (okay sure I had a legitimate injury). I've gained 5% body fat, and while I'm only a pound or two over my maintenance range... everything I own is too tight and I feel badly about myself. With some reflection I feel like it is time to realize that what had worked for me before isn't working and I need a new plan that can give me results (albeit more slowly) and allow me to maintain once I get back in my goal range without taking away from my responsibilities on the home front. I just don't have an hour every night to devote to exercise... and if that is my plan... and I don't have a back up plan I will fail to meet my goals.

I'm fortunate in that I have figured out exactly what input and output I need to lose weight and to maintain weight. Unfortunately I am very much an all or nothing personality and so I either meet all those requirements or I don't. And with a new schedule and crazier kids I just can't put out the output necessary to offset my input. What does this mean? Well, that the equation, do to current life circumstances, is off. I need a new equation. I need to ALLOW myself to more consistently perform at a lesser level rather than giving 100% less frequently. That is very difficult for me to do. It is very hard for me to walk away from a routine that works and try starting over with a whole new routine. I like my old routine, it works, it's my friend... but it just doesn't work for my life anymore. Make sense? It's been a hard pill to swallow... obviously... and it has taken me an entire year to accept it.

So I've altered my workouts a bit... to a level I think I can stick to. The problem is that (as would be expected) I just am not losing at the level I have come to expect from myself. I feel like I am being challenged and the typical response to this type of challenge is to give in and sabotage instead of sticking the course. I mean I'm at the point where I am starting to question if there is something else going on (early menopause? thyroid? tumor?) You know what I mean. You get so frustrated you start grasping at straws to explain why things just don't seem to be coming together the way you wanted them to. But I also know from experience that those feelings always come before the results. So, with that in mind, I feel like the results I want are just around the corner and I need to toe the line even if I'm frustrated... and hope my commitment can stay the course just a little bit longer.
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