Saturday, March 1, 2014

Try And You Shall Succeed (because the real success is learning to let yourself try in the first place)

Yesterday, a friend told me about a free basketball clinic for 4th & 5th grade girls.

I wasn't sure if that is something Kid would be up for... I mean, it is the weekend when she typically reads for 48 straight hours... but she surprised me and good naturally agreed.

She has the courage to try a lot more things lately.  More often than not, these days, her desire to do things overrules her worrying nature.

But she still struggles with anxiety. (who doesn't?!) So, I wasn't surprised when the reality of what she'd committed to washed over her later last night.

I'd been waiting for it.

I said:

"I get it, I'm the same way.  You want to do something, but you get so worried about all the things you don't know about the situation, and you get nervous and wish you'd never agreed to it (um... hello... bread baking... I mean I GET IT).  But, just like me, I know you'll... "

and before I could finish...

Kid said:

"Freak out and eat bread products all day."

(Then we laughed hysterically)

And I finished:

"Well, yes, that... but I meant that I know you'll do it and be glad you did."

It was tough going, I'm not going to lie.  The first 15 minutes had no structure (which = hell) and she didn't know anyone and wanted to leave and was kind of shutting down...  just wandering around the court not really doing anything. (except occasionally shooting death rays at me from across the court)

And while, I know, some of you can't relate... I also know that the vast majority of you CAN.

How many times do you voluntarily agree to attend a function on your own, knowing no one, and then top it off by openly demonstrating your physical vulnerability in front of spectators?  I sure as hell don't.

I think, a lot of times, people forget that kids aren't any different.  They really aren't immune to social anxiety, even if our culture seems to think that they should be. (Plus, they can't self medicate with a beer while they do it)

So, I was incredibly proud of her for taking the step to even show up.

And I knew that as soon as there was an organized program she'd do fine. And every time we can show up and push through the hard start she gains confidence that she can do it.  She can do things she wants even if they scare her.  She can surprise herself.

She's learning that there's a reward for sticking through the awkward beginnings and self doubt. (which, frankly, I'm still trying to learn myself)

And she did:

 She even won the dribbling contest.

 And there were moments when she was LOVING it:

She even agreed she'd go back if they hosted another.  And that is success.  
(Because I forced myself to attend a Pampered Chef party once and I swore I'd never go back)

Plus, dude, check out Kid's legs:
They kind of counterbalance the genetic anxiety genes.  Right?

Friday, February 28, 2014

So, Yes, I Pulled It Off (AKA when will I stop ruining my life stressing about things I know I can do?)

I persevered, people.
Because that's just what I do.

I wish I had pics of the kids making the bread.
But, I had my hands full.
Literally and figuratively.

So, I followed THIS recipe from back in the day, blog style.
It is a very simple dough with short rising time, which helped me pull this all off in the time constraints of their specials schedule.  
I explained how yeast works and had a system for each kid to take a turn measuring ingredients.
Then had them each stir the dough
Then stir is again to see how much harder it was with the water absorbed.
I had them all take turns kneading it.
Then I brought out the dough I made in the morning that had risen.
They each got to feel the difference between the risen dough and the freshly kneaded dough.
We talked about how the yeast makes the dough rise.
Then I divided it up and showed them how to make the animals.

 It really went very well.  I worked with teams of 6 kids, which was perfect.
Then they'd leave & I'd bake and wait for the next team.

 And think about this:
And how I didn't have time to eat breakfast and how hungry I was.
And how badly I really wanted to eat one of these guys:
 The shapes were pretty easy and the kids felt successful.  
I'm glad I did it this way, instead of working towards one loaf per group.  They had so much more pride of ownership in their little animals.  They really impressed themselves.  
Key here: limit the animals to shapes that can actually be accomplished successfully.  
You will see that dolphins and zebras did not make the cut.

I also made a batch of the same dough without yeast, and baked a roll of that to compare to the yeast bread.  And left a lump of the dough to compare to the rising yeast dough later in the day.  
They were all very interested in comparing and contrasting the differences and feeling everything.

Oh course, when I got home at the end of the day I still had 3 batches of OVER risen dough that the kids had made to contend with.  
I made this:

and ate it for dinner.

The logistics should you ever have to do this (let's hope not):
I had the kids stand around a table (I had one of those awesome rainbow shaped tables so it was perfect for observing & working).  I stood in the middle and had one big mixing bowl and all the ingredients in front of me.  I had each kid take a turn standing with me and measuring something.  Then they went back to their spots.  Doing it this way kept the potential for mess in front of me and not in front of them where it might get spread around or cause distractions. I passed the bowl around the table having each kid stir twice around the bowl, then again around the table stirring twice around the bowl.  We talked about whether it was easier to stir the first round or second round.  Doing it all this way meant that the kids had very little down time between turns and kept them all pretty focused.  I asked a lot of comparing and contrasting questions to keep the other kids engaged in the process while they watched.  I finished the dough up and kneaded it a couple times in the bowl.  Then I set up a Silpat baking mat on either side of me and floured it lightly.  I had the kids knead the dough with a little flour on Silpat baking mats.  They are nonstick and so required less flour for kneading and kept the flour contained and off the table.   I divided it into two lumps and then the kids could rotate in two groups of 3. I had them each knead it for 2 minutes. I had them go back to their places. Then I brought out the risen dough I made earlier (to cut down on wait times) and had the kids poke a finger in it and then in the freshly kneaded dough to compare the difference & talk about how the yeast was working in the dough.  I cut the risen dough into 6 equal portions with my dough scraper.  I gave each kid a piece of parchment paper and had them shape their dough on that at their spots.  Again, nonstick, people... no extra flour needed. I baked them on parchment lined pans which allowed me to write the child's name next to their bread animal.  It worked perfectly.  Very little clean up for me (I'm so glad I thought of the Silpats and parchment paper!!).  Each group took about 30 minutes to make the dough & shape it.  Then I went on while their animals rested and I baked them.  
P.S. Eat breakfast first.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


I've been slammed with migraines this week.  (in progress, actually)

I had been doing so much better with that... but... I did go back to AM coffee and there does seem to be a connection.  Or did I go back to the AM coffee because of the migraines?!  Chicken or egg?

And because this is always fun (and I don't have the brain power for anything else)

I'll recount for you the monotony of my day (you are welcome in advance):

I got up feeling unrefreshed (as per the norm).

I made breakfast (nutella paninis & eggs... yeah, you wish I was your mom).

I packed lunches.

I braided hair.

I did the carpool run. (1 hour)

I spent about 2.5 hours hammering out a health savings account fiasco. (some years this has run smoothly & others it has been a freaking nightmare.  Guess which this year is?)

I looked apathetically at the pile of shit on my counter.

I thought... "I should do something about that"... but then thought better of it.

I started a load of laundry.

I worked out (70 min!).

I put in another load of laundry.

I showered.

I put together a bag of hand-me-downs for a classmate.

I trimmed all of Kid's papers for her poster project (seriously).

I went to the bank (where I wondered if I looked suspicious: see below).

I got a hamburger from Mc Donald's when I realized I didn't eat lunch.

I ran (literally... which is a sight to behold considering my floor length black michelin man coat & admittedly strange green gnome hat, sunglasses, and scarf over my face) into the grocery store for currants (because I'm highbrow like that)...all because Baby told her class they were making bread animals with me not just bread... and I'm a sucker... and I needed eyes.

I did the carpool run. (1.5 hours)

I dropped off the hand-me-downs (in a bag I labeled with washi tape... why am I crazy?!)

I put in another load of laundry.

I helped Kid glue her poster together.
(aka I glued it... with spray adhesive which has only amplified the ol' noggin pain)

I showered Baby's butt off (which left me wondering how many years of my life I will devote to other mammal's shit removal... which made me regret that I married someone 8 years older than myself... because... THE FUTURE).

I made dinner (strangely fantastic repurposing of leftover chili into a tamale pie... when in doubt: fresh cilantro!).

I checked math homework.

I ordered Baby new winter boots because hers are cracked (wtf?!, plus do I really want to order winter  boots for MARCH?!... the answer:  NO... but I must... this winter never ever ever ends.)

I rotated all of the laundry.

I showered Kid.

I laid out clothes for tomorrow.

I officiated over a flute practicing meltdown.

I ate 2 frozen girl scout cookies, made more coffee... whimpered to myself... then sat down here.

How is it only 8:30?!

And now my head is just fucking killing me and I'm wiped out.

And wondering...

WHY I agreed to this bread making fiasco tomorrow?!!
(Oh, that's right I technically DIDN'T)

#1 There might not even be school tomorrow (due to the insane nordic whatever)(please for the LOVE OF GOD cancel school tomorrow!!!)... so I can't make all the dough tonight and refrigerate it as I had planned (for my swap out dough with the kids).  Which means Hell-on-Earth for me in the morning when I'm making breakfast, lunch, and 3 batches of dough all while simultaneously braiding hair and trying to get everyone's flute, book report poster, library books, and snow crap in the the appropriate cars.  What will Mr F be doing, you may wonder... hmm... good question.

#2 If there is school, I have to make 3 trips in from the parking lot (which is actually not that close to the freaking building! It is a good 5 minute walk) to bring all the pans and bowls and bags o' flour in while enduring -1000 degree windchill temps.
I mean... it might actually kill me.
I kind of hope it does (then I can avoid #3...).

#3  Then I get the pleasure of making bread with a pack of lunatics (and I'm sure in retrospect I'll find some glimmer of pleasure in this... if only to be through with it).  For hours.  Then clean it all up. By myself with like weird brown industrial paper towels that are NOT AT ALL absorbent.  Good times.
Have you ever tried to clean up flour with sopping wet paper towels?!
It makes paste, my friends... paste.

Ok, I need to go make muffins for breakfast.

And then cry myself to sleep.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Because I Know You Could Think Of Nothing Else All Day...

The girls' flower girl dresses arrived in the mail:

Navy organdy.  
(which is the bridal party color... I found out last night)
Kid's is too big & needs to be exchanged.
Baby's fits perfectly.
They have a sash that ties in the front... it's hard to see in the navy.

So, I scoured the internets to find something kind of coordinating 
but not looking like I'm in the wedding party
And found this:
Fingers crossed it fits!

P.S. fellow family members the bridal party are NOT wearing shoes.  
For what it is worth.
But they ARE wearing navy... so... maybe you shouldn't ;)

Also, could I pull THIS off for the welcome dinner?
I vote it falls under "cool, go for it" and not "I work at ChiChi's" 
but that could just be my wishful thinking... 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Couple Of Things...

#1  It is only TUESDAY... good god... I have a migraine and it is shaping up to be a long week.

#2 It is snowing and the low on Thursday is going to be -12 F... ( -35 F with windchill... people, they better be f'ing canceling school!!!)

#3 I am going to a beach destination wedding in Cabo the end of March (which I initially though... too bad it won't be in the winter when you want a warm vacation... and it turns out it probably will still be winter around here...)  But, Lord help me on the dressing situation.  I do not like to be underdressed, but the actual attire requirements are not being specified. I look best in v-neck lines.  I can pull off a reasonably short dress (but age appropriate, please).  Plus I need beach friendly shoes.  So, feel free to put something together for me.  The wedding party is in navy so maybe I should avoid that?!  Not sure.  That is a good color for me.  Evening wedding.  Really... help me (and all the other women in my family)  Give me links.

#4 I inadvertently volunteered to make bread at Baby's school on Friday... which is about 1000x worse than you are imagining because it is not a demonstration... I have to do the whole process from ingredients to finished product with groups of 6 in rotation all morning (no help, just me).  I'm a little scared.  I wish I could be the kind of person who just showed up and let whatever happen happen, but I'm an OCD planner... so.... there are a lot of logistics for me to stress about.

#5 The other day, Kid got frustrated during her math homework and went to her room to recoup.
I found her there like this:

(extra credit to the readers that can identify the book)

#6 I watched season 1 of Biggest Loser on HULU while working out last week.... holy crap... their budget has come a long way.  I mean, you just packed whatever clothes you happened to own in your team color.  It was comical to watch.  The contestants weren't even that overweight.  Now, I'm watching season 10 (which I somehow missed)... I feel like it is going to be a good one.

Sorry for the snooze fest, peeps...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Slow and Steady

Progression shots, People!

I failed to document the true "before" mostly because I just wasn't up to having to look at it.

But 3 weeks in I had the courage.

BEFORE (ish):

NOW (one month later):

I know the lighting is different... sorry.

Amazingly to me, that is only a 4 pound difference. I don't know how easily it shows in the pics but I've lost a significant amount of fat off of my torso (thank god!).  I really show every little bit of weight on my frame with my build and apple weight distribution.   I think I definitely look like I've lost weight, now.  I'm down 7 lbs since I started the beginning of January.  I had hoped I'd be able to average 1.5 lb/week but I'll take the slow and steady progress and just keep going.  It hasn't been that hard even considering the last few weeks of stress and schedule disruption with Mr F being out of town and the girls having different school breaks.  I'm averaging 25 miles a week on the treadmill and sticking close to 1300 cal/day.  It's working and I'm trying to just focus on the fact that I'm ready to commit to this and not keep beating myself up for letting it all slide to begin with.  That's probably my biggest hurdle.  But, you know, life happens.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weekend Update

Are you sitting on the edge of your seat?!

There is a 0.05% chance that this will be either entertaining,interesting, or informative.

But, let's carry on, shall we?


The SNOWSUIT arrived!:
 (It is definitely one size big, which considering it is already late February is PERFECT.  It will fit for next year & it has the extend-a-size feature so it will easily fit her through 2016.  Totally worth it!!)

The cats stole my chair... again:
 (See?.. You are riveted. You can't look away from Big Boy's humongous cat torso, can you?)

Tonight was haircut night.  Baby's hair is suddenly down to her butt:
 We went through this phase with Kid at this age, too... 
where they are just SO into their hair being sister-wife length.  
I mean it practically looks like the world's longest mullet:
(nope, just a trim)

Not 3 days after I encouraged Kid to write a humor piece for her writing project on our super fish... 
the most immortal of grocery store goldfish
who always appears dead
but NEVER is...
he up and died.
 I can't say I'm sorry.  
I've been wishing him dead for 2 years.  
I am OVER goldfish.  
Cleaning the tank is the worst chore on planet Earth.  

Mr F finished re-painting our kitchen the same wheat/yellow/gold color that is in our entryway.
Why didn't we think of this 3 years ago?  It looks a gazillion times better with those cherry cabinets I'm stuck with.  I'm done trying to fight the kitchen's 1992-ness.... I'm just working with it now.  
Especially since I have a strong urge to sell the house.

Also, Mr F stayed up until 1:30 last night researching barn weddings... 
People, it is totally doable.  

And I'll leave you with this little nugget:
Baby walked out of the room this afternoon and said to Kid...
"It makes me nervous when mom looks for houses...."
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