Archives for January 2014

Thursday Ten: Nephew Watch 2014 edition

1. My sister’s pregnancy is one weird neverending adventure. At her appointment yesterday, her doctor was ready to send her to the hospital to be induced. The hospital, on the other hand, said they had too many women having too many babies and NO. It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve heard — she’s really miserable and uncomfortable and measuring as though she’s 45 weeks pregnant. I am hoping to get to meet my nephew soon. We’ll see.

2. This past week of work has been difficult. As you’d expect, people are trying to get into the groove of doing the work they’ll be doing when I’m gone — and that means that I don’t have much work to do. I’m trying to keep busy by getting files in order and leaving detailed to-do lists, but frankly? I’m bored out of my tree. I’ve begged several people to just throw me some tasks. I could just spend all my time blogging, I suppose.

3. You know the weather has been too cold when you jump at the chance to fill your car with gas when you see the windchill is 1° because WHOOHOO IT’S ABOVE ZERO! HEAT WAVE! BREAK OUT THE BIKINIS!

4. Ha. LOL. Just kidding. No bikinis yet. Not just because OHMYGOD it’s cold but because oh my god it’s winter and I’m out of shape and what shade of pasty white am I?

5. Okay, this is also part of why no bikinis. Give a kid a snow day (or three) and she makes treats for her pregnant aunt and keeps the leftovers. The Princess made these yummy peanut buttery chocolatey parfait things the other day for my sister. Brought one home. Gasp. HEAVEN. So so so so good. Buuuuut not conducive to bathing suits. How did I get on the subject of bikinis, anyway? I’ve already forgotten.
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6. I think more people should post videos on Facebook of their children singing the songs from “Frozen.” (I need a sarcasm font.)

7. Trying to keep putting one foot in front of the other means networking and applying for jobs and trying to keep making things happen. I have a few interviews scheduled – and that feels good. Aside from the part where I actually have to GO on these interviews. Just keep your fingers permanently crossed for me until I tell y’all otherwise, mkay?

8. I watched the Grammys the other night and I was actually entertained by the performances. i stayed up far longer than I would have liked to waiting for the Macklemore “Same Love” performance (way to hang on to your ratings by promoting an on-air wedding…), which I really enjoyed until Madonna came out and stumbled all over her irrelevance. I was a huge Madonna fan back in the day, but now? I just don’t get her. Or that cane. Or the weird expressions her face was making.

9. I missed book club last night. In light of losing my job, the idea of sitting at a table with a bunch of women didn’t appeal to me (also not appealing: spending money sipping drinks while sitting around the table hoping no one did the “Oh, Poor Sarah with no job” head tilt). So I skipped it. And I’ll be skipping the book for this month too because it doesn’t appeal to me at all.

10. Waffles. I want waffles.

Hey Mother Nature, We’re Getting Sick Of Your Shizz.

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I haven’t had a commute over the past several days that has taken less than an hour. That means I’m spending at least two hours a day in the car commuting to a job with an expiration date.

Chew on that.

It’s a bit of insult meeting injury, but I’m doing it.

(I’m a trooper. A whiny trooper, but I’m a trooper.)

The news is filled with reports of highways closed, jackknifed semi-trucks, cars in ditches. The roads are icy and the blowing snow are making these already poor driving conditions even worse.

It’s been almost a week since my kids have been to school. I’m pretty sure they’re still able to remember how to write their own names and find their classrooms…but I can’t really be sure. Does school amnesia set in after awhile?

No matter, really, because despite my long standing lack of love for snow days, I have to admit… This winter has been pretty gruesome. There hasn’t been a single day over the past month where I’ve thought to myself, “They shouldn’t have closed.” Every closing has felt justifiable to me.

With brutal arctic temperatures and craptastic driving conditions, I’d really rather my kids were safe at home. Does it make things tricky schedule-wise? Well, YES. And I’m grateful that I have family that helps me out and makes my life easy when schedules are anything but. I don’t want my daughters waiting for a bus in -25 windchill. I don’t want them them on the road in a seatbelt-less bus when the conditions are such that there’s no guarantee that the vehicle will stop when you want it to. It’s ugly outside.

This is not a change of heart from my earlier anti-snow-day stance. I’ve come to see this winter that that stance was born of frivolous closings that weren’t justified. A school closing for a morning snow fall that was cleared by 9 a.m.? Pffft. You’ve wreaked havoc on my day FOR NOTHING!

This winter?

Okay. They’re doing right by me, right by my kids. They’re doing right in terms of safety.

Reading accounts of the folks in Atlanta stuck on the freeway for hours on end due to yesterday’s snow and ice in the south is terrifying. I spent ten minutes at a complete stop on the freeway on my drive home Monday afternoon, and it was a claustrophobic ten minutes. I cannot imagine sitting like that for hours, I can’t.

This winter has been no joke.

And I’m so very over it.

I want the snow to stop and the ice to go away. I want the temperatures to rise and I want the kids to go back to school. I want my commute to be less white-knuckled. I’m SO ready for spring.

are you watching the sky too

Rage Against the (Snow Removal) Machine

Sometimes I wonder if it will ever stop snowing.

This winter has been relentless – both emotionally and weather-wise.

I am still reeling from finding out on Wednesday that my job is being eliminated due to budget cuts. My boss and the director of human resources sat me down, they complimented me on my sweater, how it made me a ray of sunshine or some such, and then told me that sorry but this is how it goes sometimes and la la la la la it was hard to focus after that because as much as I’d love to go completely stoic, I’m just not built that way. My eyes flooded with tears and my brain was instantly slammed by what I was hearing.

I was handed a bottle of water. “Take a sip, it’ll help.” I couldn’t see then, and still can’t, for that matter – how on earth water was going to help me? What could it possibly do to fix anything? I awkwardly took the water after being urged once more, “Be sure you drink some of that.”

It’s been a crazy few days since. I’ve been hoping, actually, to have time to truly process it – to truly just stop and just BE and pout a little if I want to, cry a little if I want to, bury myself under the covers if I need to. One thing after another has conspired to keep me from having a proper mope – a false alarm with my sister at the hospital, the kids not having school Friday, and then a weekend of mom’ing.

And Saturday morning, I woke up to this.

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In the midst of winter storm warnings, we had blizzard like weather – with not much new accumulation (I don’t think) but a lot of blowing and drifting snow. When I opened my garage on Saturday morning this is the sight I was met with – a drift that was at least a foot tall, probably closer to two (And oh, how I wish I’d measured it).

I scooped a pile of snow and the shovel was heavy with the weight of the wet snow. I turned around and went inside.

I can’t do this, I said.

I bitched about winter on Facebook a little.

“You need a snowblower,” some genius commented on my status.

Admittedly, my hackles were immediately raised.

Oh really? So, that’s how you get rid of snow? A snow blower? Is that what I need?

I don’t need a snow blower. I need a job.

Disposable income? What’s that?

OH. A SNOW BLOWER. I hear they’re giving those away with Happy Meals now.

As if you could understand.

I don’t want to be angry and I don’t want to be bitter, but I am a little angry and I am sort of bitter and frankly I found the comment to be so irritating that I bundled up in two pairs of pants, my grandpa’s flannel, boots, hat, scarf and gloves and I went back outside and I pushed through it until my whole damn driveway was nearly clear. And when my brother-in-law arrived as the local road crews were burying the end of my driveway in sludge, I graciously accepted his help and we finished the shoveling.

I don’t need a snow blower.

I am strong. And I’m capable.

I may hate the cold. I may hate the snow. I may hate shoveling. I may be recovering from being sick.


And I did it thinking of that smug woman and her “You need a snowblower” sitting in her home while her husband undoubtedly took care of her driveway and I finished it proud of myself.

(Still angry, though)

This morning, I cleared out the three new inches of fresh powdery snow in a -8° windchill. By the time I made it back inside, my body was numb. Despite my gloves, I couldn’t feel my hands. “I hurt, I hurt, I hurt, I hurt…” I kept repeating over and over until I was able to regain feeling in my fingers.

I hate winter.

This Polar Vortex garbage is lurking on the horizon again and we’re looking at another week with bone-chilling temperatures. I cannot take it anymore. Every winter makes me want to move to California again – this winter more than most.

I want to escape the cold. I want to escape the snow.

I want to escape the helplessness I feel – helpless because I’m losing my job, helpless because finding a new one is proving to be dang near impossible, helpless because I can’t run away from it all. I’m here. And I have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other.

“You need a snowblower,” was just one more thing.

As though problems are so easily solved. As though one can know what any one else is enduring. As though the answer is to always take the easy way, the way that is the least work, the one that allows you to push through without the back-breaking, muscle-aching, sweat-dripping, snow-slinging WORK.

I’d love to take the easy way.

Who wouldn’t?

But since I can’t, I’ve got my shovel out. May take me awhile to get it all cleared out…but I’m told that I will and I’ll just have to believe it.

Thursday Ten: What the Hell Am I Doing Here edition

1. I said this year, the word would be phoenix and that i would rise, and then yesterday around 3:30, my boss called me into the office of the head of human resources and together they told me that due to budget cuts, my job would be eliminated. I have a few weeks to go before the ties are severed, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t freaked out, that I’m not completely beside myself and that I’m terrified of what the future holds. I’m sure you’ll hear more about it as the weeks go on, and as I finally have my final day in the office at some point in the future. Sigh. Life, you know? Never stopping with the sucker punches.

2. I have been looking for work for over a year – since they told me LAST January that my job would be cut to part time. I’m having a hard time feeling optimistic about my prospects despite the Director of HR and my current boss offering to help me find new work. I will take whatever help is being offered because being without work is not an option – but… I don’t know that it will lead to anything. What will I find now that hasn’t happened in the past 12 months?

3. Guess this isn’t going to be my perkiest Thursday Ten, huh?

4. Oh! On the bright side, I’ve raised $285 for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer this week. That puts me about 16% of the way to my goal and THAT was a ray of sunshine.

5. I love that the dendrobium orchid I bought on New Years Day is still sorta hanging in there.
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6. And I’m still waiting for my nephew to be born. Boggles my mind how my sister can walk around dilated to 5 centimeters and the docs won’t induce. Granted, people have been birthin’ babies for all of time and bodies do what they do when they need to do it, for the most part, but oy! I can’t even imagine. Here’s hoping the little guy shows up soon. This has been a tremendously crappy week that could use a cute baby to hold.

7. Back to below zero windchills again and I DO NOT LIKE IT ONE BIT. (Also? Getting laid off in the midst of winter and excessive heating bills? Fuuuuuu—-)

8. I have been successful in my efforts to read more in the new year. I’ve finished two books in a week now. That’s pretty impressive and I can’t remember the last time I did that. That both books were pretty decent sure helped – but I’ve never been one to keep slogging through a book I hate, though, so that’s not usually a deterrant.

9. My mopey post layoff mood call for listening to excessive amounts of Whiskeytown while HGTV is on mute.

10. I have a hard time dealing with stuff like this and I’m really doing my best. We feel what we feel and right now I’m gutted and scared and swimming in uncertainty and none of that is anything I’m comfortable with. And I anticipate I’ll drift in and out of that until something more concrete comes along to ease my mind about work and life and that whole not being homeless thing. I have family, friends and people who love me who “won’t let you freeze and won’t let you starve” (as my stepfather told me yesterday) – so it’s not that I’ll really end up homeless. I just don’t want to lose what I’ve worked so hard for. I don’t want to need help. I want to know where I’ll be a month from now, if I’ll be working or not. I want to know how I’ll hold it all together, if I’ll be able to hold it together. Right now? I know nothing but fear and it’s manifesting itself in my hamster wheel brain that is refusing to let up. Tomorrow might be different. Next week might be different. But these next few days? I anticipate they’re going to be full of blah.

Thursday Ten: Cough Cough Wheeze Edition

1. I haven’t written much – at all – lately but I have spent the past week, plus, feeling like I’ve been hit by a train. I had a doctor’s appointment last Thursday. Seeing as how I don’t have health insurance , so I wouldn’t have gone for a cough, but I had a physical planned and I had budgeted for it like you do when you have no health insurance. Since I was there already, I mentioned I was feeling really awful and sure enough, I had a fever and “Your lungs could use some antibiotics.” Well, I’m done with the antibiotics and though I’m fever free, I still feel like garbage, so… I’ve got that going for me.

2. What do you think the grace period for not posting spoilers on the internet is? A day, two days? A week? It’s a funny thing, seeing people get peeved about having things “spoiled” – and sometimes I think they’re well within reason. Other times I think, Jeez so people are all supposed to keep quiet about the outcome of a major sporting event in case you can’t watch it for another few hours? Get over yourself.

3. “Did you get an Under Armour headband in your Birchbox this month?” asked The Princess. Uh…no. Well, she said, her friend did. Why does it annoy me that there are eleven year olds getting Birchbox, the one thing I do for myself, my splurge, my treat? That there are kids who just get this stuff – even if it is only ten bucks a month – annoys me.

4. By the way? I’m very easily annoyed these days. Like…very.

5.  And as long as I’m good and annoyed. Know what else is annoying? JANUARY AND PEOPLE ON DIETS. Facebook is filled with people on ridiculous diets, and while I applaud efforts of health, I know that most of these people are following such rigid regimes that there’s no way they’ll stick to it. And when I see people already talking about returning to their old habits once their diet is “over,” I can’t help but wonder why they’ve bothered in the first place. You drove 20 miles out of your way to buy a $9 loaf of bread made out of bird seed, all the while talking about cheesecake? Why bother, then, with the cycle of deprivation in the first place if you’re already scheming to negate all your efforts? The only thing that truly works when it comes to weight maintenance, best I can tell, is if calories expended are greater than or equal to calories consumed. Yes, math. No meat, no bread, no dairy, bird seed bread, only food eaten while standing on your right foot and listening to an eight-track tape of someone yodeling… it doesn’t matter. If it’s not realistic, if it’s not manageable, it won’t stick. Unless it’s medically necessary, what the hell is it with people and extreme diets? Gah. Glad their enthusiasm dies down by February because if I have to look at another Facebook picture of someone’s diet-stocked refrigerator, I’ll throw my buttered bagel at my laptop.

6. Speaking of bagels (ooh, nice segue…), I took over Chris’s kitchen Saturday and made the homemade onion bagel from the latest issue of Food Network magazine. They were surprisingly easy but there’s a lot of waiting involved, dough rise time, predominantly. It felt like it took ALL FREAKING DAY. But? So good. Next time? Half will be asiago bagels. Half will be everything bagels. All will be delicious.
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7. This week has kicked my butt. I’ve not been in a great place emotionally this week and I’m doing my best to dig out. Job hunting isn’t going well and I’m starting to feel like I might need to change course, and that’s…terrifying. I don’t know where to go from here or what I’ll end up doing, or even if it’s necessary, if somehow the course will right itself without me having to do anything differently. When you are in a career that approximately 590235% of the world is in, well, the odds aren’t exactly tipped in your favor if you’re trying to be impressive. I’m a little worn down right now. Hoping this fog lifts soon.

8. While we’re out of that whole polar vortex mess, it’s still freakin’ cold… and when I woke up to a cold house Monday morning, I was not a happy camper. My furnace has since been repaired – AGAIN – but dang. All of this makes me long for spring. That and my energy bill. Oof.

9. I caught myself the other day considering getting a puppy again someday. Shhh. Don’t tell my kids. By the way? Slap that idea out of my head.

10. This song has been stuck in my head for days. Love love love. So beautiful.

Thursday Ten: There Should Be No Negative Numbers In Weather Edition

1. So this polar vortex thing? Ooof. I’m glad the cold snap is finally breaking – with temperatures finally in the double digits and wind chills greater than zero (but still single digit so bite me winter, you’re still a cruel cruel monster) it is a vast improvement over the negative temps, -20° windchills we’d been experiencing. And the girls – set to return to school after a two week winter break – had snow day after snow day, making me wonder if they’d EVER go back. Temps too cold for salt to work on the roads so the roads were a mess. Just all around NO FUN. I’m not made for winter, I know I’m not.

2. After braving the cold temps and gross roads for work on Monday and Tuesday, I woke up yesterday after a night of very little sleep and excessive coughing and called in sick to work. Calling in sick to work is the worst. I have a super awesome phlegm-y cough, breathing feels funny, and I have a head full of snot – so, why do I feel bad about not sharing my germs with my colleagues? Weird.

3. So we tried the frozen bubble thing. I guess my big question is WHAT THE HECK DOES SHE MAKE HER BUBBLES OUT OF? For us, it went a lil something like this – I blow the bubble, catch it on the wand, hold it outside and shield it from the wind, hand the wand to a kid, grab my camera, try to shoot around kiddo’s hand shielding bubble to catch pic before the bubble pops. SIGH. Granted, this is subzero windchills and oh yeah, wind. So we’ll try again on a calmer day. Kind of cool to see things freeze, but totally different than the article.
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4. My dog had a massive clogged oil gland on his back that he ended up scratching open so it became infected and smelly. Thaaaat’s fun. He’s on antibiotics now so here’s hoping I’m able to continue tricking him to eat big giant pills wrapped in lunch meat. Also? Dog pimples are high maintenance.

5. Chris and I watched Blackfish last week – and while I didn’t cry like a lot of people have said they did, it has made me question my acceptance of animals as entertainment. I love marine mammals – have been able to swim with the dolphins on more than one occasion and have seen several SeaWorld type whale shows. And yeah, I’ve always loved them. The documentary did make me reconsider my feelings about whether animals as entertainment is a practice I wish to support. I hate the circus – hate seeing how sad and worn out the animals look – why would the animals at a waterpark be different? They’re not, really.

6. I finished watching Parenthood on Netflix and now, as I promised myself, NOW is the time to read more books. Currently reading: Night Film: A Novel.

7. Like a lot of people, I’ve entered the new year wanting to focus more on my health. 2013 and its resulting stress wasn’t good for me – I gained a few pounds, I lost more than a few hours of sleep, and I’m sure the stress levels did a number on me. I’m really wanting to make an effort on eating more mindfully in the year ahead. We’ll see how it goes. Picked up a new issue of Cooking Light the other day and here’s hoping I come up with a few great recipes to try.

8. I’m sure you’ve all been awaiting the post where I tell you I’ve picked my word of the year. Hope you weren’t holding your breath! I wasn’t even really sure if I was going to pick one – 2012 was “Breathe” (so apt), 2013 was “Seek Joy” (I tried). But the year was a difficult one last year, and I wanted to just MOVE FORWARD in this new year. Dust off from the challenges 2013 threw my way. So… for 2014, I chose…phoenix. In Greek mythology, the phoenix rises from the ashes of its predecessor. Basically, the phoenix symbolizes renewal. Could I have chosen Rise? Renewal? Yeah. But I’m a weirdo.

9. I received a pasta maker for Christmas! I had taken a pasta making class before the holidays so my mom got me a pasta maker. In the class, pasta making seemed so incredibly easy, so I can’t wait to give it a whirl at home – 1/2 cup flour and an egg – that’s it. Seeing as how I desire to eat less GARBAGE, I love the idea of making things from scratch versus packaged food.

10. Still awaiting my nephew’s birth. ANY day now. My sister’s doc said that if the baby doesn’t make his debut in two weeks, they’ll induce. Sooo, I’ll be an aunt again in the next 14 days. Amazing. Can’t wait to meet him.

And We’re All Turning Into Little People-sicles

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The sky was darkening and I was eager to get into the house, shake off the day and get dinner started for the girls. Instead, as I turned into my driveway I got stuck in that huge pile of sludge the snow plow leaves as it clears the street. Thick heavy snow surrounded my tires and they spun and spun as I tried to move forward, back to get out of this mess.

As I began to try to free my tires of snow, shoveling away some of the sludge, a stranger in a minivan got out of his car and pulled a shovel from the back. He walked around my van, helping me shovel around my tires. Finally he said, “Try now.” I got into my car and reversed as he pushed on the hood of my car to help free me from my snowy jail.

Loosened from the snow, I backed all the way out of my drive and then once he cleared my path, hit the gas and just pushed through the snow to get through the muck. It worked.

I thanked my helper and he was gone before I could offer cookies or a slice of lemon pound cake The Princess had baked.

And then I caved and hired someone to plow my driveway.


This morning, I awoke early – hoping to find a message saying our office was closed. No go, so I was up at 5:30 piling layer upon layer on to go shovel the driveway so I could get out to go to work and so my stepfather could get in to watch the kids. The windchill was -9.

For twenty minutes I shoveled before escaping to a hot shower and preparing for my day.

This morning’s commute was a tense white-knuckled drive with blowing snow and at times, white out conditions. I turned on to the highway and immediately a gush of snow rendered my whole field of vision a sea of white. I couldn’t see a place to pull over, stop driving. I wanted to cry. A car went by me with its hazards on, then another with its hazards. It was helpful – following the flashing reds, and so I put mine on too, not knowing if it was the right thing to do or not, only figuring it couldn’t hurt to signal other drivers that a) HI! I’m HERE! and b) I’m moving slowly because OMG I AM A LITTLE NERVOUS.

I made it to work, only a few minutes late and eventually my heart stopped its annoying racey-panicky thing and settled into a normal rhythm.

I’ve worked hard this winter and last to handle the shoveling on my own. I actually have grown to like shoveling snow – it’s instant gratification because immediately I can see the results of my hard work. Also? Major calorie burn. Pass the cookies. In the past, we had a service that plowed the driveway whenever we received over a certain amount of snowfall.

Well, those days (and that disposable income) are gone and so I have come to a certain acceptance about shoveling. I spent over an hour and 400 calories shoveling yesterday.

Tonight, with windchills well below zero? I don’t even want to try.

It’s cold. I’m getting a cough. That sludge is freaking heavy and I don’t want to be out there long enough to make it disappear.

And so I paid someone to do it.

I know it’s not a failure – I mean I’ve been busting my ass week after week and keeping up with the snow. I’ve been shoveling my drive before the neighbors with the snowblowers are out.

But it’s just too cold. I can’t do it.

I caved.

And I feel like a bit of a chump about it, like I took the easy way out (well, my wallet didn’t find it to be that easy), instead of braving the cold and just doing it.

But my driveway is clear.

Tomorrow morning, I can sit inside with a cup of coffee instead of shivering and shoveling. And maybe, just maybe, I won’t get stuck again.

I’m stubborn. I don’t like asking for help. I loathe asking for help.

But apparently I’ll pay for it.