Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summer, writing, and choices

I haven't been doing a lot on the internet lately. I haven't been reading forums or blogs,writing in my own blog(s), nor reading or responding to e-mail. As my excuse I say "Life has been in the way", but the truth is that I made the choice to back away from the 'net for a while. Not only did I need a serious break from the internet life, but there were - and are still - other things that I wanted to be doing with my time.

And that's what it boils down to, isn't it? The choices we make in life.

K. is out of school for the summer, and I'm wanting this summer to be a little more special than previous summers. I'm less crazy than I have been in recent years, thanks to a stabilized schedule and (more or less) regular sleep, and I really just want to spend time doing things with my daughter; things that she wants to do, things that I want to do, things that we want to do.

While it's a no-brainer choice for me to spend time with her, I'm finding that it will take more effort and work than I first thought. With limited funds (not to mention rising prices all across the board - rent, electric rates, gas, food) we have to figure out frugal/cheap ways to accomplish almost everything but staying home. We have to make choices about driving somewhere to do something fun or sitting at home and reading (or worse, watching tv). We have to figure out a way to acquire the supplies we need for projects. We have to figure out what we can make for lunch out of the food we have on hand.

It all comes down to choices. Even to the point of how we choose to react to circumstances beyond our control.

I suppose we, as a family, would be better off financially if I had continued to work all the years of the past decade, but me staying home (whenever possible) was a choice A. and I made together. If I were working, K. would be shuffled off to some daycare-type facility every day this summer. There would be no curling up on the couch together to watch the mid-morning cooking shows on PBS. There would be morning frolics in the pool. There would be no days spent sprawling at the library. There would be no impromptu visits to visit her great-grandparents - my grandparents - whom she is lucky enough to know in this age when few children know their parents, let alone their grandparents. There would be no letting K. sleep late then tickling her out of bed. There would be no early-afternoon phone calls from friends, no learning to cook, no weekly visits to the zoo to play with the stingrays or feed the laurakeets. This is the choice that I, with my husband, made: to give her these things, and so much more.

But that choice has cost us. Much of society sees our family as dysfunctional because only one parent works. More often than not I'm seen by outsiders as being a burden to my husband, judged to be lazy and worthless because I "contribute nothing" toward the finances. Yes, we would most likely already be in the house we want by now if I had been working all these years... but I wouldn't have been able to spend school vacations and summers with my daughter. I wouldn't have been able to be at home to take care of her when she was sick without worrying about my job. And then there's the pesky little feeling that I wouldn't have been the one raising her all these years if I had been handing her off to some daycare every morning on my way to work and letting them take her to school, pick her up from school, and help her with her homework or play with her until 5 or 6 in the evening when I picked her up. It's the choice we made, and as far as I know, we're all happy with it. I have to remind myself of that sometimes when I stand while being judged. While my instinct may sometimes be to react with all the self-righteous fury I can muster, the cooler part of my intellect calmly whispers that I have the choice to be better than that. It reminds me that it really doesn't matter what others think because whenever I pose the going back to work question to A. and K., both of them prefer I stay home for a few more years.

That is the choice that we, as a family, have made.

There have been sacrifices that go beyond financial measures involved with our choice for me to stay home and raise our daughter. Personal sacrifices. I gave up a career (that I really didn't like anyway, but it could have been used as a stepping stone to something I would have loved). I've not been able to go back to school (yet). I gave up adult social interaction... human social interaction (I won't call them friends because they weren't). More recently, I've had to set aside my writing because it's less important to me than fixing the chaotic mess my family has become. This is a huge blow for me. I was just starting to feel the edges of my writing groove again. It is, however, the choice I'm making.

I'm not giving up the writing completely, though. In fact, my husband just recently agreed to me registering a domain in the name I've chosen to write under. For the next two years it is mine, and with a little luck (and a lot of hard work) I'll be able to do something with it besides point the URL to the blog*spot journal I have for that name. Maybe I'll even manage to get something published.

But I know I won't be able to really work on that goal until after the summer is over and she's back in school. While this does bother me some, I'm also ok with it. It's the choice I've made. My family comes first. My daughter comes first. I know that soon enough the chaos will be calmed, and eventually my daughter won't want to spend as much time with me. She'll have learned all she thinks she needs to learn from me and will venture out into the world to make her own choices. When that happens, I'll have all the silence, peace, and time I need to write. Until then, this is my choice.

Monday, May 28, 2007


In addition to dinner planning, now I have K. home during the days so I have plan lunches too. This is bad in that I suck at planning lunches. This is good in that now I might actually EAT lunch and get out of this one meal per day rut I've fallen into. Then again, maybe not. K. wants to "wing it" when it comes to lunches. A. and I are thinking about adding two extra "meals" per week just to have on hand to cover lunches.

lunch: (we had popcorn, twizzlers, and milk duds at the movie)
dinner: frozen meals, baked potatoes

lunch: ??
dinner: tuna patties (basically this salmon patties recipe made with tuna - check back Tuesday morning for review and any tweaking notes), buttery peas & rice homemade pizza

lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches, fruit tuna patties (basically this salmon patties recipe made with tuna)
dinner: beans, rice, homemade tortillas, salad

lunch: ?? leftover tuna patties, mac & cheese
dinner: pasta and salad

Thursday (pay day; possibly grocery shopping today)
lunch: ??
dinner: leftovers (or breaded cod, veggies, baked potatoes)

Friday (grocery shopping today if not on Thursday)
lunch: ??
dinner: pot roast, baked potatoes, veggies

lunch: ??
dinner: black bean soup, corn muffins ?? - possibly Simple Taco Meat.

[edit 5/30] In light of the information that I received this morning, I'm not cooking the black bean soup on Saturday. There will be too many left overs from it and A. is leaving town Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

And this is how she shines...

We interrupt this blogging hiatus (of sorts) to, well, brag. Today was the last day of school in these parts, and though we're still waiting for the SSS (Sunshine State Standards) side of the Spring 2007 FCAT testing, K. did bring home a report card and the results of the NRT (Norm-Referenced Test) side of the FCAT testing.

For those that don't understand what the FCAT is, it's the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The handy dandy booklet we get every year says that "the purpose of the FCAT is to assess student achievement of the SSS benchmarks in reading, mathematics, science, and writing. The FCAT also includes norm-referenced tests (NRT) in reading comprehension and mathematics problem solving, which allow for comparing the performance of Florida students with students across the nation."

The (mostly unhelpful) crash course for understanding what the NRT is all about is this: "Norm-Referenced Test (NRT)—A test designed to compare the performance of one group of students to a national sample of students, called the norm group. The NRT portion of FCAT includes the Reading Comprehension and Mathematics Problem Solving subtests (Mathematics at Grades 9 and 10) from the Stanford Achievement Test Series, Tenth Edition, published by Harcourt Assessment, Inc. The FCAT NRT uses a scale that in Reading Comprehension has a range from a low of 449 in Grade 3 to a high of 834 in Grade 10. In Mathematics Problem Solving/Mathematics, the range is from a low of 434 in Grade 3 to a high of 885 in Grade 10."

So. We have the NRT side of the FCAT results in.

Subject Scores:
Reading Comprehension Scale Score (calculated from the total number of correct responses for each subject area) was a 721. That ranked K. with a National Percentile Rank (which indicates a student's relative standing compared to students at the same grade level from across the nation) of 97. The Stanine (Standard scores that divide a distribution of scores into nine parts) was a 9.

Mathematics Problem Solving Scale Score was a 682. That ranked K. with a National Percentile Rank of 87. The Stanine was a 7.

Content Scores:
Reading Comprehension: The number of questions on the test is listed as 54. K.'s number of correct responses is listed as 50. The National Mean of Correct Responses (the average number of correct responses for students in the national sample) is listed as 34. The reading comprehension test is composed of reading sections and questions about each selection. Approximately one-third of the reading selections fall into each of the following types of reading material: Literary, Informational, and Functional. Test questions are also classified by the following standards: Initial Understanding, Interpretation, Critical Analysis, and Strategies.

So the test results broken down by type of material and standards.

Literary: There were 18 questions in this section. K.'s number of correct responses was 16. The National Mean of Correct Responses is listed as 13.
Informational: There were 18 questions in this section. K.'s number of correct responses was 16. The National Mean of Correct Responses (listed from here forward as NMCR) is listed as 11.
Functional: There were 18 questions in this section. K. got 18 correct. The NMCR is 11.
Initial Understanding: Out of 12 questions, K. got 12 correct. The NMCR is 8.
Interpretation: Out of 20 questions, K. got 18 correct. The NMCR is 14.
Critical Analysis: Out of 12 questions, K. got 10 correct. The NMCR is 7.
Strategies: Out of 10 questions, K. got 10 correct. The NMCR is 6.

Mathematics Problem Solving: The number of questions on this part of the test is listed as 48. K.'s number of correct responses is listed as 39. The NMCR is listed as 29. The Math Problem Solving test requires students to use logical reasoning and non-routine problem-solving strategies. Each question is reported according to its mathematics content subcategory (Number Sense; Operations; Patterns, Relationships, and Algebra; Data, Statistics, and Probability; Geometry and Measurement).

The breakdown on the Math side...

Number Sense: Out of 12 questions, K. got 10 correct. The NMCR is 8.
Operations: Out of 12, K. got 9 correct. The NMCR is 7.
Patterns, Relationships, and Algebra: Out of 6 questions, K. got 6 correct. The NMCR is 4.
Data, Statistics, and Probability: Out of 8 questions, K. got 6 correct. The NMCR is 4.
Geometry and Measurement: Out of 10 questions, K. got 8 correct. The NMCR is 6.

Yeah. It's basically a lot of boring words and numbers that say that my little "I can't do it" whiner is smarter than the average bear.

Now, for the report card.
Reading: Last 9 weeks, she had a B. This 9 weeks she brought home an A.
Written Communication: Last 9 weeks she had a B. It was the same this time.
Mathematics: Last 9 weeks she had a B. It was the same this 9 weeks.
Science/Health: Last 9 weeks she had a B. It was the same this time.
Social Studies: Last 9 weeks she had a B. She brought that up to an A.
Art, Music, and PE: Last 9 weeks she had As in all three. It was the same this time.


She brought home three ribbons - Good Citizenship, Honor Roll, and one for participating in an Art Show. She also scored a Certificate of Achievement (and a nifty little lapel pin in the shape of a hand bell) for being in the Bell program. She also brought home a Safety Patrol Merit Service Award, as well as a medal and a patch for being a safety patrol on the bus.

In short, my kid rocks, and I couldn't be more proud of her.

We now return to the blogging hiatus until something too exciting to contain happens, I get my focus back, or Sunday night when I do next week's menu.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Feedblitz didn't pick up my post from yesterday. Maybe it felt it wasn't important enough to share. Or, more likely, my post was just too long. It's occurrences such as this that make me wonder if I should switch to the teaser/summary setting rather than having the entire post mailed to subscribers. (I really am trying to make it easier for readers.)

If you want to read the entry that didn't get mailed, you can go here (url for the clickie disabled: http://asimplewife.blogspot.com/2007/05/monday-musings.html) or you can skip it all together.

Sorry about that. I really don't know what happened. I'll beat on Feedblitz a little more later when I have more time and see if I can figure out why it skipped yesterday's entry.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Oops. More shopping at Mom's...

Seems I missed a bag while I was taking inventory. We also brought home:

  • one box Orange & Spice (Lipton Soothing Moments) flavored tea
  • one box Raspberry Zinger (Celestial Seasonings) flavored tea
  • one tin Gevalia tea
  • 1/2 container Very Vanilla Nesquik milk mix
  • one box (small) berry blue jello mix
  • one box (small) wild strawberry jello mix
  • two boxes (small) strawberry jello mix
  • one box (small) lime jello mix
  • one box (small) banana cream instant pudding mix
  • one huge mostly full box (originally 35 pouches) Nature's Vally Crunchy Granola Bars variety pack (peanut butter, apple crisp, roasted almond)

Monday Musings

I woke up feeling mildly dehydrated and in one of those "off" moods that hovers somewhere around the outer edges of bad. It's the sort of mood that makes me feel rather anti-social and often has me pulling away from people, more often so that I don't inflict my mood upon anyone or, worse, dump everything I'm feeling at their feet by venting. Things like that have never work well for me, so over the years I've learned to pull back and isolate myself when I recognize the moods coming on. This makes me something of a loner, but one that often enjoys the company of people.

Recognizing that my mood was hovering on the outskirts of some bad territory, I spent much of the day trying to pinpoint the cause of this particular round of feelings. The primary reason being that I'm really tired of feeling this way with a (close) secondary concern about me slipping back into those days when depression consumed me entirely for weeks and even months at a time. I don't want to go back to that. I rather enjoy the light of day.

One of the things I did today to try and counter this "off" mood was sit down to have a cup of tea. Not just have tea with breakfast (which I skipped - I really need to stop doing that) or have tea on hand while I work on other things. Rather, a dedicated tea time. I haven't had one of those in a while, and I do miss it. During tea time, I sit quietly and savor the tea, letting my mind relax and go where it wills. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I read the Bible. Sometimes I just sit with my eyes closed and listen to myself breathing. On my schedule (which I also need to get back to) tea time is listed as "Tea with God" because more times that not it's during tea time that I feel the closest to Him, or maybe more precisely, that I feel Him closer to me.

Following the tracks of my relaxing mind this morning was difficult. Usually my brain will tell me what's wrong if I just settle enough to really listen, which is where tea time comes it; it helps me be still and settled enough for my brain to untangle itself and show me where the problems are. Today, though... wow. The tour my brain took me on today shows me exactly why I've been feeling so off lately and why this moody feeling has been so persistent. In short, I've overloaded myself.

I traced everything I'm feeling now back to April 21. Though I wasn't feeling well physically, I was doing fine emotionally until I got that wicked sun burn on the 23rd and had to give up (admit failure) on the 30-Day Organizational Challenge on the 26th. Things have gone down hill from there. For the first week I sat in semi-darkness, smearing and re-smearing aloe gel over the burned areas, only able to sleep in blocks of two to four hours before the pain woke me. Gradually I was able to sleep for longer periods of time, but I found myself awake at night and sleeping through the days more times than not. Though I was able to move more and was in less general pain during the second week, I was still pretty helpless, and more than that, I was useless. By the beginning of the third week, I had much of my range of motion back, but my sleep patterns were still horribly disrupted and my schedule was completely lost.

Sidebar for a little time line, because events and their ripples begin to overlap. For the majority of the second week I was suffering with that sunburn (April 29 - May 5) my eyes bothered me. On May 7, I woke late in the morning to find that there had been a stranger in my apartment while I was sleeping. On May 12, A. and I went to a Home Buying Seminar event. Confirmed pink eye ruled the time between May 11 and today. On May 18, I woke up somewhere between 4 and 5am and threw up so violently that I hurt my back. There were other things, little things, throughout the entire time period, but those are the highlights.

Now back to the tale.

I figured the trouble I was having with my eyes was from lack of quality sleep and being constantly on the verge of being dehydrated. I didn't find out until May 11 (which marked the end of the third week of sunburn recovery) that I had a mild case of pink eye that the doctor said was probably trying to go away on its own (it does that??) but kept returning because I was trying to get back to my normal day schedule and kept putting my contacts in. Pink eye sucks. Anyone who's ever had it can tell you that, but I'm here to tell you that even a mild case of pink eye sucks. All the same light sensitivity (in already light sensitive eyes) without all the redness and sympathy because "you don't look sick". The week following the diagnosis (this past week; May 13 - May 19) has left me - again - in a semi-darkened room in my glasses... which is my body's cue for me to sleep. Any progress I'd made toward getting back on schedule has been lost this past week.

Waking up to find that someone has been in your home while you were sleeping is very unsettling, and even more so when you sleep in the buff. It was "only" the bug-spray guy, but the guys hired to do the job are usually quite unsavory and I don't even let them in when I'm awake. The areas that are routinely sprayed are the kitchen and the bathroom - the two tiled areas in the apartment. To get to the bathroom, one has to walk directly past my bedroom door. So many things bother me about that day that I don't even know where to begin. My biggest question is Why didn't I wake up?? I know whoever it was didn't knock. They never knock when I'm here and don't see them coming. They just use their pass key and start to come in. Would I have woken up had they knocked? Probably. Maybe. With my sleeping patterns so off right now, I can't be sure. And that scares me. I'm not used to not feeling secure when I sleep anymore. It's playing havoc with my already out of whack sleeping patterns, and I'm desperate to get back to my version of "normal" before the end of the week when school gets out. While nothing really happened (that I know of - and I'd like to think that I'd have woken up if he'd touched me) beyond my sense of security being shattered in the street, I know that had something happened, I'd muddle through and survive. What bothers me more is the thought of what could have happened if K. had been home.. and sleeping... right next to the bathroom... and what could have happened. I try not to dwell on it, try not to think about it at all, but it's a thought that's there, buried deep inside my brain, and my sense of security is completely gone because according to the apartment management, the bug guy has the right to come in and spray even though I've asked time and time again for him (them?) not to because of my schedule. Just... never mind my right to feel safe and secure in my own home.

The Home Buying Seminar was less spectacular than I expected, and less helpful than I expected. Most of what we found out we already knew, but there were some nuggets of valuable information amidst everything we had already learned for ourselves. I guess that's what happens, though, when you have two self-learners/teachers in one household. Basically, because of those valuable nuggets of information we found, A. and I walked away from the event with the idea that we do not have to wait for another two or three years before we can buy a house. It's possible that we can afford to buy one before the end of the year. I'm not sure if it's probable or not, but it would seem that it is possible. Normally, especially in light of strangers being in my home recently, I'd see this as a good thing, but it has me stressed. I'm not sure why. It could be any number of things (being trapped at home for the past month but not being able to clean let alone find the missing documentation we need to fill out a loan application, the unsettling feeling that something bad is looming just over the horizon, the need to make sure the credit reports are straightened out but having to wait a little longer before that can be seen to, financial issues, etc.) or any combination of those things. And there's still research to do. Research that I can't get to because I'm almost a full month behind in cleaning and everything else... and trying to play catch up while still not functioning at 100% is wreaking all sorts of havoc on me to the point that I'm stalled, not knowing what needs to be done first, what's more important, what needs and/or deserves my focus the most.

I don't know why I woke up Friday morning to vomit so violently. All I know is that I did, and the vertebrae that's bothered me all my life feels like it's slipped just a wee bit out of place again. Not enough to warrant a doctor's visit (or going through x-rays and MRIs... again) because the doctor will only tell me I need to lose weight and offer me muscle relaxants (standard procedure with them, and just never mind that I've had this problem since I was 14 and weighed what the doctors said I should) but enough to be bothersome and keep me more or less immobile. And the muscles around it are all bunched up. This used to happen quite frequently when I was young. I remember being a teen and sitting in church with my elbows on my knees, hunched forward while my mother would rub that spot with two fingers - one on either side of my spine - all through services. Hunching forward like that was always less painful than sitting up straight (I could... and can... feel something grinding and pinching when I sit up straight) and her touch eased the pain further, and sometimes it would even relax the muscles enough that the vertebrae could go back to where it belonged. That's a painful "pop" but one that feels so much better afterward.

And through everything, I have to watch my husband come home from work and tend to the things that I haven't been able to get to during the day. I swing wildly between the feeling that I'm not needed and the feeling that I'm failing my family.

I feel lazy and useless.

I feel off balance.

I feel... broken.

And there's so much to do: catch up on the cleaning, advance on the cleaning, declutter... everything, prepare for hurricane season, check the credit reports, get my social security card reissued, prepare for a summer with K. at home with me 24/7 so that we're not sitting around watching tv and playing xbox every day, find the (missing?? how can it be missing??) documentation we'll need to apply for a loan to get a house, get passports for all three of us, dental appointments, doctor visits, car maintenance, upgrade the anti-virus program... and so much more, that's not even counting the recreational activities I want to be doing (reading, studying, working on chain maille, crocheting, exercising, wood burning, playing with K., etc.).

So where's the reset button? How do I stop playing catch up? Because I know there's no real way I'll ever catch up. I have to start over from this point, or some future point, in time. I got knocked off track for a month. I have to find a way to get back on track. I'm just not sure how. Right now I don't know where to start. Everything I start to do seems to be in direct opposition to something else that also needs to be tended to.

Maybe I need to stop stressing and worrying and take a break. Just throw everything to the wind and go have fun with K. at the zoo or park, then whatever I happen to pick up first when I get back gets my full attention until it's done with no thoughts about anything else that needs to get done.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Menu time!

It could be the bad mood looming over me, or it could be the cranky muscle/vertebrae deal I have going on in my back, or it could be something completely different. Whatever it is, it has me not feeling too creative in the kitchen so this week's menu is pretty basic. The menu is, of course, subject to change at the drop of a half-formed whim or a good strong breeze blowing my moods about.

Sunday: lunch: leftovers (clean out the refrigerator time!)
dinner: leftovers (because apparently I cooked waaay too much last week)
Monday: pasta and salad
Tuesday: breaded cod, corn nibblets, lima beans, and salad
Wednesday: pork chops (no idea yet how), zipper peas, mashed potatoes, salad
Thursday: ??
Friday: baked potatoes, whatever veggies jump out of the freezer
Saturday: lunch: sandwiches/leftovers
dinner: pot roast and... something

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Tonight my brain isn't working too well. Maybe it's just the pain in my back, but I'm feeling a bit tense and frustrated over money, and earlier I started freaking out because I'm already out of grocery money for this pay period. So... I'm making lists. They're reminding me that all is ok and that I can still feed my family until the end of the month and that God does provide, sometimes in mysterious ways that I really try not to question.

Periodically, my mom cleans out the closet she uses as her pantry today. Every single time she does, I end up bags and boxes full of stuff she's bought but has (usually) never opened, let alone used. Whatever I don't take she donates to the charity of her choice. Normally she won't let me pay her for anything so from time to time I cook or bake something and take it to her as my way of repaying her generosity.

Mom cleaned out her pantry today and while I was taking inventory of what we'd brought home, K. giggled the words "I love shopping there".

This is what I brought home today.
  • 4 pack of strawberry banana flavored peaches
  • horseradish (3.5oz jar)
  • 5 boxes corn muffin mix
  • blueberry pop tarts (4 foil packs)
  • strawberry pop tarts (6 foil packs)
  • pink vanilla fun-fetti frosting
  • lemon chiffon frosting
  • cream cheese frosting
  • angel food cake mix
  • yellow cake mix
  • strawberry swirl cake mix
  • carrot cake mix
  • lemon cake mix
  • cheddar whale crackers (16oz)
  • wheat thins - original (10oz)
  • wheat thins - harvest garden vegetable (7.5oz)
  • cinnamon graham crackers (2/3 box)
  • 1/2 bag powdered sugar
  • 3/4 bag powdered sugar
  • 1 little bag chips ahoy thin crisp 100 calorie snack
  • 1 little bag peanut butter cookie crisp 100 calorie snack
  • 3 little bags Doritos 100 calorie snack
  • 8 little bags harvest cheddar sun chips 100 calorie snack
  • 1 big box chocolate pudding mix
  • 3 berry blue jello mix (small boxes)
  • 1 lime jello mix (big box)
  • 1 raspberry jello mix (small box)
  • 1 cherry jello mix (small box)
  • 2 boxes hot chocolate
  • Tabasco spiced olives (6.7oz jar)
  • goldfish pasta soup (10.3/4oz can)
  • 3 cans peach pie filling (21oz each)
  • yellow cling peaches (15oz can)
  • sweetened flaked coconut (3.5oz can)
  • tahina (11oz can)
  • light corn syrup (16oz)
  • 2 bottles dark corn syrup (16oz each)
  • 2 cans all nectar apricot juice (11.5oz each)
  • syrup (24oz)
  • chick peas (15.5oz can)
  • chunky blue cheese dressing (16oz)
  • deluxe french dressing (16oz)
  • hickory smoke bbq sauce (18oz)
  • hickory smoke bbq sauce (28oz)
  • berry vinaigrette dressing (16oz)
  • russian dressing (8oz)
  • spicy brown mustard
  • sloppy joe sauce (15.5oz can)
  • marshmallow fluff (7.5oz jar)
  • black eyed peas (15oz can)
  • ketchup (4lb 2oz)
  • petite dill pickles (46oz)
  • margarita mix
  • margarita salt

In addition to restocking the pantry (with some real treat stuff that I never buy), my 3 cubic foot chest freezer (which my husband bought me 15 years ago right after we got married, thank you God for letting it continue to run so well for so long) is completely stocked again.

Inside my freezer is:

  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • 2 bags with 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts each
  • 2 bags with 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts each
  • 2 bags with 3 leg quarters each
  • 1 bag with 3.5 leg quarters
  • 2 bags with 3 skinless chicken breasts each
  • 1.34 lb beef round bottom roast
  • 1.37 lb beef round bottom roast
  • 7 small roasts, roughly 1 lb each
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 bags with 2 boneless pork chops each
  • large bag breaded cod
  • salmon
  • 1 bag (4 cups) breaded okra
  • 15 bags (roughly 4 cups each) broccoli
  • 5 bags (4 cups each) corn nibblets
  • 10 bags (roughly 4 cups each) baby lima beans
  • 2lb bag mixed vegetables
  • 1 bag (4 cups) zipper peas
  • 2 bags (4 cups each) blueberries
  • 5 bags (4 cups each) peaches
  • 2 1/2 cups pumpkin squish

And that doesn't even count the bread and freezer jam (or freezer pops or Boca "meat") that's hiding in the freezer or what's in my refrigerator freezer, which is also pretty full. There are more lists, but this has already gotten too long.

So I guess things really are ok. I've got enough money in my change jar if we happen to need more water or milk (or anything else) before the next pay check, so... yeah, things really are ok, and I can breathe again. Sleep will come soon, and tomorrow the sun will rise and it will be a better day.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A little of everything... update

I want to say hi and welcome to those that have subscribed for mail updates. Hi! And welcome. Thank you for subscribing. I hope you enjoy your stay with me, however long that may be.

Also, I wanted to thank everyone for their recent comments and apologize for not responding. My brain has been a little broken lately. Thanks, and sorry.


I was digging a recipe out of my inbox on Wednesday when I noticed an email from my mother... only it was routed from my web site. I opened it and found the following words in big blue letters: EXCUSE ME!!! When was "daughter" dropped from your job description?

Come to find out, I've been a daughter for much longer than I've been a wife and mother, so I've changed my occupation on the about me:the basics page to include "daughter". While I was doing that, I made a few other changes, all of which are listed on the updates page.


Speaking of my mother, a few posts back I said that she had laughed at me for feeding my family beans and hoe cakes for dinner one night. That should be clarified a bit more. She didn't laugh at me, but she did tease me. Normally her good-natured teasing doesn't bother me, and at the time even that teasing didn't. When I said she was laughing at me, I was in a severely bad mood and even the air around me was rubbing me wrong.

Mom did tease, and I did laugh with her, even though she was dreaming about her granddaughter (my daughter) being a malnourished stick body with a big balloon head (something I laughed at my mother for, by the way).

Also, it should be noted that even though my mother teased me about said meal, after she saw the picture of my dinner plate from that night (shown below), she wanted some. She didn't want to cook it, she just wanted me to fix her some.


Project:movie clearance is progressing right along. In the past few days I've tossed four tapes. It's really funny to pop a tape into the vcr and have the video from one show and the audio from another show play simultaneously. It really is. Two of the tapes that went away were old television episodes. The rest had the movies The Hidden, (most of) Iron Eagle II, (a very badly decayed) Campus Man and Next of Kin.

Only Next of Kin is on the keeper list, though The Hidden was very... very... tempting.

No other cleaning has really been accomplished in the past few days. I've been utterly useless. Today is the last day I'm supposed to use the medicated eye drops, and Tuesday I should be able to wear my contacts again. Tuesday can not get here soon enough for me.


I did most of the grocery shopping yesterday, and I can say now that I'll undoubtedly go over budget this pay period. On the plus side, my freezer is fully restocked (or will be by Saturday afternoon), so neither I nor A. are complaining.

My only concern is restocking for this year's hurricane season. Though there's very little that I have on hand that I can't cook on a grill (which we need to get, husband) should the power go out, I am a little concerned about what to take (food wise) should we have to evacuate. That's something I'll have to work on in coming days, I suppose.


Yesterday while grocery shopping, I took the canvas grocery bags. Usually I forget them, but yesterday I remembered to take them. I was so proud of myself.

The "I'm doing good" feeling was short-lived, though. Two of the four stores I went to loaded up the groceries in plastic bags THEN put the loaded plastic bags INTO the canvas bags. Even after I pointed out that the whole reason behind bringing my own bags was to avoid the need for the plastic bags, they insisted on doing it that way. One of the baggers told me that it was store policy for all groceries to be bagged in store bags, even if customers had brought their own. Needless to say, I was a little shocked and a lot disbelieving. I've got a phone call into the day manager for that particular store, but he's yet to return my call.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Project: movie clearance

Two more tapes down, with one out the door, only a jillion or so left to go.

Movies watched (or listened to) today: The Toy, Batman, Westworld, Highlander, Enemy Mine.

I really didn't need to watch The Toy to know that it needed to leave, just as I really didn't need to watch Westworld to know that it needed to stay. Still, I watched Westworld because Yul Brynner was one of the best ever and always made any movie worth watching. As for Highlander, I already have other copies of it, so it's not a big loss if the tape I had my hands on today goes away. I could have lived without seeing Batman again.

Added to the mega wish list is Westworld and Enemy Mine. Both of those titles have been added to my ever-growing book wish list, too.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


I'm a little on the cranky side lately; my right eye (the one with the mild case of pink eye for two weeks) has been driving me batty, my mother keeps laughing at me for feeding my family beans and hoe cakes for dinner, and Florida has been on fire (literally) making the air quality quite cruddy with the ash and other stuff floating about so I haven't been able to go outside at all (health advisories state do not go outside unless necessary, PE has been cancelled at most of the schools, even the baseball game last week was cancelled and those with tickets get to use them for a future game) or even open my windows for more than a week. There have been other things, too, but that's the thing... everything has been relatively minor when considered by itself, but compiled together as they have been recently they're enough to make even me cranky.

Still, I have to feed my family. So a menu.

Sunday: lunch: leftovers (clean out the refrigerator time!)
        dinner: baked potatoes topped with broccoli and grated cheese, various veggies and leftovers on the side
Monday: I have no earthly idea. Truly I don't. If I don't come up with something else, then Foil-Pack Taco Chicken Dinner (with link to my tweaks to come)
Tuesday: beans, rice, salad
Wednesday: pasta and salad (probably do grocery shopping this day...)
Thursday: leftovers (...or this day)
Friday: homemade pizza, salad
Saturday: lunch: ??
        dinner: 40 clove garlic chicken (link to my tweaks to come), probably mashed potatoes, whatever veggies fall out of the freezer, salad

Friday, May 11, 2007

A little of this, a little of that

My eye was feeling much better today, but I decided to go to let some doctor-type person poke at it anyway.

He didn't poke at it much, but he was terribly impressed amused by my eye patch. Um... this... is my eye patch.

Yeah. If I'm gonna have to wear a patch, I'm doing it in style. Um. My style, but it's still a style.

Anyway, the diagnosis was that - for the past two, almost three, weeks - I've had a mild case of pink eye. In... just... the right eye. No trace of it in the left. Which is... really... beyond weird considering that my fingers are in both my eyes all the time. I wear contacts, take them out and put them in daily, always start with the right eye, and never ever wash my hands between eyes. How I don't have it in my left eye is just weird. And then there's the fact that it's been coming and going. Just... weird. But that's the diagnosis, and I now have some $68 antibiotic/steroid drop things to put in my eye four times a day for the next seven days. Wee.

Despite the complete and utter lack of accomplishment on anything else today (due to being on the phone most of the day with the insurance company), I have made more progress on Project: movie clearance.

Movies viewed in the past 26 hours: Chances Are, Quigley Down Under, Deceived, and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

Quigley Down Under and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle are both going on my master wish list for movies.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day. A. and I are going to a Home Buyer's Fair and Seminar tomorrow morning. It's supposed to last from 10am to 2pm. I think we have to be there around 9am. The blurb for it it reads:
You're invited to attend a FREE seminar where you'll learn all about purchasing a new home. After this 4 hour seminar, you'll be prepared and confident about buying your home from start to finish!
So... yeah. We'll see. Hopefully we'll come away from it having some idea of how to proceed in both finding and buying the house I we want. We've already done a lot of research, but still feel pretty overwhelmed. We're hoping this seminar will help clear up a few things. This last incident was just the last straw. The push is on, and on hard, to get out of this apartment (and out of apartments all together) and into a house where we can control the security a little better (like changing the locks any time I feel like it, and installing additional security measures). My home is supposed to be my safe haven, and this apartment is not that. No apartment is. I do not feel safe in apartments anymore. There's too much personal history preventing that safe feeling.

I guess that's it for me. My thoughts are a little scattered (I'm actually tired!!) and my eye is starting to bother me. Off to bed I go.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Project: movie clearance update

This will be far shorter than I had planned, and not on topic, either. Why? Because my eye is driving me mad. Just the one. The right one. It feels like there's something in it - soap or something - and has for several days, on and off, but it's getting worse and has been particularly bothersome today. I don't know why. Not only that, but the eyelid is sort of... puffy... just a little swollen. And a little droopy. And almost constantly tearing. It's no better or worse with my contact in or out. Nothing seems to soothe it. I've tried flushing it out. I've tried patching it. I've tried heat. I've tried cold. If it keeps it up, I'll be heading down to the walk-in clinic. I just don't know if I'll break down and do it Friday or Saturday.

Thanks to my eye, I really didn't get much accomplished. Lots of laundry and a couple of movies from the project: movie clearance pile.


Movies of the day:

This Gun For Hire, Into the Badlands, and Dream a Little Dream (amazon link here - on DVD, too!! - 'cause I want that one).

There was also a tape full of... episodes... from tv shows such as ER, Friends, Veronica's Closet. I didn't watch the whole tape. But I did get rid of it.

So! Progress. One tape down, and another is slotted for disposal (after I go back and get the name of the book the movie was based on and the author's name). I'm working on a third tape already.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Project: movie clearance

I have a lot of movies/shows that I've taped off of tv or cable. Sometimes it was because I thought it would be a better movie than it was, sometimes it was because I had to be elsewhere (work, school, out having fun, sleeping) when the show aired so I taped it to watch later.

This has been going on for more than twenty years. Seriously.

Well, at long last, it's time to purge them. However, the problem I face (and one of the reasons I've been dragging my feet on this project) is that I still watch some of them, and there are some real treasures amidst all the clutter of tapes. ('Treasures' being a relative term here and indicating, in this case, a movie so bad that only I, in my unique insaneness, would watch it once let alone repeatedly.) The only real solution I've been able to come up with is to go through them, watching one movie a day and adding to a wish list (link to come) those that I REALLY want to own. With any luck I can replace my taped copy of such movies (often littered with outdated commercials which I find entirely too funny) with a DVD (or if necessary a VHS) copy. I already know a few titles that will be on that list, but I won't spoil the fun of discovery just yet.

This is not a project that's going to take a few weeks. This is going to take... months. I'm sure of it. Most tapes hold no less than two movies. Some hold three. Some of the tapes have hours... and hours... of tv shows that were taped so I could watch them later, then were taped over weeks later as the cycle was repeated until I have no earthly idea what's on those tapes now. There are days when I may get through two or three movies, and there will be days that I get through none. I do not see me getting through more than one tape in any 24 hour period, though, because I'll have to really sit down and focus on the movie/show I'm watching to be able to determine if it's a keeper or not. For me, that's nearly impossible, and it's going to take no less than a two to four hour chunk of time out of my day, depending on how many movies I watch. (That's another reason I've been dragging my feet on undertaking this project.)

And I will have to fight, and fight hard, to resist the creative little sparks firing up all over my brain as I watch some of these movies. A lot of them made me want to write something based on the basic plot premise (or more precisely, re-write the story). Perhaps a reward-type system can be created and set into place so that I can get back to writing. I miss it.

I've already started on this project. Today.

Just one movie though, since I didn't start until after noon. Today's (cheesy) movie: Deadly Game. (Amazon link here, husband of mine, because yeah, I think it's going to be on that wish list.)

Maybe this not sleeping at night thing can be used to my advantage, because is there anything more satisfying distracting than watching cheesy old movies when you can't sleep?

Now, if I can just find that VCR remote so I can fast forward through the commercials...

Monday, May 7, 2007

Making tortillas

Instead of talking about how some stranger (bug spray guy) was in my apartment while I was sleeping this morning, I'm going to recount (with pictures!) yesterday's fun.

On Sunday we made homemade tortillas. Well, technically A. and K. made them, and I gave advice from behind the camera while I took pictures. I have to admit, they were good. Very good. And far easier than I would have thought. Since we've always had a "YUCK"-factor whenever we used any store-bought tortillas (and ended up throwing them all out), I think we'll just make our own from now on.

Yes, I took pictures. I'm behind in posting them, but... eh. I've been busy. I have been making it a habit to cook with the camera within reach (much to the dismay of my family, who often get recruited for the actual cooking part while I play photographer).

So, pictures!

A. made the dough. Sadly, I didn't get pictures of that. I didn't think about it until after they were rolling it out. By the time I had the camera in my hand, K. had taken over and A. was elsewhere. First, she would get one of the little balls they'd made.

making tortillas

Then she got some flour...

making tortillas

and dusted the little ball with it.

making tortillas

After that, she would pat it out, flattening it a little bit.

making tortillas

making tortillas

After she had it more or less flattened, she would start to roll it out using an old Disney glass from Burger King because I am in desperate need of a new rolling pin.

making tortillas

making tortillas

From time to time she would stop to pat it out, sometimes dusting it with a bit more flour.

making tortillas

making tortillas

making tortillas

After she was all done, she would peel up the raw tortilla and put it on a piece of wax paper atop the growing stack waiting to be cooked.

making tortillas

making tortillas

After K. was done rolling all the dough out, A. came in and started cooking the tortillas.

making tortillas

making tortillas

Over and over and over again, until we had a lovely little stack of tasty home-made tortillas!

home made tortillas

After the tortillas had cooled and it was nearing time for dinner, I went in and made Simple Taco Meat (see my tweaks to the recipe here).

Easy taco meat

It was a good meal, and everyone had at least a little bit of fun. Even with the fun factor, I think next time I'll make them myself while they're at school and work.

Oh, and those tortillas? They're good spread with peanut butter and wrapped around a banana, too.

Coming soon: playing with a coconut.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

New Menu!

Looking at this week's menu gives me a weird feeling that I can't quite pin down. It's sort of like... I'm forgetting something. Or maybe it's the lack of meat on it. My brood is a carnivorous lot for the most part, and I'm still in shock over their enthusiam for last week's beans and rice meal (I got a spontaneous "this is good mom!"), not to mention their almost eager willingness to have such culinary - meatless - concoctions on the menu twice a week if I feel like cooking them.

This week I'll have to remember to take pictures and scribble down what I end up using when I make the beans. Sometimes my technique of cooking is nothing more than taking a base ingredient (ground beef or, apparently, beans), look over my stock of herbs and spices, peer into my makeshift pantry (the linen closet in the hall), pilfer through the refrigerator, then start adding things together. I "tweak" recipes like that, too. I'll look one over, wrinkle my nose and murmur something like "Ewe. That sounds kind of good except for that ingredient. Hmmm..." or "You know, this would be great if I added..." and off I go, tweaking to taste and rewriting the recipe.

All in all, a glance at the calendar shows me that it's due to be a slow week. Not much planned this week; K. is spending the night with my mom Friday night, and A. and I are going to a house-buying seminar on Saturday (the reason for the fast food at lunch - we won't be home). Beyond that, my calendar is empty (so far). Maybe I'll actually catch up this week.

Sunday: lunch: sandwiches/soup/leftovers (clean out the refrigerator time!)
        dinner: Simple Taco Meat (see my tweaks to the recipe here) with homemade tortillas, salad
Monday: butter (lima) beans, hoe cakes, salad
Tuesday: pasta, garlic bread, salad
Wednesday: leftovers?
Thursday: rice, beans, salad
Friday: ???
Saturday: lunch: fast food
        dinner: pot roast, baked potatoes, mixed veggies, salad

So, how off schedule am I?

I mentioned in my last entry that I was completely off schedule because of the sun burn I was suffering through recently. Part of my healing process is lots of sleep. Unfortunately, while it was great for ignoring the pain and healing, all that 'round the clock sleeping I did for a week threw me way off schedule. Some may wonder, "How off schedule could you possibly be?" Well, let me tell you.

I went to bed at 6.30 (edt) this morning. It took almost an hour before I fell asleep. The last thing I remember is sighing at the cats and asking them why I wasn't asleep yet when I looked at the clock and saw it was 7.07am. They both purred at me and snuggled a bit closer, and I was asleep not long after. I didn't get out of bed until just after 12.30 (edt) in the afternoon.

That's how off schedule I am. I'm supposed to be getting up between 4am and 5.30am, and I've not even slept yet by then! I'm back to this schedule where I'm up until dawn then asleep until noon(ish).

So what if my schedule is a little off and I'm keeping vampire-ish hours? It may seem like nothing, no big deal, to a lot of people, but it matters to me. When I sleep half the day away like this, I feel lazy. Never mind that I was up all night puttering around, picking up this bit of clutter and fussing with that bit of laundry (ok, ok, or reading). I feel like I've wasted half the day I could have spent doing... anything... with my family. I get frustrated because we could have gone on a picnic, or to the zoo, or on a photograph hunt, or... anything. But no, I was sleeping. Again. Because I was up all night. Again. I get angry with myself (and snap at people around me), then I start feeling like a failure because I can't even sleep like a normal person. And try as I might not to have them, it's just such unbidden and unwelcome thoughts that always lead to a depressive episode that has me out of commission for days, sometimes weeks. Human emotions are just weird that way. We can't always control them, no matter how hard we try.

I do believe I'll have to do something drastic in coming days to snap myself back to being diurnal. The only questions are Which day? and Do I snap this cycle by sleeping through a full day and night, or do I do it by not sleeping at all one day? Both would work, but both are bound to produce a most unproductive day - either because I'm asleep or because I'm doing zombie impressions - and the not sleeping option is sure to have me whining about being tired, suffering a headache, and snapping at people unnecessarily because I'm so tired that my patience has curled up somewhere in the corner of my mind to take a nap without me. Both will leave me feeling groggy and out of sorts for a few days, but with reinforced sleeping patterns (where I actually go to bed at night whether I'm tired or not and get dragged out of bed by 5am, no matter how little sleep I managed to get) I'll be better off in a week or two.

Whichever course of action I decide upon, the bottom line is that I need to be diurnal. If I were alone, with husband and child, the whole nocturnal thing would work. But I'm not, so I must be diurnal in order to give my family the attention it needs.

And sun burns aside, seeing daylight and being outside, being in the sun every once in a while is just good for me.


It started while I was recording the most recent expenses (recorded here). It occurred to me that we've been shopping almost every night lately to the point where it's become insane. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but I finally did, and then realized that it wasn't just the financial arena suffering.

The source of all the trouble is, primarily, the horrendous sun burn I've been suffering through. On a secondary level is me just being busy and focused on other things.

Under normal conditions, I let A. borrow my car but for the most part I have my car and do all the shopping during the day while A. is at work and K. is at school. However, we've not been working under normal conditions lately. Since he got back into town, A. has been using my car exclusively. He has offered to let me keep it to run errands a few times (with him either taking his car or me driving him to work), but with the extensive burns I suffered recently, driving (much less doing all the stretching and bending involved with a short woman shopping) was out of the question unless absolutely necessary. I was just in far too much pain - not to mention so extremely tired while healing - to put a shirt on my burns and go shopping. Anywhere. For anything. So A. has been driving me to this store or that one after he gets home from work.

Also, because I've been working at less than 100% (who am I kidding? I don't work at 100% normally! But I'm not even working at the level I normally work at...) I didn't really have a comprehensive shopping list. It was more like "Oh... we need..." and a few days later we were doing the same thing. A total lack of planning on my part.

The whole healing process has had me out of sorts and now has me completely off schedule, too. I've been doing only the most minimal but mandatory blogging. My waking cycle has become completely nocturnal, and the sleeping patterns are just weird. I haven't been able to clean much or stay on top of clutter control because moving has been painful, even after I started peeling.

In addition to the whole sun burn and related issues, I've just been off-kilter. I'm not to a point yet where I can focus on various crafts, much less spend as much time as I'd planned on blogging and other things.

And school issues. Wow. We've had things going on at school several times a week for the past month and a half.

It's really just little things - little adjustments in life - that have everything skewed, and I guess, looking at the big picture, I can breathe a small sigh of relief that this isn't the normal trend. Though I do suppose that anyone looking in through the small windows I'm creating with my blogs would surely think I'm boring and insane, but no, that's not the case. (Ok, maybe it is, but not because of this!! I'm just going by what others tell me.) Things are just a little hectic and out of balance lately. Things will get back to normal soon, though.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Mother's Day Give-Away


The lovely ladies over at 5 minutes for mom are holding another wonderful give-away contest, this time for Mother's Day. They will actually be featuring multiple contests with multiple prizes, all in the name of Mother's Day. For the basic information, you can check this sticky note of theirs. The first prize they're offering up is an Apple iPod Nano with chocolate.