Thursday, July 31, 2008

huh - coping

One of my friends IRL sent me the following link to a Washington Post story.

One Way to Handle Grief: Just Get Over It

I don't know how long that link will work, but go check it out. Very interesting story about an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Christopher Davis. I googled him, but couldn't find anything in primary literature, so it's the Post story for now.

He studies how people respond to tragedy - in this case, the death of a loved one. His team spent years studying a group of family members after a mine explosion in Nova Scotia took 26 lives. After extensive interviews with their families, he divided the grievers into three groups.

We're familiar with two of the groups - the first are the mullers. They process the experience, look for meaning in the loss, and ultimately come to find a positive lesson from their loss. This group is also referred to as "successful grievers" - the ones the psychologists seem to enjoy working with the most - analyze the experience until you come to accept it for the meaning it brings you. The second are the chronic grievers, the ones who still ask why this happened, and have no answer for it. The loss experience shattered their belief in justice.

And the third group was a surprise, one not previously identified by others who study grief - the copers. They didn't ask why, and they didn't find meaning from the loss. They sort of said shit happens, and that's just the way it is, and yeah, it sucks but you move on.

This has really spoken to me in a number of ways. First, my counselor and I spent a lot of time (and money!) talking about how it's not ok to express emotion in my family of origin. It never really felt right to me. My family has emotion. My family doesn't dwell on emotion. Life happens, and you go on. They are copers. I am a coper, under relatively normal circumstances. This past year - 18 months - was an extraordinarily abnormal circumstance. Reading this article, at this point, this far removed, resonated.

In the (deadbabyland) blog world, there's periodic discussion of how the loss has changed you. And discussion - from me, too - about being a pessimist or optimist, and how everything has killed that optimism. I think now, for me, that's the wrong framework. It's more about how I cope with the loss (and subsequent loss of faith in my husband and marriage) than if my essential nature has been changed.

In a lot of ways, I've experienced all three strategies. I think, 18 months later, I've coped with the pregnancy loss, for the most part. I'm definitely not a successful griever. There's still bitterness and regret and a whole heap of other things there I don't want to deal with, cause I don't see the point. There's no greater lesson, there just is. I'm not one of the butterfly people - you know, the ones who get the butterfly tattoo because the soul of their dead child visited them in the form of an unusual butterfly in the garden one day (or repeatedly showed up just when they needed said soul to do so). Not to denigrate those people, but I am Not One Of Them. That strategy doesn't work for me. I went through a chronic griever phase - it sucked, and there was no meaning and no butterfly and no happiness and soulfulness and light. But now I've mostly moved to coping.

The loss of trust and faith in my marriage has been harder. It's still ongoing. I'm still very much in chronic grieving phase. But I know, intellectually, if we are to successfully keep this marriage going, chronic grieving isn't helping. My public face is very much of having coped and moved on. Our joint counselor, and my husband, tried the line that we needed to go through this experience to emerge stronger on the other side - the muller strategy. Which I reject with every fiber of my being. No, you don't have to treat your grieving wife like a psychological punching bag to revitalize your marriage. You don't, and I refuse to believe you do.

I think a lot about grief as I click through my blogroll and the other blogs not yet on my blogroll. And the IRL blogroll, untouched by any grief at all. I think a lot about Niobe, actually, who says repeatedly her grief is not like others, that it comes up short against the tide of grief on her blogroll. Every time she types that, I want to write a comment that says, to me your grief seems no more or no less than anyone else's. Different around the edges, in the particulars, yes, but essentially the same early dark days, followed by your own way of coping. I never leave that comment, it's too personal/complicated/something, and yet here I am with a whole paragraph about another woman's grief. And yet another woman's grief, too - Antigone is going through an impossibly rough time right now, and she write eloquently of getting through, of doing what needs to be done.

I think a lot about people experiencing the worse life has to offer. Of horrendous childhood survival rates, and how our ancestors (and many people in the world today) survive unfathomable grief of losing half their children before their 1st birthday. Or losing their entire families to horrible, tragic, senseless murders or genocides, whether it be the Holocaust, or Rwanda, or the latest multiple murder that makes the news. Or disease - cancer, HIV, depression. Is our way of coping, continuing, different today than it was 50 years ago? Is there a larger lesson to be learned, or is it just the way life works?

What do you think? Do you find a deeper meaning, or no meaning at all, from loss?

Whip It Up - Week 4 - Blueberry Cinnamon Muffins

I'm just going to admit it - I'm tired of this challenge. Too much pressure to make a new thing each week, though, looking at my life, discipline is what I lack. Without this pressure, I'd never get my files organized.

So onto this week. The theme was vegetarian, but in going through the files I stumbled across another old Southern Living clipping (date unknown, probably 1066) for low-fat muffins. Since blueberries are in season and we love them, and my daughter has shown an interest in baking, thought I'd give them a whirl.

Blueberry-Cinnamon Muffins

1/4 cup regular oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
1 cup fresh blueberries
cooking spray

Stir together oats, brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, set aside.
Beat butter and granulated sugar at medium speed with eletric mixer til fluffy. Add egg substitute, beating til blended. Stir in vanilla.
Combine all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, ending with flour mixture. Gently stir in blueberries (tip: to prevent berries from bleeding, toss them in flour then gently fold into batter). Spoon batter into muffin pans coated with cooking spray, filling two-thirds full. Sprinkle evenly with oat mixture.
Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until tops are golden. Cool muffins in pan 5 minutes; remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Prep: 25 Minutes, Bake 20 minutes, Cool 5 minutes.

Makes 15 muffins, per 1 muffin: Calories 174, fat 4 g, protein 3.7 g, carb 31 g, fiber 1 g, chol 9 mg, iron 1.1 mg, sodium 249 mg, calc 39 mg.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Easy and fast. Easy for almost 3-year old to "help."

Did it taste good?
It did, though not great. See picture - they didn't rise any. Now, I was whipping through making these, trying to do it all for breakfast, so played fast and loose, but still, I expected a rise of some sort. Definitely added the powder and soda - maybe they were old. Wanted to make this cause we had egg substitute that was just hitting its use by date, so that was old too. The batter was DELICIOUS and I was quite excited about them when I put them in oven. But the result was eh.

Kid friendly?
Yes - she also enjoyed helping make it. Easy.

Would I make it again?
The batter was DELICIOUS. Did I say that already? I might try. I had thought of pulling all dry ingredients together the night before to make it easier to make in the morning, and that might have helped get measurements right, etc.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Holy hell

So, yesterday my to do list included gathering, sorting, and organizing all our counselor receipts from all our counseling sessions last fall and into this spring.

Last year, after the loss, we saw a counselor who specialized in couples who had experienced a loss like ours. She of course did not accept insurance, and is therefore out of network. We saw her until July, and I had dutifully submitted all our claims. July. And then my husband in August got interested in his friend at work. One of the things I raged at him was that he had every resource at his disposal. We had been seeing a counselor, for christ sakes, and he could have so easily called her up and we could have started that again. Or maybe he had lied at every single damn counseling session we had, including the last when we concluded we were back on the right track and could cease counseling.

It was too crazy to organize our our various receipts until now. Starting in October, we saw the counselor jointly. He saw her individually. I saw another one, also out of network, by myself. We saw the two counselors jointly. He saw another, of freaking course out of network counselor, for a specific speciality.

I carefully laid out all the receipts, organized by month and counselor and person. Quite a stack. Suddenly, knowing I did not really want to know, I pulled over the calculator and started paging through, totalling them all together.

I hesitate to write the grand total. Even in this age of let it all out blogging, money is still the last taboo. You might write about your latest invasive medical procedure, but certainly not how much money you make or how much your house cost. Let's remember I live in a large urban area, counselors can charge quite a lot per hour, and we had a lot of counseling time. Holy hell indeed. Add this to the money that came directly out of our savings account to pay taxes due to my husband's stupid, stupid last place of employment, and let's just say we're well into the 5 figures. And it's no wonder my savings account is nearly empty, and we're looking at the emergency savings.

So, I'll file the claims today. We won't get back much, probably not even 20%. There are claims in each of our names, we have to meet a deductible, and it spans two calendar years. So the insurance company can weasel out of a lot of it.

I figured this all out right at the end of the day yesterday, and was semi-shell shocked when my husband got home. He's been working hard lately. It looked like he fixed the drain issue that was causing our flooding issues. He fixed the garbage disposal. He was planning, last night, to take out the moldy ceiling in the kitchen. The total was too much (and if anyone cares to guess I'll tell you in the comments) and was beating inside my head, desperate to be shared. I told him I had done the totaling and to guess. He guessed less than 1/3rd of the total. I laughed. He made it to 40%, 50%, 60%, 75%, with me mirthlessly haha-ing each time. I believe he knows how much he cost us, financially and otherwise. I believe it sickens him.

We never talk about IT, though. Never. He wants it behind, done, over, the past. IT still looms large for me, though. This past month has been extremely hard. Partially it's seasonal - there are things you do in summer you don't do other times of the year. So there is a lot of comparing this year to last. And betrayal takes a lot to overcome.

Thousands of dollars of counseling and it's not fixed. It'll never be fixed. It can be lessened, though, I think. But not by pretending it never happened or couldn't happen again.

One of my last counseling sessions did yield a breakthrough of sorts. I never blogged about it, though I meant to. I was talking about my husband's deep desire to pretend it never happened, to just move forward, and how I needed more than that. I needed him to know how much he hurt me, us, our daughter, our life. And he refused to acknowledge it. And my counselor made the connection with his mother. His mother blows up and then wants it all forgotten. None of the hurt she caused matters, it's in the past and gone. The apple does not fall far from the tree. I remember I came home from that counseling session, weepy and tired. And my husband sat with me and pulled it all out of me. And I remember his face when I talked about that piece - how much like his mother he was acting. He was profoundly shaken and upset. But it didn't change. There is no place for my anger and hurt to go. No venue for letting it air out and breathe. I need more counseling. We probably together need more counseling. But not again with out of network counselors. It's just not a luxury we can afford, though I think it's a necessity we can't do without. So added to my todo list is finding a counselor(s) who accept insurance.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

oh, come on!

Did John Edwards really get chased into a stairwell by the Nat.ional after he was visiting his harridan mistress and love child at the Beverly Hilton? I can't bring myself to link to Drudge, or the En.quirer. Bleah. Here's Slate's take.

I like(d) John Edwards. I want(ed) Obama to pick him for VP. I believe(d) in John Edwards and his message. And I love how he and his wife seemingly picked up the pieces of their life after heartbreak and loss.

Really John Edwards? Really?

You're at the top of your game (well, not the top, but close). Your wife is fighting for her life. You have small children who need you and her. And a close to adult daughter who needs you. Please don't be true.

Sigh. How naive am I?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

When it rains

The basement floods.

Math problem: if your rowhouse is 20 feet wide by 40 feet deep, and your basement floods to an average of about 2 inches deep, how much water did you vacuum, sweep, bucket, sponge, towel, and mop off the floor last night?

I don't know, my husband the math whiz could figure this out but converting inches deep to volume is not on my to-do list this morning. How many time did we empty the 12 gallon wet vac last night? 10? Probably more. 15? 20?

Last night was an extreme rain event - a lot in a short time. But the basement has been minor-ly flooding all summer during big storms. We know, we can see that there's something wrong with the gutter/drain system behind our house, and it's going to take a professional to figure it out.

Talk about stiff and sore - I'm loosening up but I definitely got a workout last night.

Math problem #2: if, simultaneously, the ceiling of the kitchen is also leaking, which account should I transfer money from to cover? Associated logic problem: Can the same person cover both problems, or do we need a plumber and a ---- what? Carpenter?

The past few drought years are looking better and better in retrospect.

Math problem #3: If you go to Lord & Taylor to pay off the remaining charges on your bill, finito, to zero, and it's beastly hot outside, so you wander, even though they have no maternity clothes and find a size 16 petite swing jacket that is very cute, priced 73.99, 50% off, plus 20% off coupon, how much use will you get out of it during and post pregnancy if you started pregnancy a size 12?

$30 for a quite nice, stylish jacket. If I get a job, it would be perfect for fall (and winter and spring). If I don't get a job, I could still get some wear out of it. If I lose baby weight quickly, it'll be no use in post-maternity. If, as likely, the baby weight comes off slowly, it'll be perfect for nursing and pumping and still looking professional and stylish. Hmmmm. I may have to go back, and if there's a 14 or possibly a 12 that fits it might be worth it. Oh, have I mentioned I've used up my "allowance" (my budget line item for myself) for July? Extra credit: Does that matter?

Math problem #4: Your new Harris Teeter is offering TRIPLE coupons, Shout is on sale buy one get one free at 3.29, and you have a $.75 off coupon. How excited should you be?

I've lived in this city for 15 years and I have never, never seen triple coupons. I am absurdly excited. I spent yesterday afternoon going through coupons and plotting my shopping list. I even went to Harris Teeter yesterday and scoped out what else might be on sale that wasn't in the flyer. (In my defense, we were out of milk and HT even had organic milk on sale!) My entire Friday is planned around triple coupon day.

I need a job.

Time for social studies: You exit your basement after midnight to find a giant firetruck in front of your house, shining spotlights on your house. What the hell? Firemen exit neighbor's house, you send husband down to talk to them, but fireman comes to door, explains we should be ok, given the construction of these rowhouses, but neighbor has lost part of her roof and her house in inundated with water. Great, husband exclaims, we just finished vacuuming out our basement, let's do the attic now. Fireman looks at us like we are lunatics, which by this point we are.

As we're closing up for the night, husband suddenly says, we should offer them our wet vac. He peers in front door and back, but they seem to have given up for the night, too. He notices they seem to have the same ceiling leak in kitchen that we have.

You live in gentrifying neighborhood. You are gentrifiers. Your neighbors are
pre-gentrification. Your other side neighbors are also gentrifiers, told you last year that they noticed in city's tax rolls that no-roof neighbors owe $12,000 in back taxes. No-roof neighbor neighbor maintains beautiful garden. Told you a few weeks ago, over the fence as you were both doing yard work, about how she grew up in the house, grew up there with her parents and seen all sorts of things in the neighborhood. How her parents and the former owners of your house jointly put in the porch awnings (which is probably what is causing the kitchen leaks, the way they're joined to the wall, so now maybe we should try to fix this problem jointly with them?).

How grateful should you be, as you go to sleep and wake up with aches and pains, that despite it all - no job, worries about money, old, historic house badly in need of repairs, how do we keep the nanny, should I buy sale designer jacket, are we going to do private school for child - you know you're still firmly entrenched on the have side of American society?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

7 months

It's now been 7 months since the blow up with my inlaws. And still no contact, for which I am grateful.

We saw my husband's brother and his family a few weeks ago - met in the middle and went to a children's museum. The good news is my brother-in-law has switched from urging my husband to sweep it all under the rug to supporting my husband in his decision. My brother-in-law is on the wagon, and thinking more clearly these days, so I think we have that to thank. About 6 weeks ago, BIL was bugging husband to come up and visit. Finally my husband asked, you spend all your time at our parents (he does, it's creepy - even spends the night, with his wife and daughter, at his parents house on weekends sometimes). If we come up there, how would we not see the parents? BIL responded, oh, you and WhichBox can stay at our house, and we'll take your daughter and ours over to the parents so Mom can spend time with her. WTF. I hit the ceiling on that one - Mother-in-law has absolutely lost any chance she had of spending alone time with my daughter.

The latest, according to BIL, is that MIL says she has said her piece and that's all there is to it and it's up to my husband to make the next move. You might remember, her piece was to say nothing at all. My husband wrote her back saying we needed to get things in the open and resolve things.

BIL knows I am pregnant, that it's a boy, and that we'd prefer he not tell his parents. We'll see how long that lasts.

Two weeks ago I was out to dinner with friends who know the whole MIL saga. I said I just didn't see a way out of this dilemma. At least not a way out that didn't ask too much of me. One of my opinionated friends asked what did I mean? Well, husband has great aunts who are quite elderly and ill. He'd want to go, if/when something happens. And then the baby - once they find out they'll probably want to be involved somehow. Friend just exploded at me - MIL had forfeited her right to be in our lives, the best thing was to keep contact cut off, this was ridiculous, we needed to stand our ground or else she'd continue to pull this shit, we could absolutely not cave or give in........

The conversation was upsetting, for a lot of reasons. My friend is right, I don't disagree with her. I guess the thing is this isn't entirely my decision. If it was up to me, hell yeah, we'd never see any of them again. But what to do when big things (like his aunts' potentially, and inevitably someday, passing?) happen in his family? My husband and I have had such a hard time, and we work hard to spend time together and be supportive of each other. So there's a funeral, and I refuse to go? And keep daughter home with me? Seriously, what's the right thing to do in that circumstance? (I like these great aunts, and hope they stick around a long time, but if it's going to happen is it bad I'm hoping for an October/November/December timeframe so I physically can't go??).

And, the crazy thing is how much husband's family puts up with this crazy behavior. Does my father-in-law miss his eldest son? Apparently not more than he longs for peace at home. My FIL is not bad, he's a victim, too. But he puts up with it.

I know family estrangements. My dad and his brother haven't spoken for years. Not many, about 5, but always had a strained relationship. My uncle is in bad shape, and while his crazy family is entirely unreliable, this may be the end for him. I honestly don't know if my dad would want to go to the funeral. Or if he would go, even if he didn't want to. My mom's siblings have had some degree of estrangement for the past 30 years, and while they are cordial and talk occasionally, exchange holiday cards and calls if there's big news, it's really nothing more than polite. Estrangements are hard on the family, especially on children.

My MIL is bad. Is she cut you out of our lives completely bad? Yes, my friends scream. Yes! Our counselors this past winter/spring said yes. I think it's not that clear cut. And not forever. But I do not see a way out, a solution, a path forward.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Whip It Up - Week 3 - saucy pudding cake

The recipe challenge continues. I made a dessert on Sunday night from a recipe ripped out of Southern Living. I'd had it clipped for years, because it was a take off of a recipe I love - Brownie Pudding. I have a 1960's era Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, originally published in 1953. They've since revised a number of times, most recently last year, but my mom learned to cook with this version and when I moved out, she found another one at a yardsale for me. Some of the recipes crack me up - prune whip, lots of spam, canned products. But there are still classics. The revised version changed the sugar cookie recipe, which my mom has used for decades. Heresy! Anyway, on page 190, there's a recipe for a quite delicious brownie pudding. You make this batter that's sort of like a cake batter, then top it with a mixture of brown sugar and cocoa, then pour on boiling water. Pop it in the oven, and as it cooks, the layers separate into a yummy chocolate pudding topped by a decent cake. Love. I've seen the recipe tons of other places over the years - it's relatively lowfat because it uses cocoa - but almost never credited to Better Homes and Gardens. Here's an exact duplicate of the BHG recipe. Note the serving size listed is for 4, which is ridiculous - serves more like 6-8, or even more. Anyway, make this recipe - it's easy, tasty (have ice cream on hand), and relatively not terrible for you. I've only had one person not like it in years of making it for potlucks - she wasn't a fan of cocoa for the chocolate, felt it wasn't rich enough.

So, over the past years, I've clipped out other recipes for pudding cakes, but never tried another version. Sunday night was the night. From Southern Living, July 1998. Yes, 1998. My files know no age.

Saucy Pudding Cake
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter/margarine, softened
1 large egg
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Beat 1/4 cup brown sugar and next 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Stir together flour and next 5 ingredients. Add to sugar mixture alternately with 1/2 cup water, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in oats, raisins, and walnuts. Spoon into a lightly greased 8-inch square pan, and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup brown sugar. Pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over top. Do not stir. Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 6 to 8 servings.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Super easy and fast.

Did it taste good?
It did, though not great. It made the pudding, and maybe the biggest problem was no ice cream to eat with it. But there's something a little off about the flavor. The pudding is a little, I don't know. Off somehow (remember, pregnant - texture is a Big Deal). I think it'd make a good fall dessert - maybe add chopped apples? - with the spices. The oatmeal maybe isn't great? But I think something is needed for body.

Kid friendly?
Yes - she also enjoyed helping make it. Easy.

Would I make it again?
Not as good as the brownie version, that's for sure, but given how easy and relatively tasty, a keeper. Now I just have to find the other version I clipped years ago and give that a go, too.

Here's the wrap up from last week, week 2. There were some yummy things tried.

Monday, July 21, 2008

gone missing

My sister was visiting last week and I took some time away from my computer. Which, sadly enough, did not distract me from the fact that the two interviews I had the week previously had said they were fast tracking and I'd hear something last week. Which I did not. I know, I've been on the hiring side often enough to know that you always say we're moving quickly and will decide next week and you never do. It's always two weeks or longer. Always. Except when it's not and you don't get the job.

I walked into this with more than a handful of solid, solid possibilities. I really thought something would work out. But after working through these, I've got nothing. Nothing else has materialized. And it scares me.

I'm a squirrel when it comes to money, and I've managed to build us up a solid emergency fund.
It would take us through birth and a maternity leave while still keeping the nanny. But to work through that emergency fund will be stressful. I need the security of knowing there's this pocket of money just in case.

My newest plan is to pimp out the nanny. Find ways to share her with neighbors or friends. I've got some possibilities - she already watches one of the neighbor's kids for about 10 hours per week, which has helped over the past 6 months or so. But to really help we need to share her with someone for a good 20-30 hours/week. Nanny pimp, that's my new career.

Plan C is up to my husband. We're going to have to sell back some of his shares of his old company. We're just going to have to. Somehow that topic has not come up again.

I've got nothing else this morning. Or afternoon. It's 1 pm and I've done nothing today, despite a long to-do list that could keep me busy until November.

What's on your to-do list today?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Whip it Up - Week 2

Well, a bit of a miss tonight. I'm just going to link to the recipe this time.

Creamy Gorgonzola Polenta with Summer Squash Saute

From Eating Well magazine. It has a small number of reviews and 3.5 stars (out of 4? dunno), but just didn't do it for me. One of the comments mentioned it wasn't solid enough right away. It was weird - the polenta was fine, exactly like it should be. Added the gorgonzola, took it off heat, stirred it a bit, all seemed fine, and went and played with my daughter for a few minutes as the rest of dinner cooked (meat eater husband and daughter were also having pork chops.) And came back after 5 minutes or so to find it totally liquid-y. It tasted ok, but nothing great. And now, as it continues to sit on the stove cooling, it's just getting more and more liquidy, which is seriously creeping me out. Bleah.

Here it is on my plate, not showing up well since I used white corn meal and plate is white:
And here it is in the pots on the stove. I wish I could convey how liquidy it is - there is absolutely no body left in it whatsoever. And folks, I make cheese grits quite frequently. And they are delicious. And this was not.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Yes, and much quicker than the 40 minutes listed.

Did it taste good?
Well, yeah, it did. I like gorgonzola. I mean the flavor was good. The texture was bleah.

Kid friendly?
HA. That's a hell no.

Would I make it again?
Probably not. Seriously squidged out by liquid polenta.

So what the hell happened?

aches and pains

This pregnancy is mostly the same as with my daughter, but for some reason, more aches and pains. Physical, not mental, though there are plenty of the latter, too.

I've been telling people recently that with my daughter's pregnancy, I did yoga twice a week, swam twice a week, walked home from work nearly every day - and, um, this time around? With a toddler? None of that. Even though I could be going to the gym every single day since I am not working, I'm just not exercising.

I'm known for loving shoes, and I wore nearly all my shoes throughout that pregnancy, most of which had 2 inch heels. This time around, being home, I'm wearing flip flops and going barefoot, and I think that is having a serious impact. My legs ache all the time. I wake up in the morning with stiff and sore legs. So now I'm thinknig I have to start wearing my tennis shoes with orthotic inserts. And I am really not enjoying the thought of that. I left stylish a long way back, but I'm not quite ready to completely surrender. I think a lot about getting a job and having to dress professionally every day and I wonder if I could physically handle that. I think with my daughter's pregnancy, I just kept doing what I was always doing, so it was fine. But this time, the thought of having to readjust to professional attire and shoes makes me cringe. Though I desperately want to have to suffer through it rather than continue barefoot and pregnant.

I did chat with the doctor last week about my hip issues. It's not sciatica, which is the nerve down the back of your leg, but definitely another nerve issue. My right hip goes numb. Mostly when laying on my right or left sides, but in some seated positions it starts tingling and I lose all feeling in a area about the size of my palm. The doctor gave me the oh so helpful just one of the lovely side effects of pregnancy answers, so I'm stuck. Sleeping, especially falling asleep, is miserable when you can't lie on your stomach, left side, or right side. Or back. I sleep sort of on my back, with a pillow shoved under my right hip/side to keep me a little off kilter.

And mentally? This has been a hard week, not pregnancy related but the marriage, the (not) working, the everything else. I don't know why. Just off kilter myself.

So, have you noticed your body slowing down as you've gotten older? Any more aches and pains that didn't used to be there?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

20 weeks

Just hit the 21 week mark, actually, and had the 20 week sonogram last week.

Everything "perfect." The tech kept pointing out things that could be bad - let me look at the heart because often the major vein and the major artery can be switched, ok, nope, looks great. Ok, let's look at the bones of the arms and legs because you can measure differences that might indicate....nope, all fine. Ok, the spine, let's make sure it's not open, nope. It was a running patter and she was quick, so it only got to me a little. Good grief there is a lot that can go wrong.

I think for once someone in my doctor's practice actually looked at and read my history in advance of seeing me, so I think she thought she was being helpful. I just looked at the screen as one fat tear rolled down the side of my face.

And that was it. The check up was just a chat with the doctor. I'm just one of the regular patients. Nothing different or unusual about me at all. And I don't know how I feel about that.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I am an interview rockstar

Except then they meet me and hate me. Sigh.

Highs and lows on the job-hunting front this week.

Just got a call this morning from my husband's employer. Not quite the fit they were looking for, so no dice. On the one hand, I did not want a job there and would have felt tremendous pressure to accept. On the other hand, wah! I want a job. Rejected by my husband's company? How pathetic is that. Except not in my field, only tangentially related to my skill set, etc. But still, rejection stings.

I told someone this past winter that I had never interviewed and then not been offered the job. Which I realized later was not true, but for the life of me I cannot remember when that might have happened, so I get to really feel the sting of rejection today.

But! Also this week I did a prescreen call with a new opportunity that came my way out of the blue. One of my friends, a former colleague, was visiting town this week and met at a party someone whose company was hiring, mentioned me, I passed my resume along, and whammo, prescreen interview. It's a consulting firm, so I don't have the corporate background, but they consult on issues where I was on the non-profit side, so I know the issues. I think I "passed" the call, but who knows. Should know in a week or so.

And then I was also called for another interview. I applied for this job back at the beginning of June, and the woman leading the hiring committee is someone I know from work together over 10 years ago. She told me at the time I seemed like a good candidate. So get this, screening call is AUGUST 6. Which might be followed by interview in SEPTEMBER. Giving the growing belly, I am not getting this job. Plus it would be a long, hour plus commute. But still, I had given up hope of even being called.

I interviewed with a friend's work in May. Was told at the time I was top candidate, they had to pull Board together, interview with whole Board in July. Friend now tells me it'll be August, if then. Perhaps September. Dammit.

And then I applied for the job I think I want most. It opened just last week, but it really might be the best - a prestigious large non profit, position is a deputy director. Again given life changes, that might be the best, plus best of all it's walking distance from my house. Perfect. And I know the director well. And I think we have a good relationship. I just hope they get their act together and interview soon.

So that plus my interview this week is my sum total for right now. I have my resume out, so maybe other things will work out, but I am running out of time.

So, how do I shake off rejection and keep moving ahead? How do you deal with rejection?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Whip It Up - Week 1

Went through my disorganized recipe clippings today and separated them into drinks, desserts, and the rest. Step 1 in getting them organized in a way that allows them to be useful. Found a recipe from, I think, either a Family Circle or Woman's Day circa who knows. But then I got flummoxed by ingredients and seasonality, so didn't quite make the recipe. I can't quite decide how to do this - I semi-followed a recipe, but not really at all. So do I post the recipe? Post my modified recipe? Post both? Hmm. Let me know what you think of this treatment.

Not really-Creamy Orzo with Asparagus and Prosciutto

Serves 4; Prep 10 minutes; Cook time 18 minutes

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (or, 3 cubes vegetable bouillon with 3 cups water)
1 1/3 cups (about 8 oz) orzo
1 Tablespoon olive oil (or, cooking spray)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 1/2 cups (about 3/4 pound) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (or, same amount green beans in favor of seasonal ingredients)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (or, none at all if it turns out your container of sour cream is growing a field of mold - ew!)
1/2 cup (1 oz) julienned proscuitto (or, bacon if you're broke and you've got bacon in the fridge)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (or, whatever kind of parsley is growing in garden - why does flat-leaf matter?)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium covered saucepan, bring broth and 1 cup water (4 cups water, 3 bouillon cubes) to a boil. Add orzo, then return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered until al dente (~11 minutes). Drain pasta and set aside the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking (oh for goodness sake, spray pan with Pam). Saute onion for about 1 minute or until it just begins to soften. Toss in asparagus (green beans) and saute for 2-3 more minutes (or 5, get impatient and turn heat up high and scorch onion and green beans). Remove from heat.

Add in orzo, 1 cup of reserved cooking liquid, sour cream (oops), prosciutto (nope), pepper and parsley, and stir until well combined. Divide among 4 bowls, top with Parmesan (and bacon!) and serve.

Nutrition (1 cup): 369 calories, 12 g fat (4 saturated), 49 g carbs, 16 g protein, 4 g fiber, 129 g calcium, 3 mg iron, 593 mg sodium.

Here's the green beans, onions, and broth simmering (trying to cook beans a tad bit more). Bacon cooking in other skillet.

And here's my plate with one slice bacon. I don't think I've ever said I used to be a vegetarian - since 1999. Though I went through my daughter's entire pregnancy and nursing without any meat, this spring I started adding bits and tastes and small amounts back into my diet. But very little. But bacon is good.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Yes, and modify.

Did it taste good?
Well, the sour cream mold experience threw a definite wrench in the works. Thankfully, it was perfectly fine without the sour cream, though I bet that would make it richer and smoother. Overall good. Actually I did not like it when I got tastes of parsley. Maybe non-Italian parsley makes a difference?

Kid friendly? (am adding question to official Whip It Up questions - see, cannot resist modifications)
Kid loves bacon, so ate her piece happily. Would not taste orzo until I said no popsicle til she had the one "no thank you" bite (eat one bite and if you don't like or want any more, you can say no thank you). After taste, I quote, "the rice has ..... something ....... spicy!" Note to those without a two year old - spicy is the kiss of death for a toddler. Not sure if she just happened to get a bit with one pepper flake in it? Who knows. I think under the right circumstances she'd eat it.

Would I make it again?
I think this makes it into regular rotation. Filling, tasty, cheap, relatively easy, and healthy. One downside - it used a bunch of pans, so a lot of cleanup (orzo pot, reserved liquid pot, bacon frying pan, skillet). We like easy all the way through.

So, whew, made it through week 1. Maybe my goal should be to have all my recipe clippings organized by week 8. Ha, hahaha.

What did you have for dinner tonight?

eta - so should have googled this recipe before posting to at least make an effort to find the source - Shape Magazine. Includes picture of how recipe should look. Also found another blogger who tried this and stayed truer to the recipe, though still modified. She liked it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

another interview

Back home having survived another interview. This one, I don't know. It's the funding organization, fairly high level, totally in my field with people I know and used to work with, very senior position. I am having a hard time imagining they'd want me, to be honest. I interviewed with the two people who would report to me, which sounds weird but was ok. I think they are screening people to see who they'd like, then the top people would do the second interview. I think the interview was mostly me catching up with one of the interviewers, learning what had changed in this organization over the past year or so as they've gone through a lot of changes. So if the metric was how would I click, I passed. She did tell me the position mostly required strategic visioning and positioning. I just don't think that's me. Maybe I am an implementer. I don't know. We'll see if they call. I kind of think they will, but wouldn't be surprised if they didn't. So curious who else they are interviewing, as the odds are high I know them if they're coming from inside the field.

A woman who used to work for me works for this organization, and in addition to feeding me inside info, is constantly telling me I'd be perfect for the job. I don't have that same confidence.

The senior people I know there are exactly that, senior. Really top notch, really smart. I'm smart, and I have over 15 years experience. I'm turning 40 this year. I have a child. I employ a nanny. I've survived hard, adult situations. I have gray hair (expertly covered up). I wear heels.

But I don't feel very adult. I don't think I'm a grownup. I don't feel like a senior person.

So what about you? Are you a grown up? When did you know you were an adult, or do you?

Monday, July 7, 2008

recipe clutter

I did end up joining Whip It Up, the recipe challenge. So by Thursday I have to do up a new recipe. The suggested theme is pasta. Hmmm. Any ideas?

A few years ago I decided to gather up all the magazines I had stashed around the house and organize them by month. Then, each month I had my reading material. My rule was read the magazine, rip out anything that was of slightest interest, and THROW the magazine out. I've been ruthlessly reading and tearing stuff out since. If I didn't make it through the pile of Januarys in January, I'd put the remaining in a stack and start in on February. And now not so many magazines left scattered around the house. It would all probably fit on one stack, but I've made good progress this Spring.
I've been filing the ripped out pieces in manila folders - gardening, jewelry, exercise routines, craft projects, blah blah blah. And recipes - those are the bigger files on the right. They're "organized" in the sense that there is one folder for desserts and a second, larger, for everything else. Nice, huh? Aren't I organized? But then there's this - I also clip recipes out randomly and shove them in a drawer in the kitchen. Though a few years ago I decided to make a binder out of recipes we tried and liked and so were staples (instead of forgetting there was a recipe there and didn't we like some squash recipe out of this book or that book? Or was it broccoli?

You'd think this wouldn't be hard, given these resources, including my thankfully reasonably sized recipe book collection -
There's $10 in our checking account and my husband gets paid on Friday. And we're out of all fruit and veggies, so in the interest of a balanced diet for my two year old that's where the money is going (though I found a can of peaches in the back of the cabinet tonight, so that's covered for couple of days). Now, my check will clear on Wednesday, so I'll be flush (ha) then. That leaves tomorrow to find a recipe. For something pasta. Or not, the suggested theme is just that, a theme. Yeah. I didn't think this would be this hard when I signed up. Actually I sort of hoped it might make me organize the various clippings cluttering my house.

The dill, oregano, sage, and parsley are all doing well, so maybe something summery and herb-y.
Even the basil is doing great, despite pest invasion.
So, whaddya think? Any ideas for me?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

quick hits

It's been a busy few days.

Finally called my doctor today, nearly 3 weeks after my appointment. AFP fine, no anemia, every other test fine. Whew. 20 week sonogram next week.

I got the check from my old company and deposited it, so, let's see, I'll actually get the damn money next Tuesday. Grrr.

The thing about this period of waiting, and related to my last post - I feel greedy. I feel I'm constantly thinking about money and that's an unattractive place to be. At least now the intense pressure is off, we have the cushion that will last through August. This will help me relax. Lisse is right, it's hard to enjoy this period of time off because I'm too stressed about the next - next job, next paycheck. So I'm going to try to enjoy this weekend at least.

The bad news - I have to admit I tried to pull one over on my last job. A small one, just to thumb my nose, but sadly it did not work. When it was all going smoothly, I used the corporate card to buy a printer. And I didn't hand the printer in. And the lawyer e-mailed me to ask. On the one hand, dammit, the agreement is all signed and the check is here (but not cleared) so I spent some time trying to figure out if I could ignore it. On the other hand, well, yeah, I was trying to pull one over on them, to the tune of a couple hundred bucks. It's a great printer. But I guess next week I have to hand it over. And sadly I don't think it would be wise to buy another right now, though it was damn convenient to have. But that's it. I don't want to hear from them again. Ever. I want to know if there's a way to block their e-mail. My husband suggested routing it to junk, but I want a way to automatically send a reply back saying my e-mail address is no longer valid (without changing my e-mail, of course). Is that possible? Maybe the best is to set up an auto reply.

And! I have another interview!! This job is in my field, a high level manager job for a funding organization. That's right, no begging for money - handing out money. Super duper for my resume, but high intensity. I have a lot of contacts at the organization, including one insider who is talking me up to the right people and who says I'm a top candidate. Interview next week. I seriously think it's more job than I want (or can handle), but boy would it be a prestigious job if I got it. Would really set me up nicely to do a lot of things after a few years. For now I'll just enjoy being called for an interview. And study, study, study.