Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Recession Diet (Part One)

If you're anything like me, and let's hope for your sanity you're not, then you go to the grocery store almost every day. Even if it's only to pick up that one item you're lacking to complete the list of needed ingredients for what you've planned on making for Supper. Is that what the last meal of the day is officially called? I always get confused because my Grandma calls one of them Dinner and one Supper and I can never remember which is which.

Anyway, it adds up. I've been doing a detailed budget recently and the amount I've been spending on groceries is really a lot higher than I'd like it to be. Gordon, you may insert your jokes about my appetite ______ here. The truth is, not being totally organized about meal planning and indecisive about what I'd like us to have for supper?Dinner? every day puts a strain on Ye Olde Wallet.

I realize that times are hard financially for many, many people right now and in an effort to save money and squeeze out some creative juices (believe me it's much more awesome than it sounds) I've proposed to my Mother (Whose house I am STILL at) that we see just how long we can go before we go to the Grocery Store for ANYTHING. Now, I may fail miserably at this (Cough, cough, green experiment, cough, cough), BUT I think it will be fun.

I've recently been doing the South Beach Diet to lose the rest of this unsightly baby blubber and so far it's worked like a charm. I actually only have a few more pounds to go before I'm to my pre Ari weight- That is another post in and of itself- and I realize that in order to do this it will require that I give myself some liberty in the diet department. My little heart just leapt for joy at the thought of eating bread.

So, here's the plan:
We will make meals from whatever we can with WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE in this house.

We will eat food that has been frozen in the freezer since Hoffa went missing (Only a little kidding). That may include small, helpless creatures that my Father and Brother killed.

I will give you the recipes for whatever we come up with.

And if you have come up with anything out of ingredients you had on hand....please share the recipe and a photo if you can and I'll share it here.

Tonights dinner : BLT's and Green Giant Broccoli and Cheese (and at this stage its going to be easy....stay tuned for a week from now when we're eating stewed rabbit glazed with Strawberry Jam and served with potato eyes and canned asparagus)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Home and The Realization of Contentment

Many years ago, when my parents took us to the 1800's farmhouse that they wanted to buy, I cried. It had no air conditioning and smelled like moth balls and remorse. Even worse was the location. It sat in a town outside of Indianapolis that had nothing to offer a nineteen year old girl with a penchant for the night life. Just small town, middle American charm nestled quietly in the midst of corn and soy beans.

Now ten years later, their loving, hand toiled restoration of this house has made it a place I treasure. It has been a source of respite for me in times of great hardship and pain. It is listed in the registry of Historical Places and once upon a time it was called The Lemon Drop House because the woman who lived here would leave a bowl of Lemon Drop candies just inside for the neighborhood children. Times have sure changed, huh?

Red Geraniums, a sign of summer. I used to to hate them and the way they smelled. Now, they are a beacon, a reminder of home. And when I pull up to the front of this house, they remind me of my family and that I am home.

These stairs. I have climbed them more times than I can recall.
Drunk, and very quietly in the middle of the night so as not to get caught.
Fast, two at a time, up to the top, to slam my door in youthful angst and protest at the dictatorship of my parents.
Wistful and swooning. In love for the first and last time.
Offering goodbyes as I left for what I thought would be the last time on my wedding night.
Up to the top again and again as I returned after Hurricanes, deaths, deployments, and babies.
I have knocked myself out running down these stairs.
And one time the mailman saw me naked because I was forever forgetting my towel as I made a mad dash up the stairs to my room.
After a decade, I know every place they creak and every loose spindle. And I know at the top is a room that will forever be mine. Where I will forever be their child.

A room full of books. A better place I cannot think of. Well, maybe if they added a movie popcorn machine it would really rock my world. On these shelves sit The Harvard Classics and from these books came the great enlightening of my mind. You can travel anywhere without leaving the room.
There is a dent on this sofa where my Father's butt has resided for the better part of the last decade. It is oddly comforting to fall into it and then to heave ho myself out of it in a rocking motion. Only not so much while I was pregnant.

Oh, the conversations that have been had on this porch.
Discussions celebrating the life of loved ones lost.
Pontifications about life, God, and things much headier than who Jennifer Aniston is dating.
I have sipped coffee and iced tea in this place and waved at neighbors bicycling past and finally realized that all the other things I used to think were important were just emptiness. And chasing the wind.

I washed my second child in the glow of the amber light to the tranquil sound of the rain on the honeysuckle vines. As I felt her soft skin and examined my aging hands against it, I pondered the journey I have made. I wonder why it took me so long and so many bumps along the way, to finally understand what this life is all about. I wonder if it was the only way to get me to appreciate it. Would these moments be as sweet if I had not experienced the bitterness of pain? Would I love so deeply if I had not felt the searing ache of losing so many? Would I enjoy a life unencumbered by material possessions if I had not lost everything? I can't answer these questions because I'll never know. But, however I got here, I am glad to be at this place. Content.

For so long I vowed to leave this place at the first opportunity. And I did. And I came back to this place. Time and time again. Now when I am away from it I long for the quiet. A quiet punctuated by the laughter of children, and crickets, and the occasional barking dog. It is a stillness and a quiet that allow you to breathe. I have come full circle on this part of my journey. And I am better for it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Secrets of a Disney Princess

Well, folks, we've entered the Disney Princess phase. I don't mind it so much that she likes princesses, but I'm just not a big fan of uber-merchandised goods plastered with the likeness of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. I can only take so many character themed objects before my head explodes from their collective Disney perfection.

I think I've logged more hours watching Snow White in the last week than I have slept and that makes for an interesting day. I find myself breaking out into a spontaneous rendition of "Whistle While You Work" as I'm changing a poopy diaper. In watching all of these movies I have noticed a definite formula required to become a princess. And just in case you were wondering what skills you needed to list on your resume before applying at The Disney Castle, I'll help you out.

1) A true Disney princess must not have a Mother and should ideally posses a cruel Step-Mother who is jealous of her virginal beauty.. This is crucial as it lends to our sympathetic view of the poor dear.

2) She should be forced into manual drudgery and wear simple, patched clothing for most of the day. But she never lets those minor details keep her down because although she has no human friends, she.......

3) Should be able to talk to animals of all sorts in a high pitched yet soothing voice. She is never, ever cruel to these animals (ELLIE, ARE YOU LISTENING?) even when she puts them to work.

4) She is a tidy housekeeper (probably from all the years of drudgery) and frets whenever she sees a mess. She will always tidy up a room, usually with the help of her furry friends, and almost always while singing.

5)She is a virgin. (Sorry to 99.999% of you applicants out there that just became disqualified) and furthermore, she has never been kissed. Her first kiss will be tantamount to losing her virginity and she will then promptly get married before she ignites in flames of red hot Disney passion and live happily ever after.

Why don't we ever see the Princess after she rides off into the sunset with Prince Charming? Well, it's just my opinion, but I think it's because: She gets pregnant on her wedding night, has a child every other year, her perky Disney breasts fall down to her knees and there isn't a Victoria's Secret within a thousand mile radius of the Castle to help her out, Prince Charming takes a lover(s), Princess goes on Zoloft, develops saddlebags and liver spots, goes on Dancing with The Stars only to trip over her gown during practice and break a hip, is nursed back to health by the woodland creatures and fairy folk, and then (deeeep breath) develops breast cancer from drinking out of water bottles that she let sit in her carriage all day and get hot. By this time she's the one saying, "Mirror, Mirror on the wall" And so on and so forth. And, you know what? I kinda like it that way.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mommy's A Cow

All right dudes, this one isn't for you. So, please leave now or forever hold your peace.

Admittedly, I had a lot going on in my life in the way of "stressors" when Elsbeth was born. Oh, like say, hurricanes, deaths, deployments, and a particularly high number of people from Nigeria wanting to give me a lot of money for no apparent reason other than the fact that I am a "Dear Sister or Brother in Christ". So, when I attempted to breastfeed I was a little preoccupied. And it was hard. My mother who had breastfed both my brother and I and had gone on and on about how amazing it was and how she could practically eat her weight in powdered donughts every day and just about wither away, was not with me. For the first few weeks I was alone in Mississippi and she was in Indiana. I needed help. A lot of women do. It's not always as easy as we are sometimes led to believe.

I relied on what I had been told at the hospital for my success, and that was that babies need to eat every three hours. So that's what I did. I put her on a schedule of feedings every three hours. Even in the early days. It breaks my heart to look back at videos from those first few weeks of her life to see her fussing and rooting looking for food while I am standing by, oblivious, because, well, it hadn't been three hours so she SURELY couldn't be hungry. As women I think we have grown so accustomed to relying on the advice of books and Doctors that we have forgotten how to hear that little voice inside of us that guides us in the ways of Mothering. It is our Mother instinct and I had practically muzzled mine for the advice of men who had never borne a child but claimed to be experts in the ways of this womanly art.

So because of this schedule I had poor Ellie on, my milk never really came in. And when someone suggested after I had fed her that she still seemed hungry and that perhaps I should give her some formula to top her off, well that's exactly what I did. And without my knowledge, this further decreased my milk supply. Because with the 'ole udders, it's all about supply and demand. Baby demands it; my body supplies it. But I just didn't know. I was ignorant. And the women of previous generations either weren't there to instruct me in this ancient and intimate process or had no experience themselves in the era of easily accessible formula.

And just like that, in the course of only a few months, the nursing of my firstborn was over. And, I'll be honest, in some ways my life was easier. I could wear whatever I wanted without having to ponder whether or not my kid could have easy access to "The Milk Bar". Anyone could feed her and I could get a few minutes to myself. But ultimately, the bigger part of me felt a tiny light go out in the newly developing part of my soul that is reserved for the Mother in me.

With my second pregnancy, I vowed I would not repeat my past mistakes and do it differently, and this time I would succeed. And so when the whole thing with my eye came into play and I was told I wouldn't be able to breastfeed because of the medication I was on, I felt crushed. Because that's how important a goal it had become to me. I would rather risk losing my eye than not be able to nurse my baby. And so I refused my medicine. That's right, I REFUSED to take medicine that could potentially prevent me from going blind. I just started listening to that little voice that urges me on and sometimes tells me to relax. Luckily, so far it hasn't asked me to go to the kitchen and grab a knife. That's quite a relief.

In preparation for this monumental task I read. A lot. I was better informed this time and resolved that every time that baby made a peep, blinked an eye, or hiccuped I was going to stick a boob in her mouth. And that's what I did. For several weeks. My Husband commented that it seemed like all I ever did was feed the baby because it was true. So I fed and I pumped and I pumped and I fed, and by the end of six weeks you could have tanned leather with my nipples but, by God, I was finally a cow! And I mean that in the most, glorious and reverent way possible.

It was my body alone, and what God had provided me with that was keeping my child alive. And not only keeping her alive, but nourishing her,growing her; fattening her up. It was the biggest boost of self confidence that I have ever experienced. Even more than the time that I fit into my Mom's size four pants.

And so here we are four and a half months later and we're still going strong. She has never had a drop of formula, not because I think that's wrong, but because I haven't had to give her any. I have shifted from one school of thought to another. Before I guess, like alot of women in our culture, I viewed these things on my chest as something to be admired and hidden away. Now, they are even more beautiful despite the fact that they are love worn to the point of being almost unrecognizable to their former, more perky selves. They have become a life source. And the source of me. Coming into my own as a Mother.

As most of you who have followed this blog for some time realize, I'm not one for mushy, estrogen laden sentiment, but the bond I have with this child at this stage is beyond my comprehension. It is she and I. Me and she. We function almost as if the cord of blood and water was never severed. The fact that she's my bunk mate night after precious night doesn't hurt either.

Oh, and my eye. It's fine.