2008 can kiss my (broken) *ss

My final days spent enjoying what's left of 2008? Let's see... backed into my brother-in-law's car with our as-yet pristine Jetta (son of a...!), and fell at the dog park onto the ice with a downward force I can't even imagine exists in nature. My tailbone? Broken, I think.

2008, I'm SO done with you!!!

I have to sign off now, because my head is throbbing. I think my tailbone injury sent shock waves all the way up my spine and through my brain. I have a massive headache.


Merry Christmas!

Wishing a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season to you and yours!


Everyone's a critic

Seriously, before you freak out about me being on the furniture. I have some good ideas for a post... Something a little more upbeat for your audience during the holidays. You're sorta stuck in this Debbie Downer genre lately... it's overused. What? Yeah, downer, that's what I said. I said downer. Oh, you mean, you're saying, down? Like you want me to get dow... HEY! HEY! Watch the fur, lady - I don't stay this pretty by allowing people to manhandle me all day long...


The recipe portion of this blog

I think I mentioned that we're hosting a party this Friday evening, and that I settled on a wine and appetizers theme? Well, I came across a recipe for Maple-Spiced Nuts in the latest Health Magazine, and figured I'd try it since I always like to serve nuts as part of a cold appetizer spread and I also always like to eat them. They came out pretty yummy, so I thought I'd share the recipe. I already had all the ingredients in the house, which I'm guessing most of you would too.

  • 1 and 1/2 cup nuts (I used almonds and cashews and those worked well, but I think peanuts would've been good too)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (I used maple syrup made by monks and tapped from the trees on the campus of Hubs' college, but I'm guessing you might not have that particular kind on hand...)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • a sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 and then bake the nuts on a greased baking sheet for 10 minutes; let them cool a bit.

Slowly bring the maple syrup to a boil in a pot; add the butter to the syrup and stir. Add the already baked nuts to the mixture and coat them; remove from heat and let cool.

In a bowl, mix the cinnamon and chili powder. Remove the nuts from the pot with a slotted spoon and coat them in the spice mixture.
Lay them flat to dry on a cookie sheet or baking pan and sprinkle with sea salt (do this before they dry though - I did it afterward and the sea salt didn't stick at all).

Let them dry and that's it - they're really good!

I'm also planning to make Spicy Orange Garlic Shrimp, a recipe I found on Momofonefornow's blog from Pastor Ryan. Also REALLY REALLY tasty.


The Grinch can keep Christmas. This year, I don't even want it back.

This season it's been really hard for me to get into the holiday spirit. For so many reasons. It's been a tough few months for us, and we're a bit worn down from it. Hubs and I've been trying to support one another through this rough time, so that's helped a lot. But alas, I'm not feeling the Merry in the good ol' Merry Christmas. At all. And this week there's no hiding from the holidays.

Wednesday kicks off our Christmas celebration with dinner and presents at the ILs followed by Midnight Mass. Then Christmas day we'll attend the extended family party, which should be fun but will also be A LOT of people. I genuinely like Hubs' extended family, but it's never easy to smile and act happy when, after all is said and done, it's only an act. Friday we're hosting a get-together with all of Hubs' high school friends, some of whom are only in town for a short time, and that should be a little more easy going. We've decided on a themed event: a wine tasting party with everyone bringing a bottle of their favorite wine. That way, I easily slip right through the hosting loop hole by only serving appetizers :)

On New Year's Day Hubs leaves for Las Vegas for his final (most likely) bachelor party. The last of his single buds is getting hitched this summer, so the guys need to send him off in style. I'm not sure what Hero and I'll be doing that weekend, but suffice it to say it'll involve a lot of girl stuff.

What? What? He's neutered. He doesn't care. He likes the Lifetime channel.

Happy holidays, everyone!!!


Negative? That's affirmative.

Hero and I just survived the dog park in -6 degree temperatures.



Last night I burned the bottom of my slipper off because I had it propped up against the glass partition of the fireplace. Who knew it got that hot? I moved my foot and left behind... a rubber splotch. Hubs, lying on the couch, said calmly, "I kinda thought that might happen." Which is just what he said on Friday night after Hero stole my slice of pizza right off my plate and dropped it *twice* face down on the carpet before scarfing it up. Apparently this weekend Hubs had a short delay from the time he thought something to the time said words of wisdom came out of his mouth. Too bad, because his warnings were always dead on.

Today I went to lunch and then to see the movie Four Christmases with my friend B. It was cute. A nice holiday story.

I also finally feel slightly normal after two and three-quarters months: I'm back on my cycle. That only took, um, forever. But it really feels wonderful, like now I have something in my life I can depend on once again. Who knew something that once upon a time was such a pain in the ass could now be such a welcome occurance?


Winter wonderland

Are you beginning to realize that when we have kids, Hero will have an upsetting wake-up call? Because he's totally doted on. He's our baby, and he knows it. We take a million pictures of him, and basically the household revolves around him. He's loved about as much, and as seriously, as a puppy could be.
Anyway, today we took him to the dog park. It's snowing nonstop, and by Sunday we're expected to have about a half foot (which isn't a lot considering, but it's very light flurries). It's about 20 degrees, so it's actually lovely to be outside. And as has been the case for the past week or two, the world here is white.

I really want this... please.... give it... I want it... give it...


"Can I offer you a life jacket?"

Just when I really want to throw down and succumb to outright, hopeless MISERY, someone offers me a tiny glimpse of hope. Yes, folks, this is my life lately - people are so relentlessly SWEET, kind, and helpful that I'm simply unable to hit rock bottom, much as I may want to.

Hubs' boss may have two interesting projects for me, both of which would allow me to delve into slightly new terrain on the same professional landscape my career path is already etched from. All I need is a foot in the door, and I must say this man is going out of his way to offer me a crack just big enough that I can wedge my Nine West bootheel right inside.

Who knows, it could go everywhere and it could go nowhere. But it's melting my icy heart that he's determined to keep me in his peripheral vision. They say you create your own luck, and I've certainly done my share of professional networking by weaseling my way into Hubs preexisting professional enclave. But people have welcomed me every time, and asked that age old question, "What do you want to be doing?" Following it up, generously and without fail, by suggesting, "Maybe I can help...?"

This has also been true of my wonderful bloggy friends, who have done the same. Regardless of different fields of work, continent-spanning geography, or the fact that they don't know my real name.

So thank you, everyone, for refusing to let me sink so low that I forget which way is up.


Paging the super-ego...

The id is in da hizzouse.

I want to kill someone. I want to grab someone, whoever I can determine to be responsible for this shitty economy and the downspiral of my hard-earned career, AND KILL THEM. I know this is irrational. I know that only people who truly believe they will succeed, do. I know that optimism is crucial and that worse things have happened to far better people. I know all of this. But after I've finished searching, trying, having faith, waiting, and maintaining a positive attitude, I still find myself WANTING TO KILL SOMEONE.

Aren't you glad you only run into me in cyberspace and not on the street? I promise, if the urge to do harm graduates to a strong probability of action, I'll summon one of the higher entities within the structural model of my psyche and beg for intervention.


...that ends well

Okay, I fear I may have upset some of you with my JSC story, so I figured I owe you the happy ending. The happy ending is that this woman, suddenly all alone with two children under five, found true love within a year and is now with a wonderful, sane, financially responsible man. Who adores her kids. And appears, for all intents and purposes, to be her "The One."

Happy, right?


I'm cute, right? Am I cute?


You'll never find it in a psych text book, but...

One of the great things about my life is that I have a sister who is wonderful at empathizing. She does it perfectly. First, she listens. Then she says, "That does suck." Then she may or may not offer helpful solutions, depending on whether I'm open to that or would prefer a good wallow. And then, she offers me a gem or two from her Jerry Springer Collection. Her JSC is an arsenal of stories she has saved up, some about her, most about her friends or friends of friends, that will invariably make anyone else feel lucky simply because they are not that person.

For example, tonight she told me about a friend's friend, let's call her S. S had two children at the time that her life fell apart. Her husband went on a trip to Vegas and came back acting very weird. Saying weird things, moping around all moody and depressed, skipping work. After a week, S confronted him about his behavior, suggesting (as I might do in such a situation) that he get over himself and suck it up. His response? He started accusing her that his children were "the spawn of the devil." S became so fearful for her own and her children's well being that she immediately threw them in the car, with no shoes! (C always adds the perfect level of detail to her stories), and drove them around for two hours. At which point she returned to the house to see if her husband had calmed down. Turned out, he hadn't. He'd taken a shot gun and began shooting off the deck into the backyard, prompting a neighbor to call the police. Then, when the police arrived, he shot himself. S pulled into her driveway and was greeted by squad cars and yellow tape. Later she found out that her husband had lost all their money. I'm not sure if that happened in Vegas, or was not related to said trip at all.

Anyway, that tale has a happy ending (believe it or not, I know it's hard to believe it!). But it served its immediate purpose. All night I've been thinking, no matter how bummed I am right now, thank God I'm not her.

Most people will tell you this kind of misery one-upsmanship is not actually helpful to people who are upset. As a therapist by training I'd tell you that too. But her JSP works every time. Like ice cream for a scraped knee: it shouldn't help in the healing process, but it does.


Frozen over. Not hell, but close. We call it... Minnesota.

Eleven below zero.


Very cool give-away in blogland! And naughty Hero update...

So I was so excited to read today that Deb at From Stilettos to Sneakers is having her first ever blog give-away! I only glanced at it briefly, but looks like the prize is a 6-month subscription to The Six O’Clock Scramble, which "is an online meal planning service that sends you five quick and easy, healthy, delicious, family-friendly recipes." If that sounds as good to you as it does to me, head over to her blog to check it out! I can't wait to do it!

On a Hero-related note, the little guy stole and destroyed my Calvin Klein silver-rimmed glasses this morning. Not my only pair of glasses, but by far my favorite and an old standby, since they're so simple and you can't go wrong with silver rims. Oh, yeah, and then he bit me multiple times as I tried to oh-so-calmly-and-gently pry my $200 pair of eyewear from his maniacal and evil teeth.

Ah, joy!

I have to write a post about our experience last night at Hubs' boss' Christmas gathering, because it was so wonderful. It's a great community we now belong to, and we're blessed to be a part of such a truly special group of people. But the stories are also VERY funny (those quirky monks and priests!), so I'll share them soon!


Some random updates on McLife

  • Last night we went and picked out a new washing machine. I couldn't be without one for very long, because I love clean clothes and laundry. Although probably not more than most women I know who went a period in their early twenties without a washer/dryer in house and had to frequent the laundry matt. I think that stays with you, so that when you outgrow that phase in your life you're never willing to go back.
  • Today I took Hero to the dog park in 3 degree weather. I actually didn't get as cold as I thought I would because since I was convinced I might die out there halfway through the loop and be found this weekend by park patrol, I made a concerted effort to run and play with Hero so that my body temperature would rise. Which meant I lived to see the car again, and we had a blast. Win-win.
  • Tonight I'm going to a social at Hubs' boss' house. All of the men Hubs supervises will be there, including many monks, the previous president of the college, and the current VP. Hubs has an odd supervisory role where he's evaluating men who in some respects hold much higher positions than he does. Talk about nerve wracking. Anyway, they're a very fun crowd and I'm looking forward to it. We've also heard many times over that Hubs' boss' house is gorgeous, so I'm excited to finally see it. I'm not excited to get out of my sweats and apply makeup, but that's the price you pay.
  • I feel like we have a busy weekend ahead (which is how I feel pretty much every weekend). We have Hero's puppy class on Saturday and then also have a Christmas party with our closest sets of friends. Sunday we're going to the orchestra with Hubs' parents and brother and then going out to dinner. In between all that, my goals include cleaning out the garage, a project on which we've made some serious headway the past week or so. We finally listed an entertainment center and boat-shaped sandbox on Craigslist, so were able to get rid of those. Now we still have a dining room table that belongs to Hubs' parents, an old filing cabinet and chandelier that need to go to the dump, and a coffee table we might put in the family room once we fix its broken leg. My goal is to have all major obstacles cleared from the garage asap, which means we need to deliver that table back to Hubs' parents and take the filing cabinet and chandelier to the dump. Then, we're free to organize the garage like crazy! YES! My dream is to have the kind of garage we often noticed on our walks through the neighborhood this summer: the kind that made us go "ooooooo" when the door opened and we voyeristically peered inside and glimpsed the immaculate organizational structure. Hubs just kinda went "huh" but I drooled and always said pointedly, "that's how I want ours to look!" I don't think Hubs shares my need for a garage that's as clean and orderly as the inside of the house, but I for one want our bikes suspended on racks and our tools easily grabbed from labeled drawers.
  • Everyone's comments on the temp thing were SO supportive and helpful you have no idea - so thanks for sharing all your good experiences and making that step a lot less scary! I was so relieved to read how some of you have found good jobs that way, or have a friend or family member who lucked out in their assignment.

That's it for now, no exciting updates as of yet so keep sending positive vibes my way if you've got 'em to spare! And have a great start to the weekend!

P.S. I promise to catch up on my blog reads this weekend! :)


A little bit of happy with your morning coffee

Things are looking up, but I can't say more than that yet - hopefully I'll have good news soon, and you'll be granted a reprieve from my constant whining!


Change your mind

I spent this morning mourning our washer - it's dead. Repairs estimated at $472, or more to the point repairs estimated at the cost of a new washer. Then, in the midst of a flat out financial tizz, I finally relented and set up an interview for tomorrow with a temp agency downtown.

After all that misery, I spent the afternoon having lunch at the Olive Garden and walking around Target playing with children's toys with my new friend C who is a stay-at-home mom. C tends to hit her wits end around Wednesday, so when she called saying she had daycare for a few hours I jumped at the chance to leave my sorrows behind and get out of the house.

And now I'm back, waiting for Hubs to come home so we can go to the Sears Appliance Store. He's working late, so it's just me and Hero. And I'm eating fish sticks for dinner.

I'm trying very hard not to feel sorry for myself. But I gotta tell you, today it's a challenge.


Luck is a four letter word

I just took Hero to the dog park, so typing this post is a little hard because my hands are still a teensy bit frozen. It's 16 degrees here! 16!!!!! Holy. Crap.

Today is Hubs' birthday, so I'm working on baking his birthday cupcakes.

Our washer has been making a really unpleasant clanking noise as it spins out. It's a front load washer and the spinning can be a little intense anyway, but now it's positively frightening. Hero flips out when it goes all jet aircraft on us, and barks at the little window through which you can watch the clothes flying around. I thought this was valiant of him at first, until I realized that the moment I come to check out what's going on he retreats. If it's a monster, I guess he's okay with it eating me. After all, he's got a bone in the living room so he's got things to do. Anyway, the Sears repair guy comes tomorrow. I kinda feel like we might be getting ripped off by Sears. But we don't know who else to call - we don't have a local handyman whose help we can enlist for a significantly lower rate.

Lately I've been stuck in a funk (if you follow my blog at all I realize this is not news to you). I just want a job, and it's screwing everything up that I don't have one yet. Hubs and I are getting stressed about funds, and its definitely negatively impacting our relationship. The baby project is on hold until we're more comfortable because who wants to have a baby and lie awake at night worrying about the price of, um, everything? Not us. A couple of days ago, after substantial reason to think I might need to, I took a pregnancy test and actually was relieved when it came back negative. Since the substantial reasons have yet to subside, I still get nervous just thinking about it. Which sucks, because I desperately want a baby but I'm in this weird place where at the moment, I don't. Or more accurately, I can't. I know it can't be perfect, the whole getting pregnant and having kids thing, but it can be better than it would be if it happened right now.

All of this plus the fact that I have no need for 7/8th of the clothes in my closet and my makeup drawer gets less use than our avacado slicer (which, in case you're not sure about this comparison, gets no use).

We're lucky that we have one problem: my need for a job. We could have more. But we seem to be very unlucky in the fact that a good job is ridiculously hard to find. And I'm not being incredibly picky, although I'm determined to work in a field that utilizes my degrees and professional training (I mean, I gotta justify the student loan!).

I know I whine about the job thing a lot, but I'm doing what I can to remedy the situation. I just hope that things turn around soon. I'm tired of putting our lives on hold.


Oh, Potter!

One of my friends had told me that the newest Harry Potter movie was due out around Thanksgiving, so I've been waiting for it - we'd agreed to see it together with our husbands. But turns out it's not due to be released until July 2009! So disappointing!

At least it's Harry Potter Weekend on ABC Family. I heart ABC Family.


We giveth, we taketh away

We gave Hero a couch. He's never been allowed on our living room sofas, because they're white. So we brought down an old loveseat and moved some furniture around so it would sit directly under our giant picture window. Hero loves the loveseat. He sits on the back of it and looks outside, and lies on it with his ball. And he knows it's his. Well, yesterday bright and early our dog trainer came and told us it's not a good idea for him to have the loveseat, he hasn't earned it. The loveseat should go. Which, decoratively speaking, is a-okay with me because it's ugly. But it's awfully sad for Hero :(

It's a perfect snowy Sunday. Great day to be snuggled on the couch. And I'm wicked sick, which makes it a great time to be stuck indoors.


Self proclaimed

Today I count myself among the top ten doggie mamas in the world. Why? Two reasons. First, Hero freaked out for some reason when we kenneled him last night and barked like mad for 30 minutes before I decided that, since his reaction was so unusual, I would give in and go get him. Since Hubs needed his rest (he was exhausted after giving two major presentations to the board of directors yesterday), I slept downstairs on the couch with the crazy little fur nugget. But he didn't really want to sleep. He wanted to keep waking me up to make sure there was really a live person beneath the giant white and black checkered blanket. So, sick as a dog but on the upswing, I got no sleep last night. Hence, this morning, I'm careening on a major downswing.

Still, despite the 20 degree temps and the overwhelming urge to fall into bed FOREVER, we find ourselves at reason # two that I'm self-nominating. I took him to the dog park. My head was pounding, my hands were frozen and so numb I couldn't feel anything except pain (how does that work, exactly, that no senstation other than pain can come through?), but it was well worth it to see the giant dog smile on his face as he ran around like crazy in the snowy woods. And now he's curled at my feet as I lie on the couch by the fire. The thing about Hero lately is that everything you put in you get back tenfold. Trust is being built daily, and it's so rewarding to gain his loyalty and devotion.


Wrapping it up

I haven't done a Spin Cycle in so long (sorry!) so I finally decided that I'm going to jump back in. This week's topic is the year in review, so for those of you who haven't been around for the whole ride, here's where I've been in 2008:

  • we recovered from the Wedding Extravaganza of 2007 and I started my life as Mrs. Mac
  • I passed my big certification exam with flying colors
  • Hubs got a new job in his hometown Minnesota
  • we bought our first home
  • I quit my job
  • we moved halfway across the country
  • I struggled to find a new job comparable to my old one
  • we adopted a very bad dog!
  • we lost a baby
  • we contracted a very expensive dog trainer!
  • we hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the first time
I think those are the highlights. Hopefully 2009 will bring:
  • a job for me, or possibly a start to a whole new career
  • a baby
  • another year of wedded bliss with my wonderful Hubs

Not too much to ask for, is it? Well, okay, maybe it could be. But I guess when I take a step back and look at what we already have, I can honestly say Hubs and I are blessed in many ways. I can't complain. So, for once, I won't.


Start good habits young

Hero just stole half of my clementine. It was a good one, but easy to peel, so I'm not too upset. If I'd suffered through peeling an entire orange and he'd ungratefully gulped it down in one bite, I'd be a bit more pissed off. Whatever, at least he got some vitamin C. I figure it's better if he steals healthy food. When he stuck his snout in my bowl of ice cream and Hershey's syrup last night I was very unhappy with the sugar content he'd consumed.

What I want to know is, how big is his stomach anyway? Bigger than half a clementine? How can he fit it in there when he didn't even chew up it up first?


Rearview mirror perspectives

I have a lot of nerve. After whining about the stress of having my whole family here for the holidays, I'm now going to whine about how sad I am that they're all gone.


But I can't help it - I took it for granted that for two weeks straight I could wake up every morning and hear my mom, with her thick German accent, talking downstairs. I took for granted that Jack would accompany me to Home Depot, and share funny stories on the car ride there and back. I took for granted that my sister would borrow my clothes, and that we'd sit downstairs at night and drink milk and eat brownies. I took for granted that my nieces would scream in delight and terror over Hero (at about 6:30am). I took for granted that TO would best my scores on Snood and knock me off the high score board. I took for granted that Mookie would, well, do whatever it is that Mookie does :)

I'm blessed with a family that when they're around, even though they may drive you nuts at times, makes you feel like you're wrapped in a warm blanket and bouncing on a safety net that will never tear or break. To me, family means unconditional love and support. It's supposed to mean that for everyone, but I realize it's the luck of the draw, and I lucked out.


Don't mind the puppy gates...

Ignore the puppy gates and believe, as we so foolishly do, that someday they won't be necessary :) Here's the floor! After two days of hard work, and now I'm sick as a dog. But my stepdad is a pro - he was great to work with and I learned a lot and, as I mentioned before, am now addicted to home improvement.

Especially because that room is still a disgusting blue with purple accents, with a textured gray paint under the chair rail. Yes, the chair rail - how not our style! It's next on my project list...

New chandelier (bad picture, but it was really hard to take a picture of that with the window behind it):
Last night I told Hubs I organized all his tools in the downstairs storage room. "Why didn't you leave them in the garage?" he asked.

"Because it's too cold in the garage, and I want to be able to use the tools too."

"Since you're so handy now?"



A happy holiday, after all

I can't honestly say what was so wrong that first couple of days that my family was here, but suffice it to say I'm over it, I appreciate that I have so many people in my life who love me, and I am okay. Not great, not employed, not pregnant, but okay. It ended up being a really lovely Thanksgiving, with my mom, stepdad, dad, sis, brother-in-law, two nieces, mother and father in-law, and other brother-in-law present. The food was good, the company was good, and I finally was able to just relax a little bit. I was so worried about hosting my whole family that really lost perspective about the fact that my whole family was here!!! It was so wonderful to spend time with them, even though I never felt like there was enough time since I was busy finding extra towels, providing bandaids, showing my mom where to find various cooking utensils, giving directions to the local parks, etc. etc. Not that it was warm enough for local parks - we went from 25 degrees to a high in the upper 30s. Now it's back down to the 20s again.

My sis and her clan left on Saturday morning, and since then my stepdad and I have been installing our new wood dining room flooring! I am so excited about this giant project because I hated the fact that our dining room had carpet. It drove me crazy. So I am thrilled it's now gone, and the floor is 3/4 of the way finished! It's coming out fantastic, and it's pretty exciting that I'm, um, installing my own freakin' floor! Who'd have thunk it?

In my very little free time lately, I've also made some good headway on my novel. Which is fullfilling and exciting and wonderful, although still feels like a pipe dream 50% of the time. Could I be a novelist? It's kind of hard to believe that I actually could, and I figure maybe that's because I actually can't. Then again, someone very famous said 'If you bother to dream, dream big.' I try to remember that every time I start to rain on my own parade.

Hubs is swamped at work as usual, and I'm swamped at home. Hero is being really good! Today I couldn't believe how well behaved he was since I ignored him for about 12 hours straight while Jack and I were using power tools in the dining room. He wasn't perfect while we had a full house, but he didn't bite anyone under 3 feet tall. Which I count as complete success. He bit Hubs and I a couple of times, but we're still working on that...

I'm not sure if I have any other updates... The past week we've put up a new towel rack, fixed all our outside lights (which were on some annoying screwed up timer business and never came on when you wanted them to), and hung a new chandelier in our upstairs stairwell. I've been to Lowes, Home Depot, Menards. I'm seriously starting to get addicted to DIY stuff. A whole other side of me I never thought existed.

As sad as I'll be to see my parents leave this Thursday, I'm looking forward to spending this weekend watching Battlestar Galactica dvds with Hubs on the couch all weekend. And snuggling with Hero, who has become quite an affectionate pooch. But is not allowed on the couch, so maybe I'll watch the dvds on the floor. Regardless, lots of blankets and mugs of hot chocolate are necessary.