Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Great Escape

As promised, I'm writing this from a hotel room. After a relaxing morning with the boys, I set off on my solo journey. Although I'm only an hour and a half away from home, it feels like I am in another world. It's just what my sanity ordered.

Here I sit, in my pj's, about to dive into some of the heaviest test prep I've ever done. But it seems a little less daunting from my private haven. I am also comforted by the fact that the hotel bar delivers.

Before I get lost in Vertebrate Zoology, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what this gal does when she runs away from home:

She sports a new scarf:

Gap Large Dot Scarf (sale) [similar]

She shops 'til she drops:

Gap Keyhole Sweater
Gap Icon Cable Sweater
Gap 3/4 Sleeve Stripe V-Neck  [similar]

The mall seemed to be advocating birth control today. Every single child was in the midst of a meltdown. I'm serious. Something was in the air. Those poor parents. Afterward I sought the quiet refuge of my car, only to have have a kiddo in the car parked next to mine scream his brains out while his exhausted mother tried to change his diaper in the back seat. It's times like this that my biological clock stops ticking. Moms of multiple children: hats off to you.

Gap is having an additional 40% off clearance sale, which prompted my mall visit in the first place. I scored several cute fall/winter pieces which will reinvigorate my bored wardrobe. They are SO soft!

I'm just bummed there wasn't a Sephora...I guess I'll have to wait for my birthday freebie.

She studies: 

Whoa, Tiger.

Intimidated by my wild ways? Shocking, I know. I did, however, clear out my old yahoo email account. Fifteen hundred junk emails. Gone. Productive, yes, but not useful come Monday's exam.

She keeps her promises:

Fresh sushi consumed on fresh hotel sheets
Naughty deliciousness


Friday, September 28, 2012

The Human Hampster Wheel

"Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."
 
- Phil Connors, Groundhog Day


Do you ever feel like you're the living embodiment of the movie Groundhog Day? I do. I wake up, shower, get Kiddo ready for school (which can look a lot like pounding my head against a wall..."You're STILL not dressed?!"), go to class, pick Kiddo up, go home, do homework, make dinner, put Kiddo to bed, hit the sack. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The many faces of me:  wife . . .
I love being a wife and mom. Most of the time. I also enjoy being a student. It offers me some much-needed neural stimulation while allowing me to work toward my dream career. But it is almost as exhausting as being a parent. I said almost. Add to that the fact that my husband traveled about 200 days a year for the last eight years. Fortunately, he scored a new position that allows him to be home waaay more. Turns out I like having him around. Go figure.

. . . mom . . .
I think most moms feel this way every now and then. Taking care of kids can be mind-numbing work. It's exhausting and no one knows how to push your buttons better than your kid. I wish more moms opened up about that aspect of parenting. I always, ALWAYS love my child...but I don't always like him. I'd throw myself in front of a bus for that stinker at any given moment, but don't always enjoy his company. There, I said it.

. . . and me.
So how do I go about excelling as a  mom, wife and student without losing my soul? You know, that Weeds-watching, martini-drinking, tattoo-sporting, driving-a-Jeep-up-the-Pacific-Coast-Highway-with-the-top-off kinda gal that gets suppressed day after day. The woman with wants, desires and needs outside those of her family. The person who sometimes craves independence and the freedom to do what she wants when she wants it. Yoga class at 7p on a Tuesday? No problem. Two hour drive to an outlet mall because I feel uninspired by my wardrobe? On my way. Throw caution to the wind and drive to Seattle? Packing my bag as we speak. But that's not reality. The fact is, I love falling asleep next to my best friend every night. And nothing smells as sweet as Kiddo's hairline or feels as good as one of his hugs. They may know my buttons better than anyone else, but they also know better than anyone how to make me laugh. Water out the nose hard. They also make me feel smart, beautiful, and loved.

So how do I strike a balance between who I am fundamentally, the world around me, and the life I've made for myself? I can start by taking the opportunities presented to me. My husband often gets free hotel nights because of his frequent travel and offers them up to me on a regular basis. I always come up with 101 reasons not to take them. "I really need to catch up on laundry. I'd have to pack up all my stuff which is a pain. I should really [fill in the blank]." If I stand back for a minute, even I realize how ridiculous I'm being. I have a husband who wants to take over the parenting/household duties and wants me to have a break. In a nice hotel with room service and fresh sheets that I don't have to wash. Why can't I do that for myself?

Because I can't stop micromanaging everything. As much as I want a break from the minutia, I can't seem to get my hand out of the pot. What if they eat crap for dinner? Uh, so what. What if Kiddo doesn't go to bed on time that night? Not my problem. Husband will deal with Grouchy Pants in the morning. And last time I checked, he is perfectly capable of loading the dishwasher and washer and dryer, and running a vacuum. Sure, it's not the way I would do it, but in the end, who cares?

So I've decided to take the offer. And resolve to take more of them. I almost procrastinated my way out of two free nights at a Marriott because they expire at the end of this month. I'm glad I came to my senses in the nick of time. Next time we talk, it will be from a plush bed with crisp white sheets. Which I will be eating sushi on.

Update: After writing this, I stumbled upon this great post about "motherhood vacations" over at A Cup of Jo. She posted it back in March, but it popped up as if she knew I needed to read it. Today of all days. How serendipitous.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Eggos, Trains, Indian Food and Hearts of Cran

How about a dose of randomness? Your wish is my command. Perhaps we can discover a little about the wonder that is me. Or question what we thought we knew. Here is a dose of my September thus far...in pictures:

Fresh grapes from a local orchard:


A visit to a train museum:

 
 
 

Kiddo's newest food invention:

The Eggo Burger

Thursday's newest tradition:

Homemade Indian food delivered weekly to my son's school. We will be ordering every week.

Instagram-ing everything:

A heart on my diner placemat. Through my cranberry juice. How artistic.
Bacon pancakes. What.

It's official:

I'm a collector, yo! Perhaps now I can stop talking about Pyrex in every single post. Nah.
  
Summer has officially ended...

. . . but the fun has not.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Insta-resting


Insta Tuesday...take two! I didn't take as many Instagram photos as usual because we did not have much in the way of weekend adventures. Instead, we worked the yard sale at kiddo's new school and I did homework. Still, I have something to show for this past week.


Clockwise from top left:
  • We drank the Kool-aid coffee and bought a Keurig! I love it. This is actually the second machine we had this weekend. The middle size just wasn't big enough (i.e. it didn't have a cup size that would fill my travel mug), so we exchanged it for this bad boy. I have saved $4 on take-out coffee already. Shazam.
  • My "I'm sorry I was such a grouchy button-pusher this morning" lipgloss from Kiddo. It has a lovely strawberry scent. Except you scoop it out of the owl's hind end. Still, I love it and all is forgiven.
  • "Mom, I'd like to start drinking coffee. It will get me going in the morning and start my day off right." The recipe? One tablespoon of decaff in one cup of milk. He means business.
  • My burgeoning Pyrex collection! The weekend before last we took a drive around middle New England and I stopped at almost every antique store we passed. Nothing. Guess where I found these? Within 3 miles of my house. And they were reasonably priced. Go figure.
 
Until next week...Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hot Diggity Dog

“If you don’t get lost, there’s a chance you may never be found.”

–Anonymous


A couple weekends ago we went for a lovely fall drive through middle New England. It was a relaxing, Pyrex-hunting, apple-picking, family-bonding jaunt. It was a windows down, cool fall breeze in our hair, not sure where we are going kind of day. In other words, the best kind of day.

My husband is a hot dog connoisseur. So it wasn't surprising that, when lunch time came around, he had already located a hot dog joint. It was a lovely time. The boys played Frisbee while we waited for our food, and we gorged ourselves on naughty deliciousness.

I like hot dogs...but I don't have the love affair my husband shares with them. When I was pregnant with my son I had my first Chicago dog. Then I ate them regularly until he was born. Which probably explains his desire to eat them every night for dinner.

Hot dogs have become quite the "it" food as of late. Gourmet hot dogs are not uncommon, and this trend has breathed new life into the ever-present hot dog industry. This place was no exception.

Cheers!
The man doesn't play around.
The purist . . . although Martha says ketchup on hot dogs is uncouth.
My avocado dog. It was awesome. And healthy, right?
Oh, yeah.

Here's to getting lost with the family. And to more days like this one.

 

Owler-ific

My quest for vintage Pyrex has me noticing, finding, and visiting antique stores that I typically ignore. Last weekend, as we often do, our family decided to go for a drive. I believe the endpoint was supposed to be an orchard, but we never did get to pick apples. On our way through various small towns in New England, we stopped often so I could scope out their wares.

One such place was a The Barn in Winchendon, MA. This place was huge. Just when we thought we'd reached the top, another staircase presented itself. At one point, thinking I had finally reached the apex, I heard "Mom! You have to come see this!" The voice took me up yet another set of stairs and to something completely unexpected: an owlery. Like in Harry Potter. Only these owls were not mail carriers. To my knowledge.

The attic of this giant barn was filled to the brim with owl figurines. It was like nothing I've ever seen. From below my husband flipped on the light switch and, as if on cue, opera music started playing. I had died and gone to funky owl heaven. Just try and contain yourself.

The view from one end of the room . . .
. . . and the view from the other end.
 
 
 
I loved him. He reminded me of Sir Didymus from Labyrinth.
Is it weird that I really liked this one?
My husband saved me from myself on this one.

In the end I walked away with...nothing. I was there for Pyrex after all. Although I did recently pick up a small owl statue, one collection is all I can handle. Plus, we are trying to declutter our house...and introducing more chachkies would be unproductive. Simplicity is the new goal.

Still, how fun is this little attic?


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cafe Oh Yay!


About a week ago, I posted this on my Facebook page:

To Keurig or not to Keurig: that is the question

Little did I know, everyone and their mother has an opinion on this. Of the almost twenty people that commented, every single one shouted "Do it!"

So we did. We headed down to our local Bed, Bath and Beyond to check them out. We subscribed to text alerts and received an instant 20% off coupon. That coupon made them the most cost effective place to buy. I never thought I'd say this about BB&B, but they saved us almost 40 bucks. Even over Amazon and Target's prices.

Anywho, we came home and set it up immediately. We decided on the middle of the road, $150 version. We programmed it so it would be ready when our alarm went off the next morning, then went to bed excited to give it a go.

That little machine made our Saturday 5:30a wake up call much more bearable. I filled my travel mug and we were on our way to work a yard sale fundraiser at Kiddo's new school.

This morning, while trying to get motivated to do homework, I brewed myself a couple cups. Then I watched War of the Worlds and briefly forgot that Tom Cruise is a nutter. Don't blame the Keurig for my lack of focus. It did it's best to keep me on task.

Only, I had to refill the water reservoir 3 times and needed to brew a large cup plus a small cup just to fill my mug. How is this going to work on a hectic school morning?

So my husband is heading to town to exchange it for the beefier version. The one that can fill my mug and holds more than 20 oz of water in reserve. Still, it's an awesome invention and I am so glad we took the plunge.

The one negative for me is the landfill-clogging K-cups. We bought a reusable silicone filter (seen on the right) so we can use our own grounds on the weekends and when I plan ahead, but imagine how many used K-cups are trashed on a typical day. Yikes.  Couldn't they come up with a biodegradable version?

Eco issues aside, I am all about simplicity these days. This semester I have an 8a class and my son cannot be dropped off at his school until 7:45; giving me a very small window in order to get to class. On the mornings when I have a couple extra minutes I grab a cup at the college coffee stand. Only, it's usually disgusting. At $2 for a medium, it's less than Starbucks, but that still adds up to about $40/month. Using the Keurig, I figure that we could easily save around $400 per year on take-out coffee. And I don't have to hold my breath while I drink it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cankles Are In, Right?

Hello my name is Sarah, and I am a hoarder. Well, my body is anyway. You know that magical substance that occurs when hydrogen and oxygen bond? Yep, my fingers and ankles just love to hang on to it.

A little Chinese food for dinner? Hello, tight pants. Movie theater popcorn? Get out the butter...or the wedding ring is not coming off. Pasta? Oof. It ain't pretty.

I picture my body with piles of salt crystals stashed in corners. Sure, everyone gets the bloat once in a while, but I am especially susceptible. I try to stay away from uber-salty foods and refined carbs. Really I do. But in this day in age, what isn't loaded with sodium and starch? When I'm really disciplined about my diet and exercise, my body thanks me. But sometimes I struggle to stay on the straight and narrow...or I simply find myself with an annoying pair of cankles despite my efforts.

Needless to say, whenever I find a solution to this malady, I try it. Assuming it doesn't involve something crazy like an animal sacrifice. Well, if that would do the job...just kidding!

Like so many random things, I came across this recipe for a water-retention tea Jillian Michaels came up with. Considering it only takes a few inexpensive ingredients (and they go a looong way), I thought "Why not?" While I cannot find the origin of this recipe, just type "Jillian Michaels" and "tea" and the interweb will light up. I've noticed there are a few variations and error-ridden versions (60 oz of water to one tea bag? Probably a mistake).  Here is the way I do it:

Anti-Bloat Tea
  • 1 bag dandelion root tea
  • 8 oz. water
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
Brew the tea in 8 ounces of boiling water. Transfer to a water bottle or large glass. Add ice or place in the fridge until cool (brewing the night before ensures it is cool for the next day). Add the cranberry and lemon juices. Drink. Pee.

At first I followed the recipe(s) I found to a T. Then I loosened up and started brewing a mug full of tea (about 12 oz), poured a glug of the cranberry juice, and wrung out half a lemon. It is bitter. But I don't mind such things, and considering I drink it in a reusable cold cup, the straw prevents me from tasting it too much. One recipe suggested adding stevia or another sugar-free sweetener to help with flavor. I never do. Plus, it's worth it to feel a little less Michelin Man-ish. It reminds me of the Warheads I used to suck on as a kid. Follow up with a lot of water.

The verdict? It definitely helps. Do I lose a pound a day? No. It's not magic, folks. But my wedding ring stops leaving an imprint on my finger after drinking it for a couple days and my flats don't feel quite so pinchy on my feet by the end of the day. It also encourages me to drink more water, something I've been struggling with lately.

If you are someone like me that needs to release a little fluid, give it a try. I'm over diets/pills/fat burners. Miracle cures for weight loss just don't exist. I'm accountable for my diet and exercise habits. But this is something I struggle with whether or not I am thin. The ingredients are harmless and totally natural, it doesn't take days to prepare or cost tens of dollars, and the taste isn't horrible. And it helps. I'm in.

If you decide to try it, tell me what you think. If you find the original recipe, enlighten me!