Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fear Factor

This is from last weekend's fall festival, but the girls will pretty much look like this tonight. Minus the cotton candy (I hope).

How my little angels went from Disney princesses and Tinkerbell to Monster High I'll never know.  I will be glad to go one day without hearing my four year old say, "Mom, can you brush my wig? It's a hot mess." Long sigh.

I really don't enjoy Halloween.  The only memory I have of trick or treating as a child is of being scared crapless of a house that decorated super spooky.  I believe they had a coffin in the front yard one year and the owner liked to dress up scary and terrify children.  Jerk.  I don't enjoy the jump out and scare you kind of scary.  Serial killer TV shows- fine.  "Silence of the Lambs"- awesome.  Haunted hayride- hells no.

It is funny to see the things that scare my kids. G is almost twelve and can handle scarier things than she used to, but she is so funnily calm about getting scared.  She watched part of "The Conjuring" last week with Hubs.  When she hit her tolerance level of scary, she just said, "Okay, I'm out" and went to bed.  Not afraid of going to her room alone or anything.  S is not really afraid of anything that I can tell.  E is a typical (I think) almost five year old.  She claims to like scary things but then gets really freaked out when she sees them. She refuses to go into Halloween stores and had to be carried around Party City to buy a costume.  She gets really scared when Hubs wears fake vampire teeth at Halloween.  It is so odd- she doesn't mind the fangs on the counter, or trying them on herself, but if Hubs puts them in his mouth she flips out.  Guess who didn't get fangs this year?  I'm sure tonight will be interesting since I've scoped out a couple of houses that are pretty guaranteed to make her pee her pants.  Here's hoping we all survive.  The only thing scarier is knowing I am home alone with 300 pieces of candy.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Goodbye Deliciousness

Is there anything you think about, talk about, say "I'm going to", but never actually get around to?  Carrie, meet healthy diet and exercise.  Long sigh.  I've gained a few pounds over the last few years.  Not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things, but a) I don't want to keep gaining every year, and b) it is all in my stomach so I hate all clothing that that isn't loose and baggy.  And yes, I know Stacy London and Clinton Kelly would say baggy clothes just make you look bigger, but I'll take generally bigger over fielding questions about when my baby is due any day.  "Never, I'm just chubby" seems like something I don't want to say to people.

When we moved to D.C., I lost weight with a quickness. I walked to the bus stop, through the metro stations, blocks to my office- so much walking.  Then we moved to Georgia four years ago and I started working from home.  Big shocker- sitting at a desk in your house and driving everywhere you go is not conducive to maintaining a healthy weight.  It might be okay if I didn't love sugar and hate exercise, but I do and I do so here we are.  It also doesn't help when Hubs says things like "we're getting to a certain age" and "slowing metabolism".  I'm only 37!  Take it easy, Grandpa.  

I don't know if I finally got fed up, or because Monday seems like a good starting day, or because I tried on clothes (again) yesterday and hated everything on my tummy (again), but I am starting to watch what I eat today.  I'm counting calories and things on the My Fitness Pal app on my phone, and am planning to start back on some light exercise (shudder).  I seriously hate exercise.  Seriously- I took archery and orienteering as my two required PE courses in college.  That is how much I hate physical exertion.  I'm also going to re-read the book "You on a Diet".  I haven't read it in a couple of years and I need a refresher on what exactly I should and should not be ingesting.  (Did you know some restaurant salads are over 1000 calories?! Shocking to me- and gross.)  I LOVE sugary goodness, so limiting my sugar intake and substituting healthier snacks will probably be the hardest dietary change for me to make.  By the end of the year, I hope to have dropped ten to fifteen pounds.  Anyone else struggling with a little extra weight or have other year end goals?  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Great (Un)Expectations

I've had several reminders in the last week of how a change in plans is sometimes a great thing.  I had an unexpected day off from work earlier this week by way of a sick child.  E woke up with a fever, upset tummy and earache.  Once E had some medicine, she was in good spirits and played or watched TV. Honestly, I was kind of glad to take the day off.    I'm not great at just scheduling a day off so this unexpected free day was pretty good.  It turns out E had nothing serious and headed back to school after a couple of days of milking it, but I certainly didn't mind a day of reading magazines and watching cartoons.

Since I am not able to volunteer at the kids schools very much during the school day, my little ears perk up when they advertise something you can work on at home.  S's school convinced me that I could watch TV while I mindlessly stuffed folders for the big art fundraiser.  I will do almost anything if it allows me to watch TV at the same.  I naively thought I and several other parents would divide up the folders, get them done, easy peasy.  This is what I ended up with:
I was the only parent easily seduced by the lure of multi-tasking during my TV time.  Each kid, first grade through fifth, created an original piece of art, which I stuffed into a green folder along with a letter.  There were probably six hundred or more of them.  I did get them done while watching TV.  For hours.  Over three days.  Sigh.  The upsides are I feel good that I helped the school (and won't feel bad when I pass up the next volunteer opportunity), and I was also able to see what kid's names are popular these days.  There was a Eunice, a Muriel and more than one Leonardo- who knew!

Maybe my best unexpected blessing was when my sister came to visit last weekend.  It is always fun to hang out with my sis, but sometimes she brings clothes.  : )  I guess one woman's trash really is another one's treasure, because more than once I said, "I can't believe she is willing to part with this sweater!  It is awesome!".  I kept (or passed on to G) almost all of her castoffs, including three pairs of jeans.  JEANS, PEOPLE!  I really like buying new clothes, but I really do not like trying them on first.  And of all the clothes to go out and try on, jeans are the absolute worst.  I can (and have) try on ten pairs of jeans and hate them all.  I actually needed jeans and have been putting it off since the trying on part is some traumatic and now I don't have to subject myself to such torture.  I'm wearing my "new" jeans today, as a matter of fact.  And I look awesome.  Thanks, sis!!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sweet Olive- Book Review

One benefit of all my recent travel was hours of uninterrupted reading time.  I chose the book Sweet Olive from Booksneeze because a) I have a fondness for books set in the South, b) it sounded like an interesting story, and c) it weighed significantly less than the 600+ page bio of Steve Jobs I was reading.  FYI- books become exponentially heavier the longer you carry them around in your bag.

Sweet Olive centers around Camille Gardner, who works for her uncle and his oil and gas company.  She is typically sent in as the sweet but tough negotiator to persuade hesitant people to sign over their mineral rights. In this case, she is sent to Samford, Louisiana, where she once spent the worst month of her life.  Her job is to convince a group of artists to sign over their mineral rights.  As the story unfolds, we learn more about why she was so hesitant to return to Samford.  Camille has a true love for art, so we also see her struggle with the duties of her job, her want to genuinely help the artists profit by selling their mineral rights, and her growing affection for the artists personally.  There is also a romantic interest thrown in for good measure.

I enjoyed the character of Camille.  She's a strong professional women, but also warm-hearted and sensitive in a very likable way.  The romantic interest angle was (in my opinion) pretty predictable in a standard boy and girl hate each other at first kind of way, and the that plot point was wrapped up very quickly at the end of the book, but I enjoyed reading Sweet Olive from beginning to end.

I received Sweet Olive free from Booksneeze in exchange for my review, but all opinions expressed are my own.    

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Love/Hate Relationship with Money

I think I have mentioned before that Hubs and I are both federal employees.  You may have noticed that the federal government is shut down.  There have been a few news articles about it.  : )  While we seem to veer on the edge of shutdown almost every year, this is my first actual shutdown experience.  I have learned way more about what employees keep working, who keeps getting paid (and who doesn't), no year funding, and fiscal years that I hope to never need to know again.

Hubs is one of the hundreds of thousands of employees staying home and not getting paid until the government opens again.  He will theoretically receive back pay for the whole time the government has been closed if Congress approves the bill, but no money is rolling in right now.  My office is somewhat unusual in that we have some funds that can be used during any fiscal year and are able to stay open a couple of weeks and continue to get paid on time.  However, this means we will start getting half our normal paycheck this month as long as Hubs can't work.  

I have realized during this experience that I have a very unhealthy relationship with money.  I am unreasonably terrified of not having it, so I tend to want to hold onto it, probably more than is normal.  I have spent long minutes of my life debating whether to buy a name brand can of beans or save $0.10 by buying the generic can of beans.  That is ridiculous.  This fear keeps me from making rational decisions on how to manage my money.  Honestly, I feel like money controls me most of the time.  I distinctly recall having this fear since I was a child, so it is not dependent on actual circumstances- it is completely unreasonable.  Even in a time when tightening our belts is appropriate, I am losing sleep over what could or may happen x number of weeks from now.  It is not productive planning.  It is just worry.  

It is very likely that the shut down will end in the next several weeks and Hubs will receive back pay for this time.  In the meanwhile, I am extremely lucky to still be working and to to have numerous venues to stay afloat.  We have savings we can dip into, Hubs could try to find a temporary job or file for unemployment, or we could use credit cards if it became that desperate (boo).  I am consciously working on my views of money during this time and give money a healthier role in my life.  I love the peeps at Our Freaking Budget. They have great budget ideas, an attitude toward money I hope to model, they are freaking hilarious and have a gorgeous rolly polly baby.  (I've had several rolly polly babies, so I know of what I speak.)  Their posts remind me that my money can help improve my life and give me more freedom to pursue things I love. I'm not sure where the appropriate balance will be for me, but I'll keep at it.  

P.S.- I realize in the grand scheme of things, with many people completely blindsided with lay offs or disabilities that have cut short their careers or those waiting out the shutdown with no income at all, our situation is comparatively just a tiny blip on the screen.  However, in my life right now it is a big deal.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Home Again, Home Again

This was my view for a lot of the last two weeks.  Flying to D.C., Virginia, Tennessee and Connecticut for nine days out of ten was a little tiring.  I enjoy traveling for work.  I'm able to see places I normally wouldn't get to visit, and I get to hear about great, really needed services being offered to victims of crime.  I have also confirmed my suspicions that I will never, ever tire of going out to eat.  : )

I've also realized how pitiful I am on my own.  I feel weird eating in restaurants alone, like everyone is staring at the poor lady with no friends.  It feels even weirder to sit and read while I eat or play on my phone, so I do an awkward take a bite, check my phone, put it down, look around and take another bite.

I also lose all sense of reason when I am alone.  The restaurant suggested to me in Tennessee was a country food buffet.  The waitress gave me the soup bowl and said salad plates were at the buffet.  At least that is what I thought she said.  The soup bowl was a weirdly large shallow bowl, but there were tiny red plates by the salad bar so I dished up some soup in the weirdly large shallow bowl.  I then fill up a tiny red plate with salad.  As I walk back to my table, I realize the weirdly large shallow bowls were actually for the people (like me) who bought the soup and salad bar only, and the tiny salad plates were for people who bought the whole country food buffet.  I then noticed the dark brown, blend into the dark brown container soup bowls that were for, you know, the soup.  I felt like an idiot the whole time I ate out of my giant bowl.

Then, in Connecticut, my hotel room's deadbolt was really difficult to close.  The strike plate was not lined up with the deadbolt so I had to push on the strike plate really hard to close the deadbolt. The second picture shows how the lock turned.

As soon as I checked in, I pushed in the strike plate and locked the dead bolt and unlocked it and all was well.  The next morning, I get dressed, go to the door and cannot unlock the door.  I tried to keep from panicking as I tried over and over to get the lock to turn. It would not budge, so I finally called the front desk and they promised to send someone up right away. I decided to try one more time.  For some reason, instead of unlocking the dead bolt, I pulled on the actual handle and it opened.  Of course.  I had to call the front desk again and tell them I had escaped.  Again, feeling like an idiot.  It is probably better for everyone that I am not traveling for the next six weeks or so.