Trying Not To Sound Like Doogie Howser, MD

You can tell yourself these people started out as exceptional.  You can tell yourself they had influence before they started.  You can tell yourself the conditions under which they achieved were different from yours. 

Or you can be like a woman I knew who sat at her kitchen window year after year and watched everyone else do it and then said to herself, “It’s my turn.”

I was  37 years old at the time— Erma Bombeck

So, I’m a year behind Erma, but starting a blog or two is something that has been on my mind for quite a while.  I’ve always been afraid it would wind up sounding like the final scenes of a Doogie Howser, MD, episode where we’d see the lesson learned appear letter by white letter on the blue  computer screen.  To be completely honest, the inspirational nineties music is blaring in my head right now…

As I said, I’m a year behind Erma, and forty is coming at me fast.  I’m in a different place than I imagined, not worse by any means, just different.  I’ve started this to chronicle me getting my ish together, as the kids say (I think they still say that? Anyone??) and as motivation to try things I haven’t before.  My goal is to close out my thirties strong, and enter my forties having tried some things that I have put off until now.  Strap on a helmet, it’s bound to get interesting…




Even more perspective…

So, thirty-nine is a few days away, then this countdown to forty thing gets REALLY real. I’d planned to write a post about goals, hopes, fears, and lessons learned but there were a couple of issues:

  • It was turning into an epic-length post and it probably needs to be chopped into some shorter, more coherent posts.
  • It’s been a frustrating few weeks, nothing major; just enough that, when combined with a slight case of birthday dread grumpiness lead to a very salty post, so I’ll come back to it when I’ve had an attitude adjustment.

(Actual editing note from original post)

Instead, I decided to search for, you guessed it, more perspective. The golf cart wasn’t quite doing it, nor was the candle situation. Some thing with a bit more punch was needed. It was time for… the squirrel.

I guess I should probably add some context now.

This all happened when I was living in my first post-college apartment, working at my first adulty-adult job. It was a third floor walk-up one bedroom (the apartment, not the job) and I loved it (once again, the apartment, the job was more of a mixed bag). It had a little balcony on the front and back and because of the way the buildings were laid out I didn’t share my landing with anyone. Probably because third story walk-ups aren’t super desirable when it comes to moving in, carrying groceries, and so forth. I had nice neighbors, for the most part. The other part will probably be a post down the line. I felt like I was definitely doing, and even succeeding at, the whole grown-up thing.

One night, as I was settling in, I started to hear a skittering noise above me. As I didn’t have upstairs neighbors, this was mildly concerning. I kept hearing “skitter, skitter…THUD.” I checked, nothing was inside the apartment so I figured some sort of nature must be in the attic. I didn’t have access to the attic, which was fine with me. I’m more of a “you stay out of my house, I’ll stay out of yours” kind of girl when it comes to nature. I called the front office the next morning. They said a few buildings were having a squirrel issue and they’d add mine to the list to be looked at. I congratulated myself on yet another successful bout of adulting and that was that.

Nope. Not. Even. Close. Whatever the people who were contacted by the front office did, it was less a deterrent and more a sign that there was an all night squirrel rager going on every night. I got kind of used to hearing skittering and thudding. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t getting more and more concerned about the continued presence of what I could only assume were very persistent (and at least mildly concussed at this point) squirrels. I made a few more calls to the front office and was told there was absolutely nothing to be concerned about. I guess they thought I was concerned about the squirrel concussions rather than the actual presence of squirrels and they knew squirrels couldn’t get concussions?

This went on for a few weeks and in the meantime a friend had come to stay with me while she did an internship for school. Even though the space was tiny, we were on slightly different schedules and it was a lot of fun to have her as a roommate again. Then, one day I had to leave work early with a raging fever and sore throat. I dragged off to the doctor and was informed that I had strep. I headed to the pharmacy to pick up antibiotics and other necessities and was looking forward to just collapsing on the bed when I got home. As I was wrapping all of this up, I got a call from my friend saying she was back at the apartment, and was there anything in the linen closet in the hall that could possibly be making a banging noise. I kept towels, sheets, and my winter clothes in that closet, so it was pretty unlikely. I told her I’d be there in a few minutes and had the sinking feeling that the strep diagnosis might be the high point of the day…

Back at the apartment there was the now familiar skittering and thudding. Instead of being overhead, it was now in the closet, and it sounded just about as delighted as I was about this turn of events. I called the front office, yet again and asked if maybe now was the time to be concerned about the squirrels? They agreed that maybe there was a cause for concern and they’d send someone up to look, but the closet had to be empty. I countered that this was problematic as angry squirrels had become a recent addition to that closet’s contents. They stated again that they couldn’t possibly assess or correct the problem unless the closet was empty. I inquired as to how exactly I was supposed to empty it. They suggested banging on the door to scare away any new residents of the closet and I might want to move fast before they built a nest. Awesome.

So, my friend and I armed ourselves with a frying pan and a broom and put on oven mitts. At that point, my downstairs neighbor came up to borrow or return something and unknowingly walked into Squirrel Watch. She was the adventurous sort (seriously she looked, and acted, like an adult version of Pippi Longstocking) so she signed on for operation closet clearing with the helpful suggestion I might want some garbage bags at the ready for the items we were about to remove from the closet. I looked at her questioningly and she replied with a terse, “Trust me on this.”

We banged on the closet door screaming suggestions that any occupants of the closet might want to vacate at this time. Once we were fairly sure it was clear, we grabbed our respective squirrel deterring devices and opened the door. Apparently the squirrels decided they needed a condo/bathroom to recover from their all night ragers. There was a hole about a foot across that had been gnawed out at the back of the closet and the situation inside wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say the garbage bags were absolutely needed and my winter wardrobe took a not-insignificant hit. We got the closet emptied in record time and slammed the door, then the maintenance guys from the front office showed up and asked why we’d opened the closet door if there were squirrels in there? Sigh.

They agreed the current situation was on the problematic side and said they’d be back in the morning to repair the hole in the closet and deal with the squirrels. My wonderful neighbor stopped back by and said I was welcome to hang out at her house while they fixed the squirrel damage. I was too tired and feverish to do more. We double bagged the closet contents and decided to deal with it the next day and I went off to bed.

The next morning, my friend headed off to her internship, I let the repair crew in, and told them I’d be downstairs at my neighbors.  They said they’d stop by and let me know when they were finished.  I chilled with Pippi (not her real name, I just really want to make sure you have this mental image) and consumed copious fluids.  After a while, there was a knock on the door, they were finished with the repairs, my linen closet was now hole-less, clean, and most importantly- squirrel free.  I trudged back upstairs, Pippi decided to come with me to see how the repairs had gone.   I can not stress strongly that everything I’m about to write is completely true.

We walked into the apartment and over to the closet.  Pippi was behind me and we opened the door, so we could see the freaking ginormous hole freshly repaired (and thankfully clean) closet.  Then from behind me I hear,

“Oh, holy shit!”

Pippi had a vocabulary that could euphemistically be described as colorful, which was always a little wild given her resemblance to one of my childhood literary heros.  She came up with phrases I’m sure never crossed Astrid Lindgren’s mind.  I was pretty unfazed  by what she said, it was fairly tame, honestly. So I replied with,

“I know, right? It’s insane they made a hole that big!”

To which she replied:

“Oh, no sweetie, that asshole is on your bed.

I peeked around her, and it turned out the squirrel was indeed on my bed.  He looked pissed.  I guess we had interrupted his nap time.  Total pandemonium ensued.  Pippi snatched the broom and went roaring into battle screaming at me to open all the windows and doors.  The squirrel, sensing impending doom coming for him in the version of a twenty-something Pippi Longstocking spewing obscenities made the decision to run under the bed and take refuge in the box springs.  Did you know squirrels can bark?  I learned that that day.  The more you know, right?

I stood in the doorway now armed with a frying pan as I watched Pippi scream,

“Come out you motherf&*#$%!” (among other things… she was In. The. Zone. which was impressive, how often do you need a zone to cope with surprise squirrel?)

She was jumping on the bed and brandishing the broom.  The squirrel was holding his ground. I was seriously ready to throw in the towel, close the bedroom door and declare it the squirrel’s room and wish him great happiness. I went to grab the phone to call the front office, or Ranger Rick.  I wasn’t really sure at that point.  The squirrel took his opening, streaked out of the room and out the front door and did a majestic dive off the third floor deck.  It seemed to occur to him about halfway down he wasn’t a flying squirrel, but he still managed to tuck and roll and tore away as Pippi screamed threats after him.

Excitement over, we took my surviving clothes and linens off to a laundromat that would do your laundry and charge you by the pound.  Totally worth it. Every few weeks after that, an acorn would hit near me as I walked to my car.  I never saw who threw it, but I knew.

This episode  left me with a fairly intense distrust of wildlife, especially squirrels, and it presented my family and friends with a theme for every card and gag gift opportunity for the rest of my natural life.  You really can’t put a price on that, or so they tell me.   It did provide me with a bar to judge things by.  As long as these recent frustrations and this birthday remain free of squirrels, surprise or conventional, it’ll be okay.  That’s squirrel perspective for you.  There’s also probably something to be said about acorns, but I’m not sure what it is…

An (admittedly petty) open letter to the Universe

Dear Universe,

On the whole, you’ve done very well by me. I’m incredibly grateful for all that I have; my health, education, friends, family, Father of Gingers, and of course the Gingers, just to name a few. There have been challenges along the way, of course, but comparatively speaking-nothing too awful.

The one big issue I would bring up with you is 2016, I don’t think I have to elaborate. At this point I’m just assuming that was some sort of cosmic-level Pinterest fail. I know that it’s taken me a while to remove/repair the debris from an ill-advised Pinterest project more than once. (#DeliverMeFromPinterest, Right?!?!) I can only assume you’re doing the same, but due to scale, the clean-up is taking proportionally long. Keep at it and I’m hoping you’ll have it pulled together by 2020 at the latest. I have faith in you.

If you have a second, I wanted to bring one tiny mixup that happened several weeks ago to your attention. I’m sure it’s in your records that I am a total, shameless Anglophile. I love England, British shows, (I aspire to be the Dowager countess from Downton Abbey one day) and London is one of my absolute favorite cities. I’ve gotten up early to watch royal weddings and made sticky toffee pudding cupcakes to celebrate said weddings. Does that make me a tad basic? Perhaps… When it comes to this, I am fine if you want to color me basic, just pass the fish and chips, (with mushy peas!) please!

So, it stung a bit a while back when Father of Gingers told me he might have to go to London the week of Halloween for work. I rallied, though, these things happen. I wasn’t like he was going to London to spite me. It was just where he needed to be and I needed to be here to ride herd on Halloween. Fine. It’s part of being a grownup. I held my chin high and got through discussions revolving around any special shopping requests, itineraries, and musings on spots he might have time to make it to. I focused on getting some of my favorite Harrod’s tea and getting Little Ginger avocado shoes to match her avocado costume. I had this under control. Then, I was trying to get through the grocery store the morning of Halloween and not having a ton of luck convincing little Ginger that the trip would be way more enjoyable for all involved if she would sit in the cart and maybe not protest at top volume. She remained unconvinced. Then I got the following text from FoG:

This is the point where I was convinced, dear Universe, that my bucket list and the one belonging to FoG got mixed up somehow. I would only have been more convinced if I had run into Jim Harbaugh or George Lucas right there in the produce section of the store. I didn’t, and that’s perfectly okay, because the experience honestly would’ve been wasted on me. I was a little astounded though. I mean, really?!?!?

Then I was informed that there was now video of the Kate sighting and it would be sent to me when there was WiFi. I took a deep breath, reminded Little Ginger to sit in the cart, and headed for the wine aisle. Seriously, I got what we needed for the rest of the week and we headed home to get prepped for trick or treating. It was fine, and a fun evening. I even managed to say in a slightly crazed completely calm voice, when asked how FOG’s trip was going:

“Great! He even got to see Kate Middleton today!”

I just wanted to make you aware of this mixup in the event that item has been crossed off my bucket list in some great cosmic file. If there was a mixup, and that was the one opportunity allotted to our household, I get it. It’s not fair!!!!Arrrgfhhh!!! No hard feelings. However, if there is a need to balance the scales, I certainly wouldn’t say no to meeting Michelle Obama or Jenny Lawson, that would be amazing. I am a little over 365 days from a certain milestone birthday. I don’t know if you have time to read my blog…

I’d go even more challenging and ask for Julia Child or Eleanor Roosevelt, but I know you’ve got a lot to do. Honestly, just focus on fixing the mess from the Pinterest experiment that was 2016. I’m all good here. Please, the sooner the better.

Hugs and kisses,


The Encapsulation of It All… On the Plus Side

So,  we’re overdue for a capsule post.  It’s taken me a while to figure out how to tackle this one without being repetitive, so bear with me.

First things first, if you are new to the blog, this post is part of a series of posts I wrote about switching over to a capsule wardrobe. If you’d like to catch up, here are the earlier posts:

Okay, now that we’re all caught up…

As I’ve said before, one of my biggest reservations about revamping my wardrobe was the whole shopping thing.  There’s the practical, financially aware side of me that hesitates, but the biggest issue (see what I did there?) is my size.  Shopping always comes with a side of dread for me.  It is not unlike going through a haunted house or watching a scary movie.  Those jeans seem harmless then…(cue the Psycho sound) they are not going to fit and/or look the way I envisioned.  As I continue the march towards forty, I’m in a better place with my size.  I’ve come to terms (mostly) with the idea that I need to eat healthy and exercise for me, not to attain a certain number on the scale or in clothing. That being said, I’m never thrilled when different clothes just don’t work. Then there’s the added fun aspect of clothes past a certain size being more expensive. I’m not going to get up on that soapbox today because it’s a whole post worth of rantings and I should probably leave something for down the road…

It is extremely important to me to look put together. I can’t stand it when I look disheveled. I think some of that is just who I am (I’ve talked about loving handing things under control before..)However, and this is a big one, a lot of it has to do with the feeling that I take up more space. If I am going to have the audacity to take up more space than society deems appropriate, I better make damn sure that space is decorated suitably. I worry about feeding into people’s worst stereotypes of plus-sized women if I’m running around in super casual wear or an outfit I’ve just thrown on. A lot of this is baggage that’s grown exponentially in my head and is something I just have to sort out. However, all of this (matching, thankyouverymuch) baggage didn’t just pop up from nowhere inside my head. It has been aided and abetted for years by comments, some that were innocuous and some that were intentionally cruel. As I approach 40, I am finding it easier to let those comments go and am working on viewing my appearance more through the lens of what makes me happy, rather than what others think it should be.

All of these reservations were looming quite large as I got geared up to try the Capsule Guide. I mentally prepared myself for it to just not work out. I knew that it was meant to work for all shapes and sizes but old habits die hard. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get into a major funk if it didn’t pan out, no more than half a day at most. After I’d worked all of this out, I ordered my Guide, then there it was, downloaded to my phone and iPad…

It. Was. Amazing. There were four links to each piece and a reasonable plus size option was one of those four links each time. As I’ve said before, it was so much easier to shop than I ever anticipated. AND, I’m excited about what I’m going to wear, suddenly, the baggage isn’t as heavy. Of course it’s still there. It probably will always be there, but it’s so much more manageable now. I feel like I look good when I leave the house. Full stop. Not pretty good in spite of, or pretty good for. Just good. My clothes fit well and I feel more confident, comfortable, and inspired to go after other goals. (Ahem- the blog)

This may seem like a supremely superficial thing to be this excited about – but ask anyone who’s ever walked into a changing room with an armful of possibilities and walked out with nothing; it is a huge effing deal. This is probably the number one reason I’ve been so excited for this Capsule Guide, it’s changed how I feel when I head out the door and has made getting clothes I feel good about so much easier! I’m definitely envisioning a Capsule-heavy wardrobe going forward from now.

As an added bonus, Apple and Pear Wardrobe has added a Fall/Winter Athleisure Guide- all the pants have elastic waistbands, the official waistband of the holiday season! I’m loving this, especially for the hair on fire days I have, because Gingers. I am comfy and look put together, with minimal effort! I plan on living in some of these outfits for the next few months, especially once I get the hang of wearing a blanket scarf.

(Some sample outfits from the Athleisure Guide!)

I’m also still loving my Fall Capsule Guide and cannot wait for the Winter Guide to come out soon!

If you live in warmer climates, I’d say the Fall Guide is still a great purchase! I think everyone needs the Athleisure Guide (and comfyness!) in their lives this very instant! I’ve included the links to both guides below. Full disclosure- these are affiliate links and info get a percentage of any sale made through them. My coffee, wine, and wardrobe fund thank you! (As do I!)

Fall Capsule Guide:


Fall/Winter Athleisure Capsule Guide (Hello comfy, goodbye Frumpy!)


I plan on doing a wrap-up post soon and a quick review of the Winter Capsule Guide once I get my hands on it! One of the biggest takeaways I’ve had from this experience is: it is worth making the investment in myself. If you are thinking about making a change that will make your life easier/ make you feel better about yourself- don’t hesitate, you’ll be amazed at the difference! (cue the Doogie Howser music!)

UPDATE: The Winter Capsule Guide is out and I LOVE it! I haven’t had a chance to write an entire post on it but here’s the link until I can write a post just about that Guide!

Same disclaimer as above, I’m still a Capsule ambassador and get a percentage of any sale made through this link at no cost to you. My coffee and wine fund say thank you again!


On the Run?

So, I’ve decided to challenge myself a bit this month. I know, most of you are already thinking isn’t this next month challenging enough with all of the holiday chaos? And, you definitely have a point, a huge and very valid point. However, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the holidays have the unfortunate tendency to turn me into a giant, crazy, raving stressball.My Christmas carol the last few years would probably be, “We wish you a stressy Christmas and a stabby New Year. I’m trying to reduce the stress and stabbiness by at least 53% this year. I’m focusing on the things that are in my control and making sure I have a little time for myself each day to make this happen.

(Quick side note- spell check refuses to recognize either stressy or stabby. It’s like it wants to impede my 53% goal.)

Anyhow, this is where the Runner’s World “Run the Streak”challenge is coming into play for me. I should take a second to clarify two things:

  1. Streak refers to consecutive days, not lack of clothing. I hope you’d all know me better than that by now.
  2. I am not one of those freaks people who just hops out the door or jumps on a treadmill and knocks out a few miles at a brisk stride, no problem. Running is a struggle for me, but I like the fact it’s easy to fit in and give me time to think, listen to music, plan a post, or just take a brain break.

So, I’m setting the goal of at least a mile a day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I’m hoping that having a constant on the to do list that forces me to take time for myself will be a big help. I’m trying to be relaxed about it as far as the fact that there may be days where it just doesn’t happen. I’ve been working through some plantar fasciitis and the point of this exercise will be defeated if I’m hobbling everywhere by next week. The plan is to be realistic, but take some time each day for myself to have a holiday season that is calmer and more enjoyable.

This is probably the point where I need to reassure those who know me IRL that this post isn’t some sort of code for, “Help, I’m being held hostage and need you to come rescue me!” Honestly, they’d be forgiven for thinking that…

I’m not the person you look at and go- “that girl is clearly an athlete, look at her form and her grace!” I’m more the “welp, gravity got her again, that girl must keep her orthopedist in business! I wonder if she gets a punch card for her visits?” kind of gal.

Case in point- a treadmill tried to eat me once. We have one in our basement now, but I still view it with the same suspicion as I would Pennywise in a storm drain.

(This treadmill has not tried to eat me.. yet. The cow has nothing to do with this, by the way, she’s a casual observer)

I should probably clarify at this point. Years ago, I was staying at my parents house with my youngest brother while my parents were out of town. I decided I’d hop on their treadmill to get a workout in while I was there one afternoon. I got into the groove, had a good pace going, let my mind drift… and then my foot hit the front foot plate and I stumbled and recovered in a totally graceful and impressive way. End of story.

Nope, that’s what I wish had happened. In reality, I SHOT off the back of that demon machine at 6mph. Unfortunately there was a wall behind me so I didn’t travel very far. This resulted in my tack pants, which I’d left unzipped at the bottom getting sucked right on into the treadmill. At this point I was in a bit of a predicament, my pants were half sucked into the treadmill, I was missing a not-insignificant amount of skin from my knees (seriously, I have scars eleven years later), and I really didn’t want to scar my younger brother for life. So, I managed to shut the treadmill off (apparently the emergency stop clip thingy is there for a reason), reclaim what was left of my now Capri length track pants, and hobble back upstairs to repair the damage. It ended fairly well all things considered, the treadmill still bears the scars of that disaster, I did require a minor knee surgery (#4 for the punch card, for those of you keeping track…), and it left me with an abiding terror healthy respect for exercise equipment. I also only wear leggings on treadmills now. That’s a lesson you only need to learn once.

All of this to say, I’m not being held hostage- this is all part of my countdown to forty/ trying new things approach to life. Or I’ll get another punch on the orthopedist card…

I’m just going to focus on the goal of a Less Stressy Christmas and a Stab-Free New Year.

(Going into my first mile. Mildly concerned about treadmill assaults.)

Find Your Tasmanian Tiger Cub…

So, Little Ginger had swim lessons today. In toddler algebra that means the lesson will take no more than half the time it took to prepare for it and you will consume at least twice as many calories in chocolate (or junk food of your choice) as you burned recovering from said lesson.  One of us started shrieking as soon as we got in the water… I don’t think she’ll ever go to a swim lesson with me again.

It got me thinking though, about Big Ginger, who also did swimming at the same pool when he was a bit older than LG is now.  Bear with me, I promise this will all make sense in a minute or two.

Big Ginger has been known to go by the nickname Ginger Fury, if that give you an idea of what we’re working with over here.  But no one pays a compliment like that kid.  I love how little kids give compliments, they’re so sincere and usually more humbling than the most passive-aggressive statement any adult can make. Some recent favorites of mine include:

A morning conversation:
(Getting lunch packed and ready for breakfast)
Big Ginger to me: I like your outfit Mommy!
Me: Oh, thank you buddy!
BG: I really like the pants
Me: (always happy to hear a positive camo pants review) You do? Why’s that?
BG: You look like you could go fight a war if you had to

6 year old fashion sense: where fashion and functionality REALLY intersect.  It’s like he understands my day on a level I don’t even get.

My current favorite compliment:

(On a recent car ride to school)
BG to me: Mom, did you know my afternoon teacher is really pretty???
Me: Oh really?
BG: Yeah, she’s beautiful like a Tasmanian Tiger Cub!
Me: That’s nice, buddy

I mean, who doesn’t want to be a Tasmanian Tiger Cub?

Just so we all know what we’re talking about, this is a Tasmanian Tiger Cub…

His compliment game has always been strong, even if it is occasionally mortifying. Back to where I was before, he took swim lessons at the same pool LG is taking her lessons at.  His class happened to get out at the same time as the senior citizen’s aqua aerobics class.  This lead to three-year old curiosity about canes, hearing aides, and such.  He was very concerned about one lady who walked with two canes. We had a (I thought at the time) good talk about how people move differently and that the canes were nothing to be afraid of.  I really felt like I’d knocked this one out of the park.  Then, the next time we were in the dressing room, he we crossed paths with the same lady and had the following exchange.

BG (to the lady walking with canes):  I’m so sorry you have a hard time walking, but did you know you have some beautifully chubby thighs?

The lady gave me a confused look, I realized she had not heard him clearly and took a second to be extremely grateful for the fact hearing aides are not waterproof (not for the first time, thanks to my time working at the retirement community) and said:

“He said swimming is his favorite exercise!”

Crisis averted. We had a chat about why even though it’s nice to tell people kind things, it’s probably best not to comment on other people’s bodies.  Once again, I left the conversation feeling like I’d stuck the landing and had a meaningful parenting moment.  You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now…

The next week we were back in the dressing rooms and the aqua aerobics class was done and the dressing room was hopping (figuratively, not literally, given the groups we were working with).  Up to this point all of the mothers used the women’s dressing room with their kids boy or girl.  That day however several of the ladies from aqua aerobics were embracing the alfresco approach to the locker room.  Which lead to the following compliment from BG:

“Wow! Your baby pockets are so cool and floppy!”

I should note here that he called breasts baby pockets.  It’s a long story.  I’d also like to confirm that it is impossible to sink through a locker room floor, I speak from experience.  I just had to hope he had not been heard and hustle us out to swim class.  I couldn’t think of anything that could remotely sound like “floppy baby pockets” that was swimming related. We switched class times shortly thereafter.

So, our time at the pool made me think back to this and be grateful that LG isn’t able to share what’s on her mind clearly yet, as we are back on the same schedule as the senior citizen’s aqua aerobics class.  I might use that as what I’m thankful for on Thursday…

Seriously though, it is a holiday week, take the time to tell the Tasmanian Tiger cubs in your life how you feel about them. Maybe avoid bringing up chubby thighs unless you’re talking about the turkey, though…

More perspective

So, it’s the time of year where I have a greater chance than usual of turning into (hmm, how to put this…) a giant, crazy, raving stressball. (Imagine me shriek singing Fa la la la here). I’m working on that and trying to keep it simpler, set reasonable expectations, and maintain perspective…

I have to preface this with, sometimes things just kind of happen to me. I don’t know why, but they just do. My first year teaching, my mentor rolled her eyes at me when I brought plastic baggies on my first field trip and reassured me in all her years teaching she’d never had a kid get sick on the bus. You know what, she was right, instead one of my students slipped in the men’s room and got soaked. It was not pleasant- the plastic bags were the unsung heroes that day. It should also be noted the same kid got violently bus sick on the next field trip. I had an economy-size box of huge Ziplocs at the ready. I strongly identified with this kiddo, I’m also not sure that he ever went on another field trip. All of this to say- sometimes I just seem to attract chaos and wind up holding a nude painting in a golf cart and sometimes I just need to pay more attention.

Back to the lesson in perspective. Years ago, BG (before gingers, not the seventies sining group… although I now have “Stayin’ Alive stuck in my head) we were living in Germany and had a year where we had guest coming to stay about every other month or so. Let me just add yet another preface saying that if you are reading this and were among the guests at this time, the incident I’m about to write about was NOT a reflection on your visits. It’s more the universe showing its work to prove the whole (spoiler alert), “I probably shouldn’t have candles” thing.

We were getting the guest room cleaned up between guest stays and I’d decided to light a candle to make that side of the apartment extra welcoming and homey. I thought it was far enough away from the curtains and all the windows were closed. Father of Gingers went out to do a few errands. I puttered around, did a few odds and ends, then decided that I should probably go blow the candle out. If only it had been that simple.

I rounded the corner into the guest room and was a bit taken aback to discover that one wall appeared to be on fire. I’d never been a fan of the curtains involved in the blaze but clearly this was something I needed to get under control, and quickly, especially because in that moment I could not for the life of me remember the number for German emergency services. I disregarded all of my Girl Scout training, (let’s be real, I’d started down the Girl Scout gone bad road the minute I lit the candle) ran to the kitchen and filled a mixing bowl with water. I promptly threw it on the fire. Do you know what happens when you throw water at flaming nylon curtains? I do. I don’t recommend it. Having successfully scattered smoldering globs of melted synthetic fabric everywhere, I decided it was time for another approach. I went into the bathroom, drenched a couple of towels, ran back into the guest room and beat the flames out. It kind of felt like something from Little House on The Prairie. Ma Ingalls would’ve been impressed.

At this point I was standing in a not-insignificant puddle of water, hacking up a lung and there was smoke and soot everywhere. I decided it was probably time to call Father of Gingers and kindly request he return home and hope he’d remember the many good qualities he married me for. He calmly agreed to come home and clearly thought it couldn’t be that bad. He was a bit surprised when he came home and I looked like an extra from the chimney sweep scene in Mary Poppins. We got it cleaned up, and our wonderful landlord was very kind and not terribly perturbed about the now Cajun-style guest room. He told us to contact our renters insurance and he’d organize the repairs.

(Mary Poppins scene for reference)

Then came the repairmen. There was a man who worked as sort of a general contractor. He’d been out to fix things before and do some general maintenance. He looked like a missing member of an ’80s hair band complete with the feathered hair and jumpsuit. I loved when he came to work on a project, he was very friendly and I always hoped he might break into a Van Halen song. It never happened. He spoke several languages, German, Russian, and Czech if I remember correctly. It made things interesting as I spoke minimal German and didn’t begin to have the vocabulary to explain flambéeing the guest room and French and English didn’t help either. So a lot of things were conducted through vigorous charades. We managed pretty well most of the time.

It took several visits to restore order to the guest room and when he came for one of his final projects, our next round of houseguests had arrived. My friend spoke German, so she went in to ask him if he’d like some of the coffee we were making and if so, what he’d like in it. I was happy about the fact that for once, he wasn’t going to have to play charades and there wouldn’t be any misunderstandings. Operating on this theory I waited while my friend offered him coffee. It took a while. She had tried to convey we were drinking decaf and for some reason it wasn’t being communicated. We decided to just bring in the coffee and call it good. When I brought the coffee in, he asked (I think) what my friend was trying to say. Time for charades…

“Hmmm, decaffeinated…you know Ohne (German for no/none)” I then proceeded to shake my whole body like I’d had at least ten cups of strong coffee.

His reply:

“Ohhhhhhhhh! DeKOFFFinated!”

We established the coffee was deKOFFinated and all was well. The guest room returned to its pre-candle fiasco state and I saw the incognito member of the ’80s hair band several more times for various things- the heat being a reoccurring issue. The heaters in that place merit their own post. I always had coffee ready

I guess the take away from this, much like the golf cart adventure, is if I can confirm that nothing is on fire and I’m not playing charades to communicate- I probably don’t need to be stressed out. Additionally, I’m still not allowed to have candles almost eight years later. We never had another fire, but I maintain correlation doesn’t equal causation.

A “Fun” Recipe

So, there has been a much longer break between posts than I planned on.  I have several in draft form and thought I could get them posted either right before or during our family vacation.  Clearly I had a small break with reality.  Did I mention I was sharing a room with Little Ginger? On the upside, that means there should be several posts this week, and I have added setting realistic expectations to the list of post topics.  For today, I thought I’d share a recipe that I suffered through tried recently, with a few notes and adaptations…

Toddler (Reality) Bites: An Adapted Recipe

Are you looking for a healthy, all in one meal for your picky toddler? Look no further! Just follow these twenty easy steps…

Step One: Realize your toddler has eaten some variation of cheese, chicken nuggets, apples, crackers, and whatever the hell it was that was on the floor for an unseemly number of consecutive days.

Step Two: Berate yourself moderately. This is seriously affecting your credibility as a “chewy granola mom.”  You did Baby-Led Weaning for eff’s sake. This child was supposed to eat anything and everything.  Still, its better than the time you almost flipped them out of the wrap in a fit of over-zealous baby wearing. So, there’s that.

Step Three: Fire up Pinterest and consult your Healthy Food/ Toddler Food boards for ideas you’ve been meaning to try. Find yourself being seduced by phrases like:

“It’s an entire meal in a little handful!”

“My kids won’t even drink water, and they love this recipe!”

“My little one asked me to make these instead of a birthday cake!”

Step Four: Settle on the recipe with the simplest ingredients that looks like it has the slightest prayer of being a success. Add the ingredients to the list app on your phone.

Step Five: Head to the grocery store with the toddler for whom you are trying to make the bites.  Commit your list to memory while sweet chubby little hands try to snatch your phone out of your hand.  Try to concentrate on what you need to get while the toddler asks to watch “Baby Shark” on your phone by shriek singing increasingly frantic choruses of “doo doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.” Sing “Baby Shark” while trying to remember if eggs (doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo) are in the recipe.

Step Six: Get home, realize you forgot the quinoa, which is an integral part of the recipe.  Add it to the list for a grocery store run later, because if you go back now you’ll run the risk of a car nap, and F. That.  Noise

Step Seven: Make a plate of apples, cheese, and crackers for the toddler’s lunch.  After a rousing chorus of “No, no, no, NO, NO!” it’s off to nap time!

Step Eight: While adding wine and/or chocolate to the new grocery list, check Pinterest again.  If you’re going back to the store for quinoa anyway, you should just go ahead and make two different recipes.  Then you can freeze them and always have healthy options at the ready! Right, RIGHT?!?!?

Step Nine: Go back to the grocery store; get the quinoa and whatever else you’ve deemed necessary

Step Ten: Throw the quinoa into the Instant Pot, find your favorite Google result for how to cook quinoa in an Instant Pot. Go with that.

Step Eleven: Leave the quinoa in the Instant Pot to cool. Forget about it overnight.

Step Twelve: Fight breaking into sobs when you realize you forgot the quinoa. Pick yourself up off the floor and dust yourself off. This recipe is now your Everest. You will not be defeated.

Step Thirteen:  Do some more Googling. Decide the quinoa is probably still okay to eat, you’re baking it again, and heat kills germs, right?

Step Fourteen:  Feed the toddler lunch. Tell yourself it’s okay that it is cheese… again.  Tonight, they will be feasting on not one, but two lovingly made recipes that will fulfill all of their nutritional needs and introduce them to new and exciting tastes!

Step Fifteen: It’s nap time, you are ready to DO. THIS. THING. You assemble all of the ingredients and mix and roll and bake frantically before your toddler wakes back up. At this point you may want to throw up a prayer to Julia Child, Mr. Rogers, Chef Boyardee, and anyone else you think may be helpful

Step Sixteen: You’ve done it!  Now to let them cool and to decide you can’t wait for dinner.  You and the toddler are going to try these magical bites as an after-nap treat! Contemplate starting your own You Tube channel to teach other moms how to make easy healthy meals.

Step Seventeen: Watch with glistening eyes as your little cherub, the light of your life, takes a bite from the first recipe, spits it out, and frantically starts scraping their tongue. Take a taste yourself and decide the kid really does have a point.  Put the bites from the first recipe in a freezer bag.  Place in freezer and hope some benign neglect will improve them. If you’re feeling strong, you can offer a bite from the second recipe.  No one will judge you if you just can’t even at this point. Use your best judgement.

Step Eighteen: Preheat the oven for chicken nuggets.  Try one of the bites from the second recipe yourself. Decide they don’t suck.

Step Nineteen: Feed the toddler dinner.  You can throw a new veggie or two on their plate if you feel up to it.  Don’t be a hero.

Step Twenty: After the toddler is in bed, serve yourself some of the wine and/or chocolate you purchased on the earlier grocery run and return to Pinterest for some more ideas.  Don’t forget to eat a few of the toddler bites; they are an entire meal in a tiny handful, after all.