Monday, January 27, 2014

Just Not Quite Right

I'm a recipe follower. Like I can't cook without a recipe.  Even when I'm making a dish I've made a dozen times I still follow the recipe and check it between each step. Last night I had this dream over and over again about Fried Rice but with Quinoa instead of rice. (Side note, why does that happen that you dream over and over again about the same mundane thing? Or is it just me?) So when Shawn got home and we started thinking about dinner I pulled up Pinterest and VOILA! I HAD pinned a dish of Fried Rice with Quinoa. I was determined to make it work. It's the end of the month and since we're trying VERY HARD to stay within our budget, and since our grocery budget is down to "save this money in case you have to buy milk before the end of the week" I was determined to use what we've got in our pantry. As luck would have it green onions, mushrooms, and fresh ginger were the only items I didn't have, and I felt they were all pretty optional anyway. I read over the recipe a few times and then decided "I got this" and I winged it! I was proud of using the half an onion and carrots that were in the fridge as well as the peas and corn from the freezer. And since Shawn's been asking for a Quinoa dish, I felt pretty good about pulling that out as well.  I do wish I had remembered the frozen ham before it was too late to defrost and add it. But the dish looked like the picture and I was feeling pretty awesome about making something without being so strict about the recipe AND using what we had available. 

I was feeling awesome that is until I tasted it.  Oh man, SOMETHING in the recipe was off.  Way off.  Maybe the soy sauce was old or the onion was just that side of being good? Shawn loved it and had three bowls, but I had a hard time choking down my first serving. Or maybe it's me.  Sometimes when I work really hard at a meal I just can't eat it. It can smell delicious, it can even taste good, but somehow in the process of making it I've lost my appetite for it and can't seem to eat it. 

Does that happen to you? That after making a meal it just doesn't meet your expectations? Isn't that so disappointing? 

I'll probably try quinoa fried "rice" again, but before I do I'm going to have to figure out which ingredient wasn't working this time.  Right now I'm thinking we need a new bottle of soy sauce.  How long does soy sauce stay good anyway?

A Goal

I have a goal. I want to buy a new camera.  A fancy schmancy (to me) beginner DSLR camera. I love taking photos of Eliza, when I travel, of just things that strike me as beautiful. What I don't love is the quality of photos I end up getting. I want to understand photography. I want to take pretty pictures. But fancy schmancy DSLR cameras are expensive, especially when you are living on one salary and working really hard to live within your means and save money and be responsible and all that.  It's pretty hard to justify spending $500 on a camera for me when I also think about needing new tires for the car and plans to travel to Alaska to visit family and the fact that we're getting pretty close to needing a new stove in our kitchen. And I know that the camera is just the beginning, I'll also want to take a photography class to learn how to use the camera, and I'll want to get something like photoshop to edit my photos. And then there are SD cards and camera bags and maybe one day another lens. So the money is adding up quickly. But this is something I've been thinking about and wanting for years.

What is a goal without a plan? I'm working at saving my pennies and even selling things to save the necessary cash for a camera. We're not talking about selling tupperware or other items that require me to invite my friends to parties. (Though I will confess I've recently thought about becoming a Jamberry Nails consultant) I looked in my closet one day and realized that I don't wear about 50% of my wardrobe. Either it doesn't fit (thank you post-pregnancy body!), or it's more appropriate for an office than for playing with my toddler. I may love my suits but not enough to subject them to grape juice and peanut butter hands just to wear them again. So, it's time to part with some of my beloved, well curated clothes. But when I get sad about seeing my navy blue sailor pants get sold I remember that I'm $25 closer to my goal. So, I've listed my clothes on three websites devoted to buying and selling used clothes, Poshmark, Vinted, and Threadflip. (I'm @SaltLakeAnnie on all three if you want to find me.) And I'm getting excited about having space in my closet and earning some extra cash.  I feel a little bit like a teenager saving money from babysitting jobs to go to the mall!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Had Days Like This Too

Eliza is sick. And the hard thing about Eliza being sick is that you don't really know what she's got. She refuses to eat and she's coughing which leads me to think that she's got a sore throat.  Her nose is running and she's extremely cranky.  It's been a full week leading up to this, but it seems to have really hit her today. Which leaves me feeling so guilty for taking her to Cardio Barre this morning. I needed to go, I needed a workout, and when she woke up this morning she seemed fine. But when I went in to get her from the daycare after class and she was just sitting at the table staring into space not playing with anything and not watching the movie, I knew immediately that something was wrong. It's been a full day of trying to help Eliza feel better. From having her play in the bathroom while I showered so the steam would help her cough to trying five different things for lunch just to see what she would eat, to taking extra long to put her down for a nap (which she never fell asleep for) to watching YouTube videos on my phone while holding her hoping she'll go down for a late nap, to scratching the nap and aiming for an early bedtime, to watching Tangled on the couch to pass time and finally she fell asleep 20 minutes before I was going to start the bedtime routine.  Now what? A 20 minute nap then wake her up, feed her dinner, bath, stories and bed was the final plan of the day. Until waking her up just made her scream, and the thought of food made her scream more. So, I changed her diaper, put her in her sleep sack in the clothes she was wearing today, and tried to help her fall back asleep in my arms. Except that she hates my singing lately and it just made her scream more. So I put her down in her crib. And then climbed in with her to rub her back and comfort her. Which made her even more mad, and visions of the crib falling apart with both of us in it motivated me to climb back out and leave a screaming baby in a dark nursery while I discovered what mischief the dog has gotten into while my back has been turned.

And I write all of this just to say, I had days like this too.  Days that never seem to end when nothing you do seems to be the right decision and the problem is just getting worse. Days when you want to throw in the towel. And the day is probably still not over. I'll take a few minutes to myself then do what I can to make the house a little bit tidier before Shawn gets home. I'll aim for an early bedtime so that when Eliza wakes up in the middle of the night I have enough energy to get up with her. At least that's the plan, but so far nothing has gone according to plan today.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On Love

I remember being a teenager and feeling like I didn't know what love felt like. It made me wonder if I had every truly felt love. I knew I hadn't been IN love, but what about the love you feel for your family or friends? I don't think my problem was that I was unfeeling, I think it was more that I had never NOT felt love. I was secure in the love of my parents and siblings.

When I was in my late twenties I fell in love for the first time. It was early on in our relationship and I was in the head over heels happy part where I knew I really really really liked this guy. And then out of nowhere he used the "L" word.  Not the "like" l word, the big one.  The one that gets a big red capital L, LOVE. And I was so off guard. I didn't know if I could say it back. I didn't even know what it meant. So I took a week to think about it and then I told him I loved him too. And now years later as I reflect back upon that time and that moment, I'm not entirely sure it was love.  Like, absolutely, twitter pated, probably, love, I'm not so sure. But then and there I was in LOVE and it was wonderful. Only love wasn't kind and lasting, love came crashing down a few months later and left me confused and hurt.

Fast forward a few years. I was dating Shawn who was wonderful and patient and kind. Only I wasn't feeling all those head rush feeling I had felt with that last big relationship when I was in "love." And it made me feel confused. I knew I really liked him. I knew I wanted to spend more time with him, but by this point in that other relationship I had been IN LOVE, and I wasn't with Shawn. But what I didn't realize was that love takes many forms.  And sure, that fast love of your youth is fun and exhilarating, but very hard to maintain. It can sour as quickly as it came on. But true love, enduring love can take longer to come. It doesn't jump out and hit you suddenly. It builds slowly.  So slowly that you look back and have no idea when it began.

When Shawn and I had been dating about four months I went with him to an extended family party, a Memorial Day barbecue in Wyoming. I was talking to an uncle of his who asked me if we were in love. I was a little startled that this person I had just met would ask me such a personal question. I hadn't thought about it.  Was I in love with Shawn? I stammered some answer about not having said that to each other yet and the conversation moved on, but the thought lingered. Was I IN LOVE with Shawn? So, I thought about it. For days I thought about it. And I came to the same conclusion over and over and over again. I was in love with him. And I was surprised because I hadn't seen it coming, but there it was and had been for a while and I couldn't pinpoint when the feeling began or why or how, it was just there, like part of me. And I wanted to call him and tell him I loved him, but I was terrified. What if he didn't love me back? What if it was too soon to say such things? So, I waited. But I was bursting inside, I loved him! And every time I saw him I wanted to tell him, I LOVE YOU! But I didn't. I decided to wait until it didn't matter if he couldn't say it back.

So, a few weeks later I decided to say it. In Spanish because Shawn was a Spanish Teacher. So he came over one night and before we went off to whatever we had planned I sat him on the couch and said "Yo te amore." To which Shawn replied like a Spanish Teacher, "It's te amo." And I said "Te amo." And he replied "Good, te amo." I looked him directly in the eye and said rather forcefully, "No, Shawn. Te amo." And the lightbulb went on above his head and he said "Oh, Annie, I love you too!"

But now there's this new kind of love taking over my heart. It's just as all encompassing as that first love feeling, but also quiet and enduring. It's the love I have for sweet Eliza. I'm overwhelmed with this love for her. I can feel this love tangibly in my heart, and sometimes it feels like my heart will stop beating because of this love for her. This unconditional love that persists even when she hits me when I try to sing her lullabies, or when she screams "NO MOMMY!" every five minutes. And then I see Shawn and Eliza together, laughing or playing, or just him holding her while she sleeps and this love swells even more because of the two of them. And now I understand love. I understand what it is to love and be loved, truly loved. And it may not be quite the same as the first time, but it's oh so much better.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Plan, For Now

All I know about how my Mom met my Dad is that they were set up by a couple of friends. And all I know about how my Dad proposed to my Mom is that it happened in Memory Grove. I don't know much about how they fell in love or even my birth story. I remember asking my Mom about love once and she didn't really remember the details of how she fell in love with Dad.  She couldn't really answer my questions about their first kiss. I think part of this is my Mom's personality. She's not the story teller in the family, that's my Dad or my Grandma. And part of this is just life.  I think you forget what it's like to be young and in love. You forget what it's like to be a teenager when stories of first kisses and proposals and falling in love are all so magical. And I'm sure when I've been married to Shawn for 20 years and Eliza comes and asks me about how we met and fell in love and got married I'll say something like "We met online, we dated for 7 months before he asked me to marry him and we were married 3 months later." All very unsatisfactory when you are trying to sort out love and romance yourself. So, for my future children and grandchildren, and also because there's a romantic inside of me who loves real stories of how people met, I'm going to try to write it all down. How we met, how Shawn proposed, how I knew I was in love with him. Maybe some other stories, like when Eliza was born, or about dating other people. So, maybe this here blog of mine will become a little more journal-like but that's what's in my head that wants to get out. And if you are interested in reading other types of things that I've written about, let me know in the comments. It's easier to write when you think someone is interested in what you are writing.

And while we're on the subject, I'm curious who reads this blog. Do I know you? Are we friends? Are you just a lurker who likes to read my blog but doesn't know me? Do you mind leaving me a comment just so I can get a sense of who you are? Or if you don't want to reveal yourself I've posted a little poll off to the right, you can answer that and remain anonymous. Sure, it means if you're reading this on a reader you'll have to click through, but would you? Pretty, pretty please? Thanks!