Monthly Archives: July 2012

Accut-ain’t What I Thought It Would Be

Chances are, if you know what Accutane is, you either a) are a medical professional or b) you know someone who has painfully cystic, problematic skin. For the record, Accutane is no longer on the market. It has replacements, like isotretinoin, or Claravis, if you want to be able to pronounce it. Hi, I’m in AA- Accutane Anonymous (is there such a thing?) and I started taking Claravis two weeks ago. Let me just say, Accutane ain’t what I thought it would be. After a lifetime of combating skin I didn’t love, everything got much, much worse after the birth of mini Gwinn. I’ve done everything in the book in an attempt to heal it, with no results (yes, even Proactiv. I’m so tired of being asked that.). The last resort- the big dance- was isotretinoin. Five months of misery lead to a lifetime of healthy looking, smooth as a baby’s behind skin. I can handle five months, right? I mean, I was pregnant for like six years, and I lived through that. So I started talking to other people that have taken the big plunge in skincare. All the guys I talked with said they didn’t think the six months of misery (the treatment is five to six months) was necessarily worth it. All the ladies- you guessed it- absolutely felt that enduring the hardships of the medication were worth the end result. The guys urged me to reconsider, the gals told me it would be an entirely freeing decision to give myself a life with pain- free, pretty skin. What everyone agreed on, as well as all the forums/ interwebs stuff I read, was that I’d need a supply of the following:

-copious amounts of chapstick
-eye drops
-saline spray for my shnoz
-lotion
-vaseline
-water. lots of water.

So, no big deal. Right? I have five or six tubes of chapstick laying around the house to begin with, and I was already a crazy moisturizing lady. Piece of cake.

A few days into the treatment, I noticed that my lips felt dry if I hadn’t used chapstick within an hour. A few days later, I noticed that my eyes felt dry. Now? If my lips aren’t coated, they hurt. I actually have to stop in the store at least twice to apply gobs of goop to my mouth and pour eye drops in my eyes. Last night I experienced my first medication- induced nose bleed (as I was washing my face, which was convenient for clean up).

For those that aren’t in the know, cystic acne is incredibly painful, especially with an eight month old smacking your face. Topical treatments don’t work (they just make the top layer of skin dry, eww), oral medications don’t always work, and sometimes only time can treat the issue. While you’re waiting, you’re stuck with a topographical map for a face. When you’re 15 years old, it’s acceptable to have a few pimples. When you’re in your late 20s, however, people wonder what you’ve done to yourself to have such heinous skin. Statements like “It must be something in your diet” and “Do you wash your face regularly?” are usually said by morons with flawless skin. Of course I wash my face, and I eat better than you, lardbutt (not you, gentle reader).

This major shift in my life is also coupled with the news that I’m returning to the work force (cue the river of tears). The stress of looking for child care, the feeling that I’m abandoning my bright (yes, he’s bright, I said it. He says several words! He’s Einstein! Ok, he may be average. But he’s pretty.) little boy (who’s never been without me for more than two or three hours!!), and the fear that he won’t get the attention he deserves have me stressing out completely. Will my house ever be clean again? When will I have time to make all his baby food? Will they use sign language when they sing to him? Will they sing to him? How often is he going to be sick? Even as I’m writing this out, anxiety is taking over my mental faculties.

Oh my goodness, ya’ll. This is a lot of new going on right now.

I’m going to go squeeze my little punchkin.

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Delicious Things I Didn’t Bake

There are many domestic endeavors at which I fail miserably, primarily, crafting of any sort. I have grandiose plans for making my own decorative benches, creating adorable cloth bowling pin bunnies for the mini- Gwinn and ten thousand other beautiful, simple crafts that, if ever completed, will look like someone gave some fabric to a homeless man to see what he couldn’t do with it. One area at which I succeed, though, is baking. I don’t usually sing my own praises, but for real, I can make a killer homemade pie crust and a yummy, now perfected fruit filling. I make cakes from scratch. Chocolate chip cookies are always, always homemade.  What I do isn’t usually pretty, but it is guaranteed to taste good. However, as you can imagine, with a house full of three dogs, a husband and a baby, I don’t always take the time to bake something.

This last week one of my Christmas gifts arrived in our mailbox (a subscription to a wonderful cooking/ baking magazine) with a three page spread on “bake sale” ideas. As a (recent) Meetup organizer for a moms’ group, some of the ideas were perfect finger foods for home party events. Since Captain Laser Pants is still working on both my cars in his spare time, I haven’t really left the house in weeks, and the domestication stir craziness is starting to sink in. The magazine provided the perfect catalyst for a treat storm. I’m sharing what I’ve made (twice now) this weekend with you guys. There’s no baking required, but it certainly does involve a level of commitment of which “break and bake” chefs need to be aware. Start to finish, with no interruptions, this will take around 30 minutes. Aside from the double boiler/ heat/ “don’t touch the stove” aspect of this recipe, it is very kid friendly, complete with rolling stuff in stuff and sprinkles. Who doesn’t love sprinkles? ALSO – these would make awesomely edible Harry Potter wands for a Harry Potter party.

Caramel – Almond – Chocolate – Sprinkle Covered Pretzel Rods (the name still needs some work)

Ingredients:
half bag of chocolate chips (semi- sweet or milk chocolate, depending on your sweet tooth)
some caramel (I used homemade caramel that I made a while back, but it takes forever to make. Here’s the recipe: House and Home Amish Caramel If you don’t have time, use store bought caramels)
handful of almonds (plain or raw)
ice cream sprinkles (these won’t dissolve in the chocolate)
pretzel rods

Yummy ingredients!

Stuff you’ll need:
double boiler (I assembled my ghetto-fied double boiler by putting a pot with water under a skillet)
aluminum foil
cooling rack (or something with small holes in which to stand the pretzel rods)
spoon or spatula (the white kind, not the “for eggs and pancakes” kind)
cellophane bags and ribbon (if this is for gifts/ guests/ party treats)
electricity

Directions:
Chop almonds VERY finely – I used our VitaMix to make the almonds almost dust. The bigger the almond pieces, the more likely they are to fall off. Lay out almond bits on a plate, set aside. Cover the cooling rack with aluminum foil; poke holes in the foil every few inches. Heat the double boiler at medium to medium low on the stove. Lightly butter the top part of the double boiler. If you’re using homemade caramel, the consistency is soft, so just plop a few big spoonfuls in the top of the double boiler and let it melt, stirring occasionally. If you’re using store bought caramels, you can unwrap several and follow suit with the double boiler, OR you can unwrap several, put a few teaspoons of water in the bowl, and microwave them until slightly liquidy- gooey. Either roll pretzel rods in the melted caramel or spoon caramel onto the pretzel rod, making sure to leave 2/3 of the pretzel bare. DO NOT cover the pretzel any more than 1/3 of the way down- the warm caramel will drip off the pretzel and you’ll have to start all over. Once a pretzel has caramel on it, roll it in the almond bits until the caramel is covered with almonds. Stand up the pretzel rod on the aluminum foil covered wire rack. Repeat until all pretzel rods are covered in caramel and almonds.
Pour ice cream sprinkles onto plate, set aside. If you have lots of caramel left over after your pretzels are covered, clean out the double boiler. Otherwise,  melt chocolate chips in the double boiler at medium low, stirring frequently. Gently spoon chocolate onto caramel/ almond covered portions of pretzel rods. I liked leaving some of the caramel/ almond part exposed- it’s like a pretty petticoat of yummy. Roll chocolate covered pretzel rod in sprinkles until decoratively covered and stand in the wire cooling rack. Let these cool for around 20- 30 minutes before sealing in an airtight container or wrapping them in cellophane bags.

Words of Advice:
Don’t overload the pretzel with caramel, almonds or chocolate. Otherwise it gets drippy, and then it’s not as pretty.
Let it cool completely before packaging. The chocolate needs to harden around the soft caramel.
These are really good, so make a lot.

Take the caramel about a third of the way down the pretzel. Gotta have a handle for all that nom!

Roll pretzels in the almonds, coating completely.

Standy uppy pretzel party!

Cautionary tale pretzel- don’t overload on the chocolate/ caramel/ almond combo.

Ta da! This was my attempt at a pretty “finished product” image. But I’m not a photographer. Nurrr.

This recipe made about 16 for me. Hope your family enjoys it as much as we do!


Sippers and Shooters

I am somewhat obsessed with personality sorters and tests. Captain Laser Pants finds it exhausting when I talk about fictional characters and their four letter personality label; I find it fascinating to be able to “type” a person and work out (in my head) how to interact with them. In case you are as nerdy/ weird as I am, I am an INTJ (introverted – intuitive – thinking – judging) and have been since I was 16 or 17, and my DISC profile has a ridiculously high DC with a crazy low IS.

What does this have to do with the price of eggs?

When it comes to people, I am often intrigued by the inner workings of their minds- how they think, why they think and do what they think and do, and the best ways for me to approach interaction with them (yes, that sounds very scientific, but it’s true). If the world answered my suggestion box, everyone would have a name tag with their Keirsey Temperament type written on it. So it should come as no surprise, then, that I enjoy dissecting and analyzing relationships. Some people are sippers and some are shooters.

Huh?

For people that drink, you probably picked up the reference by the title. People that like wine, for instance, usually sip, taking in the bouquet of flavors and enjoying the aroma as they slowly drink. Those that enjoy shots, however, take in the whole of the drink in one fell swoop. Approaches to relationships can be categorized (loosely!) in these two ways- those that are “sippers” and those that are “shooters”. Sippers take their time with relationships, moving slowly in hopes to extend it to a long term relationship. Shooters enjoy the immediacy of moving quickly, and then move on to the next relationship quickly. I’m not saying that wine drinkers prefer long term relationships and shooter girls are short term types, it’s just a comparison in the style. Moving on…

I was listening to a Bon Iver song a while ago called “Blood Bank”. The lyrics have a lot to say, but a particular verse reminded me of the way a new relationship feels – you know, the electricity between you and that someone, the excitement of getting to know a new person and sharing those endorphins and adrenaline and all those other fun chemicals you feel when you’re falling in love. As I was driving and listening to the song, a wave of – I guess it was sadness? – washed over me as I realized I would never experience those feelings again. Those chemicals are so addicting, that even though I have a remarkable relationship with my husband, I was bummed that I would never experience that “high” again.

My logical side (and frankly, my heart) squashed my dumb, immature feelings almost immediately after they made themselves known. How stupid! Captain Laser Pants is the person I pursued for months. He is the man I learned to know and understand over a long period of time as friends constantly on the cusp of falling in love. I won the prize! I ran in the race, the huntress overtook the chase – I have the relationship with the man I never dared to dream existed.  Those feelings of infatuation are nothing compared to the deep river of love I have for my husband.

It is funny to me that the thought of “wah, I’ll never fall in love again” even crossed my mind. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, I was never the type to jump in and out of relationships, and (as an INTJ) I tend to prefer the tried and true method to the new idea. But, odd fact: I preferred a shot of something to a glass of wine when I would have a drink. Maybe that instinct to be an epicurean and move on quickly is in there somewhere. To be honest, I tried it with Captain Laser Pants – danced around the idea of the relationship, but was too scared to invest. Clearly, my fears were quelled and any thought I had of being hurt was overpowered by the immense love I’ve had for him for so long.

Are you a sipper or a shooter? Am I a weirdo for not liking wine? What’s your Keirsey Temperament? DISC profile?


My One Article of Clothing

It is not brand new information when I tell people that I am not fashionable. Mostly, when I “dress up” or try to look “nice”, the outfit involves jeans, some sort of flat sandal, and a t-shirt. Since pregnancy, I’ve mostly given up on what I wear. At home, my mom uniform is usually a pair of running shorts and a sports bra (the t-shirt or tank top is discarded by 10 AM due to puke, milk, carrots, and snot). When in public for nonsocial reasons (shopping, gym, etc), I’m wearing what I wear at home, only with the gunk covered tee. When I once swore I’d never leave home without makeup (the horror!), it’s now more routine for me to go without than take the time to slap some on my face. You’ve seen other moms like this- she wears a fashion trend that embodies “defeat”. It’s like a proverbial game of paper – rock – scissors switched to baby – fashion – baby. For the record, “baby” wins every time.

Not all moms are this way. I see and know many mothers who look phenomenal every time I see them in public. Their clothes are clean (which is a super power in itself), modern, and dare I say it? They look beautiful, nay, radiant.

I lack this radiation ability, and not because don’t want it. Some women are born to be mothers- they were also most likely the women that “glowed” when they were pregnant. Some of us were thrown into this new career path and aren’t totally qualified for the part. I don’t really have the energy to look good, especially when my looks are such a nonissue. I’m the equivalent of the new intern who’s just really happy to make it to work in the big, fancy company, even if I have wet hair and deodorant streaks on my blouse.

Seriously, I’d like to look presentable in public with my adorable baby in tow. I’d like to look like one of those moms that stepped out of an advertisement for something I didn’t know I needed. At some point, I’d like to look somewhat fashionable. In an attempt to do this, I splurged and bought a $15 jersey maxi skirt at Old Navy last month.

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This has become my one article of clothing. If I have to leave the house and it would be socially awkward for me to look the way I normally do ( i.e. must wear makeup to avoid terrifying small children, deodorant, must brush teeth, must brush hair, etc), I have worn this skirt nine times out of ten. I bought it in a light heather grey color to guarantee that I could wear it with almost anything, and so far, it has worked out splendidly. It’s probably the best $15 I’ve spent since, well, I can’t remember the last time I spent a magical $15.

So, for the other moms whose fashion statement says “defeated by my child’s needs,” I took some pictures to prove the effortlessness of this very trendy look that’s age appropriate for everyone except for really, really old people. It’s also flattering (really!) The skirt I bought has a wide waistband and a generous length to accommodate long and short figures alike.

For those with accessories, go crazy (as crazy as you can without your baby pulling earrings from your earlobes or choking you with necklaces). The minimalistic piece of the skirt lends itself to patterns, multiple textures, and plenty of accessories. I don’t wear jewelry anymore, largely because mini Gwinn will find a way to hurt me with it, hence my plain outfits.

Until my little dude is self sufficient and outgrows his “mommy must suffer!” mentality, this will probably be the extent of my attempts at looking nice, unless my trendsettery knows no bounds and puke stains become haute couture.

If you’re one of those “my fashion has been defeated” moms and you’re blessed enough to have helping hands in your city, I encourage you to change out of your gunky puke shirt and husband’s shorts (wash them, too) and try a small change, like a maxi skirt, and go feel pretty. Then tell me about it, so I can live vicariously through you, as I’ve never been away from my child for more than three hours and have no idea what it’s like to feel pretty anymore. In fact, if you have a sitter, go on a date with your guy and feel pretty while you’re at it, cause that’s what I miss most, and you deserve some enjoyment (and I really need to live vicariously through you on this one, too).


“First World Problems” is a Stupid Phrase and More

Hello my jolly rogers! I took an unexpected hiatus from everything except living like a hermit (which I shall detail below). I trust you all lived with baited breath as you eagerly awaited my next post. If you really did, then may I suggest some social activities for you, perhaps a riveting game of BINGO or curling?

Ahem. Onto other things. So, after my “Overwhelmed” post, I didn’t think things would/ could be harder, but guess what! Things got harder. Mini Gwinn caught a bug the very day we went back to the gym, and promptly shared with me. The virus, as I was told by his pediatrician, would run its course within a week and leave us unscathed. So, naturally, a few days later when my throat was to the point that I couldn’t swallow or speak, the baby and I spent the day at my doctor’s (oh waiting room joy with a wildly active baby who wants to crawl everywhere!) only to find out that the virus had evolved into a heinous sinus infection. So we spent another week away from the gym, but we were both sick, so it wasn’t a major loss. While this was going on, our AC decided to run six degrees higher than its setting. This also happened to be the week that we were topping out at 105-110 degrees in the lovely (read: miserable) South. With multiple calls to maintenance/ AC and no real fix, a sick mom and recovering baby, we were on our way to misery town. Saturday I started feeling better, so we packed up the baby and headed to Costco for some good old fashioned American grocery shopping and sample eating (plus, the store was better air conditioned than our home, so it was more comfortable). Seeing that our radiator reserve tank was low, I added some (ok, way too much) water to the tank. While we were shopping, mini Gwinn peed through his Costco diaper (we don’t usually use those, and now I remember why) and ALL OVER my shirt. Naturally, he and I ran to the car while Captain Laser Pants finished the shopping. On the way home, our (NEW!) car began to overheat. We stopped in the ghetto between Costco and our home (why there is a section 8 stretch of hood between two lovely communities I will never know- good job, Atlanta) and the (NEW!!) car decided to die, right there in the parking lot of a grocery store, quite dramatically, I might add. So, it’s 104 degrees, we have meat and frozen veggies in the back quickly losing their cold temperature, the baby’s sweating, CLP is dripping with sweat as he troubleshoots the vehicle, and I’m freaking out because I think I caused the whole issue.

Fast forward to today- Wednesday- and the car still isn’t revived. CLP has been a super hero in his efforts to repair every aspect of the engine that comes to mind, to no avail. This man took the first few days off this week so he could rest (rest? What rest?), instead he’s been sweating it out in our garage trying to figure out what’s wrong with our beautiful new Jeep. He has spent days consoling me and telling me there is no possible way I could cause this bizarre, unexplained engine failure. Things he’s replaced/ investigated so far: camshaft sensor, crankshaft sensor, fuel pressure, battery, fuel injector and no codes. Suffice it to say, he’s running out of ideas. We haven’t been to the gym since the day the baby contracted the virus, and I may start sticking forks in my eyes.

It’s been a hard couple of weeks. On Pinterest (the place where my soul and self esteem go to die) I saw one of those retarded “text as motivational decoration” signs that said, “There are many who are happier with less than you”. Woo- freaking- hoo. I’m so glad they’re happy. And if it makes me seem evil for saying that “first world problems” is a stupid phrase, then I’m evil. Firstly- I like creature comfort. And my husband and I work darn hard to ensure said creature comforts. And yes, our country is the best of the best (if you don’t agree, go somewhere else), and yes, Americans are mostly spoiled. Are all the issues I complained about above first world problems? Yeah. But it’s the only world I’ve lived in, so I’m just calling it “my world problems”. Of course I have sympathy for those in need (truly, I do), but I also don’t have guilt for living in America. People that suffer from “white guilt”, “wealth guilt”, “having AC guilt” and any other kind of guilt for being born into a certain circumstance shouldn’t push their guilt on others. Go be guilty all on your own.

Moving on.

Rant number two (hehe, “number two”) for this post: women without children who talk about pregnancy and post- pregnancy. Shut up, or I will put a boot in your mouth. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Unless you’re an OB (which they never are), you only know from theory and watching what it looks like. You don’t know from practice, and you sure as heck don’t know what it’s like post- pregnancy. Stop putting up “how to tighten your post pregnancy belly skin” tips, stop suggesting ways to breastfeed your four year old, and stop pretending to have any idea what It’s like to live the life of a mother for even ten seconds. You deserve to have a boot in your mouth.

 

Favorite comic strip of all time- Calvin and Hobbes. Chances are, you know some people that should line up for this, too.

Ok, phew. Rants over. I promise I’m not in a horrible mood! To all of you who are happy to celebrate your first world problems/ spoils/ wonderments of life- Happy Fourth of July! Even if you’re a noncontributing zero, like myself, I’m sure you still appreciate the hard earned freedoms our country has.

I promise PROMISE the next blog will be better written and about something more thoughtful and thought provoking. This was just a “stream of consciousness/ I’m still here” post. Topics I’m mulling over: women with higher than average testosterone, pornography and modern media in marriage, the one article of clothing I own, and more. Thoughts? Ideas?