This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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I could complain…

I could whine about how I got nothing done this week in the way of basement cleaning and pre-holiday deep cleaning. I could whine about my headache, or how whiny the kids are, or how I’ve been running non-stop since my feet hit the ground this morning. I could complain about the huge amount of laundry my husband is about to bring home from his week away (though, in fairness, he’ll do most of it himself), or the gear that he will spread out for two days while he carefully packs it away for next year. I could moan about how I really have to wash the dishes before I put them in the dishwasher because the dishwasher stinks and we had potato soup so everything will be covered with potato starch.

I’m not going to, though. I’m just not. The house will get clean and Christmas will come either way. The kids are going to bed before long, and they’ll be fine. Part of their whininess is that they got flu vaccines today and I’m much more comfortable about the beginning of flu season. I’ve got a decent working washer and dryer so the laundry will get done and I don’t even have to haul it anywhere to do it.  All that gear will get packed neatly into a corner of the basement and my husband will not leave for eight days in a row again for another year. We had a wonderful, warm, comforting soup for dinner.

And it might be too early to decorate, but it’s not to early to drag out my favorite Christmas mug for a cup of coffee to try and ease my headache with caffeine. Just can’t forget that life is good.

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Afternoon Delight (It’s just a cup of coffee)

Election Day! I voted and I hope you did, too. Even if you voted for one of the nut cases out there, even if you voted for one of the candidates that I think should not be allowed to vote, much less run things, I still hope you voted! The system only works when we engage it. It ain’t perfect, by a long shot, but it’s the best out there, and we only improve it by participating in it.

Yada, yada, yada, right? Anybody who is likely to be reading this has likely accepted that voting is an important right and responsibility in this country. I do occasionally have readers from other countries, but I’m guessing they’re aware of how much the right to vote means to most Americans. Yeah, there are a bunch of us who DON’T get it, but that’s why we keep saying it. GO VOTE!

Enough of that. On to other things.

wpid-20141104_160338-1.jpgSomething else you probably already know about if you’re reading. Butter in my coffee. I mentioned it yesterday morning. I am in love with this stuff. I finally broke down and purchased Irish, grass-fed butter to go with my unrefined organic coconut oil, and dash of organic agave nectar. Dump it all in the coffee, dunk the immersion blender for a few seconds, and BAM! Magic elixir. Super stuff! I find that I have excellent energy for 4-6 hours, and it tastes fabulous. I’ve read all sorts of things about this concoction, and maybe some of it is crap, but supposedly, I’m telling my body to burn fat for energy, and that CAN’T be a bad thing. A cup in the morning and a cup in the mid-afternoon, and I can get through just about everything. Most of the time I don’t bother in the morning. Since the Great Paleo Experiment of 2014, I’ve learned to drink my coffee black and I even enjoy it that way. But that afternoon pick-me-up is a God send on some days. Facing “the witching hour” when dinner must be prepared, homework completed, one more load of laundry folded, kitchen cleaned, children bathed and bedded, gets a lot easier with just one mug of that stuff. If you haven’t tried it, well, you should. And when you’re looking for the perfect container to mix this stuff in, I’ll save you the trouble. It’s a quart sized canning jar. Not the wide mouthed kind, just the regular mouth. Perfect.


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Monday, Monday, So Good To Me!

The most peaceful hour of my week, after everyone leaves on Monday morning. Coffee is still hot, there isn’t a TV, video game, or radio playing. The only sound is the refrigerator cycling on and off, a clock ticking, and my typing. Bliss.

So, the apple fig butter. It was FABULOUS! I mean, so, so good! The recipe is so simple. Apples (recipe said 6, but I used 8 small Jonathons), 20 dried figs with stems removed and cut in half, one cup apple cider, 1/2 cup honey, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Mix it all up in a crock pot, cook for 6-8 hours, process in batches in a food processor. DONE! Now I’ve got to figure out how to can things properly, and I think I’ve figured out my Christmas gifts this year! I should probably find some non-bread type stuff to spread this delicious concoction on, too. Mixed it up in Girlie’s oatmeal this morning and she practically licked the bowl. Of course the boys won’t even taste it, but they don’t know what’s good. As I type, I am enjoying sprouted wheat toast with almond butter and this yummy sweet stuff on top. I am in heaven. I’ve also whipped up some coffee with coconut oil, Irish butter, and just a touch of agave nectar. I feel like I’ve actually stepped into decadence. I’m also feeling fueled to make it to lunch! Not totally paleo, by any means, but surely REAL FOOD!

20141103_091952I roasted my chicken on Saturday, only to have Grandma’s old Pyrex dish crack clean through about 15 minutes short of full cook time. Suddenly there was a great deal of smoke pouring out of the oven as the juices spilled onto the oven floor. I had planned to try my hand at zucchini noodles using the spiral slicer I finally bought, but the oven was out of commission. And good thing I wasn’t planning to actually serve roast chicken for dinner, because it was not completely done when I took it out. Eh, no matter. Let it cool, took the meat off and bagged it. It will all be used in recipes and finish cooking then. Mostly I just wanted to get the carcass on to simmer for broth. Now that cold weather is upon us, I’m feeling the need for soups, and I needed to restock my broth supply! Cleaned the oven that night and zucchini noodles are on the menu for tonight. Now, I have seven quart jars cooling on the counter that have been simmering since Saturday evening. Delicious. I actually think I might do a second chicken this week. You can’t have too much broth on hand.

Time to start the laundry, head to Meijer, generally start getting things done. Tomorrow is Election Day, YAY! The kids are out of school for Election Day, BOO! Probably won’t get much accomplished tomorrow, but I’m on a good run with this daily blogging thing, so I’ll do that, at least.

 


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Here we go again…

Here I am again, overwhelmed at the amount of schoolwork and a little panicky about getting it all done. It will get done, it has to get done, but it’s gonna be a manic few months here. Maybe two classes at once is too much at this level. Especially if I have to add some volunteer work. I’m thinking of dropping back to one class at a time. I’ll revisit that thought later. Right now, I’m committed to these two, so I’ll get it done.

Note that, even while eating, there's homework in the background.

Note that, even while eating, there’s homework in the background.

Meanwhile, I’m also determined not to just eat whatever the heck I want to this semester. I’ve dropped a few pounds when classes are out only to pile them back on when classes resume about three times now. I can’t be bothered by the whole calorie counting thing, though. That’s too much trouble anyway. I’m also having some inflammation issues, particularly in my joints, and I’m wondering if diet can help that a bit. So I’ve decided to try a little paleo. I’m going to start with the Whole30 idea and see what happens. Maybe I’ll hate it and that will be the end of it. Maybe I’ll feel a bit better and keep going. Maybe I won’t be able to live without sweetener in my coffee and I’ll last two days and freak out. We’ll see. I know there are a lot of meals considered paleo that I can get excited about. I like that I don’t need to keep track of anything and as long as I keep plenty of veggies and some fruit around, I’ll never have to figure out what to eat. I like that I can cook meat and serve it to me and my family. I will have to make some modifications and maybe I won’t consume the whole meal that the rest of the family gets, but I won’t have to make two separate meals every night, either.

So far, I’m just experimenting with some meals. I have not committed to get started. I’ve got a half a loaf of Ezekiel bread and a chunk of 1000 day gouda I’m not willing to throw out. I’m pleased, though. Last night I had sweet potatoes, onions, and spinach. It was delicious! I was a little shocked at how much I enjoyed it, actually. That’s the dish in the picture. Breakfast was two eggs, spinach, onion, mushrooms, and avocado. I was stuffed. I should have left time for lunch before I go pick up Joey, but I’m going to snack on some sugar snap peas and I think I’ll make it. I’ll keep you posted. I’m not looking forward to giving up alcohol, either, but that’s not exactly a deal breaker.

 


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So, how was your Christmas?

Mine was/is lovely. It’s still Christmas in my mind, though, I know that technically it was just yesterday in our culture. We will not be celebrating the full 12 days of Christmas, but for today, Boxing Day, for me and my family, this day is JUST as special. We won’t leave the house today. Most of us won’t even get dressed. I put a venison roast (I should write about how that came to be, I guess) in the oven since it wouldn’t fit in the Crock Pot, but it’s been cooking since 10:00 at 225 degrees. We’ve been picking at leftover desserts brought home from yesterday’s feast and candy from the stockings. My husband and I drank coffee until it was time to switch to beer and wine respectively and we’re just hanging out. The big kids are working on LEGO kids that Santa brought, and the little one is enthralled with a new video game. I LOVE Boxing Day.

Yesterday was so different, but just as lovely. The kids got up early and our house is much the same as any other house with kids on Christmas morning. Then we dressed and headed to my parent’s house for more Christmas gift exchanging. This year we were one more since it’s the first year my brother’s girlfriend has joined us. We really like her and hope she’ll be around for many more Christmases. The kids were impatient and whiny and overtired, but it was lovely. Then Mom and I whirled around making food and cleaning up before the huge extended family descended on us. It’s loud and chaotic and a bit crazy, but wonderful. My sweet introverted husband is such a good sport about adapting to our loud-mouthed, matriarchal group. It was a wonderful day. I could tell you more, but I’ll  just leave you with some pictures of the wonderful people I love so much. Feel free to ignore them, but I felt I should show them to you. This is our Christmas.

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My brother and his lovely girlfriend.

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My aunt and her sons

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My mom and her great nephew

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My cousin and our grandpa

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My handsome Grandpa, lookin’ good!

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Our elders, Grandpa and his sister, my great aunt

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Grandpa and our youngest family member, his great great grandson

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Mom taking a breather

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Two of my gorgeous cousins

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My brother teaching Middle Bird to play chess on the glass chess set he got him for Christmas

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Two of my pretty cousins taking a selfie

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My cousin and his girlfriend who he should just go ahead and pop the question to already!

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My Grandpa and another of his great grandchildren, who happens to be mama to that sweet baby.

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Sweet smilie boy

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My and my baby

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My parents and my kids

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My mom and my lovely aunts

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My grandpa and a bunch of his great grands

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Standing at the door…

Here it is! The holidays are HERE! It’s not pre-holidays. It’s not almost the holidays. It’s here! Tomorrow I go to the grocery for all the stuff I need to make my part of Thanksgiving dinner. Today I will tackle the house. Toilets, vacuuming, laundry, oh dear God, the laundry. But right at this morning tears are streaming down my face as I contemplate my blessings.Thanksgiving-dinner2-760380

I have avoided the Month of Thankfulness that so many of my friends participate in. I love seeing what my friends are thankful for. Often it’s loved ones, or material blessings, or just living in this wonderful country. Sometimes it’s little things like a good cup of coffee, or a few minutes to sit down. A few weeks ago a friend posted on Facebook about how she couldn’t bring herself to participate because she was conflicted about it all. If she posts that she’s thankful for her wonderful husband, won’t that make a newly widowed friend feel bad? Maybe that’s why I couldn’t post? Or if I post about how thankful I am for my husband’s good job that affords me the chance to live in this house in this neighborhood, will that bum out my friends who are struggling with unemployment and just want keep their home out of foreclosure? I thought about this a lot for a few days. In the end, I decided no. Not, my posts wouldn’t, or shouldn’t make anyone feel bad. Well, probably not. So I didn’t participate. Doesn’t mean I’m not grateful. I’m so thankful from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. I’m grateful for my family, my parents, my brother, my husband, my beautiful children. NOBODY on this planet is more blessed with good people in their lives. My heart could pop. And I’m thankful for the material blessings I enjoy. My home, my warm bed, my stocked pantry, my reliable transportation, even the fabulous coffee maker that just brewed up a pot of go-juice for the afternoon. And so much more. Doesn’t mean my life is perfect, just that I’ll keep my own problems, given the choice.

I’ve written before about how I know this time will pass. Someday someone I love will get sick, or be taken from me without warning. There will be job stress for my husband or myself, I do plan to re-enter the workforce soon. Sometime each of my children will disappoint me with a decision or direction. I’m not unprepared for that, though nobody is ever really prepared. But just like I know exactly WHO I am grateful TO, I know where I’ll get the strength to get through those things, too.

Now I’ve got all these lovely blessings to be thankful and we’re standing in the doorway ready to walk into the holidays. I LOVE the holidays. I’m sure not every year will be as lovely as this one promises to be, but I pray I’m never any less aware of how lovely it all is.

I’ve got to get back to my job today. It’s weird being in this between terms thing. I only had a short break between Summer and Fall, so being out of classes so long is a little unnerving. Might help if that one prof would go ahead and post gradeStill, today I am Mom, plain and simple. Mom who cleans toilets. Mom who does laundry. Mom who prepares for Thanksgiving, a gameday party on Saturday (Go BUCKS!), and Christmas. Good thing I love being Mom.

 


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‘Morning

20130605_071407I love my bed.  Who doesn’t, right?  That alarm goes off and suddenly that warm comfy spot is the most wonderful spot in the world, right?  Well, if I get up right then, if I never consider the snooze, I am always glad.  If I hit the snooze, even once, I’m done for if there’s no appointment pressing.  No matter how much is on the day’s agenda, I can justify another hour or more in nine minute increments.  But here’s the best thing.  When I get up to walk, or otherwise exercise in some way, it’s the best.  I get to be quiet.  Yes, those of you who know me, I do enjoy that once in a while.  I get to walk the neighborhood and focus my eyes on things that are further away than the other side of the room, or my computer monitor.  I get to listen to the birds.  Then when I get home, if I’m really lucky, nobody is awake yet and I get to have some quiet time at home.  Drinking my coffee in peace is a privilege, indeed.  Sitting down with the computer for some uninterrupted writing, with my banana and my coffee, that is a rare treat, for sure.

Too bad I have nothing to say today.


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Ahhh, Sweet Saturday



No alarm clocks.  That’s my favorite thing about Saturday.  Before kids I called it sleeping in, but now I’m just glad I don’t have to wake up to NPR’s early morning news.  The big kids don’t need anything when they first wake up anymore, so you can send them to the basement to play video games.  The little guy usually sleeps later and when he does wake up on Saturdays, he calls for Daddy to do Bag of Joe.

Bag of Joe is the silliest ritual in the world, but what toddler doesn’t love being wrapped in a blanket an swung around the living room while Daddy sings, “I’ve got a bag of Joe, you’ve got a bag a Joe, everybody’s got a bag of Joe this mooooorning!”  It’s modeled on the older ritual known around here as “Sack of Sam” but Sam is way to big to be lifted by the corners of a blanket now.

The most wonderful coffee maker ever.

The most wonderful coffee maker ever.

I always set up the coffee maker the night before. When we finally replaced the old one, which had been a bridal shower gift in 2001, I insisted we get the “grind n’ brew” deal.”  Chad insisted it be programmable, and I’m that much of a coffee snob.  If it’s going to sit in there all night, beans ground right before it brews will be fresher, right?  It makes delicious coffee and though I hate cleaning the grinder out every evening, I’m oh so thankful every morning when the thing goes off (sounding like a jet engine, by the way) and I have coffee waiting for me when I get downstairs.

But Saturdays I just set it up and don’t hit the Program button.  I mean, you just never know what time one of us will get downstairs and be ready for coffee.  It’s set for 6:30 AM since that’s what time it needs to go off on weekdays, but if one of us is up at that time on Saturday, something has gone wrong.  It happens, but let’s not plan on that, okay?

I will miss toddler footed jammies when he gives them up.

I will miss toddler footed jammies when he gives them up.

So, Saturdays are for staying in pajamas and slippers.  At least for the kids.  For me, when I finally get out of bed (at the decadent hour of 8:00 AM, mind you!), my extravagance is to go down and grab coffee, throw granola bars at the hungry kids, and then go back upstairs and take a shower.  With the radio on.  Loud enough to hear over the running water.  I don’t hurry, either.  I get to let the conditioner sit on my hair.  I get to shave, well, whatever I feel like shaving, not just rush over the ankles.  I get to lather up with lotion, not just hit the elbows and kneecaps.  No one is in bed making me be quiet.  No one is left alone and unsupervised making me hurry and worry.  No one is waiting for me to pick them up or drive them somewhere.  Even the sound of the phone ringing does not make me hurry along.  It is bliss, really.  I don’t bother with doing my hair or putting on make-up.  It’s Saturday, after all.

And then I come out and find that my sweet husband who has just cleaned the kitchen (making the shower water temp fluctuate, but I’m not going to let that ruin anything) is still not familiar enough with the room to actually find where I’ve hidden all the food.  “I’ve got to eat something.  Will you make me something?”

Break time’s over.  🙂


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Monday, Monday

So, I had my Monday morning, and as usual, it was a non-event.  I played on the computer a while, then put my wellies on and headed to Aldi’s.  We were out of milk and juice.  Then I went on to the preschool to pick up the youngest.  That’s it.  Big deal.  Weekend over until next week.

And then I made it home and got NOTHING done that I should have on a Monday!  I didn’t do any laundry, I didn’t clean any toilets.  I barely got the dishwasher emptied and the breakfast dishes loaded up!  Instead, I wrangled with my old netbook to get an Open Office database resent to my instructor.  He couldn’t open the one I originally submitted, so he asked for another.  No, it turns out it was NOT something I did, but some issue with Open Office, and there was a problem with about 30% of the class.  Whatever.  He asked us to send it in the form of screenshots.  Unfortunately you can only submit one file per email through the course email service.  So, screenshots in a Word doc.  Took way too long, but I guess I learned some stuff.  Make a pot of coffee.

Then it’s off to pick the big kids up from school.  Bring home an extra kid for another neighborhood family who needs a favor.  Chaos in my kitchen.  Lip from the Girlie Bird, homework supervised.  Now it’s almost 4:30 and I don’t know what to make for dinner.  I know I’m unlikely to get anything BUT dinner done.

Just changed another poopy diaper.  Noticing my grimace, Baby Bird says, “Mommy, be happy!”  Can’t miss the opportunity to apply a little maternal guilt, right?  “Pooping in the potty would make me really happy, Baby.”  Now, we’ve had this conversation before and once he replied in his best toddler chirp, “Well, maybe somebody will poop in the potty for you.”  This time, however, he just quietly bowed his head and said, “I will, Mommy.”  Guilt trip complete.

Now I’ll make dinner, force everyone to scrub their butts and their teeth, encourage reading at bedtime, complain about wet towels and where they are left, clean up the mess, sing lullabies, and sit down to look at the assignment for the week.


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That pot of coffee…

I made that pot of coffee.  For myself.  Just me.  Why did I make a full pot?  Because it’s a habit.  It’s like I don’t know how to make half a pot.  What sort of sense does that make?  Oh, well.  I’ll have all the coffee I can drink, or need, until dinner time.  Also known as time to switch to wine.  😉  Now I have to go give the Baby Bird a cheese.  Not a cheese stick, a cheese.  AKA, Kraft single.