Monday, September 3, 2012

because i'm brilliant....

in case you are living under a rock - today was labor day.  that means that christmas is just around the corner!

i'm always asked to provide a list of things that i want to various people - my parents, jeff's mom, jeff, everyone else.  and i really like practical gifts the most.  give me cool cookware over jewelery any day.  well.  cookware and gingiebread boys.

anyway.  in an effort to keep those thoughts organized this year, i've created a pinterest board called "christmas wish list" and installed the "pin it" button on my toolbar.  this way - when i'm perusing or or whatever - i can just pin an item to that wish list.  and then everything is in one place.

i'm so smart.  i wanted to share my smarts with others. 

and then i'm going to pin this smart thing on pinterest so i can get credit........

and since i need a christmas photo go to with the pin - here are some gingiebread boys!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I can craft too Emily!!

so my friend emily has this great blog called Entirely Emily where she does all these great crafts and organizational tips and recipes.  my blog is kinda boring.  i was wanting to do something fun with nina and have been itching to do a craft ever since i got back from camp.  so while out running errands - i randomly decided to go to hobby lobby - and a tshirt project (inspired by a craft i saw at camp) was born.

and because i was inspired by all of emily's crafty detailed posts - i thought i would blog about it - just for her....

so here we go....

the project - reverse tie-dye......

we started with a plain black fitted tshirt.....


and some foam sticker stars and letters....

we placed a cookie sheet inside the tshirt to prevent bleach bleeding through.  and because we were doing the back two, we rested the shirt on top of a second cookie sheet so it wasn't sitting on the ground....

then we arranged the letters and stars on the shirt in the desired designs - removing the back to make them stick for the bleaching....

once everything was secure on both sides - it was time for spritzing.  we filled a spray bottle with a couple ounces of bleach and diluted it with water.  then spritzed all around the letters heavily, and lighter through out the shirt.  we had to do some careful flipping to get the back - it was definitely a two girl job.....

we let the bleach sit for about five minutes or so - just till it started fading, then gave the shirt a dunk in some cold water and laundry detergent (to deactivate the bleach), rang it out really good and gave it a tumble in the dryer....

the big thing with the teens these days is that every good t-shirt deserves some original snipping....

and after nina played with scissors for awhile we had a finished product....

here's close up's of the reverse tie dye....

we're so crafty.  how you like that emily?? ;-)

nina wants to do this again - she says this one will be for sleeping and swimming.  next time we'll either start with a tank or buy a smaller fitted tshirt and not make cuts at all.  and maybe go with a red or a pink shirt.  but we sure had fun making this first attempt!!!


Friday, August 10, 2012

meet trouble....

it's no secret that i was quite devastated when we lost our precious sandy kitty back in april.  it kinda put me into a bit of a depression.  i always told jeff that there would be another cat after sandy.  this was never a question.  but he insisted we wait until after our june vacation....

so a couple of weeks after we got back from reno and south dakota - i started checking out the kitties looking for homes on the humane society's webpage.  but i just couldn't find a kitty picture that stole my heart.  i found sandy online first and fell in love with her there.

we had a few conditions:

i wanted a kitty young enough not to have picked up any bad habits.
i wanted a kitty young enough to not have loved someone else.
i didn't want a kitty that looked like every other gray or orange tabby - there had to be unique markings
i didn't want a tortie - because our bailey was a tortie..
jeff didn't want a black cat - cause you can't see them in the dark.
no medium or long hair cats

i mean - that's not too hard - right?  yeah.  i was getting no where with the humane society.

so in a stroke of genius - i looked at the APA webpage.  their adoption fees for kitties was "name your price" - which was very appealing to start.  they had about 90 cats in the shelter. tons of babies.  and there on page three - i found 3 kittens from the same litter and a fourth that was a rescue that stole my heart.


jeremy stole my heart online first, but the more i looked at jacob - the more i liked him.  they looked very similar - one was gray and white, the other blue and white.  their sister jewell was a calico.  and penelope was a mishmash of colors. 

so the next day, the three of us set out to the APA to meet these four kitties.  we spent a little time with each.  jacob - timid at first but started to show personality before our time with him was up.  jeremy wouldn't come out from under the bench.  jewell was alllll over the place.  inquisitive little calico.  and penelope just sat where every she was set.  it was up for a vote between jacob and jewell - and jacob won 2 to 1.

we knew the name jacob wouldn't stick.  it took us about 24 hours to settle on his name:  trouble.

you know how most cats hide under the bed for 2 days waiting for a quiet time to explore?  yeah.  not trouble.  trouble went from one litter to another - thinks we are large kittens.  immediately wanted to be in whichever room had a person.  had to be touching someone to sleep.  and was never selfish with the purring.  and he's also a big old mischief maker. 

the more we get to know trouble - the more his name fits.  for example - his favorite pastime is attacking my head.  he wakes up with the son.  and he wants to chew on my shoes (and ate nina's ear buds).

but i'll say this - it sure feels good to hear the jingle bell of a kitty running through the house again....

Friday, July 13, 2012

revisiting that 2012 bucket list....

isn't it funny how in the blink of an eye - it's almost august? 

i would like to take a minute to revisit that 2012 Bucket List that i drafted way back in January to review the progress that i have made. 

sadly - there hasn't been a lot of progress.  but let's take a look anyway.

karen's 2012 bucket list:

  • clean out nina's old toy room and set up the extra bedroom furniture in it for guests - just in case - well - half the task is better than none of the task....
  • clean out the old office
  • clean out the new office
  • clean under our bed - it's so often forgotten
  • clean out and reorganize my closet - and hopefully let go of the fat jeans
  • host a kick ass garage $ale - we had plans to do this in May.  even started gathering stuff and purchased supplies for pricing.  but the spring calendar full of dance recitals, graduation activities, and work gave us one weekend to do this task - and then something mandatory came up that postponed it.  which was okay because i wasn't ready anyway.  now we can't try again until the fall.  because who has a garage sale in the 100+ temps of july....
  • do one thing completely out of character that no one would ever expect me to do - and make sure it's not illegal - i still need ideas....
  • share one breathtaking memory with jeff and nina - i did this!  i totally did!!!  while on our summer vacation/road trip - we saw many beautiful sites.  but nothing quite so awe inspiring as hiking around devil's tower in Wyoming.  it's just so amazing.  i only wish i had worn better shoes.  and mount rushmore was pretty kick bootie too.  especially when you realize the carved the whole thing with dynamite!!
  • relax in the pool more than once per season  - i've managed twice in the pool!  once with a kick butt homemade sangria!
  • go on a picnic
  • go camping. more than once.
  • pretend to be tourists in our own city and take in the some of the sights of STL in one weekend
  • prepare a turkey dinner - i've only ever done it once
  • bake a pie from scratch including crust - i've never done that
  • read all of 210 of the fairy tales written by the Grimm Brothers - thanks to jeff - i already have the book to get me started
  • take time off of work and not check in with the office or email the entire time - i made an attempt and it lasted for exactly one business day.  epic fail.

o the bucket list is a work in progress - one that i will likely have to continue into 2013.  but i am able to cross off a little.  it means my whole year hasn't been a waste..... 

Monday, June 11, 2012

things that totally sucked today...

the following things totally sucked today:

  1. skipped breakfast to go to the doctor.
  2. forgot my lunch.
  3. the scale at the doctor's office gave me a number 2.5 pounds heavier than my home scale - which gave me a number 2.5 pounds higher than yesterday.  they both lie.  and i don't appreciate when it lies on my medical file.
  4. when taking my blood pressure - the m.a. at the doctor's office looked at me and said "hmm.  you're arm is in between sizes." and slapped a large cuff on me.  um.  my arm ain't that freaking big.
  5. would have made it to the office quicker if i had a row boat to get through the puddles on forest park parkway.
  6. after 45 minutes and 32 attempts to boot my computer and repeatedly getting the "no operation system installed" error prompted me to contact IT - i felt like an idiot when i realized that it was because i forgot to remove my flash drive from the usb port on friday.
  7. was 10 minutes late for my appointment in north county.
  8. my coworker told me that my new hair cut was cute only to admit that he regretted saying it 2 minutes later because he realized saying a female coworker's hair is cute might be inappropriate.
  9. was told i'm beautiful 7 times in 3 minutes by my parents' neighbor who has permanent beer goggles before he stumbled back to his house.
the following things did not totally suck today:
  1. i woke up.  beats the alternative.
  2. got to the doctor 45 minutes early due to lack of traffic. 
  3. bonus - got a decent phlebotomist
  4. got much needed rain for the lawn.
  5. made it back to our neighborhood 30 minutes early after work because i didn't have to go back to the office after my meeting in north county.
  6. my monday is also my thursday.
  7. that makes tomorrow my friday - for almost 2 weeks. 
  8. chocolate chip banana mini muffins.
  9. so far bunheads isn't totally awful.
  10. and i came up with as many non sucky things as i did sucky there's that.....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

it's okay if you don't understand the hubbub - it's a STL thing.....

in case you've been living under a rock and missed it - nina graduated from 8th grade last week and is officially on her way to high school.  in STL - 8th grade graduation is a big deal.  largely because - unless you go to one of the public schools out in stl county - when you leave 8th grade - you and your friends all go off to different schools - kind of like when you go off to different colleges.  so there is a ceremony and parties and gifts and a dress. 

anyway - since i'm all about tradition - i was pretty excited about nina's graduation.

nina went to a local catholic school for grades k-4.  we had a lot of problems there.  bullying with no discipline.  favoritism.  poor teaching.  old teachers that should have retired long ago.  it wasn't working out.  so one day - after being at my wits end - i placed a call to the local charter school - the first one founded in STL.  it was the best choice i ever made.  because the girl that nina is now - is no longer the girl that was bullied so horribly 5 years ago. she had so many opportunities there that she wouldn't have had elsewhere.  she's far more confident.  that girl wouldn't have been co-captain of the cheer squad or sang a solo at 8th grade graduation.  slcs was more of a home than her old school ever was.  the parents were more accepting of me.  so closing this chapter in her life and watching her go off to my alma mater for high school is bitter sweet.

so i want to take a few moments to share with you some photos and commentary on what made slcs a home.

my three adopted daughters:

 the first really good friend nina made at SLCS was lucy.  lucy and nina are complete total opposites.  lucy is a tomboy while nina is as girly as they come. but somehow it works.  lucy was the first friend to spend the night at our house and quickly became family.  so much so that in 2009 - we took her with us to branson.  slumber parties often involve well thought out menus involving things like "fried chicken and mashed potatoes" instead of pizza and popcorn.  and speaking of popcorn - the first time lucy saw me make popcorn she said "your gonna cook it?  on the stove??"  they fight like sisters - slapping each other one second and hugging the next.

the summer leading into 6th grade - the name ashleigh started popping up a lot.  ashleigh was this cute little perky ball of energy.  i don't think i really adopted her until closer to 7th grade when nina joined cheer leading.  whenever the two would wander off for more than 2 minutes, it usually involved a plot of some sort that ended with sugar and 2 a.m. giggles.  it's not uncommon for me to look at one of her parents and say "the girls are plotting again".  don't let her angel face fool you - she can be a playful little devil too - which usually ends in a giggle and a "love you mom!"
nina, ashleigh, lucy - 8th grade graduation 2012

nina and maddie joined the cheer squad at the same time, maddie as a 6th grader, and nina as a 7th grader.  maddie is this cute little thing that often reminds me of a cute little mouse.  the night before we lost sandy, nina and maddie went to the movies together - and maddie made a special trip into the house when we got home to give me a hug and tell me it would be okay.  her mom and i helped the squad make special spirit sticks for the coaches this year.  i'm sure maddie will lead the cheer squad next year and she'll do an awesome job.

maddie and nina

with these girls, came some awesome moms who helped the journey along.  i've celebrated birthdays with them.  we've entrusted our children to each other without a problem.  i even returned one broken and didn't get blamed!  i never would have felt as comfortable at nina's old school as i was at SLCS.

this video is for all four of my girls.  pay attention the words girls - your journey isn't over.  it's just beginning.

life changers:

i also want to take a moment to give a shout out to two people who inspired nina and helped to build her confidence. 

mrs. dunn - her cheer coach - who believed in her strong natural cheer skills and ability to lead the squad.  the nina from five years ago would have only tried out if it was what her friends were doing.  this year, she was told by mrs. dunn and the athletic director - she's really good and could go on to do this in high school, and maybe college.  they genuinely believe in her natural talent.

ms. dwidar - her first choir teacher.  when nina tried out for choir at the end of 7th grade, ms dwidar looked at her and said "well.  seems you've been hiding a little secret from me."  nina's singing talent was a skill i tried to keep at a distance until she was old enough to learn to use it properly.  i didn't want her to try to sing like brittney spears when she was 8.  i never did a very good job.  she still sang at the top of her lungs all the time anyway.  it's sort of like breathing for her - she doesn't even know she's doing it.  ms. dwidar also recognised her natural talent.  when nina was trying out for the talent show, she was worried about one note and so i told her to ask ms dwidar what she should do and she talked her through it.  she gave her a solo for fine arts night and 8th grade graduation.  and she wants to know when nina is singing in high school.  in just one short year - nina grew so much vocally.  she kinda wants to try out for american idol now.  yikes.  so if nina turns into the next rachel berry - it's this woman's fault - and i'm so grateful.

my favorite people:

finally - these are my two favorite people.  jeff has been a real good sport through all of this.  he didn't get it either.  but he went along with it.  even the part where we had the co-ed pool party.

party like it's 1991:

and just for fun - this is what 8th grade graduation looked like 21 years ago in 1991.  my how the dresses have changed....

Monday, May 7, 2012

i heart you sandy kitty.....

so this has been a really crappy year to try to recreate myself.  stress obstacles have met me at every turn and i've caved to each and every one of them.  right down to putting on seven pounds in the last month and i feel like such a blob.  i eat my feelings.  and this is what i have been eating for the past three weeks....

since i was a little girl, i've always been a cat person.  but i was the only cat person in my house so i was going to have to wait until i was all grown up to start my cat lady destiny.  so when jeff and i bought this house and got married, i started planting seeds about getting a cat.  he resisted.  but when nina was almost seven, we ended up with a horrible mouse infestation in our house.  it seemed that a mama mouse got in our house and had a whole litter of baby mice.  we discovered it on halloween and the journey of trying to rid ourselves of mice went on past thanksgiving into the first of december.  we had caught 8 or 9 of them and a few days had gone by without a sign of a critter.  we were out to bowling and jeff made the comment "thank god that was over, i was about ready to give in on the cat issue." 

the next day we came home to another mouse in a trap.  and the following saturday, nina, jeff and i all made a trip to the humane society and came home with sandy kitty.  she was six months old and cute as could be.  (we almost came home with a boy cat we were going to call oreo - but he sneezed in front of the volunteer and she was worried he was sick and needed to be observed.  you try telling a seven year old that she ISN'T going to leave with a cat that day as promised - so we looked at sandy kitty - who i had seen and fallen in love with online.  HSMO called her "sparkle".)

now sandy kitty was not only a solution to our mouse problems, but she was also going to be a birthday gift for nina's 7th birthday.  (that's right - one of many times that i encouraged something for nina because i really wanted it too - midnight showing of hunger games anyone??)  the only thing was - sandy kitty didn't form an attachment to nina - because she recognised me as mama cat in the house.  sure, she loved nina and hung with her on occasions.  and she didn't mind telling jeff off once in awhile and laying on his pillow (because it had the better view of the bird nest next door).  but her den was our bedroom - as the litter box was in our walk in closet.  her place of comfort when she was scared was under our bed - cause there's lots of clutter to hide in.  and come bedtime, her favorite place to sleep - was on my head.  sandy was a perfect picture of unconditional love - and she unconditionally loved me the best.....

those of you who know me have seen over the years the saga of love between sandy and i.  quite often i thought she was really trying to just suffocate me to death.  she slept on my head.  she fought with my books.  if i was home, i had to be within eyesight.  and heaven forbid the suitcase move from it's spot in the closet.  that made her anxious.  she knew what it meant.

when we had both sandy and bailey - bailey was always the one that had us running to the vet.  bladder infections and stones.  skin allergies.  pulling out her hair.  sandy was always the healthy one.  so it kinda knocked us off our feet three weeks ago when jeff and i took her to the vet for what we thought was a bladder issue - she was in the litter box a lot.  that was the only thing wrong really.  sure.  she was a little whinier than normal and she wasn't perching in her normal high places but strange hard places, like the floor under the kitchen table, the bathtub, and the rug by the front door.  she hadn't been dashing through the house like a crazy kitty either - but she was 8.  some of that was bound to change over time.  but the vet immediately felt something wrong and an xray confirmed it.  there was something on her kidney that shouldn't be there.  in just a few short minutes - our whole world was turned upside down and ripped apart.

that was tuesday.

on thursday, we took her to a specialist who did an ultrasound - the rest of our tax refund was utilized - only to confirm that not only was there one mass on her kidney, but a second larger one that could be attached to her liver - but they weren't sure.  lymphoma was the best case scenario, and while he couldn't say for sure without a biopsy, he felt pretty certain it wasn't lymphoma.  the only treatment would be an attempt to remove the masses, which once they got in there they might find they weren't able to do.  and it was very costly.  very very costly.  like $2000 costly.  and it wouldn't be fair.  when asked how long before she deteriorated - he told me that it could be days, it could be weeks, it definitely wouldn't be months.   

on top of this, nina was leaving on sunday for a week long trip to DC with school.  so our decisions all had to be made quickly because we didn't want sandy to suffer, and we didn't want something to happen while she was on her trip and have her not be here.  so we did the hardest thing in the world. 

on saturday, we told her good-bye.  and it pretty much sucked.  jeff and i were with her - i couldn't not be with her.  being with me made her happy - i couldn't stand the thought of handing her over to a stranger and having her be scared thinking i abandoned her.  i held her and loved her.  and it was very fast - which means she was way weaker than we thought she was. 

you know - when you can't have more kids - you really transfer that love that you would give kids to something else.  in my case it's my pets.  and sandy was my baby.  i haven't dealt with it very well.  i'm still really upset.  still looking for her around the house.  looking at the places where she liked to be and expecting to see her there.  expecting to see her run to the door when i come home.  it took me almost two weeks to be able to read in bed again - and i'm still struggling with that one.  and don't ask me to go in the room where jeff stashed all the kitty stuff.  it's not happening.  on the surface i may seem okay - but even 2 weeks later, i'm still not ready for her to not be here.  i miss her.

on sunday - nina left for DC and i finally had time to really address the turn of events from that week.  and then i ate about 2000 calories in 3 hours.  i think i know where a couple of those new pounds came from.

anyway - this is my big struggle right now.  some will think it's silly.  "she was just a cat".  no.  she was more than just a cat.  she had quirks and a personality and lots of love to give (as long as you weren't a stranger and didn't make horrible noises whenever you came into our house - which is why she didn't like my dad - everything he did here was noisy).

i have hundreds of pictures of sandy on my phone.  she was always so silly or cute that i couldn't help it.  (and rolen isn't as easy to get pictures of!  he won't stay still!)  below are two of the last three.

taken the day before she died.  she seemed week that morning and i wasn't sure she would make it through the day.  this was how i wanted to remember her - so i took it before i left for work.

and this one was taken during our last snuggle session the morning we said good-bye.

i'll always love you sandy kitty......

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

don't knock it....

tonite - i made one of our most favorite things for dinner.  it's an old family recipe that my parents used to make for us when we were little.  it conjures up images of my childhood new years eve on the living room floor. 

everyone i have ever told about this secret family recipe has screwed up their face all funny like - as if we meis's were crazy folk.  but when i introduce them to it - they usually fall in love with it.

this secret that i speak of - is - hot dog pizza. 

you read that right.  hot.  dog.  pizza.

in order to make hot dog pizza - you don't just go putting hot dogs on a frozen tostinos party pizza.  no.  you need a very special secret ingredient:

that's right. a chef boyardee pizza kit.  this is the key to what makes hot dog pizza so good.  i think the secret is in the grated kraft parmesan cheese.  then you add a little more because the kit doesn't quite have enough. 

is it healthy?  probably not.  is it cheap?  as long as you don't buy expensive hot dogs.  is it good??  oh heck yeah!  and it makes us happy!  bonus!!!

don't knock it until you've tried it!

tell me that doesn't look awesome!!!  

Monday, April 9, 2012

this is my brain on dry erase....

THIS - is my brain - on dry erase......

i spend the better part of each day gazing at this dry erase calendar - especially when i'm on the phone with my coworker Alex - who travels here as much as i do there - and we are trying to coordinate meetings.  it has become the only way i can manage juggling my schedule.  it is highly complicated and color coded:

purple:  programs - that's how we spend our money - and what is suppose to be the bulk of my job
green:  fund-raising events and/or grant deadlines
blue:  important meetings - usually involving staff or the board
orange:  days that the office is closed OR planned travel to KC
brown:  personal schedules.  big V's are my vacation days.  little notes in the top right corner indicate other staff members vacation days.  other little notes in the corner might indicate something nina has that i need to be around for.
red:  partner events or collaborative efforts
pink:  council meetings

i CANNOT emphasize how crucial this system has become to me.  (and yet, somehow i double booked myself on the 22nd with both a work event and a personal event.  the personal event won because it is a sunday and way more important.)

but today i discovered that both of my red and my pink marker are MISSING.  now my whole color coding system is going to go to hell because i had to switch the pink to black because it was the only color i had left other than yellow which i can't see from across my desk.

i bet you i'm at office depot before the week is out buying more markers because i can't cope....   

Sunday, April 8, 2012

sharing my wisdom....

so while in KC the other day, the barista at the Starbucks shared a piece of knowledge that I am passing on to all of you.

the only difference between a venti and a grande is that the venti has one more pump of syrup and more milk. they both have the same amount of espresso. so if you get the larger one because you want more caffeine - like I have always done - you are only getting more calories. To get the biggest caffeine bang for your buck - go grande.

Use this knowledge wisely.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

home (away from) sweet home....

so if you haven't picked up on this by now, i've spent a lot of time in the last nine months on interstate 70 driving back and forth between STL and KC.  what?  you didn't notice??  i'll try and make it more obvious next time i come - which is in exactly 7 days....
KC is kinda becoming my home away from home, and my residence is usually in one of the rooms at the courtyard marriott on the country club plaza.  the weirdest thing about staying here is that - um - the staff have kinda started to know me.  and i know them.

jaime always answers when i call - and always makes jokes about how i'm an old pro at what's where.  kerrie is the sales manager - she's always very helpful.  there's the cute girl who had a baby four months ago and we always chat about how fast he's growing.  there's the crazy girl who works in the breakfast cafe that i can't stand because she doesn't juggle hustle and bustle very well and will take my breakfast voucher and then try to charge me anyway.  and the nice man who works in the breakfast cafe who i'm always relieved to see is on duty and doesn't think it's weird when i order both oj and a diet pepsi.  and the night guy with the accent.  yup.  i know them all.

sorry - hold on - the phone is ringing.....

oh.  that was my buddy jaime seeing if i needed a wake up call for tomorrow or a car arranged.  i'm a gold status marriott member now - it comes with the territory.  62 more nights and i get to go platinum....

where was i.  oh yes.  this whole "learning to travel on business" thing has been an experience.  i remember my days at WU when we would work on itineraries and appointment packets and such and we thought about how luxurious it must be to travel on business to exotic cities and eat on the company dime.  and you know what i've learned (other than the fact that i can now direct someone from our office in overland park back to their office in columbia without google maps?) - i've learned that it's really not all that it's cracked up to be.

i wake up earlier here (jeff is kinda shocked by this.  i also wake up to an alarm all on my own without rolling over and going back to sleep and telling someone to "go to hell" when they call to make sure i'm up in moving.  in fact - i don't even need a wake up call - sorry jaime.  jeff is also shocked that my showers aren't nearly as long and that i don't leave my pj's just thrown on the bed). 

figuring out dinner is always a chore (although at least once a trip i hit up the olive garden in overland park for some capellini pomadoro - the to go guy - who i am also starting to know - always gives me about 7 chocolate mints - but tonite he forgot my fork so he's on probation).

when i get back to the hotel i kinda don't know what to do with myself.  i work harder when i'm here, so thinking about work is not on my list of desires.  i'm on pretty much all day and i don't really want to be around people.  (introverts!  unite!!)  and half the time i'm in a hole that gets bad wireless reception so i have no internet.  and even though i always bring my tennis shoes with the intention of walking on the treadmill - i'm always too afraid that there will be someone else in the work out room who sees me trying to figure out how to turn the darn thing on and laugh at me so i don't ever go.... 

i can't just curl up and go to sleep - it's too hard.  so generally i fall asleep while dr. drew or nancy grace drones on about whatever hot button topic they have been obsessing on for a month.  then i wake up at 3 in the morning - and they are still on which is really creepy.

and frankly - i find it kinda weird that every time i open a thing of soap to wash my hands, the housekeeping staff throws it away.  i mean, isn't that just weird?  and wasteful???

more than anything though - i miss my family when i'm gone.  i miss making my own dinner.  i miss my own bed.  i miss decent cable channels. 

i get to go home tomorrow.  KC is nice (except for the whole chief's/royals fans) - but i'm always so excited when i get to go home.  and it's proven when one sees how antsy i get once i hit traffic at 270.....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

making a dent in the bucket list.....

so nina and i are on spring break this week.  and one of the things that i had hoped to do this week was work on an item from my bucket list for 2012. 

you will recall that the first item on the list was "clean out nina's old toy room and set up the extra bedroom furniture in it for guests - just in case."  with jeff out of town for the weekend at a bowling tourney - i thought it was a good time to ge started. 

now these pictures are going to be a little bit shocking.  i'm not very proud.  this is the room where all the barbies and petshops went to die over the years.  when nina would clean up her room she would take stuff downstairs to that room and toss it in and close the door.  with the door closed all the time - it was easily an out of site out of mind situation.  so i was a bit shocked when one day i peeked in for some reason and realize that it looked kinda like this:

i'm not proud.  please don't judge us.

so yesterday nina and i spent a couple of hours down there working.  but with only a few boxes and trash bags and a big rain storm that kept us from getting stuff out of the house - we didn't get as far as i would like.  and there was several moments of feeling extremely overwhelmed.  kinda like people on hoarders.  except without the rotting food and dead critters. 

so we sought the reinforcing help of a big trash can and nina's friend lucy.  in just four short hours - we saw this:

that's floor.  and carpet. 

we made three trips to the dumpster, and there's still some trash in the garage and in the big trash can that we'll have to get out to the dumpsters after they are emptied.  and i have five boxes and three trash bags to take to goodwill tomorrow.  but now it looks like this:

see how the door opens all the way?  and you can see floor??  and those boxes are full of stuff to sell in the garage sale that is also on my bucket list.  we aren't quite ready to move in the bedroom furniture yet - but this is such a step in the direction of crossing off the first item on my bucket list!!!

and here are my two sweaty helpers standing in the room:

i just ordered them pizza.  i think they earned it.  and i guess i will unground them for their recent report cards too......

Sunday, February 12, 2012

true life conversations from the meyer house....

me:  i expected you to be in bed by now...

jeff:  i know.

me:  damn angry birds?

jeff:  something like that....

me:  i know you so well - i can read you like a magazine....

jeff:  a magazine??

me:  well yeah.  i don't think your complicated enough to be a book.  i mean  - it's not an insult.  it's not like i called you a short story...

jeff:  or a pamphlet? 

me:  or a brochure. 

jeff:  or a flyer?

me:  or an email.  or a status update.  or a tweet.  a whole person wrapped up in 140 characters.  so see, magazine is really quite a compliment....

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

this is not going to be the typically happy, funny, cheery post you expect from me - consider yourself warned....

this post will, however, be serious and passionate and from my heart.  it's something that has been on my mind A LOT recently for a lot of different reasons.  and so i finally feel that i have to say something....

for those who don't know - i have a a beautiful daughter:

she's smart, beautiful, talented, funny.  i couldn't ask for anything more from my mini me than everything nina is.  she's my world.  i love her.  and she's all i've got when it comes to kids.

for those of you who don't know - the fact that she's the only kid i've got - is not a choice. 

i cannot have any more kids.

the youngest of three kids, growing up, i thought it was god's law that a couple HAD TO HAVE a minimum of three kids.  in fact, i clearly remember being about 4 years old and telling a slightly older cousin who was the youngest of two siblings that he was obviously wrong about his mom not being able to give me a baby girl cousin closer to my age because she hadn't had three babies yet and everyone knew it was the law to have at least three.  so naturally growing up i always imagined that i would have at least three kids.

that dream started to fade when i was 16.  it was then that i was told by my endocrinologist that type one diabetics have very high risk pregnancies and that if i were lucky - i would have one child.  maybe two.  and all children had to be born before i turned 30.  i think for a long time my mom kinda blamed that doctor for putting me in a rush find a happily ever after. 

when i was 20 - i got pregnant and had nina.  it wasn't planned.  i wasn't married.  no one was happy about it.  and i got news for you - there are no cute pregnancy announcements when you are in that situation.  my pregnancy was very high risk.  i developed high blood pressure.  i spilled protein in my urine.  they thought i might do damage to my kidneys.  have you seen steel magnolias??  yeah.  my grandmother couldn't watch it in the last years of her life.  too close to home. 

nina was born 5 weeks premature.  i didn't have a baby shower.  i had a post baby being born shower.  and most of my friends didn't come.  and none of my daughter's paternal relatives showed up or celebrated it with their family. 

i spent a year undergoing constant 24 hour urine tests to assure that my kidneys weren't damaged.  i was lucky.  a perfect baby.  no kidney damage.  and then the bad news came.  i was told by doctors that if i were to get pregnant again - the risk of suffering all of the same complications was greater.  and the risk that those complications would be worse - was even greater.  the risk of leaving my child motherless - was even greater.  and as a result, it wasn't advised.

so at the age of 21 - my hopes and dreams of a happy family with lots of little siblings for nina - gone.  and when he and i split before i was 22 - i was certain that any dreams of a frame perfect family photo of mom, dad, and baby were out the window.

that - is a lot of information to take in before you can legally rent a car.

when jeff came into our lives, he knew the deal up front.  before we even dated.  he - surprisingly - was fine with it.  he said he would rather have me and nina than not have us at all.  it was then that i started to accept - that while happily ever after wasn't the storybook image i had at the age of four - it was still happily ever after.

i accepted it.  i made peace with it.  but damn it - that didn't mean it didn't hurt.  didn't mean it wasn't hard. 

i remember a time about 8 or 9 years ago where i sat in the bathroom at work sobbing because the woman who occupied the office next to me was pregnant, the woman in the corner office brought her newborn to work every day and used her secretary as a nanny, another coworker brought her new baby to work resulting in a game of "let's pass the baby around the office" and an online friend's wife was clearly the only woman who had ever been pregnant before.  i remember emailing jeff telling him i couldn't take it.

i didn't talk to a relative for over a month because she once said "when are you going to have a baby so i can get my baby fix" when i know she knew what i had been through.

i've been told so many times to get over it. 

and fyi - adoption is expensive.  i work in non profit.  i'm not rolling in the dough.

you never get over it.  you make peace with it.  you accept it.  you appreciate what you have.  but that doesn't mean that sometimes it doesn't still hurt.  it doesn't mean you don't still feel guilt because you can't give your beautiful daughter a beautiful baby sister to play with or your husband a son to give his own name to. 

i'm not going to lie.  i've asked three different endocrinologists over the years if the new developments in medicine would make it different.  the answer - "it might - but probably not."   

there have been times where i could not physically bring myself to go to a baby shower.

there have been times where i have walked the other way to avoid being asked "do you want to see the latest picture of my baby??" 

i'm better about it now. it helps that i have cute little bethel babies that i can squeeze and then send home.  i'm almost 35.  nina's 14.  starting over with another one now seems crazy. 

it gets easier.  but it never gets "not hard".

i don't expect you to understand.  the only ones who understand are those who have been there and experienced it themselves. 

the other night i told another one of my bestest friends who just learned her sister might not be able to have kids that there will come a time when she finds it hard to be around her nieces and nephews. it's not about her or them or that she doesn't love them. it's just...hard. just know that it's hard.

one of my bestest friends with fertility issues who had to take a 3 month sabatical from facebook because she would rather pluck her eyes out with pliers than read one more of post after post about "my baby kicked, laughed, farted, pooped, smiled, slept, etc." - i know she gets it. 

jeff gets it.

that's where i go when it gets hard.  and then i remember this:

it may not be that picture perfect image i had when i was four....

....but i still made out pretty good, didn't i?

Friday, January 20, 2012

seasons 52 - i think i heart you....will you be my valentine??

so yesterday we had a pre/post-walk event at the granfalloon on the plaza in KC.  i ate there once before.  lobster ravioli in a tomato vodka sauce.  to. die. for.

but we weren't having lobster ravioli in tomato vodka sauce.  we were serving pizza and mini brats and - um - nachos maybe?  i didn't get close enough to really look.  i made sure i stayed clear on the other side of the room. 

but our boss said we could go out to dinner after - since we never get to eat due to all the schmoozing our job requires....

when i told her that alex and i were trying to eat healthy - she suggested this place that was new on the plaza called seasons 52.  she ate there once and they have this philosophy about free-range, healthy meals.  and get this:

no single item as listed on their menu has more than 475 calories.  entrees - 475.  salads - 475.  cute little mini dessert shooters - 475.  it's AMAZING.  and the portions are nothing to cough at! 

i had this awesome cedar planked salmon that came with asparagus (that's right mom - i eat that now!) and carrots and a few little red potatoes.  so so so so yummy.  and not at all full of guilt.

and when the waiter - who was training to be a wine sommelier and gave us a mini education on which red wines had the best antioxidant whatnots and were thus healthiest which has all gone out of my head - brought around the tray of mini dessert shooters - i was not at all tempted by the Rocky road (aka MAJOR WEAKNESS) in a shot glass...

when one of the group suggested that the mini desserts couldn't be so bad, i talked all intelligently about how it's the tiny things that are totally misleading when it comes to calorie counting and that each one of those mini shooter options probably had between 200-300 calories....

when i got back to the hotel and looked up the webpage online - i was delighted to see the calorie counts listed and i was dead on with the dessert counts.

see?  if i focus - i'm totally on.....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

in case you were wondering....

i survived my first day of travel and stayed in calorie limits!  yeah me!

this was my dinner. 

i hate leaving the hotel after i check in and it's weird to check in with a plate full of olive garden - so i went to panera. i intended to get a regular sized salad and cup of soup - but somehow that part of my order got lost in translation and they gave me a "you pick two". that was way less than what i was planning on - so i supplemented with a 100 calorie packet of cheez-its....

tomorrow's challenges:  hotel buffet breakfast (i DON'T want WAFFLES!) and dinner with my boss and coworker.......

Monday, January 16, 2012

damn you trader joes!

i don't remember this process being this hard when i went through it two years ago - but i seem to be having a tougher time this go round.  it could be that i'm under more stress than i was under then - i'm not sure.

i fell apart at least two days this week.  and downfall started with this:

that's right.  a nice healthy snack.  organic popcorn with olive oil.  my coworker bought a bag for a meeting she was having at work and talked about it's awesomeness.  and it is full of awesomeness.  it's uber crisp for starters.  and the olive oil flavor is so subtle.  and it doesn't even have a bad calorie count at 130 calories per every two cups.  

the problem is sticking to two cups.  three times this week i fell victim to "i'll just have a handful"... which lead to "one more handful won't hurt".  and then "okay this is the last handful."  then "no i MEAN IT THIS IS THE LAST HANDFUL." 

how do you track what turned into an uncountable number of handfuls?? 

combine that with a day where it took 2 hours and 8 minutes to drive my 13 mile commute to the office and i totally skipped two days of tracking....

and on top of that - on saturday, i dragged jeff over to trader joes (he may never forgive me or ever go again because trader joes on saturday is the equivalent to kids diving into a pinata candy pile).  i purchased six bags of the stuff (at $2 a piece - that's cheaper the okedoke!) 

but now i'm going to use measuring cups and try to control myself a little bit better.

in other news....
  • we bought a new digital scale this week - easier to see when i've actually lost than trying to track the arrow on the dial...
  • purchased the new complete weight watchers cookbook because my sparkpeople cookbook is lost somewhere in the STL postal system and i hate waiting...
  • i'm apparently vitamin d deficient - this is ironic because when they checked it in august i was fine.  now that i'm in an office with a window and have more sun exposure - my levels have decreased.  back on the multi-vitamin with a vitamin d kicker for me...
  • i face a MEGA big challenge this week.  my first business trip to KC.  ugh. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

the first pay off....

i weighed in four pounds lighter this morning than i did last week when i started.  i know it's all water weight and stuff and not a sign of a miracle - but i can still enjoy it......

Saturday, January 7, 2012

week one - you can suck it - cause i'm stronger than you....

things i did this week... (bad first)
  • declared every staff/faculty member of my daughter's school to be incompetent when it comes to communication skills
  • spent an entire day ranting and raving about the above incompetencies to anyone who would listen
  • decided that the word "federal" instantly makes everything more confusing, challenging and more difficult than it needed to be
  • started to have a meltdown in my boss's office following a staff meeting when she said i looked overwhelmed, almost bursting into hysterical tears, choking them back, and turning down the offer of taking time for myself that day because it wasn't going to solve the overwhelmed feeling
  • compared myself to people i hate - and entertained the thought that i am no better than they are for about 5 seconds
this is what led me to ending friday in my bath tub, pretending it was a luxurious hot tub with my book and this: 


    things i did this week....(now for the good)
    • drank 64 ounces of water five out of six days so far
    • brought my lunch to work all four work days
    • read a little on each lunch break as an escape
    • met my calorie goals every day without going over and treated myself to two hershey's kisses before bed as a treat
    • experimented with my own adaption of a recipe for saturday dinner and didn't need to order pizza
    • ordered the sparkpeople cookbook
    • consumed no more than 2 caffeinated beverages a day
    • realized my stress was only amplified by the fact that i wasn't coping by eating something a canister of pringles or a package of double stuf oreos
    • did not give in to the increased desire to feed that stress by eating a canister of pringles or a package of double stuf oreos (or anything else bad for that matter)
    • instead of even acknowledging the pringles and oreos in the store - i purchased the following aids to get me through next week - cause this time i'm going to be prepared....


    Monday, January 2, 2012

    January's Overall Goal....Portion Control

    so today is the day that i consider day 1 of my year long journey.  every month i will adopt a new healthy habit on the first day of the month.  i am using a broad definition of the word "health" so that i am focusing on body, mind and spirit - and not just on diet and exercise. 
    by adopting one habit at a time and focusing on it before adopting something new - i won't be overwhelmed taking on too many things at once.  so here we go. 

    JANUARY 2012 - Portion Control

    my focus for the month of january is portion control.  break out the food scale, measuring cups and spoons.

    nutritional goals:

    calorie intake:  1220-1570 per day
    carb intake:  137-255 g per day
    fat intake:  27-67 g per day
    protein intake:  60-137 g per day
    water intake:  at least 64 ounces a day (less caffeine!!)

    i should also burn 660 calories per week through cardio - but that will get added in next month.

    i will make better food choices but not deprive myself of what i enjoy.  it's not about what i can't eat or drink - it's about controlling the amount of what i DO eat or drink...

    most importantly - i will try not to eat emotionally.  food will not make anything better.  only actions effect change.

    tools for success:

    1. - a free online community dedicated to developing a healthy lifestyle.  an excellent resource for tracking food and exercise to maintain goals, healthy recipes, success tips, motivation, etc.  also features very active message boards tailored to meet different needs and goals full of great advice...
    2. the sparkpeople ap for my iphone - to keep me tracking when i can't get to my computer.
    3. The Spark - a motivational book written by the founder of Spark People...
    4. measuring cups, measuring spoons, food scale...
    5. crystal light packets...
    6. emotional support - you all know what i'm doing - so let's be positive!

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    A 2012 Bucket List

    i was giving it some thought - and i decided i'm going to create a bucket list of things i would like to accomplish in 2012.  you know, in case the world ends or something crazy like that - i want to make sure i have something to show for it.

    so here it goes.

    karen's 2012 bucket list:

    • clean out nina's old toy room and set up the extra bedroom furniture in it for guests - just in case
    • clean out the old office
    • clean out the new office
    • clean under our bed - it's so often forgotten
    • clean out and reorganize my closet - and hopefully let go of the fat jeans
    • host a kick ass garage $ale
    • do one thing completely out of character that no one would ever expect me to do - and make sure it's not illegal
    • share one breathtaking memory with jeff and nina
    • relax in the pool more than once per season
    • go on a picnic
    • go camping.  more than once.
    • pretend to be tourists in our own city and take in the some of the sights of STL in one weekend
    • prepare a turkey dinner - i've only ever done it once
    • bake a pie from scratch including crust - i've never done that
    • read all of 210 of the fairy tales written by the Grimm Brothers - thanks to jeff - i already have the book to get me started
    • take time off of work and not check in with the office or email the entire time
    stay tuned to see me cross items off the list!