Monday, July 27, 2015

service with a {maniacal} smile

This is 21st century parenting, yo. No joke.

Since I went back to work last year, my kids have done summers at home.

:insert the public outcry, "They're how old?!?" here:

Answer: 14, 12, and 6. And provided that many kids begin babysitting for pay at age 12, by my calculations, I have a 2:1 caregiver to child ratio. Plus the age-old #whenIwasakid spiel. And, just for good measure, no one's been lost, injured, or malnourished in the meantime. So, it's ok, thank you for your concern!

They do a good job for the most part. There are 3 parks in the vicinity; they occasionally ride their bikes to Kids Bowl Free; there are friends and adult neighbors around to socialize with; and church activities like VBS have broken things up a bit.

But, left to their own devices, they would spend far too much time on their screens. This results in a rather post-modern parenting reality for me of having to ensure the child locks are in effect for the Xbox, Netflix, Comcast, the computer, and our wi-fi before I leave every morning.

Even doing this...we've had a struggle of late with them getting their chores done every day.

Now, y'all know that I just started a new job, so there's that transition. There's also the fact that the mister has had 3 surgeries in 9 months, the last of which was the end of June and has rendered him unable to bear weight on his foot for 6-8 weeks. Therefore, it is imperative that the kids carry their weight, because this mama's got a lot on her shoulders right now.

Enter last night, and the girl child really wanted to get together with her friend whom she hasn't seen much of this summer. Said friend has two younger brothers that our youngest plays with at school and they have fun together on these visits.

So I said sure. But there were strings attached.

Not only would she and her brothers be required to get all the chores done before she went, but I would need photographic evidence texted to me before said outing would be permitted. Might as well get the most out of that family smartphone plan, right?

It worked like a charm.

At approximately 11:40 a.m. the texts came in rapid succession...

Disclaimer, my teenager gave me full consent to post the following pictures. They are unaltered, appearing just as they did on my phone.

Laundry folding in progress
Not enough room for the 1,000 words this pic conjures

There was a vacuuming mishap,
so she swept the stairs.
With. A. Broom.

Rosie was unloaded and seen here,
is in the process of being loaded up
I ordered them to eat leftovers for lunch.
Photographic evidence that they complied.
Moral of the story...

If you give a girl a [smartphone] camera, stuff gets done.

Friday, July 3, 2015

an abiding mindfulness


It never ceases to strike wonder into me when I think of how small I am in the scheme of God's universe, and all the more so when those moments in life occur that I just know He personally crafted for me at that very moment.

And for the past two weeks, I have just been so awestruck as I've been able to see not just a moment that He tailored for me, but my entire lifetime.

Sit down, grab a cup of tea or joe and let's go in for the backstory. I promise you, it's good, for the Lord is good.

More than six years ago, I left work to be a SAHM with my kids. It was a huge change for me because so much of my identity was wrapped up in my work and a giant leap of faith for us as our number crunching that led us to the decision showed that it would be very tight, but doable.

Then the economy crashed. And our bottom line took a nose dive. But we mustered through.

Then when the baby came, I had a near fatal medical crisis that wracked up thousands in medical debt during a time when we were already struggling to meet our basic needs.

To say we had some doubts as to the soundness of our decision is a bit of an understatement. The physical and emotional recovery from the ordeal took a long time. The financial recovery took even longer. We nearly lost our house and had a vehicle repossessed during the aftermath. And the shame of looking good on paper but not being able to meet our needs just about killed me. I hated that though we had a moderate income, I worried constantly about money; if one of the kids got sick, would we have enough money for a co-pay to see the doctor? There were times I had to make choices about whether I should buy milk for the kids or gas for Seth to get to work. Because Seth earned a decent income, we didn't qualify for any type of assistance and yet my children were having to go without and wear thrift store clothing like I'd had to growing up in poverty. I felt like a failure, like the little white trash girl who thought she was going to be someone, but then ended up with a life not too different from the one she grew up with.*

*that is a lie that Satan tried to fool me with. While our finances were tough, our family dynamic, values, etc. have always been different from what I grew up knowing. Hard to see the forest for the trees when you're in the thick of it though.

We scrimped and saved and cut where we could. I started free-lancing as a grant writer for some of my old contacts. Eventually, it became clear that I HAD to go back to work. I looked for several months with a few interviews that were promising, but then didn't pan out. Finally, I took a job with a non-profit for a lot less pay than I'd made previously, but it was something, even after childcare costs took a a significant chunk out of it. That job was nothing short of a horrible nightmare, and after 90 days I was informed that I'd failed the probationary period, buh-bye. My confidence plummeted.

I then continued to look for work in any way I could find it. After 12 months and too many interviews to count, I landed a 3/4 time position with a local organization. The position was primarily administrative and somewhat of a step down for my previous experience and skill-set, but the hours were flexible for a mama with school-agers, the co-workers were amazing and the salary and benefits met our needs. I was content to stay there for several years, setting my previous ambitions aside as my Jacobean wrestle with God left me submitting my ideas of my purpose to His will.

Last fall I received a referral for grant-writing for an agency with which I used to coordinate back in my case management days. I became reacquainted with their programs and really fell in love with their model and mission. At the end of the year, their executive director went on to a different agency and I worked with the board president on a grant in the interim.

In March, my grandmother suffered a heart attack and my mother and I flew out to Washington to be with her, as reports were not clear as what her prognosis was. I had not been back to Washington in over a decade, and hadn't seen some of my relatives in over 20 years. Over the week that we were there, each night my mother and I would go back to our hotel and discuss the hardships and dark family secrets of our pasts. We cried a lot, looking back at the injustices that had been heaped upon our loved ones as a result of poverty, abuse, addictions, and  other severe family dysfunctions. 

A spark ignited in my soul, rekindling my initial desire for a career that helped people change their lives. I couldn't let people in need live a life of shame, rejection, and hopelessness; I needed to find a way to incorporate that desire into a career change and make an impact.

Less than a month later, I was looking at Facebook and saw an article from our paper about two local agencies merging; one of them was my grant client and they were going to be hiring a program director for it! I campaigned hard for this job. I did my homework and all the extra credit with God breathing inspiration and providing angels in the way of coaches for me all along the way. The interview process was grueling, and wrought with emotion for me.

A couple of weeks ago, I'd had the radio on a pop station that morning, but changed to Way FM when a song that drives me nuts came on. At the end of that day....which had been quite taxing in relation to the job pursuit, I was praying in the car on my way home, "Whatever your will is Lord, just let me do what you want me to be doing. I will be at peace, whatever you decide," while 10,000 Reasons played on the air. I started to sing along with this song that embodied what I had just uttered. At the beginning of the final chorus, I was stopped at a light when my phone buzzed with the e-mail that I was officially being offered the job! And when the composite of all the details of that moment registered in my consciousness, the ugly crying commenced. Ugly JOY-crying, that is.

So now, here I sit with a life that is relevant to those of the students my program is serving. I know their struggles first-hand. I have the career experience and business acumen that will help garner community support for our initiatives. And I have a God who has shaped my whole existence with the details I will need to excel in this position. It is really quite overwhelming the intricacy of His love and plans He has for us.

I'm so excited to see what He has in store for me. I start next Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

it matters

The grammar OCD person in me has to point out that I almost didn't post this quote pic because of the typo (taskS) but it was the only one with the whole quote and the prettiest aesthetic. So yes, I know the task should be singular, and if you didn't, well, cue the The More You Know music and consider it a PSA.
These crazy days of three kids in school, with homework and extracurriculars, working, and omnipresent domestic chores are kicking me in the boo-tay. And not so gently, either; this season of mothering is, like, kick-boxing with Jillian Michaels strength jabs in the back-side hard. Brutal.

Last night, our only unscheduled night of the week, I was asked if we could play as a family after dinner. We were all set to go:

I felt so boss at this motherhood gig.

But.

Someone all of a sudden remembered s/he had foreign language homework that would have to be worked on now since it was due Wednesday and Tuesday was a practice night.

Pro: Yay, insight into time management!

Con #1: Poor time management in the hours between his/her arrival home from school and mine from work. 

Con #2: The resulting sullen, woe-is-me-life-is-horrible-this-is-stupid-everything-is-stupid trope that ensued for 40 some minutes and kept me home with said child working on foreign language homework.

My kids are the Fun Nazis: #NoPlayForYou! #SillyMomFunIsForKids


Tonight, the mister and the older two got home from lacrosse practice at nearly 8:00.  

The aforementioned, slightly complicated pork chop dish had been prepared, along with brown rice and steamed broccoli, dishes were running in the dishwasher and those still littering the counters were being washed in the sinks when they arrived.

We snarfed down dinner with few complaints, and then went to town in search of cleats for son #2's lacrosse class that starts tomorrow and a special binder for the girl's end of year project. Son #1 stayed behind and did homework.

One unfruitful trip to Sports Authority and only a partial yield of the sought after items at Target later (no dice on the cleats, it's like everyone in Fort Collins bought all the size 12K cleats in town), it was nearly ten when we got back inside. 

The unfinished dishes were taunting me. So I answered their siren song and started doing them, resentfully noting the mister's residence in the recliner.

No - homegirl don't play that. Don't give the devil a foothold. Do not initiate the pain cycle!

"Hey, I know you're all cozy in your chair there, but could you give me a hand, please?"

Maybe it was my tone, maybe it was he was just cranky...who knows? Our relationship has reached "old married" status, which means there are going to be moments of contention, some more familiar and routine than others.

Suffice to say it wasn't a full blown argument, but the vibe was not romantical either. It happens. We're human. Still in love. It's allowable ;)

The thoughts that ensued before I was over it, though, they raged on in my head quietly. I recounted how I used to write and sing and now all I do is work, chauffeur kids, and clean. I'd seen that one of my former colleagues had been named director of our community's new Permanent Supportive Housing development, and a wee bit of envy crept in. I'd had meaningful and promising career options once upon a time...

But - you chose this. It didn't happen to you, you wanted it. It's ok - there is still time and this is just a season.

The youngest Meyer was having a hard time getting to sleep, so the mister went to perform bedtime reconnaissance. He returned with the following bit of intel:

"He said he wanted you to come sing to him, and I told him to lay down, that you would be there soon, and he looked at me and said, 'Last time you said that, it was a lie. She never came.'"

(For the record, I did that time, he'd just fallen asleep before I got there. So we're clear.)

"Guess I'd better go then. Can you put away the rice and wipe the counters for me, please?"

"Sure."

Upstairs, the girl was STILL up. She'd been really ramped up at Target and was in full-on relentless mode, and well, 5:45 comes really early in the morning is all. So I did my go-to-bed-now snarl and she did the teen-aged I-knooooow sigh that I just love. Fourteen is soooo fun. It's not her, it's the age is muttered multiple times a day. I haven't forgotten - it was just yesterday after all, right?

Anyway, the youngest was rolled over in his bed, and while I knew he may already have been sleeping, I poked the bear anyway. After all, I was not about to be made into a liar this time.

He rolled toward me, puckered his lips that are only 5 years old for another 11 days into the big, puffy, hyperbolic kiss that he makes and pulled me to him. "You're the greatest Mom ever. I wanted you to be able to watch me at soft lacrosse tomorrow to see how good I got."

It's funny how these moments can pierce my soul with a conviction that stings and yet comfort my heart with the validation that soothes all at the same time. For all the times I start to entertain discontent with and the frustrations of motherhood, such words bring me to face the burning conviction that this thing called motherhood matters. For all the times I doubt the quality or effectiveness in my mothering, these glimpses provide the reassuring solace that mothering, with me cast as their leading lady, matters to them, and they do notice. Sometimes - they are children after all.

Thank you Lord, for the reminder. Thank you for him, this child who is such an encourager.

"Aww, you're sweet. And I'm glad to get to watch you tomorrow, too! I'm glad you're excited."

And so, here I sit, taking a moment to be real, granting myself the grace to know I'm human and get distracted from the things that matter, truly matter, from time to time. And bolstering myself against the knowledge that they won't truly understand until they are parents themselves that sometimes the greatest thing we can do for our children is set aside our own hopes and wants for a season and invest in theirs.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

#20FITteen

Anyone who's known me for any length of time knows that I have a hard time with commitment.

Not with people - no, I'm pretty darned steadfast and loyal and all that jazz when it comes to people.

What I'm talking about is a perpetual resistance of commitment to routines, habits, things that become rote exercises in life.

Start a new eating style (read: diet)?  And I'm off the wagon in short order.

Daily challenges?  I might make it a week.

Regular budgeting?  Yeah, I KNOW I need to get committed to that one.

I don't know what it is, precisely, but until recently I figured it was some combination of boredom, self-sabotage, poor time management, and sheer lack of will power.

But then....

Enter a MOPS meeting.

And epiphany followed soon thereafter.

This is pretty typical - if you are a mama of kiddos in the womb to kindergarten, find a local MOPS group and join.  

We discussed some material from Jennifer Degler re: the things that energize or drain your life, wherein a point was made that sometimes in this season of life, you're not going to get chunks of time that are task-sized such that you can sit down and do something that matters to you from start to finish.  So you capitalize on the chunks you do get.

I have a hard time getting out of that all or nothing mind-set.

Self-application = exercise.

I don't mind exercising - I mean, it's not like the thing I live to do everyday, but once I do it, I feel better.  Bonus - it makes me healthier too.

But finding the time???

I work 30 hrs/wk, have 3 kids aged 5-13 which means homework and activities, I do some freelancing work on the side, am actively involved in my church, and the list goes on and on and on.

Finding the 30-60 minutes to get an effective workout (and the resulting need for another 15-30 minutes for a shower, make-up, hair and dressing session) was not working and I just couldn't seem to find the time to get it all in.

So the pounds crept back on, and guilt plagued me.

For Christmas, I asked for a fitness tracker in hopes of having more awareness of what I actually did in the course of a day and be able to gauge where I needed to step it up (pun sort of intended).  After looking at the specs between FitBit and Jawbone UP, I went with the Jawbone.

It has really helped me to see where/when I need to shake things up and move.

But back to this time chunking thing.

I came to the realization that if I broke up exercise into little chunks, that I could actually squeeze it in.  After getting my middleschoolers out the door at 6:30, I had a window from 6:30 to 7:00 that I could get a little loop in for walking/running before my husband had to leave and it was time to get my kindergartener up and ready for his mornings.

Add to it that I've been getting out during my lunch hour and fitting in 30 minutes of walking/jogging as often as I can.  The end result is not always the Heather that looks and smells the best after lunch, but I feel better.  And I'm getting that hour/day of activity, averaging 3.25-4 miles and getting a whole lot more calories burned than sitting on my duff would.

I'm sleeping better.  Eating better.  FEELING SO MUCH BETTER.

This is the year, peeps, the year that I reclaim my health and well-being in little chunks here and there.  #20FITteen made possible by making opportunities instead of waiting for them to drop into my lap.

What can YOU accomplish if you did it in bits and pieces this year?


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ding-dong witch; pleased to meet you

image source: ellisbenus.com
Recently MOPS International ran a post about on the spot hospitality, giving a few easy steps to keep in play if an impromptu guest drops in, and encouraging women to be brave enough to share their lives with others, even if the house wasn't in tip top shape.  Two out of the three tips were easy for me, and things I already do, keeping rooms at comfortable temps and offering a drink.  The first one, of getting over myself and my desire to have a perfectly clean setting, well, I’m getting there.

Those friends in my inner circle, well yes, they’re more than welcome to come in when things are the way they are more often than not: when I’m in the middle of a laundry marathon, three kids’ worth  of school papers are littered across every exposed counter surface (also, the floor, not gonna lie), piles of pet hair that one could make their own pet from are in the corners of the downstairs room and dishes from two meals ago are spilling out of the sink.  It’s more than a few stray crumbs on the floor and a load (singular) of laundry on the couch pretty much all the time here, and it drives me nuts.  For people with whom I’m not particularly close to see this inner chaos, is a different thing entirely and just thinking about it it makes me cringe.

So keep that in mind with what I’m about to tell you.

This morning, I was giving my youngest a bath before school when I heard/felt this loud, rhythmic noise that vibrated the house.  It gave me pause to wonder what it could possibly be, but I quickly assumed it was someone having their sprinklers blown out, likely the HOA with our greenbelt areas and  shrugged it out of my mind.  I was dressed but not made up and my kindergartener was just coming down for breakfast when my doorbell rang at 7:40 a.m.! 

7:40. A. M. 

What in the blessed world?!?

I opened my door to a strange man on my doorstep, assuming he was going to ask me if I wanted my sprinklers blown out for a low, low price.

You know what they say about you and (mostly) me when one assumes, right?

“You do realize that it is not even 8 am?” I snapped, while I opened my door, hunched over with one hand grabbing my escape-tendencied dog’s collar to keep him from running out, exposing my house’s current state of disarray to the street.

“Uh, yeah, that’s why I’m here – I saw your lights on and wanted to apologize for the noise.”

Sheepishness began to creep in.  

And my mouth filled with the flavor of my big, fat, foot.

He continued, “We didn’t know that the carpet cleaning was going to be so loud," as he nodded toward the Stanley Steemer truck in the street with hoses running into the newly vacant home next door.  "We’re your new neighbors.”

So much for on the spot hospitality.

I very hastily attempted to back pedal. 

“Oh!  Oh my gosh, no, I’m so sorry.  I’m not normally this grumpy, it’s just I thought there was a sprinkler company blowing people out and I thought you were going to try and sell me services and we don’t need that because we already did it,” I rambled.  “It’s just so early and the door bell's loud and my husband recently had surgery and well…”  I motioned my hand to the living room behind me, demonstrating the very cluttered and dirty layout of our home.

Then he said, “Oh, no, I’m really sorry,” referring to Seth, “I hope we didn't wake you – we really didn't want to start out like this…”

Now it was my turn to feel apologetic - I surely didn't want him to feel bad because of my stress levels.

“Oh!  No, no, no, no, you’re fine!” I rapidly tried to assure him. “No, I just thought you were a solicitor, but this, being neighbors, that changes it.  We’re good!”

We awkwardly introduced ourselves and assured each other that we’d come around at a more decent hour and get to know one another.

I hope I convinced him that I really didn’t mind the noise.  And that once I got over the initial assumption that he was a solicitor, I really actually thought it was sweet and considerate of him to come check on whether it was bothering us or not.

If not, I plead the very pathetic effect  the combination of lack of sufficient (any?) caffeination, not yet having taken my little blue pill for the day, a little mama bear in me, and sheer oblivion to the goings on of our street had on my current mental state.

So...while I'm still mustering the courage to let people see my horribly cluttered and dirty home, I think that I get a medal for bravery in sharing this story.  Isn't that like virtual bravery?

#likeagoodneighbor #really

Monday, September 22, 2014

Betcha thought I was done talking about depression...

It's now been several weeks since my depression coming out post.  The input from those close to me was overwhelmingly positive, but I received so many messages on Facebook from people I only know vaguely that it struck me in a powerful way.

Sharing my story is a little bit scary. For a variety of reasons.

Sometimes people don't know that talking about the feels one has when s/he is depressed is more about processing than actually intending any harm to oneself, and can result in the 'welfare checks,' those 'I'm suddenly totally interested in you because you kind of scare me but we're not super close so this is awkward' interactions that arise when depression talk raises red flags.  Such interactions, while well intended, can often leave a depressed person thinking, "Will I always be on psych watch?" and wondering if 'normal' will ever be attainable again.  A promising outlook, eh?

Other times, non-depressed people will try to relate, sharing a story from a grieving period or this situation or that, and then say, "But you know, it wasn't like I needed meds or anything!"  Tell me there is no stigma surrounding people with chronic mental illness.

But, I've weighed the options, and folks, there are so many people suffering in silence that all the generic advocacy and prevalence statistics in the world won't help.  No, it is the real stories that move people.

So, in bits and pieces I'm going to share my experience with depression.  If any of you out there have your own stories, I encourage you to pipe in and help in shining light on a grossly misunderstood health issue.

Anyway, up until this recent episode, I'd always brushed off my depression as situational.

That time I spent the whole night eyeing a bottle of Tylenol at age 13, knowing that overconsumption of acetaminophen would shut down my liver?  Surely that was due to the family turmoil going on - divorce, financial stresses, substance abuse, and absent father (just to name the big issues) - let alone the hormonal havoc of puberty.

The fall of my junior year at CSU when I just couldn't keep it together? I was certain that birth control pills (and the resulting 65 lbs I'd gained in just over a year on my newly recovering bulimic frame) were upsetting my neurochemistry, but as a newlywed was not willing to open myself up to the risk of a pregnancy.  So the menage of therapy, meds (Prozac this time) and I were introduced - and yes, my mood stabilized, but the side effects put a huge damper on the bedroom.  So, 6 months later, after much consultation, we decided I would go off birth control and Prozac, and other contraceptive methods were meticulously employed.  Except that one time.  Hello, Kelsey!

The following 6 years?  I blamed that largely on the Plan B turn my life had taken, dreams being ripped from my hands, a marriage that was fairly unhappy for various reasons, two post-partum periods, and a really bad financial outlook.  I figured if I couldn't change those things, what was the point of medicating?  All the depressing factors of life would still be there.

In 2006, I took a really bad turn.  Some of the hard issues we struggled with in our marriage resurfaced and I just couldn't deal.  A new job gave me the added bonus of an Employee Assistance Program, so the therapy I'd begged and pleaded for in the past was no longer "too expensive," and I re-enlisted.  I also sought medication, because the thoughts of ending my life had shown up again.  Knowing I had two small children that would be haunted forever if I took that route shook me enough that I started talking with my PCP again.

Due to the nature of our marital struggles, I was not willing to go back to Prozac and face the consequences of a nonexistent sex drive.  So Effexor and I began dating.  Again, my mood stabilized.  Seth and I started to deal with the marital wounds we had long inflicted upon one another, and things were looking up fairly quickly.  But then, I started getting these... brain hiccups?  I've no other way to describe them than that - it was like a physical sensation, that discomforting feeling of hard hiccups that hurt your ribs, only in my brain.  It also had an electrical feeling about it, like my brain was shorting out.  It scared the heck out of me, and after a year of medicating, I decided to wean off Effexor because I was scared of the long-term ramifications.

I was good for about a year.  In the same sense that Eeyore is ok.  I was living a flatlined normal that I truly thought was life.  Various interventions, such as a diet rich in B vitamins, daily sun exposure, St. John's Wort, adequate sleep, etc., helped manage but never totally eliminated my depression, keeping it to a dull roar that I could "talk" over and slog through the daily functioning of life.  Whenever a life event rocked me, I didn't hold tightly to my regimen, or for no apparent reason at all, my depression would come on stronger out of the blue.

In 2008, I crashed again.  This time, I'd noticed some pattern to my "episodes," and realized I was struggling most in the early spring.  That's it, Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It's the daylight, not anything long-term and chronic.  Nothing that made me totally defective, just seasonally so.  Back to a traditional SSRI, but not Prozac.  This time I went on Lexapro because my doc felt I would experience fewer side effects.  It was the same song, different verse as far as the side effects went, which resulted in me weaning off.  Again.

In 2009, my whole life changed.  I went from being a WOHM to a SAHM, had another baby, had a near fatal pneumonia with more complications than most people care to follow, the economy tanked, and our finances suffered greatly.  The depression was a slow, constant erosion in my mind.  Plus, the mental noise (the constant negative thinking) had new fodder; if I hadn't wracked up all that medical debt we wouldn't all be suffering so.  Unmedicated, I was stuck in a horrible cycle of avoiding the Hard Things (i.e. seemingly insurmountable debts, the isolation of SAHMotherhood, etc.), which made All the Things snowball out of control, which made me feel even worse about myself.

For 5 years I battled through this, unmedicated, again.  My circumstances camouflaged the evidence that I have chronic depression.  Again, I was slogging through, "passing" for functional but slowly starting to crumble from the steady wearing down inside.  It was during this time that I felt my cognitive functioning go downhill.  It seemed I couldn't remember anything, and I felt as if each day I dumbed down a little bit more.  This killed me as my early identified "bright" intellect has been part of my identity as long as I can remember; it was the thing about myself that garnered attention and made me feel special.  Without it, who was I?

This winter I went back to work and things were really looking up.  But even still, I found myself sinking lower.  I couldn't turn off my mental noise, and was battle-fatigue exhausted from the silent, constant combat in my mind every day.  Somehow, when I found myself thinking the Unthinkable Things more and more, and realized that I wasn't immediately shutting those thoughts down, my rational self knew it was time for help again.

Therapy.  Check.

Exercise.  Check.

Meds.  Check.

And I am saying hello to a stronger self in the mirror every day.  And the dumbing down?  So not an imagined occurrence.  Science proves my experience was very real.  (link is eluding me but I'll update when I find it.)

Now that I've found the right med, I am committed to lifelong treatment.  For this cloud has accompanied me all my life.  Upon initially arriving at that commitment, guilt sprang up as I worried about the damage to those I love that I incurred in my search for the right medicine.  But, I squashed that thought (with the newfound clarity Wellbutrin has afforded me) with this takeaway: I did the best I could with what I knew at the time, and that's all we can ask or expect from each other.

To those I love and who love me: thank you for your patience, concern, and grace.  They buoyed me throughout this journey more than you could ever possibly know.  Thank you for being my life support.  I love you all!

To those who are still looking for the best way to manage their demons - you are not alone!  Please reach out.  If not to a professional, to a friend who will get you hooked up with the help you need.  And if you are in the process of getting help, but just need the support of someone who gets it, I'm always hear to listen.

Don't suffer in silence.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

All's well that ends well...

I am a rare bird amongst most of my friends.

No.  

Really.

Shocking, I know, right?

A love to eat good food is common to us all, but the desire and demonstrated ability to make good food is something of a lost art with many (though not all) of my 30-something, mommyish friends.

Now, I will admit, I have not always been a culinary prodigy - it just sort of happened over time.

As the tried and true recipes in my inventory got repeated, I got brave and started eyeballing measurements instead of getting all the cups and spoons out.  Then I started getting creative, adding spices that "I bet would be good with that," and before I knew it, the go-to recipes I knew so well became my recipes with a ton of adaptations.  Many of which I don't write down and so, it's always something of an adventure when it comes to recreating the yummiest versions.

Over time, I have become rather haphazard in the kitchen and my cooking has become increasingly extemporaneous.  Especially when necessity has forced me to use only the staples on hand over recent years.

And those little forays don't always work out.

Last night was such a night.  In my meal planning, I'd forecast salisbury steak for our dinner.  It's a standby meal at casa del Meyer regardless of which unrecorded iteration I've put on the table.  Seeing I was low on the usual potatoes, which would normally be served mashed, I thought, "Cauliflower mashes well - I have several bags in the freezer.  That's what I'll do instead."  Mind you, I'd never actually made mashed cauliflower, but I thought, surely it couldn't be too hard.

Heh.

So, on the tail end of my daily, 25 mile round-trip mad dash from work to the bus stop, to cross country pick up, to home, (phew! yes, EVERY. DAY.) the relentless witching hour that is two middle school siblings intent on making each other's existence miserable plus one 5 year old exhausted from full day kindergarten was in full swing.  I started cooking, trying to ignore the wailing and injurious sarcasm flying through the room, and was on pace to have dinner on the table by 6:15 - a record thus far into the school year!

I threw the cauliflower into the microwave to cook, took it out and started to mash.  The white veggies were resistant to my efforts.  Ok, I'd get my Ninja out.  Threw the cauliflower in, along with the assumed proportions of water, butter, and whole milk, whizzed that baby up.  And got white, gritty paste.  I tried a few more efforts to save it, but to no avail.

Hmmm....it was now 6:40.

Into the freezer I turned and came up with peas.  To go with the glazed carrots I already had.  So we had salisbury steak with glazed carrots, buttered peas, and slices of (whole grain) white bread with butter.  It worked.  The fam loved it but I was just a little meh.

But I still had a Ninja full of cauli-paste and I hate wasting food...HATE it.  Especially when we're in the middle of a pay period and I only go to the grocery store when we get paid.

So I culled the pages of my mental cookbook (and actually, due more to Colton's request for cauliflower soup) this recipe came to mind.  It is SO GOOD.  My kids request it.  Often.

So dinner for today was planned.

Except that I didn't have chicken stock.  (but I had bouillon!)

Or celery. (but I had dried celery flakes!)

Or onions. (but I had onion powder!)

See also: How the Spice Cabinet Saved Dinner.

So this soup would be of questionable origins.  But fingers crossed!

Then, because it didn't have enough substitution going, I realized tonight that we had no protein, something the Mister thinks is no bueno.  I wracked my brain, thinking maybe sandwiches - but then, no because the kids needed that stuff for lunches this week.  I finally lighted on a pound of Jimmy Dean Natural Sausage - no paid endorsements here, I just LOVE that sausage.  The flavor is amazing and there is no MSG!!  Sausage gravy, Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana, oh, yes, this creamy sausage pairing would be a good match.  Paired with a beer bread mix I had sitting in the pantry, mmmm.  I was drooling.


And oh, my heavens, yes, yes, YES!

I love it when a crazy adaptation works well :)