Sunday, May 26, 2013

If I'm going to eat clean and healthy, it's going to have to taste good

I admit, I have a meh attitude about a lot of things.

As in -

Pesticides on the affordable vegetables? Meh, I'll wash them really well versus paying over double for 'organic'. However, that's mostly because I have my doubts about whether 'organic' is really 'organic' anyway.

Anyway, this particular attitude ended up with the fam and I at the Farmers Market this weekend. It was our first time at the Asheville Farmer's Market so I wasn't sure what to expect. We drove around and looked first, then parked and walked around only to discover that in the outer areas, it was cash only.

Fair enough, but then we had to go up towards the main building to get cash and we ended up walking through that building to take a look. That's where the bakery and assorted vendors are, you know the ones that sell honey, quilts, odds and ends, various forms toys and things. Everything in that building is more expensive.

Back we went to the outer stalls where apparently, a gallon of strawberries costs $5 more if the person selling them speaks English as a first language. The cheaper Spanish speaking strawberries looked better anyway. They probably got an extra dose of pesticide. It's okay, I'll wash them twice.

My find of the day was a bucket of zucchini and squash. I've been trying to find some decent looking specimens for ages and the grocery stores I frequent have a poor selection so far.

When we got home and unpacked everything, I eyed up my zucchini and decided I wanted to make this recipe I saw on Facebook via Pinterest where you top the zucchini with tomatoes, parmesean, and olive oil and bake them.

So, I did that today! Yay! Also - pinterest success story! (Trust me, I have many failure stories!)

Without further ado, here is my version of zucchini pizza boats:

Aren't they beautiful? I sliced two very large zucchini in half

 I used the small end of a melon baller to scoop out a shallow trough

 I mixed a tablespoon of olive oil with some garlic powder, italian seasoning, and pepper, then brushed it over the zucchini.

I crushed up 8 whole Ritz crackers and mixed them with about 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese

I sliced and diced roma tomatoes and spread them out on top, then sprinkled the parm/cracker mix on top

 I baked them at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes. (Next time I'm going to bake them at 350 for about 25 minutes or so instead)

End result? Oh. My. Gosh. They were super yummy. I could only eat one half, though. 

The kids wouldn't try this, but Robert and I loved it and can't wait to finish them off tomorrow. The next time I make them, I'm going to slice the zucchini into circles instead of halves and make them appetizer sized. I think if we grill the zucchini first and then top and bake, it will be even more yummy because they wont get soggy from the romas. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

For the millionth time, I'm glad we rent.

SO. Our property management company got in touch with us today, very worried that we had been without water or plumbing this weekend. Luckily, that's not the case. They promised to have someone out to fix the issue today.

The plumbers arrived right before I went to pick the kids up from school, took a look in the bathroom, and gave me a lecture on the importance of flushing. Yes, really.

I listened intently (because flushing is complicated, yo!), and didn't interrupt because I knew that it wasn't going to be that simple. I knew that because I saw what the bathroom looked like before we cleaned it up. They were just seeing what we couldn't get to. And when I say 'we', I really mean Robert, because my previous post showed how useless I am in such situations.

I went to get the kids and when we got back, they had pulled out the big guns. They had to take the toilet off and snake the drain with the large drain rooter.

Umm hmmm, it was way more of a problem than simply not flushing.

Two hours later, they finally left. The younger guy? It was his first day on the job. Betcha he's going to think long and hard about day number two. (Pun not completely intended.) I know I would. That was 500 kinds of gross.

I feel badly for the owners of this house. They just bought it in November and they've had several big issues already. Now we just threw another huge one in their lap - if the toilet backs up again in the near future, they are going to have to dig down and under the slab to be able to figure out and fix the issue. That sounds like big money.

For the millionth time this year, I'm so glad we rent.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Who, me neurotic? Looks like it.

Last night Robert headed to bed and I stayed up to write a blog entry. I straightened up a little (why does nothing ever stay clean?) and then decided to go downstairs and switch out the laundry before heading to bed.

As I walked down the steps, I caught a whiff of something unpleasant. This house is two levels, the upstairs has the bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen/dining/family great room, and the sun room. Downstairs is the main entrance, the garage, a bonus room, laundry room, and a half bath. The rest of the length of the house is an earth basement accessible with a small, square, access door right outside the bathroom.

We usually keep the door to the laundry area closed because there is just the odor of damp earth, especially if it's been raining a lot. I was in the middle of doing laundry, so the door was open. I thought that maybe that's what the smell was - same smell only stronger because of the open door.

I flipped on the light and walked in.

What the....?!?! There was what looked like mud everywhere and the smell...whooo boy! Wickedly awful.

Then I looked closer. There was standing water on parts of the floor, but no water where I was standing, which meant that it had to be coming from....the bathroom.

I tiptoed over, and opened the bathroom door. Frankly, and without getting all gross and descriptive about it, it looked like the toilet vomited.

I gagged, and retreated.

Oh. No. Nonononononononononononono.

First things first - how bad is the damage? I couldn't really tell, but the entire area wasn't wet, so that was good. But I needed to get things out of the closets - and for that I'd need help. I'd also need help facing that toilet.


I cleaned off my feet and came upstairs and had to wake Robert up. Together we went downstairs tag teamed that hussy.

Let me say, I'm usually pretty good in a crisis. I don't normally panic or over react, which is ironic, because I totally tend to panic and over react in a non-crisis situation. Robert, God bless him and his infantry experience, has seen enough actual nasty, disgusting stuff that some little toilet over flow is no big deal.  ::shudder:: But for me? That was like walking into a war zone without prior warning. Blech.

We moved everything out of the closets, cleaned up the mess, made sure we could use the upstairs bathrooms and sinks without creating another overflow situation, cleaned ourselves up, and then Robert went back to bed.

But me? I scrubbed myself down with Clorox wipes, then washed my hands, legs and feet with soap and water, slapped some hand sanitizer on for good measure, changed clothes, and tried really hard not to think about what had just happened....

which didn't work. I couldn't go to sleep, didn't want to get into bed, even though I knew I wasn't even the one of us in the worst of the mess and had thoroughly cleaned myself up three times over.

Even now, 24 hours later, I have to fight not to gag when thinking or writing about it. And I can't wash my hands enough today. I swear that odor is actually in my nose permanently.

So hopefully tomorrow the plumber will come and figure out and fix what the problem is. And then I can clean the bathroom and laundry area one to twenty more times, then scrub myself down with bleach and a scouring pad and find a way not to see, um, what I saw last night when I walked into that room when I close my eyes. But what I really want to do is board up that entire area and start using the laundromat in town.

So please excuse me, I need to go and wash my hands and think really hard about puppies and rainbows.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I'm not that Mom or maybe I am...

I have a deep-rooted, unshakable fear in regards to parenting.

Well, actually, I have more than one, but the one that surfaces most often is that my parenting isn't...enough.
not good enough
not consistent enough
not effective enough
not adaptable enough
and so on and so on.

I spend enough time over-analyzing this that I think you could safely say I'm borderline obsessed.

Robert and I have very different parenting styles. We had lots of talks about what we would do when we had kids before we had kids.

My, my, how things have changed. Because with kids, it is not always that simple.  And then there's the matter of personal baggage. I have it, Robert has it, I think most people have it. And isn't it awful how that type of thing pops up when you least expect it and often don't see it until you say or do something and you think - UH OH.

I admit it freely, I watch other moms (and dads) with their kids to see how they parent. Along the way different parenting styles have (and I'm sure will continue to) influence how I parent at times. I prefer to think of this as my being adaptable. More often than not, this is for the better. I know people that think I'm too strict, I know people that think I'm not strict enough, I know people that think I'm a great parent, and people that think I'm a lousy parent.  They are probably all a little right. I make a lot of mistakes and I am so very flawed.

Recently a comment was made about my kids that cut me to the core. My first reaction was to be indignant as in "Oh no they didn't!" Then my feelings were really hurt  - mostly because the people making the comment haven't really spent a lot of time around my kids to get to know them. And I felt these people would have been ones to love and accept my kids no matter what. Obviously, I was mistaken.

However, everyone is entitled to their opinion and to their feelings. And truthfully, I can almost see their point. Well, okay, I've at least tried really hard to see their point.

While I think my kids are flat out amazing (and they are), they are sometimes like puppies greeting you after a long absence. They are loud, they get a little frenzied, like to jump around, and then they will settle down. Do Robert and I remind them to settle down before they are probably ready? Yes sir. Does it always work? Nope.

But I love that my kids are happy to meet new people and to greet people they haven't seen in a while with open arms. I'm thrilled that they view new social experiences as something positive rather than being scared and hesitant. Neither Robert nor I are like that naturally. I force myself into it a lot because I feel like I'm supposed to be outgoing, but it's hard and exhausting. However, once I get to know you, I am outgoing. I don't really understand it, but I've accepted it.

Since we've moved, I have had both the kids' teachers, their new principal and office staff, our neighbors, the staff at the Y, numerous people at church, and a handful of strangers compliment my kids on their manners and behavior.

That right there answers my question. Am I - are we - doing enough.

Yes. Yes we are. But we are never going to stop trying to be better parents, either.

I'm not going to be the mom that hovers over my kids about every little thing. It's too exhausting and with my two, it would be counter productive. I'm not going to fling them out into the world unprepared for what they'll find. I'm not going to lie to them to save their feelings, but I'm not going to purposefully hurt their feelings if I can help it. I'm not going to constantly farm them off to other people or trot them out like show ponies. I am not going to expect perfection or ever make them feel like they aren't enough for me.

I am going to try and lead by example which is so much harder than it sounds. I am going to be their biggest defender and strongest supporter. I am going to listen to them no matter what they do or don't want to talk about. I am going to treat them with respect. I am going to love them, whole-heartedly every day of my life. I will respect their opinions and decisions even if I don't agree with them, because let's face it - we have all learned something really important the hard way.

So if I don't parent like you and you want to judge me for it, I'm okay with that. I can even understand it.  We are all only human, after all. But I say this with complete and utter conviction - you decide you don't like/approve of/or want to get to know my kids? Your loss, friend.