Saturday night, after a day of driving across Florida, Big Daddy and I arrived in Orlando. We picked up a pizza and collapsed into bed in our hotel around midnight. Just a couple hours later, twenty miles away 49 innocent souls would lose their lives and thousands of others would die in a million other small ways as well.

That day, sunny and bright, we passed news vans and crime scene vans making their way to report and to help. We saw helicopters circling in the distance. The weight of the awfulness was unbearable. What else can it be? We saw the phone clenched in the hand of a desperate mother. “Mommy, I love you”. Yes, he wasnt a kid, but those words twisted into my stomach like a knife, reminiscent of the texts the Princess sends when things aren’t quite going her way.  I can’t think about it too long or too hard. His fear and her desperation are too big for me to even comprehend.

 

The end of the story is that he died.  Eddie Justice’s mommy was never able to help her son. He was 30. And to her he was probably 30 and not 30 all at the same time but I can’t spend too much time thinking about that either. Not because Eddie and Mina Justice don’t deserve my time, sorrow and tears. They do. I’m afraid if I start crying; out of anger and fear and frustration and sorrow that I won’t be able to stop. I’m afraid if I stop to consider the dear ones of mine that could be those 49 dead or 53 injured or thousands who will never be the  same, I feel myself begin to crumple.

So, what then? What will this be? Another tragedy where we scream and tear at our hair and beat our breasts and cry until we run dry but, in the end, do nothing?  Because, that seems to be our thing.  The world watches us.  What will we do?

Nothing.

I mean, that’s status quo, right? 30 little children shot to death and nothing. 50 people who did nothing wrong but show up to Latin night dead and nothing, because that’s what it will be. Prayers offered and people who are on federal no fly lists or FBI watch lists able to legally buy weapons and, as quickly as they can can squeeze the trigger, exterminate as many people as their magazine can hold. And we will do nothing.

I’m sorry, mama, that you lost your child and I weap for you and your sorrow buries into my soul, but we will do nothing. We won’t give you a silver lining or the ability to say that your baby died, but at least this will never happen to anyone else.  That won’t come because people with more money than sense have convinced others that it’s more important to be able to empty their 30 rounds in fifteen seconds into a target for the benefit of their machismo than it is to admit that they’re wrong. To admit that their desire to possess something is more important than healing and protection and love and life. All that. That the  ability to target shoot is more important than you saying to a grieving parent, separated from their dead child by days because they lay in midst of a crime scene, that giving up your semi-automatic weapon is the least you can do out of love and respect and care for them or as tribute for their loved one. That you value life and loss so little.

Maybe that idea makes you mad. That I believe you value life and loss so little. But, all I have are your actions and your words and your pictures of your gun that is the same gun that killed 30 little children and dozens of innocent adults. What else should I think?

To, the hurting I send love and a promise that I will not only love bigger and care more but I will raise my children to do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Dad.

Once upon a time there was a clarinet.  It lived in a black and white case tucked into red velvet lining.  It roamed the halls and the football field with a leggy blonde with green eyes and a bright smile.   It played the fight song and the Alma Mater behind the twirling flags.  It went to competitions and won medals, now dull with age.  The clarinet player fell for  a not leggy blond that wrestled and played football and took home ec.  They got married, had babies and the clarinet went into the closet.

The clarinet lived in the closet in the little apartment that was their first home and the clarinet went into the closet in the white house at the top of the big steep hill.  The clarinet moved to Michigan in 1984 and moved into the closet in the house across from the lake and then moved again in 1986 to the brown house where it would spend decades.

When Dad downsized the clarinet moved in with a not-leggy blonde, who selflessly gave it up after a phone call inquiring if she minded the Princess having it to play in band.  By this time, our family had made our own journey.  We drove 400 miles to live within two miles of the white house on the top of the hill and the Princess started school that fall at the Middle School tucked up against the high school where the Clarinet Player and the Wrestler met and fell in love.

Thirty six years later, the clarinet came back home. It walked the same halls with another leggy blonde. It settled into the same band room. It plays on the  same football field behind the twirling flags . It plays the same fight song and the same Alma Mater.   In 2013, it also went into semi-retirement for outdoor playing. It was a classic and outdoor playing is bad for it. It is reserved for concerts now, where it plays on the same stage in the same auditorium.

But, it came out of outdoor retirement, briefly, this year when it marched with the leggy blonde, again. The Princess and I made the decision together. Yes, it should be Gran’s clarinet. It’s worth the risk.

DSC_0548

And in some small way, for just a moment a tiny part of my mother was where she would have wanted to be.

As time goes by, it gets harder and harder to say with certainty what Mom would have done, or wanted or thought about something.  It gets harder to say that she would have been here or done that. As our family grows and my brother and sister have families of their own it’s harder to say, for certain, that she would have been eating birthday cake with us or smiling as the kids hunted Easter baskets or opened Christmas presents.    But more than our expanding family, it’s harder to know what she would have done or been or thought because it’s been so very long since she’s been able to say and I’ve made the transition from the sorrow over what should have been to understanding, accepting and loving what is.

But, I knew for certain on that day with the Princess that not only did she carry a piece of her grandmother along with her, but that my Mom would have absolutely been there with us, in that place at that time. It is the most sure I’ve been, in a long time, of knowing the place my Mom would have occupied.

DSC_0564

And so, the clarinet traveled a thousand miles in the hold of a charter bus, but not to sit in another closet.  It came to have it’s moment in the sun with the Princess.  Like Gran would have wanted.

 

Happy Monday!

Usually Monday mornings are pretty tough, but this week things are feeling pretty good. The girls have 22 days of school left, we’re counting down to our summer vacation and we have lots of fun events leading up to the end of school. Things are about to get busy, for sure, but that’s okay. It’s good. We like it like that.

So, let’s talk about flank steak for a minute. Yes, I know that’s not what this recipe is actually about, but I want to talk about it anyhow. If you are trying to be health conscious, you will find a lot of recipes that call for flank steak. I know I have. However, every time I hit the grocery store looking for flank steak, I could never find it. Apparently London broil is similar? Anyhow, I finally broke down and called the butcher and asked if he had flank steak. He told me that he basically never carried flank steak, but he did carry flat iron steaks that would work the same and be of higher quality. I’ve had flat iron steaks in the past, but was willing to give it a try.

There were really no words for how delicious this meal was. The steak was amazingly tender, you could cut it with your fork. It was easy to prepare and everyone liked it! Even Baby Bee (though, admittedly, she picked out her stuffing). At $5/pound it may be a little pricey for every day, but I’m thrilled to be able to find such a good, reasonably priced special occasion dish AND to find out that I can get an excellent, tender flat iron steak from my local butcher. Score!

I used my meat mallet to pound my steaks a little thinner and to have them be a more uniformed thickness.  Then I put down my cheese layer.  You can do any sort of cheese that appeals to you.  I, myself, am a fan of feta, but the girls aren’t so they got provolone (and mozzarella last time).

My local store didn’t have sun-dried tomatoes, so I’ll try that next time.  This time, I went with spinach and garlic, two things I knew pretty much everyone would eat.

Afterwards, roll the steak up and secure.  I had to use skewers, but butchers twine would be a far better choice.  After rolling the meat, heat up some oil in a heavy, oven proof skillet and seer the steak on all sides.

After the meat is seared, pop the whole thing into a 350 degree oven.  We cooked ours for about 30 minutes and it came out a pretty good medium rare, which is our preference.  If you like your meat more well done, increase the cooking time.

Sorry, I don’t have pictures of it before cutting.  We were anxious to eat.

We served it with steamed asparagus and crash hot potatoes.  One thing I will say is that the quality of this feta (bought at my small, local store) was not as good as the feta I bought at the larger, further away store.  Just a note to myself, really, because it wasn’t quite as good as our first attempt.

 

Stuffed Flat Iron Steak
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs flank steak
  • 4-6 slices of provolone cheese OR 4-6 ounces of crumbled feta cheese
  • spinach
  • garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • Montreal steak seasoning
  • skewers or butchers twine
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Using a meat mallet, pound the steaks until a uniform thickness (though they don't have to be overly thin)
  3. Layer on cheese, garlic and spinach.
  4. Roll the steak and secure with twine or skewers
  5. Heat olive oil in a large, oven proof skillet and sear the meat on all sides. Once meat is browned, place in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes for medium rare

 

Gentlemen, step aside unless you want to read about endometrial ablations. If so, pull up a chair.

The problems started a couple years ago. Nothing major, just a change. My normally predictable 28 day cycle suddenly became less predictable. Sometimes, I’d have a 25 day cycle. Sometimes, I’d have a 32 day cycle. And, let me tell you, even after deciding on permanent birth control, there is not much that can strike more fear into your heart than a late period. Even after choosing a permanent birth control that is 99.85% effective. I wondered if I was moving into perimenopause and talked things over with my doctor at my annual, but she didn’t think that was the case. I chalked things up to aging and stopped worrying about it.

Until last year.

Last year, ladies, my uterus turned on me. And it was ugly. I have no idea what I did to that bitch. I’ve always treated her pretty well, but she turned on me anyhow. We had gone from being sort of friends (like, she annoyed me once a month, but I was grateful for effort she put into child growing) to being flat out enemies. It started out innocently enough; a long heavy period. Abnormal, for me, but okay. That happens. Then, next month another long heavy period. Now I was annoyed. What was this? Then, it pretty much ruined my California vacation last year by showing up for nearly two full weeks at full on, what I charmingly call, stuck pig mode.

Two weeks alone with my husband with no kids and no schedules and hotels FULL of bright white bedding. It was a nightmare.

By this time, my periods were lasting as long as 18 days and only giving me a scant week rest in between them. I started taking iron pills because there was no way I wasn’t anemic. I went to my family doctor in the summer and she sent me for blood work and referred to me a Gynecologist. I hadn’t retained a OB/GYN since moving to Ohio, because my family doctor could handle everything for me. I, of course, kept up to date with my annual appointments. My first appointment with the Gynecologist had me scheduled for an ultra sound, which was easy. Thankfully, he didn’t see anything to be alarmed with, save for a very thick endometrial lining. He then referred me for a trans-vaginal ultrasound with contrast dye and, pardon my french, but that’s when shit got real. Needless to say, after trying twice to place the catheter in a way that would allow the dye to stay in my uterus, I was a sobbing mess on the table and they gave up out of pity. In my, and their, defense I have the pain tolerance of a gnat, but it really surpassed “pressure” and went right to extreme discomfort. I don’t want to scare you, friend, if that’s on the list of things for you, but I won’t lie to you either. It bypassed “that time Big Daddy dropped the Pyrex measuring cup on my big toe” and settled around “that time the Obstetrician was trying to get my placenta out after I gave birth”. It hurt. Badly. I had to call Big Daddy and cry when it was over.

The technicians were pretty sure they saw polyps in the few glimpses they were able to get and my Gynecologist recommended I get an ablation at that time. I was unsure. I wasn’t worried about the process, but I had read some women who had them and experienced hip pain that no one was particularly able to explain. I’ve had on and off hip pain since I delivered Littlebit, so I wasn’t in a hurry to add more to it, but then Christmas rolled around and I had a three week nightmare period from hell and anything ANYTHING was better than that. I spent three days in bed, unable to do anything at all. I was blowing through a super tampon coupled with an overnight pad every hour or so. I’d hit the wall.

Now that I’ve written a novel of a backstory, let me tell you about the ablation process itself. I checked into the surgery center first thing in the morning. This place is crazy efficient and you don’t wait long at all. They get you in and out. I was tucked into the couch on the playroom by early afternoon. The first day the cramps were pretty far off the hook and I definitely needed the pain management meds that my doctor had prescribed and a heating pad, but by day two, I took a couple of regular Motrin. I took it easy that day as well, but was back to about 100% by the next day. I had zero spotting after my procedure, which surprised me quite a bit and I have not had a period since the beginning of January.

Which is fine. Which is beyond fine!

My follow up with my Gynecologist found that I had so many polyps in my uterus that he lost count and it absolutely explained the crazy, heavy bleeding over the course of the last year. There were no signs of dysplasia, which can be a per-cursor to uterine cancer and would have caused me to no longer be a candidate for the ablation process.

I have had no hip pain. No cramps. No nothing, really. Occasionally, I get a little weepy and I wonder if I’m PMS’ing. However, even though Big Daddy and I decided years ago that another little one wasn’t in our plans, pregnancy is now officially out for me. And, that’s fine, but it is something you should strongly consider if you’re thinking about an ablation. But, I feel great. I feel relived. I don’t have any regrets. I’m glad I’m not trapped in a horrible cycle with my periods anymore. I was seriously getting to the point where I was afraid to leave the house for fear of an embarrassing leak. I’m 39. The days of being worried about leaking during my period should be long past for me.

The moral of this story, of course, is that you need to talk to your doctor about changes to your period. One of the first (and only) clues of uterine cancer is a change in your period, so it’s not only important to go to your annual appointments with your OB/GYN or family doctor, but it’s also important to report changes in your cycle to them. Sure, maybe it’s aging. Or something benign like polyps. But, maybe it isn’t. Make AND keep those annual appointments, ladies. They’re important.

As for endometrial ablation, I’d give a 10 out of 10, would recommend. If it’s on the horizon for you, no fear. It’s worth it.

Untitled

I live in the Midwest and spring is…well, she is fickle. Typically, in the Midwest, we get one of two spring options. We have winter until sometime in June or at the end of March we go from six feet of snow on the ground to the center of the equator with no transition. There’s no telling what you’ll get. A mild winter doesn’t mean an early spring. Nor does a long, deep cold winter mean an early spring. Spring does what it wants. I think that’s on purpose. I think most people just glide past spring when we think of seasons. We long for summer, we love fall, we loathe winter (only some of us) and spring? Well, it gets mentioned last.

This year, however, has been the most beautiful Spring I can remember.  It’s gorgeous.  It’s pleasantly warm in the day time and still cool with a snap in the air at night.  We still get some frost, but the girls can wear shorts to school most days.  We have to leave the heat on for over night, but during the day we can throw open the windows and the air actually smells sweet.

My grass looks like a green carpet that you want to go roll around in.

Untitled

Today I want to talk about this dish.  When I first tried the recipe, I was skeptical and when I dumped the ingredients in the pot I got even more skeptical and wondered if we were going to have to have McDonald’s for dinner, but everyone loved this dish (except for Baby Bee who hates 80-90% of everything I cook for dinner).   I was afraid the Princess wouldn’t eat it because 1) beans 2) tomatoes, but even she loved it. The best part of this dinner it is literally on the table in fifteen minutes with minimal effort from the cook. I’m not going to go into another essay on how busy weeknights are.  I don’t care of it you have kids or not, weeknights are frequently busy with time crunched and limited and this is a great way to get a healthy dinner on the table in fifteen minutes with minimal effort.  Even more exciting is that you can keep all the ingredients in the pantry to save you on one of those nights.

Superfast Southwestern Red Beans and Rice
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1-8oz package of precooked brown rice (like Uncle Ben's)
  • 1-16oz can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 glove of garlic, diced
Instructions
  1. In skillet over medium heat, add rice, beans, tomatoes and spices. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer until heated through and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  2. Serve with warm tortillas or shredded cheese, although if you're watching calories neither of these are necesary.

 

April is Autism Awareness month and multiple Autism organizations encourage people to wear blue to further awareness?  I guess I’ve never understood the whole raising awareness thing.  Are there people who don’t know about Autism or breast cancer or something?  And, does my wearing blue change that.  I think I like the idea of wearing blue (or pink or whatever) for Autism support makes more sense, but I’m kind of digressing here.

About a year ago, Big Daddy and I sat around a table with Baby Bee’s preschool team and received the diagnosis that had always kind of been hanging over her.  I admit, it hit me like a sack of bricks.  I worried.  It’s my thing.  Would Baby Bee be able to be happy?  Would she be able to live independently?  Would she get married?  Would she have children?  Would she find a job or vocation that fulfilled her and made her happy?  There were so many questions coupled with an IQ test with some shitty results and I ignored, for a while, the words from that team as they assured us that they didn’t think that test was accurate due to ASD and how it affects Baby Bee and how she approached the test.  That number hung in front of me every time I closed my eyes.  It suggested Baby Bee would hardly be able to hold down the most menial job.  It wasn’t what I knew of Baby Bee.  I had seen her tenacity, her problem solving, her ability to learn and do, but it was hard to disbelieve the data.  I love data.

Untitled

I don’t believe that data now.

There was a time when I would study Baby Bee and wonder what was her disorder and what was her.  Was she funny?  Or was her speech patterns and observations Autism?  Was her need to cuddle up in the space behind my knees her or did Autism make her do that?  I kind of quit that line of thinking.  She just is.  It doesn’t matter of Autism made her do it, it’s just who she is.  She IS funny.  She does make hilariously scathing observations.   She does have a huge imagination that consumes her.  She does want to make movies AND be an animal doctor.  It doesn’t matter which way Autism is pointing her down her path, the path is still hers.   Autism is as much a part of her as her honey brown eyes or the scattering of freckles across her nose and I’m realizing that if Autism was removed from Baby Bee, she wouldn’t be our Baby Bee.  She’d be something else entirely.

Untitled

And I’d never want that in a million years.

That’s not to say the road has been smooth.  It isn’t with any kid and it’s not with Baby Bee.  She’s had some struggles, socially, and they’ve left me stymied and I found myself bewildered and defensive.  She hates being taken out of her routine and it can be disappointing when she rejects doing something fun so she can keep her routines.  It can be hard to battle against the OCD or whatever it is that causes her to sniff or cough obsessively  during colds.   It can be hard to deal with her anxiety and how it can hold her back from doing something today that she was able to do yesterday.  She’s spent the vast majority of this year being unable to use our downstairs bathroom by herself.  Anyone can go with her.  The dog can go with her, but she can’t go alone.  She’s terrified of flushing toilets and she hates loud noises.  Sometimes she gets to a point where she cannot be reasoned with or stopped and I’ve found myself frustrated and angry with her and at odds on how to fix it.  She doesn’t resettle like her sisters.

But, it  doesn’t matter, really, what Baby Bee would be without Autism.  It only matters what she is and Autism is always going to be a part of that.  Baby Bee is funny.  Baby Bee is observant.  Baby Bee is imaginative  beyond anything I’ve ever seen.  Baby Bee is brave.  Baby Bee will fall down and get up and do it again.  Baby Bee will not put up with your shit.  Baby Bee doesn’t feel the need to like you or please you.  Baby Bee is one of the best readers in her class.  Baby Bee expresses herself through drawing and is now starting to add words. Baby Bee is a great kid.  Baby Bee narrates her life like she’d producing a YouTube video.  It doesn’t matter which of that is driven by a miswiring of her brain, it’s all good stuff.  It’s all great stuff.  It doesn’t matter, anymore, where that came from.  There’s nothing blue about it.

 

I write about anxiety, usually.  It’s kind of my thing.  I had my first panic attack in 1993 at the age of 16.  My anxiety went into remission and reared it’s ugly head, again, in 2005 and it kind of hasn’t gone away since then.  I can’t tell you that it’s a daily struggle, right now, although it has been for large parts of my past.  There were days when it was an hourly struggle and it turned me into a coward.  Those days are over, I hope, thanks to years of therapy and medication.  I live a pretty functional life without panic and anxiety taking over the steering wheel, but, to be honest, panic feels like a  disliked neighbor that you’ve finally got to STOP coming over, but you know they’re watching you through the curtains, marking your comings and goings and waiting for you to leave the door open for them.  Anxiety is always waiting for a crack in my armor.

 

I have tools now.  Mantras.  I can detect the early warning signs (sort of like a tornado siren) and I am able to mount a strong defense which is really me saying, to myself “Don’t think like that.  Why are you thinking like that?  Stop that right now!  Think about something else!  7×56 is 392!”  It’s weird, but it works and I try very hard to never NEVER feed the wrong wolf.

 

As my anxiety has quit coming over, something else took over the last half of last year; depression.  Depression, for me, had always been anxiety’s quiet roommate.  Anxiety is so big and loud and so hard to ignore.  Depression could just curl up on the couch and not bother anyone, mostly.  Sure, I’d get snippy sometimes or bogged down and unable to just DO but in light of the big, boisterous loud anxiety, depression just didn’t get much attention.  Until this year when it stood up off the couch, put on a boa an announced itself here to stay.  At first, I was clear.  I didn’t have time for this crap.  I just managed to get anxiety to ship out, I didn’t need something else in it’s place, but depression is different than anxiety.  Anxiety bursts through the door you’re trying desperately to hold closed and depression sneaks in slowly, when you’re not looking  First a toe, then two toes, then a foot, an ankle, a knee and soon it’s taking up all of your space, elephant sized and you find that no matter how hard you put yourself into shoving it back out of the door, you can’t.  It’s too big and too heavy.

 

At first, you sit a little a longer in the evening.  Or, you stay up a little later.  It’s small.  Subtle.  Things only seem 2% less bright than they did before and you press on, because what’s 2%?  But it grows and grows until everything is dull and you are mired in it.  Like quicksand or that mud that sucked the shoe right off your foot when you were 10 and you had to walk home with just one shoe and explain that you lost the other and you looked right where it come off, but it had disappeared.  Part of it, I’m convinced, was hormones.  Things got weird in lady town over the past year and I know that contributed to my feelings of depression, but the vast majority was in the sucking vacuum anxiety left behind, depression was finally able to grow to it’s full height and I wasn’t prepared for that battle.

 

For me, the drain of depression is cyclical.  It’s so hard to do anything when you are so mired down, but the inability to do makes me feel worse, which mires me down further and until I just barely have one nostril above the water line (and I’m standing on my tip toes).  Since I took care of my problems in lady town, my depression has been easing enough for me to use the “positive attitude” solution that people who don’t know anything about depression will suggest as a technique.  I’ve been able to harness a little momentum and it’s pulling me out of the muck.  My life is still a little muddy and murky and mucky, but I’m unsticking myself, slowly.  A centimeter or two at a time.

 

 

 

 

Originally Aired: ScyFy (Z Nation is actually current with a third season coming soon)

Currently Available: Netflix

Dates Aired: 2014-current season slated for 2016

Starring/Where Do You Know Them From: Kellita Smith/The Bernie Mac Show, Keith Allen/mostly bit parts, but he has shown up on various tween shows on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, so he may look passingly familiar, Russel Hodgkinson/mostly bit parts, Nat Zang/ first role according to IMDB, Anastasia Baranova/Lizzie Manning on Veronica Mars (just a two episode stint), Jennifer “Scout” Lauer on Scout’s Safari”, DJ Qualls/ Ed McCarthy in The Man in the High Castle, Billy Nugent in Legit and Garth Fitzgerald in Supernatural.

 

Spoilers, Sweetie

Summary: Z Nation is another Zombie genre TV show, but with a few twists.  Keith Allen, who plays a character known only as Murphy  or They Murphy was injected by a possible cure for the Zombie virus prior to a lab’s evacuation and he is the only known survivor of a Zombie Bite.  Murphy is rescued from the lab by Officer Hammond (played by Harold Perrineau who you know from Lost) and they set out on a quest to try and get Murphy to the CDC (or what’ left of it) so they can develop a vaccination to save the human race.  Hammond and Murphey meet up with a rag tag group of survivors led by Garnett (played by Thomas Evertt Scott aka That Thing You Do) and after Hammond’s death, Garnett and Roberta Warren (played by Kellita Smith) take up the task of getting Murphy to California where there’s rumored to still be a CDC outpost.  The group consists of Garnett and Warren, both ex-military (well, are they ex?  They were current military when the world fell apart), Doc, an old hippie of a nebulous age that manages to both get out of scrapes AND score a decent amount of drugs, Addy and Mac, a young couple, and 10k, a guy they meet on the road whose goal is to, well, kill 10k zombies.  Getting Murphy to California isn’t easy and they run into bandits, marauders and your typical apocalypse scenarios.

The whole quest is over seen by someone named Citizen Z, who was sheltered in an NSA stronghold some place really cold.  Citizen Z is able  to interact easily with the group during most of the first season, but when Murphey triggers a global, nuclear failsafe at the end of the first season Citizen Z’s resources are affected and he’s not as helpful nor present in season two.

Favorite Character

Roberta_Warren_Season_2Roberta Warren, I have a girl crush on you.  Roberta Warren is smart, strong, experienced and almost totally unflappable.  She commits to the mission of getting Murphy to California with a laser focus.  She’s not cruel, but she’s not soft.  She’ll leave you behind, but she’ll probably feel a little bad about it.  She understands the delicate balance that must be walked between being tough to not be taken advantage of and keeping a hold of the connections that make you human.  She’s a peacekeeper and a hell raiser.  What’s not to love?  I love watching shows with strong women, especially one that features a strong woman in what is essentially the lead.  Yeah, this is an ensemble show with time being given to each character and their story, but Roberta Warren is in charge and I love her.   Least Favorite Character Murphy_Season_2

Murphy may be humanity’s salvation, but he’s really really unlikable.  He’s always wandering off and getting people killed.  Good people. It’s not the Zombie virus that made Murphy an awful person, he always was one.  Postal Fraud (well, that’s not terrible) but his flashback definitely lets you know that Murphy is just kind of a rat fink. He has moments of clarity (he asks Warren not to leave him alone when he gets to the CDC) and humanity (his weird zombie baby Lucy), but he’s just really hard to feel sorry for.

Biggest Pet Peeve

There are two; first is Zombie baby Lucy.  In Season one, Murphy hooks up with a lady who is part of a…well, I can’t call them Morman.  They were morman, but they are a women only “cult” and Addy leaves Mack and the group to stay with them in their commune.  Murphy, being offered both “company” and pie, impregnates one.  She gives birth, dramatically, in an Amish barn (where 10k and Addy are exposed to anthrax) and dies defending Delta X-Ray Delta, Murphy and Lucy.  The baby just seriously looked like one of those creepy zombie baby Halloween decorations you can buy at the Halloween store and it was just…campy.

Second, the Z Nation zombies aren’t slow plodders, they’re fast.  Like World War Z, they turn nearly instantly.  I accept Zombie canon differently, so it’s an adjustment to accept this version of zombies.

How Many Stars? ***  Interesting story, good Season 2 cliffhanger that has me looking forward to Season 3 and just what’s up with Lucy.

 

 

 

Last week it happened. On Friday. Quietly. Just like she was born, actually. I was having trouble sleeping and when I looked down, it was 1:11 in the morning making it sixteen years exactly since the first time she settled into my arms and watched me. The nurses wanted her to cry more, but she was just content. She’s a watcher and rememberer and I think she always was. Even then on that first day, she needed to watch and observe or maybe it’s just that she was as nebby then as she is now.

Parenting is difficult. It’s not necessarily the work that’s hard, though it can be, but the hardest thing for someone like me is not knowing if you’re doing a good job and having to wait through an entire babyhood and toddlerhood and childhood and teenhood and early adulthood to see if what you thought would work actually worked.  We’re nearly there with the Princess.  At sixteen (sometimes sweet, sometimes snarky), it’s too late to change course and unteach all the things she’s learned from us.  It’s too late to decide we didn’t discipline right and it’s too late to realize we didn’t teach her to be responsible in the right ways.  We will always parent her and always be there to help her grow and learn, but we’re sort of rolling down hill now after so many years of struggling upwards.  We’ve let go of the backseat of the bike.  The training wheels have been taken off. Sometimes, we have to call out for her to slow down or to steer a little bit to the left or the right, but she’s riding mostly on her own now.

Which is the goal.  Thankfully, she’s steering pretty straight.  She’s cautious, but not overly afraid.  She’s making good choices (riding with traffic, looking both ways).  She’s not perfect, so there are still places for us to help guide her, but they are few and far between now.  There’s no more bedtime.  She gets herself up.  I don’t pack her lunch or her breakfast.  I hand her twenty bucks on Sunday night and she has to manage and budget that on her own.  She does her laundry, picks out her own clothes and I haven’t helped with a homework assignment in years.

It’s the way it’s supposed to be.

She is kind, responsible, caring and dependable.  She is an excellent sister.  She is fiercely loyal.  She is starting to make decisions about her future.  Real ones.  She tolerates no bullshit and is a terrible liar (meaning, she can’t, not that she does it a lot).  She’s going to be an excellent wife to someone.  She’ll be an excellent mother, if she chooses to be, with her mixture of kindness and compassion and bullshit intolerance.  She’ll be a good co-worker.  She’s a good friend and she’s just about all grown up.

Untitled

If there is a word that means something better than excellent, that’s the sort of daughter she is.  She is superlative.

There are nights, when your baby is brand new, where it seems as though the crying will never quit.  You fear you’ll be tired and spread thin forever, but you won’t be.  You really won’t be. You think you’ll never have a meal in peace or a full night’s sleep, but you will.  You’ll read a book or watch a movie without interruptions again. Sixteen years will so seem so far away and during the rough times, it will seem like a lifetime.  It will seem like you’ll never have a child so old.

But you will.  One day, the baby who danced the cha-cha with Bear in the Big Blue House and found Blue’s Clues and cried when her goldfish died and watched Sharkboy and Lavagirl until you thought your eyes would bleed will be off to football games without you.  One day, the girl who carried her Bitty Baby around in a front carrier and that told long involved stories about her make believe husband named Eric and who insisted on spreading out in the middle of the living room to play (and never her bedroom) will  stop playing pretend.  She’ll shelve her teddy bear.  It seems like it’s so long before that will happen to your baby.  It will feel like it’s so long before you find a little bit of freedom as they grow, but in truth, it’s not a long time.  It’s just a minute or two from here…

 

…to here.

Untitled

I moved to Chicagoland in 1999. I was not yet married to Big Daddy (that would come a few weeks later). We moved into an apartment in the Northwestish suburbs and lived there until we move to the far Northwest suburbs in 2001. We spent the vast majority of ten years living in the Chicago area before moving to, what I describe as, pretty rural Ohio.

Life is different far away from Chicagoland. There’s a lot to miss; the people, the city, the vast amount of things to do and the food. Food in Chicago is…fabulous. There are fantastic Michelin Star restaurants and tiny little dives that serve one thing and you’d better not ask for what they don’t have.

Some Chicago food are easy to replicate Except for our inability to get poppy seed buns, we can make a mean Chicago Style hot dog at home (pickles, onions, mustard, relish, celery salt, hold the sport peppers) but we’ve been missing Italian Beef. Up until this weekend, there weren’t to be found in Northeast Ohio for love or money. They were Chicago fare (like Giordanos) and we had to make do with eating them when we were in town.

No longer.

A lot of “authentic” Italian Beef recipes call for a pot roast in the slow cooker, but any Chicagoan worth his or her salt know that’s nothing like the meat served at your favorite hot dog joint. It’s thin sliced, deli-style roast beef and it’s delicious! Big Daddy, the Princess and I gave this recipe a great big thumbs up.

Untitled

 

Italian Beef
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Nearly authentic Chicago favorite
Ingredients
  • 4c of water
  • 1 lg onion, sliced thin
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1 pkg au jus
  • 1 pkg brown gravy
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp oregnao
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • a few dashes of tobasco or Frank's Red Hot Sauce
  • 1 lbs of thin sliced deli roast beef
  • 1 loaf of french bread, cut into sandwich size pieces and cut oen
  • shredded mozzarella
Instructions
  1. Bring the water to a boil and then add the onions and peppers. Boil 3-5 minutes until the onions and peppers have started to soften.
  2. Add dry packages, spices and garlic and hot sauce, whisking well to avoid clumps. Cook until smooth and veggies are soft.
  3. Add the meat to the sauce a slice at a time. Overcooking the beef will make it tough, so consider only adding a sandwich or two's worth at a time. The meat heats quickly.
  4. Once the meat is heated through, decide if you want yours wet or not (wet means dipped into the gravy). Pile on the beef and add the cheese if you want.

I like mine wet with no cheese.  Littlebit likes hers not wet, with cheese.  Big Daddy and the Princess like theirs wet with cheese.  We served them with crinkle cut fries(obviously) with home made cheese sauce.  They were a hit and Big Daddy requested them for dinner the next night as well.   Now, if I can figure out pizza puffs….

 

The Menu Plan

Monday Cajun Chicken Pasta (another Big Daddy favorite)

Tuesday Cheesy broccoli chicken and rice

Wednesday Mexican Rice Casserole

Thursday Paninis (by the Princess’s request).