Monday, August 18, 2014

Kid Makes Dinner Mondays: French Bread Pizza

Recently – as in last week – we began a new Monday dinner “thing” (I feel like it’s too soon to call it a tradition).  Several friends have been doing Kids Make Dinner Mondays so we decided to take part.

So, we've had Little K Makes Dinner Mondays for two weeks; and so far it’s going well.  We may be having French Bread Pizza every Monday for the foreseeable future, but at least he is learning responsibility, participation, and learning that the kitchen is absolutely a place for a boy to be.  I’m not going to pretend that this is a healthy recipe, but for a little boy who is obsessed with eating pizza (thanks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), at least this is a way to stay in control of the ingredients you are serving your family.

First, we start by preheating the oven to 500 degrees, and slicing a loaf of French bread in half length-wise.  Spread your favorite organic pizza sauce or pesto (or both) over the bread, and sprinkle on freshly shredded mozzarella.

Add pepperoni.  Eat pepperoni.  Smile only because your mom tells you to.

Bake for 6-7 minutes.  Watch intently.


Sprinkle on some fresh parmesan and serve with your choice of side dish – tonight Little K chose broccoli, strawberries, and yogurt.

So proud!

Enjoy In Good Company!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dear Ms. Becky: Pre-K Edition

Tomorrow my baby boy will begin Pre-Kindergarten – I can hardly believe it.  I am so thankful for his sweet teacher, Ms. Becky, whom we referred to all last year as “The Toddler Whisperer”. 

Dear Ms. Becky,

I am sure that you will be quite pleased that Little K has worked on absolutely no school skills over the summer and will be annoyed eager present to re-learn everything you taught him last year.  His brain is applesauce at this point.  I promise I had every intention of working through a really fantastic Pre-K work-book so that he wouldn’t forget his numbers and letters.  Please don’t think I’m bragging, but, we did get through the letter A.  I consider that a win.

You’ll also be happy to know that his confidence level is up to an alarming high, which has come mostly from learning to pedal his bicycle and his new-found love for swimming.  I apologize in advance for the number of times he tells you how remarkable he is.

His anxiety level has also increased – no clue where that comes from (has someone invented a sarcasm font yet?).  He is in constant need of knowing what is coming next and what is happening at all times – particularly what everyone else will be doing while he is sleeping/eating/at school/etc.  His healthy dose of inherited OCD is still going strong, so prepare for your belongings to be lined up and/or color-organized.

Little K has gone from wanting to be a professional race-car driver to wanting to be a ninja turtle.  Not a ninja.  No, his dreams for the future include mutating into a giant turtle who is also a ninja.  I’m sorry for the time that you will accidentally get hit with a “nut-chuck”.

Speaking of nut-chucks… I have purposely not corrected Little K's pronunciation on some specific words.  I know, I’m a total a-hole mom.  But I think that pasketti, kanormous, wuv, mext, bootiful, fumbs up, and teemage mutagen ninja turtles are all pretty adorable.  I’ll admit that sometimes the adorability of his pronunciations is questionable.  Take my advice and don’t let him be the one to give an “all cwear” for anything – that one isn’t nearly as charming.

His vocabulary has exploded over the summer, and he often uses words in an entertainingly wrong context.  He has no clue what sporadic means, but he knows how to say it, so by God, he is going to use it.

I’m sorry that he still picks boogers and grabs his wiener.  I’m also still sorry that no one in our family is mature enough to call the male anatomy anything other than a wiener.  He does, however, know that babies come out of baginas… so I’m sorry if he teaches your other students that important life lesson.

Again, I’m sorry for the time he will pee on your floor.  We’ve been mostly accident free for the summer, but he’s also had the liberty of peeing on bushes and trees when necessary for the last few months.  You might want to keep an eye on any artificial plants you keep in your classroom.

He no longer announces when he poops (you’re welcome), but he does get in a hurry to come out of the bathroom to make important announcements.  There will likely be several times when he will burst out of the bathroom, hands unwashed, pants are around his ankles, and his underwear pulled up crooked with his wiener hanging out the side.  You are welcome, in advance, for the laugh.

He will dawdle during snack time like it is his life’s calling.  Then he will most certainly cry when snack time is over because he is starving.  If I could physically force him to chew and swallow, I would.  Suggestions are welcome here.

He whines.  A lot.  He cries.  A lot.  I’m sorry for when he cries, throws himself on the floor, and shouts “I give up!” because he can’t find the right puzzle piece or something equally horrible.

He talks all. the. time.  He never stops.  Constant words.  It’s exhausting and I’m sorry.

He will announce when he farts.  If he smells something, he will ask you if you farted.  I’m sorry.  I have no explanation for this other than he is a boy and boys are gross.

I’m not at all only sort-of sorry that he has a toy that he calls a ball sack.  It is, quite literally, a pouch full of gel balls.  I think it’s hilarious.  I guess what I should be apologizing for is my adolescent sense of humor.

Little K does not miss anything.  Anything.  His radar ears hear and detect every single word he is not supposed to hear.  And he will repeat it – unless you want him to.  We recently attended a wedding at the school’s church with your Vietnamese priest officiating.  Little K has since been walking around saying, in a Vietnamese accent, “Let us pway”.

I am trying to decide if Little K has developed the art of schmoozing, or if he has just realized that being kind is often returned with kindness from others.  But in the last few days him telling me I was the “most bootifulest mommy ever” was paired with wanting fruit snacks, and being “a real fumbs up girl” meant needing a cookie.  Quite often he tells me that I am, “the sweetest, best girl ever,” for no reason other than he is speaking kindly.  I sincerely hope he brightens your days often with sweet words directed your way.

Watch out, he totally knows how cute he is!

He is constantly singing and dancing and making up songs and building things and asking question after question after question and shouting and laughing and telling jokes and saying “watch me” and “I’ve got a great idea!  He is clumsy and goofy and makes spit bubbles and fart noises and I’m convinced that he actually produces dirt rather than skin cells.  So he’s pretty much a regular boy.

I stand by our previous goal of only screwing him up just enough to make him funny.  So far, I still think we’re doing alright.

Thank you, in advance, for all that you do and for keeping Little K In Good Company!


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Monday, August 11, 2014

Ruby Sue

It is no secret that I am, at my very core, a crazy dog lady.  If it weren’t for Mr. B, I would easily have fifteen dogs in the house and I would love every single one of them.

For eight years we’ve had our sweet mutt-princess, Daisy, whom we rescued from the Humane Society when she was just 6 weeks old.  I have always wanted to add another fur-baby to our family, but some convincing needed to happen.

Sweet Daisy Louise
We knew that if we were going to have another human-baby, the time was not right for another dog.  When that, unfortunately, didn’t work out, we decided maybe it was time to look around.  My criteria was that the dog be black (because of Black Dog Syndrome) and a rescue.  Mr. B's criteria was that it be a young female who could possibly be a hunting companion.  We both decided that we did not want a tiny puppy, because chewing and peeing indoors are not things we have patience for at the moment.

After much looking and lots of phone calls, we came across a 2-year-old female black Labrador Retriever named Allie who was up for adoption through our vet’s office.  She had been a county stray.  Mr, B hesitantly went with me to meet her on a Thursday.  Our vet staff is so fantastic that they took her out to the country to test if she was gun-shy, and had the whole thing on video for Mr. B to watch.

We both fell in love with her sweet personality instantly.  We changed her name to Ruby (Allie had only been a temporary name given by the vet’s office), had her micro-chipped and spayed, and said we would pick her up on Tuesday after Memorial Day.

I immediately bought her toys and a bed and delivered them to her so that she could be comfortable during her post-surgery weekend stay.

We were so excited for “Ruby Tuesday” to arrive that we could hardly stand it.  We decided not to tell 
Little K that we were getting another dog until we actually went to get her.  His reaction was, of course, not as I had expected.  But once the realization happened that we were, in fact, getting to keep this dog forever, he could not have been more excited.  He now tells people that he has one black sister and one black and white sister.

Ruby on "Ruby Tuesday"
Little K and Ruby on "Ruby Tuesday."
I love this picture because it looks like he's going to ride her into battle.
First day as sisters.
We quickly learned that Ruby had been someone’s pet at one point.  She was insatiable to touch and would absolutely not leave my side.  She knew how to sit and shake, was about 75% potty trained, and was immediately gentle with even the smallest of children.  However, she was very frightened of Mr. B at first, and appears to have been abused at some point, we think maybe with shoes.  She was terrified of small closed in spaces, and wouldn’t even step one paw into a bathroom.  Car rides were a source of huge anxiety for her.  It breaks my heart to think that someone hurt, locked up, and then dumped my poor black baby out in the country.  I don’t know how long she was out there but she was horribly afraid the first time we had a storm come through.

We were concerned about the possibility of running into Ruby’s old owners, but we’ve been assured that her adoption is a legal state adoption.  Our vet is excellent about advertising stray dogs when they have been found, and they keep them for twice the legally mandated time before allowing them to be adopted.  She is a happier and healthier dog than she was a few months ago, so much so that her old owner might not even recognize her.

Daisy adjusted quickly to Ruby’s presence and has perked up significantly since her arrival.  She has lost a few pounds, and has benefited greatly from our almost-daily evening walks.  The girls wrestle and run up and down the hallway together, and they sometimes even snuggle.
Ruby and Daisy after some playtime at the park.
Sister snuggle time.
Ruby kisses Daisy for as long as Daisy will let her, and then some.

In the 11 weeks Ruby has been with us, she has filled a void in our family.  Just looking at her sweet face makes me smile.  She became 100% potty trained after catching her peeing in the house only once.  She quickly earned the nickname “Large Marge” because she will eat anything in sight, including all of Daisy’s food, if you let her.  She’s very polite, though, and won’t bother our trash can or steal from our plates.  She loves her human brother, and has become quite protective of him.  She gives kisses as often as you will let her, has adjusted to car rides and isn’t afraid of bathrooms or closed doors anymore.  She thinks Mr. B is the bee’s knees.  She still is insatiable to touch, and sometimes has a weird aversion to certain men or older women with short hair.  But we are learning more about her daily, and she is feeling safer with us as time goes on.  She now sleeps through even the loudest of thunderstorms.  She still follows me everywhere I go, unless she decides napping is a better option.

Ruby has to be one of the sweetest dogs I have ever known.  She has a gentle-yet-playful soul.  I believe she knows she was rescued, and is therefore very thankful.  I can say, "Ruby, give mommy kisses." - and she will immediately kiss me right on the nose.  She has a deep snorty voice that she “talks” with, and it makes us giggle every time.  Nearly every time we walk her, someone stops to pet her and tell us how beautiful and shiny she is (I always make sure to tell Daisy that she’s beautiful too, so she won’t feel bad).  This dog LOVES to swim.  We have friends with an in-ground salt-water pool, and you cannot keep Ruby out of it.  One time I dove off the diving board and she went in after me to try and save me.

Large Marge
I am delighted to see her dance with excitement when we ask her if she wants to go for a walk.  While she seems to be on the small side for a lab, she definitely moves with quite a bit of force – particularly when excited.

This bed-thief clearly has no clue how big she is!
We have lost three Dish Network remotes to Large Marge.  At $20 apiece, we decided that keeping remotes stored up high is now mandatory, as well as keeping a large stock of rawhide bones for he chewing pleasure.

Can you spot Ruby in her chair?
I’m not certain that she will be a hunting dog for Mr. B, but he’s pretty determined to see if she will retrieve a duck for him.  She may turn out to be a 90 pound lap-dog, and I’m completely okay with that.  She will happily retrieve a tennis ball, or her beloved stuffed goose (that she sleeps with and snuggles at night).  Our only complaint is that the volume of her snorts seems to be directly related to her level of comfort here.  We have been awakened in the middle of the night by her snoring on more than one occasion.  It makes me laugh.

We are completely aware that her name is inspired by National Lampoon's: A Christmas Vacation.  We quite often say things like, "I'd hold off on that, Clark.  Ole Ruby Sue's got some sorta unidentified lip fungus."

90 pounds of lap-dog.
I've learned that sometimes that baby you prayed for is just a little furrier than you had originally expected.  Our family may not look exactly the way we had planned, but it is complete.
And it is perfect.
It's a big, big world out there.
I am thankful for my fur-babies for always (especially when I'm cooking, and even when I’m using the bathroom) keeping me In Good Company.

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Daisy Louise

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Second Chance

I haven’t had much motivation to write since I posted Starting Over.  Mostly because I haven’t seen much progress in my body.

I really don’t even know how to put into words exactly what I’m feeling about this all and the shift that has happened within me, but I’m going to try.  Because I think it’s important.

I have never felt good about myself.  I have never loved my body, not even as a kid.  I have always felt awkward and uncomfortable in my own skin.  At a young age I tried to mimic the way other girls moved because I felt clumsy in everything I did.  Maybe this is the reason that my sister and I walk with an identical arm-swinging gate – it’s weirdly identical, guys.

Through the weight I lost with clean eating and CrossFit, I was able to find pride in my body.  Not my naked body (I’m afraid I’ll never feel confident enough to even sport a bikini), but my clothed body.  This was totally awesome, right?  Well, yeah.  Confidence is great.  But what about when your self-worth becomes strictly contingent on your body size, on fitting into that cute dress everyone liked, and on your tummy not getting in the way of that one tricky twisting yoga pose?

We call this "Kelsey: Optimus Prime"...
And it is the version of myself I keep using for comparison.
I don’t even think I noticed what was happening, really.  I knew I felt better, my energy level was through the roof, and I was pretty proud of how I looked – because dammit, I worked for it.

But then the whole process of the unsuccessful fertility treatments, thus the gaining of 50+ pounds happened.  Within two months’ time, I had nothing left to be proud of.

I tried really super hard to be proud of the numbers I was pulling at the gym on my lifts.  Because progress was still being made.  But when confidence is gone, when you know you are going to come in last every time, when cardio is nearly impossible and body-weight movements are even harder than that, when sitting on the couch just seems like a better choice because you don’t want to be the fattest woman in the room yet again; those number just don’t have the same affect.

Instead of looking back at how far I had come from the very beginning of this journey, I only began to focus on how many steps backward I had taken in just the past few months.  I left more than one store in tears because I couldn’t find clothes to fit my body – or, more accurately, I couldn’t find any clothes that I felt worthy of buying or wearing.

Then, just when I was starting to feel like a tiny little bit of progress was being made, I injured my back.  I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I’m nearly certain it was a dog-pulling-on-the-leash-at-the-exact-wrong-moment related injury.  And then I couldn’t do anything without gasping or wincing.

And then I was starting over yet again.  I seriously said out loud, to people, with my mouth, “I’m just going to stop trying.  I’m not making any progress in my body.  I’m just going to give up and start wearing muumuus.”  I was only partially kidding.  I have cancelled plans because I didn’t feel like I was worthy of being seen by other people.

Here’s the thing though, through trial comes triumph.  I’m kind of glad I hurt my back.  Even though it has been insanely frustrating, my wonderful CrossFit coaches have taken the time to modify every movement for me, have given me limits that have, at times, been hard to abide by, and have broken down my movements to such small segments of motion that we have been able to discover exactly where my errors are.  We have been able to discover that, also with the help of an excellent chiropractor, yoga has been hurting me more than helping (hypermobility combined with overly stretched ligaments = no stability).

Side note – Yoga is excellent if you need to relax or gain mobility.  But hypermobility in combination with yoga can be dangerous, particularly if you lack body awareness and the ability to feel muscle tension.

So, through my injury, I have been able to focus not on how I compare with the others in the gym – because I’ve been doing something different than them for several weeks – and instead on how my body is moving.  I have discovered the benefits of lifting shoes (if anyone wants to buy me a pair for my birthday, I would be forever thankful), and how to use my hamstrings instead of continuing to be quad-dominant.  I have been able to say thing like, “This lift hurts during the first pull; can you watch me and tell me what am I doing wrong?”  And then we can fix the error.  Because, like I said, my coaches are awesome – truly there are none better.

What has come along with the fixing of the errors is pride.  Not in the way my body looks, or in the way I feel in my skin, but in movement.  Pride in just being and doing.  Pride in moving in a way that honors my body and protects my spine.

I guess, in a way, I feel like instead of starting over, I now feel like I’m getting a second chance.  Do I still want to fit into that cute dress?  Of course, because it’s cute!  But I feel like this second journey up that same mountain is more important than the first.  Because I’m learning different lessons.  I’m learning the difference between obsessively eating clean, and making intentional choices.  I’m learning to pay attention not to my extra tummy skin, but to the way my body feels (energy level, sleep quality, brain function, etc.) when I give it proper nourishment, hydration, and exercise.  I’m slowly learning that my worth is not connected to the way my body looks, the size of my ass or the pudginess of my stomach, but to my heart and my soul and my brain.

I had a conversation with a dear friend about this, and she said, “You can hear from other people over and over and over again how wonderful you are and how much you are worth.  But those are just words, and they don’t matter until they are your own words in your own voice.”  Yes.  That.

So I’m trying.  I’m not going to start wearing muumuus after all.  I know that I have a sugar addiction I need to kick, and I need to recognize that I am like a waveringly recovering drug addict when I have even a little.  I kind of think that sugar might actually be sweetened heroin.

I want to try to listen to people when they tell me I am being hard on myself.  I want to stop the negative self-talk that is thinly-veiled as humor.  I want to love the skin I’m in, no matter what size I am.  I want to stop using the word FUPA.  I want to appreciate that the body I live in is a complicated, living, breathing machine; but to also remember that the size and shape of it has no connection to my worthiness as a person, a wife, a mother, a friend.  I need not to forget that, while it is easier to move in a smaller body, a larger body does not make me less loveable.  I want to remind myself to be proud of my strength, both physically and mentally.

I don’t know when this shift happened.  Maybe during the frustratingly slow movements at CrossFit I had more time to think.  Maybe shifting over to cleaner foods again gave my brain a bit of clarity.  Whatever it is, I want it to last.  Because feeling good about yourself just plain feels good, particularly when it’s with no strings attached.

This is a note I wrote to myself (excuse my atrocious handwriting) that is now hanging on the mirror in my bedroom where I will have to read it every day.  I challenge you to write yourself a similar note and put it where you will see it daily.  I would love it if you would take a picture of your note and post it in the comments section.

Won’t you join me in this journey and keep me In Good Company?



Choosing Love

On Thursday, Mr. B and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.  I am having a hard time believing that ten years have passed so quickly.  Truly it feels like just a couple of years ago that I put on a pretty ivory dress and said “I do”.  The day after our wedding when we packed up a U-Haul and left for our new lives in North Carolina seems just as recent.  I can still taste the salty tears that streaked my face as we drove east, feeling homesick for the family I’d never been away from for longer than a weekend.
Brand new love.
Ages 18 and 20.
Alpha Gamma Delta Christmas Formal.
Engagement Photo: Ages 19 and 21.

If I had to describe the last ten years in just a few words – this is extremely difficult, because Lord knows I’m anything but brief – I think I would say “choosing love”.  When we are adolescents, before we even realize that our parents’ marriage is setting an example for us, we only consider Hollywood romance as our goal for love and marriage.  Ridiculous scripts that include stupid advice about love meaning never having to say you’re sorry, and how a boy worth crying over will never make you cry.  I got married at the age of twenty, Mr. B was twenty-two – five years and three years, respectively, before scientists say our brains fully developed – and we had so. much. to. learn.
Maybe my favorite picture of us.
But learn we did.  And through all of the arguments (and maybe one thrown bowl of waffle batter), we chose love.  We chose to apologize when necessary – though not always quickly.  We learned to honor one another.  We learned to not engage in spouse-bashing.  We learned not to put one another down, particularly in front of other people.  We learned that not every difference of opinion is worth arguing about (this one probably took the longest).

I learned that his love for me is truly unconditional.  Because as I look back at the pictures of myself during cosmetology school, I did some really stupid shit to my hair.  And even though at one point I had flaming red hair that I can only describe as angry-looking, and borderline Mimi (from the Drew Carry Show) makeup, he had me by his side like I was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen – even though he was probably praying that this phase would be short.
Check out that hair!
Cosmetology School Graduation Party
Caribbean Cruise, 2006. 

And we learned to be parents together.  We started with our sweet Daisy Louise.  Four and a half years later we welcomed our mini-human, Little K.  Four and a half years after that (just few months ago) we adopted our lab, Ruby Sue.  We have learned patience, existing on sleep deprivation, speaking kind words, teaching by example, kissing boo-boos, and being firm-yet-fair.  I learned that there is nothing sexier in a husband (besides a well-fitting suit) than watching him be an excellent father.
A crazy picture on an evening when Little K was being particularly trying.

We've also been through heartbreak together.  We have offered shoulders and support when grief was literally too much to bear.  We have lost grandparents and friends, left jobs, abandoned careers, left friendships as we moved cross-country and back.  We have watched dreams become impossible and have seen hopes become nothing more than wishes.  We have fought the battle of infertility together, and together decided when the battle was too much.
My 10-year High School Reunion.
Halloween 2012
Mexico 2013.
More than that, we have been each other’s cheerleaders.  Standing at the finish line – twice – while Mr. B ran the last strides of his half-marathons have been some of my proudest moments as his wife.  He supported me through my weight-loss (and is just as encouraging as I am climbing that hill once again), and has cheered me on and encouraged me with CrossFit and writing.
Halloween CrossFit WOD 2013.

I’m thankful that trust is something that we’ve never had to battle.  Though we are both bullheaded and strong-willed, we are also insanely loyal and honest.
KU Basketball Game 2014.

I was almost shocked to realize that I have now been a Butcher for a third of my life.  Mr. B and I had this conversation:

Me: You know what, Babe?
Mr. B: What’s that?
Me: Not a lot of people our age will get to celebrate their 50th and 75th anniversaries, since people are getting married so much later now.  We will get to do that.
Mr. B: Yep.
Me: Unless I kill you first.
Mr. B: Nice.
Me: Kidding.  I just think that’s really cool.  We will probably be sort of a rarity by then.
Mr. B: No you’re right.  That is cool.
Me: Although being a rarity is something I’m completely used to.  You’ll have to learn to adjust.
Mr. B: That’s the truth!

Our marriage isn’t perfect by any means, no marriage is.  But I know that we have a foundation of trust, and sarcasm, and we share a common faith.  And I know that no matter what, we will both always, always choose love.
Happy 10th Anniversary!

I love you more than anything, Mr. B.  Even ten years after saying “I do”, I still do, and I always will.  Thank you for being mine, and for always keeping me In Good Company.