Saturday, February 27, 2010


I grew up surrounded my language. My grandfather (I only had one), had been an English teacher. I remembered his collection of Shakespeare, the one that now lives in my bookcase displayed despite its tattered appearance, in the bookcase outside my grandparents bedroom. He used big words. He loved language. I find it more than ironic that his oldest son, my father, struggled with words. Despite that, the love persisted in him as well. My father passed on that love to me. Somewhere, at some point there were audio tapes (you remember the kind, right?) of me reading to my baby brother. I wasn't even four yet.

I have always read to M. It was hard at first, the collection of kid books we got at first, the classics, never appealed to me. We made trips to local kid's bookstores when M was a baby, trying to find things we could read that wouldn't drive us insane in the process. We found Olivia, the World Snacks books, and The Bear Snores On (and every other one of those books). It made it easy, and she began to love books. Even if sometimes it was as a snack. The Olivia board book has one rounded corner and one that is still square.

I've been cautious. I have tried my best not to push her. She would go weeks without asking for stories, and I never pushed. We work on the alphabet, but I do my best to not be that parent. The one that uses their child for competition with other parents.

However, I quietly, secretly, have hoped that she would take to words the same way that I did. That I could share with her the love of words that I have. I have done everything I could to pass it on. I have used the big words, ignoring that some may not think she can handle them at only two. I have taken the time to explain, repeatedly, what they mean.

Something has happened in the last few weeks. Maybe it is that she is almost three. Maybe it is just the recent development/growth spurt. She is starting to get it. As I was exiting the parking ramp last week, she started reading off the OPEN sign on our lane. She has asked A and I to spell our names for her. She is picking out the letters in her name where ever she finds them. She is starting to get it.

I see those books on that shelf, and I am grateful that I was given the gift of words. The best gifts are the ones that you can pass on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

So I Remember

On Twitter, I'm one of those random people who likes to tweet my new posts, the odd things I'm doing, and my dinner plans. It just seems like the kind of thing you do on Twitter. With some regularity, I've been getting requests for the stuff that I tweet about making. I then write up what I did and email it off to whomever asked.

It serves two purposes. One, it is sharing, and sharing is always good, and two, it makes my husband happy. You see, I'm unlikely to pay complete attention to what I am making. If he likes it, I may make it again, but since I don't remember what I made, there is a chance it isn't going to be as well liked. I'm notorious for making things without the same ingredients in the house, or for tweaking them to make them healthier.

So if I write them up for others, chances are I'll remember what I did enough to be able to make them again. Everybody wins.

One of the things I'm struggling with is finding healthy options that are quick (and thus easy) for this dark and cold season. I have an extra restriction to what most have in that I not only need low fat, lower carb, but as little refined sugar as possible. It was something I brought up with the nutritionist at my appointment last week. Her response was to give me a sheet with some quick and easy ideas for meals. None of them had real portions, they were just ideas of what you can do. It turns out they may be perfect inspiration.

Which now gets me to my point. The original suggestion was for equal parts instant brown rice & water, a can of lowfat cream of chicken soup, a pound chicken breasts, and some seasoning, curry is good, Mix in a dish, bake for 45 minutes. Here is what I actually did:

1 & 1/4 (the extra 1/4 was what was left in the box and could easily be left off) instant brown rice. (Uncle Ben's)
1 & 1/4 c. water
1 can Campbells Cream of Chicken- Healthy Request variety (you don't miss the salt or fat, I swear)
2 larger chicken breasts, cubed, the smaller they are, the faster they cook
1.5 T. pure Ancho chili powder (not the mixed up cheap kind, the good stuff)
1.5 t. ground cumin
1 small can of roasted and diced mild green chilis (I've been liking the Trader Joes kind)

Mix it all up and put it in a 9 x 9 pan. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, top with a little lowfat cheese, put back in the oven until the cheese melts, serve and enjoy.

It was really tasty, theoretically proportioned right for four servings, and very filling. We had it with some green beans, both A & I had plenty to eat, M had some (darn thing is becoming a pickier eater), and we have a large serving of leftovers.

I'm thinking I could take the original suggestion of curry or try a different seasoning combination in the future. Perhaps make it all mushroomy with a different soup and lots of diced up mushrooms. (wouldn't that just be perfect for a church basement gathering) The possibilities are endless, and there are a lot more ideas on that sheet. Mmm...

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Measure of Success

I have not hid it, but this winter has been hard for the whole weight loss goals. I was sick endlessly last fall. I have also struggled with figuring out how to fit in exercise without the benefit of the great outdoors.

I knew going in to my appointment with the nutritionist and the endocrinologist today that I had likely gained weight. Not much, but weight is weight. Every time in the past I have not lost as much, there is more talk about weight loss drugs. Not that I don't appreciate the care about my weight, but honestly that number is secondary to the other issues I went in for. (the facial hair of a teenage boy if you're keeping track)

I wasn't looking forward to it. I mitigated it with a little retail therapy before the appointment. I needed some more basics. It would seem that my XXL basic t-shirts are no longer suited for public wearing. They are even pushing it for PJ's. So, I went searching for new shirts. In turn, I got a surprise.

When I was pregnant, and after I gave birth, I was wearing a men's XXL t-shirt. Not a small item of clothing. Today, I bought a men's medium hoodie. (women's hoodies rarely fit my monkey arms and cover my long torso sufficiently for comfort) A MEDIUM!

The XL women's shirts I got seem... large. Granted part of that is the fit, but I went in to my appointment confident that I had had a better winter than I thought.

When I got married almost five years ago, I weighed 10 pounds more than I do right now. In the almost 9 years since I moved back to Minnesota, other than that period where I was too broke to eat enough, I have steadily gained weight. Sure, some diets have worked short term, but I have never managed to make it through the winter without gaining most of it back.

Until this winter. Two pounds is all I've gained since September. Two pounds is nothing. It is a giant bottle of water. It will be gone before I know it.

I have no reason to be discouraged. I made it through winter. I have succeeded. In a month, the sun will set late enough that I can get outside to exercise. By May, I will be planting my garden, and by June, harvesting something. By August, I will be even hotter than I was at the last Blogher while I take NYC by storm (on my birthday no less).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Things I Have Learned in the Last Week

AFTER above average snow fall and unseasonably cold weather is not the time to remember that you needed to buy a roof rake BEFORE winter this year.

Snow/ice dam removal is expensive! Also, they won't be here for another two days.

Well, at least you remembered to buy your kid some clothes the next size up before shorts take over all of the stores. She is after all acting a lot like she's going through a growth spurt. Damn if new clothes aren't expensive.

When driving in St. Paul at night avoid the right lane, even if that is the only way to get to Cupcake.

It is hard to see potholes in the dark.

Two new tires are expensive.

Finding a new wheel for a Hyundai Elantra is not easy.

See above, add in one new manager, including having to reestablish relationship with your manager and not know where you stand while everyone adjusts to new manager, makes for one very stressed out Sprout.

Oh, and I'm on call this week.

If I just breath deeply and enjoy the fact that my daughter actually wants to snuggle and cuddle with me, even if it is 4 AM, because this won't last forever. She will drive me crazy with all of her being two, but she isn't a teenager yet so I should enjoy it.

Chocolate makes nearly everything better. Except the size of my ass.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I've been trying to figure out how to write this post for a long time. It is something deeply personal, but like a lot of personal things, it is something that I think needs to be talked about. Things that fester in closets and under the bed for too long just end up stinking. So, I'm coming out from under the bed, so to speak.

I'm an atheist.

Well, I guess that is just the best word that I have to describe it. I don't believe in God, per say, but that doesn't mean that I don't have a heart for compassion, forgiveness or understanding.

How I got here could perhaps be traced back to being a kid. I stand by that the single best way to confuse a kid about faith is to send them to alternating Sunday schools, Unitarian and Catholic, every other week. Everyone is accepted vs. believe this or you are going to hell. Yeah, that is a lot when you are seven.

However, it is far more complicated than that. First, I need to make it clear that I take no issue with other people's faith. I admire it in fact, and it is something that there are times I wish that I had. I just can't handle the baggage that comes with organized religion. I see too often faith being used as way to exclude and reject, instead of a way to love and care.

For all of her later adult life, my grandmother believed in a faith that told her that her youngest son was an abomination. Fortunately she also had faith in her son, but the conflict was at times hard for her. It was the same faith that had her telling me my mother was a witch who should be burned at the stake.

Faith is used as an excuse to start wars, to displace people based on ancient promises, and to kill. In saying your good fortune happened but for the grace of God, are you then saying that everyone else who didn't have their prayers answered just wasn't good enough? Did not enough people pray for them?

But faith is also there when people need it most. It drives people to care for all of the people around them, especially those who have less than them. I have been impressed by the quiet generosity that I've seen in people, knowing that it is their faith that compels them.

For me, I just can't make those two sides mesh enough for me to believe.

However, like I said, I am not heartless. I try to live every day, and every part of my day, with compassion. While I generally won't donate time or money to organizations that discriminate based on faith or sexual orientation, I make exceptions for a few organizations that work primarily with the poor.

The golden rule is taught in my house. If you don't like it being done to you, don't do it. M learned this year that we help those that have less than us, and that giving gifts is more important than receiving them. We will build on those lessons as she gets older.

It is a hard place to be. Without a faith in a world filled with it. There are challenges. I have had coworkers shocked that I volunteer my time, donate to organizations, and have the capacity forgive, given my (lack of) faith. When people automatically assume your faith, it leaves you uncomfortable having to correct. Often times I just don't argue, choosing going along with it versus answering uncomfortable questions. Other times I find myself having to speak up for those of us that don't have faith.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bye Bye Bewbies

I have never been... endowed. Really. I lived happily in the middle. Not as small as my mom, not as large as my grandmothers. It was, in all reality, a happy place to be. Clothes fit me as long as I wasn't plus sized. Even then, better too big than busting out.

Side note: What in the heck is it with them thinking that if you are fat you magically grew bewbs. I mean, really. Thanks goodness Lane Bryant understands this and makes a 40 B. Or I would have been totally lost.

Pregnancy brought on a whole new world to me. I discovered being and F. I actually had problems finding nursing bras that did more than just serve as a place to put the breast pads. I was relieved when I could finally fit in to a proper bra again. The shrinking, it was a good thing.

Now however, not so much. Not only are the poor girls shrinking (when I lose weight they are the first thing to go) but well, they have... deflated. Nothing that a good padded push up bra can't fix, but I doubt I will ever be able to pull off anything other than "full coverage" ever again.

At some point this weekend I need to go to somewhere that sells bras (I think I have at least one more band size available at Lane Bryant) and get something new. I went shopping for a new sports bra (yay Title Nine is in town!). Looking in a mirror it was very clear to me how bad my current bra fits. The ultimate size of the new one I got confirms it.

Anyone have favorite post I had a baby and I nursed for 18 months bra? VS hasn't had anything that could hold them that I've found, and I prefer good construction to cheap department store.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Biting Off

So, if you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed I'm freaking out a bit about my blog situation. You see, I'm still not decided about BlogHer. I mean, I want to go, but it is expensive. If I go, I want to be able to justify it with my seriousness about blogging. In my mind, since I've already paid for the domain/hosting, that means getting my blog on my own domain. If I am going to do that, I need to invest in my brand, which means I need to invest in design, which is really just rationalizing going to BlogHer.

I mean, I have no intention of leaving a job that I love for being a full time blogger, for one, I'm not that good. However, I like how blogging helps my mental health, my actual physical health, and I like the community I have found in it. It has also helped me (though not sure if you can tell that here) become a better writer.

I am pretty sure that this whole parenting thing would have been a lot harder if I hadn't had a blog. It is my outlet for a lot of things. It also means I don't have to call my mom as much, which well, is sort of nice.

There are also some opportunities that I've wanted to take advantage of that I can't until I have a more mature blog.

So, I need your help. I may be able to figure out how to do my own design, but I am still thinking about having someone do some graphics for me. I know what I want, I just don't have the tools to do it myself. I'm also not rich, so someone looking to build a portfolio who would work for home made pickles would be a plus, but not needed.

Along those same lines, would you find it amusing if I played off of the Sprout part of the blog name? As in very young plants thing? It seems either entirely brilliant or completely stupid.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fitting it In

Honestly, I don't know how I make it through the day some days. No really, I don't.

There is work, two full time jobs, with some after hours work for both adults in the family, getting a kid to daycare, keeping my house at least pretending to be clean, cooking all of the meals, and taking care of the preschooler, while pretending to also not lose my mind.

It feels most of the time like I balance on the edge. I am just barely cutting it at work, at home, as a parent. I know that isn't true, well, mostly. My cleaning commitment leaves much to be desired.

It is one of those times where the universe conspires to make things even more crazy. Both A and I have major projects at work, that will include evenings and weekends, M is at an age where she is very needy, and has learned to talk back, like a two headed monster, and I'm trying desperately to find a way to stay on top of my health goals. That means exercise near daily and no more eating out, including lunch.

So far, I'm finding only a little bit of success. I've managed to work out in the morning twice, with serious good intentions for the third time. (I was diverted from my goal by a missing sports bra. I only own one.) It seems to work best when I lay out everything I need to wear the next day the night before. That includes socks and that one lone bra. The realization that if I work out in the morning I don't have to again at night seems to drive me to get up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 AM.

Cooking/eating is still hard. I'm starting to realize that M is now old enough where I don't need to feed her five minutes after we get home. I can wait just a bit longer to make something healthy. I still need to figure out how to expand my winter cooking, but thanks to Andrea, I took a look at something other than dried fruit and frozen veggies at Trader Joes and found us some more options. I even tried to make oven baked chicken fingers tonight for dinner. I can make the seasoning choice better, but my yogurt marinade followed by bread crumbs worked pretty well. Small steps, right?

For the local women. My absolute favorite women's athletic clothing store (though it looks like they have a lot more other stuff now) Title Nine, just opened a store in Edina. I found it when I followed them on Twitter while perusing their site for some more bras. I am seriously thrilled about this since I am a long time fan, but I liked their store in Boulder (where I found the best sports bra ever) more than trying to find what I needed in a catalog. I will be going on Friday at the latest, and I promise to report back.