Monday, January 31, 2011
Mom, today I learned that the devil wears a striped apron and a smile.
Get thee behind me, Satan!
(Thanks to this nice man for letting me take his picture and call him the devil. I'm sure he's actually a very good person when he's not tempting poor, unsuspecting dieters with free cinnamon rolls. Thanks to all of you out in readerland for being the reason I told him no. The devil says hi.)
Friday, January 28, 2011
Mom, today I learned that I don't have to sacrifice exercise time to watch an online lecture.
I can do both!
(This may or may not be Richard's laptop. I may or may not have waited until AFTER doing this successfully to inform him of this genius idea.)
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Mom, today I learned that blogging while you try to make scrambled eggs for the kid is a recipe for...well...a giant omelet. (Now, if I could just get Michael to understand the difference between an amulet and an omelet...)
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
When I informed readers on my Facebook fan page that the Wal Mart Heart-Shaped Waffle Maker would be the next Stupid Product on the blog, at least one reader misunderstood and thought I had a problem with heart-shaped waffles themselves. This could not be further from the truth. I'm a huge fan of heart-shaped waffles. I would make them on every holiday if I could.
See, I'm the kind of person who equates feeding my family good meals with love. I give them a spicy chicken salad - I'm saying, "I love you." Lasagna? I love you. Oatmeal cookies? I love you! Homemade fruit smoothies and breakfast dinners? "I SUPER LOVE YOU!"
So when I saw this at my local Wal Mart, I thought, "It's PERFECT! It says 'I love you' by being a waffle, and it says 'I love you' with a heart! Wal Mart loves me! The universe loves me! Waffles LOVE ME!"
To say that I was giddy would be to vastly underestimate my level of excitement. I went home with my $15 treasure and practically pranced it around the room for the kids. Going to sleep knowing there would be heart-shaped waffles for breakfast was like trying to sleep on Christmas Eve knowing I'd asked Santa for 50,000 hits a day on this blog. I woke up several times listening for heart-shaped hoof beats on the roof and dreaming of heart-shaped ad revenue.
The next morning, I jumped out of bed, woke the kids up to a singsong, "HEART-SHAPED WAAAAAAAAAAAFFLES!" and scurried, yes scurried, into the kitchen to start making breakfast. I scanned the instruction manual for the waffle maker, and after noting that the instructions were pretty much the same as those you'd find with any waffle maker, I plugged it in and started making magic.
Magic...mayhem...one of those.
When the waffle maker's handy little lights told me it was ready for its inaugural portion of batter, I delightedly poured the batter into the heart-shaped crevices, closed the waffle maker, and settled down to watch and wait for the moment the test waffles (read: the waffles I would eat in one bite before anyone was even out of the shower) were done.
And I waited.
And I waited.
And I waited.
I knew the instructions had just instructed me to wait until the yellow light was replaced by a green one, but I also knew what a "just about the be overcooked" waffle smelled like. I decided I'd better go ahead and get those waffles out of there, green light or no green light.
And that's when everything went wrong.
*pausing to breathe as I relive the trauma*
The waffle maker wouldn't open. Not an inch, not a centimeter, not a millimeter. No matter what I did, that waffle maker lid would not budge AT ALL. The smell of almost overcooked waffles quickly gave way to the odor of burning waffles, and I yelped each time I singed a finger on a hot part of the appliance in an attempt to find some way, any way to open the vile thing.
After more than a minute of desperate attempts to pry the stupid machine open, and with a desire to keep my fingerprints lest goons from Wal Mart drag me into the woods and kill me over disparaging the piece of junk the store sold me, I unplugged the waffle maker, focused on the scrambled eggs and turkey bacon, and seethed. Oh, but I seethed.
Once the appliance was cool enough to touch, I propped it up on its back to see if I could find a way to open it. The problem with its construction became immediately clear to me.
You see that little plastic lip that "locks" the lid closed (by reaching out and grabbing a corresponding lip on the bottom of the waffle maker)? When you press the button to release this lip, it shimmies about halfway across the lip on the bottom and no further. That's half a bottom lip that STILL has the top lip firmly attached to it. There is no way to correctly press the button and fully release this lip. The only way I was able to open the waffle maker was to dig my fingernails UNDER the lip and PRY it out of position. Obviously, when the waffle maker is plugged in and hot, this would be impossible, so the only way you're going to see any waffles you make with this thing is if you don't mind them looking like this:
I mind. I mind a lot.
We ended up eating pancakes made from waffle batter, which means we ended up eating pancakes that were much too thick to be made correctly. I cursed Wal Mart and its cheap merchandise all morning long while the kids reminded me we had decided as a family not to shop there anymore about a month before I bought the waffle maker. My kids then hurried out the door and off to the safety of school, lest my wrath turn in their direction for telling me I should have known better.
But really, I should have known better. You buy a $15 appliance at a place known for creating low quality products, and you get what you pay for. I know this. I was blinded by a literal food/love opportunity and didn't think of the possible consequences. Next time, I'll make a heart-shaped lasagna for breakfast and call it good.
Wal Mart can take a heart-shaped flying leap.
Labels: Stupid Products
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I'm putting a peppy face on that because there's a bag of Rice Crispies in front of me and I want them. I want them so bad. They're so pretty and golden and ready to snap and crackle and pop their way into my stomach.
I haven't had cereal since last week. I haven't had white flour since last week. I haven't had refined sugar since last week. And you know? I'm doing all right.
Okay, so I'm gazing longingly at a bag of Rice Crispies and dreaming of the days when I didn't care what I put into my body, as long as it tasted good and had a happy snappy conversation with me from my bowl. But I'm not crying, so I must be doing all right.
I used to be the kind of person who didn't want to make eating too complicated. I've also been anti-diet pretty much all my life. I watched friends go on this fad diet or that, lose weight, go back to eating the way they always had, and then gain it all right back. Seemed like a bit of a silly system. If you're going to end up weighing the same as when you started, why not skip the hunger and the deprivation and just eat? I could pay a surgeon to take out my appendix and then put it back in again, but that would make about as much sense as dieting.
None of my feelings have changed, and yet, by all accounts, I am now on a diet. The difference? a) I don't plan to go back to my old eating habits. b) I don't feel hungry. c) There's very little deprivation going on.
Okay, so I started this post listing a bunch of things I haven't eaten in a week. Really, though, I think that's the sugar addiction talking. I used to be addicted to TV, too. My first week without TV, I nearly had an aneurysm when I realized I might miss the season finale of Survivor. Five TV-free years later, and you couldn't pay me to watch TV. (Someone's going to approach me in 5 years with a twenty dollar bill and a Twinkie, I can feel it.)
Back to the matter at hand: the Low GI diet. GI stands for glycemic index, and low GI foods have a lower score on that index. They earn those lower scores because they take longer to raise a person's blood sugar, which creates less of a need for insulin and less of a chance of crashing later on (prompting you to eat more to keep from falling over). Pairing low GI foods with lean protein slows the process down even further, allowing blood sugar levels to remain steady throughout the day. To give myself a little extra help with insulin resistance, I'm keeping my total carbohydrate consumption at no more than 45 grams per meal and about 25 per snack (if any snack carbs at all).
So, I've been moving my way toward a low GI/moderate carb way of eating for a week now, and yesterday, I did my first round of low GI grocery shopping. I used this information from Rachael Anne Hill to help compile both a menu and a list, and Richard and I went out and filled a grocery cart with the most colorful assortment of food I think we've ever bought. The only thing in the entire cart that I won't be eating is a package of cookies I bought for the kids.
We spent a little more than we're used to spending for a week's worth of food, about $20 more, and we have to adjust the budget a bit, but my spreadsheet loving, number crunching, budget balancing husband declared that eating healthier was the priority and made the numbers work. When I asked him how he felt about the fact that the whole family is going to be eating these foods along with me, he said, "I get to eat good food? This is okay with me." (This is why you marry a nerd who enjoys your cooking. I'm just saying.)
And really, we've been on our way to this diet for years. I only buy whole wheat bread. I only buy whole wheat tortillas. I don't make a lot of desserts. No matter what I cook, I make sure it tastes good. Tasting good used to mean plenty of fat and salt, but I'm nothing if not creative and resourceful, especially in the kitchen, so if I want to make a delicious healthy meal, you can bet I'm going to do it. (Being incredibly stubborn helps here, too.)
Last night, dinner was whole wheat pita sandwiches with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and a cucumber yogurt sauce, and let me tell you, it was divine. This morning, I put some of the leftover turkey mixture into a 3 egg white omelet, and it was equally divine. The divinity of my food? Not in question. It will be performing miracles shortly, I'm sure.
And how do I feel? I feel really good. I'm not stuffing myself. My stomach doesn't hurt. I feel positive and good about my choice. And I crave crap sometimes. I'm okay with that. I figure I get to take the good with the bad at this point. It's like the TV free life. I don't have zombie children and I'm able to get my homework done without the temptation of 150 channels, but I'm going to miss the State of the Union address. Wait...those might be all positive...
The Rice Crispies are still there on the table in front of me. I'm no longer making eyes at them. I could have eaten them for a snack, adding maybe a string cheese or some peanuts to help hold down my blood sugar, but I opted for an apple and peanut butter instead. It's really about options more than anything. I could opt for the fluff, but I'd rather opt for something better. Fluff isn't terrible, it's just fluff...and having been "fluffy" for the last 15 years, I'm opting to be something better.
There's a bit of a back story behind today's piece of YouTube fun and wonderment. Back in 2009, a fellow by the name (screen name?) of Rhete created an online game he called Super PSTW Action RPG on the website newgrounds.com. PSTW stands for "Press Space Bar to Win," and indeed, pressing the space bar repeatedly is all anyone needs to do to "win" this game. It's a bit of silliness on the internet, a fine way to pass a few stolen minutes.
In February 2010, a person going by the name "axman13" played the game and offered up an angry review of it, complete with all the elements used by most internet trolls: spelling errors, random punctuation, vitriol, and general idiocy. A day later, the review landed online as a recorded "dramatic reading" called "Dot Dot Dot". Earlier this month, someone saw fit to create animation to go along with the reading, and today, I decided to post it on my blog because it's funny.
There you have it. Gamers gonna game, trollers gonna troll, bloggers gonna blog.
Labels: You've Gotta See This
Monday, January 24, 2011
Outrageous News: Westboro Baptist Church protests Sundance, mild mannered humor blogger plots her attack2 comments Posted by Sarah Braudaway-Clark at 10:43 PM
So, there's this little film festival going on in Park City right now. You might have heard of it... I hear Robert Redford is involved in some way...
We're deep into Sundance madness here in Utah, and living a mere 20-30 minutes drive from Park City has me wondering if I should take a jaunt up I-80 and check out the action. I've never actually been tempted to go to Sundance before today, and my desire has less to do with celebrities than the opportunity to give a group of hate mongers a piece of my absurdly enlightened mind.
According to news reports, the Sunday schedule of film screenings at Sundance included a little feature by Kevin Smith called "Red State." The content of this film raised the much too easily raised ire of the Westboro Baptist Church, and a small group decided to come to Sundance and picket the movie. They were out in the cold Sunday with their usual brand of nonsense and their many signs announcing to the world all the things their "God" allegedly hates. Smith assembled, via social networking, an army of counter protesters who showed up with signs of their own. Take a look. (Warning: There are brief glimpses of signs with questionable language.)
My personal favorite? "Everyone loves bacon." "I have a sign" is in 2nd place.
Now, maybe the "people" from the "church" only planned on protesting the one day, and I've already missed my chance to meet them in person and tell them how I really feel about them, but if not, the contrarion in me would like nothing better than to drive to Park City with a sign that reads: "I don't presume to know the mind of God, but I'm pretty sure you're not doing his work right now, so maybe you should leave so people can enjoy themselves." Either that or "God hates poopooheads."
I considered for a moment if I would alienate any of my readers by sharing how I feel about the Westboro Baptist Church. Then I considered that if I have readers who agree with a group of people who protest at the funerals of our fallen soldiers, the soldiers who gave their lives to preserve the group's very right to protest, well, those are readers I can live without. (I can't imagine any of you liking me and them at the same time, so I think we're safe. I'm pretty sure they think God hates me for one reason or another...maybe because I color my hair.)
The only thing keeping me from Park City at this point is the fact that I was raised with the belief that every person on earth has the right to worship how, where, or what they may, so if these people want to worship at Sundance with signs and placards and believe that God hates everyone but them, I have to respect their right to do that. I'm also a psychology major set to graduate this year and destined for graduate school in some form, and the first thing you learn as a psych major is "Don't poke the crazy."
But enough of the morons with their ridiculous signs. They've had enough of my attention for today. I'll end this post with a news report from 2006 about the group that started the counter protest trend with nothing more than motorcycles, American flags, and a desire to protect the families of fallen soldiers. Long live the Patriot Guard.
Mom, today I learned that the reason no one will believe these are real pictures of Richard sleeping and waking up (though they are)...
Is that he makes faces like this all the time.
(Author's note: Richard's official response to this post was, and I quote, "Lol," so I'd say I'm in the clear. Author's additional note: Yes, we know our oldest cat is incredibly hefty. She came that way.)
Saturday, January 22, 2011
(Author's Note: The Mother Unload is a new feature on The Mother Load which will follow my 6784th attempt at weight loss.)
So why weight loss? Why again? Why now?
Well, some of you might remember that I had an MRI last month. I had the test because a previous test had revealed a suspicious spot on my liver (it was hiding behind bushes and scoping out the bank across the street, I think). Doctors hate spotted things, so the bigger, scarier test was ordered.
The good news is that the MRI found no masses or spots or lumps or nodules of any kind on my liver. The bad news is that they also didn't find a liver. In place of my liver, they found a bowl of nacho cheese dip, a Big Mac, and a platter of ribs.
In the spectrum of medical disorders, fatty liver disease is pretty uncool. People who have heart attacks and some forms of cancer often have contributed to the problem with their poor diets, but some don't, so they can get away with telling people it's genetic, environmentally-caused, or even congenital. You tell someone you have a fatty liver, and there's pretty much only one person you can blame. There's no, "Yeah, I have a fatty liver because I lived too close to a power plant as a child." You did it with your crappy diet. The end.
And then there's the PCOS...or at least, the threat of it. Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome is a disorder that has afflicted, to varying degrees, several of the female members of my family. It's the reason my sister Gina struggled with infertility for 16 years before finally having a baby. Doctors now know the problem is likely caused by insulin resistance, and they treat it with diet and certain medications. When I started to show symptoms of PCOS over the last year, my sister urged me to get tested. My levels at this point are borderline, but a fasting insulin test will tell us more. All I know is that 7 centimeter cysts hurt like a word I don't say on this blog and the belly fat and bloating that come with it make normal clothing impossible to wear, so if my poor diet is what is causing these problems, I'm willing to eat nothing but celery for the rest of my life to avoid dealing with that again.
Also, there is Lagoon, the amusement park about 20 minutes from my house. We plan to get a season pass for the family this year, and I plan to de-stress on crazy rides as many times as our schedules will allow. Do you know what it's like going to an amusement park at my weight? It's terrifying. Not because the rides are scary...though they are. It's that awful, ugly fear that you'll take your place, and the peppy teen whose job it is to buckle you in will try with all her might and finally ask you not to ride the ride. You stand in line with a smile on your face, but the entire time, you're watching for someone, anyone, who might be as fat as you are to face the peppy teen and ride successfully before you have to answer the question of whether or not you can. This is not cool. Not cool at all.
I won't be eating only celery for the rest of my life. That would be silly...and stringy...and gassy. I have started gathering information on diets that help manage and correct the problem of PCOS and which may help turn all that fat under my ribs back into a liver again. Everything I've read tells me that I need to cut way down on the carbohydrates in my diet, replace simple sugars with more complex carbs, and pair the carbs I eat with lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables.
A few days into this new way of eating, and I'm already down 4 pounds. This is likely water weight, but we'll see how things progress. Down is better than up, anyway. I've also bought a treadmill, and I've spent time nearly every day since Tuesday either walking or jogging on it. Treadmills are beautiful. I recommend them for every household.
So, there you go. Sarah is trying, again, to lose weight and keep it lost. Join me, will ya? (I don't want to do this alone!)
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Mom, today I learned that the best place to store your ice scraper is not in the car which will be frozen shut in the morning. We may have learned from experience, but at least we learned. (Applause appreciated.)
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I learned the store owner knows me...
On a personal level.
I learned that the creator of this calendar probably knew how the title would sound to every 11 year old boy in the country.
And that there are people, 11 years old or not, who would pay money to look at outhouses every month. (Is it like those home magazines you look through to dream of someday?)
I learned that even Catholics need calendars.
And finally, I learned that anyone wondering about the necessity of a calendar store need only look at this. That's 12 months of awesome people. Calendar store, your existence is hereby justified.
Today's Outrageous News Story has been all over the web all week. It came to me via an online friend, a mom like me who is in the strange habit of treating newborns gently, taking care to protect their vulnerable heads and necks. We're just backwards that way...at least according to some Russians.
The news clip that follows contains video clips of the growing Russian practice of swinging, bouncing, and flipping very young babies through the air by their hands. I couldn't watch the entire original video. I had to turn it off to avoid having a stroke. This one shows just enough to make me want to cry and then blessedly cuts back to the reporter.
You wanted to climb into your computer screen and rescue that baby, didn't you? Of course you did...because you are reasonable human beings. The fact that the baby is now a seemingly healthy 2 year old probably gives you small comfort.
Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News weighed in on the story, saying the woman in the video seems to be mimicking the actions of nonhuman primates, the kind that swing through trees and bend their bodies in ways humans can't (and shouldn't)...you know...the ones with opposable thumbs on their feet. Do you have opposable thumbs on your feet? No? I didn't think so.
I'll go ahead and join the chorus of people warning moms to not try this at home. If you have a baby, you plan to someday have a baby, or you know someone who gives you access to a baby, please don't swing that baby around like a monkey, no matter what you see Russian gurus doing on the internet.
If you want to see some baby yoga that doesn't make you want to invest in blood pressure medicine and baby aspirin, check out the video below. This baby knows her yoga.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Mom, today I learned that someone is finally calling ridiculously sized soda cups what they really are. (I expect KFC to change the name of its Double Down sandwich to the "Fat Mashup of Shame" any day now.)
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The Literal Trailer phenomenon is something Richard and I both stumbled upon separately on the same day, so we decided fate was sending us a message. When we stumbled onto the Literal Harry Potter trailer together, well, it was like the heavens opened and a warm ray of love was shining down upon us, so we spent about an hour of quality time enjoying all the videos the parody maker had to offer. Richard subsequently shared the love at work, and now "Kill him with your awesome!" (heard in the Assassins Creed trailer below) has become part of the official office lexicon and rightly so! (Because they are awesome. Not because they choose to kill people with it, though they could.)
Tiny warning for these videos (since I try to keep this blog kid and my mom friendly): The Harry Potter trailer contains a couple of words I wouldn't refer to as swear words but words I personally try not to say. Assassins Creed contains one use of the word "hell." Twelve year old boys should also feel free to snicker at the word "assassins."
Labels: You've Gotta See This
Monday, January 10, 2011
Today's bit of craziness from the news world comes to us courtesy of the Newark Liberty Airport, Continental Airlines, and our BFFs over at the TSA (Tweezer Swiping Administration). It seems a dead dog boarded a Continental flight without being subjected to radiation or having its genitals groped. When the TSA learned the dead dog was on the plane without the proper screening, they did what they do best: called a meeting.
There was much head scratching at the airport, while officials tried to decide whether or not the plane should be diverted so the box containing the dog's remains could be scanned for bombs. Ultimately, they decided the risk wasn't worth the expense or the time, and the plane, its lifeless cargo, and its likely clueless passengers were allowed to continue on. Meanwhile, thousands of completely non-threatening Americans were held up at TSA checkpoints for scanning, groping, and shampoo bottle confiscation.
In an official statement, the TSA said, "Hey Continental! Want a buck? Let me pass it to you!"
Okay, so maybe they didn't say exactly that, but I think I got the overall message. The TSA is saying it's Continental's fault. The box was sent to the airline's cargo facility, and the airline failed to scan it, so the airline bears the responsibility for the mishap. (Did you catch that, America? The TSA purports to keep us "safe" by scanning only humans and the bags they carry onto planes. There is no TSA oversight for the security screenings of checked baggage.) A full scale investigation has been launched so the TSA can pretend to be effective and the American public can pretend it feels safe in the sky once again. Continental will likely be raising prices on all dead animal cargo and charging for seat belts just for spite.
Here's the entire story in other words (my favorite!):
A grieving dog owner needed to transport his deceased best friend via plane and told the airline he was doing so. The airline didn't scan the dog. The plane took to the sky, and somehow, the TSA was then alerted to the dog's existence. Official's jumped into huddle formation to "assess risk." It was determined that if the dog's gullet was, in fact, full of C-4, and the plane went down in a fiery tragedy, the TSA would not be liable for the non-prevention of the attack, ergo, the risk (to the TSA) was not enough to turn the plane around. Backs were patted, an official statement prepared, and a time consuming and expensive witch hunt against the airline was initiated.
God bless America.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Author's note: Yada yada...went to Texas...these are pictures... If you feel offended by my tone, take heart. I'm just trying to recreate the emotions of everyone in the car, when our 2 day drive home stretched into 4 long and snow-filled days. I didn't take many pictures of the snow. We were all too busy trying not to die in it to document it much. We did make it home on New Year's Eve. I celebrated by zonking out at 9. I think Richard must have kissed one of the cats.
Mom, on the way home from Texas, I learned that the sun doesn't rise in Kansas until almost 8 am. I wonder what they pay bloggers in the sunflower state?
I learned that packing skills get better with each day that passes.
And gas station stops are for dancing. (Poor kid thought we'd get home that night...)
I learned the people at IHOP have a sense of humor.
And the proprietors of this establishment are just gross.
I learned that weather like this can be a hindrance. Also...well...that apparently you can't drive through Rocky Mountain National Park after a certain time of year, what with the 25 feet of snow covering the road. Learning this fact AFTER you get within a mile of the entrance will cause your sister to be just a little bit upset...
Fortunately for me (and blog readers who like the alive version of me), this sign made my sister shout in utter euphoria, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT IS?!"
"THAT" is the Stanley Hotel, and "THAT" was Stephen Kings' inspiration for The Shining. And "THAT" is supposedly haunted. And "THAT" makes my sister very, very happy. Crisis officially averted.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Author's note: So, this is the Texas edition of What I Learned Today, but today's post actually has us located in Lawton, Oklahoma, where I spent 9 years of my childhood. It's just a hop and a skip from the border, so it counts. Also, this is my blog, and I say it counts, so it counts.
Mom, in Lawton, I learned that our old house looks pretty much the same...except that the garage that was converted into a bedroom has been converted back into a garage. Weird.
I learned that it's much easier to trespass into a backyard when the house is vacant.
And that even though the neighbor's dog Boomer and his electrified fence are gone, it's still fun to reenact the good times we all used to have with them.
Oh, and the neighbors are still having their lawn spray painted.
I learned that definitive proof that Oklahoma is not completely flat is only a trip to Mount Scott away.
And that if I thought Richard was nervous around the cows at the farm...
I learned that in a place like the Holy City of the Wichitas...
surrounded by things like this...
THIS is the type of picture my kids will ask me to take.
And finally, I learned that Meers is famous for good reason.
It's not the snake eating cats...
or their trouble with double negatives...
or the two hour wait before you can eat...
It's the fact that 7 cousins can manage to wait that long to eat without a single meltdown. The crazy awesome food might also have something to do with it.