Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Moving Day

It turns out that I am not all talk. (Or, perhaps more applicable to this platform all type.)

I put it off for long enough and today, my friends, I finally moved.

After blogging in this space for over 10 years, I have packed up shop: you can find me at somidwestern.com.

Don't let the sparkly new domain name confuse you. I will be writing the same convoluted nonsense that I have been polluting the internet with for the last decade.

So classy, so consistent, So Midwestern.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Reunion, part 2

Colin shook my hand.

COLIN SHOOK MY HAND.

That is how he greeted me last night. By shaking my hand. It was that awkward.

And fine. It was perfectly fine.

There wasn't time for conversation and I didn't go out of my way to make any before or after our game. That very may well have bothered him (it did post-implosion, anyway, that I wouldn't be all chummy and pretend that nothing had ever happened) but I don't care. He's not my friend. He will never be my friend. We don't need to catch up.

The only thing I regret is that I didn't play better.

And that I didn't take a secret picture of him to send to Lucy. (After a certain embarrassing incident last month, I'm a little shutter shy.)  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Reunion

This afternoon, I agreed to sub for my friend Brittany's soccer team.

Brittany is a teammate on my Sunday team and she recently moved into an adjacent subdivision and so we have carpooled to a few games and, while I have known her for years, it's been fun getting to know her off of the soccer field.

So, when she asked me to sub because her team would be short on female players, I readily agreed.

Then she told me the team I was substituting for.

It is Colin's team.

I AM PLAYING SOCCER ON COLIN'S TEAM.

I'm not going to bail on Brittany but I am not excited about this. At all.

I hope he's not there.

I hope his wife isn't on the team.

I hope I get a good story out of this, at least.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Of Course

For the past week, I have been researching pet insurance for Brady. If I'm going to do it, now is the time; he turns two this week and, as you would expect, it's less expensive to insure a younger dog. 

I'm pretty solidly on the fence about it because (obviously) it doesn't cover pre-existing conditions so it won't likely cover his anxiety meds, which could be a substantial expense, but it could really save my ass (and my credit) if he gets sick or injured.

But I have reservations investing in pet insurance because I feel like it will encourage me to go to extraordinary measures if he gets a rare cancer or something where, really, the more humane decision would probably be to treat his pain and make the end of his life comfortable.

Not exactly what I want to be thinking about but I guess it's responsible pet ownership.

I was researching before I went to bed last night, getting quotes from a few different companies and comparing coverage and still unable to make up my mind if I would even be buying coverage. Insurance is confusing, even for dogs. Making decisions is hard, at least is for me.
  
Then this morning, Brady wakes up with a goopy eye. It seems he picked up a little something at the dog park. I probably need to take him to the vet. 

So that's probably a subtle sign from the universe. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Fun Scale

I am giving raises today, which is fun.

I finally played a decent soccer game, which was fun.

My team got beat, like, really bad. That was not fun.

Anna's baby shower was about as fun as a baby shower can be.

It was really fun to see my cousin and my aunt who were in from Chicago.

It was less fun showing them exactly how bad things are with my grandparents. But important.

Meg and I sat in the sun and watched soccer and ate macaroni and cheese, which is always fun.

I was up for hours and hours in the middle of the night. Not fun. 

I read by Disclaimer by Renée Knight; if you enjoy the Gone Girl/Girl on a Train type of thriller, you'll think it's a fun read. 

Brady and I are going to Lucy's house for dinner with her and the boys tomorrow night; it should be great fun. 

I wore the wrong type of underwear today. I can barely concentrate I'm so annoyed with this choice. It is the complete opposite of fun.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I'm the worst daughter

I am a horrible person but, you guys, I am so over being a caregiver.

I am constantly on edge and, sometimes, I think that if she asks me to do one more thing, I am going to explode.

It's not even the actual care giving that I'm irritated about, to be honest (and she doesn't need much help anyway), it is all of the other extras that are on top of it that I'm doing because Mom is volunteering me and I don't have a choice and it's making me resentful. I haven't had much of a life since her surgery and I am just tired.

Mom is doing too much (taking care of my grandpa daily, throwing three parties over the course of three weekends, etc.) and feels awful because of it and then she's in a bad mood because she feels too bad to get everything done that she wants to get done and then she asks me to pitch in and that's okay but I just want to yell at her. SLOW DOWN, MOTHER. YOU'RE DOING THIS TO YOURSELF.

And her attitude sucks. I think that might actually be what's really driving me mad. I happen to believe that your attitude is pretty indicative of your outcome and, if that's the case, she should just stop going to physical therapy and getting out of bed every morning and die of an infected bed sore. That's how bad her attitude sucks.

I get it. I get that it is miserable. I know she's frustrated. But the things she says make me want to wring her neck. "I am going to be unemployed because I won't be able to work" and "this surgery is the worst decision I have ever made" and similar nonsense.

It's a pointless fight to have so I never say anything. Usually I just put Meg on her. Being that she's a physical therapist and more familiar with the whole process, she's very blunt. "When you got this surgery, you knew that recovery would be 3-6 months. It's been 6 weeks. Buck up."

Mom usually listens to Meg. She just needs frequent lectures.

Throughout this whole process, I've been pretty good about taking this all for what it is. It's the surgery, it's not my mom. She was just so frustrating yesterday. When I finally got home, I stewed until I went to bed and then I had anxiety dreams all night long.

She seems better today and we're on the cusp of another big family weekend (tomorrow is Anna's baby shower) so I just need to take a deep breath, finish blogging out all of this ugly and get over it.

Don't tell my mom how awful I am, you guys.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Quitter

It is a momentous day.

I quit my gym.

In my mail yesterday, I got a promotional post card for one of those super inexpensive chain gyms and it occurred to me (not for the first time) that I am an idiot and I needed to quit my gym posthaste.

I realize that this action seems somewhat counter intuitive for someone who is quite regularly blogging about her struggle to regain her fitness but hear me out.

I have been saying that I need to quit my gym for years now and the only thing that kept me from doing it was that I used it. I had a good thing going.

Until I didn't.

The gym I belonged to until a few hours ago was a big chain with all of the amenities: the steam room and classes and a pool and childcare and a cafe and towels and a hundred other amenities that I never used. What I did use regularly were the cardio machines and, this is a fact: nobody should pay upwards of $70/month to use a treadmill.

I've known for a while that I should cancel because I wasn't using enough to justify the price but just never got around to it. Then I injured my knee and any semblance of a gym routine crashed and burned, anyway. It went from bad to worse.

I will miss my swanky gym but I will not miss feeling guilty about it.

I felt guilty about how much it cost. I felt guilty about how much I was(n't) using it. I felt guilty about how I was using it.

I feel bad about enough things in my life. I am very much over my gym being one of them.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Gifting

I pride myself on my ability to pick out a good gift; I mock myself for the hell I put myself through when picking out that good gift.

It is always my goal to give the perfect present even if it's just a little gift. That's why I'm forever buying my best friend Lucy's husband, Chet, these bizarre pickles you can only get at the gas station.


It's also why I keep a constant running list on my phone of potential gifts. If you mention wanting something around me -- something big or something little -- chances are that I am jotting it down.

(And if you're my sister, Meg, chances are that you're running out to buy it for yourself before I can buy it for you. She burns me on that. Regularly.) 

If I don't have any ideas, I'm in a constant state of anxiety as I am brainstorming your gift. The anxiety lifts the moment that I finally come up with a winning idea.

A gift card, unless it's for something really specialized like to a favorite restaurant or somewhere you've mentioned always wanting to try, is not going to cut it.

Not Anna's baby.
Anther exception to my gift card rule: the gift certificate for baby photos that we got for my cousin Anna and her husband. I am so excited to give it to them at her shower on Saturday. Nearly as excited as I am to meet their daughter! 

Currently, I'm mulling over my mom's birthday present. I have until the end of August and I have a few good ideas but nothing that I'm really passionate about and can also afford. But I have plenty of time.

I have also recently tucked away two amazing ideas for gifts based on presents I've received lately.
Lucy sent me a Julep Maven box completely out of the blue as a thank you for watching her dog while she was on vacation with her family. It was something that I would never buy for myself but that I totally love. All that nail polish and some extra products, too! Plus it's packaged adorably. I am totally going to send this to one of my nail polish loving cousins for her birthday.


I was also recently gifted a Starbucks Pour‑Over Iced Coffee Brewer. LOVE IT. So would the coffee lover in your life. It's not a huge kitchen appliance or at all pricey and, yes, you can totally make iced coffee without it but it's still quite handy. My cousin Emma used it when she last visited and she was totally enthralled, so she might need to have one in her life, too. Like, say, maybe come October when she has a birthday.  

Have you given or received any good gifts lately? Please share! I can always use more on my list of ideas. 

Monday, July 06, 2015

Happy because I am not

I am not happy to be at work today.

Here is what I am happy about:
  • A recent influx of visitors.
  • That I finally got to spend some time with Lucy's sons this weekend, so hopefully A won't be sending me any ransom notes
  • The Jimmy John's sandwich my grandma brought me for lunch.
  • Brady passing his second obedience class.
  • Lucy starting a new, fancy, perfect-for-her-and-her-family job today.
  • The simple prospect of a few short and simple summer trips.
  • THE U.S. WOMEN'S TEAM WINNING THE WORLD CUP. Obviously.
  • The wrecked, disgusting, gross old boat that I found on Craigslist: perfect for my grandpa to "fix."
  • That I have made some progress with my mom and grandmother in hiring a caregiver to help look after my grandfather. 
  • The birthday present I bought for Meg: the pasta maker attachment for her KitchenAid mixer. (She was equally happy.)
  • Tomorrow night: special nerdy concert time with Lucy!
  • That my cousin Anna's baby shower, and everything about it that is hanging over my head, will be over and done with by this time next week.
  • Early July's significant improvement over an unimpressive June. Can the rest of the month hold out? My fingers are crossed.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

A Year

One year ago today, I was waking up for the first time in my condo.

I didn't realize it until last night. The fireworks on a nearby lake are always held July 3. Last year, I listened to them while unpacking in my new condo. Yesterday, those fireworks reminded me that it had been a year.

The time passed so quickly!

And, for all of the fights I put up about buying (for those of you who are new: I was not convinced and I was full of angst about the decision for a good four months. There were many tears and dramatic blog posts. It was ugly.), I am very happy here. This probably isn't my forever home, but I don't see that I will be leaving anytime soon.

I settled into a nice routine in the first seven months that I lived here but, when Brady came along, everything got upended. He still can't stay at home by himself without barking up a storm, so I am dropping him off at Mom and Dad's house every morning, going to their house every day at lunch to let him out and picking him up every evening. It works out okay and I am grateful for the help, but I inevitably stay for dinner and to chat and being at their house every day makes me feel like I don't entirely live in mine.

Maybe it's the empty refrigerator.

One of these days, Brady will be settled enough -- and my mom will have progressed in her recovery from knee-replacement surgery enough -- that I will be forced to properly grocery shop and meal plan and act like a grownup.

But that day is not today. So I will eat Mike & Ike candy for breakfast. In celebration.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

My Favorite

At the '99 Women's World Cup, the 2010 & 2014 World Cups! 
Happy birthday to my favorite!

I have a very vague memory of the day that my little sister, Meg, was born. I remember my mom sitting outside on the picnic table, waiting for Dad to get home from work so that they could go to the hospital. I remember that my grandma stayed with me; I got stung by a wasp when we were playing in a box.

Those are my earliest memories. They are the only memories I have of a life before Meg.

Meg came home and she was instantly the star that we all revolved around. She still is. Funny and brilliant and stubborn and talented: Meg's gravity is strong. Everyone wants to be around her.

And I get to be her big sister. Aren't I lucky?

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Shapeless

I mentioned it on Monday: this summer soccer season is breaking my spirit.

I am so bad.

It is so frustrating.

It's because I am in awful shape. I lost all my fitness when I tore my LCL last July and I am not even close to getting it back.

I'm a little scared that I won't. Like, maybe I slowed down just long enough to catch up with my age and I'm never going to be that speedy midfielder again. Maybe from now on, when I play soccer it will feel like I'm doing it with a refrigerator tied to my back. Maybe this is my new reality.

I have posted about my struggle to get back into shape a handful of times since I hurt my knee and, each time, I wrote about how This Was It and I'm Almost There and every damn time I was very, very wrong.

After a good nine months of this, you would think that I would have figured this out. Not yet, I'm afraid. Not yet and not close.

June was probably my best month in terms of consistently doing something and I have seen no returns. I feel gross. Everything is hard.

It's not doing much for my self-esteem.

Or for my soccer team.

Monday, June 29, 2015

This Weekend

The Good:
--A baby shower for one of my soccer friends. I don't hang out with many of my teammates off the field and we're in the middle of a team baby boom, so many of them are skipping the season because they're pregnant; it was nice to catch up over brunch and also I won bingo because I am so skilled at the art of the shower.
--Lucy and I made impressive progress towards completing the third season of Orange is the New Black.
--My younger cousin, Paige, graduated from high school. (This is insane to me because she was born when I was in high school.) My parents, with the help of my aunts and uncles, hosted a generous and beautiful graduation party at the beach on Sunday. 
--Brady stayed at Lucy's house during the graduation party and he was a champion. Not only does he get along famously with Lucy's dog, wolf, but Brady was also very good with her boys. 
--While I'm bragging about Brady's good behavior, I should also mention that he is killing it at his new obedience class. I will have to write a whole post about it because this class has been so good for him and he just loves it and I am so pleased.

The Bad:
--My grand return to summer soccer after last year's injury has been dismal. I keep trying to come out of it but, you guys: it's bad. I am sluggish and slow and basically useless. It's not even fun.


The Humiliating: 
--My uncle brought over his new girlfriend to help get ready for Paige's graduation party, right? Well, this girlfriend is new and we all learned about her, like, 30 minutes before her arrival via text message. Awwwwwwwkward. Anyway. She seemed nice and whatever and, as I am a team player, I took a secret picture of her to send to my aunts and my cousins. What? We're curious people. So, I spent an entire day crowing about how I am the ultimate secret picture taker. EXCEPT SHE SAW ME AND TOLD MY UNCLE LATER. I've already started brainstorming how I can improve my game for the next girlfriend he brings around but, um, yeah. I am the creepy niece. Awesome.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Toddler's Revenge

Lucy's oldest son, A, is pissed at me.

They stopped by my work last week on the way to the beach. The intention was to scoop me up and bring me along, but it was a day where it was impossible to sneak out early. It killed me to say no.

"I have to go back to work," I told him.

"No."

"But I need to help some kids find books."

"No."

"I promise I will come over to your house soon and we can play."

"No."

I clearly lost that round. And then I didn't make it over to their house last weekend, because of this and that, only further cementing my place in A's dog house.

He's used to seeing me at least once a week and, in the month since they've been back from vacation, it's been far less. Lucy's sister-in-law has been in town, Lucy hosted a bridal shower and is in the process of changing jobs and I have been in the midst of the June from Hell

Last night, while Lucy was getting her boys to bed, A came up with a plan. Apparently this plan was devised while A was on his last-time-before-bed potty time, so he probably had a long time to think about it.

When he was done, A told Lucy "I wanna write Auntie a thank you card and send it in the mail. It will have Lightning McQueen and Mater and MISSILES. She can only have it if she comes here. That's the deal."

It's pretty awesome that he wants to see me but I do think he's confusing a random note with a thank you card.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oh, June

What happened to June, you guys?

I have a foggy memory of someone mentioning the beginning of June but I was in the middle of helping my mom after her knee replacement operation that I barely noticed.

And now...it's almost over? Really?

I didn't even notice that it started.

June was my mom, post-op, and my mom, post-op, dealing with my dad who didn't deal well with my mom being post-op. Basically: one month of running interference.

June was episode after episode of Downton Abbey with my patient. Ice packs, coffee and Lady Grantham.

June was the beginning of my soccer season. It was when I found out how out of shape I really am.

June was celebrations galore (with more this weekend!) Baby showers and graduation parties. It's that time of year.

June was one year since I was in Brazil for the World Cup, which I can hardly fathom.

June was no nail polish and a lot of ponytails.

June was Lucy's birthday and barely any time, for either of us, to celebrate properly. (We're going to squeeze in some belated cheer this weekend, too, before we officially hit July.)

June was Judy Blume's In The Unlikely Event.

June was rainstorm after rainstorm. Yet I could never remember to roll up the windows in my car.

June was a blur.

And I have a feeling that July will be much better.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trouble Brewing

Once upon a time I had a Keurig coffee maker and I loved it.

Actually, I still have my Keurig coffee maker that I got in, like, 2005. I just love it very cautiously.

First, there's the whole environment thing. But I only drink a cup per day at home so I just feel a little guilty about it. (And then I feel guilty that I don't feel guilty enough.)

Secondly, I know that one day it will die on me and I will be unable to purchase another Keurig machine. So I keep my love at a distance.

This is why I will never buy another Keurig machine.

My parents had a Keurig and worked okay and eventually (after a reasonable amount of time) it died and they got another one. The Troublemaker.

The Troublemaker never worked quite right and they were always on the phone with the company, getting replacement parts and having the operator walk them through how to do this to fix it or that to fix it. These troubleshooting sessions did not occur once or twice a year, you guys. It was fairly constant.

So, after a whole year of fighting with The Troublemaker, my father got annoyed and requested that they send him a whole new machine. Which they did.

We will call that machine The Final Straw.

The Final Straw was delivered early this spring and it has been a terror since its arrival. Sometimes it brews half cups of coffee. Other times, it brews your coffee with an extra special surprise: a tablespoon of grounds floating around. Delicious!

Ever since the arrival of The Final Straw, my father has been calling about this issue and about that issue. More parts. More instructions on how to fix it. More grounds at the bottom of the cup.

Now, this machine isn't at my house so I probably shouldn't be so disgruntled. However, in the four weeks since Mom's knee replacement surgery, I've gone to their house first thing every morning to help out.

I have a cup of coffee when I am there. Correction: I TRY to have a cup of coffee when I am there and I have wasted so many K-Cups in trying to make one decent, ground-free cup of coffee every day and THIS IS SO FAR PAST RIDICULOUS.

I talked my mother into buying a new coffee maker last week. Having the Keurig was supposed to be about convenience but if you can't consistently brew a cup of coffee? If you have to call for technical support on your coffee maker once a week? NOT CONVENIENT, MY FRIENDS.

My mom won't need my help in the mornings for much longer but, until then, I am fired up to be reunited with the Cuisinart Grind and Brew. It's what my cousin Liz owns and what I used every day for the two years I lived with her.

Not only will we get fresh-ground coffee, but we'll get it without any drama. What a concept.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rhubarb makes everything better

Meg caught an episode of The Chew where they featured Buttermilk Cheesecake with a Rhubarb Glaze and she's been talking about it ever since, which is actually pretty funny because Meg isn't even a huge rhubarb fan. Or a big cheesecake fan, either.

You know who is a huge rhubarb fan? Me. But also my father. And, wouldn't you know, yesterday was Father's Day.

So I made Buttermilk Cheesecake with a Rhubarb Glaze. It was amazing and quite light. Not like one of those dense cheesecakes where you feel a little like you've just consumed a brick of cream cheese.

I have most certainly helped my mother with baking a cheesecake but I actually don't know that I have ever made one entirely on my own.

There's a first time for everything, boys and girls.


I didn't bother with baking it in a roasting pan with water, so: it cracked. I expected it to and really didn't care. Why get all worked up about a crack if you're going to put a glaze on the top?

My mom always says a cracked cheesecake "shows that it's homemade." She is not a fussy baker.

Our rhubarb wasn't particularly red so I didn't get the pretty pinkish color glaze that they showed on when they made it on The Chew. I considered a drop of food coloring before deciding that going to such lengths was entirely unnecessary. Maybe if I was hosting a fancy party? Probably not then, either. How would I explain how everyone's red tongues?
 
Sometimes you just need to go with what mother nature gives you. Even if it's not television worthy.

The taste more than made up for the color.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Routine

I have had Brady for almost five months and in those five months, I have not slept in. And I'm not talking about sleeping past 8:30 am on the weekend, my friends. Oh, no. This cute and furry little alarm clock gets me up at 6:10 every single morning.

It's like he doesn't even know what the weekend is.

(And, for the record: I don't need to get up anywhere close to that early to get to work on time.)

When he wakes up I imagine that it's because his stomach is growling because he wants his food immediately. He doesn't even want to be let outside first. No, it's food right away and step on it, lady.

Then we go outside to take care of business before I make coffee (or a cup of tea, I'm back to trying to cut back on the coffee) and we go back to bed.

Where he immediately falls asleep.

I most certainly do not.

So I spend the first half-hour or so of my day chilling in my bed, with my dog at my side and a cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other.

And it's not so bad, easing into the day like that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Full Steam Ahead

Since deciding to plan a trip with Meg, I feel like I have air in my lungs.

I have spent too much time -- I'm not exactly sure when it started but maybe since I returned from Brazil, or when I injured my knee or over the long winter when I did little more than watch every episode of Scandal -- feeling like I am underwater.

While I have accomplished little more than browsing the possibilities and sketching out dates for this more-than-hypothetical-but-not-a-guarantee trip, it has reinvigorated me.

I was looking ahead and all I saw was a year with more of the same. I will stay in the same job and live in the same house, I will play on the same hockey team and bake the same Christmas cookies and spend my Friday nights with the same people.

Not that there is a thing with any of that -- I like my life, honestly -- but there was nothing notable on the horizon but a half marathon this fall that, with the way things have been going, could very well be more of a struggle than a joy.

Considering the cost of another big trip makes me hyperventilate a little, but I am trying to keep things in perspective. I'm getting a raise in a few weeks. I still don't have cable television. Maybe this will be the catalyst for me to downgrade my gym membership. And it's only money.

Which I'm never going to have much of, anyway. I work in government.

Plus: what the hell, right?

I want to go to France. So I think I'm going to go.

Maybe without even overthinking it.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My Latest and Greatest Idea

I got this really great idea on Friday that Meg and I should go to the south of France next summer and then I emailed her and she was like "well, I've never been to the south of France" and then I checked out a France travel guide and basically planned the entire trip in a few hours.

Just the rough details.

Practically, I shouldn't go ahead with this. I should save longer for a bigger trip (we plan to go to the next World Cup) but also life feels especially short and fragile lately and I might not always have the opportunity to travel with my only sister and also she speaks French which would be handy so why the hell not?

Although I am already nervous about leaving Brady for this hypothetical trip.

We want to see a little soccer while we're there (obviously) but also other things and I would be up for inviting my mom along, though with the current fragile state of things (her knee, my grandfather, work, etc.), I am not entirely sure that she would agree to accompany us on an adventure. It would make for a memorable just-before-you-turn-60 trip, though.

I'm not exactly sure where this idea came from but I'm not mad about it. I could really use a trip to plan (type A all the way!) and something to look forward to.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Showering


Yesterday, I mailed the invitations to my cousin Anna's baby shower. I am beyond pleased with how the design turned out and I'm excited for guests to received them, which is bizarre considering how much I have bitched about this shower.

The beauty of being the designated invitation girl for this shower was that there wasn't an established theme so, while I did run my idea past my mother and my aunt, I pretty much had free reign. 

Which is how my cousin Anna is accidentally getting a book themed shower even though that's my profession, not hers.

In my defense: my cousins, my sister and I were all raised on a steady diet of these books so it's very much a family thing, not really just all about me. Although I'm a little pissed that I didn't save the idea for my own very hypothetical baby shower.

I bought the invitations from a seller on Etsy (does anyone do anything else these days?) and a bunch of vintage books on eBay to use as decoration.


This week, I knocked out purchasing her present -- a gift certificate for newborn, 6-month and 12-month photos with a talented photographer in the town they're moving to just before the baby is born -- and so all that's left for me to do is wait for the RSVPs to start rolling in.

And attend the damn shower but, whatever. Almost anything can be survived in 3-hour increments, right?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Useful Spinster

If you haven't seen Downton Abbey yet but you're planning on watching it, maybe skip this post? It contains a bit of a spoiler if you're fussy about that sort of thing. 

My mom is seeing Meg for physical therapy but I am in charge of other aspects of her rehabilitation. Namely, I make sure there are groceries in the house and I watch hours of Downton Abbey with her. We squeeze in episodes here and there, but the best time to watch is first thing in the mornings. I get to the house, make us coffee and we sit in bed and watch an episode while she ices her knee. Then we get on with the day.

We are on season three and this morning Lady Ethel was jilted at the altar.

It was very dramatic.

In the aftermath, Edith gives a woe-is-me speech as she's forcing herself out of bed the next morning. 

"I'm a useful spinster, good at helping out. That is my role."

Oh, how I identify, Lady Edith. 

I am not writing this to be dramatic. I am not even writing this to make any of you feel sorry for me. I am simply writing this because it was phrased so perfectly and I identified with it so strongly.

I am a useful spinster, too.

I know, I know. Spinster is a bit of an ugly word but I certainly qualify.

And I feel exactly that: like I am the single girl who is very good at helping (watching babies, throwing parties, tending gardens, bridesmaiding, baking cookies, putting out fires) despite not having, or maybe because I don't have, much noteworthy of my own.     

I hate that I do that, by the way: the reducing the worth of my life down to my marital status. I feel like I should be more evolved than that way of thinking but I always come back around to feeling that way. It's how I feel. Incorrect or not.  

Maybe it goes without saying that reading Kate Bolick's new book, Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own, is on my list of things to do this summer.

As is rejoining eHarmony. Just in case I wasn't mean to be a spinster after all.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Game Day

The U.S. Women's National Team plays its first game in the Women's World Cup tonight.

The news is full of stories about the team. I read every one. I watch every television segment. And every one of them makes me cry.

This tournament, which only comes around once every four years, brings me right back to 1999. The 1999 Women's World Cup was hosted by the United States; my parents brought Meg and I to the games in Chicago. I remember feeling so inspired, so fearless, so certain that I could do anything I wanted, regardless of my gender.

And now the tournament is back in North America -- hosted by Canada -- and I can see another generation of girls being inspired by the current U.S. Women's National Team.

That's what makes me cry.

It's important.

Regardless of how much I love the (men's) World Cup (you'll note that I attended the World Cup in Brazil last summer but I am not going to any games in Canada this summer), the Women's World Cup feels more important. Not in the sports sense -- men's soccer will always be more popular -- but more socially significant. Maybe that's just because I'm close to this; it's personal.

Every girl should be inspired to dream big dreams.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Grandma and the Boy Scout

We had a minor incident with Grandpa yesterday. We caught it early, brought him over to the lake, and everything calmed down in short order.

My mom, who had her knee replacement surgery not even two weeks ago, is doing more than enough entertaining of my grandfather. He wants -- as any human does -- to feel useful. So every day he says he has "things to do" and he's going to do something, be it a task that you suggest or one that he comes up with on his own.

Basically he ruins things. Paints where he shouldn't paint. Rub solvents on surfaces that shouldn't be treated. It infuriates my grandmother, who insists on correcting him. My mom just lets him do what he wants to do and lets him ruin whatever he has his mind set on (within reason).

I think that my mom's outlook on this -- treating him, essentially, as a toddler who doesn't know better -- is why she can handle this so much better than my grandma.

Today, they both came over to my mom and dad's house. Grandpa had this idea that he was going to work on the deck (he brought a saw with, which was a horrifying prospect, but we managed to distract him from that) and Grandma was just seething the entire time.

She's having a really hard time lately. She's in this denial/avoidance mode where it seems, almost, that she doesn't care. I don't believe that it's actually the case. It's just how she's (poorly) coping.

Grandma is not interested in taking a caregiver class or joining a caregiver support group (she recently lied to the doctor and said that she had taken a class) or doing anything different. So she is just, well, it's very apparent that she is miserable. I hate that.

And my grandma's inability to cope just means that my mom is carrying a heaver load. I hate that, too.

There is really nothing about this situation that I don't hate, to be perfectly honest.

Except that my grandpa has started wearing suspenders with his khaki shorts and looks like am 82 year old Boy Scout.

That's basically the cutest.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Thanks/sorry

One of the smarter choices I made when I started this job (almost two years ago!) was packing my desk full of thank you cards. We interact with a lot of volunteers, generous citizens and otherwise goodhearted people and I enjoy taking a second to jot out a note to recognize the kindness and generosity of others.

Thank you notes are great but my favorite way of saying thank you is with food.

I paid some debts this week. We are on a campus with all of the other component units of the government and, occasionally, someone really steps it up and helps me out.

I delivered a pie on Tuesday morning.

I dropped off cupcakes on Wednesday.

The cupcakes went to the finance department, specifically the head of the department who is awesome and helpful and who I just happen to really like (she reminds me of my mom). I've been meaning to bake her a treat for weeks.

No, I have been meaning to bake her a treat for months.

I made these dainty, cute little white cupcakes.

She thanked me profusely.

And then told me that she's on the cabbage soup diet.
 
I need to stick to thank you notes.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Another Brady Update

I know you're all dying for an update on my dog, as canine behavior is just the sort of juicy and interesting topic that keeps you coming back to this ol' blog, so let me just get to it. 

Two weeks have passed since I last took Brady to the veterinarian about his anxiety.

She wrote him a prescription for some hardcore anxiety medicine which I will fill if I need it. The vet wanted me to first try an alternative, which is some sort of a derivative of a milk protein and hopefully is a miracle drug. I won't pretend to understand the science behind it but I think it's supposed to make him feel deliriously happy and milk drunk just like when he was a puppy and his belly was full of his mother's milk.

I haven't tested it out on Brady because life right now is utter chaos and the pills are super damn expensive so I would rather wait until we can be really consistent and patient and give him the best shot at succeeding. I'm thinking it will be a couple of weeks until I'm not rushing over to help my mom in the mornings, until a few things settle in at work, until we can get back into a routine.

In the meantime, we're enrolled in another obedience class! Instead of the traditional obedience class that we did this spring, this course is all positive reinforcement based. There are no corrections, which the trainers and I quickly learned broke Brady's very sensitive spirit, just a lot of treats and this magical clicker that supposedly helps capture the dog's good behavior and make him want to repeat it over and over. The trainers seem to think that it will be good for him, so we will give it a try.

Which is exactly how I am approaching my dog parenting as a whole: giving it a try. Guess and test. And a lot of crossing my fingers. 

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Unplugged

Lately, I leave my phone in my car. I turn it on vibrate. I leave it in the other room. I ignore it, purposefully. It feels good.

I was obnoxious with my phone for a minute there. It was around the beginning of The Coach era. I wanted to be available at every second of every day. I kept the ringer up as loud as it would go, I picked the most abrasive text notification tone. I refused to miss a thing.

I was anxious about it. My phone. Missing something. It wasn’t terribly long until I realized that I didn’t want to be That Girl Always On Her Phone. Then Lucy, my best friend, had her first son and was really good about being disconnected. I learned something from witnessing that. I got better.

But not entirely.

I feel like my phone still makes me anxious on occasion. When I’m mindlessly, regularly checking it for a text message that will never come. When I’m scrolling through Facebook when I am stopped at a traffic light or in line at the grocery store simply because I can. When the battery is low and I am faced with considering the horror of a dead phone. When I think that it is lost but really it’s just somewhere in the bottom of whatever giant purse I am lugging around that week.

I am better than I was but I am not where I want to be.

My phone is still too important. The connectivity is something that I still crave. Lately, I am consciously leaving it behind. (Usually when I would rather not.) And this newly strict diet seems to help. I’m learning to disconnect in small doses – a few hours at a time here and there – and care a little bit less.

My life is not and cannot fit onto a 4.7 inch device.

How positively silly that I need to remind myself of that.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Still Caregiving

I cancelled my Saturday night plans with Lucy and Chet to stay at home with my mom. There wasn't another viable option; Meg was in a wedding and my dad was attending another one on behalf on the family. Also there were coconut cupcakes and we are rapidly making our way through Downton Abbey and, while she insisted that she was okay to stay by herself, she wasn't.

Have I mentioned how exhausting caregiving is?

Everything is going as well as to be expected but I am beyond tired. I am delirious. I can't tell which way is up. And I don't have much to show for it -- I get Mom ice and refill her coffee cup and keep her company and turn on the next Downton Abbey episode but I am back at work today and, quite honestly, barely functional.

Yesterday finished me off.

On Saturday morning, my pregnant cousin Anna showed up in town with her husband for a very sporadic visit home. Like, they decided at 10:00 on Friday night to come to Michigan for the weekend and they left 20 minutes later. She called on Saturday morning to let us know that they were in town and she mentioned coming over to see my mom. I knew there was no way it would be a I-know-you're-laid-up-so-I'll-just-stay-for-5-minutes visit. On Saturday afternoon, I went to the grocery store and stocked up for visitors.

Visitors, indeed.

Their Sunday evening visit turned into a full blown family party. When Anna said she had invited her father and his wife to join us, bringing the total number of dinner guests to 10, I nearly started crying.

Instead I made appetizers and a salad. (Anna brought the main course.)

It was good to see her (and everyone, really) but it was a lot.

My mom was a really good sport about it. She knew that the circumstances were utterly absurd but she was a trooper. She smiled through the evening and didn't even try to do the dishes.

It's okay that I'm pulling more than my fair load of the burden in the wake of Mom's knee replacement. She's pulled more than her fair share for my entire life. But I will admit that I am looking forward to the return of normal. Between dogsitting for Lucy and Mom's first post-surgical week, I feel like I can barely remember what my normal life feels like. I just know that I miss it.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Caregiver

This week has been largely consumed by my mother's knee replacement surgery.

I stayed with her on Wednesday and I have today off, too. Everything is fine yet mildly exhausting. It is no stretch of the truth when I tell you that Wednesday was completely consumed by care giving.

Well, caring for my mother and also keeping updated on the FIFA corruption arrests. That's been a nice distraction. Any big soccer fan like me has suspected corruption in soccer's international governing body for years and years, so the arrests are a much bigger surprise than the actual charges.

Anyway. Mom is in good spirits and I am proud to report that I am not on the list of family members she wants to murder. So far only my grandmother and my father have earned that distinction, but my aunt who showed up to check in on her at 10:00 last night is a true contender for being added to her list.

Her first physical therapy appointment is today, which also marks her first jaunt out of the house since surgery. It will be good to get rehabilitation started and I'm not sure she will mind the change of scenery either.

My dad is the weekend's designated caregiver, which means that my mother has already started trying to talk him into going golfing for a few hours so that she can get a break. He's a weird combination of overly protective yet wholly unhelpful. It's truly bizarre.

So it should be a quiet weekend of fetching ice packs and painkillers. I'm hoping to squeeze in a little time for reading, running and seeing Lucy and the kids. Also laundry. Laundry is a priority.

What's on the docket for your weekend, friends? Anyone want to do my laundry?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bits and Pieces

--My mom had her knee replacement surgery this morning. Apparently it went well; she is in good spirits. I am taking tomorrow and Friday off of work to be her nursemaid. She's hoping to be released tonight but, if not, I am spending the night at the hospital with her.


--I picked up Lucy, Chet and the boys from the airport just after midnight last night. Baby A was mighty pleased to see me sitting next to him when he woke up just as Lucy was buckling him into his car seat. He had a hundred stories about vacation to tell me. That kid.

Lucy's dog, Wolf, and Brady enjoyed their bonding weekend.

--Speaking of Lucy: if it wasn't a gross invasion of her privacy, I would totally be posting before and after pictures of her front yard. I am basically a professional landscaper.

--A switch was flipped this weekend (perhaps it was all of the gardening) and a return to eHarmonizing seems significantly less intimidating, torturous and otherwise unappealing than it did in recent weeks so: progress.

--I started reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline this weekend. I have an employee who has been raving about it for basically the entire duration of my two years at this job so I just need to see if it lives up to the hype. So far, I'm not so sure.

--On Saturday afternoon, Meg and I played 18 holes of footgolf. Footgolf is golf played right on the golf course, with golf rules (and attire) with soccer balls and your foot instead of a golf balls and clubs.

It was the first time Meg and I had played and we quickly found out that it is ridiculously fun.

If you don't zoom in you won't be able to see that I'm flipping my sister my middle finger. (Classy.)

Minus when you kick your ball in a pond (due to, um, a communication error) and you have to wait 20 minutes for it to bob over to the other side.

--It's looking more likely that I'll become a professional landscaper than a professional footgolfer. Who knew?

--I hope that all of you had wonderful long (or not long, as the case may be) weekends, too. What did you do? Did you also find a new professional calling? 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Master Gardener

I am dogsitting at Lucy and Chet's house for the long weekend.

I don't have anything that I must do. I'm not even Netflix binging. I am not in the middle of a book.

So I am gardening.

Lucy and Chet moved into this house in the fall. It's a beautiful house with landscaping that was clearly once beautiful and, after more than a few years of neglect, is now overwhelmingly overgrown.

Lucy and Chet haven't done a thing with their gardens (not judging: their priorities are elsewhere and I understand) but I have nothing but time on my hands this weekend. And plenty of weeds to keep me busy.

It might be the perfect therapeutic activity for this long weekend. I can be outside with the dogs and keep my hands busy while I am lost in my thoughts. I've been really stuck in my own head lately, but at least gardening gives me something to do while I'm stuck there.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

But, first

So, wouldn't you know? 24 hours after publishing this post about my current (lack of) dating meltdown, my cousin Emma calls. She wants to set me up with her girlfriend's roommate.

I got off that call right quick.

Whatever. I am not my best self right now. I will own that.

The next couple of weeks will be busy. It will buy me a little bit of time and distraction and, after that, I will start really thinking about how this is all going to go because I need to do something different.

Like possibly going to therapy and then starting dating.

But first:
  • I am going to get up painfully early to drive Lucy, Chet and the kids to the airport
  • I will take Brady to the vet 
  • I will interview four people and hire one   
  • I will dogsit for Lucy and Chet's pooch over the long weekend
  • I will march in a Memorial Day parade and not enjoy it 
  • I will pick up Lucy, Chet and the kids from the airport in the middle of the damn night
  • I will get Mom through the first few days following her knee replacement
  • I will make huge amounts of food to be consumed (by the entire family) post-op 
  • I will finish a dozen annoying little tasks that have to be completed before the start of summer soccer
  • I will get a better attitude

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Just Talking

I am sitting outside on my front porch with Brady. It's quickly becoming one of my favorite activities. Especially in the mornings. I sit outside in my pajamas, looking like a hot mess and drinking coffee; Brady sniffs around the yard and observes the comings and goings of the neighbors. It's just nice to be outside.

We're just back from having dinner with Lucy and Chet and the boys. It was a good meal (the boys gave Brady way too many table scraps and he loved every bite) and a nice way to ease out of the weekend.

Practically the minute I arrived, Chet mentioned this guy that one of Lucy's friends wants to set me up with. 

Lucy had mentioned this guy and the blind date to me earlier in the weekend and it seemed like an okay idea. I wouldn't say that I was excited about it but I was not at all opposed. I just felt like: what could it hurt and how bad could it be. 

But tonight, when Chet brought it up and Lucy continued the conversation, I just wanted to bolt. I wanted to be anywhere but where I was, having a conversation about a date that, in that moment, I knew that I didn't even want to go on. 

I don't know what happened to the brave girl I was on Saturday morning when Lucy first brought it up, but she wasn't around tonight.

I don't know how I will ever be not single if I am too cowardly to go on a single blind date.

And I don't know how I will ever be not single if I'm too humiliated to even talk about my singleness.
That sounds dramatic, yes, but I am embarrassed of where my life is right now. I don't know how to put it more plainly than that. I am embarrassed. I feel like I'm failing such a basic part of adulthood, like it's such a fundamental part of being a human being that I'm screwing up so badly.

I just feel so pathetic that I can't even talk about it. I can't talk about the man who I'm not seeing or the dates that I am not going on or how lonely my life feels sometimes. It's all addressed with the same shy shrug. No eye contact. No words.

Which is basically how I handled tonight's conversation about this potential blind date.

A shrug.

That's all I can manage.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mommy Guilt

Today I made an appointment for Brady to see the veterinarian because I didn't know what else to do.

I am trying and trying and trying. Every single day we practice. I leave, I come back. He does mostly okay some days and he is miserable others but I can't get it through to him that he is loved and safe and he is just so anxious. All the time. And I have no idea how to control it.

He has a Xanax prescription that's to be taken when he's in a situation that makes him anxious but there isn't a situation that doesn't make him anxious. He just has a low level of anxiety that is simmering all the time.

It breaks my heart. It makes me so sad that he is so constantly afraid and it makes me so angry that I can't figure out how to control it. I feel like a complete failure, adopting a dog who has to stay at my mom and dad's house every time I go anywhere. They didn't sign up for this, I did.  

So I made the appointment for the vet to see if he has any suggestions. I don't want to medicate Brady daily, I really don't, but I am willing to try. We have to do something different than what we are currently doing because this isn't working. He's still scared. I'm still unhappy.

This is very hard.

But, just for the record: I still think he's the best dog.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thinking about...

  • ...how I left this crab of a post up all week. What a great first impression. Do you like selfish brats? Please, come back and read more! 
  • ...the series on manicures and nail salons that the New York Times ran this week. Did you read it? What did you think? I wasn't a big nail girl anyway, so it's probably easier for me to say that I honestly don't know if I will get my nails done ever again.  
  • ...Brady, who has seemed extra anxious all week. 
  • ...blogging about a select few of Lucy's other friendships (with girls who I am no longer friends with) but I'm afraid it will be as bitchy as the aforementioned crab post.  
  • ...how overdue for a really good vacuuming my house is.  
  • ...my next meal. (Always.)
  • ...a few overdue reports that I am impatiently waiting on. 
  • ...having an intentionally quiet weekend.
  • ...Colin, unfortunately. His house is up for sale and I drive by it every day on my way to work.
  • ...everything I have to do before summer soccer starts in a few weeks. 
  • ...way back when. I drove by Lucy and Chet's first house last night and I've been feeling nostalgic ever since.
  • ...Mom's knee replacement, which is a little over a week away and makes me nervous.
  • ...sneaking out of work a little bit early. It probably won't happen.
  • ...making time to listen to that Serial follow-up podcast. 
  • ...the horse I'm going to bet on in the Preakness Stakes, of course!  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Showering (again)

I have neglected to share the latest and greatest family news: my cousin Anna is pregnant.

My cousin Anna is the one who got married last September. She is due this September so she basically got pregnant at the speed of a Duggar. I think that I probably would elect to wait a little while but I totally understand that it's a personal choice and more power to her and her new husband. Not my business!

But the funny thing is that Anna says that this baby was a surprise but she's been successfully on birth control for years and years and it just stops working right after you get married? Plus she is a nurse and she married an obstetrician and, yeah, nobody really believes that this baby was a surprise (at least not to Anna?) but, really, what does it matter. It does not and I am very excited to cuddle that baby and buy her adorable baby things.

I do believe, however, that there should be some rule that hostesses should be immune from throwing any sort of celebratory shower for a person for at least 24 months after throwing her a previous shower.

Yet here we are. 13 months later. Throwing a baby shower.

Anna's new stepmother is playing a role in this shower (she was just a guest at last June's wedding shower) and booked out the restaurant but, other than her, it is the same cast of characters: my mom, my sister, me, my aunt and cousin who live in Chicago.

I was assigned fairly simple tasks (apparently I'm invitation girl and my grandmother's centerpiece assistant this time around) but I'm just: blah. We just did this. I don't wanna.

If I sound bitter and jealous, it's because I am.

I am a bitter, jealous and seriously burned out hostess.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Breakfast

I have been really struggling with breakfast for the last couple of months. It isn't that I'm not hungry, more that nothing really sounds all that good other that random things that won't really fill me up and are questionable as best when it comes to healthiness (think: buttered toast, tortilla chips, gummy bears, ginger snaps).

Kristin posted about smoothies last week and saved me from another week of eating random junk and/or not eating breakfast before.

Smoothies! Of course! One of my favorite summertime breakfasts that are completely unappetizing during the winter months. Plus, I had just come home from Louisville with an adorable new travel mug that needed to be used.

We make our smoothies a little bit differently but that's the great part about smoothies, you can just fly by the seat of your pants. I made a trip to the grocery store for vanilla Greek yogurt (I used to use this low-carb fake yogurt but I think it's fallen out of favor because it was nowhere to be found), vanilla protein powder (because I never have enough protein in my diet), coconut milk and frozen fruit.

I use about a cup of fruit, a half cup of yogurt, a scoop of protein powder and just a splash of coconut milk to thin it out a little bit. It's a smoothie that requires a spoon, which is fine, because I don't eat it until I get to work.

The best smoothies are made with just frozen mango. And it has to be frozen mango from Trader Joe's because the regular grocery store kind is slightly flavorless.

But all smoothies are pretty awesome. I'm pretty thrilled that I was reminded of this.

My workdays are so much easier if I've started them out by having a decent breakfast.

It's amazing how much you can get done when you're not scavenging for snacks every hour of the day.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Derby Weekend, part 3

After the Derby, Lucy and I stopped in to a restaurant nearby to wait out the truly awful traffic. We had originally made dinner reservations but decided to change course after we waited a good 40 minutes just to get out of the parking lot on Friday evening.

So we're at this random taco restaurant that clearly doubles as a gross college bar. You know the type. It just smells like bad decisions. But the food was really decent. 

I grabbed a table while Lucy ordered us food. She was still in line when a very drunk kid teetered by, stopped in front of me and slurred "YOU ARE CUTE. YOU ARE SO CUTE."

I laughed and thanked him. I shook his hand and introduced myself and he asked "can I come back and talk to you later?" Well, of course you can! (I knew it would be a mess and I knew Lucy would love every second of it. It was just like old times!)

Did I mention that he was wearing a USA-themed muscle shirt?

He was wearing a USA-themed muscle shirt.

And he did come back. With a beer for me, which I politely declined. 

In addition to being very drunk, he was the ripe old age of 25 and told me all about where he attended high school. High school. Apparently he went to a prestigious high school in Louisville but, yeah, it's still high school and I'm still 32.

I feel like you have two options when an obnoxiously drunk dude puts you in such a situation:
1. You get all bitchy and ask him to go.
2. You sort of play along with it and ask him stupid questions and laugh about it later.

Lucy and I went with number two. It might have been 12 years since we were last at a bar together but Lucy and I have always gone with number two. That shit doesn't change And it was just lighthearted joking around that lasted, oh, maybe 10 minutes. 

Then this guy at the table behind us pipes up and says "you need to stop. You're being really mean to him." 

Excuse me?

Lucy got on her therapist speak later and said that the interrupter was just transferring his feelings onto my friend the drunk but I do halfway feel bad and halfway feel like the interrupter was just a huge asshole. Like that dude has any idea what it's like to be getting hit on like that. Fuck him.

Anyway. 

The drunk dude had friends with him and they were leaving. They stopped by to see if he was staying or leaving with them. Lucy was good enough to point out that we were driving back home that very night (it was a white lie but we were staying an hour outside of Louisville) and that we were NOT taking him with us.

So my new drunk friend left but it was after I gave him my phone number (ha! I panicked but I also thought it would bring additional entertainment) and we headed out of Louisville shortly thereafter.

Drunk dude gets points for calling me a couple of hours later (just to make sure we had really left town), instead of just sending a drunk text or a picture of his junk. I will give drunk dude points for that. 

I told my mom the story on Sunday and I was getting all braggy. "He's 25! I've still got it!"

She raised her eyebrows. So skeptical. "He was drunk, honey." 

Touché. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Derby Weekend, part 2

 It's picture time!

Chilling at the racetrack on Friday afternoon.

 We made it! Friday morning, shortly after our frantic Target run.

Starting gates. 

Mint julep: I liked it more than I remembered. 

 Derby day!

Lucy getting up close and personal with the horses.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Derby Weekend, part 1

It was Thursday night at 9:00 pm. We were driving to Louisville.

Lucy and I stopped for a quick snack. She reached into the back seat to grab her purse and she screamed.

"MY DRESSES! OH MY GOD I FORGOT MY DRESSES!"

We were two hours from home. And Lucy didn't have her dresses.

I will admit to being partially to blame. When I got to Lucy's house, her stuff was waiting in the driveway. I packed up everything while I waited for her to come outside. (She was sneaking out of the house stealthily so to avoid upsetting her boys.) It's quite likely that if she had put her own suitcase in the car, she would have seen my dresses (which is what jogged her memory two hours late) and we would have avoided the situation all together.

But we did not. It was 9:00 pm on Thursday night and Lucy didn't have her dresses.

"It's okay. We got this. We'll just run to Target." I was (probably annoyingly) positive. It wouldn't be a big deal. Everybody makes mistakes. Plus Target is open until 10:00 pm and there are Target stores,  like, everywhere.

Except where we were, apparently. Which was in the middle of Ohio, somewhere between Findlay and Dayton.

So we just drove straight to the hotel and I just kept telling Lucy about what a big deal this dress situation wouldn't be.

We got up extra early the next morning and we were at Target by 8:05 am. Lucy had tried on at least a dozen dresses, and bought two, by 8:30 am.

Oh, Target, how I love you. I love you and I love that you open at 8:00 am.

Lucy wore one of the dresses right out of the store and we were off to our favorite Louisville bakery, which is next door to our favorite Louivsille coffee shop, right on schedule. We got to Churchill Downs at exactly the time we wanted to, apple fritters and rosemary iced lattes (so unbelievably delicious) in hand and looking, I must admit, rather snazzy.

You never would have guessed that Lucy didn't have an outfit as of 8:00 that morning.

Her dresses even matched her hat. It was the Kentucky Derby miracle.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

And They're Off!

Today is the day, boys and girls.

After a day of flexing our betting muscles at the Oaks -- the first day of racing of Derby weekend -- Lucy and I are in our hats and our dresses and headed back to Churchill Downs.

Today is a magical day. 

Anybody going to a Derby party? Who is your money on? Do you like mint juleps? Will you have derby pie?

(Confessions: I've had derby pie but never in Louisville, I'm still deciding on my horse and I actually don't love mint juleps, though I will drink one anyway. Tradition.) 

Look for me. I'll be the pale girl next to the other pale girl, winning a minimum of $250,000.

On a $6 bet.

That's possible, right?

Friday, May 01, 2015

All Grown Up

It would be inaccurate to my new identity as The Creepy Single Dog Lady if I did not acknowledge that my baby is all grown up!

And by all grown up I mean that he graduated from obedience school last weekend.

Oh, sure, it's true that the only requirement for passing the first level of obedience school is showing up. But, you guys? Brady has a mean sit. And, I might be biased, but his form on his down is textbook perfect.

I was required to take him to obedience school by the rescue that I adopted him from but I would have taken him anyway and I'm really glad that I did. He's still far from perfect but he is a lot more confident and I think that he has a better understanding of how things work between him and me.

I didn't go the pet store route for his training; I took him to an actual trainer. I paid way too much for the class but it comes with the option of retaking the entire class again, tuition-free, whenever he needs a refresher.

Which is actually when I need a refresher.

The owners are totally the ones getting trained. I was bossed around way more than Brady ever was.

And that is why I'm a little miffed that I didn't get a cap and gown, too.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Project

When I comes to home improvement projects, I am neither skilled nor creative. Mostly I'm afraid of botching a project so badly that I leave it worse than I found it. If it wasn't for my mother pushing me here and there, I wouldn't try anything on my own.

Except when I recently stained my bathroom vanity. When I was bored in the hotel room during my recent trip to Wisconsin, I started investigating what I could do with my builder grade 1980s cabinets and, on a whim, I ordered a can of gel stain.

After it arrived, I found a bit of bravery, followed a tutorial I found via Pinterest and, 10 days, a lot of drying time and a bit of patience later, I'm pretty happy with the results.

(Which Brady insisted on modeling. It probably looked like I posed these pictures but my little stalker dog really demands being that close to me every second of every day.) 


Mom and I also swapped out the light fixture and the towel bar -- which I neglected to take pictures of so just trust me when I tell you both were huge improvements -- and I'm in the process of framing the mirror with wood that's stained the same shade of espresso. Which is a project that requires a miter box. I mean, really. Who am I?

It isn't a forever fix but it buys me some time to decide if I really want to invest in completely remodeling the bathroom. It will need it, eventually, but I would like to get a better feel of how long I'm going to stay in my condo before embarking on that sort of a project.

And for now, I'm considering staining my kitchen cabinets the same color. It was that easy. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Getting off the Struggle Bus

I injured my knee last July and I have just struggled and struggled and struggled to get back from injury and into a regular workout routine. 

I fell out of the habit because, well, I was injured. And then I was busy with physical therapy. I got back on track for a short while towards the end of the year. Then there were the holidays and the six weeks in which I was maybe a little depressed and decided to spend most of my free time in bed, watching every episode of Scandal. Then I got a dog who doesn't like to be left alone.

I am going on practically a year of having a really hard time prioritizing and motivating myself to work out. And I have always been so good. It's always come so easily to me. 

Until Sunday, I hadn't gone on a run in 2015. It's the end of April, you guys.

Last week, I subbed for my soccer team (I took the spring session off in hopes that it would free me up to get to the gym but that plan failed miserably) and it. was. so. hard. 

I have rarely struggled with my fitness level at soccer. But my lungs were burning. It was a very big, very loud wake up call. My summer season of soccer starts in a month. It's time to get serious.

Since that soccer game, I've been on a few runs and I swear that I already feel better. My body feels more like my own, rather than this soft awkward thing I've been lumbering around in since July. 

I hate that getting back into game shape is going to be such a process -- I'm usually already there and, damn, my life is easier for it -- but this ordeal is probably a good experience. Now I know what it's like to get really out of shape. Hopefully it's enough to keep me from doing it again.

Monday, April 27, 2015

This Weekend

I made a quiche.
I wore a new shirt.
I packed for Kentucky.
I had waffles.
I caught up on this week's Scandal episode.
I drank a hot toddy.
I plugged away at a humble little home improvement project.
I made an appointment to get my hair cut.
I turned down an invitation from Alexander.
I shopped for baby clothes.
I ate a lot of shortbread.
I watched the Bruce Jenner interview.
I took Brady to the dog park. Twice.
I ate too much at a Brazilian steakhouse.
I meant to blog but never did.
I finally got to the gym.
I took a cooking class.
I went to Tim Horton's.
I did laundry.
I didn't relax much.
I definitely didn't get enough sleep.
Friday night was probably my favorite.
It was a good weekend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Drama Continues

Since my last post about Brady's separation anxiety he's made a tiny bit of progress. I continue to purchase every product that claims to help with separation anxiety that I can find on the internet. My latest buys include:
  • A new pheromone collar.
  • A pheromone diffuser.
  • Calming chews.
None of which are probably making any difference. It's hard to tell. I leave and he inevitably barks. And it is, like, the saddest and most pathetic howling bark I have ever heard. The sound of it makes me want to sit on my front porch and cry.

I really just want him to be able to stay alone and not be so scared and anxious. It's killing me that I can't communicate (or find the right product to communicate) to him that he is safe and loved and that I'm always going to come back. It's also killing my pocketbook.

I'm just trying to be consistent and to not get too frustrated. I'm trying every suggestion that the trainer at our obedience class has given me. I'm not giving up -- though some days I absolutely want to -- and I regularly remind myself that it takes some dogs an entire year to get settled in a new homes.

This dog is going to be able to stay alone, in his crate, at his home if it kills me.

To practice being in the house by himself, every morning, Brady stays alone for a half-hour. I do the whole routine -- special shirt, Xanax, extra-great toy stuffed with extra-delicious food for distraction/entertainment, radio on, fingers crossed -- and I sneak out of the house.

Let me tell you: you can't get anything done in a half-hour.

I've been frequenting Tim Horton's. I order a coffee, read a few chapters of a book or scroll through Twitter. Or I go to Target and try not to buy anything. I get gas in my car. I run to the bank. Today I stopped by Home Depot (I'm contemplating a kitchen project) and, fact: everyone at Home Depot is extra nice when you're all dressed up for work and looking entirely out of place.

And then I turn around and go back home and rescue my poor pooch from the disgrace of my abandonment, drive him to my mom and dad's house and leave him there for the duration of the workday.

It's a lot of running around for first thing every morning. But whatever. Anything for the end goal.

In other news, I am completely convinced that I am going to meet my next great love interest at the dog park. And that is how Brady will repay me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Helpful (but not too helpful)

Things with my grandpa are hard and they will only get harder.

My mom is the only one of her siblings who is truly able to help. Her sister lives in Chicago; my uncle is out of the picture.

I struggle with how much I should pitch in because I don't want to be overbearing  (you know that person who is being really helpful so that they can control the situation? I don't want to be that person) and because I don't want my sister and my father to get off without doing their part.

Late last week, I made a few calls to caregiving organizations. My mom didn't ask me to but the idea of hiring someone to do some companion care and driving had been brought up a few times and looking into it seemed to be something that I could to do help. I called, got a little information, passed it along and left it at that. She hasn't done anything with it and that's fine. I think it would be awesome and I wish they would just try it but it doesn't have to happen right away. I'm not trying to push; I'm trying to help.

I did the same thing a few weeks ago with boats. We're trying to find something smaller -- much smaller (his current boat is nearly 40 feet long) -- that he could fix up in the driveway of their house. I scoured Craigslist for boats, passed along the information to Mom and Grandma and let it be.

On Sunday, after my mom mentioned needing a schedule for calls to check in on my grandparents, I finally went ahead and did it. I googled around until I found a website that would fit our situation (I knew there had to be something out there), I invited my immediate family, my aunt and uncle in Chicago and my cousins in Maine and New York and Chicago.

What I was asking for was someone to volunteer to call and check in on my grandparents on a daily basis so that my mother doesn't always feel like she needs to. My grandpa loves to talk, too, so entertaining him for 20 minutes so that my grandma doesn't need to is a bonus.

I was nervous sending out the invite because, you know, family dynamics and all that. These things can be sensitive and my aunt and uncle are control freaks and I didn't want to come across like I was telling anyone what to do. I framed it like hey, we're all really good about calling but this way we know that someone is calling every single day.

The reception to the sign-up system was surprisingly positive. I'm glad I went ahead with it but I am quite certain that, one of these times, I am going to do something that I perceive as being helpful and it's going to blow up in my face.

It's messy, all of this family stuff.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Priorities

Lucy and I spent all of last week exchanging emails on a very important subject: Derby food. More specifically: who was buying what of our favorite junk food. This includes, but is not limited to, the following delicacies.

 Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos.

Mini Brie Bites from Trader Joe's.

Skim lattes from Starbucks (to power us through the drive to Kentucky).

And assorted gummy candies.

On Friday night, we were being wild and adventurous and spent our Friday night in. Once her boys went up to bed, we broke out the hot glue gun and chatted while we created the magic that is the Derby hat.

"You realize," Lucy said, as she sewed ribbon around her hat, "that we are two weeks out and we have every single meal planned?"

I had booked all of our dinner reservations months ago.

She had called and ordered us box lunches. (Fun fact: you can bring in lunch to the Derby and it's much tastier.)

We would have breakfast at the hotel and pick up coffee and donuts at our favorite bakery on the way to the racetrack. 

And we spent the week meticulously planning all of the extras.  

Yep. We were definitely two weeks out and had every meal planned out and it's basically a miracle that neither of us has gone online to browse menus and choose what we're going to order at each of our dinners.

We might have a problem.

But, speaking of the hats...



Boom.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

If...


  • If I had known that working in a sport would ruin it for me forever, I wouldn't have been so hell-bent on doing it.
  • If I don't get to the grocery store soon, I'm going to have to live on saltine crackers, leftover Easter candy and rice.
  • If I have a little time tomorrow, I am going to start reading The Girl on a Train.
  • If I had known that Brady was such a nervous dog, I would have been less of a nervous person.
  • If I had known how poorly things were going to turn out with The Coach, I probably would have done it all anyway.
  • If everything goes according to plan, I will take a few days off of work at the end of May to help my mom after her knee-replacement surgery.
  • If I find a little time, I'm going to stain my kitchen cabinets. 
  • If I knew how to help my cousin Danielle, who is bipolar, I would do it. 
  • If I know what's good for me, I will let someone else coordinate this year's Mother's Day brunch. 
  • If I had cable television, I would never get anything done.
  • If my hat is any indication, I am going to win my fortune at the Kentucky Derby.
  • If I don't wash my hair soon, I will have dreadlocks.
  • If I get my way, I will be going to Russia in 2018.
  • If I'm being perfectly honest, I would admit that I cringe every time Alexander texts me.
  • If I collected all of the Brady hair that I vacuum up over the course of a week, I could make a life-sized replica Brady statue. 
  • If I don't get back to running soon, I very well may forget how. 
 
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