Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weekend: Chickens!

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I try to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of my weekends to make up for the fact that I work too darn much during the week.  I then feel compelled to detail all that enjoyment here on the blog to prove that I actually do have a life to preserve those wonderful memories.  So here it is, your usual weekend update – long weekend style:
Friday we got a half day, so I managed to make it home around noon.  MacGyver and I took full advantage of the fact that we had the Nanny for 5 more hours while Punky was still in school and extracurrics.  After some alone time and showers, we jetted out to pick up a part for MacGyver’s truck, Addy, then to Barnes & Noble – our laid back date of choice.  I find that I have a very particular emotional state that I experience almost exclusively in book stores (and libraries).  It’s a sort of blissful, excited anticipation – a mental and internal humming brought about by being in the midst of so much potential knowledge, entertainment, and exploration.  It’s like being in an airport with a ticket to anywhere or opening the coursebook for a University and having the freedom to pick and choose any courses you want.  I know it sounds insanely clich├ęd, but I really do feel that way.  I love books that much.
And threaded through all that magical anticipation is a ribbon of anxiety, just a tiny tug of stress.  Because there is never, ever enough time.  In a matter of minutes, I will be holding as many books as I can carry, stacked up and tumbling over, and as I make my way back to the table I glance longingly after tome after tome that I will not be touching that day – maybe ever.  There’s a touch of sadness for all the books I will never open, for all the stories I will never experience and knowledge I will never glean.  But, ultimately, the sheer bliss of the books I do ingest is much, much stronger.
I came out of that trip with a list of at least 4 books I needed to download to my Nook as soon as possible, but I’m also aware that with as much as we’re dishing out in child care right now – and with Father’s Day and our Anniversary coming up – that spending hundreds of dollars on books probably isn’t the best idea (we won’t pay attention to the fact that collectively, MacGyver and I walked out of B&N with seven books and 3 or 4 niche magazines).  So something that has been on my list for a very long time since we moved here instantly moved to the top: Get a local library card!
So Saturday, that is just what I did.  After a wonderful, leisurely morning sleeping in with the Flintstone (not only did he sleep until a little after 7, but we took a nice long nap together an hour and a half or so later), Flintstone and I packed into the car to head to the library.  First we had to stop off and return a skirt I had borrowed to a friend and we took a nice long walk and got a mini toffee cheese cake and some tea before getting back in the car.
The library trip was awesome.  I was a little worried that this smallish southern town might have a pretty sad excuse for a library, but I was wrong.  I mean, it’s far from a NY library, but it’s got a lot.  And getting a library card was easy (not like in NY where you have to provide approximately 73 different proofs of address, including 7 or 30 current utility bills, your tax return and a blood sample).  After a lovely couple hours blissfully wandering the stacks, we left with 9 or 10 new books.
On my way home I swung by a friend’s house to pick up Punky and one of her friends for a sleepover and spent a couple hours having a really enjoyable conversation.  I have some of the best conversations with this woman, and I will be very sad to see her and her family leave in a few weeks.  On the bright side, though, they gave us their chickens!  And the coup and run.  So while I was gallivanting around the library and chatting with my friend, MacGyver and her husband were moving the coup and chickens to our back yard!  We now have our very own source of fresh, delicious, very humane eggs.  The 5 chickens (3 white Brahmas and 2 black Jersey Giants [I think]), have been laying an average of 4 eggs a day.  It’s awesome.


MacGyver has been shoveling a wagonload of compost into their run every day.  We’ve been composting all our organic waste for almost a year now, and it has drastically reduced the amount of trash we send to the landfill, and our compost is FULL of little crawlies, which the chickens just go mad for.   Plus, the chicken waste is good for the compost, too, so MacGyver shovels it in, the chickens love it, and they make it better!
Sunday I was very involved in the Memorial Day service at church, and there was a really great picnic afterward.  We had planned to go to the beach later that day, but Punky left her DS outside overnight – a HUGE no-no, so we ended up having to do the consistent discipline thing for the rest of the day/weekend.  That’s definitely one thing that sucks about parenting.  It would be so much easier just to say “don’t do it again” and go to the beach anyway, because WE wanted to go.  But that doesn’t send the right message.  L  So we stayed home and Flintstone played in his kiddie pool on the patio.

I honestly can’t remember what we did Sunday night . . . I know we did something . . .  Whatever it was, it was nice, but obviously not all that memorable.
The new eggs mad for a really delightful Monday brunch of French toast with blended up organic raspberries.  Then, while MacGyver was at Lowe’s getting supplies for yet another MacGvyer project, I scrubbed the ever-loving Hell out of our floors.  I am slightly OCD (recently diagnosed – but that’s another post – nothing too serious), and when I clean things, I CLEAN them.  I swept.  Then I swept again.  Then I went through by hand and picked up any strays.  Then I spot disinfected, and disinfected the base boards.  Then I mopped the entire floor with a hot steam mop.  Hard.  Lucky for me, Flintstone napped the entire time – and let me tell you, that was one long nap!  I think he’s transitioning from 3 naps a day to 2.
It may not sound like the best way to spend a day off work, but I felt soooo good having that done.  If only I had 30 or 40 more days off to clean everything else in the house.  Aside from that, Monday was a whole lot of relaxing, reading, playing with Flintstone, and just general family bonding followed by a very enjoyable dinner.
At some point this weekend, though I can’t remember exactly which day, MacGyver and I curled up and watched Easy A.  I loved it.  Granted, I don’t get to watch many grown up movies, and I often sleep through those I do get the opportunity to see, so I usually like the ones I’m awake for, but I really liked this one.  It was fun and funny and upbeat and just a little bit campy.  I love camp.  Have I mentioned my appreciation of Xena before?  All camp.  Love it.  Anyway, Easy A isn’t super campy, but it’s campy enough to make up for its, we’ll say, literary shortcomings.
And her parents in the movie?  Effing hysterical.  I highly recommend it.
Well I’m sure I’m leaving out the very best parts of our weekend.  I know there are at least a couple things we did that aren’t springing to mind, but that’s the long and short of it.  Another absolutely wonderful weekend.  And a 4 day week ahead of me.  Bonus.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stuff

      Good Morning!  How are you this lovely Friday?  I'm doing pretty well.  I'm certainly glad it's Friday, but man did this week fly by!  Being the boss is time consuming!

      Have I mentioned that I'm the boss?  I think I have, but just in case, here's a quick recap on what's going on with me and the rest of the Cheap Wino Fam lately:
  • When Capt PaperClip left, I took over as Officer in Charge (OIC) of my section, then they started giving me more personnel.  I am now in charge of four officers, four enlisted Marines, and one civilian paralegal.  Ok, honestly NO ONE is in charge of Snarky Paralegal.  She runs the show.  She's been here for over 15 years and has been doing this for over 33, so really, I'm not in charge of her ;-)
  • Not only am I CivLaw OIC (responsible for the 43 opinions we have currently waiting to be written), I'm still the Review Officer (in charge of all post trial review and documents), and the Special Assistant US Attorney for the base. So I'm busy.
  • As The Boss, I got a lovely new corner office.  With it's own full bathroom.  AND windows on two walls.  How fancy is that?  MacGyver has already stocked me up with four plants to keep it nice and bright, and so far, I'm liking it.  Though I still find it a little odd to shower in my office after PT . . .
  • Punky is rocking all over the place.  She was one of 9 second graders selected for the Gifted and Talented program at her school, and she's reading at the upper end of a 4th grade reading level (as in she's thisclose to a 5th grade reading level).
  • Then she had to go and spoil my Nerd Mommy pride by asking if she could join cheerleading.  I said no.  I always thought I'd let my kids participate in any activity they showed interest in, but the feminist in me just can't deal with it.  I told her that when she's old enough to buy the uniforms herself, she can join whatever team she wants.  MacGyver suggested she do swimming instead, and she was all about that.  Yay.
  • Flintstone can stand on his own now.  It only lasts about 10 seconds at the longest, but he's pretty stable.  I'll be chasing him all over the place long before I'm ready.
  • Thank you for all the lovely comments on the new header!  I'm not super impressed with it, but I needed a change and I was getting fed up with trying to make the image in my head into reality.  For now, I'm happy with this.  Maybe one day I'll have a little more time to devote to the task, and I'll come up with something perfect.
  • I'm getting out of work early today, and MacGyver and I are going on a real, 100% kid-free date!  Granted, we've gotten to go on a few since Flintstone was born, and this one is an afternoon date, but I don't care.  I'm going on a date!  Truth be told, I'm a little sad to leave Flintstone behind for the 4 -5 hours when I could be playing with him (don't tell MacGyver!  :-P), but I'm sure it will be worth it.
  • I have so much more to say!  I have been so bad at keeping up on the blog lately!  But I'm out of time! 
      Here are some crappy phone super cute pictures of Flintstone to tide you over until I can scrounge another post:

 Uh oh, we have a thumb sucker on our hands - but it's sooooo cute!  And he only does it once in a great while.  I'll start worrying when it becomes more regular.  At least he doesn't run around with a pacifier in his mouth most of the time (not that there's anything wrong with that, I just hate having to clean them every 10 minutes).

 Beach Baby.  He loves splashing in any kind of water.

 He LOVES Daddy's tickley scruff.

Helpin Mama with the laundry!

Have an amazing long weekend All!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Whistle at Derby Girls

The fonts are crazy in the post and I have no idea why.  And I'm not inclined to waste my time trying to fix it.  You'll deal because you love me that much.
MAN, what a week!  Every day this week was up at 6 for work. Work, work, work all day (remember Im 3 lawyers right now – 2 Captains and a Major – until we get some new personnel in here in a few months).  The rush home, play with baby, make and scarf dinner, and load onto the car for the hour and 10 minute drive to Roller Derby practice.  Practice until 10 or so (10:30 half the time).  Head home and hit the rack by 12:30 if Im lucky
*  *  *  This next part is rather boring.  If youre bored of my long posts, feel free to skip down to the next set of asterisks *  *  *
Oh, except Wednesday morning when I had to get up at 5 to run my annual PFT (physical fitness test for Marines).  It was my first post pregnancy PFT, and I was both happy and disappointed with the result.  I got my lowest score ever, by far (277 out of 300 – still a First Class, but I have never come below 280 before – in 10 years).  Granted, I’ve never run a PFT after building a person, but still.  What dragged down my score?  The same thing that always does, the damn run.  I always, always max the flexed arm, and it was no different this time.  I always, always max the sit ups – this time I only got 98.  Out of 100.  How annoying is that?  If I had just done them 5 seconds faster, I could have maxed the sit ups like I normally do and gotten 2 more points.  *pout*
But it was the run.  Ugh, the run.  I lost a LOT of time off my run while I was pregnant.  Some women run throughout their entire pregnancies.  I envy them.  I had to stop running and switch to swimming at 7 months.  I still stayed fit, but my run time plummeted.  Before TBS and pregnancy, I could run my 3 mile in under 21 minutes.  Two weeks after Flintstone was born, 3 miles took me 29 minutes in perfect weather and well rested.  A few weeks ago I ran a practice PFT and clocked in at 26:30.  So, really, I’ve been improving a lot.  From 29 minutes to 24:28 in 7 months isn’t bad.  Still, I dont know if Ill ever get back to 21 minutes.  At least not any time soon – especially since were considering having another baby after my jaw surgery
*  *  *  End Tangent.  *  *  *
The long and short of it is that it has been a crazy, jam-packed go-go-go week.  On top of my insane schedule at work, I ran a PFT, and presented arguments to our Church board as to why they should allow us to start a CUUPs (Covenant of UU Pagans) chapter.  I have been go-go-going constantly every minute of every very long day every day of this extremely long week.
And Ive been a horrible Mommy.  The Mommy Guilt is coming out my ears.  Absolutely ever second that I havent been at work, meetings, or Derby, Flintstone has been GLUED to me.  The poor little guy.  I can tell he misses all the Mommy time.  Hes still happy and full of giggles all the time, but hes definitely a little clingy.  I cant wait to make this up to him on Saturday. 
But even though I feel hella guilty, it has been so, so worth it.  I have been trying to do Roller Derby since I was in Law School.  The Gotham Girls, the Brooklyn Bombshells, River City Rollergirls – Ive contacted them all.  Ive flirted with the teams.  Ive even checked out practices.  But I could never quite pull it off. I couldnt make the commitment.  I didnt have time to master the skating skills on my own.  I was just moving too damn often.
Well, Ive finally pulled it off.  Thanks to the Savannah Derby Devils Boot Camp (pictures), Ive got the skills and Im ready to do this.  I cant become a full on RollerGirl just yet because its still too much time.  They practice three times a week over an hour away.  But Im going to Ref (and so is MacGyver!  How awesome is that?  Do I have the coolest hubby ever, or what?) which is one practice a week.  I can totally do that.  Sooooo excited.  *Squee*
Tonight is the Boot Camp Party.  Im also super excited about that.  We dont have any real party friends down here yet, so we really only get to go out partying when we visit Michigan or New York (though, granted, we make it to both places a couple times a year and those are some damn good parties).  Im so excited to go out and have a few drinks with these amazing, crazy women; swap stories about the week; butcher some karaoke (think I can persuade MacGyver to do a horrific duet?); and do it all in club clothes – its been a long time since I got all done up.  Although last night at practice I did wear the hottest pair of red and black stockings.  And of course there are no pictures of me in those.  They only took pictures of me the night I looked completely awful after the PFT.  Oh well.
This week, while exhausting, was great.  Tonight is going to be amazing.  And tomorrow, MacGyver promises me a whole day of relaxing and baby cuddles.
This post was supposed to be about skating and my take on Boot Camp, but it didnt exactly end up that way.  Be prepared for that one in the future – with pictures!
See you all when stupid Blogger starts working again.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Veggie Brain

*** This is one of the 30 or so posts that have been languishing on my computer desktop, just a thought or a note, waiting for its moment of glory here on this highly respected blog :-P ***
      I recently read a very interesting article in Psychology Today about the differences in brain chemistry/wiring between vegetarians/vegans (veg’ans) and omnivores.  The article discusses a recent and very thought provoking study published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE), The Brain Functional Networks Associated to Human and Animal Suffering Differ among Omnivores.  You should seriously check out the study.  Or at least the article.  But I’m more into the hard scientific details and correlations, so I was thrilled to be able to read the study.
      The basic finding here is – not at all surprisingly, in my opinion – people who refrain from eating flesh for ethical reasons seem to have much more empathy than those who eat meat.  And this isn’t a touchy-feely fill out this survey and tell us how much you like animals thing; subjects of the study were placed in a fMRI machine and shown various images, to include images of humans and animals suffering.  The areas of their brains that responded and the degree of the activity in these areas was then measured and quantified.
      Has anyone noticed that I have a *slight* addiction to research studies?  I probably read an average of 50 studies, articles about studies, or results summaries (on all sorts of topics) every week – no exaggeration.  And the number was much higher when I had more free time (and didn’t blog . ..).  I love studies.  I know – I am, in the truest sense of the word, a complete and utter dork.
      You can check out the study or the article for more detailed discussion of the various brain structures affected and the functioning behind them.  While I love that sort of stuff, I recognize that most people don’t really care much whether it was the Anterior Cingular Cortex that lit up or the Medulla Oblongata (it was the former, by the way).
      The long and short of it is that when vegetarians/vegans who refrained from eating flesh based on ethics were shown images of animal and human suffering, they exhibited responses in a NUMBER of brain regions associated with empathy, higher-order representations of the self and values, and bodily representation that were not found in omnivores.
      VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:  Neither this study, nor I, in any way imply that omnivores are lacking in empathy or are in any way cold and heartless.  The study simply demonstrates that ethical veg’ans have more empathy.  So I don’t want any angry comments from the omnivores out there thinking I’m trying to malign anyone.
      Empathy is an extremely important human emotion.  It is an integral key to societal functioning, successful interpersonal relationships, and human happiness.  I’m not exaggerating.  Empathy – The ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another person to understand her emotions and feelings (Alvin Goldman) – is the absolute foundation of true kindness.  Those truly sick, cruel individuals among us and throughout history were the ones lacking in empathy (or able to dehumanize others to a degree where they could deactivate empathy, but the same idea).
      If you can’t tell, I feel very strongly about empathy.  I did well before I read this article.  I have always felt strongly about “The Golden Rule,” which is found in most world religions, and I think empathy is the key to being a good friend, parent, wife, and human being.  I am empathetic to a fault (if that’s possible).
      I’m not saying veg’ans are better people (even though I know it sounds like it).  But I’m not at all surprised by this study, either.  There are people out there that can watch movies like Food, Inc. or see images or videos like the one below and three hours later are scarfing bacon or digging into a bucket of chicken.  I can’t do that.  It has gotten to a point where watching other people eat factory farmed meat upsets me.  In that particular area, I have much more empathy than probably most people.  But I’m sure there are other areas where people have me totally outstripped.  As we all know, I have much less empathy for adulterers (granted, I actually do have some; I’m more talk and ranting than anything else on that, but still – I have a heck of a lot more empathy for poor farm animals than people who take vows then refuse to keep it in their pants).
      So what’s my point?  Interesting facts.  Interesting study.  Something to think about.  No real point to speak of.  I’m not trying to say veg’ans are better or trying to talk people into changing their ways.  I simply found this study enlightening and pertinent to stuff I ramble about on this blog. 
      Ok, so maybe I’m trying to change your behavior a little.  Seriously, how can anyone watch something like this and still eat factory farmed meat?  Or refuse to watch it because they don’t want to feel guilty about eating said meat?  By the way, this is where the SCHOOL LUNCH MEAT comes from:





      Yes, these videos are graphic.  Watching them makes me want to simultaneously vomit and cry.  But, damnit, it’s better to watch it and make a change than to refuse to recognize that you contribute to this every single time you eat meat, eggs, or dairy produced by these animals.  And for most US Americans that is EVERY MEAL OF THE EFFING DAY.
      You don’t need “more empathy” to want to make this stop.
      And, oh by the way, people who commit violent acts toward animals JUST LIKE THIS, are exponentially more likely to commit violent acts against other humans, particularly children.  Think maybe we should try to put them out of business?

Monday, May 2, 2011

On Top

      MacGyver and I have been planning our next wedding since we started planning our first.  The summer we got married I had just graduated Law School and taken the Bar exam, and we were getting ready to move from NYC to Virginia because I was coming on Active Duty.  We were pretty frigging broke.  We should have eloped or done a real small court house thing, probably.  But I wanted a wedding, damn it.  You only get married once (theoretically, whatever - you know what I mean - I will only get married once), and I wanted to share the occasion with family and friends.  And I wanted the Party.  And, to be perfectly honest, I wanted the dress.  I'm not a particularly girly-girl, but I love really dressy dresses.  And what is more dressy than a wedding dress?  I wasn't about to be gracing the red carpet any time soon.

      So we had a wedding, and it was AMAZING.  It goes down in the anals of history as one of the most fun weddings ever.  Certainly in my town (not to mention by far the most diverse event ever to take place in my town - the wedding party alone was composed of more races, ethnicities, and orientations than can be found in a 50 mile radius of my town).  No exaggeration at all, people STILL mention how awesome our wedding was to me, in all its torential monsoon glory.  Check it out.

      But we had to do it on the cheap.  We scratched together ever cent we had, every ounce of credit, every favor we could scrounge, and we did the whole thing - dress, rings, ceremony, reception AND the Honeymoon - for under 10k.  Sure, it made things tight for months after that.  But it was soooo very worth it.  And we didn't skimp on the dress, rings, and honeymoon, let me tell you.

      MacGyver and I made the cake ourselves himself.  It was a 6 tiered, 6 flavored cheesecake.  We decorated the fondant with an amazing baroque vine pattern - green and brown (the wedding colors).  In the end, the bottom layer didn't set up, which was really sad, and really bothered MacGyver (he's looking forward to the opportunity to correct that at the next wedding), but the day after the wedding the bride'smaids dug into it (it was amaretto cherry flavored), and I'm told it was spectacular.

      The one thing that really sucks about the cake?  That really saddens me and makes me that much more determined to have the next wedding in a couple years?  We don't have a single picture of the cake.  Not one.  A friend has two pictures that have the disassembled cake in the background, but there isn't a one of the cake put together.  Not a one of the cake with the hilarious cake toppers we got. 

      Yes, we got two different cake toppers.  We couldn't choose.  So we put one on the very top, and the other two on lower levels.  Tell me these aren't the best cake toppers you've ever seen:
Top of the cake.


Lower levels.
(I took these pictures in the morning before work, forgive the cruddy quality)

      At the next wedding (we're thinking 2013 - but I don't want to wait that long!), I will be sure to get tons of pictures of them.  That is, if we go with them.  I'm also toying with the idea of using action figures - Xena and MacGyver.  What do you think?  In the meantime, these toppers are on display in our kitchen next to the etched champagne flutes.  Can you find them in this post?

      What do you all think of Re-Weddings/Vow renewals/whatever?  Do you think all 6 layers of the cake should be cheesecake next time?  I was thinking 3 layers of cheesecake, and three layers of other stuff, but MacGyver wants all cheesecake.  Xena and MacGyver or the cake toppers pictured above?  Anything else you want to weigh in on for the [re]wedding?

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