Things That Are Discouraging

Once again, my heart was bigger than my budget. I was so excited to take on Japanese exchange students and daydreaming about all of the American fun we would have - the time has definitely been American but not so much fun.

I feel terrible for the burden that has fallen on Josh to run 7 kids all over the place (Sanna has been a huge help) while counting every penny out of the ash tray for gas. Starting a second job this week, which has also been one of the worst on record for pain, was another over-optimistic idea of mine. Turns out 46 hours of work don't leave time for sightseeing and making my fabulous recipes for these three girls that we have, who are, incidentally, very sweet. Also - I'm missing some of the last JV softball games of the season. Not that I've made it to any. It's like I don't even love my kids.

On top of everything, I have mismanaged the money to the tune of three overdraft charges, an empty tank of gas and the temptation to borrow money from my 13 year old. Didn't I leave these days way behind me? Apparently my financial tendencies have clung to me like Ruth from the old testament: "whither thou goest..." I should be more upset with myself but its as much as I can do to crawl into my couch after 10 hours of work and die, so a thirty dollar overdraft seems petty. When did I become such a huge baby? I want to stamp my foot and throw a fit, but when I tried that last week it didn't go over so well.

On top of everything, my back is out awesomely, and one of my kids had the bright idea to bring home a cold from school and share it. So now we are all coughing, scratchy throated grouches. So much for my awesome menu. I hope these girls like burritos! Hey, they're American! Wait...

Things That Bark

So I am in the process of researching, once again, the best route to proceed with feeding the menagerie of dogs we have collected. It turns out that the nutritional needs of dogs have nothing to do with breeding, size or appetite. You would think that the more you pay for a dog, the less you would have to invest in caring for it, right? Kind of like a car. You get what you pay for. You spend $200 bucks on a rig and you can bet you'll spend the other $20K in shop bills. But with dogs, I have found the opposite to be true. If you pay $600 for a dog, that dog will also require extensive shop bills and a grocery tab that rivals your nine year old child. Incidentally, I am not talking about Dagny here. Anyway, with Truck's weight issues (I hope he's not listening, he's so self-conscious) and Emmy's skin issues and Dagny's eating anything she finds issues, we've run the gamut of pet foods from Ol' Roy to some boutique stuff I can't even pronounce. Since I found Josh, he has helped tremendously in the shedding of pounds from a certain pudgy hound, but ever tightening budgets have required us to diligently hunt down the best/cheapest way to feed our needy creatures. I have fantasized about making homemade, healthy dog food during my domestic binges, but have read that it's hard to get a good balance without ordering a certain cookbook, and we all know how well I follow recipes. After much research, including sitting through a somewhat tedious video on Dr. Mercola's website, and a long string of field trials, these are the winning options for our prized possessions:

OPTION 1: If we were rich, which apparently Emmy is, since she is either on a constant diet of this or hot dogs, we would feed all of the dogs FreshPet Select. I can't find mention of this food by Dr. Mercola's vet, Dr. Kathy Becker, which is either am ominous sign that this stuff is so bad that it isn't worth mentioning, or it cuts into the market for her pet food cookbook when you realize you can buy it for $12 a roll at WalMart. This is the only food that we have found that Emmy consistently does well on. This is the dog that could scratch all night long, setting world records for Cocker Spaniel Scratching Times, which happened around Christmas, while she was sporting the Jingle Bell Collar. The Jingle Bell Collar is another important investment for the torture/punishment of angry teenagers, until they figure out that they can remove said collar at 3 AM after 6 hours of constant jingle, and hide it under their pillow, where it is rediscovered around President's Day. Anyway, this itching of Emmy's finally and only goes away when she is eating FreshPet. She likes chicken best. Or I like chicken best. The beef smells, well, BEEFY after a few days in the fridge, and I am not super ok with that. This is also the food that Truck lost most of his bulk on, but at the time we thought we were rich (must have been fire season) so it was nothing to drop almost $100 a month on dog food. Which, realistically, is not that much more than we spend on option #2. Also, the dogs REALLY like FreshPet - probably because it's refrigerated, soft, and there are colorful chunks of real vegetables so they think they're getting leftovers every day. As if I would eat anything with peas in it. Gross. I researched the ingredients, and not only were they all pronounceable, but I actually knew what they all were, and would eat them myself - except for the peas. As far as I can tell, this might be the best and healthiest thing out there to feed your dogs. Dr. Becker recommend a fresh, balanced diet for dogs over any other - and notes that most homemade foods are not balanced nutritionally for dogs (hence the need for her cookbook). She also describes the effect of dehydrated (dry) foods on the body systems of a dog, and it is one of her least favorite choices for them. FreshPet is 73% moisture, which is vitally important for dogs with Kidney issues and urinary tract problems. The only problem I have with FreshPet is the price, and mostly because Truck should get a pound and a half a day at his size, which adds up QUICKLY. A 6 pound roll of FreshPet costs $13-15, depending on if you can overcome your pride and go to WalMart to get it. Other downsides to FreshPet are the refrigeration requirement, daily slicing and dicing (Emmy won't eat it in larger than 2 cm  pieces) and remembering to buy it every week. It does not freeze well, we tried.

OPTION 2: There is no getting around the convenience of dry dog food. Although Dr. Becker says this option is in the low-middle of her preferences, there are some brands that use human-grade food and are well balanced, however moisture deficient. The best of these I have found is Acana - a Canadian company (those Canucks get a few things right...) that makes a whole-food, real-food, dry-food that is only 20% starch, which is pretty good for a kibble. Again, I like the chicken, or Plains (they market it according to enviro-regions) because the Ocean one smells too Oceany. This stuff is pricey - $56-76 a bag, which last us a little more than a month. This is food that Truck does well on. Emmy still seemed to itch but I think this month I am going to give it another run with her to see how she does... Acana created a new line called Orijens that looks even better, but I am going to price that out today and probably give it a whirl. To have all three dogs (maybe four?) on one food that meets everybody's needs would be RAD. Dagny's needs are fairly basic. Food. She seems to do well on everything so far, partially because she's little and made of rubber, and partially because she's not old enough to know better. At this point all we really know is that she prefers whichever food is in the other dogs dishes. Acana makes foods suitable for all life stages, which is nice. It doesn't require refrigeration, is easy to ration and is slightly cheaper than the cold stuff. If we can keep the water dish full, the dehydration isn't such a compelling issue, but apparently most of us are allergic to refilling the water bowl. Truck has gotten really good at making sure his collar clangs against the edge of the metal bowl as he licks the dry bottom to get our attention. This is our go too food when we aren't dead broke but don't have the time and money for FreshPet. We get it at Bend Pet Express, and they have a buy 12 get one free deal, but a couple other stores in the area carry it.

OPTION 3: There is a local company here in Bend called Orion's Choice that makes a decent, mostly healthy food. It is less than $40 for a 40 lb bag, and they deliver it to your door. This is super convenient, unless you forget to leave a check for them under the door mat, or forget to call them until three days after you ran out of food, etc, etc. They will even pick up the empty bag and recycle it for you. The ingredients are, overall, recognizable and healthy. It has more filler than I like - but it's decent fillers like oats and rice and lots of protein. Moisture is only 10%, so again, hydration is a big thing, but for the price, if you're gonna feed dry, it beats the heck out of Ol' Roy or Kirkland junk if you live in Central Oregon. I have really liked the customer service - I've talked to the owner at a trade show and over the phone, and they were nice even when I forgot to leave a check...

OPTION 4: This is what we have been feeding the dogs (minus Emmy) since we have been poor lately, and it has done ok, until the last batch, which seems to have unleashed a rash of the most heinous gas you have ever smelled. Nature's Domain Turkey Meal and Sweet Potato dry food has seemed to work ok for the dogs until this gas episode - I am not sure the food is to blame but holy moses, the other morning Dagny was sleeping behind my back and I awoke from a nightmare that I was suffocation in toxic gases, only to realize that I actually was suffocating in toxic gases. I think she burned a hole in the mattress, and I am pretty sure the smell is still lingering. Either that or my nostrils were stained forever with the smell. So I am reluctant to blame the food, which is similar in price to Orion's Choice, and pretty comparable ingredients - I would actually put it in close running with Orion's Choice if I could safely rule it out as the cause of lethal effluence. And it's at Costco. What is not to love about that?

This question arises as we discuss the possibility of adopting an oversized wiener dog from the breeders that gave us Dagny. She'd need some love - and help. Then our kid to dog ratio would be even...

Things I Should Change

I need to take a new direction with my rambling. Something more productive and less ego-centric. Not about anybody else of course, because that is just asking for trouble. My intent was always to start issuing forth profound and meaningful essays on where you can get the best products in any given field, according to my personal shopping expertise. Somehow I got sidetracked, yet again, by emotional fru-fru fluff that is mostly useless.

I promised when I started spewing useless knowledge that I would do an expose of accessorizing - the dos and don't according to the conventional wisdom of most 6th graders, but never really got around to it. My own eclectic fashion sense has been undergoing a rigorous and not always graceful transition since I got a job that requires "business casual" attire - I am still learning the ins and outs of this. For example, pants with drawstring waists apparently err on the side of "Casual", and denim is never ok. This is somewhat like learning a foreign language for me, since I have always assumed that denim was the universal language of style. This whole theory was thrown in to question when my Loving Husband informed me that my cherished denim couch was , in a word much nicer than his, distasteful. I thought he was wrong until I had to lower the price three times on craigslist to sell it. It would be nice to think that I have the edge on objective style taste, but as I watch my random of assortment of eBay auctions over the course of a week, it strikes me as very bizarre that there are 42 people in a bidding war over a semi-kitschy tote that I got for free from Victoria's secret. Maybe being "unfashionable" really isn't such a derogatory thing. The flip side of that of course, is the intentionally unfashionable sector, also known as hipsters. If it's mainstream cool, you'd better believe a hipster won't be caught dead in it. Victoria's Secret Anything? PuLeaase. We just got a line of hipster apparel at work, Pendleton has developed the "Portland Collection" which is so uncool, that it's cool. The first dead give away that something we receive in belongs to the Portland Collection is the question of gender. If you can't decide, then it's most definitely TPC. We have gotten some beautiful coats and sweaters that are technically classified as menswear, but we're already having great success marketing them to the 60+ female customers in our store, who are delighted to find out that a small is simply swimming on them. And there is a gorgeous blue and white shawl? scarf? wrap? that I seriously want - but I am not sure for what? A couch throw? A Sarong?  This guy pulls it off nicely:

The Portland Collection

Now don't get me wrong - I am all for unisex apparel, as warranted by my collection of wife beaters and Levis 501s, but some of this stuff is taking it a bit far. And coming from Pendleton's biggest fan, That's saying something. Boys, just don't do this, ever, ok?:

I am assuming this is a man since he has a beard, but maybe in Portland they are thyroid dosing for equal opportunity facial hair now?

These images are disturbing enough that I feel the need to purge my senses with a thing of beauty, and to indulge Pendleton in all fairness, I will share one of my favorites - and I don't care who/what you are, you will look good in this:
Buell Tribute Blanket

But back to Liv's Fashion Sensibility: or lack thereof - it is a frequent discussion topic at our house about whether or not Pendleton makes cool clothes at all. As long as my argument rests squarely on the foundation of the traditional men's wool shirt, I am golden, and I win. But enter the wide variety of seasonal lines, and I am sunk. Josh totally has it dialed in: Pendleton makes old people clothes. And I am not gonna lie, The Portland Collection is not helping my argument. Hispters are really just old people, early. The Pendleton Company itself maintains that it's customer profile is the 50+ demographic with traditional values and squishy checkbooks, but they are seeking to recruit a younger (but prematurely aged?) demographic, IE, the hipster. It is an untapped market that heretofore Thrift Stores and Estate Sales have completely cornered. Go Pendleton, you got this. 

As I have been required to dress like a casually professional adult for this job, it was obvious that my wardrobe needed revamping, and this time NOT from the Victoria's Secret Pink collection. I have picked through the Pendleton Women's Wear very carefully and come up with a handful of skirts, cardigan sweaters and a dress or two that don't make me feel like I am on my way to my own funeral. I have had NO success with the slacks at the store, which is a shame since we have at least seven million pairs there. The only pants, in fact, that I have found to work are some tweed trousers from Eddie Bauer that fit semi-well but swish a lot when I walk because of the lining. This noise never ceases to make me VERY self conscious. I milked the drawstring linen pants from Roxy until my boss forbade them, and then when she left I wore them again and was karmically rewarded by blowing the entire crotch out of them while I was on the sales floor. That's the problem with favorite pants, they're always breaking. I have another pair of Eddie Bauer cotton twill slacks that I love but they are a size too big, and I have searched everywhere for them, and even Eddie Bauer can't identify them, even though they are from the Fall '12 line. Weird? I should say so. My boss has been proud of me in recent weeks as I have finally started to wear scarves as accessories (vs. implements of utility for warmth and wrapping wiener dog puppies in) to work. This is primarily due to the discovery of an entire line of wiener dog accessories that I stumbled upon at Coldwater Creek. Holy cow. Pendleton, Eddie Bauer, and Coldwater Creek - I am like a less cool version of my mother! At least most of her wardrobe is Gap and Levis! Apparently this "business casual" crap isn't doing much for my coolness factor, if I had one to begin with. I hope that when all is said and done, and they lay me to rest, if I am not known for my cutting edge style, they can at least say that I had some bad ass blankets. And wiener dog scarves. 

don't worry, I have it in TWO colors.

Things I am (Not) Feeling

I quit caring for a minute. I mean, not about everything, and really it was more like several days. In fact it still is. Something in me is shut down and I am just lacking the, I dunno, WHAM! that I usually feel. My emotions went on vacation. In some ways this is a good thing, in other ways, not so much. Josh is fairly certain that I have left him emotionally for someone else, but sadly I haven't really cared enough to explain that I have left him for nothing. I told him last night that I think I subconsciously disengaged my emotions to avoid dealing with the pain that seems to be worse every day. I think if I acknowledged how much I am hurting (physically), my emotions would make me climb the walls or do something hysterical. I really hate complaining about my pain, or mentioning it at all, but especially for people like Josh who have to live with me every day, while it doesn't justify my a**holishness, it definitely explains it. I want to not say another word about how I am hurting, because I feel like one of those drug/attention seekers who has nothing better to talk about, but quite frankly, I don't. I must get over this. I must find something more compelling than my pain to think/talk/feel about. This is particularly hard since I am trying not to shop. As shallow as it sounds I get a certain endorphin rush from shopping, especially insanely good deals, that doesn't kill the pain but distracts me from it. But unfortunately, even if I hadn't taken a vow of shopping-celibacy, I have not a dime to spend anyway. I wish I could be the personal shopper for rich people. I think that would fix the problem. What in the world is wrong with me, that I get giddy when I get to shop? I am a very shallow person. God forgive me. Would that I could muster up the same excitement over cooking my family dinner or making my bed. I think right now I need a reset button. You know, like on the computer when it keeps freezing up and you just restart? Or the vacuum cleaner, when the brush stops spinning in the powerhead, and you have to cut all the hair out and then reset it? (this is a daily occurrence here. Is that weird?) I need a button to push to re-engage my emotions and my vision and hope and to kick start myself. Even a beer sampler and pretty divine mac n cheese at a new brew pub the other night didn't get me all riled up. And THAT is weird. By the way, check out the new Worthy Brewing  pub right here on the Eastside. Again, divine Mac N Cheese. So I guess it gets me a little excited.

I think I need a slap in the face or a jump into the cold Columbia right there at China Bend. I need to remember how feeling feels. I need to take the pain and use it as a reminder of how good not-pain is. For now, it's just one foot in front of the other, get through the day. I am not unhappy, or depressed. But I am not happy or excited either. I am just nothing. Is this normal? Am I crazy? Did I fry the serotonin producers in my head with one too many ibuprofens? I probably need to have a good cry, or something girly like that - but it's so non-productive. Did I turn Vulcan when no one was looking? What the heck is wrong with me? I think even Josh prefers the over-emotional drama queen that is Liv to this monotone zombie.

Anyway, I'll get back to you when I get back to feeling...

Things That I Believe: My Thesis

For some reason today has been the day appointed by the cosmos for me to come to terms with the theology I have chosen to subscribe to. The subject was broached with a challenge in Facebook, and as I mulled it over, and went to church, and stared at the words on the wall to the worship song, I needed to know for myself, where I stand.

For starters, lets get one thing clear: I believe in God. I believe God takes many forms in many cultures. I believe that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. I believe that Jesus is God's son - in the same sense that I am his daughter, and have the same means of communication with God that Christ did. I believe the bible is an interesting cultural collection of anecdotes, wisdom and rules. I believe that the word of God (not to be confused with the bible) is living and present and speaks among us and through us daily. I believe God has as much to say to me through my kids or my heathen friends, as he does through a leather bound, gold edged book.

I believe our purpose for life is to use every breath to the best effect for every person. I believe that our destiny, ordained by God, is fulfilled by every choice, action and word that we make. I believe that sin is any transgression against natural law that results in pain or negative consequence for ones self or another person. I believe these consequences are the reminders we are given to redirect us and send us back on the path of blessing, which is fulfilling our individual destiny of making each day better for ourselves and everyone around us. This is the gospel I believe in spreading to the world.

I believe that God is love, and the best way we serve God is by being love to everyone around us.

I believe that heaven and hell are the promise of consequences here on earth, and ever after for rest and peace, or the opposite. I believe that the worst idea of hell is reserved for those who, without conscience, subject others to the painful consequences of violating the laws under which we function: natural, spiritual, emotional, social, cultural, psychological and relational.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and we are given the tools that we need throughout our life to make the best of it and change bad for good.

All of this being said, I can be free to worship the God of Love and Master of Creation without being hindered by guilt about which rules I have broken according to Dueteronomy, Anne Byrd, or any other spiritual influences I have had.

I can respect and honor the beliefs of my family and friends in a literal messiah and an infallible scripture. I understand the desire for a script, a map to follow, a directive. I've never been one for directions. But I believe in relationship. If God says to me: don't do this, it's evil!!! I could care less. Evil sounds a little fun. But if God says to me: Don't do this, it hurts! I can receive that. Whether its me, or someone else hurting, it's a violation of why we are here on earth. God is the grace, the space, the love we need to make the right choices, the unselfish ones, the clean ones. God is the access we have to empathy, to hope and to vision. God is the bridge between our shallow selves and the wholeness of community.

At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I cannot reconcile myself with Christ as the Son of God, the only Way to Salvation, the Messiah. I believe God's story is so much bigger and more varied than that. That Jesus bled for our liberty from hell is great. But why don't we worship religiously at the foot of every soldier that has suffered and died, many just as heinously as Christ, for our liberties? Why is The trial that Christ endured more than any martyr in history for a different cause? So he was innocent. Blameless. How many innocent people have suffered. Free of sin? That depends on whom you ask. According to some cultures, Jesus was as depraved as any of us. If Christ bled and died for our sins, why are any of us subjected to painful consequences? Following that logic, my period should have ceased to torment me the minute I was saved. But then again, Christ himself said that he did not come to abolish the law - so we should still be confined during menstruation? Or we should be required to marry our brother in law if we are widowed? Or we should be stoned for being raped?? Which law remains? The laws against homosexuality? But not the laws against eating pork or being in public when you're on your period? It's a little blurry to me. And not for lack of reading. I'd love to hear other interpretations on this... Although I'm pretty sure I've heard them all.

I would call myself a Theist, in the sense of the early founding fathers, who believed that God granted us as humans, all of the tools to make our lives exactly what they should be, a blessing. Free will leaves it to us to decide whether we will subject good or bad consequences on those we come into contact with. Sure God can fix it. He's omnipotent. There are miracles. There is grace. There are keys - some of these we find in the bible, or maybe the Qran. While we're on the subject, if you're interested, I love the Old Testament. It's fascinating. I love the gospel of Luke. It's rich in detail and thus, drama. I hate Paul. He's a chauvinist and a pompous, self righteous ass. I see these same personalities in modern day pastors/disciples. I love the logic and insight of the Catholic GK Chesterton, the Protestant CS Lewis and the Presuppositionist Francis Schaeffer, and the Objectivist Ayn Rand. God speaks through many channels.

I know this violates the traditional literalist sensibilities of many of my friends and family, for which I apologize. I honor your belief and respect your choices. For my children I hope and pray that they find the path to God that grants them the fulfillment of their destiny.

But as for me - "my God and I don't need a middle man". We have a relationship. I talk to God more candidly than I would to most people. "Sometimes I use curse words when I pray." I don't care if he made the world in 7 days or 7 billion years. It's still amazing. This life is precious. That is universal. The interpretation of this religiously is cultural. We live in a Judeo Christian culture which means church on Sunday and a leather bound bible. I'm fine with that. And I'm excited to get back to where I can worship God without being hijacked by the guilt of Christianity and cultural norms. I'm ready to re-start this journey.

Recommended reading:

Orthodoxy, GK Chesterton
The Great Divorce, CS Lewis
The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

Things That Get Me Going

So here it is, 10:30 on a Saturday night. The kids have been banished to bed after finally watching Titanic with Ethan (who DID cry as promised), and My Boy is gone at a paramedic refresher near Hood River someplace. My older girls have been bemoaning the fact that they are the Only Teenagers Alive that haven't seen Titanic, as if I should bear the guilt of this cosmic, heinous crime for not allowing them to watch it. Really it just never crossed my mind to see it again after the first time, and didn't realize I was depriving my children culturally. I guess in the interest of their well-roundedness I can bear Celine Dion one more time. Somehow it sounded like a good idea for Ethan to make a big pot of coffee before we started the movie, and he put some cinnamon in the grounds that made it extra yummy, so I drank plenty. Even if I wasn't already on a pretty steady regime of sleeping pills I would probably be scrounging some up tonight.

I was/am in a lot of pain tonight, and after fake-shopping my way through several websites, where I filled up my cart and applied a bunch of coupons and then closed the page, I decided I needed to find another distraction for myself. I mean, not that Titanic isn't riveting, but despite it having been at least 16 year since I saw it (wait, when was that released?) I could still recite almost every line. I would attribute that primarily to the depth of the plot/script rather than my keen memory. Sorry Ethan. Any way, I started up a few chat conversations on Facebook, thinking that would almost be like socializing, but different. I think  I must have been monopolizing the conversations, because people kept telling me "good night" and "sleep well" and stuff like that right after I would send a 17 inch post. Even my Own Precious Husband wasn't responding. I am sure he was very busy studying. Something. So finding something to ramble about in this forum seemed like a good outlet, since blogger is a captive audience and he can't get away from me. I do have to keep saving my draft though because oddly enough the page keeps freezing. I half expect an error message to pop up: "Good Night. Sleep Well." And then the computer reboots itself. There are moments that I think I actually have something interesting to say, but then when I step back and look at what I have written it's a whole bunch of black marks on a white screen just reading out "blahblahblahblahblah", and I realize I should probably get to the point. Well, Mr. Blogger Bloggerson, I don't have a point in all this, except to prove that I can say anything I want to you and you can't ignore me. Not that you have ever responded to me anyway...

This week has been kind of long and dry for me, in a psycho-spiritual way. I think I am bored with all of the trying in my life. Trying to be cheerful, Trying to be a peacemaker, Trying to check my attitudes, Trying to make dinner every night, Trying to do the laundry, Get to work on time, Not let the house fall apart, Drink my juice, Take my vitamins, NOT take my pills, Take my pills, Do exercises, Will myself to Feel Better. I think I ran out of gas. But I am not entirely what kind of gas I take. Josh asked me the other day why I hadn't written anything and I just said I couldn't think of anything. He looked at me skeptically and checked me for a fever, which I had, and then he seemed content to let it go. I think he just missed being talked about in front of his back. It is now a cemented expectation that if I write something, anything, that I am required to tag him in my post on Facebook or he might not know that there is new material for him to read, and respond to in order to avoid getting yelled at for being neglectful. Because this is now a hard and fast rule, obviously I am rebelling against it and have even not shared some of my posts on Facebook at all, let alone tagging him, just so I can yell at him for being neglectful. It's not like it would be that hard to check my blog page every couple hours or something. I know he's always got his phone handy...

Those darn phones. I know I am the chiefest of sinners, but I am trying to institute some new standards in our home - phones have never been tolerated at the dinner table but somehow Ethan thinks now that he has his own chair he can use his phone when he's sitting there, regardless of mealtimes. I have tried to explain to him that his own chair is NOT the same as his own bedroom and he cannot do whatever he wants there, but ultimately I might need to paint over his name to get the point across. It doesn't help that I had to reprimand my other oldest child the other night at dinner when he made some feeble excuse about a client or some business related bullpucky that apparently couldn't wait until the Pineapple Curry was finished. I have also decided that said Eldest Child will pay for all of our eating out meals when he can't refrain from touching his phone during these times. If it's work related, then work foots the bill. Seems logical to me. We've instituted some new financial procedures around here and I am finding clever ways like that to work them to my advantage. Luckily I can rely on him to touch base with his beloved iPhone at least once during a casual lunch date. Or dinner date. Or any date. A few weeks ago at a birthday dinner for a friend we all stacked our phones on the table and the first person to touch their phone had to pay the whole bill. Yes I saw the idea on Pinterest, and yes, it worked. There were a couple of fake outs when habit nearly devoured economic interest, but everyone remained sane for the hour they were phoneless. I am trying to introduce this theory to Josh in small, incremental steps. So far he thinks I am totally kidding when I remind him to "be with the friends that are here" (also stolen from Pinterest), much in the same way he kids Ethan about "making good choices" every time he leaves the house. I am pretty sure that neither admonishment should be taken lightly. Obviously, I too have a lot to work on in this department, as I am constantly concerned with checking my eBay auctions and seeing if anyone commented on my latest Facebook post. I am an attention glutton. There is simply no way to deny it. The cellular telephone has awakened and nourished that greed in my soul for constant connection to as many people as possible, often at the expense of flesh and blood relationships sitting right next to me. Don't get me wrong, I am as un-anti-cellphone as they come. What we ever did before the iPhone is so hard for me to remember that I get a little weepy. It's like those foggy childhood glimpses of memory that are more smell and sound and a certain hue of color than any specific event. I know we got by, somehow... but I can't imagine it now. I am sure that all of my children would be dead and I would be homeless on the street if I didn't have an iPhone. Ok, that might be a little extreme, but it sure would be lonely hanging out with Josh and his iPhone all by myself.  If you can't beat them, make them sorry they ever made you try. That's what I say.

Well, the caffeine doesn't seem to be wearing off, but the extra dose of medicine I took tonight gave me a fearsome itch all over. Maybe it's time for some Benadryl and curling up in the fetal position with 16 pillows and a Dagny. I get to sleep in tomorrow morning, which is both exhilarating and terrifying, when I realize that I will probably wake up at 6:30 and not be able to get back to sleep. Maybe I will double my drugs tonight just to be sure. Or take another round when I get up for my 2 am potty run. Or the 4 am run even. Good lord I am getting old. This is embarrassing. Makes me glad Mr. Blogger can't talk back.

Things That I Don't Give Up Well

I wasn't going to confess my sins in this forum, but the overwhelming guilt compels me to make my transgressions public. Before I go there, I need you to understand that I accidentally ruined my morning coffee by forgetting to put the lid back on the pot, so now it's all full of coffee grounds but I don't want to waste it. If I come across as slightly emotional, that is why.

Josh and I saw the counselor a couple of days ago, and Josh let slip the topic of much discussion around our house lately (no, not money, that was later) but the fact that we are too easily consumed with, in his totally un-politically correct language "white people problems". As I tried to disguise my blushing with an excuse about a fever, the counselor quickly transferred this to the more palatable "first world" problems, and explained that no problems, no matter how petty, could be completely disregarded simply because there are worse problems in the world. I mean, there are ALWAYS going to be worse problems, but she said that we can't always just go around minimizing pain. In my mind, first world problems include things like the first and only manicure that I have ever paid for really sucks, and I wish I could get my money back. Josh's reference to, ahem, first world problems, was alluding to issues we are having with the kids and of course, money. And this brings me to my confession.

I decided to go 33 days without shopping for anything other than necessities. I made it just over 1 week when Victoria's Secret was giving away a free tote with purchase, American Eagle had a wool peacoat for $15 and I failed. Epically. In the moment, I justified the AE purchase with the fact that I applied for an AE credit card, and since I got it, I won't pay until my 33 days are over and therefore I am technically not cheating. But then VS happened and I had no excuses to hide behind. I only went in for the free panty. No purchase necessary. But Saturday shirts were clearanced and Sanna needed some. Plus there were colors I didn't have. And those totes ALWAYS sell on eBAy. God forgive me. Do I have to start my 33 days over or can I just keep going and acknowledge my transgression? Here are some lessons I learned from all of this: A) stay away from the Old Mill. B) Never go into Victoria's Secret. C) I am a reprobate. Josh totally wasn't mad at me for shopping. He was however, upset that I spent money, since we really don't have it. Or I don't have it, or it isn't there. Which is different than being mad at me for shopping. I had already calculated a way to make the money up to the account so we wouldn't really notice it, including making Sanna pay for her Saturday shirts, but the counselor said that is my way of expressing the subconscious control that guilt has on me. I am entirely confused about all of that because I feel like I SHOULD feel guilty for spending money unless I make it ok, right?

It's all too much. These first world problems are stressing me out, and I feel like the only thing that makes it better is shopping. But I won't. Except accidentally. Maybe. A little.

It doesn't help that I have been a lot more sick than usual lately. I've been running a fever and I think maybe slightly delirious, which would be a great scapegoat for my spending the other day, but I will be big and take responsibility. Josh is arranging his ship out date for April, and I can't believe how excited I am to have a surgery. It's almost ridiculous.

Another thing I am not giving up well is food. I have been somewhat naughty in my eating habits. I would feel worse, except that on the bright side of all of this guilt and sickness, my scale is still ever-so-slowly creeping down, and I have actually dropped below 155 finally! This is amazing, considering I haven't given up eating anything that I want, but I am still not drinking beer or cocktails, and I have figured out that I put in a mile of walking for every hour at work, so that seems to be helping. I have 5 or six days of work this week so maybe I will be down to 150 by the time I get my tattoo on the 6th of March after all! This was my original goal! The juice is extra-disgusting this week but it is working. And greek yogurt with granola for lunch, and pretty much anything I want for dinner. I even rocked a couple of blue cheese burgers with fries last week. I better not get cocky. Normally I would exaggerate my failures in weight loss publicly, partially out of false humility and partially so people will be surprised when they see how skinny I am, and be all like "dang girl, you look goo-ood!" But Mom says it isn't really working and people just want to feel sorry for me so I decided to be more truthful. But you can still say "dang girl..." when you see me if you want.

Before I go, I'd like to give a shout out to my littlest brother who ain't so little on his 26th Birthday. I am proud of him! All little brothers should be like Gabe. Or Ben. I have pretty rad brothers.

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