Friday, September 24, 2010

A Bigger Loser

I can not, will not, shall not watch The Biggest Loser.

No matter how much I love Jillian Michaels, I won't do it.  Not even if I hear the beautiful bleeps that let me know that she is cussing someone a new one and more than likely making him cry will I set foot in the room.

Even though I love physical fitness and extreme makeovers, I just shouldn't subject myself to this show.

Despite the fact that I adore my husband and he adores the show, it is not in my best interest to watch, no matter how badly he wants me to sit down with him.

"Why?" You might ask.

Because I'm pregnant, and feeling very sensitive and a tad bit vulnerable.  And I burst into tears no fewer than four times just watching the pilot episode.  Four too many (possibly more) perfectly good cries used last night, and I'm already a mushy mess as it is.

 I literally cried when they made the brand-new contestants run a mile because it broke my heart to see how hard it was (and I really felt for them, being a little larger than normal myself...).  I cried when one of the girls couldn't move on in the competition because she had an asthma attack that literally floored her.  I teared up at another contestant who was so kind to her.  But then I really bawled at the poor woman who lost her three year-old son to cancer because he was the cutest little black baby-son I have ever seen.  I literally had to leave the room and get into the shower, where I wept most of the time I washed.

And that's when I decided.  NO.  I absolutely should not be watching this show.
(See you next week, Bob and Jillian.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Drunken chicken

Note to self:  do not marinate Nate's chicken in white cooking wine all day and then also make a "subtle" white wine cream sauce to go along with it.  It will taste like chicken chased with a shot of hard liquor (Nate's words, not mine - don't get excited, I still haven't been craving meat).

That's right, yesterday, I had a brilliant plan.  Marinate some chicken in the same thing I'd be using for sauce that evening.  I was thinking how genius I was and how delighted Nate was going to be to have something different and exciting for dinner.  I just had no idea how exciting...

When I went to season the chicken, I poured out the liquid that had accumulated over the day and thought to myself, "Hmmmm, how weird.  The chicken apparently somewhat melted to the bottom of the bowl while it was thawing. It's never done that before!"  And as I was putting it into the pan to cook, it was practically falling apart.  Well, I had completely forgotten what I had done at this point, so I had no idea that the chicken was literally decomposing because it had been sitting in something close to vinegar all day long.

And I didn't remember until Nate took a bite of his dinner and his eyes bugged out of his head as he asked, "Um, Kate, how much wine did you put in this sauce?" 

Poor, poor Nate, who is such a trooper, proceeded to every last bite of that chicken, eyes watering and tastebuds on fire.  I couldn't even eat my own dinner because I was laughing so hard it was dangerous to put anything into my mouth.  And the only thing he would say is, "Well, I might go to sleep right after this."  Oh, and he also cautioned me not to ask him to drive anywhere.  Hah!

In short, I think my adventures with cooking wine are over.  Perhaps next time I'll marinate in something a little safer...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The mountain

May I make an odd confession?

I love grading essays.  I'm teaching 10th grade this year, and I am thrilled to show students how to write.  I love brainstorming, conferencing with them after they pre-write, and helping them enhance their stories. But most of all, I especially love to see the finished product.  Perhaps it's because I love doing any sort of editing, but I find myself really getting into making comments, suggesting improvements, and even picking out the things my students do well.  (if you're a teacher, please don't hate me just yet)

So why on earth can't I make myself grade the PILE of essays on my desk right now?  I really mean to get around to it, but when it comes to grabbing that stack and going to town, I always manage to find something else to do.  And today I even told a student, "Well, I promise I'll have them graded by Friday.  I just can't rush myself, because I tend to grade lower when I rush."  She, of course, nodded and solemnly replied, "Oh, Ms. Jackson, please take your time, then."

Seriously?  There may be a tiny sliver of truth to that, but I'm not sure where it is... because what I meant to say was, "Well, by the time I finish my day, I'm so tired that I have to eat a snack just to get me down to the car, and there's no chance I can grade your essay when I get home because I will assuredly fall asleep on top of it and smudge the entire piece with drool."  Are teachers allowed that kind of blatant honesty with their students?  I think not, especially since it might scar them for life to realize that their teachers do have a life outside of the classroom.

And by the way, since kids seem incapable of tact, and most often tell the truth whether it hurts or not, should I believe that I truly am bigger than I was when they saw me on Friday? (And by the way, I believe the quote was, "Ms. Jackson, you're HUGE!  What happened this weekend?"  Nothing quite compared to a student who hadn't seen me since last year and literally shouted, "Ms. Jackson, you're a big ol' girl now!" with a giggle.)

Tuesday Blues

The Lord has a sense of humor, and thank goodness.  I woke up this morning in a funk, upset about my Grandma being in the hospital and tired from crying myself to sleep last night.  And then, on the way to school, I saw something that was magic to my eyes.

The farmer's market / city extension office is holding a Federal Hog Control Convention.  Need I say more?

Plus, I was reminded that as I was shopping in HEB Sunday afternoon, I heard a familiar tune, but couldn't quite make out the words.  Then I realized that I was listening to "Like A Virgin."  In Spanish.  I'll have to admit, had I known the words, I would have been singing along.  In Spanish.

You just have to love East Texas.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a convention to sign up for...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Warning: breast pumping content to follow

I had a simple job.  Register for the middle-of-the-line double breast pump while Nate ran to get a copy of our registry, because I'm going to try really hard to breast-feed Milo when he gets here.  Let's just ignore the fact that I felt like I owed my mom a public apology for breast-feeding.  Let's also pretend that  I promised my brother-in-law that I would at least try to breast-feed for some reason other than that he promised if I did he would never say the word colostrum to me again. In short, breast-feeding grosses me out, and pumping seems even worse - like milking yourself.  But I'm trying so hard to be a good mommy (already, before he's even here).

And yet, standing in the middle of the aisle at Target, completely bewildered, all I could do is stare in quasi-horror at these instruments of torture and think, "Do I really want anyone to buy this for me?"  I realized that I was brandishing my scanner like a weapon, as if my self-conscious were already acting in self-defense, and dropped my arms to my sides, though everything about a breast pump makes me want to keep my arms crossed.

I quickly located what seemed like a safe bet, something by The First Years, and moved in to scan it, but there was a woman in her early twenties standing there in my way.  She was feeling the nozzles (is that what you call the cone/funnels that attach to you?), carefully inspecting the pumps and carrying bags, even noting the packaging and mumbling, "Hmmmmm," as she went.  She was the exact opposite of me - intense and focused, enjoying the idea of using one of these foul machines, and perhaps imagining the thrill.  I hated to interrupt, but just being in that aisle was making me short of breath.

"Excuse me, could I just pop in here and scan this really quickly?" I politely asked.

"Oh, of course.  I'm not even pregnant," she responded, smiling at me sheepishly, then quickly casting her eyes down.

And then she said the words that stopped me in my tracks, horrified.  "I don't even know why I like looking at breast pumps so much."

Excuse me?  You like looking at breast pumps?  So this is just a recreational activity on a Saturday night, and not a matter of necessity?  Could you just pick one out for me when you're done feeling them up, then, and let me get on with my shopping?  Perhaps we should chat delightedly about episiotomies and hernias when you're finished as well?

I'm sure my smile barely masked my terror as I leaned over to scan my choice, and she strolled off to who knows where?  Do they sell home enemas or anything at Target?  I was still standing there stunned when Nate returned, wondering what had me so perplexed.

"I can't even talk about it, baby.  But let's go look at something happy."

Friday, September 17, 2010


I really should have paid attention in health class.  Or perhaps to my sisters, or even some of my friends.  I should have known what I was getting myself into beforehand...

Because there are so many things about pregnancy and giving birth that I never knew, simply because I never thought I'd need the info.  And let me tell you, I needed the info.

For example, I needed to know about the first ultrasound before I had it.  And if I hadn't seen The Backup Plan the week before, I would have marched myself in to my appointment ready for gel on my tummy and warm fuzzy feelings and been shocked by the giant wand, all lubed up and ready to invade my nether-regions...

And I needed to know that when doctors check to see how far a woman is dilated, it has nothing to do with a tiny ruler or a bit of measuring tape as I'd imagined...

I definitely needed to know that I could, and probably will, poop during labor.  I'm still unprepared to fully deal with that information.  Mortification, anyone?

In short, birthing class is going to be a necessity.  I just wish I had known before I got pregnant...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A rather foul 5th

Ahhhhh, the joys of teaching, when you walk into your classroom toward the end of a long, hard, satisfying day of teaching, and are brought to a sudden halt by the worst odor you've smelled since you became pregnant.

"Oh my word, is that ME who stinks so bad?"  Two subtle sniffs assure you differently - you still smell of sweet pea and hand sanitizer.  "WHEW.  I've never smelled B.O. like that in my life...  Who on earth could that be?  Wait a second, is it the teacher across the hall?  I mean, we were just talking...  No chance.  She's as prissy as I am..."

You take a deep mouth breath, and with the acrid taste of the stench on your breath, you begin to hand out the DOL.  You walk over to the first row, and it hits you all over again.  You hold back a gag as you approach the student in the front row.  This student is usually pretty grubby, and, in fact, picks scabs and eats them, and just the other day you caught this student nose-picking.  But this one has never stunk up the entire room...

Until today.

You try to walk away and get a fresh breath, but the entire room is now enveloped.  In fact, stepping out into the hall does no good, either, because the odor is so strong that it's spilled out there as well.  You can almost swear you see a dirty mist throughout the room.  Alas, there's no choice.  You have to go back in and teach this class.

For some reason, you try to look on the bright side and assume that none of your other kids will say anything.  Common sense would tell them to use some tact, right?  Oh wait.  They're kids.  You look around and realize that the students are already starting to whisper and grumble, and finally an especially boisterous girl begins accusing another boy. 

"Oh.  My.  God.  What is that smell?  Who IS that?"

Another one chimes in.  "I think it's Nick.  Gross, Nick.  Let me smell you!"

Poor Nick looks embarrassed and protests.  "It's not me, but I smell it.  That's disgusting!"

And the entire class erupts.  Some begin spraying perfume, one girl is choking after being hit in the face with said perfume, others are coughing and smelling each other to determine the culprit.  Poor Scabs is sitting head-down on the desk and you wonder if this child realizes the actual cause of all this commotion.

Holding back another gag, you make a lame attempt at squelching the conversation.  "Guys, you're hurting someone's feelings right now, and you don't even know it.  COOL it.  Breathe through your mouth!"

But it's useless.  Kids will be kids, and that means they have to keep smelling a stench so they can keep complaining about it.  You know you'll never get a bit of work done as long as this goes on.  What on earth can you do?  You frantically dig through the cupboard for some Febreze, and then realize that if the ungodly stench is overpowering your two air fresheners (one strategically positioned near Scabs' desk), there's no chance any spray will help.

In desperation, you call out to your students, "Okay, everyone.  Pack up your bags!  We're going on a grammar field trip!"

In triumph, you lead them down the hall, through the stairwell, and straight outside to the lawn, where a gorgeous breeze blows away any trace of the original problem.  You finally teach object complements in complete peace, smelling nothing but the late summer air and the scent of pine needles.

Crisis averted.  Well, until tomorrow...

Walk Across Texas

Okay, admittedly, since I've become pregnant, I've let myself get a little bit out of shape.  And I'm not trying to make excuses, but I have seriously been so sick that lying on the couch became a matter of survival!  But now that I'm feeling better most of the time, a change was inevitable.

Enter the Walk Across Texas campaign, which is designed to get people thinking about their health and well-being.  The lovely ladies next door in Content Mastery asked me to join their team and walk 5 days a week for the next 8 weeks.  How perfect, right?  Because I feel utterly responsible for helping the team, I will walk my little (big) heinie off!  And aside from that, in my mind I was convinced that I would be doing them a favor since I'm in such great condition. 

I didn't think it would be a big deal that I'd taken a few months off from exercise, considering the day after I found out I was pregnant, Jen and I ran 8 or 9 miles.  I've been in awesome shape for a long time, and the only thing stopping me from running a marathon pregnant was the overwhelming amount of throwing up I've been doing.  But what's a little rest here and there?  I assumed I could just pop back to full-force exercise without a second thought.

Well, last night, I almost pooped out during our 2.5 mile walk.  I was so out of breath and my legs were so jello-y that I felt like I was marching straight uphill, dragging a sled full of people behind me.  Not really the best start to my glorious plans of walking 4 or 5 miles every day to help out the team, right?  I actually may need this program to get my own self back in the swing of things.

So it turns out Walk Across Texas is not only for people who don't ever exercise.  It's also for cocky, large and in charge pregnant women who think they can conquer the world.  Or at least Texas...

Monday, September 13, 2010

America's Most Stressful Videos

I've never been a fan of America's Funniest Videos.  Even from the time I was a child, I could never stand to watch for one main reason - there's nothing funny to me about people getting hurt (which seems, to me, to be the main theme of the show).  Keep in mind, I was the child in the nursery who cried when the other kids did, just because it hurt my feelings that they were so upset (sensitive much?).  So there's never been anything funny to me about people falling down stairs, out of hammocks, through windows...  running into chairs, poles, other people... brides' hair catching on fire, people passing out, children knocking each other down...  You get my point, right?

And here's where Nathan and I differ.  He loves the show.  In fact, we TiVo it so he doesn't miss an episode, and he usually watches multiple shows in one sitting.  There's little on there that bugs him, whether people are hurting themselves or not.  His favorite videos, however, aren't the falling ones, or the pet antics (which even I find tolerable).  He loves the videos when people get scared (bonus laughs if any man screams like a girl in the process).  And I can always tell when he's been watching it quite a bit because he thinks it's really funny to try to scare me (possibly because I make jazz hands when I'm frightened).  For example, last night when I was shampooing my hair in the shower, deep in thought, eyes closed, and suddenly felt a hand on my back.  I probably don't need to tell you how startled I was, how loudly I shrieked, or the fact that it's a miracle I didn't land flat on my back... 

All that to say, it used to drive me crazy that Nate would watch AFV.  I mean, how could he, when I despise it so intensely?  And then I started to listen to him watch it from the other room, and I realized that I was laughing just as hard at him getting a kick out of it as he was laughing watching it.  And then I started sitting next to him while he watched it, and reading a book, or playing a game on my phone.  It was even funnier to listen to him crack up in close proximity.  And then I started actually watching it with him, just to see what made him laugh the hardest.  And I have to tell you, I still don't love AFV, but there's nothing that makes me happier than listening to Nate laugh - it's completely contagious, and one of the first things that I fell in love with when we met. So anything that tickles him that much has to be at least okay with me.

Besides, to add to the hilarity, we both sat around watching it last night in our best white trash tee shirts with the sleeves cut off.  Bet you'd pay a lot of money for a photo of that, right?  Keep in mind, I'll deny it ever happened right after this...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Now that's much better

Things I'm excited about today:

The fact that I watched a light turn on in multiple kids' heads today, and heard them say, "Ohhhhh, I get it now.  That's so easy!"  I feel like I've won the lottery every time one of my kids finally understands something he/she's never gotten before.  Who'd have guessed direct and indirect objects could turn out so well?

Multiple students came in after school today to finish essays they've been writing for class.  Now, keep in mind, they're worth a test grade, so that's good motivation.  But still... after school?  And one of them was the kid another teacher told me is impossible to motivate, and here he is, writing away.  I'm impressed!

I haven't puked a bit today, and I actually feel energetic, and I was able to cover most of the polka dots on my face, so I look somewhat normal, even with my hair up (yes, I hid behind a giant mass of curls yesterday).

After work, Nate and I are going shopping for a needy student, and we get to buy her things her family wouldn't be able to get otherwise.  And we get to pick anything we want because she's not particular.  AWESOME.

I'm trying a new recipe tonight, and cooking new things always makes me smile.  Tonight we're trying chicken (for Nate), with a potato and sweet corn saute. Sounds fun, doesn't it?  Something about the word saute is somewhat exciting...

And the most exciting of all?  At the end of the day, I get to curl up on the couch with the most wonderful man alive and take a big, fat nap.  I know I whined yesterday, but I feel pretty darn lucky.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A not-so-happy hump day

Well, let the record show that I have a pink polka-dot face today.  And no, it's not for decoration.

Just when I thought the puking was under control, I spent last night and this morning throwing up so hard that I broke what seems like every blood vessel in my face.  So, where I used to just have pink spots around the bottom of my eyes, they now cover my eyelids, my cheeks, and some spots on my neck. I guess when I do something, I do it full force.  Literally.

This little Milo is definitely going to be worth it, but let's just say pregnancy doesn't look so grand on me. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Project Completed

It's the end of a long day of work.  I've listened to countless hours of student whining and tried frantically to stay on top of the lesson plans, materials, extracurricular activities, and information I'm responsible for all day long.  I should be using my last few minutes to do something productive - like run a million copies while there's no line at the copy machine.  But instead, I have to tell you my important and fabulous news.

Milo's room is looking amazing. My poor, sweet husband worked his butt off all weekend fixing the closet, painting, hanging shelves, and laying flooring, even taking a break for us to drive to Houston and back on Saturday on an Ann-retrieval mission (and an extra-yummy meal at Genghis Grill).  He worked tirelessly, and at times until the wee hours of the morning, all the while refusing to let me lift a finger to paint or do anything that would require me to exert myself.  This hot man earned himself some serious good-husband points. 

What did I do?  Well, I encouraged...  I watched...  I took photos to document the important chain of events...  I planned a meal list and went grocery shopping...  I organized the disaster that my closet threw up when we combined spaces...  I cleaned out the hall closet, and tried to make sense of everything that came out of Milo's room (formerly known as the office/junk room)...  I had a pregnant emotional breakdown when I thought things wouldn't be finished and later had to apologize...  Everyone involved had a grand time. 

And here is just a taste of what we accomplished.  Keep in mind, we're still waiting on decor, vintage planes, trains, and automobiles, but the framework of our little peanut's room is finished. 
Here's a shot of the gorgeous glider that my friend Marcy gave me - goes with the vintagey look we're going for in the room.

The room used to have pee and poo-smoothie stained carpet (remember our friend Berkley?) and ugly cream walls.  Now we have kid-friendly Grover-blue and vintage green.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day

If being pregnant has taught me one thing, it's this.
I used to be TINY!
Did I ever complain about being fat?  Did I ever compare myself to someone smaller and feel irate?
After I have this peanut, I'm going to appreciate the small size that I will eventually again become.  But in the meantime, here's me in my preggie picture pose.

And by the way...  We are now registered at Target!  Talk about fun.  They handed Nate and I a price gun and a gift bag of goodies, and we scanned our little hearts out.  Now I really can't wait for Milo to get here!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Great Closet Excavation

Well, this shall therefore be called "A Weekend of Milo."  We are laboring for the next few days over our baby boy, preparing the nursery for his December arrival.  And I can't wait!  Especially since my job seems to be to watch everyone else do the work.

We did, however, celebrate a milestone yesterday, after hours of hard work by Nate and his brother Chad.  We now have, for the first time ever in our married life, a joint closet.  Which means that for the last five and a half blissful years, I have kept a walk-in closet to myself, while my poor baby had to walk to the former office closet (now Milo's room), to get his clothes every morning.  Justice has been served.

I found quite a variety of lovely things as I cleaned out my closet.  First of all, I discovered that a lot of my regular clothes that I was positive I could wear through the pregnancy no longer fit over my giant rack.  Nate loves it; I can't wait to be back to clementine-size.

Second, I realized that, along with the "Michael Jackson pants" (Nate's phrase) I gave to Goodwill a few years ago (okay, and those were awesome pants - black, satin motorcycle pants with zippers up the front of the legs), I should also have added a few items:

1.  Red feather boa.  In fact, this went straight into the trash, because no one else should be tricked into the opportunity.  And honestly, I'll be so ashamed if I ever see a hooker or homeless person in those Michael Jackson pants, either...

2.  Black, studded belt.  Nate and I agreed that because I will be 30 next year, am about to be a mother, and have never been a biker, it might be time to let go of it.

3.  Floor-length, gold-stitched housecoat.  I have always thought I looked truly stunning in this.  Nate referred to me as "Carl" (a very proud African American man who would come to church in full tribal attire) every time I wore it.

4.  Light blue tulle Fairy Princess skirt.  I am neither a fairy nor a princess.  I considered hanging on to this for our "Peanut Festival," but then decided that something red, trashy, and satin would be much more appropriate.

5.  Approximately 17 pairs of men's tube socks, formerly worn to soccer practices over my shin guards along with a full face of makeup.  Should I play again next summer, I'm just going to splurge for the actual soccer socks.

As I cleaned, I realized that I've been hanging on to the remains of a wardrobe somewhat like a costume closet, the very thing for which I mocked a poor housewife on a touching episode of What Not to Wear.  It's time to be a grown-up and get ready for my little Peanut, coming soon to a Lufkin near you.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

At least we're in the downhill

Working a real job is cramping my style.
This summer I got used to sleeping until 10 every morning, and here I am, awake at 4 and up by 6.  I also got used to napping for at least an hour or two in the afternoon, and now I'm going non-stop from the time I get up until the time I get home from work and collapse on the couch like a zombie.  I even cooked dinner most nights during the summer, and now I'm nearly brought to tears when I think about having to do something else after I work, tutor, and make it home (last night Nate looked at me and said, "Baby, it's okay.  Let's just have Taco Bell for dinner" - it felt like a miracle). 

I wish I could think of something funny to tell you, but I'm just busy trying to wake myself up before our 2nd period fire drill today (I contemplated calling in to work over it).  Yesterday I was cranky and snippy in honor of Hump Day, and I'm already plotting over who could leave and get me a cherry coke later in the school day, because I can't leave - I didn't finish my copies or my grading yesterday afternoon.  AHHHHH!!!!

The good news?  I got some new maternity clothes from a friend, so now I have a pair of black maternity pants that actually stay up and am feeling almost cute today (if I could tame my disaster hair it would make life complete). 

But I'm still thinking, for the first time in my life, that a real job is cramping my style.  Pregnancy has made me more and more interested in becoming a professional bum.  Or a Jersey Housewife.  I think I could handle either one...