Before the Bravery

a.) Is this a dude or a lady?
b.) It’s so strange I just HAD to use it.
Gotta love royalty-free images.
c.) SERIOUSLY, though! Transgender, maybe?
If so, rock on!
It takes a lot to make a huge change in your life, and something that’s insanely personal — in this case, FOOD — can be a tad daunting. We have recently made the flexitarian switcheroo, meaning that we eat some (not much) meat on weekends, but are fully vegetarian during the weekdays.

And, guess what. It’s actually sticking.

It could be that our bodies are feeling less “heavy” after our weekday meals. It could be that we’re not eating anything particularly unusual or out of our comfort zone. It could be that we’re not doing it “right” — I’m not forcing tofu or veggie burgers onto the hubby (although I have both in my fridge…biding my time!). It could just be that I’ve figured out a comfortable way to manage our weekday meals in a familiar way.

I’m going with that last thought. Yeah. I’ve figured out a kind of equation for our dinners that help me get through the week without feeling like “Ugh, I can’t wait to eat meeeeaaaat this weekend!!!” Actually, I feel incredibly guilty and tend to cook only one type of meat to last the weekend (our other meals are meat-free or a leftover of that item). Yet, I’m still a bit of a scaredy cat (hence the title — ain’t feelin’ brave yet!) when it comes to cooking outside of my comfort zone.

Breakfast is easy — we’re “eat this everyday” sort of people. Dave, toast and tea. Me, cereal or toast. (We eat a ton more on weekends.) Why is it that we’re so comfortable eating the same breakfast everyday, but we MUST have a different dinner? People are weird, folks!

Lunch can be challenging, but we’re doin’ it. Sometimes it’s a leftover from the night before (yyyesss!!!). Other times, it’s a continuation of my usual snack-like lunches (which I started back when I was pregnant) — usually a combination of the following: organic cheese stick, apple/banana, tortilla chips (GMO-free corn, yay!) maybe with hummus, a handful of peanuts, a granola bar (non-GMO, organic), PBJ sandwich (natural, few ingredient (ie “real food”) bread, organic PB & J, and this is if no leftovers are available), and when I remember it, carrot sticks. Oh, and whole milk organic vanilla yogurt (we can’t go plain yet) with berries and maybe a few dark chocolate chips for a morning snack. It does the trick for my still-nursing, still-pretty-hungry body. The hubs usually figures out his own much smaller meatless meal.

Dinner is the road bump and could very well be a deal breaker. But, here’s my strategy lately:

– One night, pasta with marinara sauce and a green salad. (Somehow, it’s often Monday nights. Hello, “Antiques Roadshow”!!)
– One night, pasta with garlic, oil, parmesan cheese, veggies and seasoning and a green salad.
– One night, frozen all-natural pizza and a salad.
– One night, “breakfast for dinner.” (Pancakes, french toast, or eggs (probably more of an omelet with some veggies) and toast, maybe some sweet potato hash browns.)
– One night, homemade soup and salad or grilled cheese. (I’m into the sammy…Dave’s into the salad. What can I say? I married a salad guy.)
– One night, just one big ar$e salad. Gotta give into the temptation, I suppose.

Sure, there are other things we eat and I’ve been trying to come up with one new recipe each week (or so, depending on how busy we are), but these are the recipes that I have in my back pocket for those nights that I don’t feel like makin’ ANYTHING. The big thing that I’ve noticed is that if you plan a lot more when you’re shopping, not only does it make your food stretch longer (and lessen your waste), you’ll at least have a mental picture of the meals you’ll make. When you’ve got a big ol’ question mark on your forehead, you’re more apt to revert to your old ways, no matter what your life choices may be.

Last week, I made a couple of bunches of on-sale asparagus help us through a couple of omelets (I even asked Dave this weekend if he wanted meat in his and he said he didn’t care one way or the other…of course, I left it out) and some sides. When it reached the point of “crap, it’s gonna go bad in 5 minutes”, I parboiled what was left and threw it in a freezer bag. Now, I’ve got a quick quiche dinner in the back of my head with a frozen organic pie crust, the asparagus, some onions, cheese, eggs and a bit o’ milk when the need arises. It feels good to have an extra ace up my sleeve. Very good.

I also threw together some broccoli cheddar soup that was pretty darn good that served several dinners AND lunches. Use whatchya got! Odds are, it’ll be tasty. The same goes for the excess carrots I had a couple of weeks ago — soup, there it is.

Oh, and I know it’s not the *healthiest* thing in the world (and I can’t list how many horrible things are probably in it), but we have discovered a couple of vegetarian items on our local Chinese menu that help on those nights that I REALLY can’t cook. Say, like last week when I went to the theater to get all covered in paint only to arrive home wicked late to a husband who had more work to do (for his job), a baby in a fowl mood (hungry/tired, lots to do), and a front door knob that picked the perfect moment to fall off in my hand. You know. That kind of night. Broccoli with garlic sauce and veggie lo mein (or was it chow mein…) to the rescue. (Sometimes some Buddhist delight thrown in for good measure.)

I’m sure as time goes on, and as I discover the subtle nuances of tofu, I’ll share some more recipes that are actually unique and yummy, but until then, we’re all in this together! Sometimes you need some easy fixes to get you out of a bind.

It’s Kaia Time, Again!

My latest article is in Kaia Magazine, folks! I’ve contributed to the online mag a few times now, and I’ve gotta say, it’s just so cool to see how it all comes together. I offer up a topic (or ask them for one that needs writing — sometimes I have the most fun writing about something unexpected and doing the research to learn more about it), I send it in by a deadline, then a few short weeks/months later, there it is in a sleek online publication, surrounded by tons of other great articles and resources. It’s weird; I don’t really know any of the folks (except for the editors, and only virtually), but it feels like we’re all part of a cool little family.

In case you haven’t checked it out yet, let me tell you my favorites about this edition (besides my own fun little piece on eco-vacationing):

– Yoga 101. Not sure what type of yoga suits your needs? Seriously, there’s a type for EVERY person, regardless of experience level. This is the perfect yoga primer.
– Go on a Clutter Diet!! Yeeesssss, I so needed this one. Hoping to put it to good use this weekend. And, the best part is that it includes things like “Reward Yourself.” I can so get behind that!
– Gardening, gardening, gardening!!! From using raised beds (budget-friendly ideas) to container gardening, this is right up my alley. How’s about you? 🙂
– The REAL reasons to buy organic. This article is exactly what I want to shove in folks’ face who think the Stanford “report” that suggested organic isn’t any “healthier” than regular fruits and veg is a big ol’ neener neener to we organic eaters. Seriously, “healthy” isn’t all in the calories, folks. It’s also in what long-term affects can be felt in the body. 

(Not to mention, that Kale and Portabello Quinoa recipe sounds insanely good…if only the hubs ate mushrooms. Blerg.)

So, feel free to check it out and let me know what your favorite part is. Either way, I hope the positivity of the mag can be felt, because that’s by far the best part of reading it (and writing for it) for me. Oh, and if you missed any of my old articles, check out this link.

Earth Day Everyday

We didn’t officially celebrate Earth Day this year. It could be because we’ve been inundated with, well, normal life (crazy active baby + working on the scenery at the theater + work + getting cards in the mail for birthdays + eating/sleeping/all that boring extra stuff like feeding cats that’s actually ohhhh so important), but it could also be because, well…we try to think of everyday as Earth Day.

Cheesy, I know. But, we live here everyday, so why not work to do our best on a daily basis? Seems pretty obvious to me.

The thing about Earth Day is that it comes at just the right time. Here in Upstate New York, things are FINALLY starting to look and act like spring. (Heck, a couple of weeks after the first day of spring, I read a spring book to pre-K kids who were awfully confused by the fact that we were having a blizzard out the window.) We’ve had some crocus flowers and now even daffodils pop up around my foundation garden (I didn’t plant these, so it’s neat to see what’s going to come up), the birds are swoopin’ and chowing down on our bird feeder, which serves two really good purposes; the first is obvious, bird-feeding (duh), but the second is indoor kitty entertainment. Beardslee never “chirps” at them, but he does enjoy just watching them, but Winston and Jasper are all about using their “hunting” voices. Maybe we’re just torturing the guys with the thought of a fresh birdie meal that will never be, but they seem to enjoy it…and it keeps them from hunting each other!

And we’ve even had a couple of 60+ degree days; not many, mind you, but beggars can’t be choosers! I’m only bummed that we haven’t been able to get outside and enjoy (ie do major yardwork) them; the weekends have reverted to winter-like temperatures and/or rain, so with the forecast for Saturday looking damn near perfect, I’m chomping at the bit to slather up the monkey and get him crawling in the grass!

Anyhoo, back to the topic! (See what happens when it’s sunny? Hello, wandering mind.) Here are a few of the things we do on a daily basis that help keep us in the green (in more ways than one, even!)…

– Cloth nappykins! (Yes, I call them that.) A couple of years ago, we grabbed a pack of white cloth napkins which are still going strong. Sure, the hubs wipes his super saucy hands on them more than I’d like (but, hey, isn’t that what they’re there for? Give up control, woman, life isn’t perfect.), but with the occasional extra soak in some non-chlorine bleach, they’re ready to go. I’m going to keep my eye out for a new set soon, though, and maybe some cool patterns to help hide stains (and hopefully so that guests don’t look at them like, “Ohhh, fancy, are we?”). Oh, and we buy the 3-pack of recycled product paper towels for those super messy times, but even then we only have to replenish them maybe every 3 or so months. Not bad!

– Water usage. This has been an easy, from-the-start saving for us since my stepdad put in a low-flow toilet when we first moved in (push the flusher a bit longer if you want more water) and we have a low-flow showerhead that helps, too. Now, one day we’ll be sure to get an Energy Star washer and dryer. Baby steps!

– Num-nums. AKA Grub. We’ve recently made the jump to flexitarianism — read: Week-Day Vegetarianism. This choice comes from several places for us: 1) a moral standpoint (not a fan of the way most animals are treated), 2) a health standpoint, and 3) an ecological standpoint (the processing of beef uses SOOO much energy, y’all!!! Now, if only cheese could be produced more ecologically…). Also can’t wait to get my garden goin’!

– Cleaning products. I’ve got one bottle left of a “Fantastik” (which is on some weird “Greenlist” but still doesn’t seem very eco-friendly to me) that I’m using up, but otherwise our products are as natural as we can get ’em. We’re big castile soap fans — Dr. Bronner’s and what not — which covers a TON of areas when it comes to cleaning. Gotta love an item that does double (and triple) -duty!

– Beauty products. While I haven’t done my baking soda and vinegar no-‘poo “shampoo” treatment (it was a pain with all the bathroom work being done), I plan to go back to it when the dust (literally) settles. For now, we still use eco-products, from Tom’s soap and toothpaste to Burt’s Bees shampoo. I’ve still got a closet full of half-used lotions and stuff that I just can’t find a use for, so ANY suggestions would be great! I don’t think it’s right to donate them to a women’s shelter if I’ve used even the slightest amount.

There are, of course, some areas that could stand some more greening. I’m calling this summer the “Summer of Cloth Diapers.” It’s been tough to even be a part-time CDer (we don’t want to throw one more thing at the sitter ; he’s been a challenge at times!), and I’ve had leak issues. Once I strip the suckers and start fresh (ha, diapers, fresh!), we’re goin’ CD 100% of the time!

We’re also returning to our composting, which I’m pretty darn excited about. The only concern that I have is what to do during the winter, but we’ll jump off that bridge when we get to it. 😉

So, this Earth Day, I reflected on what we’re doing well and analyzed what we can work harder on. It’s not a competition here, folks. Every little bit helps. If we could afford a nice plot of land with a sweet, lil’ old house that we could eco-tize (made that up!) and go off the grid altogether, gosh darn it, we’d do it! But, it’s not about the money. It’s about what we can do on a daily basis to lessen our impact, but also to remember not only to work to save our planet, but to LIVE on and ENJOY the place, everyday.

If you didn’t celebrate Earth Day this year, that’s okay! Just get out there and celebrate TODAY. If it’s sunny, enjoy it! If it’s warm, be grateful for it! Look around for those little moments of life (birds singing, grass getting green, sunshine shining…okay, sun isn’t living, but it helps things to live) that you may otherwise miss. Let’s all work on celebrating every day on Earth, rather than just one day.

Earth Day Birthday

Let’s all sing, now!

Happy blogiversary to you…
happy blogiversary to you…
happy blogiversary, dear Megactsout…..
happy blogiversary tooooo yoooooouuuu!!!

Yep, I’ve been at this 3 years. It’s kind of appropriate that the blog-o’s b-day is Earth Day, even if my topics aren’t (always) about eco-friendliness. It’s still always in the back of our heads and the depths of our hearts, so I guess it’s the foundation of this weird, sensitive little spot on the interwebs. Heck, my first post was even about Earth Day and how the movie “Food, Inc.” inspired me to think differently about our eating (and ecological) habits. So, there’s that.

My first anniversary, I forgot…or skipped over, or whatever. Maybe I was still too high on being married for 6 months, or too excited about visiting friends (and getting some decor inspiration) in Massachusetts for yet another awesome wedding, or too busy posting embarrassing video to show off our boring house. Y’know, doing earth-shatteringly important things. 😉
Last year, I did up the 2nd anniversary. I was eager about the fact that we’d had over 6,000 views — we now have close to 16,000. That blows my mind, folks! I’ve started posting consistently (most of the time) three times a week — Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays — in case you haven’t noticed. I’d like to thank Blogger’s advanced scheduling option for that! 

Over the past year, we’ve had lots of events happen, both personally and on a greater scale. We’ve been lucky enough to welcome a special little guy to our family, I’ve tackled breastfeeding, made a little bathroom progress, and, on a graver note, dealt with some more serious issues locally. I’m hoping to regenerate my hope and faith in the world and start to give you some more uplifting posts, but it’s taking time to dig out of the depths of hopelessness — especially as the world continues to show its evils so often.

So, anyway, I thought I’d use the same exact wording I used last year to see what YOU like to read (or hope to see more of) around this joint. After all, while I’m doing this ‘cuz I like to do it, I’m also doing it to hopefully help other folks in their lives. Here goes…

Beyond saying “thank you,” (but, seriously, THANK YOU!!!) I want to ensure that I keep any readers and potential followers happy. That being said, I’d appreciate some Blogiversary Back-Talk. Call it constructive criticism. Call it a virtual suggestion box. Call it “what would I rather read” feedback. Whatever we call it, I call it a huge help as to determining the direction of the blog, and it helps provide some focus.

Here are some suggestions of questions/ideas that you can respond to in the reply section. If Blogger is being naughty (as it often is!) and won’t let you reply, feel free to leave a message or comment on my Facebook page. Whatever way that you choose to get information to me (I’ll keep an eye out for homing pigeons), it’s greatly appreciated!

– What are your favorite parts about the blog? Your least favorite?
– What topics do you look forward to reading about?
– How do you feel about the design, organization, and appearance of the blog?
– Would you read more if I posted more? Less?
– How do you feel about baby stuff? More/less? (Same goes for cats…too much? Too little? Just right?)
– Do you just read for the amusement factor, or are you interested in green living or DIY (which I’m hoping to do more of) or recipes or what?

In the past, I’ve heard “Just keep doing what you’re doing”, which I appreciate hearing…but with a tad more information, I can streamline what I write and remind myself of reader interests. It matters! And it’s appreciated, lots!! So please, over-share as much as I over-share.

(On a side note, this week is my mom’s birthday…my niece’s birthday……and next week is mine! 😀 So, my blog’s in pretty good company. Fine ladies, fine ladies.)

Fajita Fiesta

Continuing with our recent foodcentric posts, I thought I’d share a meal that I made for a (not too) recent dinner party we had.

Wait. Did I just write “dinner party”? Whoa. I’m an adult? When the hell did…

Anyhoo, I guess you could call it a dinner party. We had Dave’s bro, Dan, and his wife, Tara, over a few Fridays (okay, weeks…okay, maybe months….) ago for dinner ‘n chats ‘n a bit of baby time. I’m pretty comfortable in saying that everyone had an incredible time. Even the baby, I think. But you never can tell with him.

Since it was towards the beginning of lent, I wasn’t sure if the meal should be vegetarian or if I should just be gutsy and make a meat main. So, looking at the tortillas sitting in my fridge, an Edison-style lightbulb went aglow over my head. A fajita station!!

It didn’t end up being a “station”, per say (meats were still in their pan on the stove, etc), but it definitely had a fun kind of “make your own fajita” thing goin’ on. The cool thing is that you can make this to suit whatever your needs are. Here’s what I did (in what I like to call a “Confusing Non-Recipe Description”):

Fajitas
~ a couple of pounds of shrimp, de-veined and de-tailed
~ a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into slices/chunks
~ 2-3 limes (zest and juice)
~ a couple cloves of garlic

~ 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. each cumin & chili powder
~ 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. crushed red chili pepper flakes (depends on how hot you want it)
~ medium yellow onion, sliced
~ one each of red and green pepper, sliced (or any color you prefer)
~ a buttload of mushrooms, sliced
~ about one cup of cheddar cheese (use whatchya like — I know traditional fajitas don’t use cheese, so omit if you like)
~ fajita-style tortillas (I used whole wheat)
~ plain Greek yogurt
~ chopped cilantro

Saute one of the cloves of garlic in a pan with olive oil (medium-low heat) until cooked but not brown. Add shrimp along with the zest and juice of 1/2 a lime, cumin, chili powder, salt, black pepper, and chili pepper flakes. Cook for a couple of minutes (until pink), then flip and cook for another minute — don’t over-cook shrimp! Do the same with the chicken (garlic, lime, seasonings) but cook until no longer pink in the middle — only a couple minutes more than the shrimp.

While doing this, saute (in more olive oil, but not too much – start with a tablespoon) the onion, red and green peppers, and mushrooms SEPARATELY. This way, if someone doesn’t like something, they don’t have to use it. I used several pans to do this; to use fewer, you can grill or saute up the onion, put it in a bowl, saute the peppers, then put the onion back in on one side of the pan.

Throw the tortillas in the microwave per package instructions. Let everyone make their own plate up, and be sure to let folks know to add yogurt (or sour cream), cilantro and a squeeze from an extra wedge of lime.

I also cooked some corn and wild rice as sides, which our guests (and my husband) used on the fajita — so this could very quickly turn into a burrito party, too. Looking over the recipe, I also have realized that this would probably be a great summertime grill shindig, too — just marinate the meats (throw in a little oil, too) and throw it all on the grill, including foil-wrapped tortillas (and maybe foil-wrapped veggies, although they’d take longer).

Neverending

In the midst of answering what seemed to be a simple, basic question for an online contest — “What have you finished lately?” — I turned to stone. Um. Sputter. The best I could come up with was “I guess I finished making dinner last night.” Does that count?

I took a few moments to be overwhelmed at the thought and guilty and negative towards myself. Loser. You start a million projects and have to-do lists a mile long. How often do you cross anything off?

But, then, I reminded myself of the concept I love so much that’s meming its way around the internet that essentially says, “Would you keep a friend who treats you the way you treat yourself? Who criticizes you the way you do? Then, stop it.”

I need to treat myself better. While most of the people in my life aren’t downright rude or skeptical or mean to me, I do have plenty of Negative Nellies that orbit my life. Not important people, mind you, but the ones I have been thrust into dealing with on a daily basis. The ones we often see more than our families; y’know, those people we’d REALLY like to spend 24/7 with.

And, y’know what? The ruder those folks are to me, the more silent treatments and raised eyebrows and snarkiness I receive…the kinder I am. It’s a sickness, I guess. I go out of my way to be bubbly and sweet, and, at times, fall over myself doing so. I know I’m trying to win their friendship, respect; trying to tell them “hey, don’t treat me that way, I’m nice!” But, I’m trying to break myself of this. If they deserve my kindness, they’ll receive it. I won’t reciprocate rudeness, but I won’t overindulge it with goofy grins and a spinelessly sweet attitude, either. I’m not one for “an eye for an eye”, but I won’t waste my energy if it won’t get me any place.

That being said, less negativity towards myself is warranted. I let my mind shuffle the aforementioned thought — finishing something — around for awhile. Sometimes over-thinking something only tortures us, but other times the more we think on something, the more we’re able to rationalize, minimize and accept it. I’ve recently realized that, much as with situations out of our control (the horrific ones like the Mohawk/Herkimer shootings, and the outlying but still affecting stuff like the Boston Marathon bombings), while they change our thoughts and definitely have an impact on our emotions, our brains are tossing back and forth sub-conscious (and even minutely conscious) ways of dealing with it. It may not be time that heals all wounds, but rather the human brain that works out a way to live with them. Where our bodies are amazing things that are able to heal a gash and rebuild tissue, our minds are significantly grander in their abilities to regenerate hope, love and the will to live.

What HAVE I finished? Diaper changes. Blog posts. Cat feedings. The (occasional) load of laundry. Grocery lists. Gasoline pumping. Bed making. Hair brushing. Door locking. A plethora of other seemingly insignificant things that, if we were to not achieve them, our lives would pile up on themselves and cease mattering. The cats sure as heck notice when they’re not fed. We definitely notice when we’re out of olive oil or clean underwear. Our lives consist of not just the huge life events and the weighty projects that drag on over months (and years). There are events, microscopic or mundane, that get sewn together to create our dailies.

Oh, yeah, we planned a wedding a few years ago. That was something we finished and felt incredible about achieving (heck, it was a wicked fun time!), but the marriage, the constant daily work of a marriage, is what we’re really achieving…hopefully with no real ending. There’s not always a finish line to the things that matter most. No “finishing” in marriage, kids, relationships….

I still would like to write a full-length novel. Maybe I’m just better suited to short stories.

Meaty Choice

I’ve been volleying the idea of vegetarianism around in my head (and even publicly, here and here) for awhile. We’ve mastered, in a loose way, Meatless Mondays — although they’re not always Mondays — but we haven’t taken a larger leap than that. I’ve even recently explained why we’re not vegetarians.

But something seemingly small and unimportant made me snap. I was watching a news story about the bird flu in China (which is being spread by chicken consumption) when the background video showed a man grabbing a bird out of a small cage full of numerous chickens.

Now, I’m not an idiot. I know that when I eat chicken, that chicken was once living. But, for whatever reason, when I heard the sound of the bird screeching, I was struck — not only did it sound like my baby crying, it was screaming for its life. It knew what was coming, and it couldn’t do anything about it. My stomach turned and I started to cry.

Since then, I’ve decided to cut back to eating meat on weekends. This all started earlier last week, so it hasn’t been a long adventure yet, but let’s just say it’s Saturday…and I haven’t had meat yet today (or the rest of the week). I’ve got a freezer full of meat that will need to be used up, so I’ll have to get around my guilt to do so, but I’ve never been good at going cold turkey, so giving myself the leeway helps.

The neatest thing is that when I finally told Dave about it, and found myself getting upset yet again, he immediately agreed and was on board; almost like he was waiting for our family to take the step.

And, much as how we’ve treated Meatless Monday (adjusting the day accordingly, just making sure to include more vegetarian meals throughout the week), we’re going to adjust our vegetarianism according to circumstances. For example, Hadley’s birthday party will be on a Saturday, and it’s shaping up to probably be a barbecue. Because of this (and because one of our issues is the fact that we’ve got very much carnivorous families), we’ll plan on eating meat this day; there may be other family events that fall M-F, so we’ll thus plan.

So, I suppose we’re taking flexitarianism up a notch. We’re also still lacto-ovo vegetarians, in that respect. Still eat eggs (from humanely treated chickies) and pasture-fed milk, yogurt and cheese. I could never give up cheese. It’s my weakness!!

I think the biggest challenge will be figuring out lunches; breakfast is easy, and dinner’s getting there, but work lunches can be a bit of a tough time. I’m still researching a lot of websites for meal ideas, but I’m sure I’ll be sharing what’s working for us. But, seriously, it’s become a lot easier to order delicious vegetarian options when going out ‘n about.

So, that’s an update on our meat-eating. (Side note: Second choice for post title: “Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?”)

Guilty Pleasures

We’re still living quite happily with our decision to downsize to basic cable. (Basic is almost as low as you can go — 12 channels.) Every once in awhile, I yearn for an episode of Barefoot Contessa or a great documentary or a fun British hotel-takeover or a DIY disaster show. And 31 Days of Oscar was agonizing — no TCM?! But, for the most part, it’s a non-issue.

In the process, however, my addictive personality has reached out for some pretty guilty pleasures to fill those voids. Get ready for a B-list of embarrassment…

– QVC. Particularly David Venable. This channel got me through the holidays, and I’m STILL watching. It’s mindless. People are stupid happy. It harkens back to my infomercial obsession as a child (I kid you not). And, guess what. I still haven’t purchased one darn thing. Willpower! I do think we found my brother-in-law’s Christmas idea for 2013, though.

– Canadians. I dunno, is this just an upstate NY thing? We have the CBC (specifically CKWS as their local channel) and especially on days off from school, it’s my partner-in-crime. There are a few design shows in the morning (Candace Olsen, hollah!), and the afternoon brings Steven and Chris (cutest couple ever! Apparently there’s a gay theme to my guilty pleasures) and a couple of great cooking shows. Not to mention, the hubs is into Dragons’ Den (not sure why it’s better than ABC’s Shark Tank, it just is). Don’t waste your time on Murdock Mysteries, though. The acting is downright laughable and the writing is unbelievably ridiculous. Harsh, I know, but watch 30 seconds of it and you’ll get what I mean.

– Food for Thought. Does anyone else notice how crappy Saturday morning TV has gotten since we were kids? Okay, maybe it was crappy back then — PeeWee Herman much? Cartoon Alf? But it was crappy in an awesome way. Well, we find the occasional gem, but they’re for tweens/teens moreso than the youngins. That’s okay! By the time the kid’s sleeping in my arms for his first nap of the day, Claire Thomas’ show “Food for Thought” is underway and I’m getting a cooking show fix. Yessss. I can’t tell whether she’s a teen or in her 20s, but it doesn’t matter. I just feel like watching it with my niece. Great, not-over-simplified recipes and a lovely personality.

– PBS. What’s not to love? The occasional old movie, This Old House, Antiques Roadshow, Independent Lens documentaries, Oh, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (yes, a spinoff from Fred Rogers…*sigh*), The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Thomas the Train, and the occasional Sid the Science Kid are pretty much the only thing Hadley’s allowed to watch…with the occasional Andy Hardy or Shirley Temple movie thrown in for good luck.

Actually, PBS has gotten me through plenty of brain-dead 3:30am feedings (which Hadley has reverted to…again). I feel guilty trying to fight Dave to stay up (at least ONE of us should be well-rested, right?) but can’t feed the monkey without getting restless leg syndrome. Must. Have. Distraction. And, I gotta tell ya, the best stuff is on at 3:30am. How many times Dave has abruptly woken up to me crying, though, I can’t count. There was an incredible documentary about Jewish inmates at the concentration camp in Terezin performing Verdi’s Requiem…well, you can see for yourself…

I still get shivers. So, yeah. PBS, you’re my BFF.

– DVDs. We have some tried-and-true DVDs that scratch the entertainment itch. Our old movies, our documentaries, our TV shows (we used to watch our set of Frasier, but our stand-by is Arrested Development…I’ve gotta break out my M*A*S*H, though). There’s almost always something to suit our moods, and when there isn’t, we turn to…

– Netflix streaming. Talk about obscure! I haven’t tracked down many good shows here, but the occasional movie or documentaries (or 1950s show) is a good time-killer.

I don’t want you to think that we actually have time for this stuff. The baby is a time-sucker, and most nights we listen to Pandora or old radio shows on Dave’s iPhone, TV untouched. But, over the…holy crap, almost 2 years (!!) off of cable, we have become less dependent on the tube. Now, if only I could feel that way about the interwebs. 😉

Gettin’ All Cultural Up in Here

We needed to get away. For Dave and I both, it was one of those work weeks that got worse by the day. Knowing that I would be wallowing in a week off this week was a tad harder with his having to cover for several people at work, with me home with the baby. So, we needed to do something for ourselves over the weekend.

When Dave had heard that his favorite painter would be exhibited at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, it seemed like a no-brainer to hit up the farmers’ market, grab some lunch, then test the baby at his first-ever museum trip. The fact that it wasn’t in the midst of a crazy busy city and (after the hubs called in advance) was stroller-friendly made me a tad less nervous at the prospect.

See, it’s neat. We’re not really “beach people” (although I do NEED to stick my feet in sand from time to time, but I don’t NEED the masses of people and beach bodies that go with it). When we travel, we seek out our interests — which is why our past vacation posts include lots of antiquing, museum and historical site visiting, local food eating, and even a bit of nature walking and co-op shopping. Back B.H. (Before Hadley), we were also known to hit up Broadway, as well as take in more local theater. We’ll get back into it when the little man’s a tad less needy.

(Here’s our first anniversary trip and our honeymoon. Thought I did a Boston/Concord post, but apparently not!)

It’s awesome to have a partner who doesn’t think you’re a crazy person to prefer a museum to, well, almost any other place on earth.

So, after stocking up on veggies, meat, jam, and more, as well as testing some cheese, we strolled over to Doubleday Cafe. Unfortunately, Monkey turned into his obnoxiously needy (borderline breaking down) self, so lunch was a tad challenging. Lots of one-handed quesadilla eating and passing him back and forth.

After a stop at the car for a feeding and diaper change, we took the brief drive over to the gorgeous stone building that houses so many incredible art pieces and artifacts. We pushed Hads down a path to see if it would start to tire him out, but while spring had finally started, the wind was too much. And, that’s when my stomach suddenly took a turn for the worse. I soldiered on.

We went inside, and since I had been to the museum several times of the years (between childhood field trips, family visits, and even a few years back as an adult — I was raised with a passion for this stuff), it was neat to see Dave “ooh”ing and “aaahh”ing over all it had to offer. We chatted with the ticket lady over possibly purchasing a membership (there’s one that’ll get you into numerous museums all over the country…may not be worth the cost this year, but when we’re a more mobile family, it sounds perfect) then took a map and went to it.

The exhibits we were able to take the most time with were the folk art and American Masters rooms. We were a tad disappointed that we only got a preview of the artist Dave was hoping to see more of, but overall the stuff was awesome. From learning more about everyday life (shop signs usually had fantastic, rustic art because in the pre-industrial age 90% of individuals were illiterate…kinda knew that, but the art was COOL) to viewing artists in a different light, it was well worth the trip. Even if my stomach distracted me (dizziness and nausea, ick!).

Dave did some quick cell phone shooting, then we headed into the room with Cooper artifacts, then to a cool blacksmith exhibit (the Farmers Museum across the street is my FAVORITE place — their Candlelight Evening at Christmastime is so cool; their master blacksmith did some incredible pieces, plus there were some awesome artifacts from the 1700s) before going to yet another level and noticing that the baby was waking up in the stroller. The Native American artifacts, we suddenly realized, might be terrifying to him (lots of incredible masks…but they even scared me), so we decided to call it a day. Besides, the Fisherman’s Friend cough drops weren’t quite touching my sickness.

Aside from my short-lived stomach problems (probably something I ate) and a fussy buddy, the museum trip was SO fun and enjoyable. We even bought a Norman Rockwell coloring book (!) for the little man when he can wield a crayon someday. (We usually purchase a book or something else fun when we make such a stop; at our last trip to Concord, we bought a onesie with an awesome Thoreau quote that juuuuust fits the monkey now.)

And, just because I’m so proud of his work on this little “home video” (based on the famous “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” montage — which we hope doesn’t mind his borrowing of the copyrighted music!!), come along on a trip with us…

A Day in the Life of Monkey Boy

…or Mister Man, or Had-Man, or any variation of our son’s nicknames. This is a guest post written by an 8-month-old Hadley. Since he can neither speak nor otherwise communicate thoughts beyond pointing, grunting, squealing, kicking, and the like, he shall have a ghost-writer. Poof, I’m a ghost.

I’m not really sure what a day is. Mom and Dad seem to think it has a beginning and an end; once in awhile I think I can fool them enough to believe that’s true. But, mostly things are just a series of naps with fun in between. Maybe that’s why I get so upset when it’s dark; why are they laying me back down?? I know I’m tired, but I don’t WANT to go in my crib. We should be enjoying life while we can. Sheesh.

Anyway, I guess things start when I realize my tummy feels way weird. Not really hurty, but weird. It’s dark and I don’t even really need to open my eyes; if I whine enough, Mama comes in the room, grumbling to herself and pulling her hair back (why does she DO that?? It’s so much fun to play with…and grab…and pull). She picks me up and carries me into the big bed. I love bouncing on it, when I’m in the mood, but when my tummy feels this way all I can think about is EATING.

Before I know it, I’m being awoken, this time by a tired-looking but happy mama. Whoa. Wait. Wasn’t I just eating? I know it relaxes me, but…? It’s a little less dark out and there’s a kitty coming to greet me. Mommy grabs some clothes and carries me downstairs.

I see Daddy quickly rushing back and forth, sometimes with something in his hand, sometimes not. He gets really excited to see me and calls me his buddy. He’s just so nice, I can’t stand it. His smile is the best.

Although I HATE it, Mama puts me on a blanket and takes all the clothes off me and puts different ones on. Why does she DO that?? She also puts one of those white things on her head and makes silly faces before taking the squishy, cold one off of me and putting the new one on. She is pretty weird. It’s hilarious, though, so I guess it works.

Before I know it, I’m bundled up in stuff that makes me feel really hot. I wish they wouldn’t put the things on my head, they feel so stuffy and funny. Mommy puts me in my cool seat and bundles me up MORE, then she hands me to my Daddy and kisses us goodbye. It’s Had and Dad time!

Daddy drives a littler thing than Mom’s, so it feels cozy, and he always has pretty sounds going. It’s the only place I really don’t mind falling asleep, and before I know it Daddy’s gone and I wake up at Grandma’s house.

Grandma’s really nice, and Lizzie is my cousin-buddy that I get to hang out with ALL DAY LONG! It’s fun to chase her in my Jalopy — oh, and the doggies, too! Sometimes they yip, but I’m not sure why.

It’s hard to keep track of the day. This is the place that I get bottles instead of Mommy, and we watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and some other things, and I eat my foods at different times. Most days, I have a great time, but sometimes my mouth hurts. Those days I don’t care where I am; I just don’t like it. Sometimes chewies help, sometimes not. Sometimes my tasty medicine helps, sometimes not. I wish I could be happy all the time, especially when I see how sad it makes Grandma and Mom and Dad, but I just can’t. I wonder if they’re happy all the time.

I know the end of the day is coming when Grandpa comes home and plays with me. Soon, Lizzie gets picked up by her Mommy or Daddy. They are so cool! Aunt Mary is always so nice and Uncle John is funny…and nice, too! Come to think of it, everybody in my family is pretty nice — unless Mommy loses her temper. That’s kind of funny to watch, though.

After Lizzie goes, Daddy shows up looking tired but excited to see me. I squeal and jump because I love him and I get to go home where my kitties and Mommy are. I love Grandma and Grandpa SO much, but home is my favorite.

I usually wake up again and realize I’m home. It’s so weird how that happens! Mommy and Daddy eat, and sometimes I eat with them — Mommy does double-duty. Daddy puts on his funny sounding phone where people talk and laugh and people clap. Other times, there are nice sounds again that Mommy (and sometimes Daddy) sings to. Oh, and Jasper jumps on the table to see me and try to steal Mommy’s food — it is SO funny!

Sometimes Mommy puts me in water in the kitchen with nice sounds on and I get to splash while she puts stuff all over me. Lately, Mommy has been pouring clean water in a cup and I get to drink it. I’m good at not spilling a lot! She also pours my water from the cup and I LOVE LOVE LOVE watching it and letting it fall through my hands. That’s one of my favorite things in the world, next to things that crinkle.

After I get out of the water, Mommy puts stuff on me, then MORE clothes. Then, we go on the bed and Daddy reads to me. I get to hold one of the hard books while he does voices from another book. I’m good at turning pages, and although I don’t know what these things really are, the pictures and colors and the way Daddy and Mommy talk during them, I love looking at them.

When the books are done, Mommy settles in on bed for me to eat. Sometimes I don’t go to sleep and it’s a fun game to see how late I can stay up — although Mommy always wins, eventually. Otherwise, I try to wake up to let them know I’m still around all while it’s dark.

Some days, I don’t go to Grandma’s. Some days, we all stay home together, or we go out in Mommy’s bigger car to different places, which I don’t hate. Some days I get to look at the boy in the glass, and other days I get to spend extra time touching the kitties and grabbing their tails. Some days, Mommy uses the loud thing on the floor and I help…it has a tail, too, you know! Just skinnier and longer. Some days, I spend more time with Daddy and he talks to me about when he was little or shows me things. Some days, Mommy gives me food to squish and try myself.

Some days I’m happy, some days I have hurties and can’t get happy.

But I LOVE to LOVE. I squeal and kick when something exciting is happening — which usually means seeing someone I love.

And I hope he always has that endless supply of love and joy and INTEREST in his loved ones and surroundings.