Tag Archives: parents

Weekly roundup

8 Jul

Last week, I…

*Had breakfast with a work friend of mine at one of my favorite breakfast places. We’ve been trying to get together for lunch for months now, but something always come up for one of us. So since it was a holiday week and therefore a quieter week, we met for breakfast! What a great way to start the work day. Although with that much coffee, it was hard to concentrate for a while.

*Enjoyed the 4th of July, but the next day, I really wished I had taken the 5th off. There were 4 of us in the office out of 30 or so. Oh well, I got to leave after lunch. And I did get a ton done.

*Had an exchange dance lesson as my teacher was on vacation last week. It was great. Just not as great as a lesson with my regular teacher. But he’s back this week. So bring on the lessons!

*Worked out THREE times! Yay me! I went Tuesday and Saturday, but the gym was closed on the 4th. So that day I went for a bike ride. It was about a mile and a half. Let’s not talk about how it went. Let’s just acknowledge that I haven’t been biking since last fall and I am still out of shape from breaking my foot. But I did run that day too, and that went better. Still not up to where I was pre-break, but I can see progress. (Oh my god, I’m seeing progress! I am actually noting progress. Someone write the date down.)

*Met my parents for breakfast. (See the theme? I LOVE BREAKFAST.) Again, we went to a favorite place of ours that interestingly was where my mom worked in high school when it was a sweet shop. (Yes it was in the ’50s.)

*Magically turned a $50 oil change into a $430 one. Not really, but at the oil change place, they pointed out to me that one of my tires had a bubble in it. Consensus on Facebook was that I needed to deal with it right away because it meant the tire could blow at any moment. So I ended up getting two new tires (thankfully, not four!) that same day. Stupid car expense. When’s the light rail starting?

*Started a list of good coffee shops in Minneapolis and St Paul. Local, non-chain coffee shops. My friend SP and I get together on Saturdays on a pretty regular basis, and we always try to do cheap things. So I want to start a coffee tour with her of these shops! So if you know of any, let me know!

*Realized that I’m not good with free time. I’m so out of the habit of having free time that when I do have free time, I tend to sit and watch TV. And while that’s not a bad thing, it’s not how I want to spend ALL my free time. So I’ve been making a list of things I can do when I have a few free moments, and I’m going to try to force myself to look at it and do something on that list. Although I will still watch TV occasionally; I just need (and want) to limit that. But I am in the middle of yet another awesome BBC show…OK, OK, I’ll pace myself!

Granny’s recipes: Spice cake

18 Oct

So you know my parents recently downsized. In going through their stuff prior to their move, they cleaned out a lot of stuff. A LOT. My dad found a packet of papers that turned out to be a whole bunch of recipes his mother had typed out. For who, we’re not sure. But it was such a treasure trove. She died when I was two, so I never really knew her. But my dad was super close to her, and apparently she was an awesome baker. So I was excited to get a copy of her recipes.

You know I like to bake, so I’ve decided to go through the book and try some. A lot of them are not well written, so it’ll be interesting to see how this goes.

To start, I chose a spice cake. The directions were mostly there, so I figured it was an easy one to start with. Some things were weird in the directions though…like dissolve the baking soda in the milk before adding to the batter and adding the milk after the flour. Still, I figured she knew what she was doing, so I just went on faith. When it was cool, I frosted it with a frosting recipe from her stack as well. And then I tried it. I thought it was amazing, the most flavorful spice cake I’ve ever made.

So I’m excited to try more of her recipes. Stay tuned…I’ll be sure to post them here!

Spice Cake
4 tbsp shortening (I used butter)
1.5 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 tbsp molasses
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg
1.5 cups sour milk or buttermilk
1.5 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 pan. Cream shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and beat good with a mixing spoon. (I used my trusty stand mixer for the whole recipe.) Add molasses and mix well. Add flour and spices and mix well. Add baking soda to milk and dissolve; add milk mixture to batter and mix well. Stir in raisins and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake about 35 minutes or until done. (The recipe calls for baking it for 45 minutes, but that’s before ovens became powerful. I baked it for about 40 and the edges were overdone. So I’d start checking it at 25 minutes.)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1.75-2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter and brown sugar together over low heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes while stirring constantly. Add milk and stir constantly until it comes to a boil. Cool until lukewarm. Add powdered sugar and mix well. If it gets too hard, add a few drops of hot water.

Wrenches and chocolate chip cookies

1 Apr

This weekend had many wrenches thrown in it.

As you know, my siblings and I met at my parents’ house to sort out furniture and stuff. My mom was planning on serving lunch first, but she forgot to tell any of us that except one of my sisters. So she made this big lunch, which was awesome, but it threw our schedule off.

Going through the stuff took a bit longer than I thought, mainly because there were too many jokes along the way. Lots of Monty Python quotes thrown in. We actually had a really good time, and there weren’t any arguments about it. Actually there weren’t any. We were all pretty good about if more than one of us wanted something, people kinda naturally backed down. I got a few things the TV stand I wanted, as well as some books and stuff that were my grandparents’.

But that all took a lot longer than I thought, so I had to run (not literally, don’t worry) to my dance lesson. My teacher was running late, so that made me late to run an errand and then go watch movies at NA’s house.

Friday night when I got home, I found out that the floor guy was coming to do some touch-up and a second coat on the kitchen floor. He was coming Sunday morning, which meant I had to do all my cooking on Saturday instead of Sunday. So that was another wrench and something to try and squeeze in before lunch on Saturday. Then we realized that the last time the floor guy was here, we weren’t supposed to run the dryer or the oven afterwards. We thought that had to do with the staining and not the polyurethane, but I figured I’d be safe rather than sorry and do my laundry on Saturday instead of Sunday. Yet another wrench.

And because I needed to destress a bit in the middle of all this, I made cookies on Saturday. (Because trying to squeeze in one more activity would be less stressful?) I was planning on making a regular Toll House chocolate chip cookie (well, actually more than one), but I found a recipe on Joy the Baker that sounded yummy. I didn’t want to add the sesame seeds, just because I wanted a basic cookie, but it still turned out great! It’s a little saltier than my traditional chocolate chip cookie, which makes it FANTASTIC in my book. It may be my new go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Courtesy of Joy the Baker

Sesame and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies  from Joy the Baker

2.25 cups flour (I only had 2 cups of regular flour, so I substituted almond flour for the rest)
1 teaspoon baking salt
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon soy sauce (I KNOW!)
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (I left these out)
1 cup dark chocolate chips
about 1/4 cup black sesame seeds for rolling (I left these out)
Sea salt for topping (I did NOT leave this out!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the egg and the egg yolk and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and soy sauce. Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients all at once. Beat on low speed until just combined. Stop the mixer, and fold in the sesame seeds and chocolate chips with a spatula until well combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop cookie dough by the heaping tablespoonfuls into your hand. Roll in a ball, and toss around in the black sesame seeds. The dough balls don’t need to be completely covered in seeds, just coated well. Place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 12-14 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven, allow to cool on baking sheets about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in airtight container. Cookies will last for a day or two because the oils in the seeds tend to go rancid. (The other reason I left the seeds out – the cookies should last longer!)

Sorting out the family heirlooms

31 Mar

Well, not the heirlooms really. We don’t really have any heirlooms. But today, my parents, my siblings, and I are gathering to determine who wants what furniture of the furniture my parents aren’t taking with them when they move.

This could be interesting.

I really only want one thing. And it’s not even a valuable piece of furniture – it’s just a nice TV stand, which I’ll need when I move. But I’m certainly not tied to it, so I won’t fight too much.

I’m curious how my siblings will be with this process. Will we all be adults and negotiate and concede? Or will we be like we were when we were little and argue about things?

Luckily, I have a dance lesson this afternoon, so I have an automatic out. “Oh sorry, gotta run!”

Then it’s pizza, drinks, and movies with NA at her place. Which will be a great way to destress, if that’s what’s needed after the furniture sorting.

Mantra for today: Breathe and hang in there.

Weekly roundup

3 Jan

Last week:

*Survived Christmas with my family – barely.

*Fell into a funk that I think was depression and it made me wonder if I even matter to the world and to the people I know.

*Got to have a cocktail at home!

*Shared my secret to infusing awesome flavors into vodka.

*Had the week off work to relax.

*Realized that my family history adds to my inability to trust compliments and that I don’t know how to ask for help when struggling.

*Worked out 4 out of 6 days last week – YAY!

*Recapped my year.

*Went out for New Year’s eve for the first time in 15 years.

*Wrote my resolutions I mean things I want to refocus on.

*Got bit by a dog at daycare. Luckily he didn’t break the skin, but I have a lovely purple and yellow bruise on my arm.

*Baked cookies.

*Spent most of the week in the thinky place.

*Caught a cold.

Christmas with the family

28 Dec

So you all remember how I was dreading Christmas with my family a bit? Remember how I told you that I was going to suck it up and try to engage my sisters in conversation?

Well, I did. I talked to them. I asked about their lives. On the few occasions they asked about mine, I gave much more detail than they were looking for, just to try and inform them on my life.

And in the end, it went fine. I could tell they weren’t really interested in what I had to say. Body language made that CRYSTAL clear. But at least I felt like I did what I could to try and connect with them.

I was blown away though by their thoughtlessness. My mom made a big brunch on Christmas day as well as a big dinner. Both times, I rinsed the dishes (with some help from my brother). My sisters never made any effort to help with that. They just sat at the table and talked. And I didn’t want them to help for me, I wanted them to help so they could acknowledge all the work my mom put in to make these huge meals. But it never occurred to them to help.

Remember how I was going to go to my sister’s Christmas eve? Yeah I ended up not going. By the time that afternoon rolled around, I was so tired and drained from having all those people around 24/7. And I knew Christmas day was going to be worse. So I didn’t go and stayed home enjoying the house to myself instead.

Everyone else went though. Well everyone who was invited which didn’t include my brother. Weird. (Another reason I didn’t go.) But my sister JO had told my sister AK that she’d bring some appetizers. JO never asked my mom about that, so JO expected to have the kitchen all day on Saturday. Not knowing that I needed it to make tea ring. So I got up early to start it so she could have the kitchen. But again the thoughtlessness – it never occurred to her that someone else might need the kitchen and so she might need to negotiate timing with someone. And then once she found out, she just expected me to adjust or delay.

So JO makes three appetizers and takes them to AK’s. She left the dishes for my mom to clean up. And she brought the leftovers back and left in the fridge for my mom to deal with. SIGH.

When the O’s left Monday morning, they made no effort or offer to clean up anything before they left. So there was a ton of laundry for my mom to cope with – sheets and towels. I tried to help her with that as much as I could. The bathroom was a disaster. Four kids, including two teenage girls, and me sharing it for 3 days.

The picture doesn’t even do it justice because you can’t see the mess on the mirror and the toothpaste blobs in the sink. And the hair all over the floor. So my mom cleaned that. I was planning on doing it but she beat me to it. Grrr.

However, there was one redeeming event on Christmas day. A Christmas miracle, if you will. During the afternoon, my brother-in-law RO drinks a beer. Now, you all know my mom keeps a dry house. But she’s always allowed RO to have beer. (I think it’s when her children drink that she gets upset and bothered.) So on Christmas, when RO got his beer, my other brother-in-law joined him as did my brother. So I thought screw it. And I made myself a whiskey ginger with the tiny bottle of Jameson TL had given me for my birthday.

Ahh sweet bliss! To have a drink at home. God, how I’ve missed that! And yes, I had the whole tiny bottle of Jameson. It tasted so good! Probably the best whiskey drink I’ve ever had. God bless us, everyone!

Adventures at the figure skating competition

18 Dec

My niece LB had a figure skating competition today at Mariucci Arena at the U of M.

Have I mentioned she’s an awesome figure skater? Like for real. She’s a senior in high school, and she sent an audition tape to the Disney on Ice people. They wanted to see her for a live audition when they were here in town earlier this month. She said it went well, and she’ll hear from them in March. If they hire her, she’ll work for them for a year before starting college. Cool experience, huh? I’m jealous.

Anyway, I’ve missed her last few competitions, so I really wanted to go to today’s. Her short program was at 11:45 and her long program was at 3:15.

(It’s so fun to talk to her about figure skating, because some things are very similar to dancing. Especially since she does some kind of figure skating that has an official name which I forget, but it’s basically synchronized ice dancing as a group. So we can talk about rhinestones and the gluing thereof, fake eyelashes, cha cha arm styling, and lots of other stuff.)

My brother (who is her dad) was going as were my parents. My parents were planning to stay there the whole afternoon, but I needed to come home after the first entry to get stuff done. So we drove separately. My mother can’t walk all the way from the parking ramp, so my dad was going to drop her off and then go park. Mariucci uses the operations door for events like this, so Dad was going to drop her off there.

When I was about 3 blocks from the parking ramp, my brother called to tell me that they were using the main lobby door off Oak St (the one in the picture) and charging $5 to get in. Unfortunately, my parents don’t turn on their cell phone. (It’s for emergencies only, so why turn it on?) So he and I figured they would figure it out.

I met Dad by accident in the parking ramp. I told him what TB said. We thought Mom would be waiting for us at the operations door, and we’d just meet her there and then go to the main lobby.

But she wasn’t there.

Hmmm, maybe she went down to the main lobby door. So we walked down there, and she’s not in the lobby. OK, maybe she saw TB and went up the escalator already. Then we see TB at the top of the escalator waiting for us. We yelled to him to see if he had seen Mom, and he hadn’t.

WTF? Where is she?

OK. I said I’d go back to the operations door on the other side of the arena, in case we just missed her. At this point, it’s like 11:40 and LB is supposed to be skating at 11:45. I really didn’t want to miss her entry. So I ran around the arena.

I am not a runner. My knees HATE running. But I did it, and I got to the operations door and no Mom.

OK, I was starting to get worried. My mom has some memory issues (not Alzheimer’s or dementia, thank god but still scary at times). Did she wander off? I run to the doors opposite the main lobby doors. All locked, no Mom. Okaaayyyyy.

Then I run around the other side of the arena – maybe she was walking on that side to the main lobby. Nope, no Mom.

Uh oh.

I got back to the main lobby. No Mom, no Dad, no TB. I paid my $5 and went up the escalator. I saw Dad and TB, and Mom wasn’t with them. Dad decided to walk around the concourse to see if she was there, I decided to go find security to help us, and TB decided to wait there. Off Dad and I went.

TB calls me a few minutes later. He found her. She was just standing on the concourse, watching warm-ups, waiting for us. Apparently, some worker had let her in the operations door and led her through the bowels of the arena up to the concourse.

I was mad with her. When I got back to the group, I told her that she absolutely needs to turn on her cell phone at events like this. She wasn’t happy I told her that. I told her we were worried about where she had gone. And then she got offended that I was treating her like an elderly woman. (Um, Mom, you kinda are one.)

Then I got super mad but didn’t say anything, because she was blaming Dad for giving her misinformation about which door to go in. “I was led to believe that the operations door was the correct one, but obviously I was misinformed.”

JESUS. I jumped in to try and help my dad by telling her that they usually use the operations door and that we only knew differently because TB had called my cell while I was driving there. (See? If you keep your cell on, you can get updates and correct info.)

All’s well that ends well. She was fine although a bit offend.

And most importantly, we got to see LB’s group skate, and they did GREAT!!!!!!!

Thanks for many things

24 Nov

Today is Thanksgiving. I’m grateful for many things.

I’m thankful for my dad, who understands me and is my ally in the dealings with my mom. I’m thankful for my mom, who loves and supports me the best way she can. I’m thankful for my brother, who is one of my best friends. I’m thankful for my cousin AR, who is also one of my dear friends. I’m thankful for my sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins…all of my large family.

I’m thankful that I’m employed and can support myself with my income. I’m thankful I have a place to sleep inside at night and can put food on my table.

I’m thankful that all my health concerns are relatively very minor, like headaches and tendonitis in my ankles.

I’m thankful for dancing.

I’m thankful for my country and the freedoms I have in it.

I’m thankful for music, art, theater, and sports.

I’m thankful for the things I don’t have, because there’s a reason for that.

I’m thankful for my talents and abilities, even when I don’t see them or recognize them.

I’m thankful for the universe teaching me so much. I’m thankful I have some self-awareness and can try to improve myself and be the person I want to be.

I’m thankful I like to bake and that I have people who enjoy eating what I make. I’m thankful for the crafts I can do.

I’m thankful for the makers of coffee. And alcohol.

I’m grateful for all my awesome friends who help me, laugh with me, scold me when needed, drink with me, and love me. I realize know that there are too many to mention, which in and of itself makes me thankful. But especially KZ, AM, KC, SR, NA, RM, LS, JF, ND, GS, AL, HS, NM, AR, SS, RM…oh I’m so lucky!

I’m thankful for my blog readers.

And I’m thankful to live in a world that makes television episodes like this one

…which is the best Thanksgiving episode of any show ever. Period. End of discussion. Watch it and see if you don’t laugh out loud at the whole thing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Stewie from "The Family Guy"

The bad seed

17 Aug

My mother and I don’t have a close relationship. It’s not a bad relationship – it’s just not a superclose relationship. This, apparently, makes me a bad daughter.

Every once in a while, my mother decides to air these concerns under the guise of “trying to help” me. Monday night was another example. She was concerned for me because I spend “an inordinate amount” of time by myself when I’m home and thus must be “avoiding” her. I have tried to point out to her that by the time I get home at the end of the day, it’s usually about 9:30pm and I’ve been gone since 6:30am. I just like to eat dinner and chill by myself from the day. She thinks instead that I should tell her everything that happened to me that day and how I feel because “mothers and daughters should be best friends”.

What? Where the hell does that come from? She wasn’t best friends with her mother. And she and I haven’t been close since I was about 9. It’s not like this is a new behavior. Since about 5th grade, I haven’t used her as a sounding board for processing what’s happening in my life. It became quite clear to me early on that she does not understand me or my life. I’m not sure why she still, 30 years later, thinks there’s a problem that we’re not best friends.

And it always, always comes back at me as there is something wrong with me because I’m not close to her, and that if I’m not close to her, I must not be close to anyone. And it’s unhealthy to not have close friends. I’ve told her that I have lots of close friends that I talk to about life, but she doesn’t believe me. “What kind of daughter doesn’t talk to her mom about things in her life?” Um, lots of daughters?

I think a lot of the problem is that my two sisters are both married with kids and talk to my mom a lot. So they are behaving the ways daughters should. They’re following the script my mom has. Me, I’m divorced, was living on my own and alone until recently, am not afraid of being on my own, am a reflective introvert for the most part, am friends with lots of guys, and don’t have kids. Plus, I divorced someone that she loved. When I told her we were divorcing, she told me that it was the biggest mistake of my life and I would live to regret it. Yeah, that makes me want to talk to her more about my feelings and things in my life.

I wish I could get her to understand that it’s not a bad relationship, it’s just not close (to which she replies “nowhere near close”) and THAT’S OK. I love her and I appreciate everything she’s done for me. Of course I have issues with how I was raised – who doesn’t? But I know she did the best she could. And yes, I’ve said all this to her. Last night she told me that it is very difficult for her to accept that there is such a problem with one of her children that she can’t be close to me.

How does it help to tell me that you think there is “such a problem” with me? I think I’m doing pretty well, thank you. I certainly have issues, but god knows I’m working on them. Arggh, it’s very frustrating to know that how I’m living my life and who I am, although good for me, causes her so much pain because it’s not following her script.

I try very hard to fly below the radar with her. I try to make small talk with her so she feels like I’m talking to her. I help out around the house. But I try not to do anything that will raise a flag with her – at least I try not to let her know about it. Example: my tattoos. She’s seen one, because it’s on my arm and I had to wear a sleeveless dress for a dance event. But she doesn’t know about the other three nor have I ever talk to her about any of them.

I wish she could just accept our relationship for what it is and be OK with it. I worry sometimes that she’ll die thinking I’m a bad daughter. And I really don’t think I am. I just have my own script to follow, one that I’m writing myself. I get input on it from my friends, but I need to write it all by myself. I followed a script my whole life until about 5 years ago, and it wasn’t allowing me to be me.

Wow, I’ve never really thought about it like that: I’m writing my own script. How exciting! I just wish my mother would be OK with that and see the value in my script.

“Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change.”

I want to be alone…kinda

9 Aug

I live with my parents. Now, before you jump to any conclusions, I am not a nearly-4o-something to never moved out of their parents’ house. I moved back last fall to save some money and help my parents out. They still live in the house I grew up in. They’re in the mid-70s, so taking care of a 2-story, 4-bedroom house is a lot of work. So I try to help out. Of course, no one can do it as well as they can in their minds, so it’s tough. But we’re figuring it out.

My parents are retired. Good for them – they totally deserve it. However, that means that they’re around A LOT. Like constantly. CONSTANTLY. My dad goes every morning and walks at the mall, stops at the grocery store, and then to the hardware store to make a copy of the crossword in the paper. (He and I both like to do the crossword, so rather than fight over it, he makes a copy every day. Well, every day but Sunday. He doesn’t do the Sunday crossword because “it takes so dang long”. Apparently it gets in the way of watching the Military History channel all day.) My mom goes out occasionally for errands, but she stays at home a lot.

So every 2-3 months, they drive to Chicago for the weekend to visit my sister and her husband and kids. I LIVE FOR THESE WEEKENDS. And this was one of those weekends! Saturday I did the normal Saturday things – therapy appointment, errands, dance class, dance lesson, gym workout. But I added a special errand this Saturday – liquor store! See, my mom isn’t totally comfortable with alcohol in the house. It’s kinda a dry house. OK, not kinda. It is a dry house. I probably could make a case of having an occasional glass of wine or a cocktail; just not sure it’s the battle I want to fight at this moment. ‘Cause it’d be a big one.

(When I moved home, most of my stuff went into storage. But I couldn’t store my liquor nor could I bring it to my parents’ house. All of my liquor – all the wine, vodka, whiskey, gin, Bailey’s, scotch – found a lovely new home in the liquor cabinet of my friends the M’s. Lucky dogs. Must have been like Christmas for them when I dropped that off.)

So I stopped at the liquor store and bought whiskey. I made a cocktail when I got home. Ahhhhh, sweet nectar of the gods! Just to sit in my house and sip a cocktail – heaven!

This weekend, I decided to try something I’ve always wanted to do but never learned because I thought it was too nerdy. But what the hell – I am a nerd, although I usually can hide that from most people. (At least I like to think I can.) I bought a yo-yo and started to learn how to use it and do tricks. You know what? It’s a lot harder than it looks. I made OK progress on the most basic trick. But I had fun learning and working on it. It’s silly, but it was fun.

I realized though on Sunday night that although I enjoyed my solitude, I didn’t really enjoy the fact that I didn’t get out AT ALL after 4:00 on Saturday. Next time I need to find a balance of relishing my rarely-felt solitude with being social.

So lessons learned: be at home and enjoy the quiet but also do something social. Yo-yo tricks are hard. Whiskey is still AMAZING to drink. I’m still a nerd but shhhh….don’t tell anyone.

“When life gives you lemons, go out and find someone whose life has given them vodka.”

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