Cooking for one is no fun!

Now that the big kids have gone back to their Dad’s for the school year, and Tommy has left for the sandbox, it’s really quiet here.  We joked before everyone left that August was the month of “leaving” and that September would be the month of “peace”.  Well, it’s not even September yet and it’s already Too. Darn. Quiet.

In addition to it being too quiet, there is too much food in this house!  What an adjustment to go from cooking for 5.5 people to cooking for just 1.5!  Turns out just two chicken breasts actually last me four days.  I do not like to eat the same thing for four days in a row (unless it’s a Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad from Panera).  A head of broccoli that used to disappear in one night now sits in the fridge so long I end up having to throw it out.  That 5 pound bag of potatoes started creeping me out with all of its’ eyes staring at me every time I open the pantry!

I did manage to grill some chicken burgers the other day and made just a few homemade “fries” to go with, and a fresh salad.  Unfortunately, the romaine has already started to wilt because it’s not being consumed quickly enough.  At this rate, those Panera salads are easing themselves into becoming part of my daily diet.

Today I cooked a homemade pizza, one of my favorites!  I take a thin crust, top it with a glaze of olive oil and italian herb seasoning, a thin layer of pizza sauce, mozzarella, green peppers, onions and turkey pepperoni.  To top it off, I sprinkle more italian herb seasoning on top and bake it at 425 for 10 minutes.  It’s really quick and delicious.  However, since I made this for lunch, I didn’t feel like cooking for dinner.  Yes, there were plenty of leftovers of this pizza.  Who wants to eat the same thing for 2 meals a day?  Not me.  So…I had to run out to drop some stuff off anyways so to Panera I went.

Doesn't this look WAY more appealing?

Besides, cooking for one (and a half) is no fun!

The Woes of Being a Tenant

We are really fortunate to live where we do.  I love the neighborhood, and the entire area really.  We rent a nice house located about 1000 yards from a beach access.  When we first looked at the house, I felt at home instantly.  Everything about the house was aesthetically pleasing.  It was evident that the home had been remodeled.  All the bathrooms were nicely updated, and the kitchen had been updated as well.  All the floors are tiled, there’s a big pool out back, and the yard is HUGE!  There were a few minor issues that we saw upon move in that needed some attention.  Some of the window screens are missing, there was a broken pane of glass (double-paned window), the sink faucet in the kitchen was missing a piece…mostly minor things.  We’ve been here now for two years, and just re-signed on for another year.  I feel like we’ve sometimes been a “pain in the butt” to the homeowner and to our property manager because it seems we are constantly calling because something needs to be fixed.

These are the things that have had to be fixed so far (that I can remember):

-A/C – TWICE!  The first time, a couple of estimates were done to try to “fix” the cause of no air flow to the west side of the house.  One estimate said the ducting system and the blower needed to be replaced, the second estimate said it needed to just be cleaned.  Guess who won the first time?  You guessed it!  The cheaper guy, who wanted to just clean out our unit.  By the way, cleaning the unit did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for the performance of the A/C.  It wasn’t long before the other company was back out here to replace the blower in the A/C.  When that helped, but didn’t actually fix the issue, another company was out here removing all the insulation out of the attic, removing all the duct work, fixing all the electrical wiring in the attic, replacing the duct work, and then re-blowing in all new insulation.  Finally, we had some relief from this Florida heat!  And just in time since I was pregnant and summer was fast approaching.

Master Toilet – Whenever the “remodel” was done on this house, whoever installed the toilet didn’t actually anchor it to the floor.  Nice job.   We had a handyman come out and fix this issue.  This is something that my husband is fully capable of fixing, but…it’s not our house, not our responsibility.

Master Bathtub – Another goof on the remodel is that when the tub was installed, the electricity that causes the tub jets to run wasn’t put on a GFI.  You would think that common sense would tell you…bathroom = water = a NEED for a GFI outlet.  Pffftt.  Who cares about code or safety as long as you’re saving money!!  Cha ching!  Anyhow, a GFI was installed, but everytime we want to run the jets, my husband has to rig the tub to turn on, and then he has to come back to turn it off.  It’s certainly not user friendly as it should be.

Slider door screens – What is the point of having screens if you can’t open your doors and use them as they were intended?  All of the screens had massive holes in them.  These were eventually re-screened (during year 2).

Pool pump – This has had lots of work done to it.  So many times that I’ve lost track.  What needs to be done is the whole thing to be replaced, instead of just putting band-aids on the issue.  We also suspect that there is a big leakage problem, causing us to lose lots of water in the pool…thereby causing us to have to fill up the pool at LEAST once a week…thereby equaling a huge water bill every month.

Solar Pool Heater Panels – This has also been looked at several times.  Despite being “fixed”, the issue of it leaking still occurs.  We give up.  The pool water is currently about 100 degrees anyways, so I’ll worry about this later.

Irrigation System – In the words of the plumber that was JUST here, the whole system is a “hot mess”.  There are busted lines, many broken sprinkler heads, and the entire control panel is blown.  My husband has put several hours and at least a hundred bucks into attempting to fix it on his own because he does want the yard to look nice.  Everytime he’d get one head replaced, he discovered another busted.  Everytime he fixed an entire section of line, another one would bust.  He kept working on it until the control panel busted, then he gave up.  Why should we give a crap about the yard if the owner obviously doesn’t?  Don’t get me wrong, we still have the grass cut regularly by a landscaper, but that is ALL we will be doing to maintain the yard from now on.

1/2 Bath Toilet – About 6 weeks ago, I flushed this toilet and it just kept running.  And running.  We turned the water off to the toilet.  This is another fix that my husband could probably have managed on his own.  However, I think we are both just tired of fixing things, paying out of our pocket, etc.  Today, finally, a plumber arrived to fix the issue.  He says its fixed now.  I haven’t checked behind him yet.

Kitchen Sink Faucet – Just Thursday evening the faucet quit on us.  No water was coming out of the faucet.  None.  My husband worked on it a little to try to get some flow because we were told that nobody could come until Monday.  I called the property manager at 9 am on Friday morning, didn’t get a callback from a plumber until 2 pm (but didn’t get the message until 4 pm).  Apparently not having water in your kitchen isn’t deemed an “emergency”.  I guess when they have to unclog my bathtub drain because of all the food particles in it due to washing dishes in the tub won’t be considered an emergency either?

Cracks in the ceiling – I ALMOST forgot. But not quite.  When the attic was being re-insulated, the workers moving around in the attic caused several cracks in the ceiling drywall.  These were fixed at cost to the insulation company.  This was actually one of the quickest, no fuss fixes since we’ve been here.

Perimeter fence – This has also had to be fixed several times.  There’s nothing like letting your dogs out in the morning to do their business, then noticing about 15 minutes later that they’re not in your *fenced* backyard.  Our gate kept blowing open, despite being locked with a padlock.  I’d go running out the front door, only to look about a block down and see my dogs doing their boxer wiggles around some poor unsuspecting neighbor, out for their early morning walk or run.  This happened at least three times.  Sometimes it was due to the gate, other times it was due to the collapse of entire sections of fence.  This is what happens when your wooden fence gets old and rots.  This was “fixed” by a handyman (not a fence company) building new gates that can no longer be opened from the outside.  Also, the gate doesn’t stand up straight now…if a fence gate could be deemed bow-legged, this would be the one!

With any home, there are going to be things that need to be repaired.  Living here has shown us that there is always something!  With that being said, the up-side to being a tenant is that the financial responsibility of fixing these things isn’t on our shoulders.  Lucky us!  However, while we can live comfortably with a few missing screens and a single toilet out of three out of commission for six weeks, it’s hard to take pride in something when the owner doesn’t seem to.

One day, when Tommy and I decide where and what we want to buy for ourselves, we’ll look back at these days and laugh.  Or cry, all the while wishing that we had remained tenants forever!

My week so far: An Update on Life as a SAHM

Yeah, I know, it’s only Tuesday.  I’ve had a few days to adjust to this life of leisure, if that’s what you want to call it.  My days look like this:

7 am:  Wake up.  Nurse Tristan.  Both of us go back to sleep. (((YAWN!)))

9 am:  Wake up for real this time.  Nurse Tristan again (boy he sure does eat alot!).  Feed the dogs.  Feed myself and have my decaf coffee.

10 am: Shower time!!

11 am:  Play with Tristan, do a little laundry, get his swim bag ready to go.  Load the car.  Finish filling out his BUDS sheet for his lesson.

12 pm: Head to the swim lesson.

12:15 pm: Watch the swim lesson.  Smile the entire time, even though he is crying the entire time.  My little man is really good at floating on his back.  Makes me proud.

12:30 pm:  Head home from swim lesson.

1 pm:  Nurse Tristan while I eat lunch.

1:30 pm:  Turn on the TV or sit in front of the computer (as I’m doing both at the moment).

2 pm:  Try to get Tristan down for a nap…this could take a while.

3 pm:  Realize that it’s quiet, Tristan is asleep, and I have FREE time!  Woo hoo! Where’s the tequila?!  Just kidding.  Start working on the scrapbook I have been procrastinating on for the past seven months.

5 pm:  Realize that dinner time is fast approaching and then decide I should go to the store to get something awesome to cook.  Or if I have leftovers I realize I have plenty of time to procrastinate on heating dinner up.

6 pm:  Dinnertime.

7pm: Attempt to settle down for the evening.  Tristan usually starts to get cranky around this time.

After that~ usually consists of entirely too much TV.

I think I need to get a hobby.  My life is really boring!  And Tommy, if you’re reading this, pretend I put in a 3 hour jog sometime in the mid-afternoon.  It will make you feel better.

Tristan’s Amazing Home Birth Story

This post is soooooo long overdue.  My handsome little man will be 4 months old in just a few hours.  I can’t believe how fast the time has gone!  It all began about 2:30 a.m. on October 8th.  I was fast approaching two weeks past my “due” date, and growing increasingly anxious with each day.  Then something started to happen.  It all began about 2:30 a.m. on October 8th.  I woke up to run to the bathroom in the middle of the night for probably the 9 gazillionth time during this pregnancy.  When I laid back down, I thought I felt a slight twinge of a contraction.  I figured I was probably just imagining things again, so I forced myself to go back to sleep.  When I woke up early the next morning, I was still feeling the same type of twinge…and thinking it might be just a little bit stronger.  Hmmm…Is today going to be the day??  I wondered.
I ate some breakfast and went about my day.  I tried to work, but I remember being VERY easily distracted.  I had some homework that needed to get done, but again…distracted!  So, I decided to run out and do a few errands with my mom who was in town, awaiting Tristan’s arrival with me and Tommy.  I drove us to Kohl’s and we walked around and did some shopping.  I picked up a bunch of stuff for Tommy’s future new home in Afghanistan–sheets, towels, etc.  I found a couple of adorable baby outfits that I just had to have for Tristan.  Mom picked out a couple of tops for herself.  Oh, and I found a great robe that would be awesome for right after the birth.   While we were walking around the store I found myself having to pause to breathe a little bit through the contractions.  At this point I was sure I was having contractions, but I was still thinking that it was going to stop and not progress.

When we got home, I was putting everything away, and Mom had already volunteered to make dinner-beef and broccoli out of the Weight Watchers cookbook.  Tommy had been checking in with me all day via telephone and was home for the day from work.  I went into my office to finish up the last assignments for the week for school, all the while having to stop and breathe through those contractions.  I don’t remember exactly what I was working on, but I DO remember that I felt a lot of pressure to get it done!  I finally finished up the assignment and shut down my laptop for the evening.  Mom finished dinner and I was REALLY interested in eating…until I walked into the kitchen.  All of a sudden I decided it might NOT be such a great idea to chow down at dinner.  So, I retreated to my bedroom and called my midwife instead.

Birth Bed all prepped

Pam was wonderful.  When I called her, she at first told me to call her back when they ( contractions ) got really hard.  She was out running errands herself.  Then she called me back within the hour (I’d say it was around 7 pm by now) to tell me she could come whenever I was ready.  I told her we would call her in a little while.   I started to really time my contractions at this point.  I was feeling very anxious, not really knowing what to expect.  Even though I had three other children, never had I attempted to give birth at home, without an epidural or any other “modern” medical treatments.  Tommy was starting to get really attentive towards me and help me through the contractions.  Then around 9 pm I asked Tommy to call Pam and let her know I needed her.  She was at my house with her daughter and assistant, Muraiha, within 15 minutes.  They brought all their equipment in, with Tommy’s help, and began to set up shop in the bedroom.  I continued to bounce away on my exercise ball, whilst wearing my snuggie.  What a sight I was!

Laboring on the ball with my snuggie

Pam came out and was sitting in the living room, watching me work through the contractions.  I remember her telling me to try to relax during the contraction and not tense up so much.  Boy, that was really tough to do!  I had to put all of my effort and concentration into that task.  Pam decided it would probably be a while, and she had forgotten her book at home, so she asked if I minded if she ran home to get her book.  I was fine with that, and she left Muraiha there to keep an eye on things.

Soon after Pam left, I asked Muraiha to check me.  I was really curious as to how far I had come, and how much further I would have to go.  By now it was around 10 pm.  Muraiha checked me and she said I was around 3-4 cm.  Bummer!  I decided I needed a good soak in the bath to help get me through the contractions.

Relaxing in the bath

Tommy was amazing.  He held my hand through the contractions, even through my “death grip”.  He heated the water up when I asked, ran and got the fan for me when I got too warm, kept me covered with a warm towel when I got the chills, and continued to time the contractions for me.  At this point, timing wasn’t really necessary, but it was helping me to stay in a rhythm and pass the time quickly.  Before I knew it, it was 1 am. I had been in that bath for nearly 3 hours!  During that time, Pam had come back and was continuing to check the baby’s heartbeat and check in on Tommy and I to see how we were doing.  I was feeling a lot of pressure, and the jets were starting to really irritate me during the contractions–both the pressure of them and the noise of them.  I decided I was ready to get out!  Tommy helped me out and helped me to get dressed.  I decided I wanted to bounce on the ball, so he rolled up his mechanic’s stool behind me and applied lots of pressure to my hips and lower back, and was constantly massaging my neck and back in between contractions.

Some of the hardest work I've ever done

While he and I were in our bedroom “laboring”, my mom, Pam and Muraiha were out in the living room chatting and hanging out.  It was so peaceful here at home.  There were no intrusions, no loud noises…it was awesome.  I wouldn’t have known they were out there if Pam and Muraiha hadn’t been checking in on me every now and again.

Pam, Muraiha, and Mom (L to R)

I bounced away for quite some time and was getting zero relief between contractions.  I was starting to feel a ton of pressure and told Tommy to tell them that it was time to push.  Pam and Muraiha came back in to check me.  I was at 9 cm finally!  Pushing was just around the corner…I was exhausted, but excited at the same time.  I started out trying to push on my back, just because that is the only way I knew how.

First stages of pushing

This was clearly not going to work.  Gravity was working against me.  I asked Pam if I could change positions.  Muraiha suggested hands and knees, kind of like a squat.  Tommy supported the front side of me, while Pam and Muraiha applied counter pressure warm compresses with a little EVOO to help me out.  That felt AMAZING!  I pushed, and pushed, and pushed.  It didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere except tired, and fast.

I was getting lots of encouragement from Tommy…”you’re doing great babe…come on, push a little harder…you can do it…”  Oh my goodness it was driving me NUTS!  I just shushed him…”SSSHHHHHHHHHHH” I kept repeating.  He was like, “What?”.  I told him to be quiet.  He got the picture.  I was trying to be as nice as possible.  I didn’t want to be the mean, screaming lunatic that is so often portrayed in film and television in birth scenes.  And I CERTAINLY didn’t want to remake the scene from The Backup Plan with Jennifer Lopez.

I continued to push and finally felt like I was getting somewhere.  I dug my grips into Tommy’s shirt (and apparently his bladder, so he told me later) and pushed with everything I had left.  Finally!  Tristan was being born!!  Tristan entered this world at 3:50 am on October 9th, 2010!

The first picture ever taken of Tristan

Tommy was still in front of me, and I got myself turned around so he was sitting behind me, supporting me (as he had been throughout this entire labor…heck the entire pregnancy!).  Apparently he was snapping pictures too…one of the few men I know who can multi-task!

Daddy's first glimpses

What a joyous occasion!  Every ounce of tired left my body.  I was feeling such a rush!  I couldn’t believe at the amazing feat my body has just accomplished!

Looking stunned....definitely not stunning!

Tommy did his daddy duty and cut the cord…what a beautiful moment.

Tommy cutting the cord-so happy to give him this opportunity

I delivered the placenta, and in the meantime was attempting to nurse this beautiful little boy.

Tristan's first nursing session

Afterwards, Muraiha helped me into the shower so I could get cleaned up while Pam, Mom and Tommy got the bedroom cleaned up, bed stripped down and put back together and the laundry started.  When I got out of the shower, my room looked like nothing had ever happened.  All of Pam’s equipment was even packed up, with the exception of the few items they would need for Tristan’s exam.  Muraiha started to do Tristan’s exam once I got myself settled back into my cozy bed.

Tristan's Newborn Exam

The exam wasn’t rushed at all…it was so cool to experience birth from my favorite place…my bedroom.  I was so excited to find out how big my little man was.

Preparing for the weigh in

Oh my goodness…my little guy weighed in at 9 pounds!  I couldn’t believe it!  9 pounds and not a single solitary tear!  Thanks to Pam and Muraiha!!

9 pounds...does that really say 9 pounds??

Once the exam was done, Tommy and I were left to enjoy our new little family, in the peace and comfort of our home.  I honestly can’t compare this experience to anything else I’ve ever done.  This was Tommy’s first ever birth experience and I have to say he is definitely a home birth advocate now.  I would never do this any other way (unless medically necessary, of course) again.  I feel somewhat empowered by the whole experience, and I really feel that it brought Tommy and I even closer than we were before.  He was my rock during the labor, and I was so impressed with how he was there for me.

So in love with our new little guy

Tristan Davis Bowling
Born October 9, 2010 at home
3:50 am
9 lbs, 22 inches

I am special...I was born at home