Finally Friday.

Finally Friday!

It’s Friday. Hallelujah.

If last week was the week of the corn chip… this week is the week of resisting the corn chip. I only caved once, yesterday, after a particularly grouchy conversation with someone I work with. Also, I resisted the delicious smelling pizza lunch for a soggy salad from home. I wanted the chip so I ate the chip, mmmmk?

Anyways, enough about my corn chip obsession. I’m pretty sure that today is Saturday, though I’m assured that it is, in fact, Friday – I’ve been off an entire day all week. To help pep myself up this morning, I had a little self talk about my upcoming trip to Hawaii… if anything can get me through a Saturday Friday workday, it is that. This weekend is a busy one as we’re putting in our hardwood floors (finally!) on top of having family photos taken and a kick-off lunch with our marriage class from church. Christian and I also spotted a cabinet at a garage sale this morning that, with a little paint, will look great in our laundry room — score of the day at $5. I love garage sales.

Also, I wanted to report back on the Zucchini crust pizza from last week’s Friday post. I followed the directions, but left out the cheese (subbing in an egg). While it wasn’t the best pizza I’ve ever had it was pretty good for cheese-less, vegetable crust pizza. Christian (who had cheese on his) said that it was better than it looked after giving me the side-eye as I pulled it out of the oven.  If you try it, you’ll have to let me know what you think!

Here are my finds from around the interwebs this week:

I’m friends with Katie on Facebook and over the past few months she has posted conversations that she has with her Dad (all via phone). They’re hilarious in and of themselves, but they, also, semi-remind me of all the quirky things my Dad says/does which makes them even better. The best part? Now she has a Tumblr – Coffee With Dad and you too can get in on the hilarity.

I love my friends so much that sometimes it hurts. All the inside jokes, ridiculous memories and bad decisions we made together blur into one supportive, fabulous pile of greatness. These spot-on rules of girl code are amazing and I totally agree with #’s 4, 12 and 14.

Ever since I saw the article on how much it cost for Princess Kate to have the royal baby in comparison to birth costs here in the U.S., I’ve been consuming a lot of information on what we’re doing wrong. This video on US healthcare costs sums it up better than I ever could. Watch it – he’s smart, attractive and entertaining to follow.

Do you ever find yourself just sitting there wondering when life’s crap storm is going to hit? Or, do you ever have those moments when things are going well (almost too well — as if there is such a thing) and you’re just waiting for something to come dampen your joy? That’s what we call the crack of doom, and you should probably stop worrying about it.

Fried rice is one of my favorite things about Chinese food — I’m sort of a sucker for most fried things (no shame!) and fried rice is no different. However, this recipe for kale fried rice is packed with Kale and a little bit healthier than the other version I was eyeing (it had bacon grease as a main ingredient)… this one might just end up on the meal plan for next week!

Sometimes I wish that I could get a well thought out personal finance plan for free. Someone to tell me what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Ya know? Well, ask and thou shall receive… because here’s all the personal finance advice you’ll ever need.

I saved this one for last, not because it’s the least important (it’s the most), but because its content is hard to see. The purpose behind Project Unbreakable is to build awareness around sexual assault and allow the victims of such horrific acts a place to begin their healing. Each photo shows an assault survivor with a sign quoting the chilling words/threats/lies their attackers told them — if only there was a way to erase such horrible things and give each of them a hug. We all need to be the light in this world, for we never know what others are facing.

Hope you have a great weekend.

Happy Father’s Day!

When we were growing up, my Dad was the best. He’d show up after a week working in Aspen with bunnies or baby chicks (among many others versions of poultry). When you’re seven, there’s no better way to your heart than baby farm animals. He knew what he was doing and hit the nail on the head. He also, once, built us a tree house. If that’s not Father of the Year material, then I just don’t know what is. Happy Father’s Day Dad, I love you!

P.S. Hot pink overalls in the middle of summer? Loud and proud.

Wedding Bell Anxiety.

With C and I’s wedding happening next month you could say that the stress level around here is running just a touch high. My mom can’t sleep because she worries about everything that needs to get done, everyone coming into town and the limited time we have left to get it all done. I can’t sleep at night… adding, deleting and reviewing my, what seems to be, never ending list of things to order, things to do, and things to make. At 12 am, trying to determine just the right amount of flowers for the centerpieces and the color of shoes to go under my dress just seems vitally important and sleep can wait.

But, none of this beats the anxiety that my Dad is experiencing. Not only is he worried about how I’m getting down the aisle, how he’s getting down the aisle, who’s pushing the wheel chair and whether or not he’ll stand up… he’s dreaming about it too. Not any dream, mind you. A dream, that I believe, would be haunting for any man. It went a little something like this:

My Dad: You think you’ve got it bad, I’ve been dreaming about the wedding.

My Mom: Really?

My Dad: Yeah……. Only in my dream…. I’m the bride. And, no one is showing up for the wedding. I repeatedly ask why no one is showing up and finally find out it’s because they’re charging $22.50 per plate to come. It was awful.

My Mom: <insert hysterical laughter>

It puts it all into perspective. My dad is dreaming about being the bride, which is not only slightly disturbing, but also not a particularly attractive image. I’m not sure any of the other details can top that.

 

Sweet Tooth.

I would never describe myself as having a sweet tooth. I’m usually a salt person and would pick a plate of hot steaming french fries over a chocolate chip cookie any day. Lately, though, I’ve been having intense sugar cravings — maybe because I’m trying to cut back, part of getting healthy kick?

I’ve craved everything from soda to pumpkin bars to cupcakes to ice cream, and everything in between… but the main and insatiable craving comes everyday in the form of Milk Duds. I love them both because of and in spite of the fact that they are a caramel, chocolate candy  that semi-resembles deer droppings. They are just so amazing.

Milk Duds on top of being spectacular are one of the foods that will forever remind me of my dad. There are several foods that do that: Fritos, Milk Duds, Grape Popsicles, Cornbread… and I love them all just a little more because we used to eat them together.

Growing up, my Dad spent a good portion of time working in Aspen. He published a local magazine and actually had BE THERE to get things done – go figure. Every once in a while my mom would give the “ok” for my sister and I to skip school for a few days to go to Aspen with my Dad. We’d take ski lessons on Buttermilk mountain while he worked and go get brownies afterwards at a little café downtown. After our time was up we’d stop at the gas station in Basalt, CO and load up on goodies. Milk Duds and Fritos. We’d spend the next four hours together eating, listening to Pasty Kline or no music at all. I loved those days. And I still love Milk Duds.

*Milk Dud Image by Pillie Bee

That one time I went caving, aka spelunking.

A few years back, my dad lived on this farm in Missouri. I grew up in the city and thought it was absolutely spectacular to visit and “work” on the farm for a few weeks a year. Throughout my childhood I would dream of living on a farm, having unlimited access to all kinds of animals and just living in the country. I think that  I’ve mentioned that I have family in Iowa (if not, you now know), and about half of them live on farms. We’d go for a visit but never, really, got to experience the day-to-day grind of farm life, meaning my Dad’s farm was all new to me.

Riding the dirt road!

It took 15 minutes down a dusty, dirt road to find his really long driveway. Once you arrived at the top of the drive, the farm was speckled with all kinds of buildings and corrals and sheds. Each day was a new adventure, we fed the chickens, gave the goats their annual shots, road the horse, fed the dogs, checked in on the chicks, and so on. Farm life. We got dirty every day and I loved each and every second.

In addition to all the crazy buildings and having a river that was 1/4 mile away there was also a cave on the property (freaking cool!)… and my dad had the key. The state had it gated off for preservation reasons.

On one particular day, I was out in Missouri visiting with a friend. The three of us (my dad, the friend and I) drove down the little, rocky dirt driveway and parked the mini-van.

Yes, my dad drove a mini-van, and if you asked him today what car he would want, if he could have any https://meganstecker.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=952&action=editcar in the world? He would tell you a mini-van. That’s my dad.

We hauled ourselves out into the humidity and hiked up the hill to said cave. The friend and I slithered and crawled back to the gate where we worked to unlock it — a trickier endeavor than originally planned. Probably a broken lock. The friend then turns to tell me that it is unlocked, to express the joy at having defeated the dilapidated gate. As he’s speaking I start to notice that his gaze has shifted from looking directly at me to looking slightly above me. He says in the calmest voice he can muster, “Megan, don’t look up” … so… what do I do? What would any normal person do? I looked up. There were thousands, maybe millions of AMAZON-sized crickets covering the ceiling of the cave, only a few inches from the top of my head. This, my friends, is at the top of my list titled “Things I Fear”. Saying I was terrified doesn’t even begin to cut it. I screamed an endless, blood curdling, someone stabbed me in the chest scream and got out of that cave faster that I thought was humanly possible.

I didn’t stop at the cave entrance – too close. I RAN down the hill and locked myself in the mini-van and cried. It was hot, I almost died and I was chased down the hill by a swarm of angry, biting horse flies (ouch!). The bugs were out to get me that day. My dad and the friend made their way back to the car, but only after shooting a poisonous snake hanging from one of the tree branches I screeched past on my way down. I wish I could tell you what kind of snake it was but I was so focused on not being eaten alive by insects that I didn’t catch it’s name. You’re surprised. I know.

Sometimes I think about that day and how honestly scared I was. Rationally I know that the crickets weren’t going to all jump on me, crawl through my nose and eat me alive in that cave. I know it. Sort of. Even now, just the thought of them, squirming all over the ceiling is enough to evoke goose bumps on my arms and a lump in my throat. I am 100% terrified of bugs.

About six months later I went back and crawled the cave with a group of burly men. Examined bats. Counted spiders (from a VERY safe distance) and survived. Albeit a bit shredded and muddy. It was crazy both times and I can’t say that I’m keen on getting back into a cave. I can, however say that I’m so glad for the experience. For having gotten dirty and for going back when I didn’t think I could.

I tore my pants -- I'm so brave.

My caving buddies!

You have any good stories? Bugs? Going back?

Thankful.

Seeing as it’s Thanksgiving, I find it more than appropriate to express my gratitude for so many things in life. My friends and family… honestly I couldn’t live without them or their inappropriate senses of humor. You know who you are. These “saying thanks” things can get a little overwhelming if you think about it. We’re so blessed and there are so many things you should mention. Sort of like an Oscar speech, if you forget one person… they’ll never let you live it down. So… here are a few things I’m thankful for:

1. My mom always losing her keys, her credit card, her mind… and allowing me to mock her.

2. My sisters varying degrees of laughter. You never know what you’re going to get.

3. My Dad’s random and off the wall comments sometimes referring to turkey s**t.

4. All of my friends, their floor dancing, chats over wine, unwavering support, and all the hysterics that go with it.

5. Charles. I’m just thankful for my dog. He’s a jerk and he can be a pain in the butt, but I heart him and his trash eating ways.

6. Chapstick… you never once have let me down.

7. My iPhone. I am truly naked without it, as in can’t function.

8. Spandex, and it’s insertion into many styles of pants. Thanksgiving pants can now be fashionable.

9. My electric bug killing raquet.

10. Everything that I’ve forgotten and will remember tomorrow. Yeah, I’m thankful for that too.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hope you ate yourself into a coma and took a nap. Then watched some football… essentially living the American dream.

Charles with a healthy helping of pie.

My dog, the precious little jerk that he is… hasn’t been feeling so hot lately. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this before, but if I have you get to hear it all over again. And you’re going to like it. Lucky you.

c

About a year after I got this wonderful, urine filled darling he starting acting very lethargic, not eating and there for a while he gave up moving at all. I took him to the CSU vet hospital (one of my least favorite places seeing as after only an hour they brutally begin to remove your soul from your body). After extensive blood testing, about $1,000 and 3 conversations referencing “putting him down” we were told that he has a “Portacaval Liver Shunt”. I’m not a doctor (or vet), and since I can’t stand the site of blood or dealing with other’s/dogs bodies/functions I don’t think I ever will be. BUT, hearing the terms, “put him down”, “liver shunt”, “medication” etc. were more than enough to instill the fears of horrendous vet bills and extensive dog barf into my psyche.

To sustain his current physical condition he is currently on medication 3 times a day and presciption dog food. Protein free of course because with this little diagnosis and medical regimen comes the “No Protein EVER Rule”. What kind of life is that for a dog? No protein? No bologna, american cheese, chicken livers, or turkey gibblets? Not sure I’d want to stick around long either!

Now, knowing all of this, please try to picture me explaining this to my 74 year old father. It went a little something like this:

Me: Dad… Charlie, your beloved grand-dog has an un-curable liver shut and can NEVER, may I repeat NEVER have any protein or he will flop down, seize up and die in front of your very eyes. Got it?

Dad: What? What!!?? How can this be? No protein? He’s a dog. Do you get that? HE. IS. A. DOG. Dog’s need protein to live. What will he eat?!? This is no life for a dog. Poor dog. Poor, poor dog.

Me: Are we clear then? No protein… today, tomorrow, EVER!

Dad: Yeah, yeah I got it.

So after that joy of a conversation I assumed the issue had been put to bed. Good night protein issue. But I was wrong. Boy oh boy was I wrong. Did you know that beans don’t have protein? Oh and neither does pie. Pie is especially good for dogs with liver problems. “Helps them grow hair on their chests”… according to my father. I swear.

So between dosings of pie, beans, and protein laden dog food… Charles has been on the out-and-out these past few days. Lots of sleep, no energy… oh and that big tumble ALL the way down the stairs. It sounded something like “thud, thud, thud, clunk, thud, thud, thud, thud, bam, thud, whimper, thud, boom”. Yes, Charles fell all the way down the stairs. Apparently when he gets protein all the toxins go straight to his brain. If/when he dies, I swear I’m going to put “Death by pie” on his tombstone.