Monday, April 07, 2014

The One Where I'm a Jack Ass

I have tried to write this post so many times, there are like 6 drafts of this very post.  It's hard to write a post where you admit you are a jackass.  Now that I think about it, maybe I should have just reworked one of the ones I already did but I'm going to try to start fresh again.  I'm just going to rip it off like a band-aid.  Here goes.

I turned down two boys a few weeks ago.  One was two and the other was three.  To this day I am so full of ambivalence about it.  What the hell is the matter with me?

The reality of taking in two boys just immediately seemed overwhelming to me.  I think in my mind I envisioned a call for a three month old, like one kid, to get my feet wet, and I would get some time to adjust to having a kid in the house before having two crazy toddlers and feeling like I'm running a daycare.  I felt like I was behind the 8 ball before I even picked them up.  And I felt like I would never catch up.  I hadn't even met them and this was my initial feeling.

But then later I started feeling like I had made a dreadful mistake.  What if that was my one shot and I blew it?  So many "what-ifs."  And I felt like an ass.  I signed up to help some kids that need us and then I turn them down.

This is a difficult journey.  It's making me question everything.  I hope I figure it out, I hope I get another chance to take in a child.  I hope I can figure this out.

Since then there's been nothing, radio silence.  I'm just hoping so hard for the best but I have to be ready to accept it when the opportunity comes up.  Just say YES.  I did finally buy a car seat.  We are total ready.  No really, this time I'm ready.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

U. Update

I remember having a conversation with Brian about the plea deal for the guy who broke into our house (U.) and how I didn't think he was serving enough time Brian told me not to worry that he would get out and get wrapped back up in the same thing and eventually get arrested again and do even more time that time.  I wasn't so sure because most break-ins are never resolved, ours was a rare incident because the guy left a perfect fingerprint on our broken stolen television.  That never happens.

He was done with our sentence in very late October and I wasn't nervous or anything about retaliation (I did have a 2 page letter to him read out in open court by the D.A. so I wasn't exactly going quiet into the night so to speak) but you just never know when you might run into someone, this town is tiny and downtown is tiny, you just never know.  But nothing ever happened.

We've had some pretty serious gang violence considering the size of our small city.  It was crazy in the news for a while then seemed to peter out.  I remember thinking about it the other day and assumed maybe the news just stop reporting it, if you don't report it, people don't know it's a problem anymore.  Then a few days ago someone was shot near the local high school, reported as a gang incident.  The next day someone was stabbed around the same area (retaliatory, I guess).  Brian called me that afternoon and said the guy who shot the first guy was the guy who broke into our house.  This wasn't on the news yet, the D.A. knew and she told Brian and told him to let me know so I wouldn't find out by watching the evening news (that would have been CRAZY, btw).

It took another day and U. was arrested, his mug shot flashed on my replaced stolen television, Cheshire grin, perfect white teeth, a small glimmer of the baby face he had just a couple years ago.  He's in big trouble, he may go to prison for up to 20 years for attempted murder, Brian says.

Man, you were so right about that, I said.  I thought he would be robbing houses for years before he was caught again, and now look.  That guy was in our house, that kid, who can take a gun and fire it at another guy's chest because he doesn't like him, he was going through my underwear drawer and scaring the shit out of my cats.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Attachment Issues

Considering the definitive take-away from all those foster parent classes was essentially love fully but don't get too attached, and we know you're going to get attached anyway so just be ready to have your heart broken in a way you never thought possible, you'd think getting attached to my social worker would be the least of my problems.

I loved our social worker, I mean really.  He made me feel calm and relaxed and assured that everything neurotic I was thinking was going to be okay.  I never felt patronized or belittled, but mostly by the end of it all, after the classes that he taught and all the secrets I told him from the depths of my emotional skeletons, I felt like he understood me, and Brian, he knew us.  He had been to our house multiple times, he saw the kid room, he saw our tiny bathroom, he saw it all and I had a sense that he was looking out for us, whether this is a thing that's supposed to happen or not.  Certainly the foster family is way on down the list of who needs nurturing.  But we do, the neurotic ones (like me) do.

So everything is done and sent off and we're just waiting for word that we got our license.  And that day came and it was a happy day but bittersweet.  In the same email our social worker said he was promoted.  We now have an interim social worker until we get a new permanent social worker.  And then we didn't hear anything for like 3 years (I mean weeks).

Our paper license came in the mail with our interim social worker's business card.  And then more crickets, more waiting.  And it's not like I didn't expect crickets, I know we picked a popular age range.  Everybody wants a baby, right?  So crickets, nothing, and I, the girl who can't stand waiting, needed something so I started setting dates, if nothing happens by this date I will...  It helps me, even if that date comes and I do nothing.  The date is way out there so don't panic.  I just like having a sense of control when there is no control to be found.

Then Brian calls me yesterday and says our social worker called and asked if we wanted to take in a 10 year old and a 12 year old.  And it's just been bothering me ever sense.

I was under the impression there was some data base somewhere with our names and brief note like "she stays home" and our age range.  That there was a rhyme or reason behind every call.  That a child would be in need and all the social workers are sitting around eating salads and one says, "I know who will be perfect for that child!" and the phone call is made.

Apparently this is not the case.  And if it's not the case how will a proper match ever possible to be made?  How are we on a 10 and 12 year old list?  We don't even have twin beds, we have 1 tiny bathroom.  I own a rattle.  This whole thing is just starting to freak me out again.  I'm just setting more dates, trying to calm myself.  This can happen, right?  Did we waste all that time?  Do I have a nursery in my house for nothing? 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Oscar Party Recap

I wrote a post after last year's Oscar party called "The Last Oscar Party." I never finished the post and I never posted it because it was too raw to share openly on the internet.  So there it sat.  I just read it and by all accounts I feel pretty much the same way about this recent Oscar's party but for some reason it was better this time.  I think the main thing I did was watch my budget better and I didn't cook for 2 full days. 20 hours of food prep is no fun, let me be the first to tell you.

This time I kept it simple, Italian American food is certainly easier than Authentic French food for one.  I made lasagna, into single serving rolls rather than a pan of lasagna.  I don't know if this was the way too go, it tasted fine but I don't think the presentation made that much of a difference.

Like my planning post I also made mini caprese salads and Oreo truffles and tuxedo strawberries.  We bought a shrimp ring at the grocery store and a veggie platter.  My plan was too make everything on Saturday and then Sunday pretty much pop the lasagna in the oven and spend the rest of the day getting ready and setting everything up.

I didn't get started until Saturday night so I pretty much got the lasagna ready to go and into the refrigerator and that was it.  I made my lasagna with bechamel so it was a little more difficult than standard ricotta lasagna but despite using every burner on my stove at the same time, I have never done that before, it wasn't that big a deal, rolling individual lasagna noodles took a lot of time and again in retrospect it wasn't really worth it to do that way.  So bechamel, good move (considering I don't like ricotta), individual rolls, not that big an impact.

Sunday I spent on desserts.  It shouldn't have been a bid deal but it was.  I don't have a food processor so I had to beat up an entire bag of Oreos by hand until they were the consistancy of coffee grounds.  Then I had the bright idea to just stick the cream cheese in the same bag and mush it all in the bag.  It didn't work and I had to get all that mess out of the ziplock into a bowl and mush by hand.  If you've ever made cake pops, they are really a pain, that's why I don't make them often.  For some reason I thought this wouldn't be like cake pops but it was exactly like cake pops.  I melted chocolate to dip my sticks and then into the cake pops and then back in the refrigerator.  Later you pull them out and dip half of them into melted white chocolate and half into melted regular chocolate.  At the same time I was making tuxedo strawberries and trying to time my chocolate melting so both things were using the same color chocolate at the same time.  I lost a couple of Oreo truffles falling off their sticks and lost a couple of strawberries with weak green stems (how I hold them when I dip them).  It was too much chocolate dipping and the quantity was just starting to piss me off.  Lose a couple of truffles, it's not a big deal, but throw out a whole container of bad or misshaped strawberries and then lose a 5 more strawberries and then chocolate starts to gets hard too soon or you don't have enough and it turns into a nightmare.  Plus I wanted some tuxedos to be blue tuxedos (for my 70s theme) so I also had to melt blue chocolate.  A lot of chocolate was wasted.  I then realized that I couldn't do the decorations on the Oreos with the opposite color because the stick was in the way (lost another truffle).  Plus the chocolate was hard anyway so now my truffles were just plain chocolate dipped with no decoration and that was disappointing.  I finished everything finally put the lid on the strawberries put them in the refrigerator and the lid hit the top of the middle section of tuxedos and smashed my tuxedo artwork.  By then I was like FUCK IT and shoved everything in there.  So next year, not so much with the chocolate dipping, okay?

Later that afternoon I made the Caprese salads.  The tiny mozzarella balls were expensive, like $9.99 for 20 of them so I only bought one package.  Making them wasn't too bad, mostly a matter of finding a piece of basil in my pile with no brown parts or tiny holes.  If the basil was too big I cut it after it was assembled.  They were very cute, I wish the mozzarella didn't cost that much because they were a big hit, gone almost instantly, luckily I managed to get the last one during a commercial break.  It was really good.  I would add it to my repertoire but it's just too expensive.

Then we rested.  I showered, impossibly fixed my hair like Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, it was approaching 8 so I got dressed, Brian was not dressed when the first guests arrived at 8.  Also the balloons we hid up high from the cats entangled like a crazy necklace so by the time I got them untangled every single guest had arrived.  No food was even on the table (I did have the lasagna timed to be ready at 8:30).  So I was desperately trying to get the food out and by the time it was 8:30 I had finished and sat down and the rest of the party was smooth. 

Only one person mentioned the food.  One person told me they liked the Oreo truffles.  I assume it was good because it was gone, we ran out of almost everything but no one complemented any of my decorations or any of the food I made.  It was really weird.  I guess the lesson here is for me and maybe you guys too.  If you ever go to a party, complement your hostess on her effort.  Parties are expensive and homemade decorations are time consuming.  Planning a menu and cooking a bunch of food (hammering at a bag of Oreos) is not easy.  Most parties we go to are just sandwich meats and chips and dips but I never serve chips, my parties are supposed to be special, a special experience for my guests but it does make me feel a little down when no one says anything, no one acknowledges anything that I put so much effort into.  So if you go to a party praise your hostess.  If something sucks ignore that and find something you like and tell the hostess.  It's something I'm going to remember in the future and I hope you guys do too.


I never take enough photos because time runs out but here's a couple things I have from my iphone from the early afternoon.  I made an Oscars Party banner from glitter paper and fringe (inspired by Fun Cult who does a much better job that I did).  My chandelier decorations.  The gems are mini pinatas (from here if you want to make your own) that took way too long but I was already too invested in them to turn back.  I added the glitter star garland last minute on Friday because it still seemed like it needed something.  My Caprese salads right after prepping.  I added some vinaigrette last minute, they were soooo good.  For flowers I hemmed and hawed and decided on yellow tulips (they looked both gold and 70s-ish).  I used my elephant "vases" to give a little middle eastern edge (a nod to the sheik in the movie).  We also had a disco ball that twirled giving a disco effect in the kitchen and I found an overlay from Joanne's fabric that was white with gold glittery swirls that I put over a standard white tablecloth.  It was a great look I wish I took a photo of the food setup before I sat down.

Great party, I can't wait to see what movie I pick next year.

Friday, February 21, 2014

American Hustle Oscar Party

Just once, I'd love to throw a party without having to stick to the world's tightest budget.  Last year's Oscar party's theme was Les Miserable and I really loved picking a nominated movie and doing the whole party around a theme.  The issue I ran into is french food is expensive.  Without even being aware I ended up spending over $300 on just food (mostly Gruyere) for like 10 people.  The number one thing I walked away from that party was, watch your food budget.

This year my theme is American Hustle.


I really love the 70s, I grew up then and I'm still crazy for disco music. I thought ladies would look chic in their deep v-neck dresses and poufy hair.  I just bought a disco ball for the kitchen.  We've been letting Brian's hair grow out for the past couple of months and I'm going to try to curl it in a fashion I envision as Bradley Cooper, but in reality, we'll just have to see.

My invitations ended up way too simple.



I just couldn't quite get them where I wanted them to.  I thought the gold ombre effect would stand out more but it didn't really do the trick.  I did try to find the closest (free) copy of the actual font used in the movie poster.  I guess upon closer a closer look, I should have all capped my title and yes, my "e" is off, I think I like my "e" better.

I found these on pinterest and they were huge inspirations (that I apparently didn't use):


I really loved everything about this "vector."  I wanted to use it soooo bad.  I wanted to copy it sooo bad.  But I have picmonkey.com and basically MS Paint to do all my stuff and I played around with some hearts in Word for a while and then gave up.  If I was a little more sure of myself I would have hand drawn it with some plates and a ruler but then I thought I was going a little too preschool and didn't even try.  If I was a rich woman, I would have bought this vector, not sure what to do with it, I guess I'd buy Photoshop like a real blogger and then I could whip up some invitations in no time at all.  But I could do neither and really, I'd want to change colors (where's the aqua?) and not have the linoleum floor background, I should have played around with hearts more but I got in a hurry and had to knock it out.




I believe, unless our legs are being pulled, that this is an actual invitation to an Oscar party at Studio 54 back in the day.  I initially had this idea before even seeing this of taking the 54 logo and using our house numbers but then I saw the actual logo and realized that would be impossible and by making something up no one would get it.  Drats.

So I came up with mine and then decided I'd have them printed and I got them done for super cheap like $14 for 25 invites but because my design was so lame they look a little weird, a little overworked for something so banal.  I wonder if Truman and Andy were ever like, why did we make our invites so simple, where's the sparkle, where's the wow?

Mine came with simple white envelopes (not my favorite) and I used gold glitter heart stickers from etsy.com to secure the back.  So basically my husband was handing out what looked like Valentines to all his friends last week.  Ah, next time, next time it will be perfect!

.......

I've been working on the menu.  I'm fortunate to be able to pull from a variety of sources: glamorous looking basic Oscar foods, food from the seventies, and of course, Italian-American foods.  I wanted to focus on 70s appetizers but it wasn't the greatest era for that sort of thing (lots of jello from what I found).

I always do chocolate covered tuxedo strawberries, this year my idea is to have some of them in blue tuxedos using light blue candy coating.

Then I wanted to do something with Oreos.  Oreos feel very 70s to me because that's when I was a kid and Oreos were my favorite cookie.  So I'm making Oreo truffles.

A veggie platter is a normal thing for us to serve but I'm making sure to use Sour Cream and Onion dip and not Ranch.  I don't remember Ranch when I was a kid.

I saw lots of shrimp cocktails so even though we serve shrimp at most of our parties, it fits my decade.

Then for the main dishes I think I'm going with lasagna rolls.  And I've always wanted to do the little caprese salad appetizers.  I'm pretty sure no one did the caprese salad appetizers so famous on Pinterest now but it is a nod to all the ridiculous skewered things from the 70s (pineapple and cheddar cheese on a toothpick, anyone?).



Caprese Salad, Lasagna Roll-Ups, Tuxedo Strawberries, Oreo Truffles

.....

Clothing for a plus size woman is always an issue so I started early.  I ended up going with this dress from Macy's (it's sold out now so I won't bother linking).


It looks way better on the model than on me.  I was considering returning it if I found something else but then decided it would be fine.  Last year I wore a very short dress and was very uncomfortable sitting down so this year I'll be wearing a polyester nightgown with sequins, it'll be fine.  I haven't been able to have my hair colored in a while but the upside is my hair has gotten pretty long and I'm going to attempt to pile it on top of my head like Jennifer Lawrence (see movie poster above).  For Brian, I was so close to buying him a suit from the 70s off ebay, so close.  It would have been great.  Then I was going to buy him a 70s bow tie (they are bigger) but then I was afraid we couldn't tie it and I didn't want a clip on.  He has a 3 piece blue suit.  I think he'll wear the pants and vest with a shirt and we'll try to find him a tie from the department store that looks decidedly 70s.  I'm also thinking ascot but we'll see.

(This is going to be a disaster on Feedly, I'm so sorry guys, my photos overlap there for reasons I don't understand).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Da-Da Da-Da Da-Duuuunnnnn

We found out yesterday that we are officially licensed to be foster parents.  It sounds really exciting and it is but it still means more waiting.

There's a lot of waiting in this process.

I also got on the list for middle of the night calls.  Which will be interesting considering we don't have a car seat yet.  But I don't want to lose any options, ya know.

We could still be waiting for months.  Or we could get a call tonight.  It's really weird.  I've been feeling a little down because of all the babies being born, I've been holding a lot of babies lately, and the wait feels excruciating but then finally something else happened, we have our license.  It can really happen now.

So more waiting.

We also found out our social worker who has been with us this whole process including teaching our classes, has been promoted.  We will get an interim social worker until we get a new permanent one.  This makes me a little sad because I felt like our social worker really knew us and if the right kid came along he'd be all, "Da-da-da-da-dun, I know where that baby shall go."  I'm sure I'm over thinking it but that's what it feels like.  Plus, he was just awesome and made me feel at ease so I'll miss him.

Anyway, I wanted to let you guys know that.  It's not the biggest of news but it's news.


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Exterior House Spucing Ideas

As you know we recently had our house painted with much joy and dismay as you can possibly fit together.  But to me, it looks a little blaa, like it's missing something.




I've been thinking about simple ways to try to give it some more contrast and here's what I've come up with:




You can click on the photos to make them larger.  From other houses that I've seen that use a lighter less contrasting color, what seems to work best is to use an additional high contrast color.  This usually means they paint their door black and put up black shutters and it looks great.  Look at this house:




Without all the black I feel like this house would look pretty washed out.   So my trick is how to add more black.  I've always loved the look of white railing with black on the top.  We had that in the old house and it was really beautiful.  I wonder if it would look as good on the front porch.  Also my mom pointed out to paint the side of the stairs, excellent idea and the wood piece just below the porch above where the brick starts.  Then of course a little weight is needed on the left side of the house so I really want a custom window box there (unless I can find one the right measurements that span both windows completely).  Easy to maintain flowers like gerber daisies (cough!) and roses seal the deal.

What do you think? It's the black board at the bottom of the porch that makes me nervous but it's just paint, I can do it myself and and fix it if I need to.