Monday, April 14, 2014

{Girlytech Reviews} Jamba - Strawberry Whirl

With my Isis wallet app ready to go, free Jamba is always just a hop, skip and a jump away. So I figured why not break it down and try 'em all?

Today we have Strawberry Whirl, an all fruit blend of strawberry, banana and apple/strawberry juice.


I didn't notice much taste difference between this and the dairy version, Strawberry Wild. In the Whirl you will find 30% more vitamin C and 50 less calories, so overall it's your better bet between the two.

It's a very classic smoothie taste, no flavor really stands out in a unique profile, and everything works really well to give you a balanced taste and texture. The secret here is in the bananas which work to give you that creamy texture, cut the acidity of the berries and apples, and keep it all from being sickly sweet. A fairly solid start to the series, but nothing too exciting. 
3/5

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It has been a very long time since I've posted anything on here. Life has been more crazy than I could have ever expected, and not in a good way. I am dealing with so many things on a financial and emotional level that it is hard to keep my head on straight.

I am thoroughly enjoying being a mom, and since my last post my son has crossed the year and year point five milestones. He is currently 85th percentile for height, 50th for weight, doing really well and breaking all the lady's hearts. I found an amazing care provider in an old high school friend Meaghen who has helped give Oliver a place to explore and play. He is smart, quick to learn new things - even more than we give him credit for. His vocabulary grows daily and he's started repeating the end of sentences out loud. I guess it's time to watch my language! He's running around, getting into things, and generally being a pretty awesome little guy.

Johnathan's health is failing, and has been getting worse since his hospital trip in November. He's kept me in the dark about a lot of what's going on with him, and the rest he hasn't publically announced, but it's not looking great. I've lost my mind and broke down crying, but I think for the most part we don't have a set prognosis so I can be mostly in denial about everything. Of course, the reason we don't have anything concrete is because he went over his coverage amount on his insurance; and will need to pay everything out of pocket (which we can't do), or wait until next year. Hopefully he'll be making an employer transition and will be able to purchase something plan-wise that will cover better for him. He needs a switch anyway, especially since he hasn't got paid since November due to other issues.

With Johnathan not having any income since November, and the health issues, it's been a very rough several months. I am so immensely grateful to Chue for paying our rent when we've needed him to, being such a good friend, and uncle to Ollie. We've formed a pretty awesome, albeit unconventional family. I'm pretty sure they could write a sitcom about it, if there was a bit more comedy instead of tragedy. My father loaned Johnathan the money to file bankruptcy, and if we could ever come up with the filing fee to finish that up, perhaps he'd get to see a paycheck again - though his employer is taking whatever's left to pay for the insurance overages.

If adversity breeds strength we'll be hulks by the time this dark patch is behind us. It's been a shit storm of financial stress, health issues, family issues, and darkness for almost half a year. There've been suicide attempts, negative account balances, and loans which just aren't going to be paid off any time soon. Worst case I guess this lasts another 13 months until John gets his trust fund. Best case we can get through it quicker and be on our feet for the next step of life at that point. Whatever the case may be, I couldn't have better people beside me when my world's falling apart. Though, maybe in the next life I'll opt for richer cohorts.

That's a bit it for now, I'll plan on writing updates more frequently. There's something cathartic about pouring it out there. And hey, John and I will be together five years this Saturday, and that's something to write about.

-Steph

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Three Years

In three years we've:

Created life (and raised him 11 months)!
Moved into a house
Gone through like, 10 cars.
and 4 different jobs
Been struggling poor, and sailing smoothly.
Gained a lot of weight...(and lost some too!)
Fought more fiercely than ever before.

Loved more fiercely than ever before.

Here's to reigniting all the things that made us fall in love, and getting back to those smooth sailing days.

♥ 31 months ♥ 36 months ♥ 52 months ♥ Eternity to go 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

{Girlytech feels} hope

How many month-a-versaries has it been? Life grabs you by the lapels sometimes and just won't. quit. shaking. Until your teeth are rattling out of your skull and you think you can't take any more and then, slowly and ever, ever so softly you come to a rest in a field. And all is calm, and quiet... and you think.. nope, I cannot trust it.

That's exactly where I am right now.

Sitting in the middle of a field. Bruised and battered. Safe. And I do not trust it. Not in the slightest. Because for every up there is a down.

For every "I respect you and the work that you do" is a "we don't need you anymore". For every bill paid on time is another half dozen past due. For every, "let's pay off our friends and family" there's a "can we make the office into a bedroom?" And for every office made into a bedroom, there's someone who'd rather be homeless and high than safe and sober. For every olive branch extended is a second chance forgotten. For every projector screen, and blue tooth device, and HDMI switch, and window motor, there's a box full of clothing and broken glass. Life refuses to be perfect. To be neat, orderly, and tied in a bow. I suppose, if it was, where would we get our great stories from? Where's the adventure in normalcy? Where's the thrill in complacency?

So I sit, and pick the petals off of a daisy. I wait, for the storm clouds to rush in. I pray and I look to heaven on my scabbed and scarred knees and ask whatever God will listen to hear me. Hear me. hear me.

I like it here. I don't want to leave. I want to take my home, my family, and wrap it in a shiny bow. I'd gladly take a douse of normalcy and complacency for an ounce of security and if that makes me square... So be it. As you can see these wounds take time to heal. But if you have patience for my wrecked caterpillar of a body, I can guarantee you're in for one kick ass butterfly.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

4 years / 7 months

March 22nd, 2009 -- I don't know that I could have envisioned my life as it is now. A seven month old son with the world in front of him, a four year relationship with his father. That a relationship which my initial intentions were for a casual fling, has turned into the love of my lifetime... well, it's pretty darn surprising to that me four years ago. To me now though, I wouldn't imagine it any other way. Who else would I wake up every morning to, who I'd yell at for staying up all night, not being a good father, and blowing money on car parts? I can't imagine it being any one else. I can't imagine anyone else to share my life with, to have this family with, to dream about the future with. We're flawed beings but we're flawed together, and somehow it makes it okay.

Things are finally starting to look up for us. We've both got jobs making okay money, enough to live on for once, and John's at a place that I think actually recognizes his talents. I'm still a temp, but I'm okay with that, because I'm looking into starting a medical assisting program to get out of the cycle of dead end nothing jobs. It's not a huge jump in pay, but an extra $9k a year would be nice for sure. The degree will essentially pay for itself within my first year of employment, and that's always a good thing. Admissions aren't the easiest process, I'll have to call up some former employers and get them to write letters of recommendation for me, but I think it'll be worth it. It's one of those things you just have to do.

I've started the couch to 5k plan, and so far so good. My biggest obstacle is that I either have Chuck Taylors or Nike's that are a size too big for footwear. I found an amazing deal on some minimalist running shoes on nomorerack.com so that issue will be resolved soon and hopefully I'll be able to pick up some speed. I also need to look into a sports bra that won't try and pop over the top of me while I'm moving...and pretty much all the clothing I'm wearing isn't exactly great for running, but I'm taking it one step at a time and shoes were definitely the priority item.

I'm trying so hard to get my life together. For my family's future, for my own state of mind. I hope that I am able to keep going strong and accomplish my goals. Baby steps might be the way I need to do things but I'm determined to get there. When Oliver's at the age where someone asks him what his parents do, I want him to be able to say his dad's in IT and his mom helps people be healthy. That or they don't do anything because they won the lottery.... but, you know, realism. I also want to be strong and healthy for him and set a good example for eating and exercising habits. I'm doing the Slimfast thing right now until I get closer to my ideal weight, and it's definitely working, though my shape is still leaving much to be desired. Hence adding in the running. Once I'm used to that routine I'm thinking adding in strength training would be good too. Oliver's well on his way to 20 pounds and getting harder to lift these days. After I get the weight under control then I'll feel more comfortable switching back to eating a more normal diet. Though I think keeping in mind the Slimfast 3 meals 3 snacks, and moderation is definitely something I can stick with. I like not ever really being starving, even though I'm eating less calories.

So, there's an update! We're at a turning point for the better I think, and I hope and pray that this one, unlike all the rest, we can maintain.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I work so hard to make my dreams come true but it seems one step forward two steps back is the name of my tune.

How I imagined my twenty-fourth birthday?

Well, I'd be sitting on my front porch in a comfy chair, and all my friends and family would surround me there. I'd be sippin on an apple martini with my two beautiful children sitting next to me. Maybe the youngest one in dad's arms as she lacked the motor skills to do it her own. I look out at the world there in front of me, taking in and enjoying all that I could see. A neighbor walks by says how do you do and I know them enough to wave and smile in return. I've got two cars in the drive way that run and drive, no issues in their motors, stickers just fine. I'd be polished and tight everything in line, hair done up not a flyaway in sight. My gorgeous husband would come over to me, whisper I'm the greatest thing he's ever seen. We'd sneak away to talk when the party lulled, muse on how our life had unfurled. Not some Greek tragedy all covered in knots, but comfort and warmth, and worrying for not. Bills are paid, and college funds made, and we've got enough stashed for a year of rainy days. Christmas plans are made for the south coast, simple sure, but we're not ones to boast. Happy and healthy and not a collection agency in site, as we tuck the kids in and whisper good night. Make love like we were newly discovered, hold each other hours after we're done. Wake up and ready myself, kiss the husband good bye, take the kids to the park.

How simple I thought life would be, when these fantasies came to me. So young, so naive, so sure of myself - before everything started plummeting south.


I don't know why I hold on to these ghosts, these never could have beens. It's the light at the end, it's the hope that unfurls, it's what keeps me afloat I suppose...

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

- Emily Dickinson 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Not scared, just not human

It's so hard to explain to people why John isn't being normal with Oliver. How do you tell someone "He's doing okay, considering he's not human." without sounding like a complete and utter nut job? Yes, he's scared...at least, I think he's something that would roughly translate to us as scared.Yes, that Oliver's frail and weak and he doesn't want to hurt him. But also because he's against humans. He doesn't like them (us?), their mucusy fragile existence. Everything he has an aversion to in normal humanity is amplified a hundred fold in babies. He won't eat or drink after you, and he doesn't want you to eat or drink after him -- and this translates into complete avoidance with Oliver. He has this 100 point allocation thing where he can only focus and be okay with one human at a time and that's me. So he can eat and drink and be around my human-ness and be okay - once his body adapted to mine and stopped breaking out when I touched him. "I don't like humans, but I like my tan."

Rereading that paragraph... it sounds crazy. It is crazy. In the most normal of terms I can think of, he's a germaphobe. But it's not a fear of germs that gets him. If you had to categorize it into normal, understandable, and socially semi-acceptable terms -- that's what you'd use. A closer, though mad, definition would be that he's a Vulcan, or a cyborg with an only semi-functional emotional interface.

Not that this is an excuse by any means, as we all have issues within our personalities that we have to overcome to live a normal life. To be accepted by society requires sacrifices in these personalities, to be loved, to have thriving long term relationships. We have to put away those parts of ourselves that surface from our deep dark id. So must he get over all his hang ups and just do it. Just be a father, just be the man I need him to be. Otherwise, everything will come crumbling down.

I got John to hold Oliver last night. He covered himself in a blanket to avoid the irritation from Oliver's skin on his own and sat in bed so he was fully supported. The movement of Oliver's head as he looked around, being able to feel the different valleys of his yet fully formed skull was too much though. So I moved Oliver around so he was laying against his chest, and this seemed to be okay. He was able to put his hands on Oliver's swaddled self without freaking out too bad, as long as Oliver didn't wiggle too much.

John gets upset - at the doctors who tell him he'll get used to it, to not be afraid - at the people that tell him he'll become more sure of himself. He wants to tell them he's not afraid, not unsure of himself, not worried about hurting Oliver... just extremely uncomfortable with his very existence. The burning sensation on his skin that happens when he comes into contact with Oliver's bare skin, the overload of synapses. But again... not only is it nearly impossible to voice the feeling for him in general, the way he feels he doesn't think can be recognized. I think he's right.

While I left the decision of when to have kids up to John as I was game from day one, and this decision we entered knowing the outcome would obviously be an Oliver or female counterpart... I don't think that John thought of the consequences or what having a newborn would actually mean. That is, until I was pregnant and he voiced that he didn't know how to be a dad. He couldn't handle the bodily functions in other people's kids, couldn't hold them, they bugged him... It would be the same for his own he assured me. Yet how many times has a man said that, they don't like babies, they don't get them - only to turn out to be a great father from day one? There's something about that tiny little bundle of half of them that melts the coldest of male hearts. Human ones, anyway.

That's what expected him to be, normal..human. To overcome his hangups likely caused from the years of physical/emotional/sexual abuse and to be a father. To see his son for the first time and look into his eyes and know that he was his and to do everything he could to be the best father. When that didn't happen I figured that maybe it was the hospital -- John's dislike of humanity causes him to dislike hospitals even more than babies -- so maybe once we were home, he would warm up to the little one. Then I figured that maybe when Oliver's umbilical cord came off, when his circumcision healed that would be the key. Then maybe when Oliver could hold his own head up. . . Yet none of these milestones yielded any result. They didn't even yield any attempts at getting used to him, of trying. Eventually John started talking to him, looking at him. Then letting Oliver wrap his fingers around  John's. He started playing with his feet, "My footie!". He was able to prepare a bottle of formula or heat up a bottle of breast milk. Still, he didn't like seeing or hearing Oliver feed - said he smelled disgusting..forget about feeding him himself, or holding or changing or getting up in the middle of the night. So all of these basic care things fall on to me. I am the single mother with a back up dancer.

I work full time, I parent full time, I have to be a mother, a wife, a search engine placement agent ... and none of these things seem to have the ability to overlap. So I'll vent, and I'll dwell on things, and I'll get upset and want to leave or I'll kick John out of our room and make him sleep on the couch. Some days I can deal, I understand that John is broken and not going to be fixed any time soon. Other days are much, much more difficult. John thinks he'll be okay by the time Oliver is old enough to communicate -- three or so. He believes that he and Oliver will be the best of buds once Oliver stops spitting up after every meal, once he's potty trained, once he's able to look at the world and voice his concerns however basic. So, I'm on my own until then...trying desperately to speed up the process, and hoping for the best.