Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Our first meal together

Finally, my long awaited day. I cooked a meal and all three of us ate it without getting the food processor out of the cabinet!

And what did I make, you wonder?

Acini di pepe pasta with Cheddar cheese and milk sauce, aka MACARONI AND CHEESE!

And McKenna LOVED it! And CHEWED IT!

I am so encouraged. I can't wait to make her something else. Shepherd's pie, here we come! won't believe this. I'm being assigned a team of three adjusters as of Friday. I'm actually going to be someone's boss....THREE someones.

That's just scary and wrong. I'm still a kid!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fiesta success!

The baptism and party were last night and it was a complete success. The baptism went great except for one part when we couldn't get the gown on McKenna (forget the slip!) and the godfather surprised us by hiring a professional photographer, so I probably won't have pictures up for a few days. It was really special though...she did great and only cried a little bit, considering how tired she was.

The party was fantastic. Everyone raved about how great my food was and the sangria was excellent. However, I made way too much food and sangria...we have so many leftovers. I think it was due in part to a few things...I think that I anticipated that people would eat more than they did (and drink more than they did) and we had three families that were no-shows at the party, so that was thirteen people that I anticipated feeding that didn't come. We have lots of spinach dip leftover. I think what I will do differently next time is NOT duplicate dips. I doubled the spinach dip and tripled the salsa, and now I have tons of both. However, I really hit the nail on the head with the chicken (yay me) and my father-in-law's brisket was a hit as always. Everyone really loved the chicken.

The was just awesome. I don't know how else to put it. It went down so easily and everyone loved it, but I should have probably made four gallons instead of six. We have one of those McDonald's-sized beverage coolers, and it was full to the brim with sangria at the beginning of the night. Right now it's about half full. So next time, I'll definitely make a little less. I bought the right amount of soft drinks though, the fruit tray was pretty much gone, and I made the right call on not getting a veggie tray or a cheese and crackers tray.

I had quite a lot of sangria (I stopped counting after my fourth cup) so I'm a little hungover this morning, and P is really tired and sore from all his work getting the backyard in shape and cleaning. We cleaned up for the most part last night, so today all we have to do is just finish washing dishes and put away our partyware. The dogs were confined for the first hour and we let them out around 10:30 when we thought it was safe. They did GREAT. McKenna managed to stay up until about 9:30 and we finally put her to bed...I think that kid was asleep before her head hit the bassinette! She was so pooped. I didn't want her to miss her party, so after I finished heating up all the food and everything, I carried her around for a while so she could be social.

This was my first major in-law hosting, and I think I did great. I feel like I could now host a major holiday dinner, so we'll see about that later. My goddaughter S did show me all the areas of the house that I need to childproof, mainly my cabinets and my ladder shelf that holds my DVDs.

My best friend S and her boyfriend T were here all weekend, and it was SO great spending time with them, although I admit that I really wish I had gotten to spend more time talking to them and not running around doing party stuff. Next time, I'll try to do it better and freeze stuff ahead of time. I took them to the airport this morning, so they are winging their way home as I type. They were SUCH a huge help though...we couldn't have done it without them!

So that was the party! I need today to head is pounding. At least I knew when to stop. I'll get pictures up as soon as I can!

Oh, in case anyone's wondering about my jalapeno burns, it was like it never happened yesterday when I woke up. Weird, I know.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Attacked by jalapenos

And I'm serious about that.

All week I've been gearing up and psyching myself up for the big weekend of McKenna's party...I went grocery shopping Wednesday night and today I got up and started cooking. I kept telling myself all week that the key to success today would be staying calm...because when I get rushed, I panic and that's when things get spilled or dropped. I even joked with people at work that I was worried I'd set something on a hot stove and burn down the house.

But never in my wildest imagination did I EVER imagine that I would be injured in my culinary adventure today!

Do you remember this post? My culinary rules? Click here to refresh yourself and then read on to find my newest addition, rule #11.

Rule #11: NEVER cut jalapenos without wearing latex gloves.

I started cutting them first for salsa and then realized a few minutes in that my face was burning. I washed off, chilled my face with ice, etcetera, and then was fine. After I made the avocado dip, I realized that my fingertips were stinging and it wasn't subsiding. I've been in pain ever since then. I really think I have a second degree chemical burn on my fingers. It's been agony ALL DAY today.

Ugh. I never ever envisioned such a thing could happen. After all, it's not like I haven't cooked with peppers before! P just cracked up and said that it was true evidence of just how Caucasian I am...I'm sure his brother and sister-in-law cut their jalapenos with their bare hands.

Oh, well. Live and learn.

Monday, August 21, 2006

It's official

I'm now officially one step closer to the illustrious dark side of corporate upper management. I got the email today.

All that's left is to complete the four-week training course, go to this symposium in California for two weeks, then come back and apply for the job!

Thanks for all the support!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

McKenna's Party Menu

Geez, I have never ever planned a party for this many people before. I knew I was probably insane, but now I'm seriously thinking I really am.

Can I get some feedback? Even though I know I'll end up doing what I want anyway, I'd love to hear opinions on what everyone thinks of this menu/quantities.

I have 35 confirmed RSVPs and about 12-15 maybes, so I'm kind of planning for 40.

spicy chicken tacos (6 lbs of chicken) and beef brisket tacos (normal 3-4 lb brisket that my father-in-law is making)
**For this, I'm buying 40 tortillas and then toppings of Cheddar, avocado, tomatoes, scallions, onions, lettuce and sour cream.
Curry Beef Balls (3 lbs of ground beef)
two full batches of spinach and artichoke dip (about the equivalent of two casseroles worth)
three batches of salsa (about 6 cups)
green avocado dip (about 2 cups)
**tortilla chips to go with all three above dips
veggie tray (carrots, cucumbers and celery...I'm just going to buy one big bag of baby carrots, four cucumbers and one bag of celery) with 2 cups of Ranch dip
two dozen deviled eggs (which will be 48 halves)
half a sheet cake from Costco (already ordered)
fruit fantasy and cheese/cracker trays from Kroger (each is supposed to feed 18-20 people)
plain M&Ms
six gallons of sangria
3 2L of Coke, 2 2L of Diet Coke, 2 2L of Dr. Pepper, 1 2L of Diet DP, 2 2L of 7-up, 2 2L of Mt. Dew, and a case of Capri-Suns for the kids

Here's my plan...yes, I've already worked this out on paper so I don't have to give it any thought this weekend.

Friday: make spinach-artichoke dip to the point of baking, boil eggs for deviling, make salsa, and start preparing sangria
Saturday (before baptism): pick up cake at noon and trays/ice from Kroger at 1, make spicy chicken, cut veggies for relish tray, make Ranch dip, make green avocado sauce, make/bake beef balls, devil eggs, and get ice cooler ready
Saturday (in the brief 40 minutes after baptism and before party): warm and set out all food, bake spinach/artichoke dip,and finish sangria

Thoughts? Does it sound like I have it all covered or is there something I'm missing??? Does it sound like I have enough food/drinks or too much?

I can't even remember now what it feels like to be not sick

The day before my interview (the day after my last post), I woke up with a 99.2 degree fever. I take my temperature every day to chart my cycle, so I know that 99.2 is VERY unusual for me. Even post-ovulation. I chalked it up to nerves.

I felt nauseous all day and like I was going to throw up. Again, I chalked it up to nerves. After all, I had never been this nervous in my entire life.

After my interview I went straight back to bed in my hotel room and woke up fifteen minutes before checkout time...I was really worried that if I didn't get any sleep, I'd get in an accident on the road. By the time I got to Austin, I was a wreck and exhausted. I immediately crawled in my hotel bed and napped for four hours. Then I woke up, got some dinner, watched a movie, and tried to go back to sleep around 12:30. I realized around 1 am that despite the fact that I had the temp turned down to 70 degrees in my room, I was sweating up a storm. I took my temperature again and it was 99.9.

So I trooped my way downstairs, bought some Bayer from the front desk and took it to break the fever, but by then, the damage was done...I sweated and froze all night and woke up every hour on the hour.

My interview went neither good nor bad. I answered every question honestly and without rambling and I can honestly say that I truly did the best that I could. That's about it. And I sure did look cute. I should hear official results sometime next week although I already got an unofficial top secret thumbs up from one of the managers in my office that spoke to Queenie (who interviewed me).

When I got back to Dallas, I went immediately to my doctor's office. The verdict? My sinus infection from a week ago had not gone away and for grins, I also picked up the flu on top of that. JOY. So that meant yet another day of calling in sick, although this time I took it very seriously and stayed in bed all day, only moving to take a shower.

Now? Well, I guess I feel better, although I don't know what better is. My throat still hurts, I'm exhausted constantly, and both my doctor and McKenna's doctor agree that she and I are probably passing stuff back and forth thanks to the petri dish that is her daycare.

Anyway. That's about all from here. McKenna is snoozing right now and we're getting ready to go get a membership at Costco and start party food shopping. We're at 35 confirmed partiers next weekend with about 15 maybes, so I'm planning for 40 and hoping for the best!

Monday, August 14, 2006

The biggest interview of my life...making the move from Indian to Chief

For ten years, I have been dodging this move. Moving from the lowly ranks of the workers into the upper ranks and eschelons of corporate upper management.

Of course, I'd hardly call this a huge rise...I'm simply applying to be a supervisor, not a regional manager or a territorial manager or a zone manager or a vice president. Just a supe.

But it IS the first major step to getting one of those jobs that I mentioned.

I first entered the insurance world at the tender age of twenty-one. I remember it vividly. I sent out 500 resumes in the weeks before I took my finals at Carolina. I got a small handful of calls. I got three interviews. I got three job offers. One in Greensboro, North Carolina; one in Miami, Florida; and one here, in Dallas, Texas. I remember thinking that I would just cool my heels as an adjuster while I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up, never dreaming that it'd turn into a career, and certainly never dreaming that one day I'd be someone's boss.

Yet here I am, four days shy of my ten-year anniversary of becoming an insurance adjuster, getting ready to do just that. Once I do this, I will never again be solely responsible for my own results and performance. I will from then on be relying on other people to perform and make ME look good. Can I scream now?

I have gotten a pep talk from literally everyone in my office on this oh-so-important behavioral based interview. They have kept me from getting new assignments for over a week JUST so I could prepare for this interview. I have had three supervisors since I've been at this company...K, my current supe, my former supe Queenie (also a K), and my first one, S, who is now my current K's boss.

And what are the odds? Today I did a practice interview with my current supervisor K and his boss S (my first supervisor), and one of the panelists on my real interview panel is none other than QUEENIE herself!!!! If that's not karma, I don't know what is.

Honestly, I'm really nervous. I haven't seen this woman in over a year and a half, I've talked to her on the phone once, and I've exchanged maybe three emails with her. In other words, she pretty much severed all contact once she took her promotion and moved away. I know that I should not be intimidated or nervous in any way, and that it only makes Q look good if I do well and promote up, but I'm still nervous. I'm nervous about she'll greet me, if she'll remember any of the examples I'm going to give from when I reported to her, if she'll ask me some tough questions that she knows are my weaknesses, that she'll tell the other panelists after the interview that I'm a basketcase and totally OCD, you name it. This woman knows my work better than ANYONE at my company does...including my current managers. She's the one that made me motivated to do better, to turn adjusting into a career, put me in tears on more than one occasion, and at times, alternately made me hate her and love her. Talk about complicated emotions!

And she has my future in her hands.

Overall, I feel ready, or at least I will by the time I go to bed tomorrow night. I'm leaving tomorrow after lunch to drive down to Austin and hole up in a hotel. I have no loftier plans for the evening other than eating a quiet dinner, taking a long ass bubble bath, watching Braveheart and Varsity Blues on the portable DVD player that P bought for me last week, and scanning over the last ten years of my life in claims for the perfect scenarios that demonstrate my customer service skills, my ability to be a good communicator, how I deal with people in my office that I don't like, and whether or not it is important to me to be liked in the office. (Yes, that was actually one of my practice questions which I responded with a resounding NO!) I am packed with all my stuff ready to go. I went out shopping tonight and bought a power suit, or at least close to's a black pants suit with a silky silver camisole and pointy witchy shoes. I even colored my hair differently...I no longer have that dishwater trailer trash blonde ends/dark roots going on that I've hung onto for ten years. In the words of Melanie Griffith, "in order to be taken seriously, you need serious hair!" so I now have hair of light golden brown. (By the way, Garnier Nutrisse ROCKS...first time I've tried it and I love it!)

Anyway. We'll see how this goes. I'm sure I'll have the worst runs of my life Wednesday morning (sure sign of my nerves) or be puking. Thank God it won't be my bathroom!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The biggest baby food factory night EVER

One of my mother's biggest complaints about me, apparently, is that I don't appreciate enough the sacrifice that she made when my sister and I were kids which was to forego her long lost dreams of going to college, getting her degree and pursuing a lofty career while V and I toughed it out in daycare in exchange for a less than fulfilling life as a stay-at-home mom/housewife, Girl Scout troop leader, chaffeur, and mommy of the year. Whatever. That's for another blog.

I promise here and now NEVER EVER to throw it in McKenna's face when she's seventeen years old and throwing me the biggest attitude ever just because I want her to clean her room that I sacrificed many a Saturday night making her damn food! I am reminding myself here and now that I am making her baby food because I WANT TO, not because anyone asked me or because I feel like I have to.

Around 3 pm I packed McKenna into the car and we went to the store to load up on goodies for foodies...she loves to go grocery shopping now that she gets to ride in the front seat of the cart, and her favorite activity is seeing how fast she can wrestle away Mommy's grocery list and get it into her mouth...preferably before Mommy gets everything on the list so she can watch with fiendish delight my panic while wondering if I got everything.

We got home around 5, and the cookathon began. I just finished about fifteen minutes ago, taking a break ONLY to eat dinner. This is what I made:

-avocado chicken
-chicken with celery
-one-pot chicken (chicken, sweet potatoes, carrots, leeks)
-sweet potatoes and green beans
-squashed vegetable puree (butternut squash, broccoli and carrots)
-tomato, cauliflower and Cheddar cheese (puree)
-sweet potatoes alone, butternut squash alone, broccoli alone, green beans alone (because waste not, want not!)

Geez, now looking back on the list, is that ALL I made? It felt like more when I was doing it...

So far, chicken is NOT a hit with McKenna. I'm hoping that maybe it was just the recipe (I gave her the avocado chicken, which even P said he didn't like that much) because we sure do eat a lot of chicken around here...and I'm working towards that grandiose day where we ALL (McK, me and P) eat the same thing for dinner!

And tomorrow I have to buy a suit. A SUIT! ME! The girl that lives in jeans and T-shirts! God help me.

Thanks to everyone who posted encouraging comments last blog...things are going fine. McKenna's holding her bottle on her own, and we're working with her on the finger food. As for crawling, she's not doing it yet, but she's rolling, rolling, rolling, spinning, scooting, rolling, rolling, rolling...I'm not worried.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The icing on the cake to a perfect day-projectile vomit

Yesterday was not the greatest day I’ve ever had. I stayed home sick on Monday with a doozy of a sinus infection so yesterday I went back to work doped up on antibiotics (I really needed them this time!), Sudafed and Excedrin.

It started out by me finding out that my behavioral-based interview for my supervisor training is scheduled for 7:30 next Wednesday. IN THE MORNING. I am not a morning person, so I’m going to drive down to Austin the night before and spend the night. My first night ever away from McKenna. I am SO not excited about this.

Then, it continued by me getting several nasty calls in a row from a few people at work, one of which was literally screaming her head off and using colorful expletives. I am not offended by expletives, but I refuse to listen to them from people that I am trying to help.

When I went to pick up McKenna, I got a semi-stern/semi-nice lecture from the teachers about doing too much for McKenna. And looking back on the past few weeks, I can see that they are right. I’m handing her toys rather than making her reach for them, which is probably part of why she might not be crawling yet. I’m still holding her bottle and spoon-feeding her and not encouraging her to hold her own bottle or try to feed herself. I’m not being as encouraging as I should be with trying to get her to eat finger food, and it’s because I’ve just been busy and I want our time together to be as pleasant as possible when we are…even though I know now that I’m not doing her any favors. Apparently she’s really pulling a drama queen routine at school when they are trying to get her to do those things. So I felt kind of depressed all night about being a loser mom.

Then, after P messed with her all night, got her to hold her bottle, managed to get her to feed herself with a spoon, thoroughly tired her out, I picked her up to give her a big hug before bed, and she promptly hit me with a stream of projectile vomit.

Great day. Just a great day. You can’t buy memories like these.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

August is here already?!

I can't believe McKenna's nine months old already. Didn't I just birth that child like five minutes ago? Not much to report as of late for what she's doing other than the normal baby stuff...scooting, eating like crazy, sleeping, making lots of noises, and acting like a drama queen. I love every minute of it. Here's a current picture taken this weekend...the bib was a gift from my friend E visiting from Baltimore:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

So let's see what else is going on. Can I use bullet points?
  • I am starting my supervisor training after Labor Day, so in the meantime all I have to do is find a power suit for my interview, actually DO the interview, and train a replacement for me on the fire team. It should be a boring month at work.
  • Nursing is officially over. I really dragged it out for the last month. Every time I would get close to totally weaning, I'd give in and make her nurse. But this time, I've managed to stick with it. I think I did it the morning of her surgery and maybe once more later that week and that's it, so I'm holding strong. And she's doing fine. I think she's glad...she sucks down her bottles much faster and it's allowing her to get back to playing faster. I miss it a LOT and I was really sad, but it was okay.
  • Cooking is still going great. I can't even remember now how many meals I've made since my last post, but I've made a lot of good stuff. Almost green curry chicken over coconut jasmine rice, carbonara pizza, chicken and dumplings in my slow cooker, barbecue roast beef also in my slow cooker (love that thing!), some casseroles, honey nut chicken sticks, and Alaska burgers. It's great. We're actually managing to stick with it this time, can you believe it!!!
  • I decided that it was time to accept the reality of my life and that getting to the gym at THIS point in time is just too difficult, so we're going to set up our treadmill and free weights in the newly cleaned garage and I'm going to try to start training again out there at night after McKenna goes to sleep. I really hope I can do it. I'm hoping that I can be successful again since I can work out at home. All I know is, I'm VERY tired of not wanting to shop for any clothes because I feel like a slob! And P's kind of hinting at starting to prepare my body for baby #2 in a few years, so...there you go!
  • We spent a lot of time this weekend shopping with my friend E who was here and enjoying the tax-free weekend...and I bought some clothes, two pairs of shoes, some clothes for McKenna, a new cookbook and some other stuff that I probably didn't need, but it was all good. I love shopping.
  • I'm actually getting back into stitching quite a bit again. SHOCK! However, I did decide that rotating is not going to work for me, at least for the time being. So I'm doing the old-fashioned rotation method...whatever is screaming the loudest. Right now, that's The Dreamer by Mirabilia.
  • Scrapbooking right now is sadly nonexistent. I'm just too busy and when I do have time to sit down for my hobbies, I want to stitch. I'm sure that'll reverse itself soon.
  • McKenna's ears are doing great for those that asked, although she did get an ear infection again almost immediately and had to get on antibiotics again. So far since then, it's been fine.
  • And last but not least, the party preparations for McKenna's baptism fiesta are well underway. We have a LONG guest list, a menu selected, a plan for getting the house ready and what to do with the animals, and I'm totally psyched! In fact, I'm going to work on invitations tonight!

So, I guess that's it for now! Hope everyone is doing fantabulous and enjoying the month of August so far. I'll try to be better about blogging this week.