Clare's Chaotic Cacophony

This is my little piece of cyberspace where I chronicle events in my life. Where I can vent, or dream, or wax poetic… Grab a heavily alcoholic beverage and join me, if you will.

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#Adjusting

Sometimes you just need to adjust. You may need to adjust your mindset, your way of life, or how you handle things. We all have to do it from time to time causing varying degrees of excitement, discomfort, or even pain. The old saying tells us, “No pain, no gain!” and it’s true, but oftentimes it’s little comfort. It’s far from an inspiring mantra that you chant with warmth radiating in your soul, and closer to “it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah”. However, from change often comes growth, even if it’s hard to see it in the beginning. The beginning is always the hardest time…the adjustment to a new way of things.

I’ve started using a new hashtag in my Instagram account: #adjusting. I’m adjusting now, or at least I’m trying very hard to. At a doctor’s appointment a few weeks back, I found out that some of my atypical symptoms popping up were being caused by yet another kind of hormonal disorder. Hormones are bitches. Especially in my family. You know when you go to the doctor and they start asking for your family medical history? Mine usually sounds like a cross between a cautionary tale and a horror story. So I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. The fix was simple enough, a second pill regimen to begin, however, this tiny pill came with a big dietary caveat: no alcohol, and do not eat any starches or sugars. Now, in my recent endeavors to “live healthy”, I’d cut back on carbs and sugary things dramatically. If a really amazing looking cookie crossed my path though? You only live once. Eat the cookie and move along. But now, no cookies ever. Or wine! No breads, wine, pastas, wine, rice…and then my doctor started listing things like peas, beans, and even carrots! And did I mention wine?!? I seriously walked out of that office defeated. I sat downstairs in the lobby wallowing in depression while at the same time realizing I was being one big walking first world problem. I was told to lay off booze and starch, for cripes sake, not that I had cancer! What was wrong with me? I could do this. I love bacon, after all. Time to fight.

Well, it’s been two weeks since eliminating all starches and sugars from my diet. I’ve been through the headaches and the “LowCarb flu”. I’ve had good days and bad. I’ve had slumps where one more cheese stick or strawberry rather than a big apple seems like my death knell. I’ve also realized what a deep, borderline unhealthy relationship I have with food. I depend on it way too much. I’ve blogged before about being an emotional eater, and this dietary change has proven to me that I eat my emotions…every single one of them. With that comfort measure gone, it’s been depressing. Being depressed over a lack of cookies, then makes me feel guilty again, which brings about, you guessed it, more depression. There are days that I want to whine and stomp and pout like a complete brat. This may have come to a head last weekend when I unloaded a torrent of whiny texts on my dear, poor older sister. Afterwards, however, I realized I had to make a change. I had to adjust my way of thinking. I needed to do some #adjusting.

Some of the wisest words in cinematic history.

I started by hopping up from my one-person pity party and making a new recipe. I altered a recipe for Impossible Pie to be low carb and popped them in the oven. I messaged Jason and told him that when they picked up Whataburger, to get the Ranch garden salad with grilled chicken for me. And you know what? That salad was amazingly delicious. Whataburger’s grilled chicken breast was just full of flavor mixed into a very generous salad. Also, Jason actually ordered the exact same thing I did. To pass on Whataburger for a salad to be supportive? THAT is true love, people. ūüėČ ¬†The Impossible Pie was delicious. It was sweet, creamy, coconuty and hit the spot. Since then, I’ve tried to focus on making the ordinary, extraordinary. I made my stash of roasted chicken in the fridge exciting for lunch by warming it with shredded cheddar and topping it with my adjusted version of Pico de Gallo and sour cream. I’ve tried out a few different desserts since the pie, and while they haven’t all been winners, I know they can be adjusted. Instead of focusing on how shitty I feel not being able to eat my beloved cookies, I’m trying to focus on the fact that I never feel weighted down after meals anymore. Food comas and sugar crashes are a thing of the past. I feel full but not like Jabba the Hutt.

This. All of this.

So I will continue to adjust. I really have no choice but to prevail…there is no cheating when dealing with medical issues. Doesn’t mean I can’t try to enjoy myself (or at least not be a miserable pouty lump) along the way. ūüėČ

 


Fresh is Best!

I already posted about my week of fresh, healthy foods and what a time saver the “twice as much meat” method was. I’m actually kind of bummed that it’s over. I really need to locate more of these recipe chains that span a week. Regardless, it was fun cooking so very…fresh. I love cooking with fresh wholesome ingredients. It always tastes better and you feel better after eating fresh ingredients. Another thing I’ve noticed is that it actually looks better as well! Don’t we always eat with our eyes first? If your stew looks like puke-in-a-bowl, you probably aren’t going to dig in heartily. For example, everytime I open the My Fitness Pal app, the loading screen just incites hunger. It looks so rustic, like foods you’d take to a picnic at a Mediterranean hillside. Observe:

MFPscreen

Doesn’t that look amazing? Well, everything except the purple things, which I’m 99.9% sure are beets (aka Satan’s turds). But that’s just me.

Cooking fresh often comes with a caveat, however. It does take more time. You can bang out a pot of Kraft mac and cheese in under 30 minutes whereas making it from scratch will take at least twice as long. When you’re a mom with an adorable yet noisy 18 month old frantically pushing your legs away from the counter and shrieking, that box of Kraft just says “Screw it and cook me now!”. So I’m on a mission to find ways to make fresher more organic meals take less time. Any little tip or trick that would reduce the time I spend getting shrieked at is golden to me. This brings me to my first small victory…fresh herbs.

I love fresh herbs. Yes, I of course have a pantry and spice rack full of the dried ones as well, and that’s fine, but some recipes just require fresh ones. Cilantro, for example, really isn’t the same dried. Besides, it’s almost a mood booster to inhale it’s fragrance while chopping it. (The one downfall to dealing with fresh cilantro for me is that it gives me a powerful craving for Pho, but I digress..) Still, chopping herbs is messy and frustrating to me. Then one glorious day a tip from the online heavens passed before my eyes and revolutionized my herb chopping. “Use a pizza wheel.”¬†This intrigued me. Not everyone has a mezzaluna. I don’t and as much as I love collecting interesting kitchen gadgets with specific uses, there’s only so much drawer and cabinet space in one home. But a pizza wheel…who doesn’t have that? So one of my aforementioned recipes required fresh oregano. That’s even smaller than cilantro and I didn’t want it all over my kitchen. So I killed two birds with one stone. I used the pizza wheel, and I cut it on a paper plate.

oregano

The paper plate kept the herbs contained in the cutting area. It also created a disposable cutting board with no scrubbing involved. The pizza wheel sliced through the herbs in no time at all and rather evenly too. In seconds, I had this beautiful, fragrant pile of fresh ingredient.

chopped

 

I used the same method on cilantro and actually reused the paper plate to also cut avocados for a salad. Once again, since the plate had raised edges, I could toss the avocado in lemon juice and seasonings and it picked up the remnants of the cilantro as well. Even my kids who claimed they didn’t like avocado ate it in their salad that day. I had fewer things to wash. Everyone came out happy. Score one for busy home cooks everywhere! ūüėČ

 


False Starts…

I can’t say how many times I’ve opened this blog, wanting to type out my thoughts and send them out into the netherwebs. There are several half-completed drafts sitting in my dashboard to prove it too. But something always comes up: a kiddo screams, someone punches someone else, my little lap monkey can’t keep his hands off the keyboard, or I just can’t get fully behind what I’m writing. Brain farts are quite typical in motherhood, apparently. So typical in fact, that I often get the bug to do something to expand my brain. I’ve blogged about this before, in fact I think it was when I first dabbled in HTML and CSS. Hard to believe (feeeeel the sarcasm) but that fell by the wayside after awhile. Not that I didn’t enjoy it…life just got in the way. It became just another false start.

So here I sit, as usual with a squirming monkey in my lap and thoughts rambling in my brain, trying once again to get a blog post out. (I can’t promise anything stellar here. I’ve already had to pause once or twice to attend to something or another.)

My quest for fitness is going well enough. The holidays brought a lot of goodies and four extra pounds, so that was somewhat of a road bump. But with the help of my trainer, I’m already back to my pre-holiday weight and working on going further. I’ve had amazing success with cooking extremely healthy dinners that the kids love. They’ve eaten quinoa, brown rice, roasted broccoli, baked fish, and more. Even though they’ve balked more than once at the new food, they’ve loved every bit of it. Some of the dinners employ this genius ideology of cooking twice as much meat as you’ll need for one dinner, thus giving you pre-cooked meat for a future meal. For example, half of the large Chili-Rubbed Pork Loin was served as a roast with sides one night, and the other half was sliced and warmed with peppers and onions to make pork fajitas another night. It’s a wonderful time saver! This week in particular, I’ve challenged myself to eat uber clean. No cheats. I started strong Friday morning and am already drooling over cinnamon rolls. Damn cinnamon rolls with their thick cream cheese icing and their gooey cinnamon oozing from between the soft folds of dough. Yes, damn them. I refuse to give in. I must be steel. Cinnamon roll hating steel.

Anyhoo, In addition to my quest to improve my physical side, I’ve also embarked on a journey to improve my mental side. I already referenced the brain farts, so you’ll know where I’m coming from here. Jason introduced me to the world of free online classes offered by major universities (otherwise known as MOOCS). That love of coding that started with my HTML endeavors now has a structure to grow in. I’m taking a computer science course from Harvard. It’s amazing. There are video lectures, walkthroughs, problem sets and online groups and forums as well. There are nine projects and one big final. I’ve already submitted one ahead of schedule that I was rather proud of. Still waiting with bated breath for the grades on that one, though. There was a surprise section of Math with that project which really gave my brain a workout. I’ve had my fingers crossed since clicking submit that I aced it…I guess we’ll see.

A side note definitely worth mentioning is that we’ve been able to start the tradition of date nights. My (wonderful and darling) youngest sister has volunteered her Thursday evenings off to play with my kiddos so Jason and I can have time to go out and just be adults. We’ve had three such nights so far and it’s been amazing. We can eat and have conversations and even watch a movie without any interruptions. It’s allowed our brains to unwind and for us to reconnect. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the kiddos, that we forget to carve out a bit of “us time”. Time flies when you have kids and before you know it, it’s been months since you’ve had an evening together. Last year we had a grand total of two dates. I kid you not. So having three nights out in the same month has literally been mind blowing. It’s also reminded me how very important it is.¬†I think I’m especially guilty of taking the “putting your children first” to the extreme. While it’s true that we currently exist to raise and take care of our kids, I’m slowly realizing that I must take time to take care of myself as well.

I’m determined that unlike the drafts in my dashboard, these things will not be false starts. I want to see progress in my measurements, weight, and body composition. I want to pass this course with flying colors and earn that certificate from Harvard. I want Jason and I to have time to be adults and be able to still date each other. For being less than a month into the new year, 2014 is really teaching me a lot…

 

 

 


The Thankful Post Thing…

It’s that time of year again…the time when everyone tries to post something they’re thankful for everyday in November, or at least until Thanksgiving. I know it annoys a lot of people, but I actually applaud the practice. We take too much for granted in our society nowadays. Things and even people have become very disposable and this is widely accepted. We spend so much time reaching for what we want¬†that we forget to be thankful for the things we have. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone sometimes. For example, we live in a 1600 sq ft townhome right now. It feels small, our neighborhood is sketchy, and our “wall neighbor” apparently hates our guts. We’re planning to move as soon as our lease is up next summer. In the meantime, however, I often get so caught up in the negatives of this home that I forget to thank God for the fact that we have a home. It may be small, but it’s still newish, bigger than our last home and rather pretty. Our neighborhood may be sketchy, but hey…my first home was in Aldine. The graffiti there used to brag about it being “The Little 5th Ward”. So this is far from awful. Our neighbor may hate our guts, but at least our landlord is awesome and sticks up for us to her. In general, we have a nice home that provides shelter from the elements, and allows Jason to have a 15 minute commute. This is worth it’s weight in gold.

So this has been my theme today, because everything has felt like it’s just piling on top of me. My stress level has been really high due to this feeling. Therefore, I decided to implement exactly what I just wrote about in the above paragraph into each little chore that crawled under my skin. And you know what? It worked. It really helped me. I’m an optimist by nature and putting a thankful spin on things today helped me to remember:

There is ALWAYS a silver lining. 

I spent part of my morning fighting with Aidan to get his math done. (He’s a whiz at it, but hates it anyway. Go figure.) This really made my head hurt and my blood pressure rise, but I am thankful to have the freedom in our state to homeschool our children without government interference or harassment.

I spent the other part of my morning folding the never ending mountain of clothes that continues to pile out of the laundry room. I hate laundry with a purple passion. But you know what? I’m thankful we have clothes…and that many of them too.

I feel like a day can’t go by without me having to run to the grocery store to buy something I forgot and today is no exception. This drives me nuts. But…at least I have grocery stores so close by and so abundantly full of food that it is actually possible for me.

I went through three or four different names before I actually put the right name to the proper child. This makes me want to curse my brain. I hate forgetting things and stammering over something that I’m trying to convey. But, amusing as this sounds…I have a brain! It retains quite a few things and is without disease or major issue.

I spent time immediately after lunch attempting to slay the metallic blob (dishes piling out of the sink and counters) only to have so many still sitting there. But hey, at least I have a dishwasher! I cannot possibly express how thankful I am for that. ūüėČ Washing all of that by hand would’ve been a real beeotch.

I spilled a cup of orange juice down my leg while cleaning the dishes. I found a cup of water spilled on the dining room table and running down onto the floor. I stepped on yet another motherfudging lego causing great pain. I most definitely had to count to ten a few times while cleaning all this up, but this also gave me time to think… I have clean running water. I have the means to buy orange juice. I have cups. My children have toys. And most importantly…I have children. These monkeys may drive me crazy, they may break things, break the sound barrier with their fighting, cause dirt to be everywhere,¬†spill things, and stress me out…but I have them. I can hug them anytime I want. I wouldn’t trade their precious faces and sweet little personality quirks for all the tidy quiet houses in the world.

My children are a blessing. So are dishwashers, cups, clothes, easy access to food and water, and the freedom to live my daily life among so many other things.

I am very blessed. And there is always a silver lining.

Thank you, Lord.


Comments are *FUN*

I had originally planned to turn this blog into a business of sorts. I envisioned hosting giveaways, doing product reviews, the whole nine yards. However, I really began to burn myself out on all the social media. Blogging, tweeting, pinning, facebooking, instagraming, emailing, and practically spamming everyone I knew consumed me. I was trying so hard to drum up exposure and get page views, comments, followers, etc, however I never seemed to get anywhere. I did manage to get some comments from fellow bloggers and I loved them for it, but as far as reaching the masses…it never happened. Perhaps someday I’ll revisit that idea but for now, I’ll just stick to my bohemian blog-however-the-wind-moves-me-to ramblings.

Somehow along the way, I did manage to find some exposure, though. I was found by Spambots! They apparently love me! They leave multiple comments on each of my posts, in fact. I’m not sure what cheap nikes and football jerseys have to do with my writings, but hey. However, some of them are downright hard to read. For example:

“Realizing areas needed for make contact with lesser amount of wall membrane modifications are vastly different within various ins and 24 / 7 inches width by toaster ovens any oblong plan considering oven microwave combination¬†easier action best toaster oven in addition to array and in addition reduced in office interference. That this hulls isn‚Äôt going to pack in, however they‚Äôre finished for instance like upside down transparent.”

Say what now? This was posted in reference to my first week review of the Revolt program. Well…I did write about cooking, but definitely not toaster ovens and wall membranes.

My post about working out while pregnant gathered the most spambots. Some of these were the most mystifying of all. For example:

“boy”

Hmm. A bot of few words. Or how about:

“The antonio brown, under the leadership of Pope Gregory XIII that a special
list/calendar/book of antonio brown for the St. If it was a disaster.”

Okay that has nothing to do with gyms, pregnancy, or even nikes for crying out loud. Pope Gregory XIII?? And what did he do that was a disaster? And how does that relate to my blog? Mindblowing.

I get international comments too, but they’re mainly in Russian. I don’t understand Russian, so I won’t post them here just in case they’re porny or anything. This however, might as well be Russian for all the sense it makes:

“Keep eating valuable time helpful toaster ovens and also toaster over tray¬†best toaster oven gaining variants ‚Äď indulgence recipes for which you very often implementation, with regard to selecting variety of gouda, fruits or vegetables. How‚Äôs it going desiring to hyperlink their Nintendo wii console around the?”

Toaster ovens again? Who the hell is this obsessed with toaster ovens? And that last sentence drives me nuts. Hyperlink their Nintendo wii console around the… Around the what? I have a Wii…what could I hyperlink it around? The suspense is killing me.

I even got a comment from a site offering me a free tranny sex movie.

PASS.

Then there were bots offering to show me where I ranked on Google, or how to get 10,000 hits a day to my site. These were usually a bit more coherent. Some made sense in the way of not sounding like gobbldeguk, but yet didn’t make sense.¬†Like this one:

“In this way you may be faced with the challenge of keeping my living
quarters tranquil, open, and airy-seeming.”¬†

Umm what? I’m sorry, I can hardly keep my own house clean. I’m certainly not going to do it for any ole spambot who messages me on my blog. For the love of toaster ovens! I am not that kind of girl, thank you!

 


School’s Out For the Summer!

School’s Out Forever!! Okay, not really. But I couldn’t pass up the Alice Cooper reference.

So, we’re done! The 2012-2013 school year is completed at last! I had intended that we take this week and slowly finish up any loose ends and last exams, but my little go-getters had something else in mind. By Tuesday the remaining subjects were dwindling fast, so they decided to power through to dinner time and finish everything. And finish they did, right down to the book report that Sean was avoiding. I think, in their school-finishing giddiness, that their usual cup of jokes and puns did overflow. For example:

Sean (reading a question on his Religion exam): “Jesus Christ gave his apostles the power to blank, blank, and blank on earth. Hmm…OH! Live, Long, and Prosper!” *huge cheesy grin thrown my way*

Yes, I laughed. I couldn’t help it one bit. Part of me was thrilled at the geeky reference and part of me wondered at the appropriateness of making the apostles into Trekkies. I’d like to imagine that God got a chuckle out of that one too.

So Wednesday marked the first official day of Summer for my boys and they celebrated with a huge¬†water gun¬†fight with the¬†neighborhood¬†kiddos. They were running the streets for over three hours, streams of water flying everywhere. There were some crazy tales that came from that one. For example, two neighbor boys decided to ambush a pizza man making a delivery. My adult side was horrified and made sure that my kids knew in no uncertain terms that this was never acceptable. My inner child is still giggling over that one, though. One kid pulled out his hose, other kids took to their bikes for drive-by-soakings, and much mayhem was made by all. I think my favorite story, however, came from the evening after my kids had come in. Around 8:30, my doorbell started ringing like crazy. Then frantic knocking began. Before Jason could even make it down the stairs, the ringing started up again. As soon as he opened the door, some of the neighborhood boys ¬†yelled, “Sean! Sean! We need your water guns! We need them for an all out AMBUSH!” Allow me to backtrack a bit here… A few weeks ago, a small-scale¬†water fight¬†broke out in the street and a group of boys (including my Erik) ¬†decided to squirt two ladies that like to jog and walk around our street in the evening. I called out for the boys to stop but the women just laughed and ran. The next time they passed by the same thing happened except as they ran away one woman yelled out laughing “We’re coming back with a hose! We’ll get you back!” I thought it was incredibly sweet of them to be such good sports about it. Well guess who was jogging around the block with a stroller last night and pulled out a big water gun on the neighborhood kiddos still outside playing? Yep! The same two women decided to exact water revenge. Laughing, I told the kiddos that the guns were drying out in the garage and two words: pay back. Just typing this story has me smiling again.

So Summer in all it’s fun and craziness has officially begun. I’m hoping that there will be outings, playdates, and many memories made. I want this Summer to be as vibrant as the Houston sun. ūüėČ


Family Fun

All is quiet in my house at the moment. Quiet for the first time in quite a few days, actually. This week our house was filled with family and laughter making this one amazing whirlwind week. My awesome and loving husband had his aunt, uncle, and cousin driving into town. ¬†We hadn’t seen them since my seven year old was a baby so excitement was pretty high around here. Tuesday morning one of my brothers even came over and helped me clean my house. Remember I’ve mentioned that my entire downstairs is ceramic tile? Well my brother not only vacuumed it all but mopped it as well. He has earned a special place in my heart and a few extra Christmas presents, let me tell you. He also played with little Jedi while I did dishes and generally tried to make our house look less like ground zero of the world’s biggest atom bomb of toys and more like a respectable home. Afterwards, we all sat down and watched Wreck It Ralph since my brother hadn’t seen it before. Everyone enjoyed it. Well, they tell me they did… I feel asleep before Ralph even met Vanellope.

That evening we went to my in-laws’ house and commenced with the family reunion. There was lots of catching up to do and hugs to pass around so we stayed late and then “kidnapped” (according to Sean) Jason’s cousin. ūüėČ The kids were thrilled to have a visitor. We set her up on our couch and the next few days were a whirlwind of fun and craziness. There was an extended Wii Sports session, candy-bar-laced pie making, late nights, and a very memorable trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. There, everyone loved the new Ancient Egypt exhibit. Sean, who is my little budding Egyptologist, deemed the entire experience “an honor”. The kids had a huge blast with the hands on exhibits in the Hall of Chemistry. The new Hall of¬†Paleontology¬†seriously took our breath away. What was once 3-5 token skeletons when you first walked in has blossomed into an entire two story high wing filled with skeletons and exhibits of all shapes and sizes. Well done, HMNS, well done. We even became members so we can go back all Summer long and see everything that we missed. On the other hand,¬†I forgot the stroller and apparently HMNS is one of the only venues in all of Houston that does not rent strollers, either. This means that I was carrying all 22 pounds of Chubbin pretty much the entire day. No bueno, HMNS, no bueno. Also, you’ve rarely known¬†embarrassment like when you’re in the middle of the quiet and opulent Faberge exhibit and your three year old pulls a noisy lay down strike on the floor. Luckily, no one seemed to care. In fact, the security guard at the exit was just impressed as hell that I’d managed to have five boys with no girls. He seemed to think this was an awesome thing. Jury’s out on that one. The most frustrating part, however, was the ride home. Oil and Water (also known as Aidan and Erik) fought all the long way home. Since the museum closes at 5pm we were stuck in some awful traffic too. So we had a long time to count to ten and take deep breaths and think of interesting threats to make them stop fighting. I (semi) jokingly told Jason’s cousin that after that car ride, she was probably going to do the happy dance home to Chicago thanking God that she didn’t have kids.

For her last day in town, Jason took the day off and we all went to the Kemah Boardwalk. We rode a few rides, had some delicious drinks and appetizers at Cadillac, and experienced Houston Summer heat in all it’s glory. I didn’t realize how much I missed that salty air. It felt wonderful in my lungs. Once we got home, we met back up with Jason’s parents, aunt, and uncle for their last evening here. We served a big spaghetti dinner followed by the Kit Kat and Reese’s Cup Pies that we’d made. The kids visited and Brendan went into full-on adorable ham mode making fast friends with Jason’s uncle. Children’s funky moods and museum meltdowns notwithstanding, it was really a great visit. I only wish we’d been able to see more sights and landmarks. Family really is a wonderful thing. I can only hope it’s not another six years before we’re able to get back together again.

Although after that car ride, maybe they won’t be rushing… ūüėČ


Rain, shmain.

The weather has it out for us. The clouds wait, watch us mark our calendar with outdoor excursions, and then laugh maniacally. “What? The Centanni family wants to go to the park? Bwahahaha! Perfect day for rain then!” True story! In the past few months, we have made all of two of our scheduled park dates thanks to inclement weather. The cancellation that hurt the worst was our field trip to Dewberry Farms over Spring Break. Oh those smug little clouds thought they were really clever that day. You could tell because their laughter¬†literally¬†thundered in our ears the whole evening. Yesterday, the fighting between the boys had hit a crescendo and we needed our time out! However, true to form, the clouds grew dark and the forecast predicted a twenty percent chance of rain. This is just enough to keep you unsure…will it rain or won’t it? I decided to defy the tyranny of the weather and go anyway. We hadn’t seen any actual rain or heard thunder, after all. Sure enough, halfway to the park Sean points to the windshield and announces “Ohhhh no…sprinkles already.” NO! I had come too far. We pressed on in the hopes that perhaps the sprinkles hadn’t reached the park yet. Pretty soon we made it. The kids were off and running to the play¬†equipment! I put Baby Jedi in his stroller and hoped for the best. What do you know? No sprinkles! Perhaps the weather had decided to be a little less malicious to us today…

After awhile Sean pointed out the nature trails. Gathering everyone up, we decided to have an adventure in the woods for awhile. It was great! The boys grabbed sticks along the way, we saw squirrels and colorful birds, and admired the nearby neighborhood when it poked through the trees. I even found our future residence! It was so beautiful and the landscaping just took my breath away. Yep, we’ll live there one day. The current owners just don’t know it yet. ūüėČ None of us had any idea of just how long those trails were and we ended up walking for quite awhile. No one minded though, we were really having a blast! Finally, we made it to the end. The overhang of the trees gave way to a huge¬†clearing¬†overlooking a field downhill from us covered in wildflowers. We stopped to take pictures and use the handy water fountain. Then…droplets…moisture…getting harder… Yup, rain. Touche, clouds, touche. We’re far from the car, outside of tree cover, at the very far edge of the park. Unfreakingreal. After that came the scurry to run back to the trails and try to get under the trees. This led to a revolt by little Brendan, which in turn led to me carrying him sack of potatoes style with one arm and pushing the stroller with the other. Yeah I unintentionally got quite a workout there. But onward we trudged, and eventually the rain eased up again. After a few more pictures and several more bouts of “Put down the branches, we are not taking them with us!”, we made it to the car. We were a bit moist, but pretty happy in general. We even stopped at Sonic where CreamSlushes were had by all.

So take that, clouds. You thought you were pretty smart, didn’t you?

Well, you kinda were. But we had fun anyway.


Brace Yourselves…Change is Coming…

Shameless appropriation of a Game of Thrones quote there. The new season has me so excited, btw! So much happens in the third book, I wonder how they’ll handle it to be honest.
Anyway back to the matter at hand! I have put a temporary page on my website at last. I have a lot to learn still, but these little steps are exciting to me. Soon Clare’s Chaos will be part of www.purplekittie.com. Big things are coming! A new website, a new venture, and hopefully, a new me!


Downton Abbey *Spoiler Alert*

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains a huge plot spoiler regarding the series “Downton Abbey”. If you haven’t watched through to the end of Season Three, you may want to close this window right now. Seriously.¬†

One night Jason had fallen asleep on the couch and yet I was strangely awake. I grabbed a snack and scrolled through Amazon’s instant video selection and saw Downton Abbey. I’d heard so much good about this series, so I clicked play.

And an insatiable addiction was born.
Since that time, many hours were spent in the evenings watching the trials and tribulations of the Crawley family and hanging on every elegantly pronounced word. I laughed, I cried, I felt rage. It was like the tamer British cousin of Game of Thrones for me. Jason became hooked as well and together we spent our evenings flying through all three seasons. We discussed it with my in-laws on Easter since apparently they’ve kept up with it but one thing struck me as odd. My mother in law kept saying how angry it made her that they were trying so hard to save Downton Abbey when financial ruin threatened the property. I inwardly wondered “Why?? Why wouldn’t you want to save such a beautiful estate and such a genteel way of life?”
Then the season finale came. And Matthew Crawley, the immensely likable and totally selfless savior of the Crawley estate lay beneath his overturned car with blood running thickly through his handsome blonde hair. 
I was stunned. 
How could they do this? How could they kill off probably the most¬†likable¬†character in the entire series? And right after he’d finally produced a newborn heir to secure the title forever and continue the line! Then it hit me… perhaps Downton Abbey is evil…

Just look at the title screen…dark as well as light! Evil side much?

Of course! It’s the house! It’s the bloody house… It’s alive like some Amnityville Horror of the English countryside. Until now, Lord Grantham has produced nothing except girls (therefore in sexist old England, no heirs) and it’s been worried. But it can’t off Lord Grantham because he genuinely loves the estate and wants to preserve it. But Sybil disses the legacy, marries an Irish Socialist, and produces another girl… and what happened to her? Yep, she’s gone. Died within the walls of the home. But Matthew Crawley gets sucked in. He marries the prickly eldest daughter, falls in love with the estate, and sinks a fortune into it to save the legacy. He modernizes it to keep it afloat. He saves that estate’s bloomin’ arse. Then the crowning glory…he produces a male heir. The line is saved! Succession is achieved! Downton Abbey has no further need for dear Matthew. It chews him up and spits him out on the side of the road bleeding beneath his car like yesterday’s rubbish. It won’t off Mary Crawley though… she bleeds Downton’s stubborn lifeblood like her father does and she’ll need to raise the heir apparent with the same values. The house is intelligent as well as evil it would appear.

Or perhaps the writers are just cheeky bastards who like to toy with our emotions.
But I’d put my money on the house…