December 8th, 2014
December 2nd, 2014
December 2nd, 2014
November 29th, 2014
Note: This was copied-and-pasted from my other/old blog ...
I turned the big 4-2 this year. That's right ... for one year, *I* am the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Huzzah!
The past few months, I've really been taking stock of my life and what I want to get out of it. I'm basically five years away from having both kids out of the house (theoretically), and will be moving into a different phase of this parenting gig. On top of that, work has changed quite a bit in the past couple years ... in a mostly positive way.
Being that I'm a pretty lazy guy though, it wasn't a very deep soul search. I basically came to the realization that I don't spend enough time on me. I spent every waking moment taking care of what I thought was important (some was, some wasn't). The problem was, I didn't eat great, and I certainly didn't exercise. Then, a mild health scare shook me and my wife into action.
We did a drastic overhaul of our diet and started walking over three miles every day. The kids weren't too happy at first with the diet change. But three months later, and they both seem to have adjusted quite well. They would still gorge themselves on potato chips and cookies given the chance ... but they do seem to like much of the food we prepare now. I was a notoriously picky eater before, but have really broadened my food horizons too.
The upside to all of this is that not only have I lost weight, but have had more together time with my wife. We walk and talk every morning. We get to catch up, plan our days, and just be together. It's been wonderful and has changed my perspective on a lot of things. Health is important, but more than anything, I like being happy. If I'm healthy, but miserable, what's the point? And, I'm finding that the happier I am, the easier it is to be (and stay) healthy. I want to be on this planet for a long time with my wife ... so we're taking time to take care of ourselves.
Let me back up first. I had just arrived to the Bay Area from Virginia a few hours earlier. By the time I landed, picked up the rental car, made the obligatory stop at In-N-Out, and drove to Napa from SFO, it was almost 2am Pacific time. My mother-in-law was expecting my son and I and had waited up for us. My sister-in-law, niece, and nephew slept in the one bedroom and were already asleep. My brother-in-law had a bunch of friends over at their house in Sonoma, which is why the rest of his family decided to escape the ruckus ... with the bonus of waking up to see their cousin!
We quickly made up the couch for me, the sleeping bag on the floor for my son, and my mother-in-law laid back on her recliner to go to sleep. Just about an hour later, all hell broke loose.
I was already in a haze from being woken from such a deep sleep. Although cliche, it really felt like my world had turned upside-down. A picture had fallen and hit me on the head. The couch was moving back and forth, and there was a sound as if a train had crashed into the building. I heard glass breaking, and my son scream. I dove on the ground to cover him and make sure he was alright. Fortunately, as I learned later, he screamed, half asleep, because he thought he was dreaming, not because he was injured. Finally, the power went out and everything was pitch black.
Then, as quickly as it had started, everything stopped. The only sound was the one or two items left dangling that finally decided to fall and break. My mother-in-law and I fumbled in the darkness for anything that might give light. She found her flashlight as I flipped on the flash of my cell phone and we started to take stock of what had happened. My sister-in-law emerged from the bedroom asking if everybody was alright, and then went to attend to her kids (who thankfully slept through almost everything).
The apartment looked like a war zone. Almost every plate, dish, bowl, vase, etc. in my mother-in-law's place had fallen and/or broken. Every cabinet door in the kitchen had flung open and dumped it's contents on her kitchen floor. Her very heavy, old, tube television and the sturdy coffee table on which it rested had shifted almost a foot out of place. Bookshelves had fallen over. The couch where I had slept was covered in fallen pictures. Illuminated by a cellphone and flashlight made the whole thing seem even more unreal. I had a hard time processing what had happened.
Then, sounds of life started. Car sirens sounded in the distance. In this retirement community, neighbors started shouting out in the darkness ... "Hello? Is anybody there?" My mother-in-law found some candles and lit them to help us regroup and process. We cleared most of the glass from the living room to give us some space. I shoved as much of her food back in the freezer and refrigerator and closed the doors back up. I put the microwave oven back on it's perch and rescued a couple other small appliances dangling by their cords from the wall. We did our best to start cleaning up in the early morning darkness, without even considering aftershocks.
Neighbors started checking on neighbors and finally one of them had the flash of brilliance that we should evacuate the building. Since my son and I hadn't even unpacked, we grabbed our bags and helped gather as much stuff as we could carry and put in the cars.
We spent the next few hours of darkness checking on neighbors, comparing stories and damage reports, deciding what to do, and letting family know we were okay. Both a firetruck and police car came through the neighborhood to check on everybody and give us a general status of the city of Napa. Somebody brought out a radio and we started listening to the news reports. Hearing of damaged buildings, downed power lines, and several fires throughout the city, everybody felt relieved we seemed to have escaped most of the serious damage.
When the sun finally rose and we were reasonably certain the main roads were clear enough to drive, we packed into our cars and drove to Sonoma, where the damage was much less severe and the power restored relatively quickly. The in-laws all went back to the apartment this afternoon to clean up as much glass as possible while I watched the kids and napped.
And so here I sit, just over 12 hours after it happened, and it still feels surreal ... as well as a bit like a lifetime ago. Or, maybe even something I watched in a movie, rather than experienced. But then I remember my son's scream, and the true heartfelt fear I had, and it all comes rushing back. In all my years on this planet, I never believed I would experience anything like that, and hope I never have to again. I'm more thankful than I ever thought possible that all six of us in that apartment (as well as all the neighbors in the complex) came out of it unharmed.
This week, I'll share my recipe for Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats
1/2 C. rolled oats - you can use the "quick" oats, but I like the consistency of regular oats better
1 or 2 T. yogurt - I use vanilla or honey flavored greek yogurt, but you can use whatever your preference. note: the "base" overnight oats recipe uses 1/2 C. yogurt ... I use a little less for this recipe because the canned pumpkin has it's own moisture
1 or 2 T. canned pumpkin - straight out of the can, how pumpkiny can you handle?
1/2 C. skim milk - use whatever consistency milk you're used to
cinammon, allspice, ground cloves - I use a dash of each, but feel free to experiment with your favorite combination
Mix all of the above in a small mason jar and put it in the refrigerator overnight (8 - 24 hours). Sweeten with some honey before serving (if you wish), and enjoy straight out of the mason jar!
According to MyFitnessPal, this recipe is about 330 calories (how I make it, with honey). But it's whole grains, plenty of dairy, over 20 grams of protein, under 30g of sugar (about the same as many sugary cereals), and deeeelicious!
Next week I'll post my Apple Pie Overnight Oats recipe. If you try this one, let me know ... I'm curious what other people think.
April 21st, 2014