Homemade Pancakes to the Rescue
On the trip home from a long day of walking around Downtown Disney, my Mother, Father, Wife and I were struck with a sudden craving for waffles. As luck would have it, the Waffle House we tried to patron was closed. While this situation validated my strongly held belief on how Corporate America is screwing themselves trying to maximize profits by cutting staff to the bare necessity, thus leaving the store no option but to close when an employee came down sick; my stomach growling for waffles couldn’t have cared less. We wanted waffles!
Staring at the haphazardly misspelled sign, I quickly calculated I had the ingredients at home to make homemade pancakes. A quick run to the store for syrup, 20 minutes to prepare, and we’d be digging in to some yummy goodness that would make us all forget about waffles.
Excited I announced my plan to the group.
“Do you have pancake mix at home?” queried my Mother.
“Nope! Don’t need it.” I replied with confidence.
She had never heard of pancakes made without pancake mix and refused to believe I could do it. My wife thought it would take too long. Only my Father shared in my new excitement for pancakes. Mom was being stubborn wanting to eat out somewhere, I was becoming stubborn to prove that pancakes could be made without a store mix. Which I found surprising given her history making pies and brownies from scratch.
Grudgingly she agreed and I knew if these weren’t terrific I would be hearing about it. Accepting the challenge we arrived home and I pulled up my favorite homemade pancake recipe on my tablet and began to work.
Tip #1: Sift the dry ingredients together.
I think this does a nice job of getting air into the mixture. The baking powder can also clump and sifting keeps them out allowing the baking powder to work properly.
Tip #2: A lumpy batter is a happy batter.
I mix with a spoon until batter is even in color with small lumps left.
Tip #3: Watch the bubbles!
When the bubbles pop and start leaving little holes, that’s when it is time to flip.
As with anything, this may take a few tries to perfect. The recipe says medium-high, but I find my stove likes the dial between medium and medium high for best results.
Three bites in my Mother declare, “These are the best pancakes I’ve ever had!” Another example of how we’ve been suckered into believing a box mix is required to make something when all you need are some basic ingredients, a little patience, and a will to try. Mom will never use box pancake mix again and neither should you.
13 weeks later
That’s right. I’m still working out twice a week and progress is being made. In spite of my birthday, my wife’s birthday and Easter all working against me to satisfy my sweet tooth, (which I would call a controlled failure), I’m still here fighting the good fight.
Looking in the mirror I can see my face shrinking. I’m looking more like the person I think I am and not the fat guy I actually was. My shirts are no longer tight around my belly and instead are tight in the sleeves. My arms aren’t slabs of flab anymore and are hard as rocks. I can’t stop touching and squeezing them. OMG I have a man crush on my own arms.
My man boobs are disappearing and being replaced with actual muscles. My legs are solid and my flexibility and balance are coming back to me. Allowing me to practice my Tae Kwon Do kicks. I’m teaching my workout partner these kicks and we are having a blast kicking the crap out of his “Wave Master” bag.
Best of all, I’m now on the first belt hole. In 13 weeks I’ve gone from hole 5 to hole 1. Soon I’ll be able to fit into my size 36 pants that I’ve been keeping for 4 years in the hopes of fitting into them again. My mid section has shrunk from a full sized spare tire to a hatchback donut spare tire. (Mmmmmm donuts!)
I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’ve made good progress so far. I need to rid my life of the liars that make me feel bad about myself, and the biggest liar in my life right now is that damn bathroom scale! It’s saying I’m still 230 pounds. I guess when the fat is gone and the scale is still saying 230 I’ll just have to accept it.
Lucky for me there aren’t any special events in the near future to temp me. My goal is to gain control of my late night hunger and hopefully the scale will start being nicer to me.
Oh look, they put another cake in the cube next to me.
Your touch dances upon the surface of my skin.
My breath is stolen by the smell of your sweet kiss.
I break out in a smile feeling the warmth of your gaze.
For I have found in your loving embrace…
I learned a lot about the importance of Valentine’s Day from my father. He taught me exactly what a husband should NOT do on Valentine’s Day. I recall one year he tried to get away with only a card, then watched him suffer the rest of the week trying to make up for his faux pas.
What I learned was you can either expend a little energy and effort before Valentine’s Day and reap the rewards. Or you can expend a lot of energy and effort (and money) after Valentine’s Day just trying to get your wife to forgive you.
In a nutshell, Valentine’s Day is important! Don’t listen to her tell you it’s not important, that’s a trap. Don’t believe me? Try ignoring Feb 14th altogether and watch what happens!
The great thing about Valentine’s Day is that it’s not about how much money you spend. How big the box of chocolates you bought for her are. Neither flowers or jewelry are even required. The day is about making her feel loved and letting her know she is a special part of your life.
This year we made reservations at a restaurant we both love. I purchased a pair of earrings within my budget that I thought would look beautiful on my wife. Picked up the obligatory Valentine’s Day card, and still felt like I was short of the mark on showing how much I loved her.
So instead of buying some overpriced roses and a crummy box of chocolates at the store, I figured I’d make her something special…an arrangement of my own making. I found a cute tray to hold my Valentine goodies at a craft store, along with some accessories to give it that personal touch. I ran to the grocery store and picked up some Ghiradelli chocolate chips and some yummy strawberries. I also found a tray for making heart shaped ice cubes that could be used instead to make little heart shaped chocolates with the extra melted chocolate
My plan was to make my wife chocolate covered strawberries and little chocolate hearts; arrange them in the tray with little red felt hearts I bought and voilà: a gift from the bottom of my heart that I hoped would touch her’s. As luck would have it, she arrived home and spotted the chocolate chips and strawberries, put 2 and 2 together and announced, “You could have just bought me some chocolate covered strawberries from the store.”
But behind that casual comment I think I saw a hint of a smile.
The universe felt I needed some more luck and gave her the morning shift the day before Valentine’s Day, so I had to prepare this “surprise” while she was at home.
The process didn’t take very long and I’m very happy with how it turned out.
She loved her Valentine’s Day chocolate and I loved making it for her.
The thing is, you don’t need to spend a bunch of money to let your woman know you are still in love with her. If you’re scared of setting the house on fire trying to make her chocolate covered strawberries…try writing a poem. If you suck a writing poetry then memorize a love poem and whisper it in her ear as you embrace.
Take a trip to the spot of where you first met, first kissed, or first realized you were in love with her. Show her you remember those times in your relationship.
Valentine’s for a married couple is about letting go of the day to day worries and rekindling the love affair with your wife. Let go of the worries about trying to get pregnant for the day. (Unless you’re ovulating then hey, perfect timing!) Let her know that you desire her as much now as when you first kissed.
That’s why Valentine’s Day is important to your special lady, and should be important to you as well.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The Magic Conception Ball
Are you tired of feeling like sex is a monthly chore in your quest for a baby? Do you reminisce about the days when intimacy was exciting and fun? Looking to bring back that mystery of what your partner may have in store, instead of sex just becoming a bore?
Introducing the Magic Conception Balls™!
Purchase a Magic Conception Ball™ and watch your partner’s quizzical face turn to delight in remembering how much fun procreating can be. If this invention had been around in Ancient India, the Kama Sutra would have needed another volume. The opportunities are only limited by your flexibility and your imagination!
Let’s look at some of the benefits the Magic Conception Ball™ has over other intimacy aids.
The Magic Conception Ball™ hides in plain site. Nothing embarrassing you must hide away under a drawer full of socks. No weird questions about those “hooks” in the bedroom ceiling. Anyone spotting the Magic Conception Ball™ will assume it’s exercise equipment and will not even raise a question. Only you and your partner know what its real purpose is for.
Allows for a more intense workout saving you time by combining exercise and procreating. You can work on strengthening your core, lose weight and knock out a baby making session all at once! How many items around your home have so many positive benefits while saving you time?
This is a multi-functional tool with multiple uses beyond conception. Besides the most obvious being exercise, the Magic Conception Ball can be used as an office chair, working your core while you work. It makes a handy additional seating location so that one extra person doesn’t have to sit on the floor. Once you’re pregnant, the ball provides a great low impact workout keeping the body tone, fit, and ready for childbirth. After the birth, the ball can assist in bouncing the baby back to sleep as you sit on the ball holding your little miracle.
Easy to clean. Just wipe down with soap and water. No electrical parts to worry about.
No need to visit an embarrassing Adult store. You can purchase one of these miracle wonders at your local discount store hiding in the “exercise” section for around $10. Pick one up, and walk out the door without any one judging you as strange or weird.
While the Magic Conception Ball™ doesn’t guarantee conception, it will make trying to conceive a whole lot more fun and interesting.
Pick one up for your partner this Valentine’s Day. And remember, I spent my money on IVF, so if you get hurt, suing me would be pointless!
Alright I’ll admit it. There is more to my new found drive to lose weight than simply wanting to be healthy and feel better about myself. I keep reading over and over about a possible link between obesity and male infertility. While I don’t buy for one second my weight is the root cause for my infertility…it may well be a secondary factor in making my condition much worse than it needs to be.
The whole purpose of the testicles residing in the scrotum is to regulate their temperature for optimum production. I look at my situation below and my balls are basically incubating between too large thighs all day long. A perfect condition for roasting nuts, and not at all an ideal situation for sperm production.
There is also that small varicocele my Urologist found. All these questions on what to do next. Do I go ahead with a surgery with another uncertain outcome? Shall I walk around with ice packs shoved down the front of my pants all day long? Should I invest in Snowballs, underwear designed to keep the family jewels cool? Or do I commit myself to losing the weight?
With the bank account begging for mercy, I weighed my options. Although surgery could see an improvement, and insurance would cover part of the costs, that’s another $1000 or more out of my pocket. A debt I’d be happy to take on if there was a good chance of the surgery leading to an improved sperm count. Even if the improvement was only enough raise my chances for the next IVF round to work, surgery would be worth it. Right now with too many unknowns, this is another shot in the dark just like those HCG injections that work for some men, but not for me. So I’m holding off on the surgery.
Forcibly cooling the area with ice packs or specially designed underwear sounds promising on the surface. But this is just another one of those crazy infertile ideas like when I tried using a depilatory cream on the sack under the same reasoning. That crazy idea lead to several days of agony. Ice packs in the pants will definitely be uncomfortable and would need to be worn continuously for 3 months before finding out if this treatment is even working. I’m not walking around with my junk on ice for another long shot.
That left me with weight loss. It’s something I need to do and the hope of increasing my fertility is certainly additional motivation to keep me focused. I already had the weight set just sitting in the spare room, so there is little in additional cost required. I’ve found a work out buddy who is at the same level of strength as myself. This option just seemed to fall into place.
For me, the biggest reason I’m going with weight loss is that if in the end my fertility doesn’t increase, I’ll still feel good about accomplishing something. I can put my energy into a task where the results will be good, or could be great. Right now I need this, because few paths on the infertility journey have a lesser outcome that is still a benefit. I need a vacation from the heartbreak or euphoria result set. And if weight loss does result in some form of an increased sperm count, I’ll feel much better about going under the knife to improve my fertility further.
I’m 3 weeks into my weight loss plan. Although the flaky home scale says I either lost 2 more pounds or stayed the same this week depending on its mood, I’m down another belt notch and see a big difference all over my body that my plan is in fact working. I’m also feeling a lot better and seeing a noticeable increase in my energy level.
Finally a journey that only looks up. The only question that remains is, how high?
There is one thing Bandit and I both agree on and that is going to the vet sucks.
Eleven days ago I took Bandit to the vet to be neutered for various reasons. I’m renting the condo we live in and don’t want him marking everywhere. He will be our dog and we have no interest in breeding him. The last thing I want if he ever did escape is for him to start fighting over females, or end up getting another dog pregnant then be expected to help take care of the puppy vet bills and find homes for them.
Still I felt guilty of robbing him of his fertility. And the sad look he gave me as they dragged him back, whining and straining to leave with me instead of them, nearly broke my heart. Several hours later he was delighted to see me. Microchip in place. A fixed hernia where his birth mother chewed the umbilical cord too close causing the hernia to form. And 2 testicles removed that finally dropped only the week before. He came out wearing the cone of shame to keep him from biting his sutures. Considering all this he was still one happy puppy to see me.
We received instructions and some pain medication hoping this would be the last we saw of the vet for a while.
Houston we have a problem. The crate we were directed to buy several months ago is just big enough for Bandit to stand up and turn around. This is to simulate the comfort of a den. Bandit loves his crate. He sleeps peacefully all night long in it. But the cone won’t fit through the crate door. And even if he did get in the door, there is no way he would be able to turn around. For some reason, Bandit thinks our bed is an acceptable place to relieve his bladder, so letting him sleep with us is out of the question. Gating him in the bathroom makes him feel abandoned and he just whines and barks all night long.
Finally we figured out how to back Bandit into the crate. I’m surprised how quickly he picked this up. Now he starts backing up before I even have a chance to line his butt up with the door.
Two days later the after effects of the surgery hit and Bandit walked out of the crate that morning with his entire hind end brown. While I carefully tried to clean Bandit (since he wasn’t supposed to have a bath until two weeks after the surgery, but I figured leaving the area covered in feces would be worse than a bath), the wife cleaned the crate and then rushed Bandit to the Vet since the instructions said to bring him back if this occurred. They returned with more pills for Bandit to take. The pills worked and we went about keeping him as happy as a dog could be with a cone on his head.
Lately he’s been begging for our help scratching his head. He’ll walk up to me then start whining and bumping his cone against me until I start scratching. (Who’s training who here?) Yesterday we figured it was time to take the cone off hoping he wouldn’t start licking his wounds. That way he could scratch his own head. It started out fine. Only a few times did we need to correct him from licking his sutures.
He’d scratch one side then the other, play some ball, lay in the corner…typical Bandit behavior. His next flea treatment is due in a couple of days, so I figured maybe he collected a couple from somewhere and a bath along with the treatment would take care of those pesky critters.
Then he kept scratching, and scratching. Soon chunks of black hair were all over the carpet. I called him over for his last outside break before bed and noticed the skin on the left side of his head was red, and there was a deep scratch over his left eyebrow that was a little swollen. Normally I can’t even see through his fur to the skin except during his bath. I checked the right side and although not nearly as bad as the left, the fur was thinner and showing some damage. To stop the guy from ripping his face off, I put the cone back on and put him to bed for the night.
This morning, his left eye was swollen halfway shut and we could both tell he was miserable. I took the morning off work and rushed him to the vet. As always Bandit steals the show. Everyone can’t get enough of Bandit’s cuteness, despite looking like he’d just woken up the morning after a bar fight.
The vet walked in sporting a nice round baby bump. I’ll admit to having a fleeting “Are you fucking kidding me!” moment, but this quickly passed and I found myself feeling indifferent. My main concern was getting Bandit better. I hate seeing him suffer like this.
Turns out he has a yeast infection in both ears causing the itching discomfort. Most likely due to the cone holding his ears against his head locking in the moisture for the yeast to grow. Plus his sutures are showing signs of an infection starting. We left the vet with ear drops, eye drops, and an antibiotic and two more appointments. They want to check his eyes again in a couple days and it will be a couple weeks before they can check if the medication helped his ears.
I sure hope my little buddy gets better soon so I can take him to the beach again!
Please cut my arms off!
Last week began the start of my new weightlifting routine. Having lifted weights in high school I’m not a novice, however I probably would have been better off if I were.
I remembered much of what I learned in my class years ago. Starting with weights that weren’t too heavy. Focusing on my form and breathing during the exercise routines. Surprised myself by finding that my abs are still in good shape. Worked my right and left obliques, crunches and crunch leg raise combos, all together about 120 reps total and still wasn’t pushing very hard to avoid injury. (A gift from my gymnastics and tae kwon do instructors, the evil bastards.) Anyway, if I can eliminate this spare tire I know there is a nice set of abs underneath just waiting to be shown off.
The next day I felt pretty good. A little sore as I expected, but nothing too uncomfortable and the slight soreness reminded me the muscles were busy repairing themselves. I could feel my body burning energy instead of storing it as fat.
When I woke up the 2nd morning, that’s when the DOMS hit. What are DOMS? It stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. OW! No, that’s not good enough…
I couldn’t hold my arms straight. Reaching for a coffee cup was near impossible. I had no choice but to walk around for two days holding my arms at an angle like a gorilla. It was painful driving to work, putting on my shoes…anything that required extending my arm was torture!
I searched for the heating pad only to find and remember Bandit had chewed the cord as a puppy. Finally I found an almost empty tube of IcyHot that brought some relief. Coupled with ibuprofen I was finally able to go to sleep that night.
I don’t recall going through this much pain when I started lifting weights in high school. Maybe the instructor had started us on a lower weight than I remembered to avoid this situation. Luckily I’m reading that once you’ve broken the muscle in again, the likelihood of dealing with DOMS after future workouts is far less.
Now I’m feeling pretty good. Surprisingly I’m excited about exercising and for once I don’t dread doing it. Having a workout partner is a big help.
So far I’ve lost 3.5 pounds between diet and exercise. I’m not expecting those results every week, but I am encouraged by it. More exciting is I’m down a belt loop and I’m no longer teetering on the brink of requiring a bigger belt.
Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but I’m confident I can get where I’d like to be.
Reviewing “Untold History of the United States”
This weekend brought the conclusion of the Showtime series, “Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States.” A series I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to watch. I would also encourage anyone who does watch the series to maintain a healthy skepticism while viewing.
The series focuses on the darker side of presidential politics starting at the end of FDR’s term in office as the U.S. was avoiding involvement in WWII up to the modern day policies of Barack Obama. While touching on some domestic issues, the majority of the time is spent focused on U.S. foreign policy. Each episodes title confirms this fact.
Episode 1: World War II
Episode 2: Roosevelt, Truman & Wallace
Episode 3: The Bomb
Episode 4: The Cold War: 1945-1950
Episode 5: The 50’s Eisenhower, the Bomb & the Third World
Episode 6: JFK: To the Brink
Episode 7: Johnson, Nixon & Vietnam: Reversal of Fortune
Episode 8: Reagan, Gorbachev & Third World: Revival of Fortune
Episode 9: Bush & Clinton: Squandered Peace – New World Order
Episode 10: Bush & Obama: Age of Terror
Oliver Stone succeeds in telling an alternative view of American history that challenges the conventional view Americans perceive as our history. Where the series fails is by showing clear biases towards a progressive agenda, while implying it’s exposing the whole truth. Also disturbing is Stone’s need to portray Heroes and Villains while the show is criticizing presidents and the media of doing the very same thing. Far too often I felt when contrary evidence was presented, it was whitewashed and incomplete. However, there is a fairness in that party affiliation doesn’t protect anyone against Stone’s microscope. Despite his obvious dislike for President Reagan and President G.W. Bush, there is a balanced contempt for President Truman and President Johnson.
The first area I felt this bias conflict was in painting Henry Wallace as a progressive visionary who’s ideas were ahead of his time. A man who’s integrity didn’t allow himself to waver from his ideals. And Wallace was a forward thinking individual in the areas of agriculture and civil rights. But repeatedly Stone refers to Wallace’s stance on trusting and peacefully coexisting with the Soviet Union, communism and Joseph Stalin. Implying that if Wallace hadn’t been replaced by Truman as Vice President on Roosevelt’s final election, the Truman Doctrine to stop communism before it spreads further would have been avoided. Thus erasing Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War from our history. Stone hides behind narration claiming we can’t know what the world would look like today had Wallace took over the Presidency when Roosevelt died, but the message is clear that he feels the alternative couldn’t have been any worse.
Stone completely glosses over the fact that Wallace published a book in 1952 titled “Where I Was Wrong” in which Wallace recants this very position regarding the Soviet Union. Claiming his previous position was made from inadequate information regarding Stalin and the threat he represented. Maybe the series writers feel Wallace only published this book as a means to protect himself from the McCarthy witch hunt taking place at the time against those sympathetic to communism. The fact is Truman shoulders little responsibility for spreading the fear of communism. For that fear was already spreading throughout all levels of government. Wallace may have had a softer approach than Truman, but if Wallace had pursued what Stone feels would have been the “correct” course of action, Wallace likely would have been facing impeachment charges.
Repeatedly I felt Stone was cherry picking facts, which he claims are true and vetted by several groups, to point out what presidents did know and in hindsight made the wrong decision. It’s easy to look back and pick out the intelligence that happened to be correct. Not so easy when you’re faced with several conflicting reports being forced to make a decision.
Stone also offers little room for presidential politics, unfairly criticizing presidents over them. Pulling presidential soundbites to support Stone’s position. What would Mr. Stone expect President Obama to say to troops returning from the Iraq conflict? “Sorry you went over there under false pretenses and watched several of your friends killed for nothing?” Also entirely unfair was the soundbite of President G.W. Bush saying “you’ve covered your ass” claiming the context was about Arabs training to fly planes into buildings prior to 9-11. Was supplying the actual context to which Bush was responding to too difficult for us to hear for ourselves Mr. Stone?
Despite these and many other flaws in logic and hypocrisy, the series does a good job of presenting evidence on how much of what we felt was aggression from the USSR was often simply a response to an action we already took, for they feared we would strike first. How often from the rest of the world, it is the United States that’s viewed as the aggressor. That we now know many of the numbers on USSR arms during the cold war turned out to be far fewer in reality. Once again I was left disappointed in Mr. Stone for not following up with why our numbers on USSR armaments were so far off.
Whether intentional or not, the series masterfully shows how often candidates running for the presidency end up involved in the very activities they ran against. That it is impossible to make a clear choice on who one should vote for. The promises spoken on the campaign trail doesn’t correspond to the actions taken in office. How even the best of intentions are warped and corrupted by outside influences once seated in the oval office. Then the series trips over itself implying the likes of Wallace or Gore would have been better presidents, based on their campaign platform. As if somehow they would have been immune from these pressures.
“Untold History of the United States” made me think and reexamine what I thought I knew about our history. For that reason alone I think the series was worthwhile and applaud Mr. Stone’s effort. However, in hindsight, the series would have had a much more powerful message highlighting what is wrong with America had Mr. Stone restrained his progressive bias, stopped trying to flip the tables claiming America is the evil empire, and just presented the facts fairly highlighting the sympathies and faults on all sides. Then let the viewer decide for themselves.
The world we live in is gray Mr. Stone. If you want others to recognize past mistakes to avoid making them in the future, it doesn’t help if you are still painting the past in black and white.
Sorry Bandit. Tennis courts are now off limits.
Some control freak who likes to suck the joy out of life would rather see the tennis courts remain empty and unused than allow pets inside to play.
How about we go to the beach?
Let’s go and find out.
You can play in the sand.
You can dig holes until your heart is content.
You can chase after people.
You can enjoy the ocean view.
You can play in the water.
You can collect seashells.
You can scout the babes.
You can stalk the birds.
So what do you think?
Let’s go home.
We’ll go again soon, but now we must clean you up.
Don’t worry, all the sand in your fur will soon be gone.
All done buddy. Let’s get you dried off.
Glad Mom has this old hair dryer.
Sorry, Mom’s the hairdresser, not I.