Writing Project, Title Unknown

I’ve started a new writing project. I’ve got three different names for it currently and I’m not sure which one suits it best. Here are some stats on it:

  • Title: Unknown
  • Word Count: 0 fiction / 1700 outline
  • Total Words: 1700
  • Deadline: March 30, 2016
  • Genre: Fantasy

I’m going to try writing daily and posting about my progress at least weekly.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today would’ve been my mother’s 55th birthday. She was born on September 30th, 1959. She passed away on February 23rd, 1994, from cancer.

I miss her every day.

Mom, I hope when you look down from on high, you approve of what you see. I love you, I miss you, and I hope I make you proud.

Family, Cooking, a Chili Recipe

One of the things I’ve been doing a lot more is cooking at home. I used to use my pain disorder as an excuse to not cook, and since I’m the primary cook in the house, that would mean we would end up ordering or eating out often.

As you may imagine, this can be expensive, in both financial and health ways.

Over the last few months, we’ve been eating in, at home, and experimenting with different recipes to find a variety of things that we like. And, not only are we finding awesome, cheap things, that we like to eat, but we are all healthier. Both Caroline and I are losing weight and we get to spend more time as a family around the dinner table.

Long story short, I want to share one of our favorite recipes with you. This is my slow cooker chili recipe:

Ingredients

2 cups tomato juice
15 ounce can tomato sauce
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
27 ounce can dark red kidney beans
26.5 ounce can black beans
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 lb ground beef or turkey, browned
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions

Sauté onion and green pepper in skillet for 2 minutes. Add ground beef or turkey to skillet and cook until browned.

Mix all ingredients in 4 or 6 quart crock pot.

Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.

I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it!

Karma

Do you believe in karma?

I do.

One year ago, I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii. I did and while I was there, Caroline and the girls came down with severe cases of the stomach flu.

Caroline is right now in Hawaii, likely sleeping off the timezone changes. I had the pleasure of waking up to my eldest daughter having had a bad case of diarrhea in her sleep (mess doesn’t even begin to describe the result).

Fingers are crossed and I’m knocking on wood that this is as far as the karmic wheel turns for me. I GET IT!

Ugh…

Fatherhood After Four Years

Man, I can’t believe it has been four years. Next month, Ellie turns four. Hard to believe.

At the same time, something about it just feels right. I’ve done a lot of different things over the years for “work;” tech support, fast food worker, general grunt work, computer sales, software engineering, and various other stuff. None of it, though, has come to me as naturally, or as passionately and happily, as being a parent and a father. The role is just something that I can do, without worrying that I’m doing something wrong or that someone is looking over my shoulder.

Oh, sure, I have my moments where I feel like a complete failure as a parent, but I think every good parent has those moments. It is when your kid cuts their finger on a tin can because you didn’t put it out of their reach, or you weren’t watching close enough and they fell and split their lip. These things happen, but you feel like you should have been there to prevent it. Yeah, but after you get past the moment, you realize that you are still a good parent.

I love cooking dinner for, and with, my girls. We’ve taken to having a family dinner every night, which both Ellie and Gwen love. They are a class act, sitting across from each other at the table. It also gives me a lot of time doing something other than sitting in front of the television, which makes me feel worlds better about myself.

And now I’m writing more. That is one of the best things ever. This will be the second blog post this week, not to mention that I’ve written 800 words of fiction. I’ve tried to keep up with NaNoWriMo, but I don’t think I’ll keep pace with it. I’ll use it as a way to motivate writing, but I won’t force myself into that goal.

Next post will include some thoughts on my fiction. See you then!

Status Update: Winter Has Arrived Early

Winter seems to have arrived early here in Maine and I’m none too happy about it. It means my pain levels are higher, which makes it harder to do anything.

Despite that, Caroline, the kids, and I have managed to do something fun each weekend. We went to Portland a couple of weeks ago, then to the grand parents one week ago, then to the Maine Jump this last weekend.

More later!

On Being In Pain

I don’t usually like talking about this subject, but I think it’s high time I stretch my comfort zone. Keeping it all to myself doesn’t help, so I’m going to try to get it out there.

I’ve been in some form of pain for most of my life. I started having stress headaches around the age of twelve, right around the time that my mother passed away from brain cancer. Nothing was really done about it; I took over the counter pain killers and dealt. Over the course of my teen years, the headaches got progressively worse until, at eighteen, I was diagnosed with migraines. Then the doctors started trying drug treatments that, to this day, don’t work.

Along with the migraines, I’ve also never slept very well. Most doctors I talk to attribute that to my weight. I’ve been 6’4″ tall and over 250 pounds since I was thirteen. I’ve always hovered higher in weight than I should. Looking back now, though, I can list on one hand the number of times I’ve actually, really slept a full night. Most of the time, I’m caught up  in a cycle that doesn’t allow me to drop into the restorative sleep that people need.

Recently, I’ve developed extreme pain in my muscles and joints. I’ve always had issues, here and there, with a joint or muscle, but, since I’m overweight, most doctors just ignore it. Rest it, take pain meds, get better. Seems logical, but it never really worked for me. Now, I can’t sit in a car for more than an hour before my sees catch fire, nor can I whisk something while cooking, or brush my hair without feeling like my joints are all afire and ready to run away from me.

In essence, all of this culminates into one thing: it takes a lot of mental effort for me to get myself doing anything. Exercise, sitting at the computer, watching television, writing: each and every activity I think about doing has a certain amount of pain attached to it. Some things I have to do: go to work and get things done, cook dinner, do laundry, etc. For those things, I don’t have a choice: I have to accept the pain I’ll be in because, otherwise, those things won’t get done and my wife and daughter would be negatively effected. Things like writing, exercising, reading a book: they all get dumped to the side because the pain cost is too high.

However, I’ve discovered that there is another cost: happiness. Writing makes me happy. Telling stories makes me happy. Reading a story someone else has written makes me happy. Playing with my daughter and seeing her delight in new things makes me happy. Going out to dinner and a movie with my wife makes me happy.

I’m learning slowly that being unhappy and in minimal pain costs far more than being happy and in more pain. Because if I’m unhappy, I get depressed — and the depression enhances the pain I feel. The happiness can fend off some pain, or at least make me forget it for a time. Which is good.

One positive note in all of this is that my newest doctor believes that I have fibromyalgia and is taking steps to get me treated for it. I’m glad that we are on track for a treatment, but I wish it had come along sooner.