Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Spinach Goatee Series


The Brando


The Actual Goat


The Jolly Deniro


The Evil Twin


The Colicchio

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two for two...

...from the new recipe book. Last night's beef stroganoff was another winner.

Ingredients
  • beef (whatever you've got...I used some frozen chuck short ribs)
  • half an onion, chopped
  • minced/crushed garlic (1 tsp, or however much is left in the jar, if you use that sort of thing, which you definitely should because it's so much easier than mincing by hand)
  • cream of mushroom soup (1 can)
  • 1 beef boullion cube
  • 1 handful fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • soy sauce (~2 tbsp, give or take)
  • salt & pepper (though I just used lemon pepper, no salt...figured the soy sauce was salty enough)
  • cream cheese (one 8 oz block - I used neufchatel cheese)
  • wide noodles of some sort

Preparation
1. Put the beef in the crock pot. Smear on the garlic, grind some lemon pepper over everything, turning a few times to nicely coat the meat.
2. Pour in the soy sauce.
3. Toss everything else in the pot except the cheese & the noodles. (If you're not using condensed soup, add an extra cup of water.) Cook for 6-8 hours.
4. About an hour before it's done, cut the cream cheese into cubes and add it to the pot. Stir to mix it in well.
5. Cook the noodles separately when you're ready to eat. Spoon the beefy deliciousness over the top & enjoy.

The ribbon's the best part



mister's first christmas
(see scrooge there in the background?)
was merry indeed

Monday, December 29, 2008

Chicken corn chowder, for the win

Knowing of my newfound zeal for crock pottery, both Tom & Yaya gave me slow cooker recipe books for Christmas. Last night I modified a recipe from one of the books to make a fantastically delicious chicken corn chowder for dinner.

Ingredients
  • butter (1 tbsp)
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • flour (2 tbsp)
  • broth (2.5 cups)
  • creamed corn (1 can)
  • misc vegetables - carrots, corn, green beans (1/2 bag, frozen)
  • frozen chicken thighs (several)
  • hot sauce (1-2 tsp)
  • shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2-3 handfuls)


Preparations
1. In a skillet, melt the butter & saute the onions. When the onions are soft, add the flour, stir well to coat.
2. Add the broth & stir until it starts to thicken. (I added a few heaping spoonfuls of sour cream at this point kind of on a whim, but I think the temperature was too high because it kind of curded up a little...I'd recommend skipping on the sour cream or maybe mixing it in later, but I don't think it really added anything to the recipe.)
3. Pour broth + onions into the crockpot. Add everything else except the cheese. Stir & cook for 4 hours.
4. About 30-60 minutes before it's done, add in the cheese & stir to mix well.

Not only was the soup delicious and slightly spicy, it was just the right amount for the two of us to eat for dinner without having half a pot of leftovers...a first in my crock potting experience! This is definitely one I'll make again.

Later today I'm going to attempt a beef stroganoff. Will let you know how that turns out.

Even more teeth!

Soren seems to be sprouting several more teeth again, all at once after a few weeks off. It looks/feels like there might be three coming in on the top, and possibly one on the bottom. We're trying to be good about remembering to brush the ones he's got so far; I keep forgetting, but Tom's been pretty on top of it. Soren doesn't seem to mind the brushing, fortunately (not that I expected otherwise of the little "everything goes in my mouth all the time" weasel).

Even though he's not using his teeth for eating yet, he's been continuing to broaden his palate, as it were. Recent additions to the pureed food smorgasbord: green beans, brussels sprouts, rice gruel, yogurt-y spinach, pearsauce, yams and cantaloupe. He still loves butternut squash and sweet potatoes. In fact, aside from the peas (which we'll try again soon) he's done really well with everything we've given him to eat. Such a good little lad!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Update &cetera

Well, the wee sir seemed to enjoy his first Christmas. He had a grand old time pulling out - and thoroughly tasting - each of the toys in his stocking. He got some fun things that play music and make interesting noises, and he's been happily playing with those. Always a winner, though, are the very simple things such as paper and ribbons. Boy's more like a cat every day, I've been saying. ;)

I used a new dough recipe this year when it came time to make the Christmas calzones. It was a much softer, less mouth-cutty crust than I've made in years past, and I was very pleased with the final result! I think part of the trick might be letting the yeast sit in the hot water/sugar mixture long enough to get a little foamy, and then starting to add the flour.

Short version (for those who don't want to click the link):
1. In a large bowl, combine 1 packet of yeast with 1 cup of hot (110 degrees F) water and a pinch of sugar. Let the mixture sit until it starts to foam a little (about 5 minutes).
2. Add 1.5 teaspoons of salt, 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1.5 cups of flour. (I also add a little garlic powder & onion powder.) Mix well.
3. Add another cup of flour, or slightly more if necessary until the dough is just slightly sticky to the touch.
4. Transfer to a floured board, and knead for 5 - 7 minutes, adding additional flour if needed. Dough should be soft & elastic, but no longer sticky.
5. Put the dough back into a lightly-oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, cover the bowl with a damp towel, and set it someplace warm to rise for an hour.
6. For calzones, divide the dough into four balls, and let them sit for 15 minutes before rolling them out & filling them with delicious calzone fillings. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes at 475 degrees and rock on with your bad calzone-eating self.

In other culinary news, I have been waging a battle with cornbread. I can make a delicious batch of cornbread from one of the cornbread mix packets you can buy at the store, but lately I've been trying to make it from scratch (since we seem to have come into an obscenely large stash of cornmeal). It's been tougher to replicate the ready-mix stuff than I expected. The first batch came out super dry and super dense, more like cornbrick than cornbread. The second batch was fluffy and moist but didn't really taste like anything. I'm beginning to think the cornmeal I used isn't very good. I'll use another of our many bags in the next batch and see how that goes.

Tonight I'm back to work, but only for 3 more nights. Yee-hee!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Going for a stroll



strolling with his dad
one-handed and steady like
he's some kind of pro

Monday, December 22, 2008

Vampire No More

Well, vampire not much longer, anyway.

When the morning comes, and my boss arrives to work for the day, I will be handing him my official two-week notice. That snub at the Christmas party was just too much, and I will not stand for that kind of treatment any longer!

Hehe. I kid. But only about the second part.

Tom's dream job starts at the end of March - it's official! - and he's got a thesis to write and defend in the meantime, which will be a whole lot easier if he doesn't have to also be Mr. Mom at night all by himself. I cannot express how much I am looking forward to really sleeping again. Every night! For like, hours and hours at a stretch! Heavenly.

Never mind the fact that there's this huge cross-country move to plan. That's right, D.C. denizens, we are soon to be among your number. Specifically, we'll be settling in Northern Virginia. (Bethany, prepare yourself for the potential barrage of questions that may be fired in your direction!) It's all very new and exciting and a little scary (but much more exciting than scary), and I'm pretty stoked to start this next phase of our lives. I've never been to D.C. and ohmyfreakinggawd am I jazzed about being so close to the Smithsonian and the Newseum and the Library of Congress and the International Spy Museum...just to name a few! And once I've had a little time off to be Mommy 24/7, I will be in a prime location to actually use my Masters degree when I'm ready to go back to work. Doesn't get much better than that, folks.

So 2009 will dawn bright and clear and vampire shift-free, and I couldn't be more pleased. Happy New Year, indeed!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Festive Tights

So, today was the company holiday party for the place where I work. Last year I was all excited about being able to bring Tom along and introduce him to everyone. Then I found out they hold the parties in the middle of the day on a Friday, and I was appropriately bummed because he probably wouldn't be able to go in that case.

"Um, you know spouses aren't allowed anyway, right?"
"What?! No, I did not know that. How stupid. What kind of company Christmas party doesn't let you bring your spouse? I thought that was kind of the point."

Au contraire, mis amigos. The story goes, many years ago, the parties were your standard evening events, complete with booze aplenty (or at least, booze enough). However, after too many incidents involving employees' spouses being drunkenly informed of various workplace dalliances, and the ensuing drunken fistfights - "too many" meaning "more than one or two," which seems just absurd...seriously, people, keep it in your freaking pants for god's sake - the new party arrangements were adopted. Middle of the day, employees only, no alcohol. (It's also possible they just decided it had gotten too expensive to feed everyone AND their families, and the claim is that the dusty, way too hot company picnic at the weird dirt ranch in Chatsworth serves the "everyone meet everyone" function. But I digress.)

Anyway, the point is, the holiday party is for employees only. However, as it's held in a hotel ballroom in the middle of the day, I could really only go if I brought Soren along, but I figured it wouldn't be a huge deal. I mean, he's not really mobile yet, so it's not as though he'll run around bothering people. He wouldn't take up an extra chair, not if he's sitting in my lap or being passed around among all the people who want to meet him. He's certainly not going to eat any of the food. Where's the harm? Surely if I just show up with him strapped to my front they will see reason. What are they going to do, turn me away, after I've gotten all dressed up and driven all the way over there?

Alas, that is exactly what they did.

Did I mention the dress code? I didn't. There's a dress code for this party. I had to wear a dress. And since it's been kind of chilly lately, I thought I'd go for tights instead of nylons, since they're a bit thicker. I went to Target and picked out a nice outfit for the boy (since his "fancy clothes" were all in the hamper from earlier this week) and got myself some plain black tights to go with my black dress and black boots. And then I thought about it some more and decided that was kind of a lot of black; I couldn't see any reason not to embrace the holiday season and get myself some festive tights. I still got the black ones, in case I wimped out at the last minute, but I also snagged myself some red ones with silver snowflakes on them. Festive with a capital F, people. So with Soren in his adorable little corduroys and collared plaid shirt and green sweater vest with a train on it, and I in my dress and boots and festive tights, off we went to the Christmas party.

And we were promptly turned away. Well, the first lady tried to turn me away when I went to pick up my name tag and raffle ticket, and then I appealed to a nicer HR lady who said of course Soren could come in, and here is your stuff, and have a lovely time. And then the nicer HR lady's boss (I think he's her boss) let me get about five steps into the ballroom before escorting me right back out.

"Blah blah, precedent, mur mur mur, rules are rules, blabbedy bloo, I'm a big fat meanie head."

(I may have paraphrased that last bit.)

Well fine. I stood outside the door to the ballroom and got my friend M to go in and fetch the people in my department so they could see Soren. I hung out around there for a little while, visiting and taking pictures with people, playing pass the baby. All the same things I would have done had I been allowed inside, with the exception of eating food. (The big fat meanie head offered to have the kitchen make me a plate of food, but I saw very little point in sitting there outside, hunched pathetically over my plate, so I took my festive tights and my son elsewhere.) We got some lunch at a restaurant nearby and then met up with Gram Gram for some pie, since she lives just down the street from where the party was being held. Soren charmed everyone in sight, as usual, behaving like a little angel despite being hauled about for most of the afternoon. We had a lovely visit with Gram Gram, whose necklace Soren found utterly irresistible. And then he slept in the car all the way home.

All's well that ends well, I suppose.

Edited to add:

Here they are. Festive!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Everything I Own

This seemed like kind of an interesting thing to do. We'll see.

1. Put your iPod (or media player) on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!

Here goes.

IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY" YOU SAY?
Honky Tonk Woman (Rolling Stones) -- I just may use this as a standard Captain Random response from now on.

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Sexy Plexi (Jack Johnson) -- Why thank you.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
David Duchovny (Bree Sharp) -- Haha! Umm...no comment.

HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
What I Got (Sublime) -- Could go with band name here instead? 'Cause that doesn't make much sense.

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
Here Comes the Sun (Nick Cave) -- More like here comes the son...

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Get Over It (OK Go) -- Pretty good motto!

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Ordinary (Face to Face) -- Aw :(

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Red Room (Jude) -- Not really, but I do get the song Red Red Wine stuck in my head periodically.

WHAT IS 2+2?
The Good Life (Weezer) -- Totally.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
Walk On Me (Ben Kweller) -- Not true! No!

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
American Girl (Ween) -- Er. Let's just use that one for someone I like platonically, shall we? ;)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Mrs. Robinson (Me First & the Gimme Gimmes) -- Totally not.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Ain't Loved At All (Jack Johnson) -- Stop lying, mp3 player!

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
No More Shall We Part (Nick Cave) -- Finally, something true (even if the song is totally creepy)

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Fly Like An Eagle (Steve Miller Band) -- Okay, I can go with that one.

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Sha Sha (Ben Kweller) -- This may actually have been on our wedding playlist.

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
I Am A Rock (Simon & Garfunkle) -- Sure...but I like the Me First & Gimme Gimmes version better.

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
The Joker (Steve Miller Band) -- I do like jokes...

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
California Dreaming (Me First & the Gimme Gimmes) -- Ha! Couldn't be further from the truth.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Ride (Liz Phair) -- I have my own car, thanks very much. You're more than just wheels to me, my friends!

WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Fire & Rain (Me First & the Gimme Gimmes) -- That could be pretty bad.

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
Skills to Pay the Bills (Beastie Boys) -- I will apparently die in some sort of rap battle.

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
OK Nightmare (Caviar) -- Sure, I guess any regrets could be classified as nightmares in some sense.

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Allison (Elvis Costello) -- I don't actually know any Allisons. Possibly I will meet a funny one?

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Soba Violence (Beastie Boys) -- *sniff* Be nice to the noodles!

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
Caress Me Down (Sublime) -- I guess that's a yes?

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
Bad News (Jack Johnson) -- Definitely scary!

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
Falling For You (Weezer) -- Keep on falling, baby. ;)

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
Cecilia (Simon & Garfunkel) -- Totally. Forget that chick. Or something.

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
Fallen (Bree Sharp) -- My back does kind of feel like I've fallen down recently.

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
Everything I Own (Jude)


Okay, so that was kind of hit & miss. Oh well. Good enough for moderate temporary amusement.

Games with Dad



there never was a
smilier pair than these two
playing on the floor

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Balancing Acts

Soren's starting to learn how to stand on his own, without holding on to anything for support. He'll pull himself up on something, let go, and hover there for a second or two before plopping down again. I let him practice on the bed a lot, since the plopping is softer there. Every so often he manages to steady himself and stand for a good 5 or 6 seconds, usually with his feet braced wide apart. It's quite impressive!

I'm still managing, for the most part, to balance work and sleep and mothering. There are rough days, of course. Tuesday I got home in the morning, and no sooner had my head hit the pillow than the wee sir was standing up in his crib, babbling away at me, ready to start the day. He has a little glow seahorse that plays music, which manages to entertain him fairly well. I was able to sleep for as long as the music would go (about 5 minutes) before he'd start yammering again. Squeeze the seahorse, start the music, drift back off, wake up, squeeze the seahorse, etc. Eventually he drank the remainder of his night bottle and passed back out for about 45 minutes, but thereafter, it was naught but 10 and 20 minute naps for me over the course of the day.

I didn't go to work that night. The rest of the week has been somewhat better, sleep-wise. (Thank goodness.)

I've started an online class again, since I didn't have enough going on, I guess. ;) When I was working on my Masters, there weren't any classes available that dealt specifically with firearms examination, which is the area of forensics that particularly interests me. A week or so ago, I found a couple of online classes through West Virginia University's extension program - Introduction to Firearms & Toolmark Investigation and an IBIS course (Integrated Ballistics Identification System...like the fingerprint database only for bullets) - so I signed myself up for one. I'm taking the intro course now. It's intended as a continuing education type class for people already working in the field of forensics, but I figure whatever I can do to make myself a more attractive eventual candidate will be worth the effort, especially if I want to take a couple of years off to be Mom full-time once Tom graduates. I'll get a nice certificate of completion when I'm done...another thing to add to the resume. (I'll take the IBIS class as well, just a little later.)

So that's pretty cool.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Jealous



his new moose jammies
are so fleecy and cozy
I want some for me

Monday, December 08, 2008

Eight Months Old

  • He is a speed-crawler these days, with a habit of streaking toward the bathroom whenever we've left the door open.
  • He is also a very capable cruiser, making his way from the TV stand to the coffee table to the couch with almost no trouble.
  • He has three teeth, with a fourth on the way!
  • He can stand unsupported for a second or two at a time. Last night he crawled over to where I was standing, pulled himself up by my pantlegs, and reached his arms up toward me! I snagged him just before he would have fallen.
  • He does a pretty respectable pteradactyl impersonation.
  • He loves being chased by Tom in crawl-races through the living room. Giggles and grins like his face is going to split in twain.
  • He has tried many solid (well, mushy) foods now. Favorites include butternut squash, carrots, and avocado. He is not a fan of peas or (so far) chicken (though Tom mixed the chicken with some sweet potatoes and he seemed to tolerate that all right). Going to start trying finger foods soon!
  • He weighs upwards of 20 pounds and wears 12m size clothes. (Some 9m shirts & pants fit him, but the onesies are all too short now.)
  • His smile for me in the morning and for his dad in the evening is the brightest, most heart-melting thing I've seen in my entire life.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Waxing Nostalgic Again

Sometimes I miss playing in a band. I don't mean a rock band or even a garage band; I am nowhere near cool enough for that. ;) No, I'm talking high school band, wherein FarmerMeg & I were the badasses of the flute section. (Not to brag, but we totally were.) Pep band was fun, though we froze our fingers off at the football games. Marching band was also fun, though we sweated our way through long hours of parade practice. What I'm missing most right now though is plain old symphonic band, with everyone working together to create something beautiful.

Probably I have kind of a skewed perspective, ten years on. I know there was plenty of frustration, as well as tons of repetition, trying to get everyone to care enough to concentrate and pull it all together. I remember a couple of concerts where it was obvious we didn't really have a particular piece down and probably had no business subjecting our audience (i.e. devoted parents) to it; I remember being embarrassed about that. But by & large my memories are fond. The satisfaction of finally bringing all the musical components together, knowing we rocked the hell out of a tricky piece of music, was totally worth all the rest of it.

Tuesday I was making my way through the special features for the second X-Files movie, and of course there was a part about recording the film's score. Mark Snow, the composer, was leading the orchestra through a piece of rather moving background music while the movie flickered along on the recording studio wall. What a freaking cool job that must be. Stressful as hell for sure, what with the long hours and yet limited amount of time to perfect each piece of music, but so cool. Even in my heyday, when I was a pretty respectable floutist if I do say so myself, I was nowhere near good enough to be in an orchestra of that caliber. But if I were better, I could see myself wanting that job. Not necessarily to make a career out of it, but just to say, I was part of a film score orchestra once.

Maybe someday I'll get my fluting chops back, find a community orchestra to join. It would be fun to be part of a band again. I'll just tack that on to my wish list, along with finding a way to ride horses regularly again, getting back on my snowboard, and re-learning the bagpipes.

(Unrelated to my band nostalgia but a cool part of the movie special features, there was a separate recording session with a smaller "effects" orchestra, capturing crashes and splats and the like. This pianist was creating some incredible distortions of his instrument by laying silly putty across the strings or slipping coins between them. Sounded like a synthesizer, but it was a standard grand piano. I had no idea you could make a piano sound like that. Super cool.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Another one?

Soren is just popping out those teeth, all rapid fire style. Got his first one, then 6 days later got his second one (both lower central incisors) and just yesterday - 8 days after the second one - I noticed a third tooth emerging! This time it's an upper, the right central incisor. From the look of his gums, the left one isn't far behind. So, very soon, the little scraeling will have a matched set of uppers and lowers, all the better to nibble with.

Huzzah.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Too much


little teddy bear
could you be any cuter?
methinks there's no way

Monday, December 01, 2008

Weekend wrapup

Thanksgiving foods - Delicious!
Family visiting - Splendid!
Turkey hats - Crazy!
Beavs lost - Boo!
FedEx can't find Tom's bday present - Double boo!
Soren - Popular!
Sleep - Somewhat plentiful!
Weather - Cool!
New telephoto lens - Yay!
Back to work - Lame!

The weekends, however long they may be, are never long enough. I'll work on getting photos updated and all that later today. I also need to go play with the sweet telephoto lens my dad brought down for me. Plus, there's a wee lad who requires attention and games.

Sorry so lame. More soon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jazzed

Just a couple of hours more and I will be free! Free for four whole days! Free I say!

I have been looking forward to this long weekend for a while now. (No great surprise, that.) I recall last year being so very excited for Thanksgiving time, walking out of work on Wednesday afternoon with a goofy grin on my face and a giddy spring in my step. I imagine I'll be walzing out of the building much the same way this year, ready for four days of rest and food and rest and family and rest and food and rest!

Thanksgiving is to be quite the to-do this year. Amy & her husband are driving out from Phoenix (on the road right now, actually), and my parents will by flying in late tonight. The family is converging - as usual - at Aunt Teresa's, where there will be food and craziness and food and Wii-playing and food and Soren-doting and food. After I wake up later this morning/afternoon, I'll set to work making the side dish we're bringing over (looks to be a delicious concoction of smashed butternut squash & sweet potatoes with carmelized onions & a citrus-y flair). Should be pretty tasty, I'm hoping.

Feast well, my friends! Back at ya a few days later and a few pounds heavier. ;)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Glee


happy little clam
he has two bottom teeth now
small shiny and sharp

Mister sprouted his second tooth yesterday. It wasn't there the day before, and then suddenly it appeared. Crazy how that works.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Crock Pottery

ML requested a post about some of the stuff I've been making in the crock pot lately. There's not, I'm afraid, too much to tell. I don't usually follow recipes, and if I do use one now and again, it's more as a guideline than anything else. So unfortunately, I can't offer much in the way of replicable meals, but perhaps some general ideas and observations will suffice.

After my first two crock potting endeavors (here) I tried the bean stew ML recommended. All they had at the store, when I was shopping for ingredients, was a 16-bean mix, so I got that instead of the suggested navy beans. I tossed in the bones from the pork chops we'd had the night before, along with a couple of frozen chicken thighs and enough broth/water to just cover everything. I did find that I had to add some more liquid after a few hours because the beans had soaked it all up, and the ones on the top were getting dry, so perhaps some more broth from the start would have been a good idea. I let it cook for 8 hours, and in the end, the 1 pound of beans yielded enough food for 4 dinners. Whipped up some corn bread to accompany, and it was a pretty satisfying meal. The stew was actually more the consistency of chili, but without being spicy.

I've cooked frozen chicken a couple of more times. Once I did an improvised red curry dish (using a jar of Trader Joe's red curry sauce). I potted some chicken thighs (again, frozen) and vegetables, poured the jar of sauce over the top, and added enough veggie broth to keep everything nice and hydrated. A couple of nights ago, I tried chicken and carrots with veggie broth and a bit of caesar dressing, which turned out oilier than I'd have liked (especially upon reheat).

The main things I've noticed so far is that I haven't quite got the hang of not cooking all of the flavor out of the meat. It's all very fall-off-the-bone tender, but it frequently doesn't taste like all that much. So that is somewhat perplexing. Another thing I've read in various crock pot recipes is that it's always best to put a layer of some sort of vegetable (usually onions or carrots) on the bottom of the pot to shield any meat from the main heat and prevent it from turning to mush. I can't verify if skipping this veg layer will cause said mushiness, since I've always employed it, but it seems like a fine enough thing to keep anyway.

I would like to try a crock pot lasagna. I wonder if cooking chicken or ribs or whatever for a shorter amount of time will keep all the flavor from leaching out, or if I just need to use a more flavor-concentrated liquid than mere vegetable broth. I've also heard you can make brownies in a crock pot, and I am unreasonably intrigued by this prospect. Part of me is afraid that they wouldn't come out well, which would be a shame and a waste of a perfectly good batch of brownies, but the other part of me is all, "Brownies in a crock pot! Who knew?! It sounds so awesome!" Maybe a quiche? (I'm not sure if that's an option...seems it'd be tricky with the crust and whatnot.) I don't know. But I'll try to keep you informed of any exciting things I manage.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sometimes it seems

The more things change...





...the more they stay the same.



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Seen on my commute

On my way home this morning, a motorcyclist was coming the opposite direction on the freeway, probably traveling about 70 mph. Standing up on the bike's pegs. Yikes.

In the category of "questions you don't really want answered"

I vacuum a lot more now than I used to. Like, a ton more. I used to vacuum maybe once every couple of weeks. Lately it seems like I'm vacuuming every 3-4 days. At least.

I'm sure most of it has to do with the fact that my beloved offspring is spending so much time sitting/crawling/rolling around on the carpet, rubbing his precious face on the floor and finding every piece of fuzz or tuft of cat hair or shred of paper he can possibly put in his mouth. I am, as a result, spending more time on the floor, myself. So I notice a lot more when it starts getting less-than-spotless...which really only takes about a day. Less than that, sometimes.

Still, I have to wonder. Are we somehow dirtying the floor a lot faster now than we used to, or was I in the habit of letting our carpet become disgusting before I ever saw that it needed vacuuming?

(Seriously, Tom, don't answer that. Let's just be glad I've improved in this particular aspect of domesticity.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trade-offs

When Tom & I moved into the apartment before this one, we found that the previous tenant had left a bunch of stuff behind in the kitchen cupboards. One of those things was a pasta roller. We decided it might be a cool thing to have, so we hung on to it and gave the rest of the stuff to Goodwill.

Yesterday - three and a half years later - I finally used the pasta roller for the first time. I had a butternut squash lying around and wanted to do something more interesting with it than just roast it up, and one of the recipes I kept seeing over & over online was one for butternut squash ravioli. Seemed like a neat thing to try. I'd never made pasta by hand before, but my friend Shay had, so Soren & I headed over to her house, pasta roller & ingredients in tow. I offered to split the ravioli batch with her in exchange for some assistance with keeping the wee one occupied & entertained while I made the food (trade-off #1).

I brought my camera along but never managed to take it out of its bag; pasta-making is pretty involved! (Not that I expected it to be otherwise.) So no pictures. Sorry 'bout that.

Soren had a fine time playing with Shay's dog & gazing at her 3 month old daughter. (Shay's daughter, not the dog's. The dog is a boy.) I thoroughly enjoyed learning yet another cooking skill. Handmaking pasta isn't all that tricky, really. And the roller was fun to use. Once I got into a rhythm it wasn't hard at all. In the end, I had 2 trays of delicious ravioli for my efforts. I returned home, boiled them up, and drizzled them with some melted butter. Heavenly. (Though I need to make the pasta sheets just a smidge thinner next time, and puree the squash a tad bit finer.)

Of course, I had to sacrifice one of my naps for the day (trade-off #2). Ultimately, the jury's still out as to whether the dinner - impressive and tasty though it was - was worth the extra sleepiness. I did get to crash out for an hour after Tom got home, but I was pretty logey thereafter. However, I'm not sure if an extra 40 minutes earlier in the afternoon would have made a difference. Eh. In any event, I would definitely like to make more handmade pasta in the future, and maybe try one of the roller's noodle attachments next time.

I'll just make sure to wait for the weekend, though.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tooth!


toothy little guy
his tiny mouth dagger is
sharp like a puppy's

Monday, November 17, 2008

Backslide

It's been a rough few nights with the little sir. He stopped sleeping solidly through (even most of) the night, waking up every couple of hours or waking up and staying awake for a while in the middle of the night...not so awesome. I'm pretty sure though that he just needs to eat more. He's turned into a ravenous little beastie, wolfing down way more than his usual nightime amounts.

Last week I pureed some avocado for him, having heard nothing but fantastic things about its use as a baby food. High in protein, got some good fats and oils, yada yada. Plus it's delicious. Well, Soren wasn't quite so sure about this last claim at first. Gagged his way through about a teaspoon's worth, the first time, poor lad. Thereafter though, he happily opened his mouth for more at each meal.

Last night it was time to make the next week's worth of Soren food. The plan for this week was peas. We wanted to find a way to bulk the peas up a bit though, so Tom ground up some brown rice (uncooked) in the coffee grinder and made kind of a porridge with it, which he then added to the pureed peas, along with a tiny bit of olive oil. I'm hoping to get home this morning to a good report that the little weasel slept better last night with his hungers more effectively sated.

Of course, I also hope he is inclined to take a couple of good naps during the day today. Somehow though, I suspect we're only going to get one or the other.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Holly Jolly

I am no fan of the increasingly accelerated schedule by which seasonal things go on display. Stores that start putting their Christmas stuff out before Halloween? Lame! Radio stations that put holiday songs into the rotation in early November? Bah! The same can be said of putting bikinis out on January 1st, or winter coats out in July. It's just so dumb.

However.

I am always excited when grocery stores bust out the cinnamon-scented pine cones. It could almost never be too early, for me. Those things are great. I don't know what it is about them that I love so much. It's not as though it would be difficult to just acquire some cinnamon air freshener or boil cinnamon sticks on the stove; it would make the apartment smell just as nice, any time of year. But few things put me in the holiday spirit like cinnamon pine cones and evergreen wreaths, so when these things become available for purchase, I have a very hard time resisting them.

Which is why there's a sack of cinnamon-y pine cones hanging on the back of our door right now. Yay, holidays. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Antilibrarian

One of Soren's new favorite pastimes (as you may have guessed from the recent photos) is pulling books off our bookshelves. Sometimes he tries to eat them; Tuesday night he left the cover of Assassination Vacation soaked with drool and profoundly ripped. Other times, he is less destructive.

Yesterday afternoon, he had settled himself in front of the textbook bookcase and began pulling the books off the second-to-bottom shelf, moving from right to left. There was no ripping or attempted consumption. He was just methodically pulling them down into a pile. When he got to the first big textbook (O-Chem), I walked over to stop him, put the books back up that he'd pulled down, and added four or five of his board books to the shelf so he could chew on those if he wanted. For the next fifteen or twenty minutes, he repeated the process - pull the books down into a pile until he got to O-Chem, wait for me to replace them, and then do it all over again.

I know as a mother I should probably not encourage this sort of behavior, especially after the destruction of Assassination Vacation. But it's pretty darned cute, and part of me feels like it's worthwhile for him to associate books with fun. Particularly since he won't let me read to him these days without making a dive for the book every few seconds in an attempt to eat it. (Forget the pictures, Mom, I want to chew on it instead!)

Silly little guy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Citizen Kane

I finally got around to watching Citizen Kane yesterday, which I'd never seen. It's been sitting in its little red Netflix envelope on top of our TV since June, taunting me, and for the first few months I didn't realize that Tom had already seen it and that I didn't have to wait for him. Oops. Anyway, I can now at last say that I've watched what many claim is the greatest movie ever made.

It was...good. For its day, it was quite good. It was certainly better than the other movie we watched this weekend (Transformers...the impressiveness of the special effects was directly proportional to the insipidness of the dialogue). But greatest movie ever made? Meh.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad I finally watched it. I don't feel like I wasted 2 hours of my life in the process (Crash, anyone? Last Tango in Paris, perhaps?). But there are plenty of other films out there that have been more thought-provoking, more suspenseful, more intriguing, with better character development, better acting, better writing. I think the main thing is that it's really difficult to compare movies from different genres and eras. Plus, I am obviously more likely to be able to relate to a film created and set in the present day than one made forty years before I was born and set another ten or twenty years before that. You certainly couldn't remake Citizen Kane today, not without drastically changing the circumstances and punching up the plot. That it's not something easily remade makes it a classic, for sure, but it doesn't necessarily make it great.

Anyway. At least now I know that Hannah (in Playing by Heart) was actually saying "Why don't you go find a theater that's showing Citizen Kane and yell out, Rosebud is a sled?" and not "Rosebud is a slut." Hehe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not quite right


no son, this is not
the method by which we can
extract their knowledge

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Little Opilio

Soren has turned into a crabby little git over the last couple of days. Mostly it's just that he's passed the early developmental stage in which his wants are the same as his needs. Used to be all he wanted was food, dry pants, hugs, and sleep. Nowadays, his wants are, shall we say, significantly more varied. Yesterday we were at the grocery store, and he was sitting in the cart, and we were going through the checkout line. While I was paying, Soren leaned as far to the side as he possibly could, trying desperately to lick the change dispenser. When I moved the cart over and forward to thwart this disgusting mission he was on, I was rewarded with outraged cries, since obviously I am just the meanest mother ever.

It's much the same at home. Soren, why don't you play with this toy of yours instead of that piece of mail you managed to sneak off the table? DO NOT WANT! Hey buddy, how about we stop playing for a minute so I can change that soaking wet diaper of yours? UNACCEPTABLE! Little sir, won't you please come over here and stop trying to pull the floor lamp over on to yourself? YOU ARE TORTURING ME!

Et cetera.

I guess it just means our little guy is growing up. And fortunately, his little outbursts are usually short-lived. (Well, until the next great offense.) He'll learn his boundaries eventually, right?

Right?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Also

Here's my post from 4 years ago.

Glad things turned out differently this time around. :)

Soren Colbairn and the Pursuit of Toothiness*

Well, the first tooth has finally arrived for our little sir. I thought I felt something yesterday but couldn't get him to hold still long enough to obtain visual confirmation. Then this evening, he was lying placidly on the couch, grinning at Tom, and there it was. Lower left central incisor, just barely poking through the gum. Tried, and failed, to get a good photograph to share with everyone, but I'll try again tomorrow.

*I know. I slay me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Well this is new

It occurs to me that I can't remember feelign this before. Feeling proud of the person my country has chosen as its leader. Oh sure I can appreciate, now that he's been out of office for nearly a decade, that Clinton is a brilliant speaker. (Sorry, Dad.) That guy knows how to give one hell of an address, no doubt about it. But back in the midst of his presidency? Hard to be proud of an unrepentant philanderer, never mind one dumb enough - and arrogant enough - to get caught. Repeatedly. And I don't think there has been a single occasion when ol' G-Dub has opened his mouth without causing me to wince in mortification or to seethe with rage...and sometimes both.

But here we are, with an Obama presidency on the horizon. Here is a man who speaks eloquently, who is (by all appearances) devoted to his family, who has inspired millions to have some hope in these increasingly cynical times. A man who doesn't dumb himself down, who isn't afraid to choose being our leader over trying to be our drinking buddy. A man who, thus far anyway, seems to have the respect of others around the world, rather than their snide derision.

I know that he could disappoint us, could disappoint me. But I don't think he will. More each day I am letting myself believe that he will be able to deliver. My optimism is cautious, but it is there. I'm not going to call him a messiah or anything silly like that, but I am willing to believe he will be a president I can be proud of. And I like that feeling.

(In sharp contrast to this newfound, unfamiliar pride and optimism, is my utter disgust at my fellow Californians for passing Proposition 8. Let people marry whomever they want, damnit. What is wrong with you? Ugh.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I want to be a sculptor

A sculptor of arms. Specifically, mine.

Tonight I finally finished Week 3 of the hundred pushups plan. I did 57 pushups. 57! That's more than halfway to 100! Granted, that wasn't 57 without stopping - the max I did all at once was 15 - but I only took short breaks between the sets. I'm still pretty impressed. Hopefully I will be able to keep getting enough sleep and won't have to quit again.

Oh my


looked up from my lunch
to behold this lad of mine
standing on his own

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sorry, Dad

For a few days now, I've been trying to coax Soren's "a-ba-ba-ba" babblings into "O-ba-ma." Because that would be way too cute. He's gotten pretty close a couple of times, but hasn't quite hit it yet.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Tiring few days

Man, this parenting gig isn't for the faint of heart.

Monday night I started feeling kind of cruddy - sore throat, runny nose, generally bleh. Tuesday I learned that there's a pretty big difference between the "Sick Day!" of yore (couch, blanket, comfort food, maybe some X-Files on DVD) and the "sick day" as experienced by a parent of an increasingly active almost-seven-month-old. (Which, of course, I knew in principle, but you know, first time for everything and all that.) Fortunately for me, the little sir is also growing increasingly self sufficient these days, so I was able to catch a little rest on the couch while he happily entertained himself in his bouncy swing or with his toys on the floor. Tuesday night (as you may have guessed by my previous post) I stayed home from work so I could try and get some rest.

Wednesday I felt a little better, but I opted to take a second night off because I still wasn't back to 100% and also because I suspected my wildly drippy nose would not be welcome in the vitamin mines. It was in the wee hours of Thursday morning that the real fun began.

The little boy woke up around 5:30 very warm and very sad. I swapped his pjs for a onesie, and he seemed to feel a little better but never really settled back to sleep. Neither, of course, did I. When Tom got up for work I caved and asked him to stay home and help me out, since I was feeling worse again too. He tended to Soren and let me crash out for a good four hours, at which point I shuttled myself over to Urgent Care to make sure that my persistent sore throat wasn't actually strep; I didn't think it was, since I only had a low fever on Tuesday, but now that Soren had spiked a fever as well, I wanted to be certain. [Insert standard "OMG, WTF Kaiser?" post here.]

Long story short, it's not strep, but I am not buying the official diagnosis ("allergic rhinitis"...really? allergies?) either. Ah yes, I must be having a reaction to all the stuff that's blooming...right now...in October. Never mind that I've never had allergies present in this way before, and there is just no way my sore, scratchy throat "just feels that way because of blocked eustachian tubes." But I digress...point is, no strep.

So all day Thursday Soren alternated between happy and sad, warm and less so, with the high point coming in the evening when he was chortling uproariously while Tom ripped pieces of paper in half (just like this kid...and yes, I got video, have patience) and the low point coming at about 1:30 in the morning when we decided his fever and inability to settle were concerning enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.

Which is where we spent last night. Now, I know every new parent eventually goes through this, or something like it. Baby's first fever, Tylenol's not keeping it under control, 2am trip to the ER. Doesn't make it any less worrisome the first time, no matter how many others have had the same experience before you. Fortunately, just getting outside in the cooler air, and the cool car ride to the hospital, helped a lot. By the time we got there, Sir was pretty calm and smiley. His temp was back down below 100 when the triage nurse checked him out. It climbed again while we waited though and was back to 101 when we were finally put in a room.

(Side note...just because he's wearing a purple tie-dyed shirt, doesn't mean he's a girl! Boys can wear purple too! Yes, I know baby gender is notoriously difficult to determine at a glance, but still.)

His fever came down with some Motrin, and the ER doc said he looked just fine otherwise, so she just wanted to get a urine test to rule out UTI and we'd be free to go. This would require a "quick and easy" catheterization that wouldn't be comfortable but wouldn't last long (and is better than how the vet used to collect urine from Loki for testing). The doc even did an ultrasound of the boy's bladder to make sure there was enough fluid in there.

Soren, apparently, didn't get the memo about the "quick and easy" nature of this procedure. After trying unsuccessfully for several minutes to coax even a few recalcitrant drops through the catheter, the nurse decided there was no need to torture the boy further, that we'd just tape a bag over his bits instead and wait for him to pee on his own.

And wait we did.

For. Three. More. Hours.

He ate. He played. He cried. He ate some more. He smiled at every passerby. He practiced walking across the gurney. He ate some more. He napped.

He did not pee.

The doctor and nurse kept coming by and checking on us periodically. They brought Tom & me some warm blankets and dimmed the lights in our room so we could try to get a little rest. They checked his (dry) little pee bag every half hour or so. Finally the doc palpated his bladder some (no effect) and sent away for some Pedialyte to see if that would help stimulate him. She said he'd probably let loose just when we'd finally given up and decided to go home without getting the sample. I joked that I was going out to warm up the car. Naturally, not two minutes later, the doctor had her sample, and a sizable one at that (this is my surprised face). Just as naturally, the test was negative for UTI. We were free to go.

One amusing end note - because we got to the hospital at 2am on Halloween morning, by 7am when everyone started showing up for day shift, most were showing up in costume. It was (in that regard only) just like the episode of ER we'd just watched earlier that night. Ha.

Sir's doing better today. With some rest and alternating doses of Tylenol & Motrin, he's just about back to his old self. Young self. Whatever. On to the next great parenting adventure...yippee!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bleh

Humorous Pictures

Wearing his size 12m pjs


i didn't think that
he'd be in this size just yet
clearly i was wrong

Monday, October 27, 2008

What a Crock...Pot

We got a crock pot for Christmas a couple of years ago. Thus far we've only had a couple of opportunities to use it, mostly because we had such limited counter space at our old apartment, and also because we didn't trust the cats alone all day with a burny thing that smelled so very tempting. This weekend though, I decided to dig out the crock pot and give it a whirl. It occurred to me that (duh) I'm home during the day now and can perform any cat supervision that may be required.

Friday was bone-in chicken breasts. I tossed the frozen breasts into the pot with two cups of beef broth and a packet of Italian dressing mix when I got home from work in the morning, then set the timer for 10 hours. Pretty frickin' easy. Aside from the fact that the chicken was kind of mealy from being badly frozen - neither the pot's fault nor mine - it came out rather well. Clean up was really simple, and prep time was next to nothing, so I figured that was sufficient positive reinforcement to try again.

Saturday night we had ribs over at Max's, after which we had a rack of uncooked baby backs left over. Sunday I prepped them with a dry rub consisting of brown sugar, minced garlic, salt & pepper. I layered rib chunks and sliced onion in the pot and poured half a can of diet Coke over everything (per the recommendation of this recipe). Eight hours later, the ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender, if not quite as flavorful as their quick roasted counterparts from the night before.

So now, as fall & winter approach, I'm eager to engage in even more crock pottery. Anyone have any to-die-for recipes they'd like to share?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Memory Lane Campground

I sing to Soren a lot during the day. My voice isn't the greatest, but he doesn't seem to mind. What I sing varies pretty widely; could be Beatles, could be nursery rhyme type stuff, could be Death Cab for Cutie or Aquabats or Liz Phair. I even wrote a song for him a little while ago. Today, though, I found myself on a kick of camp songs. I was amazed how many I remembered, and how quickly they came back to me once I got going.

The Alligator Song, Alice's Camel, The Yodeling Austrian (Ostrich), Kookaburra, Little Bunny Foo-Foo, Old MacDonald Variations, Waddly-atcha...suddenly I was seven years old again. (And I was all, Oh my god! I'm way too young to be a mother!)

In any event, it was fun to reminisce.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book Review: The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman

It's been a long time since I did a book review post, but I just finished listening to this one on CD on my way to work tonight and thought it was worth writing about.

In The World Without Us, Weisman presents the theoretical scenario that humans vanish from the world en masse. Whether we're raptured away or killed off by some sort of human-specific virus...whatever the scenario, we're just gone, and everything else is left behind. All our structures, all our gadgets, all our pets and possessions. What will happen to buildings and infrastructure if we're not around to maintain them? (Some answers: Houses crumble in less than a century, bridges topple in 200-300 years, and the NYC subway system floods in less than 36 hours.) How long til forests reclaim our cities? (Depends on geographical location, but generally less than 500 years.) Will anything we made truly last? (As it turns out, yes; Mt. Rushmore will still be around almost 10 million years from now.)

It's a fascinating read. Some parts are downright horrifying - the amount of plastic we produce, which may break down into its smallest physical components but won't biodegrade completely, and so much of which ends up in our oceans, is staggering - but on the whole it's a really interesting thought experiment. Turns out the earth is pretty resilient, for all our destructive actions, and in places where humans have voluntarily made themselves scarce (Weisman talks about Chernobyl and Korea's demilitarized zone), nature has rebounded rather nicely. Still, the continued stresses we place on the planet are really not great. Without a break from people, the earth's ability to self-regulate is severely hampered.

The book isn't all doom & gloom. Well, I should say, it's not all about what might or might not be. There's a lot of historical context, talking about humanity's past impacts and what the world was like before we were ever here. Weisman writes about several places I didn't know much (if anything) about - Cappadocia in Turkey, the Aberdares in Kenya, the Belovezhskaya Pushcha in Belarus & Poland - so the geography and history lessons are pretty neat.

Overall, I think it's important for us to educate ourselves about humanity's impact on this planet that is our home. The bigger issue though is figuring out what we can do to help our home right itself in a way that doesn't require our own extinction. I know mine is not the first generation to worry about the kindness of bringing children into the world in its current state, but the effects of climate change make this a whole new ballgame from what went on before. Do we do the environmentally responsible thing and limit ourselves to one child (if we have any at all) or do we take the (admittedly elitist and somewhat morally icky) "try to outbreed Cleetus" approach? (See Idiocracy.) I don't know what the right answer is. (And I'm veering slightly off topic.)

The point is, this book has made me want to find the ways I can be a more responsible inhabitant of our planet. And that's quite a thing for a book to do. So I've got to throw the recommendation out there, and maybe it'll speak to you as well. I don't know if any of you have already read it (aside from AquaMegan, who recommended it to Tom & me), but if you have, I'd love to hear your thoughts. As for me, I give it an A.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh, it's so much fun

For several days now, Soren has been making all kinds of silly noises and faces. In addition to his turtle face, he's been doing a really funny scrunchy nose thing I have yet to capture on film (or digital sensor). In the realm of silly sounds, he's started blowing raspberries again - something he did for a couple of weeks several months back, and then abruptly quit until last Tuesday - and making little high pitched sing-songy noises. He's taken to screeching on occasion (less amusing, particularly on my more sleep deprived days), as well as just seeing how loud he can go in a "regular voice" every once in a while. Most entertaining to me though has been his humming, with interjected vowel sounds. It ends up sounding like "mmmmommmmommmmommm" (mom mom mom), which is beyond adorable.

Goofy Grin


goofy smiley guy
he sits up like a champ now
apple of my eye

Monday, October 20, 2008

Damn it

Time to stop reading the news again. It's all I can do to not go flying home right now to hug my guys.

This irrational fear about something horrible happening to your kid(s)...it never goes away, does it?

Vampire Shift Observation

People who call in to radio shows at 2am are, almost without exception, completely insane.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Take Three?

Well, I managed to keep up with the pushup challenge for two weeks this time, instead of one. Then after several days in a row of major sleep deprivation, I found myself too whooped to do even one good-form pushup. Blah. I was supposed to start Week 3 on Wednesday, but I haven't done any pushups since Monday (and no "good" ones since Sunday). I suck.

I did manage to catch up on some sleep today though, so I'm going to try re-starting Week 2 tomorrow and continuing on from there rather than giving up completely. Seems like the way to go.

I am definitely a different person when I'm getting enough sleep (even for very broad definitions of "enough"). I know this isn't an earth-shattering revelation or anything, but man. This whole vampire shift / new mother experience has really been a test in endurance at times. Tom is remarkably patient to put up with my snarky lows, especially on the occasions when even I have a hard time putting up with me. His schedule's been no picnic either, but he's been good and helpful picking up the slack with chores and stuff. I am very fortunate.

And now another rough week is nearly at an end. Yay for Friday! Have a good weekend, everyone.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ah, motherhood

Have you ever been just about to fall asleep when suddenly a miniature hand, each tiny digit adorned with a knifelike little fingernail, grabs ahold of your nipple and squeezes for all it's worth?

Honestly, I cannot recommend it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Enough about fires; on to the updates you really care about

Poor little Soren. He seems to have inherited my sensitive skin. This weekend he broke out in a full-body rash, most plausibly from some cumulative reaction to the (supposedly baby-friendly) laundry detergent, since the area covered by his diaper is mostly unaffected. The constant weather changes over the past few weeks can't be helping either. Even where his skin is not rashy, it is super dry. I've started giving him little olive oil massages every morning, which seems to help for a little while at least. Monday we went to Whole Foods in search of some all-natural hippie detergent; he shrieked gleefully all through the store while we were there (ah yes, I've become that mom, with that kid...huzzah).

His forays into the world of solid food have been going well. Last week was pureed peas from a jar. This week he's working his way through an ice cube tray full of frozen pureed butternut squash that Tom made. He's very interested in trying to grab the spoon and feed himself, though there always comes a point where all he wants is to just go right for the bowl and skip the middle man. I've been doing the "more" sign with him before every spoonful, and "all done" when he seems to have had enough, so hopefully he'll pick up on those eventually.

On the signing front, he's kind of stopped doing the diaper change one for the most part, which is apparently a pretty common thing to happen when babies are busy concentrating on learning how to crawl and walk. However, if he seems fussy and probably wet, and Tom or I do the diaper change sign to him, he gets a huge grin on his face and settles down. Same with the milk sign, when he's fussing and squirming and seems hungry. It's possible of course that it's coincidence - he's just reacting to the interaction and not the actual sign - but I think it's definitely conceivable that he understands what we're trying to communicate.

As for the large motor skills on which he's concentrating so much, he's definitely close to crawling. He gets up on his hands and knees a lot now, and can actually scoot himself backwards a bit. He sometimes can make his way forward just a little, but he hasn't quite figured out how to do it consistently. Soon, though. Very soon.

I got some parenting criticism from a biker today. That was interesting. We were strolling to the bank a little before noon, so the sun was pretty high in the sky. Soren had his sunglasses on, since the new stroller doesn't really have much in the way of a shade, but he kept pulling them down every few blocks. He had just pulled them down as we were getting ready to cross the street, and as we passed this guy on his motorcycle, I heard him saying "Geez...of course she's got the poor kid heading right into the sun..." like I'm some sort of evil parent for not stopping in the middle of the road to fix his sunglasses. I turned my head and gave him a bit of a stink-eye. Tom knows better than anyone how much I obsess about the boy having too much direct sun in his face; it's not as though I have wanton disregard for his comfort. He does have eyelids though. I'm sure once he pulled his sunglasses down (his choice, by the way!) he closed his eyes. And the moment we got to the other side of the street, I turned him away from the sun and fixed his glasses. So there, meddling biker man. Why you gotta be so judgy?

I think that's about all the news that's fit to print. More again soon, of course.

Trogdor's Rampage

Sunday night, when I came in to work, there were a couple of small brushfires burning on the side of the highway. Overnight, the Santa Ana winds picked up, and by the wee hours of Monday morning, one of the brushfires was a full-blown wildfire. Since the place I work was directly downwind from the fire, we started getting more and more smoke blown our way. By about 5:30 in the morning, I took a peek out the side door to see if I could actually spot any of the flames, and I was afraid I would lose a limb trying to fight the wind to keep the door open. By sunrise, the air was choked with heavy smoke, and a mobile home park had been torched. Our building lost electricity, most likely from the wind whipping power lines around so violently. The freeway was closed. My boss told me to take off early, since my commute was likely to be twice as long on surface streets and the other freeways onto which all the traffic had been diverted. Plus, you know, no electricity. So I headed home, through the growing smoke clouds.


Check out the trees. See how windy it was?
(For the record, traffic on my side of the road was stopped when I took this picture.)

Later that morning a second fire broke out across the valley. Traffic was chaos, the smoke was awful, and the company I work for went ahead and shut down operations for the day. So I had Monday night off, and while I'm always grateful for any extra sleep opportunities these days, I do feel bad that the circumstances involved people losing their homes. It's the same thing every year down here between fires and mudslides and whatever else. We've been fortunate to have always been out of the danger zones, personally, but it's still sad to see people lose everything year after year.

Anyway. Fire crews got the blazes mostly under control, so I'm back at work tonight. The pungent smoke smell has dulled to more of a cozy campfire smell, which is at least less unpleasant, if misleading. At least the wind has been blowing everything to the south and west, well away from Pasadena, so there haven't been too many irritants in the air for the little sir to breathe in. (More on him in the next post.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It won't be long now


so close to crawling
before long he'll be mobile
oh heaven help us

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Back off, McCain (and some other stuff)

Dude, you can't have it both ways, you know. You really like to tell everyone what a maverick you are, standing up to your own party and "reaching across the aisle." But you also like to hate on the Democrats, especially now that you're trying to get more support from the right-wing voters. And then! You have the audacity to address audiences everywhere as "my friends," like you're the king of Facebook or something with eleventy-million buddies. (Some king of Facebook you are, by the way, admitting that you barely grasp the concept of email.) I was pretty sure that mavericks are not generally known for having so many friends. I am certainly not your friend, John McCain. You don't know me like that. Maybe, maaaaybe you can get away with that sort of crap at your campaign events, where presumably most of the people to whom you're speaking at least want to like you. But let's ease up on the assumptions of familiarity at, say, a debate or a general press conference, shall we? Especially if you're going to try in the next breath to convince all of these "friends" of yours what a rebel you are. Honestly.

As I'm sure you've noticed, I generally tend to steer clear of the political commentary. There are plenty of other bloggers who do it much better than I would, and I'm not out to alienate anyone. But this "my friends" thing has wedged itself in my craw. It's almost as bad as nukeyuler...

Anyway. Moving on to the aforementioned "other stuff."

Guilt has thus far proven successful in getting me to stick with my pushups plan this time around. I started Week 2 yesterday, despite being well and truly tuckered out and not feeling all that great. Go me.

Earlier this year (because I've been living under a rock or something, apparently) I heard about this 365 Days thing people were doing. The idea is you take a self portrait every day for a year, in different settings and situations. Seems like it might be kind of fun, but I don't know that I have the discipline - let alone the time! - to do it. As it is, I frequently don't get around to taking pictures of the boy every single day, despite my best intentions. However. With my cell phone camera I can upload photos on the go. And while I'm not all that interested in taking self portraits every day, it would be neat to have a daily record of life's random occurrences. So I decided I'm going to try it. My initial inclination was to wait until the start of the new year (or at the very least, the start of a new month), but if I put it off I may never get around to it after all. Anyway. My "365 To-Go" set will be posted here, on the off chance any of you are interested in following it.

All right, that's enough rambling for now. :)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

First Peas



Obligatory baby food video

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Super Smiler


six months old today
what was life like before you?
i can't remember

Monday, October 06, 2008

Not the greatest picture, but...


My parents sent us one of these padded shopping cart protector things. Now, I'm not all paranoid about scary cart germs. Even with all the scare journalism out there, I don't think I've heard of anyone actually getting MRSA from a shopping cart. Nevertheless, Sir's still too little to sit in a bare basket, all unsupported, so this thing fits the bill pretty well.

Usually I'd just haul him around in the front pack, but I needed to get some heavy stuff at Target this evening and figured I'd be less likely to bonk him in the head or something if he weren't strapped to my chest. So, out came the cart cover. It worked really well! And Soren thought it was the most fun thing EVER to sit in the cart. See? His glee is even apparent in this blurry cell phone picture.

I'll need to make a point to tie it a little better next time. It slipped at one point, and I looked down from browsing a shelf to see him...licking the side of the cart. Yuck. Good for the immune system I guess. ;) But still gross.

No rest for the weary

This morning, not long after I arrived home, the tree trimmers arrived to do battle with the overgrowth in front of our apartment complex. This means that only a crappily thin wall and a leaky-ass louvered window separate me and the boy and our cozy beds from all manner of tree shredding machinery, operating at maximum volume. Oh hurray. Soren is sleeping through the cacophony surprisingly well, only waking up and whimpering a couple of times.

Oh.

It's settling down outside, about 40 minutes after it all began. Praise Jebus. Maybe I'll get some sleep this morning after all.

Update: (Two minutes later) I spoke too soon. Damnit.

Update the second: (Ninety minutes later) Finally, FINALLY they are raking up the remains. The end is nigh. Of course, a certain wee sir is now all bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready for the day. Sigh.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Finally a video

I'll pick up a new firewire cable this weekend, but for now, here's a little clip from the other day of the boy sitting on the floor, playing with his rattle.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I know he didn't, really

On to happier topics. Last night the three of us were sitting down so Tom & I could eat dinner, and it sounded for all the world like Soren said, "Hi Dad!" clear as day. I know he didn't actually say anything, that it was a coincidence of babbling, but it was insanely cute.

Defending the Title

Looking at the situation objectively, I can only say that it was bound to happen eventually. Doesn't make it any better, though.

When I get home in the mornings, Soren's usually hungry for some breakfast, so I pull him out of his crib and settle him in the bed beside me to nurse. Then we doze for a few (or, if he's feeling generous, several!) hours. Eventually he starts wiggling around and talking to himself, and I wake up, and we start our day. And since he's started becoming more proficient with the rolling over, I am usually very good about setting up a protective pillow barricade if I keep him in the bed with me instead of transferring him back to the crib after he's eaten.

You can probably see where this is going.

This morning I fell asleep without (a) putting him back in the crib or (b) blocking the edge of the bed with pillows. I was jolted awake some 3.5 hours later to a thump and immediate wailing. Jesus. The only thing that would have been worse is if he'd fallen off the other side of the bed and landed on the bottle warmer or (god forbid) the nightstand, and holy shit I don't even want to think about that possibility. And because he wiggled off while still asleep, it took several minutes to get him to wake up all the way and even be anywhere close to consolable. It was horrible.

Ultimately of course he's fine. No worse for the wear, no injuries, was his usual happy smiley self again within 10 or 15 minutes. Babies are resilient, I know. Doesn't make me feel any less guilty.

Less than 2 minutes after I'd finally gotten him comforted and settled, there was a knock at the door. It actually crossed my mind that someone might have heard all the crying and come to investigate, which is what made me actually go answer the door instead of reverting to the default assumption (mailman). It was not the mailman. It was the frigging FBI. (Well, not the whole bureau...) Specifically, it was the agent working on Tom's background investigation, asking which apartment belonged to the building manager. If he had heard Sir's lamentations he made no indication, so hopefully CPS won't be the next ones to come knocking.

Anyway.

How was your morning?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Soren says, "Boo!"


What the heck? One more photo post for ya. Since it's the first of October and all, here's the boy decked out in the Halloween outfit Gram Gram got him.

All Night Long


And he looks so cute...in his little red suit

Vitamins, Horses, Books, Guilt Trip

Here's a nice set of non sequiturs for you. Enjoy.

Vitamins
Last week I started taking a B-Complex multivitamin. It's supposed to help with energy and quality of sleep and some other stuff, so it seemed kind of silly to not at least give it a try. I didn't expect immediate results or anything, but I think after a week I can tentatively say it might be helping. I haven't been feeling as run down this week, though that is probably due in no small part to the increased number of hours my beloved son has been letting me sleep these past few mornings. (Only two days left in the week, so here's hoping the trend continues...knock on wood.) At any rate, I'll keep taking it and see what happens.

Horses
It's been more than three years now since I've ridden a horse. Three. Years. I find that extremely difficult to fathom. For so long, horsing was my life. It was what I did. It tapered off in the last few years of college, but I could still pretty much always count on being able to get out to my friend's place a few times a year for a horse fix. But once I moved down here after graduation, Tom & I got into other stuff (namely, shooting & diving) and there really just wasn't room in the budget for riding lessons. Because by the way, horsing is damned expensive. When I got pregnant and could no longer dive or shoot, I really wanted to see about taking up riding for at least a few months, but between the morning sickness, the general first trimester lethargy and the Bell's Palsy, I never got around to it.

Lately though, it's started really nagging at me again (no pun intended). I have horse dreams at least once a week. I think about riding when I drive, when I walk down the halls at work, when I drift off to sleep. I think about canter cues and balancing and counting strides between fences. Part of me worries that when I finally do get on a horse again I'll be too rusty to do the things at which I used to be so competent, but another part of me wonders if all my mental rehearsal is keeping me (at least in some respect) tuned up somehow.

I know I won't get the opportunity to ride anytime soon. But I still can't stop thinking about it.

Books
I've been getting books on CD from the library so I can listen to them during my commute. I've gone through World War Z (amusing) and Eragon (a little slow in parts, but entertaining overall) so far, and I'm currently about a quarter of the way through The World Without Us. Did you know there used to be 13 ton ground sloths in the Americas? Beavers the size of bears? I did not! Very interesting stuff. After I'm through with this one I'll be listening to Chatter, which is about electronic eavesdropping as it pertains to the various international intelligence agencies. Should be another interesting one.

Guilt Trip
Remember, oh, a couple of months ago when I said I was going to start the "100 Pushups" thing? Yeah, well I did the first week of exercises, and then we went up to Oregon and I didn't start on Week 2 while we were up there, and then when we returned home I had pulled a muscle or something in my back, and then after that got better I tweaked my wrist, and then my back was sore again, and then I was too tired, and there was one excuse reason after another after another for why I couldn't keep going with the pushups. Well no more! I am hoping that by writing it here I can guilt myself into starting up again. Come on, lazypants! Those muscles aren't going to tone themselves!

Update: Okay, I did Week 1, Day 1. Started a spreadsheet to collect data. Received and accepted a challenge from FarmerMegan in the hopes that we'll both stick with it if we pressure each other to keep going. Boo-yah.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

That's not how it works, son


"ship to shore" she says
grandma's on speaker and you
want to eat the phone

Monday, September 29, 2008

35

Thirty-five years ago today, my parents stood in front of their friends and family, said their "I do"s, and started building a life together.

These days, when something like 40-50% of marriages end in divorce, my sister & I are fortunate to have grown up with parents who managed to stay together and make things work. I'm not saying it was always easy. There were certainly times when the simplest course of action (emotionally, if not logistically) would have been to call it quits, walk away, hit the reset button, call do-overs. But each time things got close to the breaking point, they ultimately found the right words for each other, decided to give it another try, to keep working at it.

What this taught me, growing up, and even now as I have set out with my own young family - and pardon me while I nerd out here for a second - is that a marriage really is like a thermodynamic system. In a closed system (one with no input of energy) disorder increases over time. Energy must be introduced into the system, usually in the form of work, in order to maintain a steady state. Energy requirements in a marriage vary over time, of course, which is part of why I think the trouble spots take us by surprise. If initial conditions are satisfactory (I love you, you love me, we are compatible and happy), and external factors are good (any financial, work-related or other emotional stresses are minimal), the system can chug along perfectly well with minimal input. However, if the bills start piling up or the kids start testing your patience or life just starts getting more hectic and draining than usual, that extra energy lost from the system needs to be replaced. Sometimes it takes a little while to realize that the work requirements have increased, and sometimes you decide that those requirements are more than you're willing to put in. But other times you find the strength to keep going.

My parents found that strength, time and again. As a result, they seem to be happier together today than they've ever been. Mom & Dad, congratulations on 35 years of marriage. Most people would say the deck was stacked against you, getting married as young as you did, but you've beaten the odds and forged a partnership that I can hold up as an example for my own life. Cheers to you, today and every day.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What's that, Pete Carroll?

You underestimated the Beavers again? You forgot that you lost 2 of your last 3 games (before this week's) in Corvallis? And that the victory in 2004 was by only a couple of points? Remind me again who broke USC's 27 (Pac-10) game winning streak in 2006. Oh that's right. THE BEAVERS!

Beavs 27. Trojans 21. Boo-friggin-yah, biatch.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This was supposed to be a video post

But it's not. Because I can't find the little firewire-to-firewire adapter that I oh so cleverly tucked away someplace "safe" so it wouldn't get "lost." Go me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mom should get a kick out of this, at least

Last Friday, I was out shopping for dinner fixings and was listening to NPR in the car. Our local affiliate was running a blurb about the annual Sound of Music singalong, held at the Hollywood Bowl. Apparently, Charmian Carr (Liesl from the movie) has been leading these events for the past 8 years, as well as judging the costume contest. She was talking about how the costumes have gotten more and more elaborate over the years.

This person, because I couldn’t tell if it was a male or a female, came on stage with little tiny black balloons. They were blown up really small and they were glued to her entire body, or his entire body. And I pride myself on being able to guess so many costumes ‘cause I’ve done so many sing-alongs. I didn’t have a clue. And so I said, “Who are you?”

“I’m the lonely goat turd.”
One of my company's new products is a folic acid softgel. Remember the jelly bean-looking vitamins I wrote about before? Well these ones are brown. And on a night like tonight, when I'm running short on sleep, I have to remind myself that though they may look like delicious chocolates, they most certainly do not taste like delicious chocolates, and that plucking one off the production line and popping it into my mouth would be extraordinarily ill-advised.

After hearing the NPR blurb though, I have a new - far less palatable - thing to which I can liken these little suckers. And when I move on to continue the rest of my rounds, I'm humming "The Lonely Goatherd" under my breath.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Baby Photo Shoot


I spent some time this afternoon taking some updated pictures of the boy in various outfits people have given him. He was not in the best mood for picture-taking, mostly because his nap schedule got a little screwed up today, and he passed out before I got through all of his wardrobe changes. But I got through most of them, and he was a pretty darn good sport for putting up with his Mamarazzo. ;) Check out Flickr for the rest.

Mission in Progress



drooling on the cat
just part of his mission to
pre-digest the world

Monday, September 22, 2008

No News = Mellower Sue

Things got out of hand for me a little bit last week, mentally. The combination of not getting enough sleep and reading too much depressing crap in the news made me have crazy-vivid unpleasant dreams, and then when I was awake, my mind seemed to be constantly spinning in the sort of way usually reserved for 2am worry binges. You know what I mean; insomnia brought on by the inability to make your brain just stop freaking out about the dumb stuff that will inevitably be waaaay less troubling in the light of day. I was turning into borderline existential crisis girl. Not. So. Awesome.

So I stopped reading the news. Well, I at least stopped going to CNN. And if NPR started getting a little too heavy, I shut it off and found some music to rock out to instead. Part of me hates this sort of news avoidance because I don't like feeling uninformed. But really? I started sleeping better, and my waking hours were less troubled. Sure, the big stuff still got through, but in headline form. And you know what they say about details being the residence of the devil and all that.

Some things that made me happy this past week/weekend:
1. The clouds on Thursday morning (see below).
2. Watching Tom make Soren laugh.
3. Receiving a very thoughtful and completely unexpected handmade gift for Soren from Tom's & my high school English teacher.
4. The tasty sliders we made.
5. My wonderful husband washing all the dishes, sweeping AND mopping the kitchen floor, and bathing the boy, all while I napped this evening.
6. The really pleasant breeze this afternoon.
7. A good, long (and long overdue) talk with FarmerMegan.
8. Cuddling with my son in the mornings.
9. Strolling on campus with Shay & Bella.
10. Tom.

I'm sure I'll go back to reading the news before too long. If nothing else, I do want to stay up on my election coverage, and if I'm not mistaken, the VP debate is happening this week sometime. But I think I'll extend the moratorium on CNN-reading just a bit longer, for my sanity's sake.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday Night Sliders Dinner

No, not the '90s sci-fi show. I'm not sure what a Sliders-themed dinner would include, actually. Alternative reality asparagus? Multiverse mojitos?

Anyway.

Last night we made tiny burgers. We thought it might be fun to try multiple varieties of gourmet burgers, so they obviously had to be small. Enter the slider. We made three different kinds: teriyaki pork burgers (with hawaiian roll buns), gorgonzola sirloin burgers with bacon and tomato, and chopped steak burgers with goat cheese and mushrooms & onions that had been fried in bacon grease. Oh my, they were tasty. We were full by this point and didn't even get to the steak burgers with avocado & pepper jack. Oh well.

Sadly, though I brought my camera I didn't get around to taking any pictures. You'll just have to take my word for it - delicious.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Year in September

I love the fall. I love the freshness in the morning - yes, even here - and the way everything cools down in the evening. I love the breezes, the fog, the first smatterings of rain. There's something so energizing and refreshing about the season, which is perhaps a bit counter-intuitive, what with the plants losing their foliage in preparation for winter and all.

Tom made a good point a few years back. This sense of renewal we get in the fall, the feeling of a fresh start, has so much to do with the beginning of a new school year. As a little kid, I loved school. Even in middle & high school, when this love was dulled a bit by social awkwardness and boredom, I never lost that beginning-of-the-year optimism. Fall meant a fresh start, new challenges, new adventures.

It also meant we were done with the blazing heat of late summer. Down here the heat lingers a bit longer, but it's no longer 90 degrees by 9am. When I leave work in the morning the cool air feels refreshing and pleasant. Sometimes the fog shelters me from the blinding sun as I drive home. Mid-afternoon still feels like summer, most days, but the mornings hold fall's promise - cooler days are on the way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

When we nap


when we nap mid-day
sometimes he falls asleep here
sacked across my lap

Monday, September 15, 2008

Little Diaper(s) of Horror

Fair warning. This is going to be a post about poop. Baby poop. If that's not your thing, come back another day.

All right, here we go.

Sometime last week, Tom came home with two tiny jars of baby food. Organic "Baby's First Peas" and "Baby's First Sweet Potatoes." The ingredient list on the former: peas, water. On the latter: sweet potatoes. For 4 months old and up.

For a while now, we've been letting Sir taste things. He's licked juice bars (lime, mmmm) and vanilla ice cream and popcorn. He had a teeny tiny taste of my corn mush when we went to Chevy's for lunch with Gram Gram. At 5 months old, there isn't really any need yet for him to be eating solids (usually babies are fine to be exclusively milk-fed until about 6 months), but the pediatrician said it was perfectly fine to gently expose him to different tastes if he showed an interest.

So then Tom brought home the tiny jars. And then last Thursday night, just before I left for work, he opened up the sweet potato one and decided to see if Soren wanted any. Immediately the dread began to settle in the pit of my stomach. I've heard the stories. Breastfed babies' little poopy emanations, while not exactly as fresh as a mountain spring, really don't smell all that bad. But once you start feeding them "people food," it's all over. Thus I began to anticipate what was to come.

The diaper of horror.

It became a running joke over the next few days. Because oh yes, by the way, breastfed babies apparently have the capacity, after a few months of age, to sort of store up their poops for a few days and then explode. This is considered perfectly normal. So when Friday came and went with no diaper of horror, and Saturday brought only some particularly noxious toots, I was certain that Sunday all of the wiggling and belly gurgling would yield the object of our dread. But no. Today was to be my "lucky day."

I'll spare you the details, but the diapers of horror count is now up to 3, over the last several hours. I can say the little man has been visibly more comfortable with each expulsion. ("He's as light as a feather! He's...he's as merry as a school boy! He's as giddy...he's as giddy as a drunken man!") And while it hasn't been quite as bad as I expected, I think we'll be holding off on opening that jar of peas for a little while. ;)