Sunday, December 17, 2006

Done, done, and done!

On Monday, I had a migraine. I was feeling quite stressed about my holiday to-do list plus the things that needed to be done for everyday life. I couldn’t concentrate on my work, which needed to be done, as I was going to be out of the house for the day on Tuesday. I was desperate to finish on Wednesday, so I would have Thursday to myself, but it just didn’t look like it was going to happen. On top of the migraine, I was sleep deprived and feeling like I was coming down with something. All I could think about was seeing myself up all night the night before we were to leave for Christmas trying to pack and wrap presents and spending our entire week away desperately trying to catch up on sleep instead of enjoying the time off. I found myself having thoughts of “I hate Christmas,” which is so not me, as I absolutely love Christmas, and it really made me truly sad to be having those thoughts.

I had been so proud of myself for being nearly finished with my shopping by Thanksgiving. When I finally place my last Amazon order and was finished, I was so busy patting myself on the back that I neglected to think about all the wrapping that needed to be done. I kept thinking about the packages that needed to be shipped, but I never made any move to get those done either.

And then there were the Christmas cards. I picked out the stamps way ahead of time; we bought them before Halloween. We always go with a “Season’s Greetings” card instead of a strictly Christmas card, and we usually get something with a snowman or snowflakes. So the snowflake stamps this year were perfect for us. I spent November planning for our family picture, picking out clothes that would be complementary without being too matchy-matchy. We took the picture Thanksgiving weekend, and we picked up the cards last Friday. The only thing missing was the letter. I already had the paper and matching address labels (snowflakes, natch), but I just did not feel like writing the letter. We had only done a letter once before, 2 years ago, and the main reason for that one was to let everyone know that we were expecting. I wanted to write a letter this year, especially since I had everything coordinated, but I just didn’t feel like it.

Well, I got my act together. All I have to do to ease my migraines is to dispel the stress. It’s like magic. In the past, I’ve had migraines at work or school so severe that I could hardly stand up straight. As soon as I got the okay to leave early and left the building, the migraine was gone. I almost felt bad for going home, but I knew that if I went back inside, the migraine would return.

Not feeling well…skip yoga and make chicken soup for dinner. The trip to the store is added stress…call Pete to pick up the necessary ingredients. Worried about getting work finished…sit down and do it, get to point x tonight, do y on Tuesday, finish up with z on Wednesday. Christmas letter…feeling better after dinner, stay up and just write it. Presents need to be wrapped, laundry needs to be done, dishes need to be washed…get work done Wednesday night and have Thursday for everything else.

And it all worked out. My work took a little longer to get done that I had hoped, and I thought I was going to be working on it into Thursday, but I sat down Wednesday night and got it all together. I folded the remains of 3 weeks’ worth of laundry on Thursday and wrapped nearly all of the presents. Right now only 1 present needs to be wrapped, and that’s because I still need to knit half of it. Pete and I edited the letter throughout the week, and it was ready to be printed Friday night. I stayed up Friday night folding and stuffing and sticking and licking, and Pete dropped them all off at the Post Office Saturday morning. I also got the presents to be shipped wrapped and packaged on Friday night, and Pete mailed those on Saturday, too.

Shopping, wrapping, and shipping…done, done, and done!

Now, let the baking begin!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

When will I ever learn?

So, yesterday I was supposed to make a half batch of pretentious cookies* as a holiday gift for Gogo’s ballet instructor. At 4pm, the studio manager called to inform me that today’s class was being canceled. My butter was already at room temperature, so I went ahead and made the dough. The directions said to chill it for 30 min. I was tired and thought I was going to go to bed early (I ended up assembling holiday cards and stayed up much too late), so I left the dough in the fridge overnight, not thinking it would be a problem.

I pulled the dough out of the fridge to make the cookies tonight, and it was nearly rock hard. Well, duh! A dough basically made of butter, sugar, and flour will harden like butter when refrigerated for an extended period of time.

Since I was planning to make sugar cookie dough tonight as well, I thought I ought to check the recipe to make sure I wasn’t going to mess it up by refrigerating the dough overnight instead of just for an hour or so. Lo and behold, the recipe expressly says to refrigerate the dough overnight. It’s a good thing I had decided to get ahead of myself and make the dough tonight. That would have been a fine surprise tomorrow morning.

(For the record, I broke the dough into pieces and let it sit for a few minutes, and all was well. The cookies are fine. I have also learned to bake these on the middle rack; on the top rack, you get burnt coconut instead of toasted coconut.)

*The cookies themselves are really good, and the recipe is quite easy. I just call them pretentious because it’s an Ina Garten recipe from “A Barefoot Contessa Holiday” on the Food Network (I’ve linked to the regular recipe on the site; if you go to the recipe through the show link, it has all this “limited time only for legal reasons [copyright]” business). When she makes the cookies, she’s doing so as holiday gifts for her friends instead of trying to shop for them. She wraps them up, 5 or 6 to a bag, and then goes around delivering them in person (2 bags each). They all live in huge houses or quaint cottages (these are The Hamptons, after all), and they all see her coming and invite her in. She begs off in every instance…she has more deliveries to make. It’s just all too much. But the cookies are divine!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Deck the halls

When Gogo was Zuzu’s age, we only put lights on the tree. It was tricky enough to keep her from trying to eat the lights. For the last three years, we’ve made salt dough ornaments. They are not faring well this year. For starters, I am the only one in the house who hasn’t tried to eat them. Yes, I even caught Pete trying to sneak a bite. I had to remind him that the new dental insurance doesn’t go into effect until January 1.

When we put the ornaments on the tree, they all ended up on the bottom half, as is expected with little helpers. We didn’t even have all of them on the tree before it became clear that they all needed to be on the top half. Zuzu couldn’t keep her hands off them. She is still tempted by them and has managed to pull the tree down twice. The first time, I caught it before it hit the floor. The second time, I wasn’t in the room. I heard a crash, and then I heard crying. She wasn’t hurt, just scared. She picked up the star and chewed on it while I righted the tree and collected the pieces of the half dozen ornaments that didn’t make it.

She has also managed to pull the stockings down, too. So now we have empty stocking holders on the mantel. I feel bad for not having more decorations up, but I don’t think anything else would survive.

Until last year, all we ever had was a tree (skirtless). There wasn’t really enough room for anything else. Now we have a mantle, so we have a cheap garland bunched up on top of it (and the stocking holders), but we could do better. I’ve gotten loads of inspiration from several others, but I just don’t have time to make things happen for this year. I think next year will be the year of Christmas décor crafting. If I start in January, I figure I should be able to get things done in time for Christmas. Maybe.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The end of NaBloPoMo

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. Hurray! I made it. Hopefully, this has become a habit and I will write more often.

I thought about doing Holidailies, but I think I could use a break. Zuzu needs her bedtime routine back, and when you’re trying to keep a 17 month old occupied while updating your blog at 9 p.m. at night for fear that you’ll fall asleep while getting her to sleep and not wake up until after midnight, things don’t always go so well. I have several half-written entries that I gave up on in favor of something dashed off quickly just so I could get Zuzu to bed.


In other news, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Okay, so we haven’t decorated at all yet. We usually do that the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend. I’m actually surprised at how many people in our neighborhood and town have already decorated. We went out for dinner last Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving), and we drove past a house that already had two Christmas trees up and decorated.

But, the packages have started arriving! Most of my shopping was done before Thanksgiving, but I had a few odds and ends to order once the credit card statement changed, which happened last week. UPS alone has dropped off boxes three days in a row this week. We also had parcels from DHL, FedEx, and the mailman. They’re not all holiday items (some are computer things and my work for next week), but it’s so much fun to hear a thud! followed by the sound of the doorbell and then rush to the door to see what has arrived.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

About me

The month is nearly over, and I haven’t yet done an “about me” post. Better late than never, right?

I was born in Iowa, grew up in Minnesota, spent my adolescence in Florida (hated it...both adolescence & Florida), and moved to NYC (by myself) when I was 19 (what was I thinking?!).

My mom died when I was a freshman in high school. She had acute myelogenous leukemia. She was 39.

My maternal grandmother is from Liverpool, England. Her name is Elizabeth, and when I was younger, I thought it meant that we were related to the Queen.

I went through a Beatles phase in high school. I later found out that my mom met Paul McCartney before he was famous (he was a friend of her uncle).

Pete and I were married at the Algonquin Hotel (of Roundtable fame). It's been more than six years, and people are still talking about our wedding cake. I finally threw the top away last year...that was a sad day (chocolate and hazelnut goodness all gone to waste).

I do not like cut flowers...they remind me of death. Because of this, I procrastinated and did not hire a florist until two weeks (to the day) before my wedding.

I love hydrangeas.

On my first day of kindergarten, I took the wrong bus home and wound up at another elementary school on the other side of town. Now that I have children of my own, I can only imagine the terror my mother must have felt when I didn't come home.

I wanted to drop out of school in second grade because I didn’t think I was learning anything.

Growing up, I never attended any given school for more than 2 consecutive years until I got to high school. My parents promised me that I would complete all 4 years at one high school...I transferred high schools in November of my SENIOR year (thanks for keeping that promise, Dad!).

My best friend in high school saved my life.

My favorite high school activity was math competition.

My favorite college classes were History of American Urban Planning and History of Architecture.

My favorite punctuation mark is the ellipsis.

My favorite building is the Flatiron.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Too young

The sister of a friend passed away yesterday. She was 28 years old.

Two weeks ago, the sister of a friend from my middle school years passed away. She was 29 years old.

I complained about turning 30 this past summer. I’m not complaining anymore.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Calgon, take me away!*

Once I was old enough to take showers instead of baths, I never looked back. At one point, I attempted a relaxing bath several years ago. I’m not particularly fond of the idea of a bare bottom going where bare feet have been, so I spent a couple of hours scrubbing the tub first. I never tried it again. It’s not all that relaxing when you have to do all that work immediately beforehand.

When we had our house built, we went for the "super bath" option with the separate tub and shower. Surely, I could get into the whole relaxing bath thing if no one had to stand in the tub on a regular basis. When we moved in, I was 39 weeks pregnant, and I couldn’t take a bath for a month and a half after giving birth. Then there was a repair that had to be done. Then the edges needed to be recaulked. So the tub got dirty. I tried to clean it, but that was nearly impossible. I had nearly given up on the idea of my relaxing bath. We hired cleaners to clean our bathrooms, so I was assured of a clean tub on a regular basis.

In May, Pete went to New York on business, so I sent a Lush shopping list with him. The bag has been in the closet ever since. Every time I thought I would take a bath, I decided I was just too tired and I’d rather sleep. Two weeks ago, I was finally ready for my bath. I told Pete several times that I was planning to take a bath that Saturday night. Then I fell asleep nursing Zuzu. I woke up 2 hours later, and I was so groggy, I barely made it out of the chair and into my own bed. I was so disappointed.

This Saturday, everyone was in bed by 10, and I finally managed my long-awaited soak in the tub. It almost didn’t happen, though. The stopper was unscrewed and wasn’t sealing, so the water just went down the drain. Eventually, I got it all squared away, filled the tub, threw in my bath bomb, turned on the jets, and settled in. It was heaven. I can’t wait until next Saturday.

*Apparently, Calgon is still around. I had no idea. I remember my mom saying "Calgon, take me away!" when she’d had a particularly stressful day when I was a kid, and I have vague recollections of the television commercials. I don’t think I really knew what it was except that it looked like it came in a box like dishwasher detergent. I guess it was bubble bath or bath salts or something of that sort. Now they have a whole line of bubble baths, body sprays, and lotions, etc.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Zuzu has discovered the joy of spinning in circles. She just spent 15 minutes spinning around in her room until she stumbled around drunkenly and ran smack into a wall. She stumbled back to her starting point, hesitated for a few seconds, and started spinning again.

Oh, to be young again! I’m still dizzy, and I was just watching her.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A is for apple


Last Monday, Gogo needed to bring a picture to school of something that starts with the letter A. I’m sure the teachers were expecting something cut out of a magazine, but I had a picture of an apple from our trip to the orchard in October and we were going to Costco anyway, so I had a picture printed.

This week she needs a picture of something that starts with B, so I took a picture of some of her bears. I don’t wish to make weekly trips to Costco throughout December, so I was planning ahead and taking pictures to get us through to January. We got stuck on the letter E. All Gogo could think of was elephant, but we don’t have any toy elephants. All I could think of were elevator, escalator, and employee. Finally, it hit me…E is for egg.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Let the madness begin!

The holiday season is officially here. We tend not to be Black Friday shoppers,* so today’s excitement is more about deciding how and when to break out the new Christmas books and DVDs for the girls.

In fact, one thing I’m thankful for that didn’t get on yesterday’s list is the fact that I am about 95% finished with my holiday shopping. And about 95% of what is left can be done from home.

I decided earlier this year that I didn’t want a stressful December. I love the holidays, and I wanted to be able to enjoy them. So I set a goal to have my shopping done by Thanksgiving. This way I can sit back, relax, listen to Christmas carols, and watch my favorite Christmas movies. If I go to the mall, I can take my time and enjoy the music and be thankful I’m not rushing around for last-minute gifts.

The most stressful thing on my December to-do list? Deciding which mall to hit for Santa photos.

*Pete decided to try to get the cheap computers at Best Buy this year. He got there at 8 p.m. last night and was too far back in the line to get them.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


At the risk of sounding like a third grader doing a class assignment, here is a list of things for which I am particularly thankful today.

My husband, who finally got the hint and installed iTunes.

My children, who let me sleep until 8:30 a.m.

TiVo, which allowed me to see the Macy’s parade in its entirety even though I started an hour late.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I posted a Happy Thanksgiving bulletin on MySpace earlier, and I included the following:

"I'm also thankful to the wonderful folks at Butterball who saw fit to sell a fully cooked smoked turkey so that I do not have to reach into a cavity tomorrow morning to pull out a turkey's innards. May you all be so lucky as well."

So that got me thinking…why do they have to include the giblets and neck anyway? Why can't they sell the giblets and neck separately? Do they somehow help preserve the turkey as a whole?

Chicken giblets are sold separately, aren't they? I’ve never purchased a whole chicken. Do those require cavity exploration as well?

If the giblets and neck were sold separately, then people who find the cavity digging unappetizing would not have to endure the torture of it, and those who wish to feast upon the visceral organs can buy as many as they’d like. Seriously. It's a win-win situation.

Butterball? Jennie-O? Are you listening?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I don’t know what kind of soap we used when I was growing up. I remember Suave strawberry shampoo and Avon crème rinse conditioner, but I don’t remember the soap. Soap was like toothpaste…it never ran out, at least not that I could see, so I don’t recall the labels.

We must have used cheap stuff because we didn’t have a lot of money. I remember a particular soap episode from 8th grade. My mom was in the hospital for chemo (she had leukemia), and my grandparents were staying with us. Grandma used Dove soap, and it was on sale, so she stocked up. Our grocery budget was $20/week (for a family of four!), and the soap used up a good portion of the budget. My parents were quite upset.

When I was first on my own as an adult, I discovered the after Christmas sales at The Body Shop. I would buy lots of little fancy soaps…sweet smelling, pretty glycerin soaps, exfoliating soaps, and itty bitty guest soaps. But I never used them. I always thought they were too nice, “expensive,” or fancy to use, so I stuck with Dove. Eventually, I threw the nice soaps away.

In the last few years, my hands have gotten incredibly dry. The skin cracks and bleeds, and my fingers throb in pain. Using the ubiquitous antibacterial liquid hand soap appears to be one of the causes. This year, instead of trying to repair the damage (using lotions and creams), I want to address the cause of the problem by switching soaps.

I’ve been looking into natural soaps, i.e., those containing olive oil, goat’s milk, shea butter, and the like. I ordered a bunch of sample soaps from MoonDance Soaps & More, and I am in love! I haven’t actually used them for hand washing yet, though. I’ve been using them in shower…I figure I’ll use them up faster that way, so I can decide which ones I like the best and order again sooner. They have some wonderful holiday soaps, and I’m planning on giving some as gifts this year.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all the Dove in the linen closet.

Monday, November 20, 2006


On Friday, the cleaners were here to do the bathrooms. I was in the kitchen taking care of breakfast, and I heard a loud clanging crash coming from the master bathroom above me. I assumed it was the toothbrush holder and stifled the urge to rush up the stairs and shout, “what the hell was that?” I hoped that they would at least clean up the toothbrush holder after it came in contact with the floor.

During my shower yesterday morning, the incident came to mind again. I thought about the various things on the bathroom counter,* and the cotton ball holder came to mind. The container and its lid would definitely be more likely to make a loud clanging crash than the toothbrush holder. In fact, if the toothbrush holder made that kind of noise, it would most likely be broken.

But there were still cotton balls in the container. Certainly, if they had fallen on the floor, they would have been thrown away. My first urge was to throw them out just in case, but I feared it might be a princessy move. I could hear Pete’s eyes rolling just thinking about it.

When I got out of the shower, I just had to check. I took the lid off the cotton balls, and I saw them…mixed with specks of dirt, lint, and hair. Ewwww.

*When we first started having the cleaners come in to clean the bathrooms, I took everything off the counters. I’ve since relaxed a bit, although I do remove most stuff, especially toothbrushes (and my razor from the shower). I think I’ll start moving it all again.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sounds of the season

The local radio station that plays Christmas songs 24/7 throughout the holiday season has started playing Christmas songs. My car no longer needs to be silent. Hooray!

Gogo does not tolerate the radio unless it plays Christmas music. My car doesn’t have a CD player, so we do not usually have music playing. I have a tape of Sesame Street and Smurf Christmas music (recorded from records when I was a child) that I kept in the car until last April. Gogo wanted it playing constantly.

Now, I absolutely love the holiday season, and I would start the Christmas music on November 1st if I could, but Christmas music from December to April is a bit much even for me. When my car went in for a repair, I took out the tape for safekeeping and never put it back.

When I told Gogo we were going to listen to Christmas music on the radio, she wanted to know if we could get the tape back... they don’t play “Smurfing bells” on the radio.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Happy 18th!

Today is our 12th dating anniversary. We’ve been married for 6 years, but we celebrated the 18th for so long, it has become a habit. Not that we did anything particularly celebratory…we chose dental and vision insurance providers, went out for lunch, and ran errands. How exciting!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Concert notes

The first time I saw Dan Zanes was on an episode of Sesame Street. The segment made an impression because a young girl was playing the ukulele, and she reminded me of my friend Shamie’s younger sister. Shamie comes from a musical family, and I actually thought that it might be her sister. I never did get around to mentioning it to her before I found out that it was Dan’s daughter. Then we saw his videos on Noggin and, later, Playhouse Disney.

Two months ago, I was searching for the lyrics to “Malti,” Gogo’s favorite Dan Zanes song, and I noticed that there was a tour. There were two shows close to us, but once I saw that there was a show at Carnegie Hall, my mind was made up. How cool would it be to be able to say that your first concert was at Carnegie Hall? I e-mailed Shamie, who lives in the city, wondering if she’d even heard of Dan Zanes, and she immediately responded that she and Jacob, her son, were up for it.

We made plans to meet half an hour before the show, but wonder of wonders, we were half an hour early!* So we went to the Starbucks down the street and let the big kids have a snack and run around a bit (Zuzu was asleep on my back in my Albert Storch).

The show was fantastic. I might have gotten a little more out of it had I been familiar with the latest CD, but I learned a few new songs. One of the guests was a group called the Rubí Theater Company, and one of the women was wearing her baby in a ring sling, which was very cool to see onstage. And Father Goose was awesome! He's like Shaggy for kids. Oh, and I can’t forget Natalie Merchant…it was great to get to see her. I’ve had “Loch Lomond” in my head since Sunday.

When Dan announced that Barbara had had her baby and that both she and the baby were there, I was kind of hoping she’d be wearing her baby, too, but she came out alone. (I guess it would be difficult to wear the baby and play guitar at the same time. She did bring the baby out at the end.) Of course, they sang “Malti.” If they hadn’t, I don’t think I would have ever heard the end of it. Gogo was so excited about it, she couldn’t do anything but smile. She didn’t even sing along.

The kids seemed to enjoy themselves. They mostly milled about (Shamie and I sat on the ends and left the middle seats up, so the kids would have room to dance), but I think there was some dancing and hand clapping. I, of course, got very into the music and probably made a fool of myself: dancing in my seat, clapping, tapping my feet, and singing along as well as I could. I had an absolute blast!

After the concert we went out for pizza and I finally looked at the concert program. It turns out that Dan was autographing the new CD afterwards, and we missed it! I was heartbroken. We don’t have any of his CDs because we couldn’t decide which one to get; the videos played on Playhouse Disney are all from different CDs. We’re now definitely getting the latest CD, Catch that Train!, and we’ll have to get Family Dance to get “Malti” (or Muffy Muffy, as Gogo calls it). The only question is do we put them into the rotation now or let Santa bring them?

*We are notorious for being late when meeting up with Shamie. Usually Pete is with us. He wasn’t with us for the concert. Hmm…I think we know who causes the lateness. ;)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Embarrassing moment

I fell asleep during savasana in yoga class tonight.

I’ve been afraid of this happening since I started taking evening classes. I don’t always get enough sleep on Wednesday nights, so I’m usually quite tired on Thursdays. Last week I skipped the Thursday class because I was too tired. I thought I’d be okay tonight because last night I fell asleep while putting Zuzu to bed and got a bonus 3 hours of sleep.

I must have been exhausted because I don’t remember anything the instructor said after asking if anyone needed anything. She woke me up while the other students were putting their mats away. I was mortified.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Music in my head*

Loch Lomond (traditional Scottish song)

You take the high road and I’ll take the low road
I’ll be in Scotland before you
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

(Full lyrics here.)

That’s all I remember of the lyrics, so that's what I've been singing over and over. I’ve been singing this since Sunday’s concert. It really was fantastic. I think I enjoyed it more than the girls did. I’m working on a full recap. Hopefully, I'll have it ready for tomorrow.

In other news, today is November 15, which means that I’ve made it halfway through the month. Yay! It has been challenging at times, but then there are times, like last night, where I’m trying to write a post and ideas for four others come pouring out. I like those times.

*Because “This would be playing on my iPod right now if my husband would just install the freaking iTunes already” was too long for a title.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Phobic, or why I can't use my iPod

When I met Pete, most people were using Windows on their PCs. Not him, though, “real computer users use DOS,” he said. He didn’t even have MS DOS…he used DR DOS, whatever that was. At one point, he tried to install Windows on his computer because something wasn’t working right, but he couldn’t even do that because he had “personalized” his configurations in such a way that the computer was no longer compatible with Windows.

Last year, I asked for an iPod mini for my birthday. He hemmed and hawed and suggested Dell mp3 players. But I didn’t want some big black clunky thing. I liked the cute little mini, although I couldn’t decide on the pink or the green.

He convinced me it was too expensive, and then surprised me with a gift card, although he stipulated that he had to install iTunes, not me, because he didn’t want Apple software getting too close to his precious PC software. He started talking about partitioning the hard drive. I tuned him out.

A month later, we finally made it to the Apple store, and I went with the green because you can always get the right shade of pink to go with your green, but finding the perfect green isn’t always so easy. Two weeks later, the mini was discontinued, and the nano was introduced. I was thankful I had gotten the mini when I did because the nano didn’t come in pretty colors.

Fourteen months later, iTunes still has not been installed (and nanos are available in pretty colors). Now the reasoning is that I’m getting a new laptop next week…might as well wait and put it on the new machine. All I know is that if I don’t have a working iPod (and a working laptop, including a DVD driver!*), somebody’s getting a lump of coal from Santa.

*Pete refuses to use a computer straight out of the box. He insists on wiping it clean and starting from scratch, so he can make it just how he wants it. The last time he did major maintenance on my computer (rewriting everything), he forgot to reinstall the DVD driver, which I only found out about when I tried to play a DVD for the girls in New York.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Weekend summary

Two and a half unbuffered days with the in-laws…not so bad.
Fourteen hours alone in the car with two kids…exhausting.

Ninety minutes of Dan Zanes & Friends live at Carnegie Hall…worth every second.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I should be used to it now. Every time I step into the shower here, they reach for me, grabbing at my legs, clinging to my hips. I stand sideways, trying to evade them, but still they seek me out. My shower takes forever. It feels like I can’t get clean. Finally, I turn off the water, and they leave me alone.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

One for the road

And we’re off!

Almost…just a few last minute items (and a post), and then we’re leaving.



At least I hope so.

Why is it so hard to get out of the house with two kids?

Friday, November 10, 2006


Today has been all about lists. I’m going out of town for the weekend and needed to get work done today, so everything that popped into my head went down on paper to be dealt with later.

I have lists of things to pack, lists of things to grab at the last minute, shopping lists, laundry lists, lists of lists to be made. It’s maddening.

I’m taking my computer with me (better go put that on the list!), so I can keep up with the blog in the name of NaBloPoMo. I just hope I can survive the dial-up situation.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some to-do lists that need my attention.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Let's talk turkey

Thanksgiving comes early this year, which I like because it means more legitimate Christmas preparation time, but early Thanksgivings always sneak up on me. It takes a week or so to get over the Halloween sugar assault, and now there are only 2 weeks ‘til turkey day.

My least favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey prep. It makes me want to become a vegetarian every time. Last year we tried
Jennie-O’s Oven Ready
turkey. No thawing, no rinsing, no digging in the cavity. That’s my kind of turkey.

This year, my regular grocery store doesn’t have them. They have plenty of Jennie-O products, just not the Oven Ready turkeys. I’m still holding out hope that they’ll get them, but with only 2 weeks left, that hope is starting to fade.

They do have Shady Brook Farms Simply Done turkeys. The concept is similar, but this one needs to be thawed. I’m afraid I’d forget to take it out of the freezer.

And I’d really like to stick with Jennie-O. You see, my hometown is also home to Jennie-O, so I grew up with it…turkey hot dogs, turkey bologna, turkey ham, etc. We ate ground turkey before it became a well-known alternative to ground beef. It was local, and it was cheap. As a kid, I hated it. What I wouldn’t have given for real hamburger or a beef hot dog!

But now it’s a nostalgia thing, I guess. Willmar was such a nowhere place back then, and all I ever wanted to do was to get out. Now that I’m thousands of miles away, I get a little thrill seeing “Willmar, Minn.” on the package and knowing where it is…knowing that the turkey came from the same place I did.

Of course, I fared better than the turkey…I made it out alive.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Little brother


Twenty-four years ago, my little world turned upside down. After 6 years as an only child, I had a little brother. My parents left for the hospital early that morning while I was still asleep. He was born via C-section shortly before 9 a.m., weighing 9 lbs, 11.5 oz.

My dad came to school during lunch to tell me that I had a little brother. Then he kissed me, told me he loved me, and left. My classmates teased me, so I got mad at him for embarrassing me.

I left school early to go to the hospital and meet my little brother. I remember the nurse instructing me to wash my hands and put on a hospital gown. She said it was a Superman gown.

They stayed in the hospital for a week and came home during a blizzard. I remember marveling at the sterile glass bottles of sugar water they brought home.

My mom brought him to school a few weeks later, so I could take him for show-and-tell. I also took a copy of his birth announcement. It was a blue sheet of paper folded in fourths, and it had a picture of a toolbox on it that my dad had drawn. (He had also done a pink one, with a pearl and oyster on it, in case the baby had been a girl.)

He’s all grown up now, with a family of his own. Because of the difference in our ages, he was still a little kid when I left home, and there were a few years when we couldn’t keep in touch. Sometimes it’s like he’s a stranger about whom I know nothing, yet I can tell him things about himself that he does not even know. I may feel like I hardly know him, but he’s still my little brother, and I love him fiercely.

Happy birthday, Buzzy!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My first vote

I was 18 years old and away at college. I was voting absentee, so it must have been October. I was expecting a slip of paper, but instead, I received a tidy little package. The actual ballot was a punch card. Also in the package were a small piece of Styrofoam made specifically to fit behind the ballot and a little metal puncher (for lack of a better word).

The instructions were very clear. Place the ballot on the Styrofoam. Use the puncher to punch a hole through the ballot. Remove the ballot from the Styrofoam. Check the back of the ballot to ensure that the punched piece completely separated from the ballot.

I voted at breakfast. I don’t know why. I guess I must have thought it would be easier to mail it on my way to class, although there must have been a mail drop in the dorm. I remember trying not to spill syrup or milk or juice on the ballot. I remember the other students giggling over the whole setup. I remember wishing it was a presidential election, so it would feel more meaningful (I have since learned that elections don’t have to be presidential to be meaningful).

It seems like a lifetime ago. Since that simple punch card, I have voted on paper, on old "kerchunk" machines, and on fancy touch screen computers. I’ve walked right up to a voting booth, and I’ve waited hours in line. No matter what the circumstances, my heart pounds every time.

Go vote.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Just as I thought

Two weeks ago, I put in a hold request for a book at our local public library. I did this for two reasons. (i) The book was checked out and overdue, so it was easier to have it set aside for me when it came back than to keep coming in looking for it. (ii) I wanted to see how the little old ladies at the library would handle the title when the book was ready for me.

Today, I got the call. The caller was not a little old lady, but she was just as unsure of the situation.

“I’m calling to tell you that an item you requested is available. It’s, uh, it’s a book, the, uh…”

“Oh, yes, the knitting book?”

“Yes, yes, it’s the knitting book” she said with relief audible in her voice.

The title? Stitch ‘n Bitch

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In the wrong line of work

McDonald’s Drive-Thru Employee: You got apple juice?
Me: Yes.
MDTE: Go girl! Be healthy!
Me: Umm, okay.
MDTE: Here’s your Coke. You know, the dark soda rots your teeth.
Me: Huh?
MDTE: Really! It does! You have pretty teeth. You don’t smoke cigarettes, do you?
Me: No, I don’t.
MDTE: That’s right! Stay healthy!

Sounds like there’s a reason he’s handing out the food in the drive-thru instead of taking orders.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Two more things...

A friend had asked me if I planned to dress up for Halloween. I had no plans to dress up this year, but if I had seen this in August or early September (enough time to knit it), I totally would have worked something out.

Secondly, why the dearth of peanut M&M’s? We went to 30 houses Tuesday night, and Gogo did not get a single package of peanut M&M’s. What gives?

Friday, November 03, 2006


So we’re three days into November, and I’m sure everyone’s tired of hearing about Halloween, but I’m just getting around to it.

I’m not a big Halloween person. I’m sure this stems from being excluded from Halloween as a child. I have pictures of myself in Halloween costumes when I was a preschooler. I remember carving pumpkins and roasting the seeds. I even remember trick-or-treating with my cousins in the town where our grandparents lived. I remember not being able to touch the candy until my parents went through it looking for needle marks and glass.

I also remember the time our neighbors got me a special treat for Halloween…one of those big, round, flat lollipops the size of one’s hand, or face, if you’re a small child. This memory sticks out for me because I was given this special treat in lieu of the candy they had for other children, and I wanted the regular candy, whether I wanted it in addition to or instead of the lollipop, I’m not sure. Either way, you can rest assured that I was thoroughly reprimanded for my greediness, ungratefulness, and poor manners. I was 4 years old.

By the time I was in 3rd grade, however, we no longer participated in Halloween. My mom said that it was because witches, etc., really do exist, and it wasn’t something to joke around about or take lightly. In 2nd grade, our music teacher had dressed up as a witch for Halloween. I thought it was so cool, and I told my mom about it. She promptly called the school to complain. I think this was the catalyst.

We would buy a bag of candy (to stand in for what we were missing) and sit in our darkened house watching a rented movie. The first couple of years were the worst. I was still in public school, and the other students couldn’t fathom the possibility of not trick-or-treating. Then I transferred to a Christian school, and Halloween wasn’t mentioned by the teachers or the school. Everyone else’s parents were more on the same wavelength as my parents there.

Now I have children, and I do not wish to be the “Halloween Scrooge Mommy.” We did not dress Gogo up for her first two Halloweens, as I did not see the point. When she was 2, we dressed her up and took her to a few houses, but she wasn’t all that thrilled. Last year, she started preschool, and it was as if they talked about nothing else for the entire month of October. She was hooked. In August, she declared her intent to be Tinkerbell this year.

So Gogo was Tinkerbell, and Zuzu was Minnie Mouse. We did not collect candy for Zuzu, as that is one of my pet peeves, but somewhere along the way, someone gave her a small box of Nerds. I thought it was cute and figured she’d just shake the box and have fun with the noise. Of course not…she chewed on it and managed to eat some. She spent the rest of the night trying to get into the candy stash. I believe Halloween has a new fan.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Missing Ms. Messing

The other day I was thinking about how it felt like something was missing this fall. This post at Smitten Kitchen was the catalyst and a clue. What I’ve been missing is scenes of city dwellers trekking upstate for fall fun. I’m missing Will & Grace.

I wasn’t even a great fan of the show. I just sort of fell into watching it. Were it not for TiVo, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. It filled a void left by the departure of Friends,* and I did not expect to miss it.

Are there any NYC-based sitcoms left? I don’t even know what’s on NBC on Thursday nights anymore besides ER.

*Speaking of Friends, I watched Joey** religiously for those two seasons, hoping against hope for some kind of reunion show. What? Your friend moves to L.A. and you don’t go visit? What’s wrong with these people?

**And also, I was just checking IMDb to verify how many seasons there were of Joey, and they list eight episodes that I never saw. They list air dates and everything. What’s up with that?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I have been fascinated by the concept of NaNoWriMo since I first heard about it three years ago, but between work, kids, and the impending holidays (I’m trying to knit a few of our gifts), I know I just wouldn’t have the time to participate. So when I heard about NaBloPoMo, I jumped at the chance. The concept is simple: 30 days, 30 blog posts (1 per day).

I’ve been struggling here to make time for the blog. I am constantly thinking about ideas or working on posts in my head. I just don’t take the time to type and post. I’m hoping that a month of daily posting will make it a habit.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

The real fun begins tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I checked the properties on the pictures that were last uploaded from the memory card to figure out which day it was that I had last seen it. Eventually, the pieces fell together. On my 6th trip back into the guest room (aka my sewing & craft room), I remembered that my tape measure was the other item out of place in the office. Friday night, I had been negotiating the purchase of a portion of a wrap to make a ring sling. I was using the tape measure to determine just how much of the wrap I needed, since my linen ring sling was out in the car. On my way to my bedroom, I put the tape measure and the memory card in the guest room…a room off limits to the kids. The tape measure was sitting on top of the memory card, obscuring it from view.

Monday, August 21, 2006


I’ve never understood how people could misplace memory cards and camera accessories. When someone says, “oh, I have pictures in my camera but I left the cord for transferring them to the computer at [someone’s] house,” I just don’t get how they can be so flippant about it. I always keep the camera and all of its pieces/accessories together or in designated places, so I can find them at a moment’s notice.

Pictures have always been very important to me. Without them there is no memory of the past…or at least the pictures remind us that there were good times in addition to the bad, which, unfortunately, tend to be easier to remember. Back in the days of film, I was very strict about proper photo-handling procedures…just ever so lightly touching the edge of pictures. I considered it a personal affront if someone looking at my pictures had the audacity to actually put a thumb or finger right on the picture…oh, the horror! I learned to ensure pictures were in albums before allowing anyone to look at them. With digital, I no longer need to be so diligent. A fingerprint on a photo? No problem, just print another one.

We recently suffered a tragedy at our house. The main computer’s hard drive crashed. My husband, an IT professional who has a strict household computer maintenance routine and backup schedule, had not done backups in nearly 4 months. In essence, we had a virtual fire on our hands. There were approximately 2,000 pictures gone in an instant…family vacation at Disney World, the girls with their great-grandparents, the baby’s first birthday…all gone.

Fortunately, we were able to recover them. Some have damage, but I think it gives them character and adds to the story of our life…a reminder of the crash, something which cannot be photographed itself. I’m thinking of putting together a flickr set, but I haven’t yet gone through all of them to fully assess the damage.

We are now being extra vigilant with our backup procedures. In the past, I transferred pictures from the camera to the computer, looked through them all to be sure they all transferred, and then emptied the card. Now, I wait to empty the card until the photo files have been backed up to the backup computer. Sounds like a good plan, no? A good plan until the extra memory card goes missing. I transferred pictures a few days ago. I remember the memory card sitting in its case to the left of the keyboard…there was something next to it that also did not belong in the office. I picked them both up. I put the memory card somewhere out of reach of little hands because it was time for baths and bed and I didn’t want to delay things by going downstairs to put it in the camera bag. It was just a temporary thing.

There’s no real loss. The pictures are safe. It’s just an inconvenience. I just have to keep telling myself that it will turn up.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I have so many conflicting emotions about this. And there’s so much I want to say, but I have things to do and can’t devote the time necessary to get those thoughts out and ordered right now. More later.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Commence freak-out

Two weeks from today, I will turn 30.

Enough said.

Monday, June 26, 2006

So much for nice even numbers…

I started the previous entry at 11:30pm on June 20th with plans to post it after midnight, so the posting date would be June 21st, exactly 17 months from my first post. Somehow, in the middle of everything, I got my dates mixed up. I thought my first post had been posted on January 20th, so then I hurried to post to maintain the exact timing.

Oh well, what better way is there to shake off old habits?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Take 2

It's been 17 months since I started this blog and almost 17 months since I last posted. I think it's time to take a deep breath and try again. I've "written" many an entry in my head over the last year and a half...I just haven't had time to actually sit down and write (er...type) them.

I'm tempted to say that it's all same old, same old around here, but that wouldn't be the truth. We moved. I had a baby. Said baby is now a year old. Things have changed and yet they are the same. Such is life.

I've always been one to try to reinvent myself. The structure of school always gave me two opportunities each year: the beginning of the school year and the beginning of the calendar year. For some reason, I've always liked things to be exact. I couldn't resolve to start over or try something new somewhere in the middle, e.g., in June. It just doesn't work that way. When I sat down to write this, I had "18 months" written in the first line. A nice even number. A good place to start over. And then I thought about it. It's not 18's 17 months. That's not a nice even number. What to do? I will post today anyway.

So here we are...take 2.