Thursday, February 28, 2013
The politics between my kids goes something like this: Bee is a wealth of emotions (angry! sad! wistful! manic!) and Stella is just a bucket of smiles who knows right where to poke her sister. For the most part they are really loving to each other, but as long as Bee is the established, clear boss everything is mostly roses. And Stella does her poking.
Today was a big day because while Bee was at school, Stella must have said something about the potty (or had a really big crap in her diaper and I was reminded, "hey, we should potty train!") so we flew off to Target for her own special potty. Today happened to be the biggest snowfall Chicago has seen this season, but that's what boots are for. Stella and I, in our boots and our hats with snowflakes falling on our eyelashes as big as quarters, trudged to Target for our potty stuff.
Here's an example of how I'm a different mom to Stella than I was to Bee at this age. When it was Bee, I felt I was splurging to buy her the utilitarian Bjorn potty, which I purchased in red in case we ever had more kids who weren't girls. She got the potty at Christmas just after she turned one year old. Wishful! With ole Stella, she could pick out any Sesame or Disney potty she wanted, at twice the cost. I didn't bat an eye and she didn't get it until after she was two. I'm all la-dee-da, anything you want, Stella!
Poor Bee's infancy I ran like a military camp. When she was a baby, I scheduled her meals to the minute and "sleep trained" her. I can't even think about how heart-breaking that was. Poor Bee, my starter baby. I love her to death but there's some barrier there. It's been me-against-her since the day she was born. I want her to do this thing, she does that thing. And she's very suspicious of me. Neek and I were both amazed when Stella was born that she stayed asleep during diaper changes. She'd open one eye, say to herself, "oh, just mom. She must be doing something" and go back to her nap. Not Bee.
From the moment they put Bee in my arms, she had a better way of doing everything and if mom thought of it, it must be suspect. The earliest example is when Bee was a few hours old and would only nurse on the right side. I asked one of the nurses giving a mandatory class (they made moms who had just given birth attend a mandatory class! Where you had to sit in chairs! On top of your episiotomy stitches!) what I should do since she just wanted the right breast. "Give her the left" But she doesn't want the left. "Ha, what she wants? You're the mom. Give her the left" and so the epic me v. Bee battle began and it continues to this day when she argued that Stella wasn't sharing her toys by hogging the potty. But a potty isn't a toy. But it has a flushing handle that doesn't really flush so it is a toy, MOM. *sigh*
It was pretty adorable seeing Stella on the pot, though. The girls decided a little piece of the packaging was pretend toilet paper, then a pretend wash cloth. Stella sat there forever singing "wash, wash! Wash, wash! Waaaaaash, wasssssssh!" and pretending she was taking a bath atop her new Elmo throne.
We've had a good couple of days, in fact. Yesterday daddy was home early and we made a snow man, had a snow ball fight, drank hot chocolate, enjoyed a fire and watched Alice In Wonderland together. I love my babies!
Friday, July 01, 2011
There were two camps at my neighbors' BBQ today - the hosts' co-workers (urban, childless and fabulous who collect actual paychecks and think Andersonville is the suburbs) and the group I fall into, the block moms whose annual income covers the household orange juice budget.
Kids were literally drawing lines to divide us with pastel chalk. I stayed on my side at first. I felt a little simple with my ten kids strapped to me and no idea what to say to an accountant. Or whatever it is they do downtown.
Cell phones are the new cigarettes in awkward in a social situations, so I whipped mine out and checked my email. I got a message that my pal Stacey was in a waiting room thumbing through The Bump Chicago magazine and stumbled upon something surprising on pages 18 and 19 - a two-page glossy spread of me!
About a year ago The Bump was doing a project about birth diaries and one of their editors thought my blog would be a good fit for an article. After a grueling and promising flurry of rewrites, it looked like they were going to print my stuff but, as things happen, they forgot about me and haven't returned my emails in ten months. I figured I was toast.
Well according to Stacey I'm not toast! I'm in The Bump! My self-esteem felt pretty shiny, so I introduced myself to some business types and in a bizarro moment, one of them cited something she had read about our neighborhood and all the little girls who live here. It just so happens I wrote that article too!
Don't worry. The self esteem cloud burst when I asked a woman at the grocery store if they had any copies of The Bump this month. She snarled at me and said she had never heard of it. Eh, I'm still small potatoes.
Babies are like tattoos. And Pringles.
So it's no secret around here I had a baby four months ago (or was it five - who can keep up?) which means I'm getting plenty of sleep, lost all the weight and have an adorable, non-mobile baby. It's the sweet spot. So sweet, in fact, my crazy brain wants another one. (You: how many damn kids are you going to have lady?) Hey, I'm on a roll. Babies are like tattoos and brownies, the more you have, the more you want!
This sweet spot will surely fade. Soon she'll be getting into things and stinking up the place with real food poops. Eventually these little people I created will be large and in need of tuition, maybe wrecking cars and needing bail. Then I'll be bolting myself in my room with as many tattoos and brownies as I can hoard while high-fiving the mister that we didn't give in to the weakness for babies that created that Duggar woman and Octomom. I mean, they are great and the cloud I'm on makes me want ten, but it's not realistic.
So instead of getting knocked up again, let's talk about the things I can look forward to when my kids are done being babies.
1. Drinking, staying out late. I plan to have a second teenagerhood as soon as these kids learn to babysit themselves. How old do they have to be to order pizza and not kill each other? (Note to self: find this out.)
2. Have nice things. My kitchen chairs are covered in Sharpie, Niko's Archie Bunker chair got attacked with an errant screwdriver, my brilliant new coffee table has matchbox car tracks all over it and we haven't unraveled a roll of toilet paper in the intended way since 2009. When these kids are properly molded to society's expectations (that happens, right?) I can start setting out potpourri. POTPOURRI. Maybe even the kind you cook in a little unattended pot on a low table. Dreams. Have them.
3. Get rid of crap. Walkers, bouncers, bumpers, cribs, devices to spy, devices to extract milk out of my body - good God, do you know what it would feel like to just dump all this knickknackery into the street and dance? Like freedom, that's what. Then I can fill up my rooms with . . . bonzai trees? I always wanted one of those. The point is it will not be a flashing, battery-operated plastic thing that makes noise.
4. Hotness. Milfness. Giant botox needles injecting poison into my youthful-seeming head. A tummy tuck to rival a tenor drum. Spray tans, pedicures (what else is the school day for, right?) and best of all, non-lactating breasts. Come on, 2013.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Santa lives in Indiana, duh.
One of the great pay backs of having kids is taking them to all your old haunts. I grew up on the Kentuckiana border and spent many dripping hot summer days in Santa Claus, Indiana at the Holiday World
You may know Santa Claus better as the hometown of Bear's quarterback Jay Cutler, but I know it as the only place to go for blue ice cream, Mrs. Kringle's fudge, The Raven roller coaster, Spashin' Safari water park and of course, everything Christmas-related you can tolerate on a hot summer day. And it's not just the theme park, the whole town is Christmas from head to toe, 365 days a year with no days off - not even Christmas. There's Santa's Lodge, Christmas Lake Golf Course, Holiday foods grocery store, Kringle's Cleaners, Kringle Place Shopping Center, Evergreen Floral and Santa's Medical Center.
When we were teenagers, my naughty friend Chrissy and I sat on Santa's knee one hot July day at Holiday World and told him we wanted boys for Christmas. The irony, of course, was that 15 years later I ended up having a daughter just eight days before the yuletide holiday. And here she is, loving every second in Santa Claus, Indiana last weekend . . .
I won the lottery and feel guilty
We have a monkey obsession around here. My toddler insisted on wearing her Paul Frank monkey suit with the ears today and as she ate a banana in the Jewel check-out line, scratched her armpits and made animal noises, she yelled MONKEY! at a ticket machine. Turns out, it was a lottery ticket machine featuring some scratch off game called Chimp Change.
What's a dollar, right? She gets to push a vending button and I get a happy toddler on the walk home while I struggle with four bags of melting groceries. I scratched it off and it said we won a free ticket, so I redeemed it at the counter for a second chance at Chimp Change. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Scratch. Twenty-five dollars!
Great, right? Except now I have $25 of dirty money on my hands. Don't ask me why I feel this way, I just do. Trust me, I do plenty of dirtier things and feel no guilt whatsoever but lottery games fall into that gray area of hoodoo for me. This will sound crazy to you, but I can't play the lottery because I win. Always. I'm just one of those people who wins raffles and door prizes and ends up on the jumbo tron in embarrassing moments. It's like I'm a magnet for a special brand of luck. Usually it's positive, but sometimes its weird stuff like barely dodging death after being hit by a train or being the only person to not get food poisoning at cheerleading camp (holla, 1994!)
Would I ever hit the Powerball if I played? Maybe. A few years ago some of my co-workers did a Powerball pool and sent me in to buy the tickets. Big surprise, we matched half the numbers and won a few hundred bucks. But I feel like if I played more often and won the big pot, my entire family might be killed or I'd catch some weird syndrome where my legs would morph into tree stumps. It happens.
I'm just really, really lucky. How else do you explain a 17-year-old homeless girl landing a scholarship, traveling like I have and winding up on this sweet couch in beautiful Chicago with this here nifty blog? It's luck, people!
Now the trouble is what to do with this Chimp Change. Suggestions are welcome and keeping it is not an option. And remember, whomever takes the money might contract flesh eating disease. Off to wash my hands again . . .UPDATE - The actual lotto ticket itself remains uncashed but personally I've had the opportunity to give to some great charities from the emails I've gotten. Maybe the kharma is good because I kid you not, we just found out we won a trip to Rome next month. Yes. We're going to Rome all of a sudden. Maybe the uncashed ticket is my good luck charm?
Epidural: worth it?
I've got a full five months to think about this, but the truth is, I have to go through labor and delivery again. That means I get a cuddly baby in February but it also means I might have not-so-cuddly needle in my spine.
Here are my two cents on the epidural I had when my daughter was born. It worked perfectly, did what it was supposed to do and I couldn't have expected anything else as far as the after effects. Basically, it was the ideal epidural experience.
However it was itchy. And the moment they put it in, I went from being the strong woman I am who happens to be in labor to being a "patient" at a hospital and that's just how it felt. All of a sudden I was powerless. Then the baby's heart rate dropped and I had twelve nurses/students/doctors examining my vajay. Embarrassing!
Then I was completely numb from my hips down. Better than blinding pain every few minutes, but not the best way to go about your afternoon, right? Every 30 minutes I was supposed to turn from side to side, but I needed help turning over because I couldn't feel anything. I was like a big sack of potatoes laying there.
I'm kind of a crazy "what would the animals do" person and I just kept feeling like a zoo prisoner. What had there been a fire? Or a robbery? (I saw an episode like that once on one of those crime shows, some dude robbed a delivery room while a lady was in labor!)
Six or eight hours later, the pain-relieving effects had completely worn off and it was time to push. My legs were rubbery, but I felt EVERYTHING when the child came out. At the time it was hella painful but I can't even say it was terrible. Birth is a natural pain like stretching a healing muscle or rubbing a headache. It's not like "injury" pain where your body is in harm's way. I'd pick a contraction over a stubbed toe, for example.
Afterwards my legs were like jelly for hours! I want to even say it was a half a day before I could really feel confident walking. Not like I needed to go anywhere, it's just that if I had not had the epi I could have recovered a little quicker.
Then final straw was that for six months after the birth, I just had a weird ache in the spot the needle had gone in. I wouldn't call it pain, but it was annoying. I know some people have headaches and horror stories and I had none of that. Just a minor thing to make me think "why did I do that?"
I have to admit the epidural was heaven of a relief from the pain of labor but I'm not in the moment anymore so my thoughts are circumspect.Doing a completely natural birth is the goal of many women, but in the thick of it plenty of people have decided they can't or don't want to handle the pain. Hey, I had an epidural and I might have another one. I'm just saying that now 21 months after the fact, I can't decide which is the lesser of the evils: labor pain or the annoyances of pain relief, not to mention the bigger items like stalled labor and a chain of medical interventions.
My plan this time is to labor at home as long as possible and avoid the epi if I can. Who knows, my memory could be quite fuzzy and I might squeal at 4cm again. Time will tell!
Was it really this bad? Thank you Mother Nature for erasing this memory.
How to be lucky
I mentioned my wee lotto win the other day and less than 24 hours later, a trip to Rome landed in my lap. It's really par for the course for me because by all other accounts I'm an average person from some not-cool beginnings who has managed to cultivate a pretty sweet life. I won't bore you with more examples of bizarre, illogical fortune in small and large doses that have come to me, you'll just have to trust that I'm lucky. But how do things always go my way? Hard work? Meh. Natural talent? Not really.
With those outstanding qualifiers, your chances are just as good as mine. So here's how you can be lucky too!
1. Don't get hung up on winning. If you gamble with goals in mind, you'll walk away a loser. Luck is embracing the unexpected windfall, not chasing down slim odds. I don't usually play the lottery because it freaks me out. Winning feels like a magical power that I'd rather tuck away. If you choose to play, just do it for fun every once in while.
(Side story! The night we got engaged in Vegas, I played exactly one hand of Blackjack: I was dealt two aces, split the hand, then dealt another ace and split again. Then I got 21 on all three hands! The ultimate irony? I had won the trip in a sales competition.)
2. Happiness begets happiness. Remember the flight attendant who grabbed two beers and slid off the emergency slide to the tarmac to quit his job? It was a big deal because he was on a consumer airline. Me, I've never had jobs with other people's safety at stake which is why my blazes of glory have never made the news. But I've had 'em. I've quit more jobs and broke more hearts in defiant, firm displays of grandeur than I should admit. Why? Because I refuse to be unhappy. Hey, not taking shit has gotten me a loving husband and happy gig. I recommend it.
3. Do good things, but never tell anyone. This is the first time I have ever said this secret outside of my head. It is so fun to do favors for people who will never find out it's you, but the caveat is the second you get the "credit" the magic is erased. Now forget it was me who told you this! (Note, I may delete this item at any time, so burn it into your eyeballs.)
4. Accept compliments. Accept favors. Accept love. When the door is open, good things come in!
5. Recognize the luck you already have. For years I saw the incident where I was hit by a street train in Amsterdam and walked out alive as nothing short of lucky. Sure, I had a concussion, a brain injury and six months of seizures but I lived. Lucky, right? Someone pointed out to me once that getting hit by a train is not lucky at all. Naysayer. Maybe I win raffles and door prizes and find Janie and Jack pants for $8.99 because I choose to see the glass as half full?
6. Repeat often how lucky you are. Great kids? Brag! Awesome at Checkers? Tell someone! It's okay to be satisfied. A lot of human bonding unfortunately comes from listening to each other complain, and that's great to have an outlet for your woes, but when was the last time you told someone what you're excited about? And how do you receive other people's good news? Misery loves company and misery is not lucky.
7. Luck does not equal happiness. I may have some extra cash in my pocket and vacay on the horizon, but I still have a pregnancy in jeopardy and a host of problems I care not to discuss. No one's life is perfect. Even billionaire tycoon Oprah Winfrey, who was conceived under a tree by two teenagers and went on to rule the world, has her set of troubles. I heard once that if you step on the carpet in her house, your feet literally almost disappear into the plushness. But maybe she has corns? You just don't know about them, just like you don't know the burdens of that lucky devil Kanye West (his success baffles me, I'll admit) and the pretty-faced Megan Fox. Don't assume.
I can't guarantee it, but maybe these seven things will work for you. Oh, and buy a scratch off here and there.
Rhymes With Pope-rah
Damn. I signed a waiver this morning saying I would not blog about my experience as an audience member on America's favorite talk show. Rats.
Well then, you'll just have to settle for this picture of my buddy Stacey and I outside of some studio this morning and keep your eye on the third row of the audience of some show airing September 30.
Hint number two: Schmartha Schtuart was the guest (whom I asked if she ever ate peanut butter out of the jar).
Receiving my cease and desist letter in 3, 2 . . .
Extreme Gender Disappointment
This was supposed to be an article about matching sister dresses.
After navigating the capricious world of dating, accomplishing the feat of a happy marriage, overcoming the sometimes heart-wrenching process of creating a home and getting and staying pregnant with a healthy baby a person should be happy, right?
But for some, a dark, unsettling doom comes in an unexpected form: Gender Disappointment.
I'll admit I was fully expecting news of a boy to come of this pregnancy, probably because I grew up in a two-child home with a brother. I entertained the idea of a little man to dress up in jon-jons and christen with an animal hippy name but c'est la vie.
The moment I found out our second baby was a she, my heart switched to delight. Sisters! Matching sister dresses! I got a sewing machine and some patterns and now I'm set for a life of double frills.
Not all women feel this way. Many women mourn the gender news of their pregnancies, some even to the point of considering termination or adoption. People can't help their feelings, I suppose, and it must be horrible to be saddled with these. Read these quotes from women experiencing the bizarre problem of disappointment in their child's gender . . . "I am very upset. i don't want this child. i am afraid i can not love it [ . . .] I DO NOT want this gender baby. I don't want an innocent life to suffer [ . . .] i am depressed. I wish i didn't have to carry this child to term. i hate to feel it move inside of me. I know i am a terrible person. [sic.]"
"What scares me is that I don't want this baby. I don't want to see it. Or hold it. or know it. I feel like I've wasted my time and effort."
"I never would have imagined anyone wanted a girl."
"I am extremely disappointed in the gender of my baby. So much so that I wish I weren't pregnant."
"I'm having a very unwanted boy [ . . . I'm] being forced to have a life time of a boy i do not want. I dont even want to live myself. I hate my partner, cant even look him in the eye. I feel my life is ruined forever. [sic.]"
"After finding out this baby is a boy, I'm thinking of doing something horrible like walking on freshly waxed floors with socks."
These are not isolated incidents. Women all across America and the world are writing in to gender forums expressing thoughts nearing suicide over the genders of their babies. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with how many children they have or even whether it is a boy or a girl they are carrying. The only commonality is they are very, very upset.
To people who have children with health problems, or those having trouble conceiving (or getting into the right partner relationship to begin with!) gender disappointment seems to be the most asinine, disgusting of human emotions. After all, how can these women balk at the richness their lives are giving them when there are people who don't have a baby at all?
However, many mothers can relate to a tinge of GD at the ultrasound. Few take it to the extreme. In the latter cases, it might have more to do with underlying depression or anxiety about the pregnancy in general. But still, it's hard to sympathize with a woman who actually rejects her baby based on the sum of its parts. "Sorry, ma, I ain't wearing a dress!"
I puzzled with the Puzzler!
Being a groupie for worthy, brainy D-listers is a great pastime. My buddy Wendi and I got a little press mention back in 2005 when Peter Sagal acknowledged us as NPR's Wait, Wait! Don't Tell Me groupies in an interview with the Trib. After all, we did show up for the live tapings every week and winked at him from the front row.
Times, they are not a changing. The hubs and I had the pleasure of brunching and gaming this weekend with Red Eye blog star Sandy Weisz, author of the famous The Puzzler
. In true nerd fashion we broke out some German strategy games and ignored the wails of our children as we amassed victory chips. (Also in nerd fashion I must brag that I beat The Puzzler by exactly one point. It must be my lucky streak.)
As to be expected, they were very smart and interesting people. I hope my wonky strawberry muffins didn't scare them off from playing with us again!
The Puzzler and his lovely wife plotting to eradicate us.
There's a new Jon Gosselin on the scene!
Meet Brian Masche. He's the bad-tempered, gay-seeming dad of sex-tuplets and star of Raising Sextuplets on WE. Just what makes this guy so great? His condescending attitude, his raging temper and now . . . his arrest record!
Brian Masche was arrested for domestic violence in Yavapa County in Arizona while visiting relatives. His bond of $3,500 might be a problem though because this dad of six doesn't have a job. Yay for overbreeding!
Quotable gems from this guy include, "everybody give mommy a clap" when she made an innocent mistake when wrangling six kids and commandeering a moving monster vehicle and "there's no way out of the marriage". Has father's day already passed this year? Rats!
Rock is dead (at least rocking).
A headline from yesterday read, "Hilary Clinton Rocks A Hair Clip
" with an accompanying article and picture of the Secretary Of State looking like a festooned mall rat circa 1991 due to an 89 cent plastic comb securing her unkempt hair. What bothers me more than the hair clip is the headline. Rocking? No matter how good of a job you think Clinton is doing or how much respect you have for her, there is nothing "rocking" about her look.
As a matter of fact, I'm going to disco burn the phrase "rocking" right now. It's hereby retired. When someone used to say something "rocked" it meant that it was edgy, vogue and executed with the confidence of a worshiped musical genius slinging sex around like whip. Just like "amazing" and "over the moon
" the term "rocking" has jumped the shark and ain't coming back. Overused. Killed. Meaningless.
Take for example, mini vans. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that read "Mini Vans Rock!" anchored to a mobile ship full of scrubbed-clean kiddos on their way to expensive lessons. While it may be productive and gleefully inside the moral code, there is nothing rocking about this scenario, folks. Nothing. As a matter of fact, driving a mini-van is the opposite of setting a guitar on fire as a crescendo of screams sends a topless audience into a fit of frenzy.
Look, I'm a mom too. I'm also a preschool teacher, a blogger (sorry bloggers, we're the d-list of media) and I drive a giant non-rocking wagon with plenty of safety features at exactly the speed limit. I hang out at church. I eat nutritious meals and make it to bed by 10:00 PM. I have retired my tube tops, fishnets and naked romps in the Viagra Triangle fountain and I would never, ever be offended that someone did not use the term rocking to describe me.
Let's let the dangerous sex-pots have their word back, shall we? In short, let's quit rocking the term "rocking". It's dead.Trent Reznor? Rocking.
Clinton's fingered faux pas? Not rocking.
What to do when it's your fault
So you blew it. Mistakes are human. How you handle it says more about you than your goof and the implications of the mistake depends more on the circumstances than the severity. This can work in your favor! If you have the upper hand in a failing boyfriend situation, for example, you can get away with murder. If you are me, and you flaked on a class of preschoolers today, you better think of something fast.
1. Own up and the quicker the better. Except for traffic violations, the quicker you step up to your mistake, the better the outcome will be for you. Hoping no one finds out is a great day dream, but the reality is that the longer you wait to fess up, the worse it gets and the less control you have.
2. Assess what you actually did. Did you cost people money? Hurt some feelings? Or just make yourself look bad?
3. Fix it. Stay late, restitch all your seams, do what you have to do to make amends. In my case I have to thank (and pay) the person who stepped in for me when I flaked.
4. Apologize. Why is the modern "I'm sorry" always tempered with "you feel that way" or "if I did something wrong". "I'm sorry" should be just that.
5. Defuse your fears. Waiting on a response to your fess-up email from the grand poobah? Calm yourself with the worst case scenario. You might get fired, fined, dumped or incarcerated so prepare for it. Then if you just get a warning it's a bonus!
6. Count your blessings. Say the worst does happen - what will you still have? If the cuddles of your children and your favorite "Oprah" mug remain on the horizon for you tomorrow, it ain't that bad.
Censorship and Joe The Blogger
Chicago Now editors are under fire for allegedly succumbing to pressure from Time Out Chicago Editor-In-Chief/General Manager Frank Sennett to remove a series of blog posts on Arresting Tales
, a Chicago Now blog written by a veteran cop. The two posts in question outlined a "template" for the aftermath of urban police murders, generalizing witness statements and standardizing legal fallout as it specifically related to the recent police murder of George Lash.
Critics of the Arresting Tales posts accused Joe The Cop, the blog's author, of being insensitive to the plight of young black America, in addition to more serious accusations like racism and ignorance. The posts received numerous reader comments, most in support of the post. Links to the Arresting Tales posts in question were initially published by Chicago Now's twitter feed and Facebook, yet were removed nearly three days later, citing non-compliance with the Chicago Now Blogger Guidelines. Chicago Now issued a statement regarding the deleted posts here
Some are calling this move "censorship" and have become angry. Others feel the original post was too insensitive to the families of the victims of police brutality.
Bigger questions this event raises are the duties of a newspaper to its publics (readers rights to truth, bloggers rights to speech, editor's rights to edit) and the question of free speech in general. Is offending someone worth censorship? Are bloggers journalists?
(Read Sennett's thoughts on the matter here.
Oktoberfest as authentic as T-Bell
Well that was a flop. We attended Oktoberfest Chicago in Lakeview today expecting to see something German. It was a flood of American beer and the usual boring menu of every other Star Events production: chinese food, elephant ears, you know the drill. Yes, I suppose there was a booth for German food which amounted to brats (you win) and potato pancakes. But was this really an Oktoberfest? I saw a lot of Hofbrau signs and yet not a drop of it in sight.
Up the upside, the $5 donation did get us privy to some kiddie crafts and animal balloons which by the way, were also not German.
Eh. It was the last street fest of the summer. I'm sure I'll be chompin' at the bit for that fit-for-school-lunch fried rice in a few months. See ya then, Chicago.Speaking of authentic, check out this amazing monkey!
How to instruct your mother-in-law
Throwing my hands in protest, then finally being seduced by my husband's logic, I have been talked into leaving our baby behind while we travel to Italy next week. Five thousand miles and an ocean will separate me from a human who, at one time, lived under my ribcage. This will be tough.
Enter: My mother-in-law.
This kind and capable woman has raised two fine, functioning children of her own, right? My hubs and his sister not only have all their limbs and speak in sentences but have flourishing careers! Homes and children of their own! They have not choked on grapes or drown to their deaths in bath tubs in 6 inches of water. As a matter of fact, I've never seen either of them chew on a power cord. I have every reason to trust my mother-in-law's parenting and yet . . . I wrote her a five page email detailing the nuances of sippy cups.
Since you have other things to do today besides nerd out on my entire instruction manual (cleverly titled, "Bianca's Instruction Manual") I will hit the meeting minutes of what needs to be included if you ever leave instructions for an over night sitter.
- Hotel and Flight information. Obvious, right? Don't forget to include a note that says DO NOT CALL unless it is a true emergency. If I get a cryptic message from the concierge desk that my mother-in-law is looking for me, I'll assume everyone is dead back home and Chicago is nothing but a smoking crater. Don't call to say hello, Oma.
- Doctor information and health insurance card. Besides the actual information, pack a thermometer with a clear note that says, "if this says 104.0 or higher, go straight to the nearest emergency room." Subtext: Don't screw around trying to figure out what hospital is best for Dr. Kimball, just help my kid, please.
- Schedule. Babies run on a timeline. Anyone who has their own baby knows this, but someone who hasn't had a toddler in their house since the Carter administration might forget that nap time is essential and it happens at noon.
- Food. Unless you lay out exactly what your child can and cannot have, your little vegetarian might get "just a taste" of some Choking Hazard Sausage. Then you will be getting that note from the concierge at the hotel.
- Clothes. Hey, I'm anal. I bundled each of her outfits in purdy ribbon and attached notes for what type of weather they are suited for. Feel free to just stuff a pack of diapers and a dozen onesies in a bag, but don't come crying to me when you see pictures of this memorable week with Grandma and your child is immortalized looking homeless.
- Discipline. Do you want to come home to a toddler who has been allowed to write with pen, throw toys and suck on a binky until her teeth have caved inward? Yeah, welcome home, Mom. You get to spend three weeks quelling screams for sugar cookies for dinner unless you set a few ground rules with gramps.
- Dictionary. Would you know that bee-beez were raisons if no one told you? Neither would your mother-in-law so you need to write a baby dictionary! Most of what Bianca says is clear ("NO!" being a particular classic) but for kehs and huts and pezzez, ole Oma has herself a cheat sheet.
And in anticipation of our certain deaths, I have clearly outlined custodial people and laid a handwritten letter to Bianca right next to our life insurance policy.
Bon voyage, baby!
Thank, bitch! Commenting on pregnant bellies
"How many babies are you carrying in there?"
"You're not due 'till February? Aren't you, I dunno . . . BIG?"
These fabulous comments are just a taste of the astounding breach of etiquette that otherwise polite women have graced upon me recently. One yesterday sized up my arms and legs, "They seem normal," ( thanks?) but summed up my 5-month-pregnant midsection with, "but your belly is so HUGE". The astute finger on her chin lent a clinical quality to her assessment.
What is it about the sight of a pregnant lady that dissolves the filter between the brain and mouth? Would you tell an obese person they are enormous, or would you think it in your mind like a lady?
Hey, I'm 5'2". My body is like a spark plug with all the grace of one and I happen to gestate big ole healthy babies in the 99% percentile who take after their towering great uncles. I'm like a toy poodle with recessive doberman genes. When I get pregnant, it gets scary. And quick. Then I spend two days in labor, three hours pushing and the rest of my life looking up at the face I gave birth to like a mini drill sergeant with Spartan troops.
But it ain't nunya business, ladies at the park. So shut it.
Back to eating a bowl of chili for breakfast . . .
Naughty Vatican pics + KaBoom! Blowing The Lid On Pompeii
Blogging live from Italy!
Hey, maybe I have the humor of an 8th grade boy. Or maybe I'm (dare I admit) bored of soaking in so much knowledge on historical tours. Not to rub it in, but I've actually already been to the Sistine Chapel and done the museum bit in Rome, so this second time around is a little, well, let's just say it needs some spice. How about . . . dirty pictures hidden in all the gilded pomp!
Michaelangelo did, after all, shock the people of his day by recreating the life of Jesus and the saints on the pope's private chapel surfaces in full nude! This caused so much shock that his apprentice had to come along and paint towels over the naughty bits after he was too old to protest. Thankfully for me and my yawns, some of those naughty bits still shine through. Looks like ole Michealangelo and I have some things in common. Let's take a peek, shall we?
___________________KaBoom! Blowing The Lid On Pompeii
One site I missed when I was a tube-topped, backpacking college sophomore living on my credit card in Europe was Pompeii, the site of a volcanic explosion that entombed its residents for more than 2,000 years.
Here's the myth we all grew up with: One sunny day, a town called Pompeii was alive and going about its morning when all of a sudden a volcanic mountain behind it exploded out of nowhere. The ash and lava stopped the residents in their tracks, killed them instantly and preserved them in their very moments of death. Flash forward to semi-modern time and some archeologist fellows dusted off their city and dug them up. Now you can walk the ruins of Pompeii and see the streets and homes littered with bodies posed just as they were that fateful morning. Gets you scared of that hill in your back yard, huh?
First, the people there had plenty of warning in the form of smoke and falling ash before the big explosion, so most of them fled or died at the beach waving for help from ships. That left only the invalid or stubborn in their homes to die, after hours and hours of light ash turning into heavy ash and finally the fatal lava. So the city today, while you may see some great half-built brick walls and even a salacious bordello (pictures later, perv) you will only see a handful of bodies frozen in time.
Two, about the bodies. They are not the actual bodies of those who died in the ash nor were they left where they were discovered. They are plaster molds that filled the space left vacant by their decomposed flesh inside their lava tombs (a technicality) and they are encased in glass. Mostly the plaster molds were relocated to a nearby museum, but you can still see about three of them in the ruins. The ruins are expansive. I'd say they are about the size of the entire Chicago Loop, so wear flats and choose sunscreen over looking cute in your Facebook photos (see: all my errors).
Finally, for anyone googling day trips to Pompeii from Rome, there is a train that leaves for Naples every hour from the Tremini station. Cough up the cash and take the high speed Travaitalia train, then buy a cheap ticket at the transfer at Naples and make your way to Pompeii. The return is just as easy, as trains run to Naples every half hour from Pompeii. I feel the need to put this out there because the interwebs are amuck with false information, like that the train only leaves at 9:00 from Rome and other such shite. You're welcome.
Get some self-esteem, Bella!
Okay, I know I'm late, but I finally bit. For entertainment on the ten-hour plane ride home from Italy my options were USA Today, the Sky Mall catalog or one of those vampire novels. Fine. I'll read a vampire novel. Hey, maybe I've been wrong for being such a hold-out. Maybe the icy weird skin of that Edward fellow actually is a big crush-inducer? Besides, I was curious as to what those "Team Jacob" t-shirts are about.
230 pages into New Moon and I can tell you a few things. First, Bella has some serious issues. Um, excuse me? You want to become dead for a fleeting high school boyfriend who, by the way, spent no money on your birthday? You're all "please kill me and take away my soul" and he's all "gotta run!" I know I'm 30 and wiser and naturally attracted to those with a pulse, but you aren't going to score a good man by being a doormat. I wouldn't even give up my window seat to a man who lists me as his IRA beneficiary, do you think I'm going to give up my soul to some guy whom I have to beg to drive by my house? Girl, please.
Now let's talk about Edward. How is this guy hot? I can see the razor teeth giving him an edge of danger, but yellow eyes and the effeminate quality of being scared of sunshine are just not turn-ons. Jacob I can see. He's tall and can fix things, but he's still using Bella to fund his dirt bikes! BELLA. Get some self-esteem. Seriously.
No, I didn't finish the book and I probably won't. I don't have to. I'm sure there's a series of Edward reappearces after 100's of pages of Bella being depressed that he dumped her ass for another cloudy climate (not even a note? He's not that into you) and then I'll bet there's some kind of showdown between Jacob's do-gooder gang and the not-so-bad-themselves vampire clan, but really? Why waste the saliva to turn the pages. I have a house to clean.
Good luck, Bella. I have a feeling you'll find a way to become a vampire anyway because settling for matching Vans doesn't stick it to your parents enough. I've been there. We've all been 18. I just hope you're smart enough to put your soul in a safe deposit box in case you change your mind later and don't, DON'T, get pregnant before you are 28.Oh, and you're smoking? Do what you want, but that
will cost you a lot of money in Botox later. I'm not telling
you these things because it benefits me.
No eyeliner today - UPDATED!
Ninety-three minutes from now we have a Level II ultrasound at Prentice Women's Hospital. That's the big dog ultrasound that takes two hours and they can see everything from a heart defect to a curly pinky on my unborn babe. Ironically, they can't determine for absolute sure if my child actually has Down Syndrome or not.
Just to get you caught up, we had a positive screen for Down Syndrome in the first trimester. We were given options for further invasive testing (that carried risks of losing the baby) and then possible termination. Hey, my politics on the matter are "what you do with your business is your business" but for me personally, I'm just not a terminating kind of gal.
To get information in a safer way, we had to wait until the baby was big enough to peer into her little heart. The main scare with Down Syndrome kids is the function of that organ. In 40% of DS cases, there are heart problems. A smaller percentage of that group will not live to see their first birthday. Yikes.
So. In eighty-seven minutes we could see a perfectly formed baby, or we could see a heart defect or any number of other scary bits. I might cry. I will cry. That's why I have to skip the eyeliner and smear on the waterproof mascara. A girl's gotta look good, right?
I may be biased, but I've never seen a cuter heart with lovelier chambers! Apparently we are free and clear of any soft markers for Down Syndrome and her little heart is structured like a perfect little pumper.
Some folks have all these same results and still go on to have a Down Syndrome baby, but come on. Am I supposed to sit around and worry the rest of my life? So she still has a 1:175 chance! All of us American ladies have a 1:8 chance of getting breast cancer and you mix that in with heart disease, car accidents and slipping on banana peels and you can spend your life crying in a bowl of soup.
Or you can spend the afternoon on your porch watching the leaves turn pretty colors in perfect 75 degree weather. Option B, please!Here's my newest boo in nifty 3D
Hide your wife! Antoine Dodson makes it big on BET
You remember Antoine Dodson
, the brother of the attempted burglary victim in the Huntsville, AL projects who shot to fame after the clip of his eye witness account went viral. He was auto-tuned, remixed, ringtoned and silkscreened into an overnight sensation.
And he's back! In case you missed the BET awards last night (for shame!) here is the clip below of Antoine Dodson himself performing his You Tube hit.
Antoine Dodson for prez! You can run and tell that, homeboy.
Fall Vegetarian Dinner Party Menu (for people you don't have to impress)
Apologies to my friend Stacey, but her family has been relegated to "eh, they like us already so who cares if the squash is oily?" which is one step above "let's not change out of our pajamas for them". Maybe that's a compliment?
In the spirit of sharing, let's discuss what I've been serving this week anyway!Roasted Butternut Squash & Spinach
The "roasted" part sounds fancy, but all you do is peel and dice a hard squash, sprinkle some olive oil on it with salt and pepper and bake the pieces in 400 degrees until tender. Meanwhile, sautee a red onion in olive oil, wilt a package of fresh spinach and then combine all the ingredients in a serving dish. Spritz a little lemon juice and you've got yerself a meal.
Tip: Don't go crazy on the oil unless you have incriminating pictures of your dinner guests to keep them from complaining. Otherwise, this is surprisingly tasty!Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas
Nuke a sweet potato for 6 minutes. Spend an entire day soaking/boiling/seasoning black beans with cumin and garlic salt. Fry up a few corn tortillas (eight to be exact) then stuff them with the potatos and beans, coat in taco sauce and monterey jack cheese and bake in a dish on 350 for 25 minutes.
Tip: Eff the warnings you're hearing about canned products and BPA
and open yourself a can of beans for step two. You will have dinner in less time than it takes Dora The Explorer to get to her annoying victory song.Pumpkin Spice Bread
The pumpkin famine is over! So gorge yourself on The Other Orange Fruit to the tune of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and half of the sugar the recipe calls for (you do know you can always halve the sugar, right? It's not considered a dry ingredient, so edit a cup right out whenever you want).
Also, replacing half the flour with whole grain flour and subbing a little applesauce for oil ain't too shabby of a way to feel good about yourself. Go ahead, cut someone off in traffic. You eat whole grains.This guy? Wouldn't dare complain about my food.*Yes, these are from Whole Foods which is not my favorite store but they are tasty and use all my ingredients. Let's blame Google. Thanks.
"That baby looks dead." Why blog commenters are assholes
Mario Lopez posed proudly with his infant daughter on the cover of this month's OK! magazine, yet among the congratulations, the story was also met with less-than-charming comments from anonymous blog readers all across the web. Here is just a sampling:
"Mario is a dirty douchebag taking the credit and leaving 'fatty' [the child's mother] to cry in the guest bedroom while he was having a pretty picture taken. He's a creep. Why is he holding a Chinese baby anyway?"
"This baby looks DOWN-y fresh"
"Just what America needs - another Mexican"
"Yep that baby looks dead. And Mario looks as if he's real glad about it."
So who are these people? Judging by their screen names, they are probably bored office workers pretending to process your cell phone bill or allocate your rent check to the appropriate account. That is to say, if you passed them in the street or bought your coffee from them in the morning, they seem completely normal. Maybe that's because they are.
Blog commenting tempts the inner evil in every day people. When we are held accountable for our actions, which is the crux of human society, a person wouldn't dare say something for which they aren't willing to handle the consequences. Would you tell that burly bouncer what you really think of his face? Of course not. But with the advent of the anonymous web presence, the most disgusting of human vitirol rolls off the keyboard with ease. There is no face to see the reaction. There is no consequence.
I consider myself a hardworking, kind person and everyone who knows me encourages me to keep writing. However I have been ripped up and down by internet trolls who go by nothing more that screen names like, "do me". Apparently I'm fat (130 pounds when I'm not pregnant), stupid (I have a degree and can play a pretty sharp game of Scrabble, thanksmuch) as well as selfish, horrible, thin-lipped, big-nosed, ugly, pompous and, my personal favorite, a person who "finds high-end party invitations on the floors of Forever 21 dressing rooms".
I'm not alone. Apparently blog trolling runs rampant and is especially prevalent on female-authored blogs. The most famous example is ole Dooce, a blog authored by award-winning Heather Armstrong. Her nasty blog comments were so numerous and horrible that she created a separate website (with high-paying advertising banners) called Monetize The Hate. Hey, girl's making a profit. I choose to hit delete.
The thing to focus on as a blogger, especially a hated, female blogger, is that these comments stem from the emotions of the commenter and have nothing to do with you. Certainly there has been an uglier girl than me who has dared to show her face in the streets and yet I am the target of nastiness because the commenter had a bad day. Or bad life. Bottom line is jealously is an ugly emotion and some people are tempted to unleash it into the comments section of your blog.
Screw 'em and keep writing.
Beginner's sewing luck + FAM CAM!
I'm a whiz kid, did I mention that? Sure, my profession yields the annual income of a paper boy but I'm a real whiz bang with figgirin' stuff out. Case in point: my new sewing machine. (New = a 1978 Viking model from my mother-in-law in signature mustard yellow). Bobbin? No problem. How to thread this beast? Hello, You Tube.
Two short weeks later, I have made three toddler dresses, a sleep sack and a comforter to match the nursery. I might have a future on Regretsy, sure, but in the mean time I'm cranking out consumables faster than a Nike sweat shop. Hey-o!
Observe.By "dress", I liberally mean "shirt" for my debut item.
You would be surprised how few girly toddler bedding
sets come in blue and yellow. Um, like zero
Also surprising, my blog has fans! These fine ladies drove here from KENTUCKY to have lunch with little old me. Me? Okay, they were also here for The Lion King, but still. Let me have my moment.My new pals Lindsay and Kelli!
Would you like to know that Lindsay in the red is oh, six weeks behind me in her pregnancy and this is what I look like . . .A biggun!
Unintentionally hilarious sewing book
My friend Chelsea Bells sent me a sewing book for my ole birFday (I'll be 31 flavors Sunday, if you must know) and it is her-larious.
The book is called Simple Sewing For Baby by a lady with an awesome name: Lotta Jansdotter. Lotta! Loves. Anyway, she has some great idearrs (a felt baby book that will take all of 20 minutes to make including a diaper break, cool fabric letters, baby bandanas!) but the real richness of the book is the commentary.
She'll be like, "Here are instructions for a handmade changing pad. I included this because I'm on the go taking trips to Japan, spending my evenings at galleries and meeting with the Finnish Consulate with a baby in tow. SEE, I'm important. I know you're using your changing pad during an intermediate moment of a non-organic dinner on the poop-encrusted plastic baby center inside a midwestern Chuck E. Cheese, probably burping up Diet Pepsi and getting the only workout your fat arms will see today, but me, I'm important. Also skinny. Here's your pattern."
Okay, so I paraphrased. I'm probably just bitter because this lady has a hardcover book for sale at national book stores and you know what? I kind of do have fat arms. Rats. Sewing book lady wins!Are you busy and amazing like Lotta? Me neither. But we can still craft felt books!
Money. Shopping. Gilt.
Hm, "members-only" shopping sites. Feels special. Right now I'm awaiting my application to high-end online boutique Gilt with the zeal of a freshman sorority hopeful. They promise "hand-selected styles [and] members-only prices". Hey, they already made good on the promise of an excellent event at the Peninsula this morning, so I have no doubt I'll be in for a little spendy treat should they let me in.
In the mean time, let's talk about this morning. I had the opportunity to meet with the founders of Gilt at a blogger brunch. There I inhaled all the fun facts about Gilt itself and met a handful of amazing bloggers.
In hearing the founder talk about their grass-roots marketing approach (no commercials, no gimmicks) I realized what usually sucks about online shopping. Price has been nailed to a science - thank you Google, Amazon and PriceGrabber - but what to buy in the first place is hard. For that, you usually have to go to real store.
Yeah. You try lugging a flailing toddler and a watermelon belly into Chicago's finest retail. You'll get the "attention Wal-Mart shopper in the building" side-eye and slink back to the sidewalk where you came from so your two-year-old can finish her protest without damage. It's a real treat if I ain't being too vague.
But Gilt? I'm feeling high hopes for this. Apparently they have just expanded to include a men's department, a children's department (yay for cute BOY clothes, for the millions of you in need) and, bated breath - A BRIDAL SECTION!
Yes, I'm already married but does that mean I will not spend hours imaginary veil-shopping? No, it does not. Maybe I'll even have a vow-renewal ceremony after all these damn kids are finished being born. Yeah! When I'm chic and skinny again, I'll have a great, big do-over complete with a birdcage hat and an off-white pencil suit.
Hurry up and let me in, Gilt!
In the mean time, wouldn't these shoes look amazing on me as nibble the end of a fabric pencil at my new sewing machine? Say . . . YES!A Spring '11 Louboutin shoe, which looks rather useful in a pinch.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
1. Isn't my baby a doll?
Whoops, this was taken a month ago, but ain't she sweet?!
2. I bought the domain highglossandsauce.com
but all it does is redirect to the Tribune blog. That way if I ever get tired of writing that one or they piss me off, I can just redirect that address back here and no one gets confused. Except I now have three addresses and two blogs. Right. Hm.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
_____________________________So . . .
I feel like kind of a dork asking this, but if you haven't done so already please be my fan
. Why now? Why all of a sudden do I have a Facebook Fan Page? Here's the skinny: in order to get my paycheck from the Tribune (I will never get sick of saying that) I have to keep a certain readership on the Tribune affiliated blog ChicagoNow
, the new place I put my daily drivel.
For the time being this is working out. I'll keep this site for my (HI MARIA) mother-in-law rants and mountains of baby pictures. For less personal, daily funnies I'll be over there. Hopefully collecting Facebook fans and selling out to the masses.
What. Kiwi is totally a fork food.
Friday, March 19, 2010
_____________________Spring is springing
We were outside all day! As we stunk of SPF 70, we discovered lady bugs, talked about trees, grass, the lake and sang songs, ate crackers, and walked walked walked walked. This all occurred at two beaches, two play dates and the playground. That's why I'm sitting here eating cocoa almonds. It's all I can do.
Also, it makes me sad to see this blog die, so I guess I'll just write two sites until I get over it.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
_________________15 month appointment
I'm not sure when to quit doing these. At some point, Bianca will be a lady and not think it's cool that I tell the world how much she weighs. Already I kind of don't care about the percentages any more. She's tall and skinny with a normal head, but here are her stats anyway.
One more thing: she's finally putting two words together! She'll be like, "mama, crack" or "mama, ball".
I have a cool pic of her today, but I'll have to dig it up.
12-16-08: Birth, 7 lbs, 15oz/20.75 inches, unknown head circumference
12-22-08: 1 week, 7 lbs, 11 oz (50%) /20.75 inches (90%)/ 30% head
12-30-08: 2 wks, 8 lbs, 3 oz (50%) /21 inches (75%) /25% head circ.
1-13-09: 4 wks, 9 lbs, 6 oz (50%) /22.25 inches (90%)/14 inch head circ. (50%)
2-10-09: 8 wks, 11 lbs, 2 oz (50%) /23.5 inches (75%)/15 inch head circ. (25%)
4-14-09: 4 mos, 14.0 lbs (50%) /26.5 inches (>95%) /16 inch head circ. (25%)
6-16-09: 6 mos, 16 lbs, 6 oz (50%) /27.5 inches (95%) /16.5 in head circ. (38%)
9-15-09: 9 mos, 17 lbs, 14 oz (30%)/28.5 in (85%)/17.25 in head circ (50%)
12-18-09: 12 mos, 19 lbs, 8 oz (25%)/30.5 in (90%)/17.75 in head circ (50%)
3-16-10: 15 mos, 20 lbs, 6 oz (25%)/30.75 in (75%)/18 in head circ (50%)
Monday, March 15, 2010
_______________NEW BLOG! EXCLAMATION POINT!
I'm going try out a new gig. Please flood my first post on the Tribune affiliate site, Chicago Now, with tons of comments. Not because I deserve it, but because you are so nice
Begin the flooding here
Sunday, March 14, 2010
We drove to St. Charles for brunch with Niko's old boss. Shall I discuss the FOOD? Yes. I had a dish called Eggs Tuscano, which included all my favorite things: spinach, mushrooms, cheese, breakfast, and sharing.
Now we are home and heading on a walk to the lake. YAY SPRING!
It was not warm and seven blocks is longer than I remembered.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Skip this if you are bored with my cooking. I had to entertain my other mother-in-law today (I am blessed with two, yay) and I had to serve something. How about bagels!
This took me a few tries to figure out, but after consulting a bunch of different bagel recipes I think I have nailed it.
Bread 101: for every cup of water, you need 1 tablespoon yeast and one tablespoon gluten flour. Keep that in mind for changing the quantities. This recipe makes 6.
First, I put one cup of warm water in a bowl and add a few squirts of honey. The more the better, but I'll bet there is a law of diminishing returns after a tablespoon or so. Stir in yeast and let it sit for 8-10 minutes. It should get really foamy.
Start adding in flour and put in the tablespoon gluten. No set amount of flour, but stir it in a 1/3 cup at a time until it becomes obvious you need to pick it up and knead it. I use half white flour and half whole wheat. If I make it all whole wheat it feels like I'm eating wood.
Knead for 10 minutes and set aside while you wash the original bowl and pour a little olive oil in it. Put the dough in the bowl and roll it around until it's covered in oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and put in the cold oven. If you have a drawer-warming feature, turn it on and the bread will rise easier. Go live your life for an hour (or two).
Come back and punch the dough down. Use a knife (important, do not rip the dough. You have to slice it with a knife so you don't ruin the gluten strands you have worked to hard to form). Divide it into six pieces, gently form them each into a ball and poke a hole in the middle. Your bagels should look like giant, soggy Cheerios - make the holes pretty big because they will shrink!
Sprinkle corn meal on a cookie sheet (greasing a cookie sheet will fry the bottoms of your bagels, so don't do that). Set all six of them on the sheet and put it back in the cold oven to rise for another 30 minutes.
FUN STEP! Boil water, add a sprinkle of sugar, preheat over to 375. Boil the dough bagels for 30 seconds each. Some recipes say longer, but the longer you boil, the denser the bagel. If you like them dense, use more whole wheat and at least make it healthier. (Here
is a good explanation of the boiling process.)
Put the bagels back on the cookie sheet and bake for 22 minutes. Trust me, I have worked this recipe every which way and the gluten flour, the warming drawer while rising, the second rise, the 30 second boiling and the 22 minutes are fruits of my science.
Last step, serve to your mother-in-law with a plate of Girl Scout Cookies in your pajamas. Done!
Friday, March 12, 2010
On Saturdays when I was a kid, I used to sit behind a mountain of my dad's shirts, pressing them flat one by one because I had misbehaved. The time between school letting out on Friday and Star Search coming on the next afternoon was enough time for me to get myself in hot water somehow. Sassing? That was the usual culprit. Shirt after shirt was my punishment. At least I could watch TV.
To this day, I do not iron. My mother-in-law presses my linens when I have dinner parties and anything else is either wrinkled or sent out. I hate ironing. I even hate the smell of starch.
Instead of punishment, I'm making my child's chores matter-of-fact! Bianca has three jobs: putting daddy's fresh socks away, shutting the dishwasher when we run a load and putting the plastic containers she "explores" back in the drawer in the kitchen.
She has also taken it upon herself to take out her pigtails at the end of the day. Overachiever!
Bianca's day look
Letting her hair down before bed
Thursday, March 11, 2010
It would have been awesome
I wish I could have shown you the fab execution of this recipe
and all the adorable pictures I took of Bianca in her new rain coat. But instead I got carried away on a phone call and 1. burned the pine nuts to a fine black crisp and 2. dropped my camera and broke the lens.
The day has been loverly.
The other thing going on is my mother-in-law spent a full 24 hours educating me on various subjects AND found her way to my blog. Hi, Oma!
Before I display the grainy images of my disasters caught on my cell phone, I guess I could recap dinner at Ranalli's
last night: I'm not usually into places with fancy tablecloths but powdered parmesan (if you're a dive, be a dive), but the pasta primavera with marinara was rather delish. Oma and I started drinking at 4:00. By the time we munched on chili chocolate for dessert, I was wiped.
Oh, and I do things besides eat. Like have play dates in the mud and make returns at Target. Now on to the pictures of my culinary failure.
Swiss Chard With Tomatoes And Feta, Missing Pine Nuts
The missing pine nuts.
Added after dinner: I have to say, this swiss chard dish was was pretty tasty. Something with the sweetness of the onion, sour of the cooked tomatoes and bitterness of the greens adds up to Y-E-S.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Dude. I just spent three minutes in the kitchen and emerged with butter.
I read somewhere that you can turn heavy cream into butter if you shake it long enough. So I was thinking a few hours, right? They were like, "shake it till your arms get tired, then pass it to a different family member until you finally get a lump." Right. Then why did God make blenders?
I poured a carton of cream into the blender, then blasted it for 30 seconds before I realized I made whipped cream. Whoops. But it ended up being the right thing to do because I just scooped the whipped cream into a container, shook for like 2 minutes and BOOM. Butter. Organic butter that only cost me $2.99.
At the end, you're supposed to rinse your lump under cold water then fold in salt. Delish!
Monday, March 08, 2010
___________________________Does this baby look sick? UPDATED
I don't think so either, but she's had a toasty little temperature for two days now. It was 105.26 at it's zenith last night. That may have been a fluke, though, because I immediately took it again and got 103.72. Still not wonderful, but it kept us out of the E.R. Whew!
Since I will be home the rest of the day - nay for a quick trip to the pediatrician, where they will charge me a $20 co-pay to take her temperature and prescribe rest - I may as well cook.
My organic box
this week was stuffed with all kinds of goodies that I have no idea what to do with. Turnips? Swiss chard? I dug up a few recipes and I'll report my results later.
In the mean time, wish us luck at the doc. This is so annoying.
Since the baby didn't want to sleep, we played with piggy banks at 4:00 AM.
Yes, they did take my $20 and no, there is nothing wrong with her. Note for future self: when in doubt, schedule an afternoon appointment so if the kid perks up, you can stay home and count your duckets like the cheap house frau that you are!
Update #2: Yes, curry stinks up the place. I tried this recipe
, omitted the red pepper and besides a quick dash to Jewel for curry powder, I already had the ingredients. Want to know something gross? I found the package of corn in the bottom of the freezer. It had been there since, oh, July. SICK! Also: don't care!
As for the food itself, I have to say this Vegetarian Chickpea Curry with Turnips is pretty yum. It wasn't quite spicy enough for me, so I added paprika. B still ate it! She may have a fever, but her stomach is made of steel like always.
I realize now how many times I have unwittingly eaten turnips in Indian dishes. I thought I hated them because when I was a kid my mamaw's dog peed on a turnip in her garden. That was real headline news in my family and the story has been repeated ad nauseum. Rover And The Turnip, 1986. But I was wrong and they are delicious!
Not sure why this has become a food blog, but humor me.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Not to gloat
And I know this is LIKE DUH, but I did call
Mo'Nique being nominated and eventually winning Best Supporting Actress. Ommmm, I will also gain 3 pounds this week from eating Girl Scout Cookies and Chicago will continue to ban guns (pending decision in early June).
Lastly, I predict I would look fab in this hat.
Venue: Annoyance Theater, 4830 N. Broadway, Chicago
Cost: $15/tic + booze money
Wow, it was like this was written for us! Stacey and I took our time getting Greygoose martinis in the lobby, so the only seats not taken were front and center. Everyone else was smart enough to know that might be trouble. It is an improv theater, after all.
Kink has an all female cast that brings scary, hilarious light to the trappings of the housewife life. Yes, we do wear fitness attire all day and gossip. Yes, we do watch Oprah, quote statistics from the internet and post dominatrix ads on Craig's List. How do you think we snagged our men in the first place? Kidding!
I'd say the star of the show was a blonde named Mikala Bierma
. Man, if I could sing like that and wear her shade of pink lipstick, I would not be sitting here in my pile of coupons in my jams. I'd be waiting for my close-up with a feather boa around my neck. Divine!
Oh, and she raps. Even better.
The real housewives of Chicago
Friday, March 05, 2010
16 short years
One of those crisp fall days in late 2026, when I'm putting my hair into a bun on my rocker, I will get a bill in the mail. Hopefully, it will be for nominal room and board fees from a prestigious private university where my daughter will have earned a full scholarship. Ah, a girl can dream!
More likely, I will owe Bianca's first semester college tuition. Sure, I could be like my parents (and their parents before them) and say "sink or swim, kid!" with a parting gift of a set of chipped dishes. But if I'm willing to forgo socks without holes to keep her in organics now, I may as well face the fact I'll be selling my kidneys to keep her in school then.
I'd like to keep my kidneys.
You may recall when I was four months pregnant with our little wonder, I went car shopping. I demanded the biggest, safest, mommest car I could get my hands on. It's worth mentioning (and admitting) I required a little pizazz. After all, I used to wear $10 shoes and slept on a mattress on the floor. I waitressed my way through college and drove an 18-year-old Dodge through the Taco Bell drive-through and there were occasions I did not have the 69 cents, plus tax, for dinner. I'll be damned if I was going to keep it a secret that I was fancy now. Thank you, Facebook.
I decided on the Mercedes-Benz R350 and named it Scott. I leased good ole Scott on an "employee special" and have blinged inappropriately around my green, progressive neighborhood ever since. Scott was egged on his first Halloween and once had a potted plant chucked at him in the street. He is not popular. And he doesn't even fit in the garage.
In an effort to make a more peaceful life, I will start over this fall. Smaller automobile. More savings. Better future. I will no longer be the asshole driving Scott.
Hopefully driving a less ostentatious car will put me out of danger of flying potted plants and have the added benefit of enabling me to pay that '26 tuition bill. Or take Bianca on a safari to celebrate her scholarship.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Stews You Can Use
I was five steps away from my hood mama friend's door for an impromptu play date yesterday (read: cooing over her new babe, Gabe + complaint session) when my celly rang. What? Oh, yes I did indeed forget my mother-in-law was coming over for dinner. And to spend the night. Beginning in 35 minutes.
We still play dated for 20 of those minutes though, then I ran my buns back to my house for some GENIUS stew making. Seriously, how genius is this: I sauteed garlic and an onion in a pot so the whole house smelled like dinner (mwahahaha) and bought myself a few minutes to do some thinking and mess-hiding.
I added water to the pot, cut up a piece of celery, shredded three carrots and added salt. Boom, veggie broth, right? I set a little aside for my vegetarian self and carried on. Somewhere in the cobwebs of my brain I remember my little Mamaw telling me how to make dumplings. Flour + water + shortening rolled out and sliced. I did it and threw it in my stews. Then I cut up some chicken and tossed it in the meat eater pot.
It simmered for a while and they ate it! It was good! Not to be all I'm-so-awesome (but who am I kidding?) it was *so* good that I was dying to make it again today. I had more time so I added the step of pureeing the broth in the blender before adding the little dumplings. And of course I took pictures. Because I do that.
Veggie broth, mmmmm
This is one of B's new favorites.
Oma has hair again! She's all done with chemo and her last radiation treatment is next week. Yay!
Take three! Stacey and I braved the #151 bus route to the Nature Museum
today. Our kids went loco in the play area, braved some fake reptiles and were oddly unphased by the butterflies diving at their heads in the Butterfly Haven.
That last part is a greenhouse where 1,000s of butterflies can be seen up close. A little too close, if you ask me. One of them wanted to go home with Stacey. Butterflies are cool in pictures and one by one, but you get a million of them swarming your head and they are like any other bugs. Gross. Also a wee depressing: seeing all the dead ones.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Wait! I was there!
This just in: apparently I did attend Bianca's tea party yesterday.
Me + 4 babies = resting on the floor
Gun Laws and Gun Flaws
With that out of the way, I will now complain about gun laws. The City Of Chicago's gun ban is being challenged this week in the Supreme Court. Great. More reasons to move. Maybe you haven't seen the characters lurking around the crack houses in my neighborhood, but let's just say I don't need to make it any easier for them to kill me.
One argument in favor of ready access to guns goes like like this (Tribune, March 1
Gun-rights activists have argued that striking down the Chicago gun ban would actually lead to safer neighborhoods by giving citizens the ability to arm and defend themselves.
Oh! I get to defend myself! Me. An anti-gun vegetarian who pays taxes (10.25%, by the way) gets to bear the burden of keeping my neighborhood safe. Then what do we need police for? And why have laws at all? Let's live by street justice. Anarchy. All six million of us here in Chicago can just hunt our own meat in the rat-infested alleys and settle turf wars with machetes.
Look, if you choose to live in the country and desire the type of lifestyle where you can prop your shotgun next to an unlocked door, great. This is a big nation and we have enough real estate to cater all around.
If, however, you want to benefit from the resources of a large community (world class museums, ample libraries, 7-foot-tall city cops who could stop your pulse) then you have to give up certain individual freedoms. It's a fact. You pay more tax in the city and have less personal space. Rent is high. Summers are hot. And you should not be able to freely purchase a murdering device.
I don't live in a rural area. I do not want to own a gun, nor do I want to raise my own chickens. I am an American who wants to live her life as she sees fit: in a large city with a gun ban. Why is my right to a peaceful, cultured environment not a priority? Why does it feel less important than the conservative agenda? I respect the way other people want to live and they should respect my community's lifestyle.
I'm not trying to go to Texas and complain about guns. I wouldn't go to the equator and complain about the heat, either. But The City Of Chicago lured me in on a certain premise eight years ago and if the federal government could please mind it's own business, like conservatives claim to want, that would be rad.
Move to Houston if you want to shoot things in the city.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Did I say two of Bianca's friends were going to wear dresses today? Make that three. The rooster in the hen house, Thierry, dressed himself in drag by the end of the tea party because really, who can resist a frock with bows?
Bianca's menu included peanut butter finger sandwiches, alphabet shaped cookies, caffeine-free mint tea, cheese wafers and the camp favorite: grape-and-blueberry fruit medley.
Ava, Bianca and Karyssa at the new craft table
Thierry is overwhelmed at escorting three ladies
Then he makes an escape.
Malin, our birthday buddy's mama
Shannon makes an elegant tea face
Presto-chango! Thierry in a tux dress.
Monday, March 01, 2010
Thanks to my mad sales skillz on Craig's List
, I'm now $20 richer and have 42" x 76" of space back in our play room. I sold the the twin bed we had in there, which meant we spent the day in disarray prepping for its departure. Disarray = fun = mischief = me saying "no" = tears. Repeat.
That bloody nose was so awesome yesterday. I want another.