Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Dangerous List

My office closed early today! That would be swell if it weren't the end of the month, quarter and year and if I didn't have a great deal more work to do before the midnight hour. Closing early today meant I found a handy stopping point and brought my work home with me because everyone was leaving and I have no idea what the building alarm code is. Still, a break is in order. So, I'm doing something extremely risky and posting my New Year's resolutions. For awhile, I refused to make any, because it's so cliche and because I never kept them (largely because I usually made them while drunk - always a mistake.) But now I have some things I'd like to get done and I might as well start with everyone else, on the 1st of the year. I will keep the list short, so as to cut back on the failures I must admit on this day next year.

1. Fix my knees. I have a congenital (this means, something I was born with and does not have anything do with my genitals. Keith.) issue with my patellas. The ligaments are literally slack and won't hold them in place. I'm fine walking but when I try to run all hell breaks loose (along with my patellas). It's extremely painful. Back when I was about 15 I was told strengthening the muscles around my knees would help profoundly but I ignored that advice until today. I've gotten a complete list from my chiropractor of things I should be doing. Many of them are little moves I can do while reading or watching TV so I have no excuses. In 2009, I will make my knees stronger and maybe in 2010, I will run!

2. Make my home non-toxic. I'm working on removing the icky commercial cleansers and whatnot from the house and replacing them with homemade or earth-muffin-hippie-stuff cleaners. And I'm adding more houseplants. I have a long way to go, though. I wonder what's IN JetDry...?

3. Fix my career. I know, terribly vague for a 12-month goal but I know what I mean. You only need to know enough to ask me, judgementally, if I've gotten around to that one yet. Please hold off until at least July. There's much to be done.

That's it. If I attempt anything else I will probably hurt myself. So wish me luck and the same to you, whatever it is that you do do. Most of all, Happy New Year!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Goal - Beat Level 37

Great news! I've completed my 36th year as of today without dying. Go me! I now advance to the next level. Some chicks are a little shy regarding their age but not me. I consider it a score. I'm 36 today and I am kicking the asses of 7-year-olds everywhere. It's probable I've inherited the Provost genes for longevity and I eat a lot of yogurt, so you can try to keep up but I'll most likely be declaring victory over most of you in another 50 or so years.

Today has been a nice day, primarily because it did not include my going to work. Sarah did appear in our room at 4:30AM loudly, repeatedly requesting that I get up and make her macaroni and cheese, but you take these things in stride when you're a mommy. ("Mommy - it's dark! Hungry mommy!") Jeremiah and I went to lunch, alone, at our favorite pub, The Brickstore, and the manager, Kelly, gifted me a Corsendonk Christmas ale. I love her. Here's a grainy phone photo of me celebrating my beer and its freeness. So happy. I'm wearing a turtleneck, and I think it makes my head look like it's floating above the body of a mime.

I still haven't opened my gift from the perceptive and creative Jeremiah, so I'm going to wrap this nonsense up and gets ta rippin'.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Whirlwind of Celebration

OK, let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. First, there was the Winter Solstice, which we began with brunch. I made the ham (prosciutto for us, please) and cheese biscuits with fig jam and heirloom grits and everyone complained I hadn't made enough. Sarah helped make the biscuits.

That evening, we continued our celebration of the return of the light with still more food and a surprising amount of alcohol. I made stuffed meatloaf which is even more fantastic than it sounds. You take ground beef and ground pork, mix it up with some Parmesan Reggiano and bread crumbs, then you roll it out, throw on some carrots, spinach, semi soft cheese of your liking and (to keep with a theme) prosciutto, roll it up like a jellyroll, pour on some olive oil and cook that bad boy for an hour or so. Also, I made an escarole salad. For dessert - lemon cream sandwich cookies. Then, because they would not be with us for Christmas, we exchanged gifts with Chris and Sonya. The girls opened their shared Solstice gift and Kate declared that she didn't want to watch porn.

After that round of guests departed with many hugs and well wishes and some of the remaining lemon cream sandwich cookies and after some cleaning and laundry, my parents arrived. Next up - Christmas Eve dinner with the Capes (Joy's family). Joy made appetisers and two fantastic soups and I made several breads, more cookies (more lemon, the double chocolate from Baking With Julia and ginger cookies that always taste like more). The girls opened gifts from Joy's parents, Charles and Lenora, and Sarah ran screaming and crying from Charles whenever he got too close. Oh, and I made my dad make the eggnog, which was delicious.

Kate and Sarah doled out some more chunks of the chocolate cookie dough so that Santa could have fresh cookies that night. I put those in the oven and while they baked, we went and threw the reindeer food Joy brought for the kids out on the front steps to entice 8 tiny reindeer. Then we had a torrential downpour, which turned the reindeer food to disgusting mush, but no one noticed it until late Christmas day.

At the impressively decent hour of 7:30AM Kate entered our room eyes sparkling, grin ear to ear, and said "Mommy, Daddy Santa ate ALL the cookies!" and with that, my Christmas was already made.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Too Busy Christmasing to Blog

Merry Christmas to all! Time to hit the delicious, homemade eggnog!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


On to something merrier*. Today we await the arrival of Chris and Sonya (and Jake and Ramona too. See them on the left here? Aren't they cute?) on their elongated trip from VA to FL via Nashville and Atlanta. In addition, we have Dave and Kelly (there they are on their way to New Orleans, having breakfast with us) back for a night on their way home to (a different part of) VA from New Orleans. So you see? Even if you avoid flying, you still have a layover in Atlanta. We'll be feeding them rack of lamb and I'm thinking I'll make Spanikopita for the vegetarian, so I humbly submit this layover is better than the usual, especially if you fly AirTran (Do love Starbucks and that chicken from Popeys? Then you'll love the AirTran gates at ATL!)

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, which, as some of you already know, we've chosen to celebrate Pagan style up in this piece. I have a book I enjoy all about the old celebrations of the Solstice and we have embraced the traditions we find fun or at all meaningful and added a couple of our own. Voila! Holiday! Bringing an evergreen tree inside and bedazzling it with lights covers two holidays, so, check. We also keep mistletoe hanging year round, as the Golden Bough is a sign of the fertility of life (not just babies, but creativity, wealth, happiness...all the things people want to multiply.) On the solstice we keep the fire in the fireplace (in our case, pillar candles to avoid burning the house to the ground) burning all day - the Winter Solstice you see, is a celebration of the return of light and the earth's rebirth. Hence, the light and the green plants inside. In addition, we feel the day should be filled with yummy comfort food. The kind of stuff folks love in the cold winter. It's tough this week, because it's been 70 degrees every day now, but we'll muddle through. So tomorrow, since we have visitors, we making Solstice brunch and Solstice dinner. I'll take pictures. You'll wish you were a NeoPagan like told us we are.

*I've not heard anything further regarding my co-worker's condition and will probably have to wait until Monday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


We must not forget the girls' teachers this holiday season. During the week, they end up spending more time with Kate & Sarah than we do. So tonight, we made peppermint bark for them, and we'll deliver them tomorrow in these cute little flower pots (props, Cindy!).

Traffic was a Nightmare Before Christmas coming from my office in Mall Land, so I arrived home later than planned. Knowing I needed to bring the pots filled with peppermint bark in tomorrow, I set straight to work on the goodies. It's difficult, though, to simply crank out treats in our kitchen without the aid of the kitchen assistants. Even if you really try. The peppermint bark requires little candies...and you must smash the candies. The kitchen assistants most definitely could not resist that. When Kate saw what I was undertaking with my rolling pin (a good bit of smashing) she sang out "I'll get mine!" and grabbed the mini rolling pin I bought for the girls to share a few weeks ago. She joyfully wielded her rolling pin, nearly smashing my hands while zealously pounding the star mints to sweet, sparkly powder. Sarah felt the smashing was much too noisy. She did, however, think the shards of candy were tasty. Once it was all over but the unwrapping, I made them march upstairs to bed with their Dad so I could get some real work done. But I missed them when they'd gone.
I love the kitchen assistants. Today I learned that a co-worker, who'd gone to the hospital for an early delivery of what was supposed to be her January infant, lost her baby. Worse, she nearly lost her own life and the latest news was that she'd been stabilized but was still in ICU. I hardly thought of anything else all day. I vacillated between crying at the thought of her going home to an empty nursery (or not at all) and reflecting on my outstanding, ridiculous, extremely good fortune. Tonight, while Kate & Sarah smashed candy and giggled and ate what had already been carefully measured for the recipe (sorry teachers, your mint's a hair shy), I still thought of my colleague and how a scene like this should have been in her near future. The girls, at least, got a lot of extra hugs and kisses, even though we were all very sticky. I hate to bring you down, but I'm hoping, internets, that you'll take just a moment to send good thoughts in the general direction of the ATL for my co-worker and her family for a speedy recovery and perhaps a night of making treats for teachers with their own kitchen assistants sometime very soon...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kate's Black & White Christmas

Kate & Sarah's school had their Winter Wonderland party this evening. There were arts and crafts, presents for all the kids, some songs and Santa stopped by! These things are tricky with 2 kids, as the events tend to take place in each classroom. Tonight when I arrived I went first to Kate's room. There was a platter of cookies out for all to enjoy and they were beginning some exciting crafts. When I asked Kate if she wanted to come with me to Sarah's room she insisted I bring Sarah to her. So I did. I persuaded Sarah, whose room was cookieless, to go to Kate's room where there were cookies. It wasn't hard. They made candy cane reindeer. OK, I made candy cane reindeer. Kate & Sarah supervised.

Next - music! The Pre-K classes sang their little hearts out. Kate kept her reindeer in hand because, with its red nose, it made a suitable prop for the opening number, Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. Each time they sang his name, she elevated her reindeer for emphasis. I proudly noted that none of the other kids had made this connection. Many were eating their reindeer. Sarah hung out with me while the big kids sang, complaining when people blocked her view.

Then Santa arrived. Sarah was terrified. She leapt into my arms and held on to me for dear life. We waited in the short line for Kate to sit on his lap while Sarah screamed unrelentingly "I don't wanna see Santa! I don't wanna see Santa!" Kate climbed into his lap, smiled for the camera (not mine, they were using the photo op as a fundraiser) and hopped off. As we left the school a little later, she made a point to tell Santa good-bye.

The girls' school is peopled predominantly by black kids. Sarah has yet to notice she is in the minority and Kate notices from time to time, but in a matter of fact manner. She's been there since she was Sarah's age and Sarah's pretty much always been there and they've known nothing but kindness, so I can't see why they'd be troubled by being one of the few pink kids. Fittingly, tonight's Santa was black. On the way home in the car I was trying to get Kate to sing for me some more. "I want to sing for Santa" Sarah mused (the big kids sang him We Wish You a Merry Christmas just before he was mobbed). "Well, I don't know, Sarah, " I replied "you seemed pretty terrified of Santa." Sarah agreed that he was terrifying. "Don't worry, Sarah" came Kate's voice (finally, if only she'd put it to song!) "later we'll go see White Santa. You see, " she explained to her neophyte sister, "there's a Black Santa and a White Santa." I allowed that this was possible, who am I to say otherwise?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Race

As Kate and I headed down the stairs together she dropped my hand and put an arm across my legs to slow me down. "I'm going to be the winner" she told me. "Oh you are?" I asked, "the winner of what?" she hustled down the stairs in front of me. "It's a race!" she called out over her shoulder. She reached the bottom step and leaped off it, quickly turning around and pointing at me. "I won!" she declared merrily "You're John McCain!"

Monday, December 08, 2008

Why Worry

Back when Kate was born, I worried by the minute that some unseen force would crush her tiny life if I wasn't ever-vigilant. I was constantly checking to make sure she was breathing, which I know is cliche but, while we're on the topic, aren't cliches cliches because they work? Anyway, I did. I hadn't realized that, much like roaches, tiny infants, though easily crushed to death, are otherwise surprisingly resilient. ( No, I did not try putting her in the microwave, it's a limited metaphor, I know.)

The problem was that Kate was a tummy-sleeper from the word go. She liked to nuzzle her breathing apparatus into the mattress with her arms folded under her chest and her diapered aft portion aloft. We call it the Frog Pose. Adorable, yes, but according to the terrifying posters all over the hospital and pediatricians' offices, deadly. Oh, we tried to obey the staunch Back-To-Sleep campaign. We tried, even though, when we were born at the dawn of the 70s it was all about putting us on our tummies, I presume in case we puked because that's how Hendrix died. Then I think there was a Lay Them On Their Sides period which leads us up to today. I guess things will come back around to the stomach because some other genius musician will choke on his own vomit. Or, I don't know, maybe there will be a brief period when you turn them all night on some slow-moving baby spit over an antibacterial humidifier. (Note to self: Invent Baby it something that sounds less that the shmutz that oozes from babies' mouths.)

Anyway, Kate's deathwish gave us fits, until we realized she screamed when we put her on her back and slept when we put her on her tummy. Judge all you want, non-kid-having people, but when you haven't slept for 6 weeks you'll do anything too. We also realized she'd sleep if we just left the vacuum cleaner running. For awhile the house was very clean, then the not sleeping for a month and half overcame the utility of the appliance and we just sat in her room and turned it on. I think she slept. If she wasn't sleeping, the noise drowned out her wailing, either way score one for mommy and daddy.

So anyway, we go through all this worry and what not and these days, safely out of the crib death zone, Kate opts to sleep spread eagle on her back like the victim of a drive-by. I haven't seen her sleep on her stomach since it was infant endangerment. Sarah, she's always been pretty good about just staying where she lands...I the time we had the second one we'd stopped worrying...

Here they are, nestled snug in their beds. I know, because I came upstairs before going to bed to make sure they're both still breathing.