Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hannah Montana and the soft, warm torment

They listen to Hannah Montana at daycare. Kate sings the songs with a heartfelt sincerity and passive aggressively bemoans the fact that she owns no Hannah Montana music of her own. "Some things should just be special to daycare" I say. Meanwhile, my panicked brain searches back into my own childhood for exactly when the noxious bubblegum music held sway.

As far as I can tell, I largely avoided it. If there was a period during which I fully embraced such painful pop I would have to say the tween years. I fully expected I'd have until then before Kate and Sarah got hooked on the stuff. I loved the Go-Gos Talk Show but I'm certain I was 11 at the time. The Go-Gos were Keith's fault. For Christmas or maybe my birthday he got me that LP. Later he would make me the proud owner of my first Motels cassette. I came early to angst, though, and I recall in 1986 firmly deciding that top 40 music was no longer good. I did not accept that it had never been good and indeed, I still love much of the tripe I adored in those early years because it was the soundtrack of my childhood. In 1986 though, I noticed the suckiness of it all. Bring on The Cure, The Smiths, The Ramones, Guadalcanal Diary, New Order and an alarming quantity of black come the teen years.

The fact that Kate's gotten started at 4 makes me wonder if I should steel myself for a much earlier sex talk, too. I don't know, but that's not what I'm here to talk about today. While I've so far managed to hold the Hannah Montana infiltration at bay ( I assume that girl got her shot at the biz when they realized she was the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus and listened to her patiently because they thought it was likely she was mildly retarded) I was unprepared for the latest. My sister-in-law Diane mailed a late Christmas gift to the kids. Sleeping bags that LIGHT UP. One Tinker Bell and one Dora. Along with that gift came a little something for me. She'd drawn my name in our family Christmas gift drawing and meant to send this item along as a joke. I opened it. The box contained the softest pajama bottoms I've ever seen. "Hannah Montana" is inscribed all over them. Kate actually laughed and pointed at me.

Here's how I know I am old. Though horrified at the branding I wear these jammies because they are the softest, warmest things I've come into contact with in ages. Curse you Miley Cyrus. And curse your greedy producers.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This Just In

Young Kate has learned to whistle.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chinese New Year

First, some background. The Disney Sleeping Beauty movie begins with some narration. The voice over explains how Sleeping Beauty started out in this world. Or rather, that world. He says "...her name was Aurora. Yes, they named her after the dawn." Upon first hearing this tiny smidgen of story from the dining room as it played in the TV room, I really thought he said "yes, they named her after the dog." That seemed wrong. "They named her after the dog?!?" I called to Kate and Jeremiah, who sat together on the couch in the TV room. A pause. Then laughter. "The dawn" came Jeremiah's voice. But forever more, when Kate watches that movie we speak over the narrator "yes, they named her after the dog."

Now then, on to today. En route home from daycare I explained to the girls that today is the Chinese New Year and this new year is called the year of the Ox. "You were born in the year of the monkey, Kate. You're a monkey!" Kate obliged with monkey noises from the back seat, right on queue. "And you, Sarah, you were born in the year of the dog." Sarah loves dogs, so this was pleasing to her. "I'm a dog!" she sang out. For a 2 and 1/2 year old, a declaration that has not yet lost its charm. "Oh!" cried Kate "She's a dog. Just like Sleeping Beauty!"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Update From the Animal Kingdom

Rex, the unexpected family member, has claimed the office for his own. He wanders downstairs from time to time but mostly he hangs out in the office because I think he finds Lola off-putting.

Lola, on the other hand, wants desperately to be friends with Rex. Between you and me, I think Rex might warm up to her if she'd settle down a little.

Max is indifferent. Or, possibly, very depressed. We've noticed she seems to sleep all day. Maybe she should see someone? I hadn't really considered it until just now...

The kids adore Rex. At the moment, Kate is reading Mr. Pusskins to Rex and he is purring at her feet.

Lola is healing nicely from her attack. She enjoys a couple antibiotics delivered in a giant ball of peanutbutter twice daily. Life is pretty sweet.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ode to my Neti Pot

Named, I presume, for some fond grandmother, Neti,
when I can't breathe you let me.
Away foul sinusitis! Be gone blocked nasal passages!
Despite vicious cold, I suck air through my nose
regardless of my head's position relative to the north pole.

Come, cherished Neti, with your (kinda gross) rewards,
In with warm saline - out, out mucus hordes!
Alas, splendid pot, it seems you cannot
work your same magic on tortured vocal chords.

A recitation of this ode will not be possible at this time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Assault and cannolis

First off - I'd like to show off my most excellent cannoli shells. Here they are! Kate helped roll out the dough. We've had the rollers since I was 5 months pregnant with Kate and we went to Philadelphia thinking we were going to move there. This is the first time I opened the package. The filling turned out much too liquidy, though very tasty. The recipe, found on the back of the cannoli roller package, declared itself the authentic Italian recipe. But I don't think I'll follow it on my next attempt. It was good, but I don't want to have to chase my delicious dessert filling around the plate with a vacant shell in order to enjoy it. I'm sitting around after a big meal eating a cannoli, how much energy do you think I'm willing to exert here? (Incidentally, Kate and Sarah were willing to exert a lot of energy in the same endeavor. They both agreed that letting it all spill out on their plates, then eating the shell, then picking up the plate and licking everything that didn't drip onto the table or their laps was the best method. Big fat Lola concurred.)

Today when the alarm went off at 4:50AM I sensed in my bones (mostly the bone of an exploratory toe sent outside the goose down comforter to reconnoiter) that it was too freakin' cold to take Lola for her morning walk. Instead I hit snooze some 14 times. This sloth-like behavior afforded me the time to think we should really take Lola for a playday at Rex & Roxy's, her home away from home for times like these. So, off she went. Oh joy! Rex & Roxy's is non-stop fun. Except today. Today, as Lola bounded out to the play yard another dog bit her. She had to have stitches on her side and on her hind leg. When Jeremiah told me the news I, the mother of a problem pooch, assumed Lola had been asking for it (just look at the way she's dressed!). No, though, she was innocent in the matter. Rex & Roxy's is awesome and took her to our vet (next door) and got her all fixed up. Now she's home. She looks a mess. Big, Frankenstein's monster-like stitched-up gap on her side, which the doctor shaved to humiliate her further. I know what she's thinking. Her birthday is a mere 9 days away and there's simply no chance this gash will be healed in that amount of time. No matter, though. We forget every year until it's passed. Then we say "oh dear, we missed your birthday!" and give her a treat and a pat on the head. Poor, bitten Lola. At present Lola is sulking around our bedroom, listening to Portishead. I know this is all my fault. It was really cold though. And windy. Maybe she could be cheered by a runny cannoli.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


We were uninspired on the topic of menu for last night's dinner. We hemmed and hawed for a bit then Jeremiah turned to Kate and said "Kate, would you like to go out to dinner this evening?" Her eyes widened and she smiled. "Where would you like to go?" Much wider eyes and bigger smile. "How abooooout [she was savoring her moment to choose]....Mezcalitos?" Great food within walking distance? Good pick.

It had gone from a beautiful sunny day to dismal and gray, but we were certain the rain would hold off so we began to bundle the kids for a ride in the wagon. Then Kate changed her mind (shocking, I know) and announced "I want to go to the place where we get the french fries!" This is the Brickstore. We are unable to turn down a request for the Brickstore. So we headed to the car. Kate and I were the first ones out the door. From behind us we heard Sarah say "It's raining." I dismissed her comment but as I began to head down the front steps I was snowing. It almost never snows here, we usually just get rain or ice. But it was snowing in that serious way - the tiny flakes hurrying down from the low-lying clouds in such quantity it almost just looked foggy. "It's snowing!" Kate and I called simultaneously.

I thought Kate was going to explode. "It's snowing it's snowing it's snowing!" she sang, rushing down from the porch and spinning around in the driveway. Sarah stood on the porch, all bundled up and wearing a pair of my gloves because we couldn't find hers. She looked hilarious with her Micky Mouse-like hands poking out of her jacket sleeves. She giggled at the snow. "I told you it would snow in Georgia!" announced the triumphant Kate. "I'm so happy!" she continued gleefully, "I've been dreaming of snow." I had to scoop both kids up and place them in their carseats because they were not about to stop trying to catch the flakes on their tongues. "You dreamed of snow, Kate?" I asked, buckling her seatbelt. "You made it snow with your powerful mind!" She laughed. It snowed the entire way to the square. The girls kept up a running commentary on the weather without pause.

It was about 5:45; we were eating crazy early so we could get home and get the kids to bed on time. To our shock the Brickstore had a half hour wait at this ridiculous hour for dining. So we ended up at Mezcalitos anyway. The snow had gotten the girls so excited that they performed through-out dinner. We tried to convince them to settle down but they weren't having it. Sarah wouldn't stop singing Old McDonald and Kate could not be made to stop saying "don't talk with your mouth full" with her mouth full. The snow had long-since turned to hard, freezing rain by the time we got home but the happiness it brought the kids was so infectious that even the nice couple next to us at dinner, who I worried we were disturbing, engaged the kids in conversation and laughed at their silly jokes.

Sometimes I find the effort involved in getting the children put together, out the door, and fed at a restaurant all too taxing. Last night, though, I had to admit that if they hadn't been with us, we would have commented on the snow and, as it turned to rain, forgotten it. We'd have had a nice dinner out, probably at a normal hour, but the high-energy level of glee would simply have been absent and despite the fact that I was mildly embarrassed by their disruptive dancing and singing, I had a much happier evening thanks to Kate and Sarah and the snow.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Various Updates

Rex is settling in nicely. He hides most of the time, but you can tell he's a Cat of the People. Every time we figure out where he's hiding (usually thanks to Lola who's clearly learned a thing or two from her Pointer cousins), he begins to purr as soon as he hears human voices. Then he is easily coaxed out of hiding with promises of lovin'. He likes to have his belly rubbed, and we can even tug on his paws. These are two moves that would leave you bleeding out on the floor, jugular cleanly severed, if you attempted either on Max. Lola, to our surprise, is terrified of Rex. When first we introduced them she began to shake and whine and refused to leave my side. "What if this cat is the devil?" I staged whispered to Jeremiah but ultimately we agreed Lola is just crazy. Would the devil love to have his belly rubbed? I doubt it; it's not dignified.

Today is Saturday. I used to love Saturdays because they involved long walks with the family, usually into downtown Decatur where we'd end up deciding we needed to get a beer at the Brickstore. Ah, so leisurely. Not so now. Kate has cheerleading (I know, I'll get the video up eventually, I promise) followed by gymnastics and ballet. Sarah has swimming lessons and, at this very moment, stinkbutt. We have to clean the house and make the weekly menu and maybe do the grocery shopping and there is always some reason we have to go to Target. Saturdays are harder than most work days lately. I emit a slightly bitter chuckle as I recall, back when Jeremiah and I were toying with the idea of starting a family, that we listed among our reasons for doing so that "we watch too much TV". And now, I'm off to dunk my youngest under the water repeatedly until she decides it's fun.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

So Let Me Introduce To You, The One and Only...

...Rex. Although, now that I put it that way Sgt Pepper would have been a good name choice as well. But this, according to Kate and Sarah, is Rex. Innocently wandering over to PetSmart from Whole Foods, we decided to check out the pups and let the girls pet the kitties, per their repeated request. None of the dogs seemed like just the right buddy for Lola (who is not an easy roommate to live with) so we moved straight on to the cats. I picked up a new collar for Lola while Kate and Sarah clamored into the FurKids kitty area and began attempting to give all the rescues heart attacks. It's a weeding out process, you're welcome, FurKids.

The girls were enjoying chasing around a litter of playful kittens while Jeremiah and I were both drawn in by this little black boy. I thought of my old beloved Obediah and Jeremiah was reminded of sweet little Wilson with the weak bladder but who went on walks through the Fan with him. We both possess a soft spot for black cats. Then we touched him. Soft as a bunny. He purred instantly and lolled back on the expansive cat playground the rescue had set up. He was perched on the very top. Totally unflappable, very snugly...we fell in love. Damn your fuzzy ears, Rex!

Today after work, Jeremiah went to pick him up. We'd have taken him home that very day but of course the rescue has to make sure we are decent folk. So here he is. He's enjoying the office for the time-being. We gave him a bed of Max's so he can get used to her scent...but we haven't introduced them yet. We feel he should have time to relax and regain his confidence before an attempt is made on his life. I just hope Max doesn't start peeing on our duvet for this.

Rex is in danger of being loved to death.


My friend Jessica, who sometimes lurks here, sent me this recipe the other day:

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg 3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)*
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug
Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

I thought it sounded like a fun kid project so we did it. When I chose to do it the kids were a bit over-tired and subsequently highly obnoxious so it was, in fact, not a fun kid project, but I can report that it was fairly tasty and the obnoxious monsters seemed to enjoy it a lot.

It's kind of rubbery, being cooked in the microwave and all. My gut tells me the gluten in the flour and the protein in the egg are opposed to this method of cooking. It could possibly be mitigated by the substitution of cake flour and maybe, just maybe, fake egg. I don't know. My microwave doubles as a convection oven so I'm tempted to change the name to 20 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake and bake the thing like God intended, with convection heat. The rubberiness of it made for a good Cakesicle.

*Absolutely don't consider these optional.

Friday, January 09, 2009

What's That Smell?

This morning I had sweet little Sarah perched upon my lap while I helped her into her pants and socks. We'd been wrestling and tickling and giggling and I was enjoying having the morning with her and Kate and wishing I didn't have to go to work. Then Sarah said "huh huh" and a low chuckle. "What are you laughing at now?" I asked. " I farted on your lap" she said.

At least at work no one farts on me.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

No Idea How This Happened

Somehow, I spawned a cheerleader.

In my day they said "Ready? OK!" and I sat with my friends in the bleachers an mimicked them, and then we went out and got drunk while our football team lost. Again. Now, it seems, they've ramped it up with rhyming and they say "All set? You bet!" It's impossibly cute, but there's a little version of me in the kitchen with us.

She's the button-pusher. When Kate dons her Sleeping Beauty dress and parades around the house Sarah purposely calls her "Sleeping Booty". I'm just going to go ahead and make the most of it now, because I'm terrified of their high school years.

Kate's first game is Saturday. I promise you video footage at some point. You really need to hear her shout "Fired up!" with the little stiff arm action, it's quite something.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Time Out

Scene - Daycare, interior. Mommy is walking Kate and Sarah out to the car after a long day at work.

Kate: [unprompted, swear to God] Mommy, you are very beautiful and I certainly love you very much!

Mommy: [heart melting into sticky sweet puddle] Oooooooh, Kate, thank-you! I certainly love you very much, too!

Kate: If you say nice things to your mommy, like she's beautiful, then you won't get a time out.

Sarah: [giggles]

Mommy: Ooooh.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Some Yum

Yesterday Jeremiah decided he was in the mood to make a bolegnese sauce. "I'll make some pasta to go with it." I decided. But really, Kate, decked out in her Sleeping Beauty dress which was constructed by Aunt Jo Jo in a single day (it's true!), cranked out delicious pasta. Dinner was exceptionally tasty.

See that big bucket of spooge behind the kitchen scale? It's my virgin foray into my new book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes(recommended by Sybil, gifted by Margie). You make a vat of bread dough, only you don't knead it or really just resembles a sponge. Then you let it rise for a couple hours at room temperature. At that point you can either gets ta bakin' or store the stuff in your fridge. When you want to bake a loaf of bread you just cut off a grapefruit sized wad and shape it, let it rest for a little more than half an hour, then toss it in the oven. My first attempt is in the oven as we speak. It didn't seem to rise much on the counter, so I will have to keep you posted on the progress. I remain cautiously optimistic.

Next up, the juicer! Props to Margie, again, for this birthday extravagance. This is a gem of a machine and even though it's a Breville I will always refer to it as the Juice Tiger. I juice everything now! The girls tossed back a cup of apple juice like it was water in the desert. Then I recreated my favorite Whole Foods juice, apple-beet-ginger. It was perfect on my first try. YUM. To my shock and amazement, Kate and especially Sarah, loved this one. You can kind of see Sarah's beet mustache in this photo. Poor Lola is stained from her kisses. So now they'll happily scarf down carrots, edamame, spinach (when sauteed with garlic and olive oil...and Kate just discovered the wonders of blue cheese melted in there) and beets. I'm thrilled.


The bread is out of the oven. Oh. My. GOD. I am going to get so fat.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Enabler

I received a delightful quantity of new cookbooks for Christmas and my birthday this year. The cookbook shelf required some rearranging to make them all fit. Also, I had to put the ones that are almost always out, in some sort of use, back up to be certain they'd fit. Just for kicks, I counted them. I found Jeremiah in the playroom with the girls. "We have 85 cookbooks" I said, not including all the books containing recipes for lotions and potions. "So." he said "we need 15 more" and my heart skipped a beat.