Sunday, December 31, 2006

Greetings from the edge

Well, here we are, teetering between one year and the next, swearing to ourselves and anyone who'll listen that this year, this time, somehow, we're going to get it right. Go join the gym. Really use the membership this time. Quit smoking. Eat better. Go to the dentist. Get that new colonoscopy everyone is raving about. Whatever, people all over the world are making resolutions.

I don't like them; they always seemed so all-or-nothing to me, hold to that promise or the whole year is a bust. I try to make recommendations. what-abouts. Suggestions.

So. This year I suggest that I try to be the mother I wanted. Everyone, no matter how wonderful their mother is/was, wanted something from her that they didn't get. So every day, just for that day, I am going to try and be that person. If I don't pull it off with quite the flair I had hoped (or if I didn't pull it off at all), there's always the next day.

I was thinking that I would try making something I've never made, and selling it. I have no idea what. I have no idea to whom. But it sounds like it could be fun, so that's nice.

I may try the NaNoWriMo again. I wrote more this year than I ever have before, and I consider that quite the success. Maybe next time I can write even more than I already have. Gotta have goals.

My main suggestion, though, is to concentrate on home and everyone in it. Now that Dude is becoming more active and aware of what's going on, I realize that I haven't spent as much time -- intensive one-on-one time -- with him as I did with Perp at this age. Of course it would have been hard to, since she was the only baby in the house and he's got a lot of competition. But she's going to start going to preschool three days a week and I intend to make it a priority to spend most of that time with Dude. He clearly needs more together time than she ever did. I'll do my best.

Husband has also suffered this year, and my strongest suggestion is to remedy that: Date Night. Regularly. Maybe even a Child-free Night. Woohoo. Movies. In a theater. New movies, like, before they go to DVD or cable.

AndIhopetobeabetterpersonandallthatshitbutreallywhoamIkidding.

Happy new year. I humbly suggest you have a good one.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dear Blogger

What the fuck, dude? I have pictures. You have an "add image" option. Howzabout you let me, you know, use it?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Johnny Drama: VICTORY!!!

Ahhh. Please note the snow outside in one of the photos. Great baking weather, I say. Thanks, Ma Nature!

I just happen to have some pâté in the fridge, which I plan on schmearing all over a slice of tasty, tasty sourdough. Mmm. Pâté. Mmmm, sourdough. Eeew, snow.







I nearly ate it coming home from Dude's doctor appointment today. We live several miles off of a small highway, and when I turned off the main road onto the county road, I slid sideways toward some very nervous people going in the opposite direction. Let me add that I had slowed waaaay down and even downshifted to second, but there was just no way that corner and I were going to see things eye to eye. Yay me, though, I steered my way out of it and didn't really get much closer than about 8 feet from the nearest car. Still, more excitement than I really signed up for today. I wish I'd been able to see the other drivers' faces.

People around here--well, probably all over the country but I notice it more here because, well, I live here--drive like TOTAL ASSHOLES. It's compounded when we have weather (Midwesternese for rain, snow, sleet, heat, whatever isn't generally sunny and warm). The county road hadn't yet been plowed when I left this morning, and only part of it had when I came back (notably, the spot where I slid out had not been plowed or salted yet). That doesn't stop hotrod dickweeds from hauling ass up and down the main and side roads like they own the place. Of course, they have FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE, so they can do whatever they want, nothing's gonna happen to them.

Kids, the only thing four-wheel drive is good for is getting you stuck in a deeper ditch. You drive fast in snow or rain and sooner or later you're gonna to bite it. On a good day, you'll only harm yourself. On a bad one ... well. I hope I'm not around to see it.

In a couple of weeks, if the snow sticks around, people will access their snowy-weather driving files and things should get better. In the meantime, I'm going to assume that everyone is out to get me.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

In which Husband's bounty is mine as well

Under the tree on Monday was season two of Arrested Development which may well be the funniest show of ever. Ever. How often do you get to watch a show with characters called "Mrs. Fingerbottom"? Where the accidentally photographed testicles of one chracter are mistaken for Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass distruction? Never. Not unless you watch season two of Arrested Development.

Other choice tidbits, which are probably only funny if you've seen the show but I list them nevertheless because, hey, it fills space:
"Tea for dong!"

"You're losing blood, aren't you?"
"Probably, my socks are wet."

"Who'd like a banger in the mouth?"

Yesterday I stopped at the gas station to fill Hal up ($2.39/gallon) and there was a woman in line ahead of me. It took me a while to figure out that she was a woman because she wore a jacket, skirt, and purse all of camouflage fabric. The disembodied head bobbing its way into the store took me by surprise. That material really does hide everything it covers. No wonder the deer can't win.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Local boy makes good

I just love stories like this. What an amazing thing to do for someone.

Are you a registered organ donor? Does your family know that? Write it down. Tell your family. File an advanced directive with your doctor and make sure your family has a copy; designate medical power of attorney with someone who will abide by your wishes and won't let others override them. Me? Take whatever you can use and torch the rest. Sprinkle that in a hole and plant a blueberry bush. Every year, comment on how great grandma tastes this season. Bake a pie and think of me.

'Just good problems'
Brandon Stahl Duluth News Tribune
Published Sunday, December 24, 2006

When Lance spied a teddy bear sitting on a recliner, the 16-month-old made a crawling break for it and happily hugged the toy. Suddenly, his sister, Hana, wanted it, too.

“That’s my bear,” the 3-year-old said.

The two tugged for it, but big sister eventually won, pulling it out of Lance’s arms, toppling him to the floor. He cried — but the only thing that seemed to be hurt was his feelings.

“See?” said their mom, Stephanie, as she picked Lance up off the floor. “We still have problems. Just good problems.”

It’s been mostly good problems since July 20, when Lance received a kidney from his father, Eric, in an operation that reversed the family’s lives. No more marathon dialysis sessions for five or six days a week. No more medical crises sending the family into fear their son might not make it through the day. No more lives being put on hold and the family being split apart.

“We can start over,” Stephanie said. “We can spend Christmas together.”

They couldn’t do that last year. On Christmas at about 3 a.m. Lance spiked a fever and his family rushed him to the hospital, where he and his mom spent the day. Meanwhile, Eric was home with Hana.

“I didn’t really get to see my daughter that day,” Stephanie said.

MOVING OUT OF DULUTH

That was a typical day for the family.

Shortly after Lance was born on Aug. 9, 2005, he was diagnosed with what’s known as “prune belly syndrome,” a rare disorder that affects only one in every 30,000 live births. It left Lance with a deformed and disfigured abdomen and severe kidney problems. He would need 11 surgeries over nine months, including removal of his kidneys and ureters after they failed.

Most of Lance’s life was spent in a hospital applying temporary fixes to his health until he could grow big enough to get a transplant. He would get better only to suffer sudden downturns.

Last year, the four had been living at the Ronald McDonald House for a few weeks before Christmas so they could be close to Minnesota Children’s Hospital, Fairview, where Lance was being treated for kidney failure.

Eric and Stephanie had to quit their jobs to care full-time for their son. Even after selling many of their possessions, bills kept piling up. Eventually they had to sell their house.

“We loved Duluth,” Eric said. “But we just couldn’t stay there.”

They spent months in the Ronald McDonald House waiting for the transplant, which was delayed twice after blood tests came back with problems.

Finally, more than two months after surgery had been originally scheduled, Lance’s blood tests came back normal and the transplant was a go. After a six-hour surgery, the operating physician pronounced the transplant a success.

“Your son has a beautiful kidney,” the doctor told Stephanie and her family.

‘IT’S A START’

Once the transplant took place, they were finally able to get their lives in order.

What they first noticed was new life in Lance. Before the transplant, at 11 months he lacked energy, could barely sit up by himself and needed to be fed through a tube.

About a month after surgery, Stephanie said, it seemed like Lance was having milestones “once a week.” He’s now crawling, talking, standing up, feeding himself and having tug-of-wars with his sister. The only physical sign remaining that he was so sick is a feeding tube in his nose. Even that, the parents say, should be gone in the next two months.

“He no longer looks like a baby,” Stephanie said. “He looks like a little boy.”

Dr. Elizabeth Ingulli, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and nephrologist who is assisting with Lance’s care, said a kidney transplant for a baby is extremely rare. And for those who get them, the first six to 12 months are the most critical to see if the babies will reject their new organs, she said.

So far, Ingulli said, Lance seems to show almost no signs of rejection. “His progress has been excellent,” she said.

The Wittleders moved out of the Ronald McDonald house in late August into a two-bedroom duplex rental. The family says that it’s not ideal — it’s small and doesn’t have a yard — “but it’s a start,” Eric said.

Eric and Stephanie have found full-time jobs: Stephanie as a project manager for a direct marketing company, and Eric working for a bike manufacturer in Minneapolis. He often rides his bike the 12 miles there.

The surgery was physically painful for Eric at first, he said, but now the only lasting effect of losing his kidney is an occasional pain in his abdomen.

There are still concerns with Lance, namely making sure his body doesn’t reject his kidney. And because his immune system has been suppressed by the anti-rejection drugs he has to take, a minor malady such as a cold can become a major problem. He spent a night in the hospital on Dec. 17, his first in several months, after having a bad cough.

“That was a quick reminder of how good we’ve had it,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie and Eric have to juggle their jobs while getting Lance to physical therapy, occupational and speech therapy.

But those problems pale in comparison to the ones they had a year ago, they said.

“Our son doesn’t have to live his life in a hospital,” Eric said. “He can be at home with his family for the first time for Christmas.”

Stephanie added, “I feel such a sense of joy. It’s so good to have the family together.”

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/articles/index.cfm?id=31605§ion=News

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas everybody!

It's her favorite day of the year!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dude overboard!

... yeaaaah, so I guess we've got a climber. Husband went in to get Dude for his early (now 3:30 a.m.) feeding and couldn't quite figure out why the door was so hard to open. Um. Probably the baby lying in front of it. I guess we have to put the side rail all the way up now. Perp never ever tried climbing out of the crib. In fact, she's only recently started trying to climb into it.

We have spent the last couple of days gearing up for Christmas, unlike, say, 90% of the rest of the country, who are heathens and prepare weeks ahead of time. Explaining Santa Claus and Christmas to a child is hard. I don't remember ever being told about it, it was always just there. But clearly I was told, right, because I was an only child and I knew all about Santa. So. How to explain fat man sneaking into house to eat snax and deposit gifts? And reindeer. Who fly. It's a little weird. Do you make a point of explaining all this or just sort of let them absorb it by osmosis? She's not around a lot of other little kids at this point so it was us or nothing. Maybe one crazyass day of giftiness will drive the point home and we can move on.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Silent Saturday

You need to get up close for this one

Crabbiness

Do you suppose the reason I was so inalterably cranky yesterday was because I managed to space my meds two days in a row? Gosh. I went to bed at 6:30 and even though I knew I hadn't posted, I was in such a foul mood that all I wanted to do was crouch under the covers and gnaw on a bloody bone. I made do with a book. (a book!!)

I churned out a wretched loaf today, and a nice one. Same batch of dough. WTH? So one more tonight for dinner tomorrow.

My question for the day: You have a robot. It cleans your house, does the dishes, menial labor, like. Do you say "please" and "thank you" to it? I don't mean a robot like a Roomba, I mean one with more intelligence and the ability to respond to questions or requests. Maybe something with the intelligence of a 2-3 year old. But not the tantrums, thankyouverymuch. Are you kind to it, or is it simply an appliance, albeit an smart, interactive one?


This post brought to you by Freaky Dreams, Incorporated, apparently.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Special for Ben

3 lb. fresh mushrooms
2 oz dried wild mushrooms
1/2 c madeira or dry sherry
1 stick butter
1 c onion finely chopped
1 t dried thyme
pinch of grated nutmeg
salt, freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c finely chopped parsley.

Pour the madeira over the dried mushrooms and let them soak until soft, probably around an hour.

Clean the fresh mushrooms and remove the woody stems. Mince them (I use the food processor, so much faster).

Melt butter and add onions, cook over low until tender, about 25 minutes. Then add fresh mushrooms to the pan and increase heat, stirring, until they give up their juices, around 5 minutes. Add the dried spices to taste.

While the mushrooms cook, transfer the dried mushrooms to the food processor and carefully pour the madeira over them, being careful to not add the sediment at the bottom (sometimes it has sand, ew). Puress until smooth and add to the rest of the mushrooms in the pan. Reduce heat and cook until the duxelles is reduced and thickened, about 40 mintues. Near the end, it dries up fast, so stir constantly to prevent scorching.

THEN:
Heat stock (chicken or veg). Add a good cup of duxelles for every 32 oz of broth. Thicken with roux or cornstarch (use milk to blend either thickener). Add 1/2 cream to the whole shebang, and s&p to taste. If you're feeling especially frisky, poach a chicken chest or two and add them to the soup in largish chunks.

That's it!


Ooh, special WI weather bulletin: snow and freezing rain pushing into our area! Maybe we get a white Christmas after all.

Someone remind me that I have got to go see this before it is removed. How cool!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Well, then

I was going to post some Very Amusing photos but Blogger is unable to process my request. I have no idea if I'll be able to submit a simple text post, but my irrepressible and sunny outlook on life forces me to give it the old college try. So. Well. Here we are.

Why do my cakes sink in the middle? Also? Why do they take twice as long to cook as the recipe says, then *still* not be done in the center (perhaps why it's falling, dumbass)? There are a couple really neat looking books on kitchen chemistry that I feel I simply must purchase but I'm forever forgetting when I surf @mazon. One of these days. I didn't do well in chemistry. I never took it in high school (nor physics, civics or any other -ics classes for that matter). When I enrolled at the university, I had to take a chemistry placement exam and I'm fairly certain the computer wanted to send me back to 9th grade. I ended up in a class roughly the size of Sacramento, with one professor and about 16 TAs. The professor invariably wore a lab coat, a black turtleneck, and dark pants. It was rumored he lived in the dorms.

I didn't bother getting out of bed the day of the final. When I took the class a second time, I managed to pull a D. Thereby ending my dreams of getting into vet school. Probably for the best, I'd want to run over every client who brought an animal in to be euthanized because they couldn't be bothered to train or care for the poor thing. People suck. That's my irrepresible sunny side talking, by the way. Ain't she grand?

Does anyone else have the memory of a gnat? Seriously? If I'm at the store and I realize I need to buy X but it's not on the list, I must proceed to X's aisle immediately, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and for the love of the little baby Jesus, DO NOT GET DISTRACTED BY ANYTHING ELSE. Because then? I forget what I wanted to buy that I forgot to write down, and then I remember on the way home but it's too late and I forget to write it down (again) and the cycle, she continues.

It didn't used to be this bad. Yes, I was distractable, not like someone with ADD but it wasn't hard to send me off --hey, a kitty!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

GO to SLEEP

child. Perp slept for like 3.5 - 4 hours today so of course she's stil wide awake I have decided Dude will compensate by sleeping through the night.

I live in fear that Dude will get a slew of toys for Xmas and we'll have to find a place to stuff them. Is it wrong of me to just regift them since, hey, we have all that stuff already?

I know I'm boring. Too tired. Must sleep DAMMIT I stayed up to fricking late again.

PS, Hey, bell ringer: 90% of the people walking past you ARE NOT DEAF. Ease it the hell up.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Before I forget

Dude climbed onto Perp's bed today. By himself. Then he tried to hurl himself to his death but I stopped him. Silly boy.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Carving out time

I find myself in a quandry. I have little time to read these days (what? what the hell are you doing with your time? Put the bonbons down and pick up a book!), so I tend to be pretty particular about what I do read. I don't have as many lazy days that I can devote to munching through a particularly juicy tome, or at least I'm not willing to suspend other activities to do more reading. I suppose it is a matter of priorities. Right now mine lean more toward sleep than literature.

So I find myself doing dribs and drabs, in the car today while Husband did the groceries; during an oil change; just before bed because no matter what I'm reading, at 9 or 10 I react to it like it's a statistics textbook.

I have the disturbing habit of reading many books at one time. Right now my bedside table is supporting a manual on Photoshop Elements, Eldest by Christopher Paolini, Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, and an ever-growing pile of New Yorker magazines. It will take me forever to read them, witness the magazines. Every week we get a new one. Every two weeks or so I manage to sift through one. You can see where this will lead, I'm sure.
Chaos! On my bedside table!

Of course I could be reading right now if I had any sense. I suppose I am, just not in book form. But I wish I could just dedicate a day, a dark, rainy day, to reading a good book. I'd be alone in the house, with a cup of hot tea, some snacks, my cozy slippers. Perhaps I would take a nap in the middle of the day, then fall back into my book as evening came.

I know I'll have the time again. It's just hard to see that far ahead. It seems like the big things keep getting in the way of the little things. Or maybe it's the other way around; the little things do tend to get into trouble on a regular basis.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Eeeeeee! coli!!!!!!

Is anyone else reminded of the Bagwan rashneesh salad bar plan, here? Remember them? They spiked salad bars in Oregon with salmonella in an attempt to sway an election in their favor? (what?!)

Anyway, all these E. coli outbreaks in such short order made me think of good old Bagwan. Because seriously, when is the last time you heard of multiple outbreaks coming oneaftertheother like this?

My God, I've become a conspiracy theorist. I need chocolate.

Do I get a Christmas party pass?

I really think it's in order, here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A sad day for comedy

Peter Boyle has died.

More here.

This just in!

The word of the year! as if you had any doubt.

Ah, but then I remembered

and posted before midnight. Because seriously? If I spaced out this early? You'd just have to hunt me down and shoot me.

I am Organizing Things. Photos, music, files, music files, whatever. All in a-soon-to-be-successful attempt to avoid sleeping because hey, Dude's just going to wake up at midnight anyway and what's the point of two hours' sleep, really? Really.

I'm deleting all the duplicate songs in iTunes (WHY can't they make that easier?), adding new music (thereby fueling my mad crush on Jonathan Coulton, despite the face hair, ew, seriously dude, rethink that), and wondering why I didn't know about John Hodgman before he was on The Daily Show (which I haven't watched in ages, I therefore hang my head in shame).

I know I'm missing out on some Very Funny People. Who are they? That's one of the things about having kids: you're too goddamned tired to read or watch shows that introduce you to the things that will make you happy, so you have to just find your amusement at home. Luckily toddlers provide heaps and scads, but it ain't exactly brain food.

I need a brain snack. I'm reading Spin based on ... someone's recommendation ... and it really is very good. It's going to take me a week of Sundays to finish it but the library is nice about renewing so yay me. I'm also reading Eldest by that rich kid Paolini. Not bad; he's got a lot of potential, but seriously? Step away from the thesaurus. You've got a sickness. A disease. A condition of some sort. Ailment. Disorder, malady, deblity, decrepitude. You know, infirmity. Tell the story and let your editor deal with the rest, huh? Because really, there's a definite tinge of purple to the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Number crunching

Dude had his 9-month well-baby visit today. He's 90% of the way to doubling his birth weight. I don't know what it is with my kids; I bake 'em extra long, they start out a more-than decent size, then they just plummet starting around 6 months. Not that I'm worried or anything, Perp did exactly the same thing, and Dude is probably going to beat her 12-month weight (18 lb), but it is sort of odd to me. So that's like half a pound a month. A bit on the slow side, but he's crawling like a madman and burning hella calories so frankly, I should be jealous.

Stupid fast metabolism baby.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Are you making it?

You should be. You know, the NYT bread that's taking the internets by storm (are you out there, internets? do you bake?). Mix up a sloppy dough and bake it in a pot 12-20 hours later? So. Freaking. Good. If I ever find the cord for my camera, I'll toss up some pictures.

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1.5 teaspoons salt (more than the original calls for, but you'll thank me)
1/2 c sourdough starter if you like
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 (or 500 or 515!) degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Start it way before you need it, obviously, but I think you'll be Very Happy. With the starter added, you can also cut the first rise time by several hours. And I never need to wait 2 hours for the second rise.

Also? Toss in half a cup of sourdough starter. Oh. My God.

I need to up my cornmeal quota (instead of the bran, though maybe that will work better) because I'm having some sticking-to-the-pot issues, but I'll work it out. Also? You can make dinner rolls with it!

No-Knead Dinner Rolls

This recipe is adapted from Jim Lahey/Sullivan Street Bakery’s recipe published in the New York Times on November 8, 2006

* 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting (I like Bob’s Red Mill white bread flour)

* ¼ teaspoon instant (“quick rise”) yeast

* 1¼ teaspoons salt

* Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly gather dough into a manageable lump. Divide ball into 12 equal size pieces, approximately the size of a large plum. (An easy way to do this is to cut it in half, then half again; then cut each of those pieces into thirds.) Using your fingers, tuck each piece into a ball shape. Generously coat a Silpat baking mat or a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Be sure to space dough balls an inch or more apart so they don’t stick together as they rise. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When they are ready, rolls will have significantly increased in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

About a half hour before baking, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Get a nonstick 12-cup muffin pan and use aluminum foil to make a tented lid that fits around the pan. The tenting part is important—if the foil doesn’t rise well above the pan, your rolls will stick to it as they rise. You may need to join two pieces of foil. Set the foil “lid” aside and put the pan in the oven so that it, too, preheats.

When dough is ready, remove muffin pan from oven and quickly drop one dough ball into each cup. Cover with foil lid—and if you’re feeling frisky, spray some water under there just before covering (increasing the humidity under the foil tent). Bake 15-20 minutes, then remove foil and bake another 15 minutes, until rolls are beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yields: 12 crusty, golden dinner rolls.


I'm all over these rolls tomorrow. I'm going to par-bake them and hang onto them for a group lunch I'm cooking for next month. Ought to freeze lovely-ly.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dudiversary

Dear A,

You are already 9 months old and I'm only now writing you a monthly letter; I planned to start when you were born but life keeps getting in the way. It's not quite the way I had planned things to go, but there you are. That's life. sorry. I can't honestly say this kind of thing won't happen to you again throughout your life, so you might as well get used to it now. Mama disappoints again.

You continue to be alternately sunny and serious. You go about your day with a fire in your belly, there's no question about it. Since you started standing in September (the 27th to be exact), you've suddenly discovered a whole new world exists approximately 8" above your head. The coffee table is an endless source of joy for you. I don't know if it's because you can now cruise a complete circuit around it or that there's generally something you can pull down and gnaw on, but it figures large in your life right now. Your sister enjoys sitting on it, so it clearly posesses some magic invisible to adult eyes.



Crawling was your next big feat, just under a month later. You developed an odd combination of scooting and butterfly; mostly it looked like you were doing the worm and warming up for a breakdancing competition. You have an unhealthy obsession with my plants. the begonia quakes in fear when you heave into view. It's great that you want to help me remove the dead leaves, but I'd love it if you could, you know, let the live ones stay that way.

You occasionally stand on your own, which both pleases and horrifies me. I see how happy it makes you, but in the back of my mind all I can do is hope that you take your sweet time walking. Really, it's not all it's cracked up to be. There's the falling! And the tripping! Perp walked fairly early, though, so I'm busy girding my loins and trying to put (more) things out of your reach. It's more difficult than you might imagine.

You have started to sleep more or less through the night. It is probably the greatest give you can give us right now; if only I could bring myself to accept it and go to bed at a reasonable hour.



You do a mean Bruce Willis imitation, pooching your mouth up like a teeny butthole and looking winsome. I don't consider BW winsome in any way but it looks good on you. So far, then, you've done baby goat, Joe Cocker, Buddy Hackett, and Bruce. I can't wait for the next stage. De Niro? Regan?

You continue to adore your sister with a passion that borders on unseemly. Everything she does is a source of fascination. Watching her exercise her ability to walk, talk, and maniuplate objects sends you into paroxysms of joy. You are also growning quite fond of your papa. Last night when he came home from work, you "ooOOOh-OOOoooOOOh"ed until he took you from me and you were able to bond, guy-style. I do feel badly for you that all other daytime occupants of the house are female. If you think it's hard now, wait 10 years. You. have. no. idea.



Your cutest new skill is to clap like a madman when I shriek, "Yaaaaaaaaaay!" It's insanely cute and I'm pretty sure you know it. When you bust it out for our friends, they keel over with cute overload. Add in the fact that you now have just enough hair that small bits of it will stand straight out from your head if you smear them with food, and I'm a little concerned that someone will experience heart failure when you turn on the charm.



When you get hungry, which is all the time lately, you have an odd snuffling in and out of your nose habit, combined with the Bruce Willis face. Then you furrow your brow (you were born with a frown on your face, so this is nothing new to you) and "Oooooohhhh OOOhhhhOOOOOHHHH," until I stuff your face with food. You're especially fond of prunes, which is a good thing, because you need them. Daily. In large amounts. You also love green beans and squash. Fruit? Other than prunes? Not so much. You seem to be more inclined to eating veggies, which is fine by me. Maybe you'll be interested in gardening with me when you're older. I hope you both love to dig your hands in the soil and watch your plants bear fruit. I'm finding that raising children is a bit like planting a garden, if you will pardon my hideously cliched comparison. You have no control over which seeds will take root, but you nurture them all as best you can; once the seedlings are established, you give them all the care you can and hope for the best. You really can't do much more. So we hope for the best for you and your sister, and we give you the best care we can. The rest is up to you.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sweetness

Because I'm already longing for summer

I offer my favorite (made up! by me! ME!) summer dinner recipe. It takes advantage of the prolific supplies of basil and peaches and looks real purty, too.

Smackytown's Peach Basil Chicken
Chicken chests (I like boneless but you get a bit more flavor with bone-in)
Several ripe peaches, sliced thick
Balsamic vinegar (call it half a cup, but add more if you need)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Much fresh basil, cleaned and removed from the stems
Olive oil

Sautee the garlic in 1-2 T olive oil. Brown the chests in the garlicky oil until they have a little brown on 'em. Pour in enough balsamic to cover them half way, and put the peaches in the pan around the chicken. Cover and poach on medium until done, call it 5 minutes before you check. Toss in a good handful of basil leaves and wilt them.

GArnish with leftover basil. Crusty bread, salad, and you're good to go.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dig my style

It's been several months now, but I had a supreme Mom Moment this summer that Husband reminded me about tonight. I was going out with some friends and I carpooled with one of them. We went to a local brewpub for a well-deserved snort (mango martini thankyouverymuch [I don't care what you say, it's a martini to me, so shut UP]).

We were pulling into the ramp (parking structure/garage/?? to them what don't live Oop Nort') and I spotted several kids Making Mischief. There's this large metal U that is pinned to the ground upside down (does that make sense?), designed, I suppose, to prevent motor vehicles from driving down the path. I've searched high and low for a picture but since I don't know what it's called, it's a little hard to find. At any rate. The boys had removed said U and were dicking around with it.

I stopped the car (okay, van, I drive a minivan, might as well get that out in the open. Do you hate me now?) and, in my best snarky mom voice said, "Whatcha doin??" Like, I totally know what you're doing but I want you to tell me because you KNOW it's fucking stupid and did you really think you wouldn't get busted? The main culprit hung his head and muttered, "Nothin'."

"Doesn't look like nothin'. You're gonna put that back, right?" He struggled with it for a few minutes while his idiot friends watched. I eyeballed one of them and said, "You aren't going to help him?" and he shuffled over after protesting that he hadn't taken it out, grumble grumble whine.

All in all, a most satisfactory night. We searched for our parking spots, cackling with glee. And I didn't even get keyed!

The drinks were delish.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pavlov's toddler

Okay, so you know the story. Pavlov was this Russian scientist of some sort (three sorts, actually). It was he who first reported on what we now call classical conditioning. Pretty cool stuff, and a great way to train animals, I suppose.

More importantly, it's a great way to train toddlers. You can use it for just about any behavior, but we at House of Smack choose to employ it to get Perp to pee on the potty. We manage to do so with little or no wailing, gnashing of teeth, or shattering of eardrums. I won't even try to describe how she reacts.

MIL hit upon this idea and it's pure genius. Instead of being the unfortunate party who has to physically drag the little blighter to the can, or bribe her (with your choice of nasty food-ish items), you set a timer. It's a neutral party, indifferent and amorphous. She can't fight it; she can't bribe it; it doesn't care if she (fake) cries. It dings and she goes. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

We're now at the point where she even if she's just hearing the oven announcing it's reached the desired temperature, she trots off to sit on the pot. Crazy!

I know many parents use operant conditioning to try and potty train their tots, but I have to say, and in no way do I mean them to take this personally: that's fucking dumb. Well, wait. It's dumb if it's the ONLY method you use. I think you could actually combine the two, using positive reinforcement AND classical conditioning to obtain a fairly salutory effect.

Of course I'm talking out my ass, but so far it's working.

Hollow leg

I swear, I don't know where they put it. Last night, Dude ate a full cup of green beans (3.5 oz), most of a jar of peaches (call it 4.5 oz), several ounces of a chicken/wild rice mush I made him (call it 2 oz, and mmmm!), and several healthy spoonfuls of prunes. Hello, growth spurt! And? I put him to bed easily without nursing. First time of EVER that's happened on my watch.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Too sad to think much

My deepest condolances to Brenna on the loss of her friend James, and to Kati, Penelope, and Sabine Kim on the loss of their husband and father. So many people are thinking of you right now; I hope you can feel it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dude, you're totally tagged

OMG! I've never been officially tagged, at least as far as I know (which is my lame way of saying that if I ever have been, I didn't know it because I didn't see the post, oh, dear.) Schweet!

Five things you don't know about me

1. I'm a chronic starter and a shitty finisher. Unfortunately Husband and I share the latter. This means we have Something To Finish in every room in the house. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because it means that we've worked our way throughout the whole place. So yay us. But it also means that there are lots of small things, all why-didn't-we-do-this-shit-sooner? stuff. There are baseboards that need to be put back, trim that needs a second coat of paint, etc. I have lots of crafty things (curtains for Perp's closet) that I haven't managed to finish. Having two small kids in the house don't make it easier.

2. I can read as many as five books at one time. I generally do. It takes me forever to finish one, of course, but somehow it feels like I'm saving time by piling them on. Hi, I'm NWB, and I'm an idiot.

3. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Ideas range from science writer to organic farmer. Toss in pediatric nurse, epidemiologist, and something to do with animals and you pretty much cover the gamut. I have TOO many interests to figure out which one to settle on. I hope the kids have a better handle on their desires for their lives.

4. I have wicked tics and I could make them much better if I took meds but the side effects are worse than the tics, so I just muddle along. No one ever says anything, though they're impossible to not notice. I have been diagnosed by one doc as having Tourette and another as having dystonia (a catch-all dx if I ever heard one). I worry that it is TS and that it will affect Perp or Dude (it's more likely to hit him than her), or that their friends will tease them about it. But I can't bring myself to get treated given the potential problems from the meds. When I first decided to try and get treatment, I was so dopey that I fell asleep in the john at work. For half an hour. Toss in the odds of developing tardive dyskinesia, Parkinson-like symptoms, tachycardia, and oh, that pesky sudden and unexpected death thing, well... you get where I'm going. So I tic merrily along and figure that it hasn't stopped me from getting hired or married or making friends, and if other people can ignore it, so can I. Clearly I can't but I'm trying.

5. I bake a mean sourdough. French-style, so it's got that crusty, chewy, tastiness on the outside and fluffy airiness on the inside. It's all in the starter. I have a great starter. Just yesterday it burst out of its container on its quest to take over the world. I beat it back with a KitchenAid mixer. I think I've finally gotten it down right, and I plan on blind baking a bunch of loaves and tossing them into the freezer. Then I can lob them at my enemies give them to people as gifts. They also make fabulous croutons.

Since I'm ever the nosey one, I think Amy,
Devan, Kerryn (Hellloooo?! Are you still down there?)
Shelli and Dyke One should tag along. Feed my inner snoop!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Time for church

Before I forget: this morning we were on our way into town to investigate a school for Perp (worth its own post) and she spent a good three minutes singing, "Oh my God! Oooh my God, oh my God. Oh my Goooooood!"

Dream a little dream of me

I've been having those dreams again. You know the one. You're tooling along, doing your normal everyday thing, when you suddenly realize that you haven't ever gone to that one class you registered for and tomorrow is the final. Even worse, they've moved to another room so the registration papers you managed to root out of your long-neglected bookbag do fuck all for you. All your other classes? Covered. You've been there every day, minus that long weekend in Vegas (mmmm, Lotus of Siam), you're totally on top of it. You're a freaking star!

How did you manage to forget an entire class? It's essential to your major, you can't graduate without it, yet you've managed to let it evaporate entirely.

WTF?

It's almost always a science class. Chemistry and some kind of biology are the ones, generally; once in a while it's math but that's probably because I didn't take many math classes.

It's probably stress but I don't think I'm under any more than normal, just the everyday got-a-toddler-and-an-infant kind. But something must be up, because I only have these dreams once or twice a year.

I'm sorry, there's not much I find more boring than listening to someone else's dreams, but hey, this is my turf and I get to pee in all the corners if I want to.

If it turns out lie the last one, I'm going to post a pic of the most gorgeous sourdough boule. Stay tuned for details.

I need an intervention

because I watch Intervention. I'm not a hitman or anything but I'd be willing to take Sylvia out if her family asked me to. For free. Consider it a favor.

Jesus God woman, I haven't a single iota of an ounce of sympathy for you.

I've also never seen anyone pound vodka like that. I do find that a bit impressive.

D! You've got junk! Little baby junk! Isn't that a weird concept? We had penii!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Heaving a sigh of relief

Our phone and DSL were out from sometime yesterday evening to this afternoon. Imagine my building rage at the prospect of crapping out on Holidailies Day 3. But woohoo, here we are back in bidness.

How many of you have gotten sucked into digital scrapbooking? I haven't even done any layouts yet but the opportunity to sniff around the web to find free files is stragely addicting. If I ever figure Photoshop Elements out, I'll post picture of the kids.

OT: what the FUCK is up with dress shorts? NO. Nonononononononononononono. NOOOoooooo! I don't care whose label, what length, what fabric, SHORTS ARE NOT FOR FORMAL OCCASIONS. Hell, they're not for semi-formal. Beach. Garden. Hiking. Fine. Clubbing. Dinner. Meeting. WTF? NO!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

Drunk with power

So I didn't tell you about Thanksgiving, did I? WELL! My dad and stepmother were here, along with MIL, FIL, BIL and SIL. The ILs, if you will.

I got a ginormous (organic!) turkey at the co-op and hemmed and hawed and freaked out for a few days before I lit upon the original and rarely done idea of brining it. I know! Who knew you could do such a thing?!

3 gallons water
3 c kosher salt
1 c brown sugar
1 orange peel
many, many smashed garlics
handful of peppercorns
lots of dried rosmary that was too old to be of any use but what the hell

The bird was still frozen on Tuesday when I started this all up, but I figured since it had to live on the porch in a cooler, I needed to get a headstart. So I lobbed the gobbler into a big garbage bag, poured the brine into the bag, and tied it all up. Then I shut the cooler and went inside for many drinks.

You must not forget to flip the bird occasionally. I did not forget, but someone might, and you cannot forget to flip the bird. Seriously, it's like the only time you can do some bird flipping without someone else getting up in your grill and wanting to start a fight, so take full advantage, people.

The morning of TD, I rinsed the bird out, poured the brine into the driveway (gee, I hope the lawn survives), and my dad made the stuffing. About two hours into the job, I checked on the bird and saw that it was browning super fast (remember the brown sugar?), so I (okay, Husband did it) put two layers of foil on it and went on my merry way. My dad went in to peek and started to shriek about how it was burning and how hot was the oven, my god, man, how hot is it? "Five hundred." Cue wailing and gnashing of parental teeth. So to keep the peace I turned it down to 400. This is where the "drunk with power" part kicks in:

Let me tell you, they're still talking about that bird. The juiciness. The crispiness of the skin (which, in my opinion, is the whole reason to roast a bird, so you can feast upon many square feet of crispified bird surface). The flavor! So piquant! And I have to stop here and give myself props for the gravy, which was excellent. And copious; I do so hate to run out of gravy before I run out of leftovers.

We had many kick-ass sides, MIL made pies a-plenty (mmmm, pumpkin, ew minced meat), and I had the traditional okay-Thanksgiving-is-officially-over sandwich at about 6 pm. Yesterday I put the rest of the leftovers (turkey on the bottom, then gravy, which is the only acceptable way to reheat turkey) into a tub for the freezer. In a few weeks, we can relive the joy of excess and all we have to do is find the damn thing.

So neener, Dad. I always cook my birds fast and they're always juicy and delish. Never doubt me again!

On losing

*ahem* sorry, where were we? Oh, right, I was going to post daily throughout November and score that righteous turkey portrait. Until I passed out from stress got that wicked head injury forgot. Whatever, I have a lot of shit going on, dude, I can't be here for you every day.

Ooh, except now I'm going to participate in Holidailies 2006, so I guess I will be here for you. Every day. Unless I forget.

So. What's happened Chez Smack since last we met? Dude stands on his own for a few wobbly seconds now and again. Perp continues her verbal diarrhea and it is très amusant. Today she was tossing a huge rubber ball up the stairs, then letting it smack her in the forehead (where's that study about soccer players who do a lot of headers having more brain injuries than those who don't?); every time it bounced back down she's let out this hysterical cackle then shout, "OH MY GOD!" and toss the ball back up the stairs.

This afternoon she was playing play doh (we don't need no steenking articles) and kept saying, "I hate this show." I so don't say that.

While at the IL's place, she told FIL, "It's a hard life," which I totally do say. A lot. Because I have a toddler in the house. Hear me? Hollah.

Dude has started clapping, and I've already trained him (like a seal! but without the ball!) to do so when I yell, "Yaaaaaaay!" V cute, if you ask me, or even if you don't but you totally would because it's the polite thing to do, ask about someone's kids.

I've decided that on days that I can't think of one more fucking thing to say, I'll post a recipe. So next time I draw a blank, it's Fannie Farmer's molasses cookies, and they will kick the snot out of anyone else's molasses cookies, that's all I know. I love molasses. Sometimes I'll just eat a spoonful of it. Lots of iron, people, don't make that face.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

On resentment

My dad and stepmother are here for the Great Turkey Slaughter of 2006. SM and I spent several hours today looking for a decent interim dollhouse for Perp and a tea kettle for me. We found the kettle ("This is a righteous kettle!") but not the dollhouse. Alas. It's too bad because Perp only has enough toys to last her until she's 4.

As we drove hither and yon, SM accosted me about the idea of having another baby. Maybe. Some day. I don't know. It's not like I have to decide right now; I've got all these eggs laid by. Heh. Mostly her concern was that I would grow to resent the kids, perhaps the last one the most, and not fully realize my potential, whatever that means.

I pointed out that I already resent my kids from time to time, and adding another to the mix probably wouldn't make things a whole lot worse.

It makes me crazy in the head when I hear women say that motherhood is the best job they've ever had, that it's the most fulfilling experience they can imagine, and nothing can compare to the joys of being a mom.

Bullshit, I say. Bullshit! Yes, it's got moments of incredible joy and wonder, and I do enjoy myself immensely a lot of the time. Probably most of the time, in fact. But I wipe up shit. I catch puke in my hands. I listen to screaming, whining, and the same question six or seven times in a row all day. Every day. I don't think I complain about it much, the shit and puke part, at least. It's part of the job, after all. It's even in the job description.

But spending the day with a 2 year old and an infant (or just the toddler, actually) is tiring. And frustrating. And funny. And it is fulfilling, though not endlessly or totally. To suggest (by omission if not by actively saying so) that it's a lie of eternal bliss is to deny the real and deep feelings of, yes, resentment and despair that motherhood can bring.

If a mother tells you that she never resents her children, she's either lying or living in complete denial. I truly believe that. It's impossible to go from living your life as an independent adult who can engage in intelligent conversation and operate a lawnmower to a flabby-brained nutjob who can't remember to eat and who speaks in third person (you know you do it) without missing your former self and resenting her loss just a little bit. It's perfectly natural. It saddens me that more women won't admit their feelings and acknowledge the loss. I think overall it's a fair trade, but that doesn't mean I don't have moments of buyer's remorse.

When I talk with my other mom friends and hear them making frustrated noises, I make it a point to 'fess up to my feelings of inadequacy as a mother and of occasional resentment and anger toward my children. It does not mean I don't love them, or that I am somehow not a good mother. It means I am human and fallible and not afraid to admit it. Nothing wrong with that.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My new love

"Lindt Excellence Intense Pear chocolate. Fine dark chocolate with pieces of pear and almond slivers."

On the back of the package: May contain traces of peanuts/tree nuts.

No! Really?!

But if nuts won't kill you, you NEED to try this. Then try (in order) Hachez Cocoa D'Arriba orange; Hachez Cocoa D'Arriba strawberry & pepper. You can forswear sex for a while.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

FYI

I have a lot of stops to make today and each one is at the ass-end oposite side of town.

Watch me unspool.



... still relatively wound, and with new goodies like two kinds of apricot preserves, sour cherry preserves, loads of lucious darkdarkdark chocolate with various fruit essences, some Trader Joe's stuff (which I belatedly realized is simply other brands marketed under the TJ label but oh well), a gut full of FABULOUS dim sum at Mandarin Kitchen, and tasty pastries. All in all, a good day.

Now if I could just get Dude to pretend to sleep for a few hours.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

On the road again

A) It is very odd to use a keyboard which has no visible a, s c, d, e or n keys. I mean, yeah, clearly they exist, but they're blank. Weird the things you get used to.

B) Dude and I are on the road to get my dad and stepmother at the airport tomorrow. We drove down to the teeming metropolis(es)(i?) of Minneapolis/St. Paul to stay overnight with my mom. Tomorrow we're going to gorge endlessly on what is widely reputed to be superlative dim sum in Richfield, of all places.

For those of you who have only managed to fly over this here fly-over country, Richfield is one of the first-ring suburbs of Minneapolis, a post-war subdivision probably like any other that sprang up to accommodate the returning GIs and their families. In other words: shithole.

BUT! Anyplace that has dim sum available all week long is just this side of heaven in my book. Husband doesn't yet know that we're packing up and moving immediately.

Friday, November 17, 2006

To sleep, perchance to, you know, uh...

Okay so yesterday I was going on about sleep and how Dude's not so much into it and then he had a pretty good night. I went and blew it by missing his cues this morning. He had about half an hour's nap, late. Then it was ridiculously difficult to get him down for his nap, but I managed to sneak him, asleep and snoring ever so cutely, into his cribby. I can only imagine his outrage when he wakes up. "This is NOT where I fell asleep!"

I have done just about a complete 180 on the sleep tip. When Perp was born, I was all, "Crying it out? Barbaric!" And actually, if you're talking literal cry-it-out, pop-em-in-and-go, I am still against it. And it's still barbaric. But if you're talking fading techniques, going in at regular but longer intervals to soothe and comfort, well hell, I'm a convert.

Part of it is just that I have a lot more on my plate, and taking naps every day with him, sleeping in late with him, having him next to/on me close to 24 hours a day just isn't really feasible. Perp lucked out on that, no doubt. I worry sometimes, since I can already see that Dude is not nearly as elastic as she was. Don't get me wrong, he's able to bounce back from most insults fairly easily, but it takes longer and he's just more ... I don't know, closed than she was or is. The other day we stopped by a friend's house to say hi, and her dogs came rushing at us, barking, wagging, slobbering. You know, doggie style. He
f r e a k e d out. Lost it. Cried. Screamed. Tried to climb up my arm onto the top of my head. Perp just never got scared by anything. She had her first stranger danger moment when she was about 18 months old, for God's sake.

It's hard to know what to think. Is he like this because he doesn't get the time she did? Is it innate and it wouldn't matter what the birth order? Both? Whatever it is, I'm at a loss. I don't know how to deal with it. He is clingier, whinier, harder to please, tougher to cheer, generally the opposite of his sister. Hell, even I have to work to get him to smile or laugh. He goes about his day with a suspicous look on his face. "Are you allowed to do this? Are you certified? DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING, LADY??" It's a bit insulting, frankly.

I suspect he needs more of a routine to his day than P did. I'm not sure how to make that happen and still get her out of the house for activities and playgroups. I'm starting to think a regular babysitter who stays with him while she and I go out is the way to go. And oh, how they laughed. As if. The only sitters around here are in high school. You know, during the day. When we need to go out.

Anyway. So I've been letting Dude work it out a bit in his room at nap- and bedtime. There have been a couple of days when I had to go in multiple times to comfort him before he falls asleep. But yesterday at naptime, I wasn't out of his room more than five minutes before he crashed. Go Dude! Progress, perhaps.

In other news, I'm cleaning like a mad thing, including scrubbing the bathroom floors which hasn't happened since the cleaning lady started. Remind me why I pay for a service that I'm not getting?

Crazy: NPR is doing a Science Friday on fatal insomnia. Eerie.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Down the rabbit hole

What with the grand day of turkeys coming up, and famdamily coming to visit, my NaBlo posts are going to be - can you believe it? - even shorter. And with even less interesting content!

But I'm sticking it out since I'm so miserably far behind with my NaNo. I'm immensely proud of myself for cranking out as much content as I have, though. Eighteen-thousand-plus words. Not bad.

I'll bring the laptop with me when I go to pick up my dad & stepmother; I figure if nothing else I can try to write when/if Dude is napping. Oh, and that's a whole new post. Sleep training. I hate the term, it's not like babies don't know how to sleep. They just don't know how to comfort themselves. Maybe it should be called comfort training. Whatever, Dude's experiencing it and I'm actually kind of surprised by how sunny he's been today, given the miserable night we all had last night.

I went out and bought the bird today: 21+ lb of organic goodness. I hope it's enough.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Healthy Sleep Habits, Traumatized Child

Okay so maybe I'm reading this wrong, or maybe there's a page missing from the copy I have, but does Weissbluth actually say to leave a baby in its crib for AN HOUR before going in to comfort? 'Cause that shit is just plain fucked up.

PS, that's only at naptime. At bedtime, you don't go in at all. I can't believe people do this.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I would so do this

Thirteen thousand

and change, that's my current word count on the NaNoWriMo tip. It's impressive to me because it's a lot of writing (for me). It's unimpressive ('zat a word?) because it's complete shit but that's partly the point of the whole project. So I'm going to keep plugging at it until the last minute and figure that even if I don't hit 50K (oh, how I'd love to hit 50K), I'm already ahead of where I was on Halloween.

So yay me.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Stand-up guy

Dude. Seriously. Enough.

He's started standing on his own. Granted, it's only for two or three seconds at a time, and he wobbles like jello, but he's doing it. And he's way too pleased with himself for my taste. Don't get cocky, young man. I've still got those lead shoes around here somewhere.

ETA that he needs to start sleeping for longer than two minutes at a stretch. I'm not sure what I have around here to insure that he does but I'm looking hard. Would it be wrong of me to slip him a hot toddy?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Note to self

When you're boiling the Dude's nuks to kill the yeast, don't forget that they're on the stove.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Save Big Money at The Nards!

We're (still) fixing up our house. We've been here four years now and the finish line is in sight. And yet, it doesn't feel done, if that makes sense. I'm already thinking about what color to (re)paint the living room, how I'd love to rearrange the furniture if we didn't have such a ridiculously laid-out floorplan, and what I'd build in its place if the current house were to, say, blow away or take off for the winter without us.

Husband is busy-beavering upstairs to finish the guest room before my dad and stepmom come for the day of turkeys. I ran errands with the Dude today and brought home what we hope are the last few touches for the room. Then we finish our bathroom and we're done. Done. Finished. Amazing.

This place was the Museum of Bad '70s Carpet when we bought it. Because the average buyer doesn't seem to have the imagination or congenital insanity required to give a house a complete makeover, we were able to buy it for a song, really. A poorly sung, but heartfelt song we were required to make up on the spot. Good thing I took those improv classes years ago.

Most of what we did was strictly cosmetic. Well, depending on what you consider cosmetic. We turned a spare bedroom into our master bath so now we have a master suite. Sweet! Other than that, and adding one wall, it's all pretty much just prettying up the place. We know that the former owners, who drop by from time to time when they're in town, don't think much of what we've done. They did like that we took out a massive length of cabinets and countertop and put in a pantry, which seemed like a no-brainer once I thought of it. It's wonderful to be able to stash all our crap behind some pretty white doors, I tell you what.

I wish I could show you what it looked like before and what it looks like now. It's a completely different place. And that's a fine thing, since we are completely different people. You have to make your mark where you can.

Friday, November 10, 2006

On freaking myself out

I'm starting to wig out. I am becoming this organized person, sort of, anyway. So I decided that in order to save myself from having to go to the store every day (or making Husband run an errand on the way home from work), I'd sort out the meals we generally eat and I'd make a list of ingredients we need to have on hand for said meals.

I'm about to make a spreadsheet.

Somebody stop me. I need help.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Crowing

Can I just say how much I love myself for getting my posts in first thing in the morning so I don't have to think about it or freak out when I see the clock coming up on midnight and thinking to myself, "Self, you dropped the damn ball. Get up and post something so that you don't fail this challenge, at least." Then I kick myself in the head and trudge downstairs to write something stupid.

But today! Today I posted in the morning and now I can just ramble and avoid my NaNo. Like I'm doing now. But today, I'll share a little bit because I find it oddly amusing, especially considering how far it's gone from what I originally intended.

I will warn you ahead of time that the NaNo is all about quantity, not quality, so ... well. Read for yourself.

The fishwife looked at Lila, stunned. “You mean to tell me you have never had beer before? Where on earth do you come from and what do you drink there?”

Lila looked at her loopily. She paused for a moment and offered, “I am from Massachusetts and we drink milk. And coke. And coffee. And tea. And Ovaltine (that goes into the milk and it is chocolate - you do not know what that is yet, it will be several hundred years before it arrives here, I think,” her audience looked shocked and glanced around at each other uncomfortably. This was witchy talk. “ - and it has malt in it - I think that goes into beer, too, does it not? - and it is delicious hot or cold). And we drink wine -I do not, I do not drink at all, I am not old enough and it smells bad -. French wine. And California wine (California does not exist yet. Well, it is there but it is not Calif.. oh, never mind).”

A small cloaked man in the corner - who was originally intended to be a critical character but since fell into disfavor when he offered nothing interesting in the way of dialog or character development - cried out, “She is drunk as a lord!” And so his useful lifespan was essentially over. He went back to his drink glumly. Leave it to a sleep-deprived writer to underestimate his importance. He’d be back! If she thought he was just going to sit idly by while she wasted his dramatic potential, well, she had - A section of roofing beam suddenly let loose from its neighbors and silenced the drunk’s interior monologue. And good riddance to him, too.

“Thass right, I am! I am hammered. Wasted. Blotto. Drunk as a skunk. Four sheets to the wind. Inebriated. Intoxicated. Under the influence. Smashed. Pie-eyed. Poleaxed. Pissed. Plastered. Tanked. Trashed. Wrecked. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.” She slumped gracelessly to the floor. The brewer's wife came around the bar and hefted her to her feet.

“You’ll need a long night of rest after that bout, my girl,” the woman hissed. “But if you think you will be sleeping in and escaping your duties you have another think coming.”

Lila flapped her hands inches away from the woman’s face. “Back off. I am busy. I have important things to do, you know. I must piss now.” She organized her legs under herself and wobbled out the door to the barn.

It was a relatively pleasant place to sleep, actually. It was warm in the hay and the comforting sounds of the animals sleeping made her feel safe and secure. She only wished the donkey did not have such horrible gas.

Hours later, as she dozed fitfully beneath her blanket, a stranger came into the land. He was tall and dark and unusually handsome, as tall, dark strangers generally are, but he was not the marrying kind. At least if you wanted to stay alive. He was Jeff, the God of Biscuits and he was there to kill Lila, or at least maim her terribly if he could not quite pull off the killing, which was entirely possible as he was a god of baking for gods’ sake, and he would probably have to beat her to death with a rolling pin (which had not been invented yet, much like Massachusetts, California, and irony)or perhaps, if things went his way, pierce her fatally with his pastry forks.

Lila slept on, unaware of the danger she was in. And it is a good thing, too, because that very day the hapless donkey had eaten several cabbages.


Oh. Oh my. It is wretched, isn't it? This is so much FUN!

House of ill repute

Perp has never been sick like this before, so I have no experience with babies what are sick like. And the Dude, he be illin'. He can't really nurse because he's so congested; he is not comforted as quickly and easily by anything else, so there's a big gaping hole of suck in our lives right now. Perp seems to be taking it in stride now that the worst is over. Oh, and now that she's passed the worst on to me. How sweet. She's learning to share.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Beyond words

"MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin voters passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on Tuesday, squelching the hopes of gay-rights activists who hoped for their first-ever victory over such a measure in a state vote."

I just don't know what to say. I'm saddened and angered beyond words.

Oh, TiV0, where art thou?

We're having a crisis Chez Smacky. One of our Tiv0s has died on us. Yes, we're philistines and have two of them, get off my back. We got it at the hideous blue store and bought the extended warrantee (woohoo for Husband!). So I took it back yesterday and they gave me a gift card with the full purchase price on it. We can't buy a new replacement model because they're no longer made. So we're looking on the auction site and found two that have new, massive hard drives which ups the recording time by a factor muchness. But then I went to the TiV0 site and it says that we can only transfer our lifetime service to a unit replaced through the retailer or the manufacturer. Help me out here: since blue store gave us a gift card, this will appear as a new purchase, not an exchange, right? They don't open up for live calls until 7 am PST and that's a looong time from now, if you're antsy little me. Fudge knockers. I hate waiting.

I'm so far behind on my NaNo that I fear I will never catch up. And? I still have no idea where this damn story is going so I'm just writing little snippets of it as they come to me. Mostly it's descriptive, outlining the characters, where they live, etc. But the plot? She escapes me. Good thing I can do the NaBlo at least. Nothing too substantive, mind you, but something.

Dude is officially sick; he is a thourough and efficient snot machine, producing his weight in mucus every day. I'm sure that's not hyperbole but just in case it is, let me say that he's got A LOT OF SNOT IN THERE. It drips onto his clothes. And my hair. And my pillow and thence into my hair some more. And on my face. If you see me today, that's why I have weird little crusty white patches on my face. It's totally not leprosy. Sorry, Hansen disease.

So I got up at 4:30 to snorkle a certain little snout and when he fell asleep nursing (because he could BREATHE), I sat down to work on my NaNo, which I haven't managed to do in two days. I could cry. I really feel like I have the kernel of a fun story in there but I don't know how to dig it out, kwim? Like, I've never really been able to finish a story because I don't really get how to build up to the climax. I don't even know what it will be at this point, though my mother points out that that doesn't matter, you write enough and it will come. As it were. Ahem.

I originally thought I'd write on storyline, based on a story that I'm afraid I might have read as a kid, but no one I know recognized the plot so I think I may be safe. Either way, it's not like I'm doing this for publication; it's all about the torture.

Then I thought I'd expand on the story I worked on for my senior paper; it's got potential too. I quickly realized that I didn't have the chops to expand that to 50,000 words, and I hit upon a way to tie the two together. Thus far: 5570. That's like halfway to where I should be. Today.

But I'm going to soldier on. Of course, anything I might write while the kids nap today is going to be done while I'm half dead from exhaustion. It ought to be good.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lord love a duck

now they both have it. At least Perp's capable of coughing her lung chunks up; Dude doesn't have the skillz. It's going to be a long night.


...and you thought I was going to miss a day. Fie!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Best Buy rant, the sequel

I. fucking hate. fucking Best Buy. I'm sure there's some reason for their policies on warrantee exchanges, but said policy means that on top of the several weeks they had our TiVo sitting on a counter in the back room, we have to wait for a new one to ship from wherever the hell it is that they keep them, because God forbid they actually STOCK their merchandise in a STORE.

AND! We have to return the old one! before they'll order the new one! So they let me bring the old one home, 'cause we figured we could at least watch tv through it and not have to suffer through the hideous ads (my God, watching regular tv is like going through an auto de fe after getting used to zipping through the ads). But no, they didn't tell us that they have to HAVE the old machine before they'll order the new one. So that's like another week down. AND? We can't replace it with the same unit because they don't make it anymore so we have to upgrade which is nice and all, but that means no more DVD burner. The suck!

Perp looked about ready to keel over this morning, then she got up from her nap and played with her balloon for an hour. Amazing. She has wicked snot voice but judging by her activity level since 2, she's on the upswing in a big way. I wish I could rebound like that, man.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

If I were this resiliant

I'd be made of rubber. Perp was up to 103.3 last night and still wanted to play with blocks, sing songs, have a bath (necessary because of the monumental blowout but even so). I would be incapacitated. Period. Sometimes I wish I had hung on to some of these skills.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Do NOT mess with me

Probability of killing, 53%

You have probably seen death. You watch too many horror flicks, play too much violent videogames, or probably exposed to death by where you live. or maybe you have lots of problems with enemies or have little self-esteem. The factors add up that you need to avoid situations or people that could push you to that point.

Are you capable of killing

Bitchy

I spent a couple of hours with some friends at a (soon-to-be) weekly stitch & bitch. I scheduled it at the local yarn store because they have nice spots to sit and work, and it's upstairs from a coffee shop. Score.

I'm working on a crossstitch piece for a friend (hey, Z!) and one of these days I'll actually finish it. I think booking time each week to do it is the way to go; otherwise who knows when I'll actually get to it.

We were talking about taking time alone and commenting that we often felt guilty leaving the kids with our husbands. Like we were asking a lot of them to give us a few hours to do something for ourselves. What the hell is that all about? Yes, some of us have husbands who work full time. But, um, raising kids isn't exactly a part-time job. So why do we feel bad asking for some time off? We do this 24/7 and office jobs can be left behind. What is it with the guilt? I shouldn't feel bad about it for a single second, but I do. Husband has no problem going out for happy hour with coworkers once in a while, and this is pretty much the equivalent, though it's in the morning and sans alcohol ... that isn't the equivalent at all, is it? Whatever, I still should be able to just leave the house without a backward glance and go do my thing for a few hours, but it's terribly hard. And I'm not a guilt person by nature. WTF?

You know you have the same problem. Why is that?

Friday, November 03, 2006

One more for good measure

since I wrote fuck all for WriMo today: a NaBloPoMorandomizer for your perusing pleasure. I fear I will add many more blogs to my roll. Who has the time to read all this?!

Hot child in the city

I generally go into Perp's room right before I go to bed, so I can fall asleep giggling. She'll be clutching a toy, or more often, a book, folded up into the corner of her bed. Last night she was fairly warm but I figured it was because Husband put her in her heavy sleeper jammies with a shirt on underneath. We have very different ideas of how to dress children for bed. So far I think he's winning. Damn it all.

This morning, Perp woke up with a decent fever. It was high enough to color her cheeks a merry febrile pink, and to leave her in a persistent whiny state which is just loads of fun for me. Here's to hoping that phase passes soon.

I'm debating calling the doc. I think I'll wait and see if the Tylen0l kicks in or not. She hit 100.4 in the axilla; I'm trying to find out how that rates on the great fever scale.

Don't imagine I'll get much writing done today.

102.3 at 5:30 Saturday night. Yowza. Axillary. That, then, translates to 103.3. Guess we're off to urgent care. Fie.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Huh

Here's the interesting thing (to me, you may well find my "interesting" coma inducing, in which case I ask: what the fuck are you doing here, anyway?): when I get a groove on, writing-wise, and feel like I'm in the zone, I get up and distract myself with something else. Or I post. Or I surf. Whatever, anything but writing. Why?! I'm in the ZONE, man! Stick with it, bich. This is no time to slack. Into the breach, my lass! etc., etc., etc. No follow-through, that's me!

Toddler gourmet

We go to lunch at the same place every Thursday. We see our friends, eat great food, and then go home for nap. Thursday mornings we go to the grocery store. It's like our Thursday deal.

We were leaving the store and I was waxing rhapsodic about lunch. Normally we know ahead of time what the meal will be, but this week we were in the dietary dark. I chirped, "What do you think we're having for lunch today, honey?"

"Yeah. Lunch."

"Yep, we're having lunch. What are we going to have for lunch?"

"Dessert!"

"Yeah, we'll probably have dessert. What do we have before we have dessert?"

"Breakfast!"

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NaNo NaNo

hyuck hyuck. Sure, I'm dating myself, but whatever. It's a post and it's day one of NaNoPoMo/NaNoWriMo and I can't say that you should expect literature out of me for the next month. But you'll get something. Or other.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Help a girl shop

I'm trying to find a lamp for Dude's room. Everytime a car goes by and the headlights shine onto his bedroom walls, he's just transfixed. So I want to get him a light that shines/projects moving shapes onto the walls or ceiling. I found ONE thing that may work but I don't know if it projects or just lights from within.

I used to have one of those aquarium lights, with two layers of plastic painted with fish on it, each layer moving at a different speed. It was nice but so fragile that the one time it fell off the table, it was kaput. So I don't want lots of moving pieces, just something where the shade does most of the heavy lifting, kwim?

Someone out there knows what I'm talking about. I hope you wander by.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Cheeky

Dude's cheeks are just about to hang down below his jawline. My own little Droopy Dog. Sometimes I think he's about to burst into tears, but he's not pouting; his cheeks have pushed his mouth into a permanent little moue of dismay. Permamoue. WHY do I always have to go back and re-spell permanent? You'd think by now I'd have it down. And yet.

Go read Finslippy. She's especially funny today.

TiVo update

I.HATE.BEST.BUY. They've had the TiVo for THREE WEEKS. They've known it wasn't fixable (it is, they just won't DO it) for TWO weeks. Hello, that item on the desk, that ... phone thing? USE IT, fucker.

In addition, since Humax doesn't make our unit anymore, we can't have it replaced. They will give us a new unit and a DVD burner, but I don't know if it's worth the hassle to have two more things that can (will) break on us. So I'm going to lobby for a new dual-tuner with a bigger drive. Then we can use the network to move shows to the laptop and burn those. I think.

Bah. I may still try to put a new drive in it and see if it works, which I'm fairly sure it will.

It's funny, before we had the service, we knew watching tv sucked, but we didn't realize it was because you couldn't pause, fast forward, and rewind the shows. Watching sans TiVo has sucked beyond measure. I want the busted one back just so we can stop the shows for potty breaks. I am become my own worst nightmare.

Yes

that is an emu in our driveway.

No. We do not own an emu. Anyone who says Wisconsin isn't an exotic wonderland can suck me sideways.








Apologies for my filthy windows.

Greaaaat

Teeth and thrush!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Setting myself up for failure

I'm going to attempt to complete BOTH NaNoWriMo and NaNoPoMo this year. Being one who prefers to fail in spectacular manner, I figure this is the best way to accomplish my goal.

So, ideally, you'll see me about every day for THIRTY.WHOLE.DAYS. AND! I'm totally insane and have signed up for Fly Lady. Which I hate. But dammit if my house isn't cleaner.

So. Yeah. Now that I've put my mental illness on display, I'm off for some snax.

This just in

Cedric the Entertainer v funny. As if you didn't know that, but still. It's official here at Chez Smack, in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yeah, I know

I'm a slacker. But my house is cleaner! We head to Las Vegas Friday (drive to the Twin Shitties Thursday night) so I'll be gone (again) for a few days. But I'll have fun for you!

Crap I totally spaced on the last episode of Jericho. Our TiVo is on the fritz and uber geeks have it so they can pretend to fix it but I don't see them sending it back in working condition. That means I'll probably have to try fixing it myself and I cannot tell you how much that pisses me off, given that we paid for the fucking extended warrantee. But since they don't make the Humax DVD-R anymore, they can't replace it with an equal unit, at least in my opinion. So. If you've ever replaced the drive in your TiVo, let me know how it went. I'm pretty sure that's what the problem is.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Pardon our mess

while I monkey around with the new templates & crap. This may take a while.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Okay, fine





















Your Political Profile:


Overall: 20% Conservative, 80% Liberal
Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal



I'm not crazy about the wording of some of the questions, but that's the problem with polls and questionaires. Anyway. Not too surprised by the results.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Standing amidst the ruins

He stood up today. By himself. Aided by a chair, fine, but he stood up. I sat there, aghast, as he teetered on his teeny baby feet and wondered, "Would I get arrested if I hobbled him once in a while?" For his own safety, of course.

When Perp was about 13 months old (I was either newly or almost pregnant with the Dude at this time so probably a hormonal mess already, though it's always seemed to me like being a hormonal mess is an okay thing because it allows you to do things like eat an entire jar of Nutella and not even put it on bread, or, say, eat a pound of bacon. Not that I've ever done either, I'm just using them as examples. ahem), she fell down the stairs. Thirteen stairs. Uncarpeted, hard wooden stairs that lead to an uncarpeted, hard wooden floor.

I'd been playing with her in her room and she took off down the hall. Every other time she bolted, she went straight to my room. This time, she hooked around the corner and let gravity do the rest.

She landed flat on her back and I was sure that she'd injured herself, either breaking her neck or something equally hideous.

She sat right up and I figured that her back/neck must be okay, but I also figured that head trauma was a real possibility. You know, because of how she sailed down about thirteen feet of hard wood and landed flat on her back while I wasn't paying attention. Stuff like that.

Off we go to the ER, and I guess because of all the crying and freaking out, she started falling asleep, which made ME freak out and I was smacking her leg, frantically trying to keep her awake (ah, how ironic that is now).

The nurses at the ER were, frankly, total whoretard bitches. I know they have to assume that injuries to children are suspicious until proven otherwise (legal system notwithstanding, apparently), but it should have been entirely clear that this was just a household accident and I hadn't, in fact, given in to my darkest urges and shoved my toddler down the stairs. I'm waiting until she's 16 for that.

So now we have a gate between the upstairs hallway and the stairs landing. And we're using it a lot more now that the Dude is becoming semi-mobile. And I hope that his injury rate is lower than hers. But given what happened last night, I may be wasting my time:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Who knew you could trip while crawling?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Worm!

He's gonna be a mad popper one of these days.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, September 22, 2006

Me (watching To Catch A Predator. Again.): Seriously? What's bad head?
Husband: I dunno, it's like pizza.
Me: .....? What, it's bad but you'll eat it anyway?
Husband: No, like even when it's bad, it's still pizza. It's not like the rest of it isn't important. There are degrees of pizza.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Eek

I moved Perp into her big girl room last night. Dude sat up in the crib by himself (instead of me sitting him up). Big shakes chez Smacky. I'm a little freaked out by how fast this is all going. And, since I'm posting this like a week late, you can see that we've had another update since. Craaaaap.

Another night melded with the couch, reading fantastically funny and touching blogs and wishing that I had the nerve and the talent to do what some of these women do. Granted, some of them write for a living, so they have a lot more practice than I, but while I'm cranking posts out, they never seem particularly interesting or funny or touching or whatever it is that attacts me to the others.

Then, sometimes, I go back and read them and damned if I ain't kinda funny. Sometimes. But not touching. We don't go for that up here. Too many Finns. NO TOUCHING ALLOWED unless you're trying to have kids in which case I guess it's okay but don't enjoy it.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Master Sergeant Dude

First Battalion, Clog Army. Reporting for duty!



Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Why we love Husband

After my day-long imitation of a meth junkie on a cleaning spree: "Stuff is our enemy and kids are its foot soldiers."

Don't give me no lip

Apparently the Dude got into that prestigious dental hygienist program. He just spent 20 solid minutes trying to remove the plaque from my teeth. Right after he put his considerable powers of concentration toward trying pull off my lower lip. It's a wonder I can eat soup.

A pregnant pause

Apropos of nothing, I swear to God.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why the general public is so hot to tell first-time mothers every possible pregancy/delivery horror story. The shit random strangers said to me when I was pregnant with Perp would boggle your mind. When I tell people that--even with the general total-body trashing, the tears, and pooping in front of strangers--I actually liked labor, they generally look at me like I'm insane. It's not that it didn't hurt like hell, 'cause it surely did, but it was so exhilarating, like just about nothing I've ever experienced. I don't tell them the stories I heard ("My sister's husband's cousin's neighbor's cleaning lady was in labor for three and a half months and she split in half!"). I tell them how amazing women's bodies are. I tell them how you can't just push hundreds of thousands of years of evolution (yes! I said it!) to the side with 150 years of medical "advances." I tell them that even if their heads say they can't do this, their bodies can. Can, can, can. And I tell them to call my doula because she's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Maybe better.

God help me, but I liked labor better than the pregnancy. At least I knew it was going to be shorter, and I was actually doing something, you know? Participating, instead of just toting a fetus around until it was ready to make a break for it. I hate waiting just that much. After having the Dude I realized that I am a full-fledged labor junkie and if it weren't for the first and third trimesters, I'd have like a dozen kids. I wish I could have them for other women. It's something I'm actually good at without trying. I just shut down and let my body do its thing and hey! baby!

There's a social taboo against complaining about motherhood or marriage without prefacing the rant with a disclaimer: "It's a blessing to be pregnant, but..." or "Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom." or "I adore my partner, it's just..."

I try really hard not to do this, because it seems like I'm apologizing for my feelings, I shouldn't have to. I try to avoid that as much as possible, if only so Perp grows up knowing that her feelings count as much as anyone else's. They're valid. They mean something. She shouldn't be sorry for them, as ugly as they may be. It's a sorry state of affairs that we feel obligated to include prefaces like that, ain't it? I mean, I don't apologize for hating olives: "I love the trees, I think they're beautiful, and I'd bathe in the oil if I could but I just don't like olives that much."

Maybe this is a generational thing, because it mostly came from women my mother's age and older. Most of the stories centeree around the horrible. I just don't get it. I didn't love being pregnant, but it certainly wasn't the worst experience in my life. I had a drug-free delivery and a third-degree laceration, but that's not what I concentrate on when I tell P's birth story. Okay, I do put some emphasis on the drug part but I'm proud of that. That's okay; I don't push it on other people, I just point out that it is possible, evenwith big-ish babies (8.8# and 9.2# respectively).

I think there's a natural desire to relate stories that portray one as a survivor. So no matter how minor the incident really was, coming across as some kind of superhero means embelishing. But just a leetle bit.

I also think that there's a small part in us that wants to either scare or prepare other women for what's coming up. I'm not sure which it is. I just wish that more of it could be about the first time your baby smiles up at you when she's nursing, or the first time he laughs a real laugh as you tickle his lips with his toes, or the first time her father holds her after she's born.

Perhaps what I wanted was for people to not volunteer these stories, but to tell them IF I ASKED. One woman passed me as I waddled across the habitrail at work and said, "Oh, I just loved being pregnant." It was all I could do not to snap back, "Then you can just finish this for me!" But I smiled and kept going. One look at my face should have told her I wasn't too happy but it didn't matter, she had her comment to make. Maybe that's it, in the end: the willingness of complete strangers to make each and every pregnant woman into a piece of public property to be commented on and to, as if she either weren't there, or was, like, paid to listen.

I don't recall getting any paychecks.