Monday, November 30, 2009

Can I Still Talk About "Good Things" If I'm Not Martha Stewart?

Here are some random things I've been thankful for lately, things a little more interesting than the usual, "friends, family, health" list. Not that I'm not grateful for them, too. OBV. But at a certain point that just sounds like a cop out answer, so...

-Our garbage disposal. Seriously, you could put leather down that thing and it would keep on churning, devour it whole, and lick its lips. It is indefatigable. I remember very well that digging the food remnant crud out of the sink trap after washing dishes used to be my least favorite thing IN THE WORLD when I was growing up, second only maybe to repeated vomiting, so I try not to take for granted this magical modern marvel. Keep on keepin' on, disposal!

-The toothpaste I bought awhile ago, Crest Whitening Expressions Wintergreen Burst, (I think?) tastes just like wintergreen gum. I actually get a little excited about brushing my teeth because that is seriously the best toothpaste flavor ever. (Oh yeah. This is not a paid review blog now, mkay? I just really like that toothpaste. I may have gotten ads, one of which I can't get to fit properly in my sidebar after two hours of #^%*/@ fussing with it, but I haven't branched out to reviews just yet, so that was just a free endorsement up there!)

-We had to get a new back door in our den because Eli put a crack in one of the windows of the old one. And also the old one was, you know, OLD, like approximately sixty years old, and it was a good excuse to get a new one because that thing was on its last leg. The new one, while nothing fancy, looks SO MUCH better and is keeping out the cold from that back room SO MUCH better! I get happy every time I look at it. Our heat bill thanks you, white, six panel steel door.

-Eli's full blown obsession with Disney's Cars seemed to have tapered off a bit, replaced by a new fascination with all things dinosaur. I enjoy this new interest a lot more. And also I'm happier to buy things involving dinosaurs, which seem educational and science-y, than I am to buy yet more Disney paraphernalia. I mean, he still likes cars, don't get me wrong, all relatives who may have already purchased Cars items. He's just realized that maybe he can enjoy MORE THAN ONE category of toys and movies. Also awesome? We have convinced him that dinosaurs hungrily devour all their meals, so whenever he starts being Mr. Picky Pants about dinner, we're all, "Where's the dinosaur? Does someone hear a hungry dinosaur?" Etc. Classic psychological manipulation, of course, but in this case I think the end justifies the means.

-The kids were both old enough this year to help us put ornaments on the tree. It totally blew my mind. Sure, two of the more fragile ones got shattered. Sure, I had to kind of redistribute some of the ornaments after they went to bed, since three fourths of them were on the bottom two rows of branches. But it was totally worth it. Christmas magic! And they're being really good about not messing with the tree now that it's up, other than both of them demanding to be lifted up to see the angel on top every time they enter the living room. I'm sure that will wear off in a week or so, though. Either that or the angel's going to mysteriously disappear.

-And speaking of thing that need to mysteriously disappear, last year my mom got Eli a Little Einstein's rocket ship Hallmark ornament. Which, when SOMEONE puts the BATTERIES in it, plays the entire theme song every time you push a button. And hey! SOMEONE put the batteries in it this year! And someone ELSE who is two years old and thrives on repetition is having his world rocked by the Little Einsteins song every five minutes. It's as festive as you might imagine.

-Uh, wait. This was supposed to be a thankful list. Ha ha, look at that! How quickly I diverge into whining!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, ya'll!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Baking A Pie In Ten Easy Steps, Or, The Expression "Easy As Pie" Is Very Misleading

Apparently one glass of wine, MAYBE one and a half, is considered helpful for large baking projects and is recommended by the leading experts.

Also, choosing the correct brand of slimy, lard-type substance to be used in your pie crust is key. Bon apetit!

The virgin pastry cutter. Please refrain from commenting re: the pigtails.

Flouring dough. Pretty self explanatory.

I think it's official: I am incapable of being photographed without at least one piece of hair falling into my face. It's like my trademark.

Addy takes her baking very seriously.

Crimped pie shells. The crimping was harder than I thought it would be. Pastry shells are fragile!

Jim's mom, crimping the top of the crust over the apple pies.

Garnishing pecan pie with... pecans! What a bold culinary move!

And done. Not too shabby eh?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday One Through Five

1) I'm so excited! For Jim's side of the family, we're using "my" (actually ripped from Marie Green) idea of giving only handmade or hand-me-down/secondhand gifts. I think this is a great opportunity to both save money and be much more personal and creative. Yay! It's like Little House on the Prairie, but without the whole almost freezing to death/ starving/having to wash out one's flannel sanitary rags in a bucket of ice water aspect!

2) I'm going to learn to make pie crust from scratch today. I will either ruin Thanksgiving dessert for twenty-some people, or emerge a stronger person. It's another epic smackdown of Sarah versus Pastry. I have at long last mastered cookies (for instance, there is an important difference between softening and completely MELTING the butter, apparently) so I am feeling hopeful.

3) On Saturday I helped decorate Jim's family's coffeehouse for Christmas. Oh, and Adelay did too, inasmuch as drinking three cups of pink lemonade from the fountain and getting insanely hyper about all the sparkly lights could be considered helpful. No, actually, that's all I expected from her, and she did of course fulfill that expectation, but she also ran bags of ornaments back and forth to the different trees for me, which WAS genuinely helpful. So hey! Having kids has finally paid off!

4) Tomorrow we're having a big Thanksgiving brunch at my mom's house with my side of the fam before heading to Indiana for Jim's side in the afternoon. So that's two enormous meals in about a five hour time span. Relatedly, I have resolved to work out five times this week. Two down, three to go!
(Side note: does anyone know how to work out one's leg muscles without somehow managing to make one's thighs LARGER? I mean, I appreciate the added muscle tone and I know, I know, exercise is about HEALTH, not aesthetics, but who are we kidding? If I'm going to bother working up a sweat, I'd appreciate looking better for it!)

5) I'm really in the mood for Christmas music today, especially after reading Shelly's post. But I need some new music, and stuff the kids would like, too. Anyone have suggestions for Christmas albums that you and your kids enjoy together?

Edit: Also, the Swiss Colony catalogue came the other day, and it was SO FUN to watch Addy and Eli poring over every single page with pure, unadulterated sugar lust on their little faces. Addy kept jabbing spastically at the items and announcing, over and over and OVER with no sense of irony whatsoever, "THIS one's my favorite! No, wait, THIS one! Or... THIS one is my favorite thing!"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Try, Try Again

I am so happy right now. About a year ago, I bought the movie Milo and Otis for the kids, thinking it would be something fun and non-commercial and non-annoying-to-adults, and also educational because of all the different animals and the view of farm life and whatnot. I certainly liked it when I was a kid.

Alas, both of them HATED it, and it has been shelved, unwatched, for quite awhile. Then today, when Eli had rejected every single morning cartoon I could find but was still asking for a "show," I remembered Milo and Otis, remembered that Eli has recently developed an obsession with his animal books, and thought to give it another whirl.

Dude, he LOVES this movie now! He has been totally mesmerized by it, and is interacting by loudly naming every animal and then bellowing out the corresponding animal sound. Yay! So cute.

Um, but maybe scratch my initial thought that this movie would be non-annoying to adults. Because SEE ABOVE PARAGRAPH re: naming every single animal and then making the corresponding noise.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What's The Word?

So, not a BOATLOAD of sob stories down on that last post. Maybe there are fewer people with broken hearts than I'd imagined- or maybe not everyone was quite in a rehashing heartbreak kinda mood. Too, maybe we're all better at coping and moving on and finding closure regarding our problems than we give ourselves credit for. For example, I want to clarify that I don't currently feel like I'm walking around with a cracked, bleeding heart. Just one with a still on-the-mend scar, which every now and then smarts a bit.

Like yesterday at the Y, when I ran into an eight months' pregnant friend with a gorgeous, enormous baby-girl-filled belly, and afterwards I had to go into the ladies' room and lean against a stall door taking deep breaths for awhile before I could work out. The stupid thing is that I don't even ENJOY the big, ripe, eight months' pregnant orb of a belly stage very much: the sweet little baby flutters have turned into painful flopping and thrashing which crushes your internal organs and jabs your ribs; you're ten degrees hotter than everyone else no matter what; between trying to get comfortable and the constant need to pee, you're never sleeping more than two hours at a time. Your movements are more like graceless shuffles than strides, thanks to the constant hip and back pain. And for me, the mood swings get pretty bad towards the end. (Um, but it's so worth it, currently pregnant women! Ignore the above! Or, at least know that I'm deeply sympathetic to your suffering. I remember!)

So am I JEALOUS of this hot, uncomfortable friend who, when asked, described herself wearily as "so ready to be done!"? Not exactly. But, I do wonder now if I'm ever going to get that far along with a baby again- you know, where there's an ACTUAL baby on the horizon, and not just the possibility- and so the sight of anyone largely with child occasionally inspires weird feelings that I don't exactly have a word for. Envy and jealousy aren't quite right. Just wistfulness, maybe?

Do you think that will ever go away? I don't want pregnant bellies to make me feel weird. And what if I even feel weird someday about my own pregnant belly? You know what I mean? Will I ever feel like I'm safe- like the BABY is safe and I can stop worrying all the time?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


So here's a kind of serious question: have you ever had your heart broken?

Maybe I should back up a little here... A couple of times recently, my mom and I have been in the car together to go see my sister, and the conversation has somehow drifted to BOYS. Also, having one's heart broken by them. And I realized, I never really have had my heart broken over a guy. I got married really young, as most of you know, so that's probably the main reason it never happened.

In high school I dated maybe four guys, but only one of them longer than a month. That last relationship was actually pretty serious, and we would always talk hypothetically about how we'd get married and have babies and all that jazz. In the end, however we broke up (obviously!) due to what I'll just call irreconcilable differences. It was him that had his heart broken, though, while I felt mainly relief. He was a sweet guy and I cared about him a lot, but I knew even then that I was escaping an unpleasant future. Still, I used to have guilt dreams about him all the time, because the last time I saw him he was crying as he drove away from me, after having unsuccessfully tried to persuade me to get back together. Ouch. Guilt, though, is definitely different than heartbreak.

After getting married, I remember mentally breathing a little sigh of relief, like, "Whew! I have now forever dodged that whole emotional train wreck of being screwed over by a guy! I'm safe from sadness forever!"

Well. Then I started having babies. And losing babies. I am now quite aware that there are other kinds of heartbreak than the sort inflicted by teenage boys. I am also aware now that just about everybody gets their heart broken at some point or another. Maybe it's a boyfriend that betrays you when you're an idealistic college student, sure, but maybe it's a husband of twenty years deciding that marriage has grown stale for him and he wants to start again with someone else just as you thought you were approaching a peaceful retirement stage together. Maybe it's YOU realizing that your marriage has grown stale, but you don't know what to do about it and the future is looming ahead long and tiresome and joyless.

Maybe you've lost a parent, or a sibling or a friend. Maybe a family relationship has fallen apart and despite your efforts seems unmendable. And, maybe your body has betrayed you in the one area that mattered most to you. Maybe you are unable to conceive, or keep losing your babies in spite of every medical attempt made and every prayer prayed and even though you still have faith and you don't exactly feel abandoned, you do feel confused, and you do feel angry. Or maybe you have lost your faith, because of one big reason or a bunch of little ones, and your life suddenly feels like the bottom has dropped out.

So go ahead and tell me (anonymously if you wish, I certainly understand): what has broken your heart?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm Kind Of Slow With This Stuff

I installed SiteMeter today, because I want to do BlogHer AdSense (Please don't hate me! Still come read me!) and you can't register for it without submitting how much traffic your site gets each month. And I, uh, I currently have NO IDEA how much traffic I get. So that's why the SiteMeter. But, what I realized I still don't know, now that I've already installed it, is whether SiteMeter just tracks actual visits to my website, or also tracks each time one of my posts gets read in someone's Google reader, or whatever reader they use.

I bet most of YOU know the answer to this. Help me out?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Perfectly Punctual

Jim laughed at me the other day for ranting to him at length about a house I'd seen recently, a house that was already all lit up for Christmas. Yes, he LAUGHED at me, and said that he had long since stopped judging people for getting prematurely in the spirit of the holiday, because if he did that he'd have to judge ME as well. ME! I'll have you know that I wait to do any holiday decorating or festive music listening until the end of November, until at least the day AFTER Thanksgiving, every year even if it kills me. Which as far as I know is a fairly UNIVERSAL rule, right? Anytime after Thanksgiving counts as the Christmas season, anything before counts as TOO EARLY. Back me up here, internet types! I am NOT an early celebrator! I am exactly on time. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


No, I COULDN'T be bothered to sit that plastic basketball hoop back up for the picture. My arms were too tired from singlehandedly raking up a forest's worth of leaves.

What did YOU do this weekend, bee-otches? 'Cause I bet you can't top this.

Eh, to be fair, I should point out that I only raked up the fifteen leaf piles (note: camera couldn't span wide enough to picture all piles!) Jim took care of getting them all from the backyard to the street. BUT then I MOWED the backyard singlehandedly! (You know, so I wouldn't be in charge of entertaining the kids, which was the alternative option.)

(Also, bah. Now that the yardwork's all done, I have no excuse for not going to the gym.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Three Things

Here are two Addy issues that have me a little concerned:

1) Her frequent stammering, which used to seem normal in the context of toddler-speak, seems to be getting more pronounced the older she gets and the more articulate her vocabulary and pronunciation become. What does one DO about this? Ignore it entirely? Assume she'll grow out of it? Speech therapy? I've literally never known anyone who dealt with this, so I am bewildered.

2) Her complete confusion regarding gender-specific pronouns, i.e. he/she, him/her, his/hers. She uses them interchangeably, saying things such as, "He's so excited! Her mommy got him a new toy!" all presumably about the same child, whose identity is now a total MYSTERY. I imagine there's not much to be done other than regular, gentle correction when she's gets things mixed up, but is this normal at her age? (Does she actually think we're all hermaphrodites?)

Here is an Addy thing that is awesome:

1) She totally gets the concept that mammals grow in their mom's bellies before they are born, and she recognizes a pregnant human belly immediately. I still haven't explained how the baby gets OUT, however, and she doesn't seem concerned by this little detail just yet. Or rather, she is not concerned about it because she has apparently invented her own version of birth which she finds completely legitimate. She will have her mommy horse just sort of... crouch, I guess is the word, over the baby, and announce to us that the baby horse is still in its mama's belly, but it is "almost ready!" Then she'll count to some arbitrary number, say, seventeen, yell, "Ta da!" and have her mommy horse jump off the baby. "The baby is born!" she announces grandly. I don't have the heart to disillusion her just yet. We'll save the special, magical discussion of cervixes and dilating and placenta expulsion for some other date. (I kinda like her version better, anyways.)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Spoiler Alert: Sappy Post. Seriously. You've Been Warned.

I think I've mentioned before that one of my favorite authors is Elizabeth Berg, mainly because I usually finish one of her novels feeling good about the world in general and even my own life in particular. It may not merit the Pulitzer Prize, this style of fiction, but on the other hand maybe it does. It is not such a small thing, to be able to give people that feeling.

Anyways, in one of the many quotes that have stuck with me from her books- this particular one is Never Change, I believe- the main character is talking about the frustrating inadequacy of words to fully express some of our deeper, fleeting emotions. The example she gave was of looking at the autumn leaves, still vivid on the trees, and of being so unable to convey the depth of what she felt at that moment to a companion. "I mean, what would I say? 'Aren't the trees pretty'? And so I keep quiet."

That's kind of how I feel about this blog, sometimes. I can put a funny spin on annoying situations, OF WHICH THERE ARE PLENTY; I can even try to express, and thereby ease, the pain my life sometimes brings me. But the joy? Sometimes it's difficult to put into words. It's hard and raw and excruciatingly tender to say the truth, which is that I would bleed myself dry for my children. (And never tell them about it, either, so they wouldn't feel guilty!) That when I watch them playing happily together, here is what often comes, unbidden, to my mind: "This is enough. I could die now and it would have been enough."

Another way to say it is the lyrics of this song, "Existentialism on Prom Night" by Straylight Run. (And yes, I know, now I'm quoting SONG LYRICS. Next up: a mix tape! Maybe several! Accompanied by a friendship bracelet!) But here it is anyways:

There are moments when
When I know it ends
And the world revolves around us
And we're keeping it
Keeping it all going
This delicate balance
All knowing

(Sing like you think no ones listening)

You would kill for this
Just a little bit
Just a little bit
You would
(You would)

Sing me something soft
Sad and delicate
Or loud and out of key
Sing me anything

We're glad for what we've got
Done with what we've lost
Our whole lives laid out right in front of us

Aren't the trees pretty?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

You Win, Universe

Also I got violent food poisoning last night. I am now so dehydrated that my head is pounding and my bones are aching.

The end.

Monday, November 02, 2009

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Sigh. Sigh sigh sigh. These sighs are coming up from the very bottom of my toes, it feels like. I have felt like a lousy mom many many times today. I have BEEN a lousy mom at least once today. And the worst of it is, I was actually TRYING. And it just wasn't enough. Sometimes your best is just not enough to handle what's thrown at you. Not gracefully, anyways.

The Sordid Story:
I've been under the weather plus PMSing, so I knew today was likely to be crappy. Therefore, I did everything I could to head it off: I made us a nice nutritious breakfast, I took plenty of medicine, and I didn't worry about house chores other than dishes and laundry. I spent lots of time snuggling and cuddling and being silly with the kids on their level instead of making lists and schedules and trying to push myself. AND (this is very important to note) I was changing Eli's diaper every hour to make sure his rash wasn't going to flare up again. Everyone hung around in their jammies until eleven, and generally were happy as clams.

I asked them what they wanted for lunch, and Addy gave the standard answer: scrambled eggs. We eat a LOT of scrambled eggs around here. So I made that, and oatmeal- a breakfast lunch, nothing wrong with that, right? And I let Addy help me make it and everything. All was well, the kids were eating, and then suddenly Eli got a pained look on his face and announced that he needed a diaper change.

This would not ordinarily be a big deal. But Eli got a diaper rash last week, and even though it's getting better, he is now absolutely petrified of diaper changing and completely loses his mind when he has a dirty diaper that requires extensive wiping. This always happens: one rash flare-up leads to a week at least of diaper changing drama. I dread diaper rashes like some people dread colonoscopies.

You get ONE wipe before he reacts to the discomfort of his rash and begins to scream and flail around maniacally on his bed. One wipe if you're LUCKY. Also please understand: even for Jim, getting Eli immobilized enough to clean him properly is a challenge. For me it's almost impossible. I literally do not have enough upper body strength to match 1) his shockingly muscular thighs, and 2) his adrenaline-fueled INSANITY once he sees a wipe coming his way. Our solution is usually to just wait him out until he's settled down a bit and then try again, then let him scream, then try again, etc. It's a process to say the least. AND I have to change his sheets every day before bed because he's always ended up getting poo on them. It's like I'm laundering changing pad covers for a newborn all over again.

I feel bad for him because he's so obviously terrified and I'm sure the rash causes pain and all. But dude, it's not like it's BLEEDING or anything. I think it's really way more a matter of emotional panic here than actual physical torture. He's just a passionate kind of kid for sure. He tantrums all the time, still, so I suppose it shouldn't shock me that unpleasant diaper changes lead to tantrums too. But when there's poo flying everywhere and getting on my sleeve and on the bed and on his socks and up his leg and he's thrashing and twisting and arching away from me, all while screaming bloody murder as though I'm trying to kill him instead of just CLEAN HIM UP WHICH IS NOT EXACTLY FUN FOR ME EITHER, it's super hard for me not to lose my cool.

All that to say, I totally DID lose my cool this morning, when he had managed to destroy my outfit and his outfit and the mattress protector on his bed and gotten poo in his hair and I had run out of wipes but still hadn't gotten him clean. I was screaming right back at him to just HOLD STILL FOR (something not nice's) SAKE! and not just in a loud voice but a kind of a hissy, mean voice, and it was crossing my mind to just give his thigh a smack to snap him out of his craziness, but I realized that there was no way I should be attempting any sort of corporal ANYTHING right now, because I WANTED to smack him a little more than I should have and...

Gah. It was ugly. I had to just leave him in his screamy, poo-smeared tantrum and go into the hall and cry before I could deal with it again. I finally went back in, and, when all my renewed efforts to help him settle down were futile, I just pinned him down with my elbow and knee (there's something I never thought I'd say regarding my child sigh sigh sigh) and used warm wet washcloths to clean him up. Washcloths which I then threw away, along with the mattress protector, because they were SO gross I didn't even want them in my washing machine. Then I put him in the bath, where he immediately settled down and began playing boats as though the twenty minute fiasco had never even happened.

I however was slumped against the bathtub, having a huge fit of depression about what a craptastic mom I was and how no WONDER the universe wasn't letting me stay pregnant right now, I can barely keep from killing the baby I HAVE... And then Adelay came in, saw my face, made a sad face herself, and gave me a big hug. She said softly, "I so proud of you, mom!" Which made me burst into tears. "Why are you proud of me?" I asked incredulously. "You help Eli when he, when he be's... so CRAZY with his diaper," she explained laboriously, gesturing towards their bedroom. "You're a nice girl!" This, accompanied with gentle back patting.

Just... What do you even do with that kind of sweetness?

I guess maybe I've done a few things right.

(Either that or it's very tragic that my four year old is already good at talking people off a ledge.)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

We're Not All Going To Die. But We Might Get Fatter.

Son of a b. I am still sick. The body aches/raspy cough have morphed into horrendous head cold/phlegmy cough. Still no fever at all, or vomiting or anything, so NOT H1N1, I assume. NOT THAT I WOULD BE ALL THAT FREAKED OUT ANYWAYS. Ahem. But it seemed, basically, like a mild fly immediately followed by a cold. Not fair.

But at least no one else is sick. YET. Dum dum dum...

This is why sometimes having a gym membership seems like money down the drain. Can't (WON'T) go because I'm sick, then can't go because the kids are (most likely going to be) sick... There goes two weeks!

Between sedentary lifestyle and two buckets of unguarded Halloween candy sitting out in the evenings, I am going to be well on my way to dressing as Jolly Old Saint Nick come Christmas. I won't even need a pillow in order to fake having a belly that jiggles like a bowl full of jelly.

But I don't really care. I'm feeling very "meh" about weight lately. Like, if it's not enough to hurt my health, and if I can still fit into my clothes and don't have to buy a new wardrobe, then I'm not really going to fret over some scale fluctuation. There are other things to worry about.