31 December 2009

resolutions

I am sitting here, watching some lame ghost hunting show with Jonathan, trying not to eat all of the chocolate-covered goldfish crackers he put in my Christmas stocking. (Does he know me, or what?!) And I am trying to decide what my New Year's Resolutions should be.

Clearly, I am going to make my annual I-am-going-to-get-healthy-this-year-and-this-time-I-mean-it! resolution. So other than that general goal, here are my resolutions:

1. To drink more water. What? It's really dry here in Colorado and I refuse to let my skin get all nasty and flaky.

2. To try really, really hard to love everyone. And by everyone I mean everyone. I mean the rude person in the Wal-Mart, that annoying person in my class at school who asks so many questions that he takes up all of the professor's time, everyone.

Wow. That one is a really big one. So maybe I'll just focus on that one and the annual I-am-going-to-get-healthy resolution and I will try to drink more water whenever I think of it. That should be plenty.

Oh! And one more:

3. To blog more often. And maybe I should try to think of something every post that I am grateful for. Because I have much to be grateful for in my life.

So there you have it--my resolutions for 2010. Happy New Year!

Tonight I am grateful for my husband. Who loves me and put up with my being ridiculously cranky tonight and giving him the silent treatment in the car coming home from Target. Who puts the kids to bed almost every single night and reads them all of the very long books I avoid when it's my turn to tuck them in and who reads them with loud, theatrical voices and outrageous John Cleese accents. Who picked out the sweetest things for my Christmas stocking, even though he complained that I am extremely hard to shop for. Who makes sure my humidifier is full and fully functioning at night so I will get better sooner.

Tell me, Gentle Reader, what are you grateful for tonight?

29 December 2009

wheezer

I am sick. I think I get sick every winter. Do I? Maybe. Anyway, I am sick now. Luckily for me, Jonathan's parents are still visiting so they are playing with the kids all day and feeding them and putting them to bed and stuff. Which is awesome, because it allows me to sleep.

I am now past the feverish stage and fully enmeshed in the cranky-as-hell stage. I am just so tired of coughing and wheezing and blowing my nose. Tired. Of. It. I barely saw Jonathan's sister and her husband while they were here. I was lying in bed with a fever. Feeling guilty that I wasn't downstairs hanging out with them. A little bit, but mostly just feeling achy and miserable.

His parents leave soon. Tomorrow, maybe? And then God knows how we will get by. Because although I miss the children terribly and feel like I haven't seen them in months, when I am around them they are just so loud that my ears start ringing and I'm like, Get these noisy crazy monsters away from me!

So that should be fun.

Sorry to be so complainy. Merry freakin' Christmas. (Told you I was in the cranky-as-hell stage. You would be, too, trust me.)

23 November 2009

6 things I love about my husband

(in no particular order)

1. he is so gorgeous
2. he is so passionate
3. he is so silly
4. he is so tall
5. he is a good father
6. he takes such good care of me

Happy birthday, honey!

16 November 2009

6 things I do not believe in

1. ghosts
2. alien abductions
3. angels
4. customer service
5. the doomsday calender
6. politicians

um...

A few weeks ago, NieNie was on Oprah.

NieNie is short for Stephanie Nielson, a blogger from Provo, Utah. She is an extraordinary woman, wife and mother of four adorable kids. Her blog is so inspiring. And one of the reasons it is so inspiring is the crazy turn her life took last summer when the small plane carrying her and her husband crashed.

Stephanie suffered burns over 80% of her body. She was in a coma for months. I followed her recovery through her sister's blog until Stephanie finally began blogging again. And the story of her day-to-day life is so inspiring and humbling. She makes me tear up almost every time I read her blog. She reminds me what is really important.

Anyway, I was uberexcited she was going to be on Oprah. My mom and Olivia both were like, "Did you see NieNie is going to be on Oprah?!" (And I have to give my mom props for totally calling it before the appearance was announced, when she read on Stephanie's blog that she and her husband, Christian had taken a trip to Chicago.)

Anyway, so I taped the episode. (Or DVRed it, whatever...) And watched with tears in my eyes. Stephanie and her husband are so in love! And she looks so beautiful! She still has a lot of scars, but her blue eyes are the same and her little hairdo. Anyway.

So the Lion turns to me and he says, "Her lips are big."

And I wipe my tears away and pause the show and say, "Yes, they are big. Do you know why?"

Lion shakes his head. And I take the opportunity to explain to him how badly Stephanie was hurt, and how sometimes people look different and that's normal for them and we should never stare at them or mention how they look different. I really went all out. Like an after-school special or one of those "The More You Know" commercials. Anyway, I summed up beautifully and asked the Lion if he understood.

He blinked at me and then asked, "But why are your lips so big?"

09 November 2009

6 reasons I have not been blogging

this Monday's list of six:

1. We have been busy enjoying our guests: first Olivia and then my mom.
2. School has been kicking my ass.
3. I have a cold and Jonathan has the H1N1 flu.
4. I am addicted to facebook.
5. I am intimidated by all of the wonderfully talented bloggers out there.
6. I am just plain lazy.

I will try to do better.

28 September 2009

momentary lapse

I had to take a little break from blogging.

The problem was I had to write a personal essay for my English class. We had to write about an incident in our lives that changed us. And we had to carry on for 3 to 5 pages about it.

We were supposed to choose an incident that we still had unresolved questions about. So we could use the paper as an avenue to more thoroughly explore our feelings...

And I could not for the life of me come up with a topic! I was all like yeah, I love to write ... would love to be a writer ... blah blah blah ... me me me ... and then when it came time to really wow the professor with my first assigned essay, I drew a complete blank. Give me a topic, and I can write about it. Pick a genre even. No problem.

But I have this blog, see. And I kind of use it to work out my feelings about any and every incident in my life. So I really don't have any issues that are looming in my mind with burning questions attached. I've blogged about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Seriously. Married to Man I Love. Check. Feelings about Being a Mother. Check. My Miscarriage. Check. Even The Day My Dog Died has been all typed up for the world to read.

So I took a little sabbatical from blogging. I studied for another Anatomy exam. And I did a lot of free-writing, trying to brainstorm. The paper is due tomorrow and I cranked out three pages of something so we'll see... sigh

Newsweek had a very interesting article in the last issue about the ethics of mommy-bloggers. It was very interesting. All about the decision a parent makes (the power they wield) to air all their children's dirty laundry. On the internet. For the whole world to read. Until the end of time.

As a mommy blogger, I kind of heaved a gigantic sigh of relief after reading it. I don't feel I have ever written anything that could be considered a betrayal of my children's trust. Because I write little anecdotes about my kids so I can look back on them later. So I will never forget the silly little things they say and do. And so my mom and my mother-in-law know about all the adorable things the grandkids are up to. But also, and most importantly, I write about my children so they have my words, in my voice, for the rest of their lives. If I get hit by a truck tomorrow, they will always have this blog to read and they will know how deeply I adore them.

16 September 2009

Science Girl


So I found out the score on my first Anatomy exam. I was very nervous about this test because it was supposed to be a review of all of the basic Biology and Chemistry stuff we should have learned in Biology, with some basic Anatomy terms and regions thrown in. And, as you may recall, I haven't taken basic Biology. I crammed some basic Bio into my head this summer with a Biology Cliff Notes book and managed to pass the science placement test. So now I had to go back over all of that information more thoroughly to pass this exam and catch up to my classmates.

It was very overwhelming, because I made like a billion notecards and wasn't really sure if I was studying the right information. And then, of course, the exam was only like 40 questions. So I walked out feeling pretty good, but not sure if it was a false confidence.

My score? I got a 99!

Jonathan, the Wonder Husband, was so proud of me. I came home from class, where I had texted him my grade, and the house was squeaky clean, and he had run out and gotten a pizza for me. There was also a lovely card -- and a delicious lemon shortcake for dessert! How adorable is he? I am so lucky.

You know, it's funny. Somewhere along the way I had gotten the idea that I was bad at math and science. That I am more right-brained than left-brained. I think this is something that many girls, for one reason or another, come to believe. But I was the office supervisor at Borders a few years ago and was in charge of the safe and all of the deposits, payroll, and reconciling the corporate accounts. And I found out that I love math!

And now this exam has proven to me that I can also do science! I feel so confident. I get it! Just don't ask me to explain the Krebs cycle.

14 September 2009

Patrick Swayze

I can't believe he is gone.


I still remember going to see this movie at the Spotsylvania Mall with my mom and Christina. Christina and I were probably about 12 years old. Right after seeing the movie we tried one of those little machines in the mall that measures your sex drive for a quarter. It was called The Love Meter or something like that. Basically it measured your heartrate. Well, Christina and I were so worked up from watching Patrick Swayze in that movie! Our hearts were racing. I still remember that stupid machine told both of us "Whoa! Take a cold shower!"

tomato wild rice soup

I make this soup about a billion times every fall and winter. It is thick and hearty and just so freakin' delicious! It is starting to get a bit cooler outside and so I made a huge batch last week. The plan was to freeze some so that on nights when I have class, Jonathan could heat some up for dinner, but we both love the soup so much we ate every last drop!

This recipe is from The Complete Book of Soups and Stews by Bernard Clayton. One of the best cookbooks I ever bought.


Tomato and Wild Rice Soup

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, sliced

1 stalk celery, sliced

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can chicken broth

1/2 cup wild rice

salt

pepper

pinch of sugar

1/2 teaspoon basil (or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh)

1/2 cup heavy cream


Melt butter with olive oil in a soup pot. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Add tomatoes, chicken broth and rice and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste and the basil and a pinch of sugar. Boil gently, covered, for 1 hour until rice opens and fluffs. Stir frequently. Add water if it boils down too much (I don't because I like thick soup).

Add the cream and heat through.


I usually use 2 or 3 carrots and stalks of celery and a lot more rice. Probably three times as much rice as the recipe calls for! But I prefer this almost like a stew instead of a soup. And of course you have to eat it with some crusty, buttery bread from Target!

04 September 2009

tomato soup cake

I found this recipe card years ago while raiding my grandmother's recipe box for tomato soup cake. So of course I snagged it. It just sounded too bizarre, although apparently my grandfather loves it. I never made it.

So this week, feeling the approach of Fall and being in a baking mood, I decided to finally, finally make the cake. So of course I cannot find the recipe card. After looking around a bit (it is here somewhere, I just know it) I found a recipe online. The recipes are probably basically identical. I think the idea was from Campbell's so Grandma probably copied it off of one of their cans or out of a magazine!

Anyway, the idea is that the cake is a frugal, simple dessert choice during the depression (or even today's recession) because it has relatively few ingredients and they are items you usually have on hand. Except, having decided to make this cake at last, I realized, for the first time in my entire life probably, that I had no tomato soup in my pantry.

So I threw the kids in the car and drove to Wal-Mart for a can of tomato soup.

Anyway, the cake. The. Cake. The cake was fantastic. Possibly a new favorite for me. If you like carrot cake or spice cake, or even if you just like cream cheese frosting, then you must throw this beauty together. It is a gorgeous orangey-brown color, just a little more orange than a carrot cake, and you would never know there is tomato soup in it! It made my whole house smell like Autumn.

Warning: this cake is very dense and heavy so I recommend making it when you have company over. Because although it is delicious, I think I have gained five pounds since making it!

Our cake looks very sloppy because I was in such a hurry to eat it! I cut off two big pieces for the kids and gave them each a bowl of frosting so they could frost their own cake before eating it. Then I used my rubber spatula to literally just dump the rest of the frosting on the cake and quickly smear it around. But it was so freakin' delicious I don't care if it looks like a hot mess!

Tomato Soup Cake

3/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 (10.75 ounce) can tomato soup
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt or tube pan.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, combine tomato soup, water and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture alternately with the flour mixture. Stir in the raisins and nuts.

Pour batter into pan. Bake 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

27 August 2009

Hi, my name is Erin, and I'm a geek.

So I am all fired up about one of my classes! Yay me! The crappy thing is that it is my required English class and not my Anatomy class. Hmmm...

But it doesn't mean anything. It's not significant. I mean, I have always loved writing.

Writing + Reading + Decorating = Me, Blissfully Happy!

Who doesn't get more excited about a creative class than a science class? Right?

So tonight I went to my English class and I was practically skipping. I think I smiled at every person I passed in the halls.

I am such a dork.

I refuse to give in to my inner geek. I refuse to be one of those annoying, usually older, students who talks constantly to the professor. But, um, is it too late? Have I already been talking too much in class? Do I even have an "inner" geek or am I just a full-blown geek?

I am loving the idea of really working on my writing. I think I worry too much about what it is I want to say, about the finished product and not enough about just being creative and enjoying the process of writing.

So I just walked in the door. Jonathan had the light on for me and the kids are in bed and I am already overflowing with ideas for my next assignment. I will get around to memorizing the anatomical regions this weekend. I promise I will.

25 August 2009

school girl

Meaning me, not Blue. I start classes today. I wonder if Jonathan will take a picture of me on my first day of school.

Today will be a bit crazy. I decided last night to take another of my prerequisites along with Anatomy. I just need to get through the prerequisites as quickly as possible to get on the wait list for nursing school. "Hurry up and wait," right? So today I am meeting with an advisor after picking Blue up from kindergarten to try to get into an English class. And then racing home to drop the kids off with Jonathan so I can go to my Anatomy class. Then, if I can get into the class, the English class starts tonight! I just hope I can get in to see an advisor in the hour I have this afternoon. We'll see...

I know that does not really sound like a crazy day. But everything tends to take so long with the kids. Just getting everyone buckled into the car takes so long! I guess life at Glenbogle house will be a lot crazier with me in school.

Last night after Jonathan got home from work I ran out to take the English placement test. So I can qualify for the class I need to take. When I got home, Jonathan heated up a big bowl of pasta for me and Blue asked, "How was school, Mommy? Tell me all about your day!" I felt so loved.

24 August 2009

and now for some words from ee cummings

Bulleted List

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings;and of the gay
great happening ilimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any - lifted from the no
of all nothing - human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

19 August 2009

big day tomorrow!

Tomorrow my Bluebird turns five years old. AND she starts kindergarten. I feel so old.

So we just gave the kids their bath and picked out clothes for school for the very first time. It is extra important that Blue look awesome since tomorrow is also picture day.

Then we all piled into Lion's room for a story.  Lion and I both have bronchitis so for the past three nights he has been using his nebulizer. He hates the nebulizer. I think all the sounds it makes freak him out a bit. So before bed Lion sits on my lap while Daddy reads Richard Scarry stories very loudly so we can all hear over the noisy nebulizer.

We asked Blue what she wanted for dinner on her birthday and she chose shrimp and vegetables (meaning raw veggies with dip) and ambrosia salad. How cute is that? I bought some sparkly Italian lemon soda and a little tiny birthday cake for four. And tonight Jonathan went out and bought her a Disney Princess bicycle so we will give her that after dinner! I cannot believe my Bluebird will be old enough to learn to ride a bicycle!

On Saturday we reserved the picnic area at our neighborhood pool. Blue is having a Little Mermaid pool party. But now Blue has absolutely no idea when her birthday actually is! So every day has been "Is it my birthday today?" To which I try to (patiently) explain (for the umpteenth time): "Your birthday is Thursday, which is also the first day of kindergarten!" And then she invariably asks, "Is tomorrow my Little Mermaid birthday?" And I sigh and try to patiently explain that her birthday is one day, her Little Mermaid party is two days later. She just doesn't get it. I just feel bad that the excitement will reach its climax this weekend and then there is no more birthday for a whole year.

Edited to add: After getting ready for bed, Blue spent ages in the bathroom brushing her hair and putting on chapstick for school tomorrow. She is so ubergirly. She rocks.

14 August 2009

how I spent my summer vacation

I am dealing with some form of the flu. So bear with me.

To recap, Jonathan made it home from Detroit. We flew to Virginia with the kids. The trip was all kinds of sickness.
  • my mother-in-law (who we were staying with) got sick
  • we were planning to visit my grandparents down in North Carolina for three days, but my grandma's appendix burst so Jonathan and I left the kids at his parents and drove down to see her for a few hours
  • we returned to Virginia the next day to find the kids sick
  • the kids were sick for the rest of the vacation -- Lion had a respiratory infection and Blue had an ear infection
  • on the flight home I started to feel sick, too
So, the situation now: the kids are slowly, oh-so-slowly, getting better and I am still coughing and sneezing my head off. The worst thing about being sick, for me, is that I fluctuate between thinking 1) I should just sleep and concentrate on getting better and thinking 2) that I need to get off my butt and try to get some shit done around here because lying around resting doesn't seem to be making me feel any better. And then I grow exhausted and out of breath and wind up sleeping for the rest of the day.

Blue's birthday is next Thursday. And it is also her first day of kindergarten! Then on the 25th I start class, too. I passed the Biology placement test so I am able to skip basic Biology and take Human Anatomy and Physiology this fall.

We are still working on potty training Lion. Man, that boy is stubborn! I think he has been associating potty training with starting preschool--well, actually I know he has been. Actual conversation, as I changed his diaper before bed the other night:

me: Lion, you have got to stop pooping in your pants! Don't you want to be a big boy?
Little Lion Man: I don't want to go to preschool!
me: You don't?
Little Lion Man: No. I don't want you to leave me there, because then I going to be so sad.

I talked to Jonathan and we have decided that (since there is probably no way Lion will be potty trained in two weeks anyway) preschool can wait a few months. In the meantime, Blue and I will be in school and those are some pretty big changes in Young house!

So now the incentive for potty training is a camping trip with Daddy. Lion is excited about the idea. He is very big on Daddy lately. "Daddy and me are both boys," he tells me all the time. He is thrilled when he and Daddy wear the same color shirts. And he has decided he prefers burgers over nuggets "just like Daddy!" So maybe the idea of spending a weekend alone with Daddy will entice that kid to poop in the potty. We'll see...

21 July 2009

oy vey

Drama at the Young house yesterday. Much muuuuuuuch drama. Oy! I cannot wait for Jonathan to come home.

First of all, I overslept and so we missed the kids' weekly swim lessons.  Blue slept with me Sunday night (and I use the term "slept" lightly) because she saw a big spider in her room and it freaked her out. It freaked me out, too. She said she saw it coming down from the ceiling on its web and it landed on her bed. She is usually pretty cool and collected when it comes to spiders and bugs, but that was a bit creepy by anybody's standards and she climbed quickly out of bed and started to cry. I looked (not very hard, I'll admit) for the spider but quickly determined she should just sleep in Mommy's room for the night.

We both did not sleep very well. And therefore I overslept and we missed swimming.

I came staggering out of my bedroom at 8:30, feeling extremely tired and cranky, and almost stepped into a huge pile of dog vomit just outside my bedroom door. Nice.

By the time I got the carpet cleaned, my coffee made and the kids fed we were very late heading out the door to the thrift store and all the good books were gone. Sigh. So we came back home and I decided the kids needed a nap. Lion was cranky and Blue, as I said, hadn't gotten much sleep so they actually went right up to bed without a fight.

I took the time to watch Harold & Maude. And I absolutely loved it! What a great movie. I thought it might be a bit grotesque, what with the affair involving a teenager and an eighty-year-old woman, but the director handled it so well. And I was afraid Maude's character would be too exuberant, too in love with life, if that makes sense. But she struck a perfect chord. I really, really liked it. And I just love Cat Stevens who supplied the soundtrack. Why had I never seen this movie before?

Anyway, Blue came down after the movie and I gave her some lunch, but Lion was still sleeping. Finally at 3:00 I went upstairs to wake him up. And he was burning up. Like seriously hot. So I took his temperature, which wasn't fun because he was a very weepy and angry young man. And he had a temperature of 103.9 degrees!

So I gave him some Motrin and called the pediatrician. And tried not to freak out, which is always my natural inclination.

The pediatrician asked me how long he had had a fever. And I told her, "Well, he had one yesterday, but it was just a low fever. It was only 101 so I gave him some Tylenol and then he was fine."

She paused and said she didn't really consider 101 a "low fever" and that I should definitely bring him in. The problem is our pediatrician is about 45 minutes away. I found one I liked down in Aurora when we were living in the apartment and haven't really looked for one up here in Westminster. I know, I know, I am a slacker and that is something I need to get on top of. But I just haven't gotten around to it. So, since it was 3:30 by this point, and driving through Denver in rush hour traffic with a sick toddler didn't appeal to me, we decided I should just take Lion to one of those 24-hour urgent care clinics.

So I wrangled the kids into the car, with poor Little Lion Man weeping and complaining the entire time, and drove to the urgent care clinic nearby. And got lost trying to find it. In a car almost out of gas. Grrrr.

There was a bit of a wait at the clinic (of course) but the kids tried very hard to behave. They finally brought us into the back and quickly determined that Lion's throat was red and his glands were swollen. So they did a strep test and we had to wait some more for the results. The results came back negative but the doctor told me they are sending the throat culture on to a more comprehensive lab because, in her opinion, Lion definitely has strep. In the meantime, she wrote us a prescription for amoxycillin and sent us on our way.

To Wal-Mart, with a tired, roaring Lion to get his prescription filled. Which took over an hour and a half.

I hate Wal-Mart.

By the time the prescription was ready Lion (and I) had had it. He threw a tantrum in the line at the pharmacy, during which he accidentally smacked me in the eye. I just snatched his Happy Meal toy away from him, told him firmly, "We do not hit," and let him scream away at me while I stared at a spot on the wall over the head of the person in front of me in line and tried very, very hard to find my happy place. I think in my twisted mind letting my child scream his head off was my way of punishing the pharmacists for not filling our prescription in a timely manner.

By the time we finally made it home at 7:00 I was ready for a stiff drink. I gave the kids some rice pudding, gave the Lion some of his amoxycillin and some Tylenol and put them both to bed. I gave Lion a ten-second bath to clean him off and cool him down, read him a story and kissed him goodnight.

Then Blue was crying in her room. So I went in to find out what was the matter with her. I think she was just as tired and overwhelmed by the whole doctor/Wal-Mart fiasco as I was. So I got her into her jammies and tucked her in and told her how proud of her I was for being such a good girl at the doctor's and for helping me take care of Lion. She calmed down and gave me a hug and I found my way downstairs.

I talked to Jonathan on the phone and made a cup of decaf coffee, since the only alcohol we had in the house was some rum, which I don't like at all. I watched The Closer and it was a really good episode so that helped a little. But I still felt like I had a fist squeezing my heart. It had been such a nightmare evening. I hate when one of the kids doesn't feel well and I hate the helpless feeling of not knowing what is wrong or how to help them. And then the massive relief of a diagnosis and a remedy and the flood of overwhelming sympathy for parents who never receive either.

I was still feeling stressed out and angry at Wal-Mart even after the coffee and The Closer so I watched Amelie. That made me feel so much better. I love that movie! And a gorgeous thunderstorm rolled in which really soothed my spirits and helped to cool down our hot, stuffy house. I opened some of the windows to let in the breeze and went to check on the kids in case the thunder, which was very loud, woke them up. Lion was awake and he was crying. So, for the second night in a row, I did not sleep alone.

And that was my day. The End.

19 July 2009

I was told there would be no math

My dear friend, Shannon, watched the kids for me today so I could take the Biology placement test at the community college. For the past week and a half I have been trying to cram an entire semester of Biology into my brain so I can score high enough to skip General Biology and sign up for Microbiology in the Fall. Even though I have not taken Biology since tenth grade. Which was what? 1991? And I did pretty poorly in it then.

But skipping General Biology would save me a whole semester of school and about $500 so I have been trying.

The test was 100 questions. I scored a 68. And I needed a 70 to pass.

DAMN IT.

So I went to Starbucks on the way to Shannon's house and picked up a vanilla latte and some lemon loaf for her. And a vanilla latte and some lemon loaf for myself. Screw Dr. Atkins. I was so frustrated and a bit hungry and I love lemon desserts. So I told Shannon it was to make myself feel better. Which was total crap because if I had (by some miracle) aced the test, I would have bought myself a lemon loaf to celebrate. When you need something lemony, people, you find a reason.


Anyway. I can retake the test after seven days. So this gives me seven more days to learn all those stupid chemical compounds that I messed up on today (who knew there was so much Chemistry in Biology?) and hopefully get at least two more questions correct next time.

Like Jonathan said, this is just a minor setback.

He is so ready to come home. And I am so ready for him to be home. It is just so pointless, being apart. All this time, wasted being away from him. For what? Because for some reason there is work to be done in the city of Detroit that someone who already lives in Detroit cannot do? How does that make sense? Meanwhile, I am alone, chasing yet another gigantic moth out of Blue's room, wondering how I ever lived on my own for so long. What did I do when I came across a spider? I honestly don't remember. Is that why I moved around so many times?

Anyway, the kids have been staying busy while Daddy is away. We have been painting with watercolors a lot this week. Which is very messy. But which they love to do. Every afternoon now they ask me if they can paint. And they have painted stacks of gorgeous watercolors: flowers and princesses and Daddies and giraffes and birds and pirate ships and a family that was so sad because their baby died. (That last one was Blue's creation and I have no idea what prompted it, but I had to cover my mouth with my hand so I wouldn't laugh. Where do kids come up with this stuff? I mean, those poor grieving stick people really did look sad. They had huge purple frowns across their faces.)

Lion painted one of a knight before going up to bed. (They played knights with Shannon's little boy, Elijah, today.) He told me, pointing to a big green blob of paint, "That is a knight. And that," he pointed to a blob of brown paint beside it, "is his woman."

16 July 2009

Chick Flick Suggestion List

So after my cri de coeur I have gotten some good suggestions. (Like that? Like how I tossed that bit of French in there? I thought you would.)

Anyway, including the ones I received on facebook, here's the Chick Flick Suggestion List so far. I am ranking the ones I have already seen based on my own little ratings system that I am making up as I go along.

In the SSGN! (supersonic girly noises) category we have the movies I adore:
  • An Affair to Remember
  • Clueless
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Run, Lola, Run
  • Sense & Sensibility
  • Steel Magnolias
  • While You Were Sleeping I can't explain it, but I love this movie. It's a guilty pleasure.

Next, in the Yes, please! category we have movies I really love, as a friend, but that I am not in love with:
  • 13 Going on 30
  • Best in Show
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Ever After
  • Gosford Park
  • Practical Magic
  • Shag
  • Sweet Home Alabama
  • The Witches of Eastwick
Then we have the meh category. These are movies I could live without:
  • 27 Dresses
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • Hope Floats
  • My Best Friend's Wedding
  • That Old Feeling
And lastly, the blech category. These are movies I emphatically did not like.
  • The Golden Compass
  • How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
  • The Jane Austen Book Club
Which leaves me with the following excellent list of suggestions. I am going to try and rent them all and see how they stack up.

Boys
Funny Girl
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Harold and Maude
High Society
High Tide
Iron Jawed Angels
Lost in Translation
Out of Africa
Philadelphia Story
Places in the Heart
Plenty
Pushing Daisies
Stardust
To Catch a Thief
Troop Beverly Hills
Two For the Road
Waking Ned Devine
The Way We Were
The Women (the original)

I am so embarrassed that I have still never seen Harold and Maude. I just bumped that one to the top of my Netflix queue. Some of the older classics I am reading the titles and thinking, "Haven't I seen that? Years ago on TCM?" Since I can't remember, I will go ahead and rent them and see if I get deja-vu or not. Anyway, I'll check back in on this list. Feel free to make more suggestions!

15 July 2009

suggestions, please

Since Jonathan is away, this should be the perfect opportunity to watch some chick flicks, right?

Right. In theory. But I am having trouble thinking of any to rent.

I don't really like most chick flicks, so that is kind of a problem. I would watch Monarch of the Glen again but I feel like I just watched it. Oh, that's because I did just watch it!

So far this week I rented He's Just Not That Into You which was so lame I don't even want to waste any blog space complaining about it. Then I rented Ratatouille to watch with the kids.

Can anyone suggest a good chick flick for me? I have Penelope arriving tomorrow. That one was in our Netflix queue for a while. After that, I am drawing a blank. Help!

13 July 2009

fresh basil pesto recipe

Jonathan has been gone now for a week. I hate when he is away.

The kids are doing alright. We made paper chains and every night before bed we tear another link off of the chain. When all of the links are gone, Daddy will be coming home! This helps them a lot, I think. To understand how long he will be gone. Because last time he was away they asked me every morning, "Are we picking Daddy up today?"

It does not, however, help me because those chains don't appear to be getting any shorter.

sigh.

We went to swim lessons this morning. Then to my favorite thrift store to look at the books. And I spent my weekly $10.00 and this is what I have to show for it:


I finished The Year of Magical Thinking last night when I should have been studying (booooo) but I had to finish it because someone commented to me on facebook how the book was just so sad especially "considering what happened after it was written" and I was like, "Wait ... what? What happened after it was written?" and the temptation to look up Joan Didion on wikipedia was so strong. Because I do live under a rock and had no idea if the woman was alive or dead! Did she die of a broken heart, as so many widows do? Which is a point she talks about while describing grief, so how eerie would that be? Did her daughter die? What was it???????? I was insane with curiosity. So I stayed up too late and did not study a single page of my biology book and didn't get enough sleep and was very grouchy on the way to swimming.

But the book was worth it. And, yes, I did race over to the laptop and look up Joan Didion after finishing it at 2 am and, yes, it is just so sad considering what happened after the book was written.

Again, sigh.

So today after returning home with my new books, I dutifully set them aside (after snapping a photo of them) and opened up the biology book. The kids went upstairs to rest during the hottest part of the day, but then, mercifully, we got a gorgeous thunderstorm which cooled the house down considerably.

I ran outside before the rain began and cut a bunch of our basil and made some pesto. Jonathan and I planted a lot of basil because we love caprese salad, but the basil has sort of taken over its end of the garden! I have never made pesto before but I wanted to use up some of that lovely basil. So I ran out there during the thunder and lightening with my metal scissors that felt suddenly ridiculously oversized and metallic and snipped off as much basil as I could before I began to feel like I was really risking my life unnecessarily. It was only basil, after all. But it was enough for a single batch of this pesto, recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes:

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Makes 1 cup.

I poured it into a jar and stuck it in the freezer, so that we can enjoy it when Jonathan comes home. But I tasted a teeny bit and it is amazing. The flavors are so much stronger than store-bought pesto. And my fingers still smell like basil, which thrills me. I can't stop smelling them. So now my keyboard probably smells like basil, too.

12 July 2009

the year of magical thinking


It is so funny how I still avoid certain books. The ones I feel are too highbrow for me. Too literary. Like The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Its cover is so simple and iconic. It won the National Book Award and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and for the Pulitzer. All of that accolade scared me away.

Which is so ridiculous! How many times have I done this, shied away from what turned out to be an incredible book just because I thought it would be above my comprehension? These books get awards and become classics because they are good.

I remember having that revelation in high school while reading Les Miserables. And then again after picking up Pride and Prejudice the summer after tenth grade. And again after reading To Kill a Mockingbird the summer after graduation, when for some reason I felt my public school education was lacking and I was determined to read all the classics I'd never been assigned in school before going away to college. I think that was the only one I read that summer, but it is still one of the best books I've ever read!

Anyway, the thing is, even after having this revelation over and over again I still fall back into the pattern of intimidation. Where I pick up a classic and, no matter how many times it's been recommended to me (and working at a bookstore, this happened a lot) put it back on the shelf in lieu of something "easier" to read. Here are some of the titles I have been wanting to read but shying away from for years:

The Count of Monte Cristo
Their Eyes Were Watching God

Things Fall Apart

Blindness

Out of Africa
anything by Virginia Woolf
or anything by Anais Nin

To name a few.

I think this is why I love being in a book group. Because without someone telling me to I never would have picked up The Life of Pi or The Bluest Eye or The Unbearable Lightness of Being. And it's why I get annoyed when my book group picks some chick lit beach-read that I would probably have read on my own.

I don't even like chick lit. I have tried it. I have tried Jennifer Crusie and Helen Fielding and Jane Green and that's about all I can stomach. I don't think I will try any others. No thank you. Too much emphasis on the types of shoes worn by the sassy, gorgeous-but-perpetually-single heroine who also sometimes owns a rascally dog or has an either overweight or oversexed hilarious sidekick. (Except for Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, which I did like and which seriously emphasized the heroine's shoes, but I guess there must be an exception to every rule!)

Anyway, the point of all of this is I finally picked up The Year of Magical Thinking this weekend. There is a thrift store a few blocks from Glenbogle house that I have fallen in love with. They mostly sell clothes and they offer 25% off on Mondays. So I drag the kids there every Monday and we fight the insane crowds of people carrying armloads of clothes to head straight for the book aisle. It is an entire aisle of books ranging in price from 80 cents a paperback to $2.82 for hardbacks. And really good hardbacks, too. I leave every week with an armload of books for less than $10.00! Anyway, last week I grabbed The Year of Magical Thinking. And I started it last night.

It is gorgeous. I have fallen in love with this book. Here's the synopsis of the book from Publisher's Weekly and if you have already read this book, bear with me because I am just discovering it!

The author ... chronicles the year following the death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, from a massive heart attack on December 30, 2003, while the couple's only daughter, Quintana, lay unconscious in a nearby hospital suffering from pneumonia and septic shock. Dunne and Didion had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years, and Dunne's death propelled Didion into a state she calls "magical thinking." "We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss," she writes. "We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes." Didion's mourning follows a traditional arc—she describes just how precisely it cleaves to the medical descriptions of grief—but her elegant rendition of its stages leads to hard-won insight, particularly into the aftereffects of marriage. "Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John's eyes. I did not age."

I am usually a very fast reader. I skim. But I am reading this book slowly, chewing and swallowing every word. It is a fascinating window into grief. I find myself with a lump in my throat the entire time I am reading, thinking about my relationship to Jonathan, how codependent we are and how that is not unhealthy. I think also about my brother, whose wife passed away suddenly this February, and how maybe he would appreciate this book and see himself in it. And I think about my grandparents, who have been married 63 years.

So much fiction focuses on the unravelling of marriage. Or on the process of falling in love, abruptly ending once the couple decides to marry. "Will you marry me?" "Yes!" And ... cut! Fade to black.

This is a tribute to an amazing partnership. And a dissection of the process of grieving. And a commentary on how far-removed from death we as a society have become.

I had been thinking I might take a course offered at the community college on death and grieving to fulfill my sociology requirement. I figured it would be informative since as a nurse, I would be sure to face death at some point no matter what field of nursing I choose to enter. But now I want to take the class to better understand the physical and mental effects of grief. Because it is still a bit of a medical taboo. There are all sorts of medicines to help with depression. Even postpartum depression because it seems aberrant that a woman who is supposed to be euphoric is not. But when someone is grieving it is regarded as just a sad time in their lives they will "get over" in time. Which may be true. But there are physical effects of grief as well as mental and if we treat postpartum depression, why not try to help people who are grieving, too? Not implying that a pill could eradicate a widow's sadness, but maybe there is some way to help. I don't know. At the very least it would confirm that grief is a medical condition.

The fascinating, heartbreaking emphasis of this book is the way Didion's mind is not functioning rationally. How this wise, witty woman is still expecting her husband to return to her from death. How she realizes this thought is irrational. But how she persists in believing it. I am only partway through the book so I don't know yet if this hope is a poisonous thing or a useful thing. Or if she even makes the case either way.

10 July 2009

I am hot


We have no air conditioning. Meaning not that our unit is broken but that our home has no air conditioning system. So right now it is almost 8 pm and it is 85 degrees inside my house. And that is the downstairs temperature. God only knows how hot it is upstairs!

So I have not really felt like sitting down and typing. Even my fingers are sweating.

I have been trying to cram for the biology placement test at the community college to save myself a semester of school but it is just so hot... I feel cross and filthy and sluggish and to top it off my notecards are all grubby because my hands are sweaty. Gross.

04 July 2009

28 June 2009

Frazer Meadow


Yesterday was a gorgeous day. We took the kids on a hike to Frazer Meadow. Jonathan took Blue there about a month ago and he thought maybe Lion would be able to manage it, too.

It's a beautiful hike up to the remains of a shack where a man named John Frazer had a homestead in the late 1800s. He lived up there and cleared a field for crops that is now a beautiful meadow.


Whenever he needed supplies or wanted to sell lumber to the townspeople, he had to trek (with a bad leg, apparently) up and down the mountain. I kept thinking of Adam Pontipee from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on the way up to the meadow and thinking that these mountain homesteaders were insane. Give me a place down in the town any day!


John Frazer was killed in 1894 when the logs he was hauling down the mountain broke loose and crushed him. It was really incredible to see where he lived and worked and to admire the meadow where he cleared the land. I love wandering around places where people used to live. My imagination just runs wild. I think that is why I was a history major in college.


Anyway, this was the Lion's first real hike. It is a good four miles round-trip and it is uphill all the way to the meadow and very rocky. I think Jonathan said it is ranked a "moderate" hike. Lion did so well! We took a few breaks to drink water and eat granola bars and he fell down a few times, but he would just get right back up and keep on hiking. Jonathan and I were very proud of him!


After the hike, Jonathan took us to Ruby Tuesday's for dinner to celebrate our mutual success on the Atkins Diet. I have lost 19 pounds and he has lost 21 pounds! So we celebrated with some steak and salad bar. Ruby Tuesday's rocks because they offer mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes on request. And their salad bar is amazing. I enjoyed my celebratory steak, but my back was starting to really hurt by then...

Because I got a horrible sunburn on my back. I was wearing a tank top and before the hike I made sure to spray the kids and me and the back of Jonathan's neck with sunblock. But there was a pretty strong breeze while I was spraying and I don't think any of the sunblock actually got on my back. So now my back is all dark red and splotchy (maybe some of the sunblock hit its target?) and I had to take a sleeping pill to fall asleep last night because it hurt so badly.

Lesson of the day: Do not attempt to spray your own back with sunblock. Have your handy (and much taller) husband do it for you.

26 June 2009

Detroit

We woke up this morning and as I was running around getting the kids dressed for soccer, Jonathan got a phone call from his boss. Asking if he would be interested in going on detail next month. To Detroit. Jonathan mentioned that he will be on vacation at the end of July, so he would be unavailable. Sorry.

But then we mulled it over and decided that as long as he could be home in time to fly to Virginia, maybe he should offer to go to Detroit. Because we have nothing else on the calender for July. And because it would be horrible if they tried to send him on detail next year. Our schedule for next year is really crazy because I am going back to school in August. And we are going to be flying to England in April. And going to Disneyworld with his parents in May. Maybe if Jonathan volunteers to go to Detroit now, they will not ask him the next time they need to send people somewhere on detail.

So he called his boss back. And he will be in Detroit for the month of July. It seems nobody else in his office was keen to go!

Sigh.

I hate when he is away.

And it stinks because one of the reasons we moved out to Colorado was to escape Virginia summers. And instead of enjoying a balmy Colorado summer with his family, Jonathan will be stuck in Detroit in the summer alone.

But hopefully his office will remember that Jonathan volunteered to go on this trip. And hopefully they will not ask him to go anywhere next year. Because Blue will be in kindergarten, Lion will be in preschool, they have their little extracurricular activities, and I will be in class in the evenings. I don't know what we would do if they tried to send him somewhere. Maybe I could fly one of our moms out here to babysit the kids in the evenings while I am in school? (Haha. I can see the moms reading that and secretly praying Jonathan is sent on another detail!)

Anyway. Detroit. Blech.

soccer

hungry

I am still doing the Atkins diet. I have lost 18 pounds! I think I look a lot thinner than I did a month ago. But I am still very hungry. This is what I want:


But since those are not Atkins-friendly, this cute print from Sandra Juto would suffice:

15 June 2009

ad infinitum

I have been scrubbing our floors today. Because Jonathan's mother and sister arrive tomorrow. But mostly because they look awful! We got this gorgeous, dark wood laminate floor installed and then someone (meaning me) painted all the walls a creamy white without using dropcloths. Sigh. It is very tedious, very hard work scrubbing all of the paint spatter off of the floors. My hands are killing me. But mostly I just feel like an ass. Since the paint spatter is all my fault.

Most projects we have worked on, we are cursing the former owners up and down because of the neglect and/or shoddy work that led to the project we worked on. But this time, I can only curse myself. And I have been. All day.

The Finding Nemo mural in Lion's room is almost finished. It is amazing how expressive fish can be! I will post some pictures when I finally finish. I think he really likes it. I have caught him sleeping up-side down in his bed a few times, as if he fell asleep looking up at it. Very gratifying.

Blue wants a mural next. And it's only fair that I do one for her, too. I was thinking of a forest scene, with some flowers and wildlife, and of course a princess castle in the distance. She wants me to do something princess-y. The other day she asked me if I could paint her on the wall -- as a princess. I told her that may be a bit too difficult for Mommy's artistic abilities!

07 June 2009

Poem to Myself

You have given your son a plastic watering can
he now holds suspended over the bathtub
watching a stream of water shower down
upon the smooth, white surface.
As he fills it again you reach for your book and open it
to a favourite poem hoping to thwart
this staggering boredom that comes from sitting
crouched in play now for three years.
The poem is well-rhythmed and vivid,
turning a handful of simple moments
into a kind of rhapsody,
causing the little wings in your chest to rustle and flap,
all because of a peach, an arched bridge,
a walk in the garden.

What I want to say to you is,
lift your eyes off the page.
Put the book down and direct
your gaze to your small son.
The bottoms of his socks have darkened,
and patches of water spot his jeans but still
he carries on with his industry,
broadening his scope to include
the tiled shower stall and the little perched sink,
feeding liquid down into each silver gullet.
Look at his face, the way he is so rapt,
yet at the same time open
to the full enjoyment of what he is doing.

These are the moments of his life,
which are the moments of your life, too.
The poet has crossed the bridge,
he has finished the peach and tossed the pit
into a snarl of bushes and gone home to sit
by a blazing fire where you are not invited to join him.
Step out from the thicket
of your mind and join your son instead.
Follow the damp footprints down the hall
and watch as he pulls a heap of soft blankets
to the floor and fashions them into a nest.
He wants only that you climb in with him, that you sit
together taking turns, first him, then you,
his little finger pointing. You are the Mama bird, he says,
and I am the baby.

Sara Byck

06 June 2009

Starve, Pray, Love

I went to book group tonight. We were discussing Eat, Pray, Love. I meant to reread it, since its been a while, but I didn't get around to it. We really only talk about the book for a fraction of the time we are together so it was okay.

I had a really nice time. But I was so hungry! I have been on the Atkins diet for 8 days now. So almost no carbohydrates. And so I brought some cheese cubes (sigh) tonight and my own sparkling water to drink and watched the others drink wine and eat these gorgeous brownies someone had brought. I was honestly drooling. But I am determined to lose weight. And to break my insane addiction to sugar.

It is funny. Last week when I started the diet, I was saying that I was "cutting carbs" rather than admitting that I was doing the Atkins diet. Because of all of the negative opinions about the diet. I just didn't want to hear it. But now I am so friggin' proud of myself that I haven't eaten any processed food for over a week that I am telling everyone. I am doing the Atkins diet, people, and I am on day 8. I am hard core.

04 June 2009

I foresee travel in my future...

Thanks, everyone for the encouraging words about my little monster. I think Blue and Lion are both just very bored. Blue because preschool is over. And Lion because we went out every day together while Blue was in school. Luckily, next week their new summer activities begin. I wrote all of the times on our calender and I colored each day. Blue for swimming, pink for ballet (which ends this month), purple for cheerleading/gymnastics and green for soccer. Blue loves this. I may have to buy her a little calender for her room and color it for her. In fact, this may be a good way to help her grasp the concept of days of the week...

Anyway, they should be very busy in the coming months. And then, the week their summer activities end we fly to Virginia for ten days! I cannot wait. Even though the horrible tragedy of the plane that crashed into the Atlantic this week has been on my mind a lot. I hate flying. I hate having my children on a plane. I tell myself that flying in a plane is so much safer than riding in a car. I know this. But there is something so terrifying about placing your fate in a total stranger's hands.

Speaking of flying, I am so superexcited I can barely stand it... Jonathan received a phone call today from his best friend, Andy. Andy and Teresa have finally set a date and they are getting married in Lincoln in April of next year. And Andy asked Jonathan to be his best man! So it appears we are going back to England sooner than expected! I cannot believe it! Someone pinch me! We plan to fly to Virginia with the kids and leave them with our family and then fly from DC to England. We can't wait to travel with the kids, but we are waiting until they are at least old enough to know where they are going! Besides, I wouldn't want to bring them to the wedding. And they will have fun with their grandparents, so it will be nice for everyone.

England. I cannot believe it! I get teary just thinking about it. Jonathan wants to spend a good ten days there before the wedding, to take Andy out for a night of debauchery and so we can help with any last minute wedding details. So we will be in England for our anniversary (again)!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I cannot believe in less than a year I will be back there!

03 June 2009

bad boy

I have been having a lot of trouble getting the Lion to listen to me lately.


He is driving me crazy.

Last night when I picked Blue up from ballet he had a horrible temper tantrum in the ballet studio. I was mortified. I so do not want to be That Mom. You know. With the out-of-control children. I practically dragged him to the car and he screamed in the car all the way home. At the top of his lungs. Poor Blue, stuck in the carseat beside him just stared at him all the way home. I put him to bed without any dinner. My mom was appalled, but trust me, that kid is not going to starve! He eats more than I do!

Grrrr. He was a peach this afternoon, too. Jonathan thinks we need to use Time Out a lot more.

Is this normal for a three year old boy to make such a Jekyll/Hyde transformation?


Because I am losing my mind!