Saturday, January 31, 2009

Another good day



These flowers grow outside my house in several locations, but most prominently they grow right along the driveway. When in bloom this summer Cooper was obsessed with them. "Fleur?" he would request sounding quite French. He wasn't actually speaking French, as much as I would like to claim that he is a super genius. He would carry one to school most mornings. If I recall correctly Blackeyed Susans were my paternal grandmother's favorite flower. I am putting it on here to yet again remember that warmer, sunnier days are coming.

Today was another good day. Cooper is vastly improved. We filed our taxes and will be getting a nice refund that will make surviving the layoff a little bit easier if it goes on for any length of time.

It sounds like we can expect yet more snow this week. Excellent. Hopefully the water leak can get fixed sometime this week in spite of the weather. I have been having dreams most nights about water spurting out of my driveway, or sink holes developing in my driveway and swallowing our cars (that is thanks to my friend Diana who put that though into my head to begin with) or water gushing into my basement after running out of other places to go. I really don't want any of those things to happen. I need Mr. Contractor Dude to get jiggy and fix the problem. Which I am sure he will. I will be on the phone again Monday just to make sure.

In the meantime, my child kept me entertained this evening playing his guitar along with Bruce Springsteen on TV. Oh if only it was along with the Boss actually in my living room. THAT would be a really good day.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Fabulous Freaking Friday


It has been quite a week. I am now going to list the things I am very thankful for, in no particular order:

Cooper is down to using the nebulizer on an "as needed" basis.
Cooper went to school this morning!
My parents.
The Bob.
My job.
The people I work with.
My friends.
Meena, the mom in my neighborhood who knows about nebulizers, pneumonia and breathing problems in kids.
That at 5pm last night it was still light out.
These two pictures, taken by my father in warmer weather. A reminder that there are flowers in our future.
The 5 people who read this blog!

Thanks to those who have expressed their concern and care about us. We are feeling a bit beaten up, but in the scheme of things, we are OK.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Can you get a contact high from albuteral?



Today has been a better day. Cooper is feeling better, and even tolerates his nebulizer for the most part. This is a TERRIFIC photo of me with Cooper in his fish face mask - the maker of this product had the genius idea of putting a fish face on the mask to make it entertaining to wear. We were watching Finding Nemo while using it this morning. Because he has been doing this while sitting on my lap, and that fog leaks out through the holes in the mask, I am wondering if I am also getting a little albuteral action. The other picture was taken just after he finished. His appetite has been totally off since he got sick, but he has been willing to eat Nutragrain bars. Otherwise mommy would be even more freaked out than she has been.

In other news, we found a contractor who came out to discuss our water leak situation. The news in terms of cost was better than I had been anticipating. It will be around $2500 to fix. It could be a bit more if they have to dig further into the driveway, for the hot top patch. That is not an insignificant amount of money but it is better than the $7000 it cost a coworker of mine to do something similar at her house. But that involved a sewage line, not just a water line.

I had a moment last night. I was quite done with being in crisis mode. I feel better today, and we will get through all of this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The universe is mocking me..UPDATED

Right. Let's review: The Bob gets laid off on Thursday. Yesterday we find out we have a water leak that may or may not be our problem to resolve (finding still unknown at this time, the city has not come back yet). And today, Cooper has pneumonia. He had been coughing and was running a fever beginning Sunday. Yesterday he stayed home and seemed somewhat improved, except he didn't want to eat or drink, since it made him cough. Last night he still had a mild fever so I said that it was likely he would need to see the doctor in the morning. The Bob gave me the hairy eyeball, like "Okaaaay, you paranoid mom".

Hmph. Bob took him to the doctor this morning and who is crazy now? Officially no one is allowed to question me when I say my child needs to go to the doctor. Last time he had strep. This time pneumonia.

He was a preemie, and they are predisposed to breathing related problems, but he had not, up to now, had any. He had not been on respiratory assistance when born, so we thought maybe he would defy the odds. Guess not. So now he has to use a nebulizer or however you spell that word. Oh goody. Because the thing 2 year olds are best at is sitting still with a mask on their face breathing in mist for 10 minutes.

At least we found out today. We didn't wait until he was more sick and not breathing, turning blue in the middle of a snow storm tomorrow. That would probably have earned him a trip to the emergency room.

What is next, dear universe? I will tell you what I would LIKE to have happen, just to get the good mojo out there: Bob is offered a great job with great pay that he could start next week. Even the week after. The city determines that the water leak is their problem to resolve. Cooper gets over his pneumonia and is fine, no lingering side effects. Nothing else bad happens. The sun rises, the snow melts, spring comes and the flowers bloom. Life goes on. And the Publishers Clearing House guys show up on my front porch with the balloons and big check to tell me that I am the winner of the $5000 a week for life contest. And then I live to be a happy, healthy, 105.

That pretty much covers it. Thanks.

Update: Oh like I expected anything else - yes, the water leak IS on our property. I am off to find a plumbing contractor.

Monday, January 26, 2009

And the beat goes on

I shall begin this post by saying what I seem to be saying a LOT lately: GAAAAAH.

Over the last week or so we have been experiencing low water pressure in our house and some sediment or dirt in the water coming out of the faucets. You see it the most in the tub, where there is no screen on the faucet. So I called the city. Nope, there haven't been any issues, they haven't been flushing the lines or anything like that. So they sent a dude to the house today, who, within about 30 seconds had diagnosed the problem as a water leak. The good news is it is outside the house, so it has not been effecting our water bill. And it is not flooding into the basement. However, it remains to be seen if the leak in on our property or outside of it, in the street. The latter is preferable, as that is the city's problem to fix. If it is on our property, it our problem to fix. Hence the GAAAAAH.

Our driveway is barely longer than a car length, so if it has to be dug up, it isn't a long one. That is what they would have to dig up too. The shut off valve is right at the end of the driveway, smack in the middle of it. Which is good because if it were in the lawn it would be under three feet of solid rock hard snow and ice.

I asked how urgent a problem this would be to fix. Since it is 22 degrees right now, at 10:45am, and we are due to get another 12 inches of snow this week, it would be very very very difficult for anyone to dig up the driveway or the street right now. So we could probably put it off for awhile, but there is the issue of the dirt in my water. I am thinking a whole house water filtration system is cheaper than digging up my yard right now. Not to mention that then we would have to redo the driveway too. LIKE I HAVE THIS KIND OF MONEY.

The dude said that eventually the water would show up, somewhere. It is going into the ground, but if it is big enough eventually the water will work its way to the surface, somewhere. I respectfully request from the powers that be, God, Buddha, Allah, Poseidon, Thor, whomever is listening, that the water NOT surface in my basement or my neighbor's basement. Thank you.

To review, this house has required a sump pump to be installed to deal with flooding in another part of the the basement and then it almost burned down because of a power surge caused by the relay blowing up on the pole. We had to replace the wall behind the stove because water was getting in there. Which led to replacing the counter tops, which almost led to replacing the cupboards if it hadn't been for some ingenious work on the part of the installation guy. The pool pump died this summer.
And the pool filter needs to replaced this summer.

I am ready to win the lottery now.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's not my good news, but good news none the less

So in an economy that stinks like a half empty milk bottle left under the back seat of a car in July, jobs are still being found. My dear brother who has been seeking employment in his chosen profession as a therapist for about a year, has found one! Way to go dude.

The fact he went down this path is funny to me, since I am the one who originally chose psychology as a major in college, and then determined that sitting listening to people complain and whine and not want any fuctional assistance in finding a solution or are really interested in changing their lives in any way was NOT my idea of a good career choice. I know that I could have gone in many directions with that degree that would not have entailed such painful experiences, but I found a different path that suits me a bit better. Now, if I could be the female Dr. Phil, THAT would be a good time. The first time I saw him on TV give someone some whatfor about their self destructive behavior and how they had the power to fix that if they wanted to, I was all like "YES!!! Why didn't I think of doing this?" Then he went and got all Oprahfied and now he is kind of a joke. My brother on the other hand went for the self directed undergrad degree, then a masters in script writing or something like that, and then FINALLY a degree in counseling.

I am VERY happy for you dude, and wish you the best with it. Oregon will be a healthier place now with you out there healing everyone.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Not the change we were hoping for...

Two days into the new presidency, the one that is going to bring change, turn that economy around, the Bob gets laid off. GAH. He works, or WORKED, for a biggish technology company that just laid off 5000 or so people. He is just a number to them. But to us his number in vastly important!

At least he had an inkling. They announced they would be doing layoffs at the end of the month, right after the holidays. So rather than go to work today and be surprised, he went to work mostly resigned to this fate. But it still sucks. He is getting some severance, and has been actively looking for two weeks or so anyway, so I am hopeful he will find something sooner rather than later. Not just for the paycheck but the moral boost. It is no fun being laid off.

So anytime that change and improvement to the economy wants to happen, we will welcome it. And if anyone is looking for a talented software engineer/programmer/computer god who is also a really nice guy, I have one available.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another presidential election

After a momentous, historic, motivational and inspirational inauguration process yesterday, it is time to announce another presidential election. Not one that is quite as visible, or of international, or national import, but perhaps of interest on a state level, if you are a financial aid professional at a college...yes, I am running for president of our state financial aid organization.

Someone just asked me, a friend in fact, if I was hormonal. Or crazy. It should be interesting. It is a three year commitment, because if elected you are for one year the president elect, then you are president for a year, and then you are past president for another year. They like to get as much mileage out of their torture tactics as possible.

Anyway, I loved watching the inauguration yesterday. I love that my child is going to grow up believing that a person can be president without limitations of color, gender or religion. I would like to believe even sexual preference will not be a limitation, but one step at a time for our country, one step at a time. I love that this president is making personal responsibility a part of the national discussion. For 8 years of this past presidency, and even when Clinton was president, personal responsibility was a fuzzy concept at best. I fight this battle, have this discussion on almost a daily basis in the course of doing my job. I feel that I am a little less alone now since the concept is being elevated to higher visibility.

Please don't let us down President Obama. We are prepared to give you a lot of room to begin making changes, to help us help you make a difference. We don't want to be disappointed again though. Bill Clinton's affair, the WMD debacle, the feeling that we have been lied to by the person occupying the highest office in the land, we don't want to feel that anymore. We have been let down by the CEO's of the biggest corporations and banks in our country, we are all suffering from the awful economic situation. We want to believe in you, in ourselves, in our country. And we do right now. So please, live up to the lofty goals you have set forth and we will strive to reach them with you.

And now, if you will allow me one small moment of stupid mommy pride - my 2 year old son knows how to blow his nose. He is not potty trained, not by a long shot. But if you put a kleenex to his nose and tell him to blow, he DOES! It took 12 years for my brother to master that - and you know I am right MADman.

Now if I can just get him to blow his nose only when there is a kleenex in the vicinity of his face, and not just randomly, like onto the pillows on the couch. Or my shirt. Again, one step at a time, one lofty goal at a time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A new blog, a FOOD blog, to check out

Well, she is new to us, but not new to blogging. This is written my neighbor, Tammi, and she writes a food blog. I know, NOT a mommy blog! And she just got a paid bloggin gig over at Blogher, about which I am totally jealous, BY THE WAY.

She blogged about making a pie, using lard, just like my SIL recommends. And she gave us a great lead on where to find said lard locally. I am all over that. I am on my way right now to buy some. Okay, that's a lie, not right now since they are closed, but I will be over there, at Verrill Farms in Concord MA soon. Because I need to try to bake another pie.

Check out Tammi's blog - FoodOntheFood. To the left. Over there.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My little rock star



It is snowing. Again. I was supposed to go to brunch this morning with some of the mamas from my neighborhood, but we cancelled, since we had no desire to be stuck in a snowbank or in an accident, especially with not one but two pregnant bellies in the car. I am not one of them. Just saying.

Yesterday we went off to ToysRUs and purchased Cooper a little guitar. Actually, it is a ukalele. The guitars were too big. The toy guitars, like the Sesame Street one, were not really instruments, they were more like electronic games. Cooper had gotten his hands on a small guitar at our neighbor's house during a playdate, and LOVED it. He would not put it down. I found him lounging on the couch, guitar on his lap, strumming and humming, while also holding onto the microphone that was part of this keyboard/DJ contraption that they also had. He looked exactly like he was holding a recording session. So we needed one that was like a real guitar.

The video here shows the first time he decided to "play along" with a song on TV. We were watching his current favorite TV show, which is actually a fun show, Jack's Big Music Show on Noggin. They were singing a country style song about a seed growing into a plant.

This is actually a real instrument and can be tuned. Bob and I spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to tune it yesterday while Cooper was napping. We found a very helpful video on YouTube. It is not the same as tuning a guitar or a viola, the other two stringed instruments we have experience with. Of course, 20 minutes in the hands of Cooper and it was no longer in tune. Oh well. First things first. Getting him to stop trying to stand on it is more important than keeping it in tune.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The dusty corners of my mind

My brother recently blogged on how music can evoke certain very clear memories and emotions, snapping you right back to certain points in time, complete with all those sensory images, like heat or cold, and smells. I agree. I can't hear Oh What a Night by the Four Seasons without immediately thinking of babysitting on New Year's eve when I was 13 or 14. That is NOT what you expected me to say, I am sure. There was no boy, no night associated with that song. Just a night when I babysat and watched them perform on Dick Clark's Rockin New Year's Eve.

My problem is that I don't really have a good memory for the past. I mean the distant past. I am so busy dealing with the here and now, just surviving the day, I don't think my brain has the resources to hang on to a lot of the details of my life. For example, my mother once reminded me of this girl that was in my girl scout troop who was slightly obsessed with me, and would follow me around and drive me nuts. I have NO memory of this. I have clear memories of certain moments in time, like the time my father came home from being in the hospital for 2 weeks after back surgery to remove a ruptured disc. This was before they improved the procedure dramatically. He came home with a beard since he couldn't get out of bed the whole time. I had issues with beards at that time. I was around 3 or 4 I think. I took one look at that man and said "THAT is NOT my dad. My dad does not have a beard" and went to hide at the neighbor's house.

I have been reconnecting with people from high school and college, and in the course of the conversations and emails, I am being reminded of exactly how much I have forgotten. One woman from high school reminded me of our 8th grade trip to Washington DC. At least I think it was 8th grade. I am pretty sure it was. It might have been 10th grade, but based on my hair do in the picture below, I am sure it was 8th. We lived outside of Cleveland, so we were leaving from the Cleveland airport. We had a huge delay due to weather, and while sitting around the airport, we got to meet Muhammed Ali, who was on a layover too. He was extraordinarily kind and patient, and stood talking to us and making up rhymes for what seemed like an hour. I wanted a picture of him with me, and planned on just sneaking up next to him and having a friend snap the picture. He noticed me next to him, so he turned and put his arm around me for the picture. When I say he was a giant, I mean he was a GIANT. Compared to my little 12 year old self especially. His arm felt enormously heavy, and he had to lean down to be in the shot. I did get his autograph too, which I still have.

This memory is clear for me, although most of the rest of the trip is not. Like I said, most of my brain is occupied just experiencing today. It is not so much a philosophical position as a survival tactic. But I think in ways it helps me out. I don't wallow too much in past wrongs or slights, and am able to hang onto the joyful moments I am experiencing right now with my son and husband and friends.

Enjoy the 12 year old me and the styling hair do!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Random Thursday

This morning was going well, until I went into the fridge to put Cooper's lunch together, and realized that the chicken I had put in there yesterday to thaw, had thawed. And leaked. Down onto two shelves below and into two veggie drawers. GAH. Chicken goo. I hate chicken goo. So that had to be cleaned. Then as I went to put Cooper's coat on to leave, I realized he needed a diaper change. A poopy diaper change. And of course his father was outside starting the cars.

Then I checked out facebook and began wondering why in the world I don't live where I can see this out my front door:




Instead of this:

The first picture is what a friend from high school sees when he looks out his front door, somewhere in central CA. The second is what I see. It is 14 degrees right now in Boston.

And then there this excerpt from my life last night: I had peeled a banana for Cooper, and managed to drop the entire thing on the floor before cutting it into pieces. Of course as usual I had three dogs circling below me, waiting for just this opportunity. Buster the man eating beagle got it first. I decided that swallowing an entire banana whole was probably a bad idea for him, so I grabbed his collar and managed to get half of it to fall to the floor. This act is akin to sticking your hand into a pit of hungry alligators. I managed to get that half away before he ate my arm off. I split that half with the other dogs. All of this happened within sight and earshot of the Bob, who was in the living room. He finally said "What?" in response to things I was saying to the dogs.

Me, in frustration at him not noticing my death defying banana grabbing stunt: I could get abducted by aliens in here, 50 feet away from you and you would never know.
The Bob: Would they leave a note?
Me: That is totally going in the blog

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bucket Head returns



Back before Cooper could walk, he was hanging out in the exersaucer and decided one day to put this bucket on his head. I don't know what the fascination was, but he continued to put this particular bucket on his head periodically, even when he could walk and would run into things while wearing it. Fast forward to this past weekend. We were, much to Cooper's dismay, watching the playoffs and he decided he would return to his bucket headed ways, with some new features and moves thrown in.

video

My best guess is he is imitating the football players, but I really don't know. Apparently he does something similar at school, only instead of a bucket he will use a book or whatever is handy that he can cover his head with. Whatever he is doing, the footwork is the same. He runs in place like he is the newest member of the Blues Brothers. Just call him Elwood.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If it is Tuesday, it must be time to write about College

In an effort to share my 20 years of experience working in higher education, specifically in the area of financial aid with the hundreds of people wandering here from other places in the blogosphere, I will write my timely recommendations for picking a college and trying to pay for it.

First of all, should everyone go to college? No. My boss, sitting in her senior management team meeting probably just had a cold shiver run down her spine as I wrote that. I feel there are people who will most certainly benefit from college, and then there are people who simply won't. Those people could be like Bill Gates, who had a vision and motivation and drive to create something that made things like writing this blog possible, but they may also be people like the people who prepare my food at my favorite local restaurant. A traditional college education is not necessary to be a good cook or chef. Experience is critical, but college not so much. So step one: have a basic understanding of yourself as a student, as a person, and while there is no telling what you may do with your life, having a basic goal isn't a bad idea. I knew before college I wanted work with people. I thought I wanted to be a therapist. I was WRONG. But I did end up in a career where I counsel people regularly, just not about their mommy issues.

Secondly, should you apply to more than one college for admission: YES. I can't recommend appling to 12 colleges, but 3 is a good start.

Don't limit your applications because of price. If the school offers the program you want, or has the reputation you like, whatever catches your attention, apply.

That being said, once you apply for admission, apply for financial aid. Pay attention to all deadlines, read EVERYTHING they have to say about how to get scholarships, grants and other aid. DO the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. I don't care if your dad is Daddy Warbucks. Do the FAFSA. If the school requires it, do their institutional aid application or the CSS Profile form. Pay attention to everything they mail to you or email to you.

Quick hint: If you do the FAFSA online, and pretty much everyone does, and you put your email address on it, they will email the results to you. For reasons I cannot fathom, many email services dump emails from the department of education into the junk or spam mail boxes. They also do it with mail from .edu accounts, which is what most colleges' email addresses end with. Check your spam or junk mail regularly.

Another quick hint: If your email address is something like sexykitten69@blahblah.com, or hotforchicks@blahblah.com create a new account for purposes of emailing colleges. One that has your name in it is GREAT, like jsmith@blahblah.com. You really don't get a second chance to make a first impression. And those other email accounts, well, we MOCK them. Think about who is reading your applications, who is evaluating you for admission to the college and what impression you would like them to have of you. Party animal and sex god/goddess is NOT the impression you want them to have. I guarantee it. And when you email the admissons office or financial aid office, don't write the email like you are chatting or IMing with your buds. Write Dear so and so...my name is ____ and thank you for your time. Sincerely, so and so. Especially if your email address does not in any way identify who you are. We are NOT psychic, and we are not going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out who livfrlacross@blahblah.com is.

Once you have completed your applications for admission and financial aid, you will begin receiving acceptance/denial letters and aid packages. If you get accepted, HUZZAH. If you get denied, it is not the end of the world. That is why you should apply to more than one college. You are able to be happy and succeed at a number of colleges.

When you begin getting aid packages, don't be afraid to ask questions. Be polite, but don't hesitate to call. Do your research. Use sites like www.finaid.org and www.fastweb.com to do scholarship searches.

When it comes time to make a choice as to where you will go, you should consider these things: Size - do you like that it is small, large, medium sized. Location: close to or far from home, near a city, in the country. Program: does it offer what you want to study? If you want biology go to a school that offers biology. Don't go to an art school. Socio/economic fit: are you going to be comfortable with the students who attend there. Do they have the extracurricular activities you like, or new ones you might try? Cost: ultimately, you need to be able to pay for college. You need to know what your family can afford to pay, or can finance. You need to know if you are going to borrow on loans how much that will mean you will have in debt when you are done. You need to be realistic. Maybe going to your dream college isn't the right thing to do right away. Is the local 2 year or state college a better choice for a year or two, then you can transfer?

This is your education, your life. You need to be responsible for the choices you make. Don't set yourself up for failure, and be willing to do the work to make it work.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

And why does a jar cost $3.99?

Today is one of those days when everytime I want to do something in the kitchen, I have to clean up first. This morning we woke up to several inches of snow and it was still falling, so I decided it was a perfect morning to try making cinnamon buns. It was a mix, I didn't get THAT fancy. Other than becoming a sticky dough monster while kneading it went alright. But I had to clean up a bit to find counter space. The dishwasher needed to be emptied and then filled. So that was done.

Then when I went to make lunch, I needed one of the mixing bowls I had used to make the buns, so I had to wash a few things. Then I realized, after opening a can of tuna, that we still had no mayonnaise. Since I had no interest in going out to buy some, I decided to see if the article I had read not too long ago in either Gourmet or Bon Apetit magazine about how easy it is to make your own was right, and found a recipe to make it myself.

One egg, a cup of oil, a teaspoon of mustard and some salt and cayenne pepper and approximately 3 minutes total of mixing, I had mayonnaise.



And it was GOOD. I believe it probably cost me a total of 57 cents to make about a cup. And it made a great tuna sandwich.



It has been a cooking weekend. I made leg of lamb for dinner last night. I joined a meat CSA - Community Supported Association - and once a month four of us split a delivery of meat from a local farm. It is the first time I have cooked lamb, leg or otherwise. I cooked it like I would a roast and it was deLISH. I like the idea of eating locally and supporting local farms. I will try another CSA for veggies this summer. I did it two summers ago and was unhappy with what we got. If I never see another bunch of mizuna again I will be happy. The variety was not great. I might not do a CSA and try just to shop local farmers markets instead. But the meat experience has been a good one. We have tried ground beef, sausage, pork chops and lamb so far. I have some chicken to check out too.

Anyway, I may never buy mayo again. I can put my food processor to work more regularly this way too.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

When worlds collide

So I had embraced Facebook somewhat reluctantly. I began by pretty much finding a few friends from my undergraduate college years. Then one day someone from high school found me. That led to more friends from high school surfacing, and then I found Bill on Facebook, and found Bill lived IN MY TOWN.

I am sure this happens all the time, but I went to high school in Bay Village OH. That is a bit of a way from Boston. To find that someone I knew almost 30 years ago and haven't talked to since lives within a few miles of my house is just a surprise.

We got together this morning for coffee at this little cafe on Main St. in town. He really does look almost exactly the same, and is a funny guy. It was great to reconnect, introduce him to the Bob and Cooper. Of course Cooper was delightful for about 30 minutes, then went in Brownian Motion Mode. I sent the Bob home with him and chatted more with Bill.

This is us and our senior year yearbook which he brought along. It was hilarious looking up people we haven't seen since 1982. I can't find my yearbooks at the moment.

And now I can say I know not just one, but TWO architects. I go my whole life not knowing any, and now I know two.

So, as far as Facebook encounters go, this has been a positive one. It might even mean having new/renewed friendships develop.

Oh yeah - one of the guys working at the cafe is a student at my college. Seriously, when worlds collide...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I don't make plans

I don't generally have a plan for my life. I like having a plan if I am going shopping, because I don't really LIKE shopping, so I need to have a reason to go, and not just wander aimlessly through the mall which makes me want to stick a sharp object in my eye. But I find that if I try to plan my long term goals or maybe even shortterm goals like what to make for dinner, those things never happen. I planned on making meatballs for dinner last night, but the meat was still frozen, and making meatballs with frozen meat SUCKS, so I made meat sauce instead. I planned on writing a blog entry both of the last two days, and well, that didn't happen. I started two different entries, and then stopped. I got distracted, or felt uninspired.

But then I was reading Sarcastic Mom's blog, who is now featured to the left along with the others, and she had a guest blogger, Avitable. Who is also now featured off to the left. I tend to read "Mommy blogs" who focus on talking about raising their kids etc. but every so often find one that is a non-mommy blog, often written by a guy. Avitable qualifies as one of those guy non-mommy bloggers. And I have to say he just makes me laugh. And then I felt inspired.

He lives in Florida, and I have had some experience living there. He seems to like it. I hated it. That isn't even the right word for it, hate. My soul sort of died while I was there (Mom - this was no fault of yours, do NOT feel guilty. It was just Florida). I was constantly confused about which direction was north or south, even when standing facing the Atlantic ocean. It was like my personal magnetic force was being screwed with. My compass was completely shot. The day I got on an airplane to go back to grad school in Ohio, and landed where the trees had LEAVES and not fronds, where those leaves turned fabulous colors, gold, red, and yellow in the fall and snow fell in the winter, that day was such a joyous and miraculous day. I didn't even care that I arrived not knowing where I would be sleeping that night (on the floor of my brother's dorm room) or where I would live after that (in a freshman women's dorm, renting a room from a resident director). It all worked out in the end. I couldn't have planned that if I tried. My original plan to go to school the previous January had been delayed by the lack of finances. Two weeks before getting on that plane in late August the man who was to be my advisor called and inquired if I was still interested in attending, as I could have a paid graduate assistant position in the financial aid office and a full tuition scholarship. That made it possible for me to leave that soul-less place called Florida and find my calling in life.

I find if I am open to the opportunities the universe is going to offer, and it DOES offer them, then I manage to work my way through life pretty successfully. I still have to be responsible in my actions along the way, and I have to be willing to do the work once the opportunity is presented. But I couldn't plan most of what has happened in my life and have it turn out the way it has. I certainly didn't know when I decided to go on Match.com that it would lead to the Bob and then Cooper. But now that they are part of my life, I work very hard to make that life work. Accepting your karma often means accepting the work and responsibility that goes with whatever it brings into your life. Conversely, fighting your karma can lead to being somewhat miserable. But that is a discussion for another day.

Anyway, thanks to Avitable for making me laugh and for providing some food for thought and some inspiration. Now I am going to stop avoiding my responsibility here at the office and go earn my paycheck.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Oh the humanity

Today we had a friend come over to babysit, and the Bob and I went off to IKEA on our own. I know what you are thinking, boy do WE know how to live it up. The initial plan was to go to a movie, but we discovered there were no movies we wanted to spend that kind of time and money on. Seriously, the movie selection is abysmal.

Anywho, we haven't been to IKEA in awhile, so off we went. I had just smashed my 4 cup measuring cup on the floor this morning by accident (one of the downfalls of ceramic tile flooring, things SMASH spectacularly on them), so I picked up a new, metal one, and a few other kitchen items. Then, as we were passing through all the childrens' stuff to get to the cafeteria we found this little wooden train set for a whopping $12.99 which we thought Cooper would just LUV. Here it is, displayed lovingly on our coffee table.

Here are the four little cars it comes with:

The cars attach to each other by magnets. Something about this set up was VERY VERY VERY wrong according to Cooper. At first, he was quite excited to see the box with the train set. He was excited to see the track set up. He was excited to see the cars, until he touched them. Until he discovered that they did not attach to each other in some other manner that we cannot quite decipher, what with all the wailing and gnashing of teeth. But by magnets is NOT the acceptable manner. The crying was astounding. The wailing was loud. There was a minor tantrum. I had to pick him up and remove him from the room, while his father removed all but one car from the track. Eventually he calmed down, and then proceeded to play nicely with just the one car. We can only assume that he wanted them to stay attached when he picked them up, which they sort of do, but not really. If you pull on them at all they pull apart. They stay together if you are driving them around the track, but that was not enough. I am not sure what we will see in the future should we introduce the other cars. Since I don't really enjoy the crying and gnashing of teeth with regard to Cooper, we may well only allow one car at a time. But it might make a good party trick. "Wanna see something loud and amazing? Give my kid two or more of these cars." Or it may be a good way to get rid of pesky house guests.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Something's Afoot

Once upon a time, in another life, I performed in plays in college. The first week of my freshman year my suitemate, Jean, said she was going to audition for the first play of the year, which was always reserved for freshmen, so they didn't have to compete with the upperclassmen for parts. I decided on a whim to go with her. I had not been in a play since elementary school, although I had played in the pit orchestra during high school for several musicals.

That play was The Birds, by Aristophanes. I ended up with four parts, one of which died during the play by being carried off by the birds to be disposed of in unclear but undoubtedly horrific fashion.

The next play I performed in was a musical called Something's Afoot, a musical interpretation of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians. If you are unfamiliar with the theme, 10 people are invited to a remote house on an island, and are systematically killed off. I was a maid, and I was killed. Are you seeing a theme here? I performed in probably 6 productions through the course of my time in college, and died in most of them. This is a picture of me singing the Something's Afoot theme song with Dan Meharg, who was portraying the caretaker.

I died by falling down a heating shaft into the furnace. I had to crawl through a vent in the set, and two of the crew pulled me through from the other side. I had to manage to leave a shoe behind when pulled through so the detective could find it and announce "Something's AFOOT".

This leads me to share with you a small obsession I have with random shoes I see on the side of the road or highway. It happens a LOT. I am always wondering where these shoes came from, how is it that the shoe escaped from some vehicle and was left there, alone at the side of the road. I can safely say that in my life I have never lost a shoe out of a vehicle. How does it happen and where is the mate?

Here they are:

This is a shot of thousands of shoes that mysteriously appeared on a highway in Miami the other day. No one knows how or why they are appeared, but the Bob has a theory, both for my random shoe question and these shoes: Alien Abduction. He figures that when aliens take someone away, they manage to leave one shoe behind, abandoned on the side of the road. At some point their space ship becomes overwhelmed by all the orphaned other shoes, and they have to do something with them, so they dumped them on a highway in Miami during the night as they cruised South Beach.

Sounds like a reasonable explanation to me.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Pie

Since my sister in law is holding out on me with her pie wisdom, I had to come up with a different pie recipe. I decided to use the one I found in this cook book:

It has a basic pie crust recipe that uses butter. Cathy, the SIL, says the best crusts are made with lard. She grew up on a farm in southeastern Ohio, and her pie crusts are the BEST in my opinion, so she probably is right, but I wasn't interested in going out to find lard. So I went with butter.

It also has a recipe for an apple pie that I decided to use, with one modification and that is I didn't use the orange flavoring. I like oranges, but didn't want it in the pie.

Here is the pie before baking:

Here is the pie after baking:

And the pie after being eaten:

And it was delish. I think it could be flakier, but it had good flavor. The apples were just red delicious, with some experiementing I could find that blend of apples for the right tartness. But it is a hit! Bob says I am hired.

Here is what I see as the fundamental differences between baking and cooking: chemistry. With baking, the recipe is everything. Someone has done the work to figure out the right amount of this and that and how long to cook it etc. If you don't follow that recipe, you are probably doomed. With cooking, you can improvise all over the place and while you may not get exactly what the recipe described as the end result, you still get something edible and good. You would think that baking by the recipe would be some how comforting, it is not. What if you don't use unbleached flour? I don't need the pressure from an activity that is in theory supposed to be enjoyable.

Oh well, I will make more pies and will get better at it with practice, as with most things.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

As promised...One very tolerant Santa


Here it is, the photo that Cooper may well use as exhibit A when detailing the reasons he is seeking therapy in the future. Because his mama is a harsh mistress and will make him sit on Santa's lap even when it is VERY apparent he does.not.want.to.

In other news, it is currently 12 degrees out. It started out at 5 degrees, so this is progress. It is so cold we are having trouble getting the inside temperature to break 65 degrees. This is the kind of cold that helps you figure out where your house is inefficient in terms of heat retention and cold deflection.

Also, the Bob bought a new pair of running shoes, which he does every 500 miles of running or so. He is a committed Saucony man. Nice big toe box as I have been told. For anyone who runs, this makes sense. The problem is that every time a new pair arrives in the house, I wander around wondering who let a horse into my house. He thinks I am insane, and I may well be, but this is not the supporting evidence. His new shoes smell like a saddle. They have almost no leather on them as far as I can tell, but they smell like a friendly horse. Not one whose stall needs to be mucked, but one who has been freshly brushed and is waiting to be ridden.

I have had several dreams recently featuring my recently departed friend Dave. In the first one, Jim came to visit, and Dave's ghost came along. Just like it was totally normal for him to be here, commenting on a few things in the house, like the Christmas tree and the moose. The second one was just him, and he was still a ghost, but telling me that he was quite happy hanging around his house keeping tabs on Jim. I told Jim I had had these dreams, and he said strange things have been happening at the house, like doorbells ringing in the middle of the night but no one is there, or things falling off the walls. He thinks he is being haunted by Dave. I would not be surprised. I don't think Dave was interested in leaving this life and might hang on when he shouldn't. Jim keeps telling him to move on so they can meet down the road sometime in another life, another world.

Happy New Year all. I am off to find a recipe for a pie and another one for a veggie lasagna. My friend Diana is coming over for dinner and she doesn't eat meat.