Monday, March 28, 2011
It all began watching Nana in her kitchen. I learned many important techniques from her and her confidence helped me to develop my own. It's the lessons she taught me that I'm most eager to teach Baby in the kitchen. (And Baby doesn't even know that she can hardly wait to gift Jimbo with some of her first frozen cornbread!)
On top of all of those early Nana lessons in following recipes and setting timers I haven't really branched off from following a recipe. For me, mixing it up was adding my own spices to a recipe - maybe adding celery or onion to something that didn't call for it. I wasn't very adventurous.
We haven't been able to cook as much since Baby was born. Supper now has to be something that one of us mostly does while the other person plays/reads/entertains. However, supper is always a meal we enjoy as a family at the table (with the tv off). For us that's important - more important than how long we may have spent trying to get it to the table.
Some day we know we'll get back to more complicated suppers, but for now we do what works for us. Frozen veggies, canned beans - we make them work. I think even the most artsy-fartsy chefs would appreciate the effort, even if our knife skills aren't up to par.
We're not huge fans of reality tv, but we like reality cooking shows set in this country. We're especially big fans of Top Chef and have looked up several recipes of things made on that show and recreated for ourselves (the best by far being bacon-wrapped shrimp with cheese grits). I'm always amazed at their palates and their ability to just pull recipes out of thin air. They taste something, run to the pantry and grab three ingredients, and then don't even measure with spoons or cups and it comes out great. I've learned a lot from these shows, but have always been scared of just walking over to the pantry and throwing something together on my own.
And then came the butternut squash.
Last fall I made a soup that called for some butternut squash. I wrestled and cut it and ended up freezing what wasn't used in the soup. I figured that at some point we'd make some kind of soup and I'd just dice it with onion as secret ingredients to see how it would fly. Except we never made any soup from scratch, so it's just been looking at me in the freezer, calling me ugly names like "food waster" and "scaredy cat".
Our plan for tonight was some leftover almond-crusted chicken breasts and some kind of veggie. Yesterday I moved the frozen butternut squash into the fridge and decided that I would do something with it for supper, and if it didn't turn out I'd nuke something else.
I wasn't ready for the texture when I pulled it out of the fridge. It was like over-ripe cantaloupe, bendy and mushy; nothing like the stiff butternut squash that I'd put into the freezer. So I immediately summoned my inner Nana and everything I've learned from watching cooking shows on tv -- I was going to wing it. I couldn't count on the texture, but I knew I could turn it into something like mashed potatoes.
I boiled water and threw them into the steamer with a doubtful prayer. As it was steaming I reached over for our masher, except I couldn't find it. We don't have a huge kitchen, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I pulled a fork out of the drawer and immediately doubted my fork-mashing abilities. Glancing at the clock and imagining my quick-fire challenge, I reached for the food processor. I wanted the texture to be more mashed than baby-food-applesauce, but I was going to make it work.
Steamy in the food processor - with a little milk and a little butter and a little salt
I tasted it and thought it needed something else, but what? My instinct was brown sugar and cinnamon, but I made The Hater taste it to see. He's gotten on to me in the past for adding cinnamon to things... and sure enough.... he suggested cinnamon.
Incidentally, Baby was excited to stand in line and taste it, too.
I thought it was good, but the real test would be how it fared on the table.
Halfway through supper - Baby loves it!
The Hater gobbled his down and declared that we would have it again, and that he hoped I would remember exactly how I did it so we could recreate it. I, too, was pleased and excited that my sans-recipe side dish wasn't a complete disaster.
Baby took a hesitant bite, scowled, followed by an, "Mmmm", and ate the whole thing. My child who doesn't eat vegetables asked for more squash and cleaned her plate.
Today, butternut squash - tomorrow, the world...
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday morning I took Baby to her 2 year well-child appointment. I was expecting it to be easy because we were told last fall that she was finished with her routine shots for a while. As far as she was concerned I think it was easy, but for me it was incredibly hard.
They always weigh her and get all of her measurements first. This was the first time they offered her the electric stand-on scale instead of the baby scale. She was jumping on and off of it and I was trying to wrangle her when the MA said she got it. I questioned her because my eyes were on Baby and she certainly didn't stand still long enough for it to register, but I defaulted to the person who weighs more kids than I do.
So then the doctor came in and looked things over. He starts talking about "long and lean kids" and picky eaters. I told him that she liked meat and beans and cheese and fruit, but won't touch veggies (except beans and corn) or pasta. Then he showed me her growth chart and said that she was underweight at 24 pounds. 24 pounds? She weighs more than 24 pounds! But no - the scale doesn't lie. I explained that she was jumping on and off of the scale, but what do I know... so I have to take her back in a few months for a weight check and we have to move her back to whole milk in the meantime.
(Incidentally, her height is fine and her head circumference are fine. I argue that her weight is fine, too. I've weighed her no less than six times in the past two days and she's been well over 24 pounds each time I've weighed her.)
The exam continued and she showed off many of her tricks. And I was excited that she didn't scream bloody murder when he pulled out the stethoscope. She's played with mine several times this week to try to make it less scary, so that was a win.
What was not a win was when he looked in her ears and asked me how long she'd had an ear infection. Ear infection? She had an ear infection? Well, that would explain why she's not been a big eater the last couple of weeks and why she's not been sleeping as well. Now for my birthday I'm wanting an otoscope so I can look at them myself and not get bad looks from the doctor.
No antibiotics, but I'm to take her back if she spikes a fever. And then I explained to him that she hasn't run a fever and she's not been picking/pulling/digging at her ears. I had no way of knowing she had an ear infection (no otoscope), especially if she didn't run a fever or give me any indication that there was reason for concern. He said she was almost over it - so this past weekend we've gone from happy, cheery, pleasant Baby to pitiful, I-only-want-Mommy (even-though-I'm-"underweight"-and-have-an-ear-infection-that-she-ignored-because-she's-not-psychic). We have hem-hawed several times this weekend about taking her back to the doctor or letting it ride, and it's tough because who knows what the right thing is to do. We've let it ride.
I'm going to be smarter next time. Well, hopefully I'll have an otoscope so I won't have to get those ugly looks next time... Next time I'll know she has an ear infection before we go. But if it happens to play out again when we're almost at an ear infection I'm going to ask for a script but promise not to fill it unless she spikes a fever. Save a second copay.
We've learned a lot of lessons over the past two years.
we love lady bugs
Last week we were at a friend's house when their oldest daughter saw a bug! Apparently she doesn't do well with bugs. She started screaming, and when I got there I saw that it was a lady bug. Before Baby could mirror the anxiety I asked her if she wanted to hold it and put it on her hand so she could help me take it outside. She was excited about it.
We have a book about bugs with pictures of lots of different kinds of bugs. The last two pages are of a praying mantis and a lady bug. This week she pulled out that book, turned it to the lady bug, and brought it to me, screaming, "Hand! Hand! Hand, Mommy!" Once I figured out what she was telling me - yes, that was the kind of bug that she held in her hand! She was very excited to make the connection, and I was excited for her.
I gave her a little jewelry set for her birthday, complete with a necklace, bracelet and ring. She would've probably liked them just as much if they didn't have lady bugs all over them, but she was elated to see the bugs on them. (And then went to get her bug book to show me that they were like the one she held in her hand.)
Thursday, March 24, 2011
And where was The Hater last night while I was slaving over oreo delight and cleaning up poop explosions?...
He was sitting three rows behind the Jazz bench watching Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook drop 60 points in a Thunder win.
Dude. Those were awesome seats! I'd rather have been there, too.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
If you look closely you can see the pink sprinkles I added before the layer of cookies on top!
A certain Baby will turn two tomorrow. After I put her down to sleep for the night I threw myself into third gear and made a long-time friend's Oreo Delight recipe to take to day care tomorrow so that they can have a mini party during their snack time after everybody naps. I've already cleared this with day care, and I stole another idea from a different friend and plan on sending our older camera with them so they can snap some pics for me. It's not a great camera, so I'm really hoping for one good shot.
I've cleaned the kitchen and can honestly say I'm about 70% ready for our company that will be here tomorrow afternoon.
More tomorrow on the big 2. (Speaking of big 2, I can't find the special candle I bought to put on her cupcake tomorrow night. I should go find that or else we'll end up with something not nearly as age appropriate.)
I'd like a big bravo for only eating one oreo with a little bit of the delight on it. I could've eaten way more, but I didn't. And now I'm going to celebrate by eating my prunes, drinking my metamucil, and hitting the hay. I need my beauty sleep before the par-tay tomorrow.
Mountains of chocolate just calling for the tectonic plates to rumble
so they can spill onto my plate and settle into the badlands known as my hips...
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Five years ago today our lives were forever changed by the c-bomb.
Since then I've had two surgeries, swallowed three large doses of radiation, had a hundred or so labs drawn, had a dozen nuclear scans, paid about $2000 in copays for the synthetic thyroid hormone medication I take every day to survive, and said many, many (at least several trillion) prayers. I've told my story and helped others to articulate theirs. I've been jealous of those whose path is easier than mine, and been thankful that my path is easier than others. I've been thankful for some friends for their support and disappointed in others for not offering any when I needed it the most. I've received hundreds of cards and emails of support. I've learned to live with a chronic disease, although not with as much grace as I wish.
Being an oncology nurse is tricky when you have cancer. Being well educated makes the bliss of ignorance out of reach. At their most basic level cancer cells do not follow rules - which is precisely what makes them wreak havock inside the body. There's a societal belief that if you make a five year mark after a cancer diagnosis then you're through the woods, but cancer doesn't follow rules and knows no timeline. There's nothing magical about five years; the nature of cancer is to grow and divide and move and take over another site where they can grow and divide and continue the process. Some days I wonder if I'd preferred to have been ignorant.
Still, I'm excited to have five more years behind me. I'm thankful to be alive. For me it's a big day, even though I know that as far as cancer goes there's nothing special about it. We celebrated anyway by going out for supper and I had some special ice cream when I came back home.
The highlight of this extraordinary day was that my aunt in Maryland mailed me a card to acknowledge it. Nobody else remembered.
On one hand I'm hesitant to celebrate because we know that my tumor marker has never been zero. Thankfully it's slow growing cancer that doesn't need special attention at this time, and may never need special attention or further treatment. That's the realistic oncology nurse who is slightly anxious and will probably need counseling this fall when it's time to go through the diagnostic rigamarole again. The naive part of me who dances in ignorant bliss, although usually silenced by the know-it-all nurse, is totally doing the happy dance today. She is, in fact, rallying hard for a second dessert and a drink with caffeine.
She's also convinced that in five more years when we get to celebrate our 10th cancerversary I will be able to do so with complete grace and a full box of cookies.
Oh what a beautiful, beautiful day.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I've been talking to The Hater about the Super Moon all week. In my mind it was going to be most awesome, most super, most amazing. I read about it and was genuinely excited and super-nerdy giddy. I had plans to set up the camera on the tripod (or "piepod" as Baby calls it) to get some huge moon pictures. All the pictures I've seen of a "super moon" looked massive - like the moon took up most of the sky on the horizon.
We put baby down and waited. We waited and waited and waited, until finally it was dark enough to recon the super moon. This is what I found:
(Super Moon peek-a-boo...)
It's always windy here, so it didn't take long for the clouds to clear:
(In all it's glory, complete with a moon flare!)
We were underwhelmed with the Super Moon. It was a bright full moon, but it did not live up to its name. It didn't appear any larger than any other full moon we usually see.
I set my phone alarm and woke up after midnight to see if it would appear larger when it was higher in the sky, but no. It still looked like a regular moon.
This morning I set my alarm early and tried one more time to see if it would look larger in the Western sky, but no. Still just a regular moon, albeit somewhat brighter.
In the scheme of full moons, this one wasn't as super as I'd hoped it would be. Maybe if we have another one in 20 years it'll be more impressive.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Well, that was a bummer. We're not talking just about the Michigan game - the whole season was a bummer. We don't know how you can beat two top five ranked teams and then the next week lose to two unranked teams, but that was our UT men's basketball this year: Jekyll and Hyde.
Unlike the rest of Vol Nation, we're willing to give Bruce Pearl one more chance. Before he came to TN we would jump up and down if we even made the NCAA tournament -- now we expect it. He's had better results than past UT men's basketball coaches. While he did mess up big time violating NCAA rules, he has and will pay the price (and so will the school in loss of scholarships, most likely).
Mike Hamilton is the bigger problem with the University. He needs to go. His tenure as Athletic Director has been a disaster with the exception of hiring Pearl (which doesn't look as good as it once did). The Kiffin disaster, various other issues, no oversight of his coaches with NCAA compliance, and just the general used-car-salesman approach he has to press conferences really makes us want him gone. More so than we want Pearl gone at this point.
The jury is still out on the Dooley hire. They did get better as the year went on, and he has a good recruiting class -- but it's too soon for a final say. We're a little bit leary of giving the Dooley hire credit to Hamilton as there were very little choices of coaches who wanted to come clean up after Kiffin.
The perfect person to replace Hamilton would be former coach Phil Fulmer. While we were ready for him to move away from coaching our football team, we think he'd be great in the role of Athletic Director. He loves the university, would be able to connect with alumni support, is well-respected by other ADs, good with the media, and would try to hire coaches whose actions won't embarrass the Vol Nation.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
My cell phone died this morning. I have until April 1st until I qualify for a free phone. I blame DST.
We have a couple of "spare" phones, and while we were getting ready this morning we were bemoaning that I'd have to input everybody's numbers again for two weeks. But then when I got my new phone I would have to go back and do it all over again because the phone I want to get doesn't talk to the phone I currently have. It's all very complicated.
To further complicate things, Baby is adjusting to the time change about as well as we thought she would. She was up at her regular time this morning, which was par for the course. Meals have not been a problem. It took her about 30 minutes to go to sleep for her nap - she would settle, then cry for awhile, then I'd go in, she'd settle and repeat. We woke her up at what is the new regular time and we both could've used another hour.
During the nap The Hater drove across town to take the phone to the powers that be to see if they could either fix it or since we were long-time users of this particular company if they'd grace me the last two weeks of the contract so I'd qualify for the full upgrade (instead of just a half). Apparently he handed it to them and it magically turned on again, so I'll be limping it for the next two weeks. Hopefully it'll last that long.
Now it's time to go to bed and she's having a hard time again. The first time we let her cry for about 20 minutes before The Hater caved and went to her. Then when he left she woke up and all hell broke loose again. I went in and she's tired, but having a hard time settling. So we're trying something new. She's laying down next to me on the couch, under her bubbuh, listening to me type. I'll let her sit here for a while before I insist on taking her back to her room. It probably won't go over well, but that's the plan for now. I'd rather her lay quietly and rest than be up playing. (Although in the back of my head I keep thinking that if she goes to her room and screams it'd do a great job wearing her out and helping her to sleep.)
The current arrangement is going to make it hard for me to hit the elliptical tonight. I'm hoping she embraces DST by the end of the week because I know I'll be hurting for that nap on Saturday!
She's had a low-grade fever the last couple of days, but yesterday was worse than today. I've not given her anything since this morning. Part of me wants to give her something now because I know it'll help her sleep better (as I hang my head in shame), but the other part of me wants to see if she'll spike the fever again without it. For now the latter is winning, but only hesitantly because I know that if she spikes and I give her medicine it'll take about an hour for it to come back down. A long hour of a miserable, fussy baby.
She's sitting next to me whispering "Jingle Bells". It's really cute, but I must not let on that it's cute because this is quiet, resting time.
Hopefully she won't spike tonight or tomorrow. The Hater is off next week and I'd hate for him to have to spend his time with a sick girl. (That and his plan for tomorrow is to take one of the cars for its oil change.) Incidentally I do not have a significant honey-do list for him, but I have time to remedy that.
Meanwhile, today's Groupon cracks me up. It's $10 for $90 worth of fun at Glamour Shots. I have emailed my local friends and insisted that we buy it and go. I want the 1980s look with big hair, leather jacket, and popped collar. But, alas, nobody has replied. At the same time I forwarded the same email to some of my college friends and Sister, suggesting if they lived closer I'd insist that they do it, too. (We could even get the one of us who was a theater major to do zombie makeup for the shoot -- how excellent would that be?!) They have, of course, replied that they would do it if they were here. The good news (and probably much to the chagrin of my local friends): we still have two days before it expires; plenty of time to talk it up at work tomorrow. And, oh yes, it will be mentioned.
For all my band nerd and science nerd friends, this link is for you. My coolest aunt in the universe sent it to me today. This guy has taken the mathematical constant π and converted it to music. In April when I get a new fancy phone I may need this song as a ringtone because it's really that awesome. I'm just not sure yet who will be the lucky person (i.e. the nerdiest of the nerds) who gets this ring.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
It's important to me that Baby learn regular scholarly things - at least enough so that she can grow up and be a rock star member of society who can support herself and make a difference in the world. But it's also important to me that she learns some cultural, non-scholarly things, too. Tactful things. Real life things. Things that will get her farther in life than a fancy degree or letters after her name.
We have a special guest this weekend. They has no idea how offensive they can be or how ignorant they sound. I would really like to write specific stories about the weekend, but there's no way that I can frame them in a way that's positive. So we'll just apply one of those non-scholarly lessons: if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all (and learn from other people's mistakes).
The weekend has really brought to light to me that it's very important for us to take our jobs as parents seriously, to teach Baby tolerance, respect, tact, and other non-scholarly lessons.
Sunday, March 06, 2011
Just some random thoughts for the weekend.
- The Hater and I watched "The Last Airbender" last night. I had a friend who had told me about it a month or so ago and he was so excited about the story. He said if you could suspend reality and enjoy a sci-fi movie for that, then we'd probably like it. So we watched it -- and thought it was a lot of fun! (you know, because we can suspend reality and look past bad acting) We think it was wrongfully given the Razzie for worst picture. It wasn't that terrible - we've seen much worse. (and if you remember, we're not big Shamma-Lamma-Ding-Dong fans) We may have to go back and watch the tv series since we highly doubt they'll be able to make the rest of the series on the big screen. We also liked that the people had to do fancy martial-art-type-moves to activate their fancy powers. So The Hater and I have been doing fancy faux-martial-art-type-moves the rest of the weekend. And when The Hater farted I asked him if he was trying to be the next air bender.
- Speaking of flatus, Baby has figured out that fart sounds mean that someone has pooped. Sometimes when I move Baby to our bedroom in the mornings while The Hater and I are waking up he will serenade us with fart sounds. Recently Baby will hear that and say, "Daddy poo poo!" Followed by, "I check", where she tries to check to see if he's still clean. This always makes us laugh, and then we talk about farts and how they're different from poo poo. I'm just waiting for us to be in public where she announces that someone else has made poo poo in their pants. Also, when she says 'fart' it sounds more like 'faw-ahrt'. Too cute, as long as we're inside our own home and not announcing things in church.
- Speaking of announcing things... At Target this week I'd taken milk with me to pick Baby up from daycare. We went from there to go pick up a few things at the store - where I was ready with milk and a snack. With the snack she was content to be pushed around and wait in line without protest. On our way out there was a lady ahead of us. She stopped in the little portico area between the two sets of automatic doors. I pulled behind her and waited. And waited. And a lady pulled behind me while we were waiting. I think the lady was putting her wallet back in her purse, but she was in no hurry. Baby was counting for me and we were really in no hurry, either. Another lady came up behind me holding a basket of groceries. Baby started looking around, turned around and eyed the lady who was parked, then screamed, "GOOOOOOO!" The lady turned around and looked at me, apologizing. I went white and apologized, too. The ladies behind us laughed. The lady in front of me just looked at Baby and I. I looked at Baby and corrected, "No, honey, we say, Go PLEASE." So of course then she yelled, "Go please!" The first of what will probably be many harrowing moments of apologizing for what she says in public.
- I'll keep you updated on when she announces that someone else has poop'd or farted. For whatever reason I expect this to happen at the grocery store, too.
- We were really excited to have The Hater home with us this weekend! So glad the gaggiest part of his season is behind us.
- Every day I get more excited about our vacation this summer.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
My cousin Kelly and I have made a pact, and it's not pretty: we're going to get our abs back.
For now we've committed to each other that we're going to do three minutes every day of ab exercises. Initially we said five minutes a day, but then decided that was too much to start with - no sense in going crazy.
I was sore today at work and sore tonight as I did my three minutes. But someday we'll have our abs back, and that's exciting.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
This time last year Baby could say about 50 words. I had a list where I wrote them down when she'd say new ones. We were so excited.
The list stopped after a while because it got to be too hard to keep up with all of the words that she knew. She picks up a dozen a day and she's stringing more and more together at a time. She averages 3-4 word sentences, but can put together 5 or 6 word sentences/statements sometimes, too.
Life is so much easier now that she can do a better job just telling us what she wants. It's really taken a lot of tears and tension away from communication.
She adores the cat. Zoloft, the cat, has a kitty heart attack every time Baby comes anywhere near her. If Baby squeals from the living room we can hear the cat's bell jumping from on top of our bed to hiding below it. Baby likes to talk about the "sounds" that the cat makes. Unfortunately, the cat usually doesn't make sweet meow sounds. Usually the only sounds that Baby hears her make are hisses. Zoloft hisses at Baby, then baby squeals and looks back at her and says "hhhaaaaa" back like a whisper. She gets so excited to "talk" with the kitty and has no idea that the hisses are warnings or need for concern.