Saturday, November 27, 2010

You can ask my sister about this one

Wow. That cranberry sauce was really sweet. Remind me to use about half as much raw sugar as regular. Wow.

I have a problem. My brain is not like other people's. I have an unusually large capacity for mostly useless facts. This comes in handy on very rare occasion. Sadly, they are not the kind of facts that normally appear on Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy, or I'd be a zillionaire. They are things like knowing that "victuals" is properly pronounced "vittles." Or that Harry S. Truman's middle name was really just S. I am like Nigel Murray on Bones minus the charming accent.

Due to this large capacity for useless knowledge, I have precious little capacity for information useful for day-to-day life. The people around me don't understand this and consequently are frequently hurt by or annoyed with me. I try. I really do. I put everything into my computer calendar and set up a reminder. Sometimes I get distracted by something shiny before I have a chance to open my calendar. Or I put it in, but forget to set up the reminder. And before I know it my friend is knocking on the door just as I'm about to get in the shower at 2pm.

My problem is further complicated by the way my brain is arranged. I imagine most people have a brain like this:


Black is the base knowledge suppository. Red dots are things like "Doctor's Appointment Tomorrow," "Pay Electric Bill," and "Put on Pants." The vent hole is out the top. Once the time to know a certain thing has passed, the person can remove it, allowing space for adding new important things.

This is my brain:


Notice how the capacity is much smaller, and the vent hole is out the side. I can't intentionally remove things out the top like other people can. No, some things just sit in there until they turn black and sink into the lower portion.

I will forever remember that the Norman invasion was in 1066, even though that's information I have not needed since grade school and will probably never need. But somehow, at one point, my brain deemed it worthy of the "permanent knowledge" designation. Meanwhile, the things you see falling out the side are things like, "Feed Children," and, "Christmas is December 25th," and, "You Have Friends. Call Them."

I'm not a particularly busy person. I'm not overwhelmed by Things to Do. But once there are a few really large items inside--things that can't escape the vent hole ("Moving!" "Friend X Is Having a Baby (But I Can't Remember When)!")--, all the little stuff ("Friend Y Is Coming for Dinner," "You Are Going out for Coffee on Tuesday.") starts popping out willy-nilly. It doesn't matter if it's stuff that's important to me. If it's not completely life-altering, I can't remember it. To make matters worse, when I am under even the smallest amount of stress, my brain both shrinks and produces a kind of lubricant that makes ejection of important facts even more frequent.

This is why these past couple of months have been especially frustrating for me (and, I'm sure, for my friends and relatives). I'm a little stressed out, we have a few huge things coming up, AND the permanent knowledge field is slowly--ever so slowly--filling up with random facts.

My theory is that Alzheimer's will strike the day my entire brain is black, and the vent-hole can move no further up; at that point, permanent knowledge will begin to spill out as well. The distress this creates will cause my brain to shrink to the size of a walnut, until there's nothing left in there but basic motor function.

Is this a morbid view of my future? Yes. Yes it is. But if I consider it inevitable now, I may one day be pleasantly surprised. In the meantime, dear friends, please forgive my forgetfulness. It doesn't mean I don't love you dearly. I just can't remember your name anymore.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cranberry sauce for people who hate cranberry sauce

Cranberry Sauce Extraordinaire
(from user Leeza at allrecipes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
  • 1 orange, peeled and pureed
  • 1 apple - peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 pear - peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 cup chopped dried mixed fruit
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. In a medium saucepan, boil water and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Reduce the heat to simmer, and stir in cranberries, pureed orange, apple, pear, dried fruit, pecans, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst.
  4. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
Things I do differently:
  • I used canned pears. Good fresh pears are nonexistent this time of year. I use about half a can for a double recipe, drain the juice, and use that as part of my two cups of water.
  • I dump the pears in with the oranges for pureeing.
  • I use a metric ton of cinnamon. Plus a few cinnamon sticks. And a little extra nutmeg.
  • I'm using raw sugar this year. No idea how that'll work, but I know I like it better in everything else.
  • I use the crock pot. I dump all the ingredients in, mix up, and then pour the boiling sugar water over the top. This is especially handy for making the day before. You get it good and cooked on Wednesday (just check on it every hour or so until berries have burst), flavors become good friends in the refrigerator overnight, and then you plug it in when you arrive at your parents' house a few hours before dinner. And if it's not hot enough by the time you eat, you can just throw it on the stove in a pot for a while.
The only drawback to making it in the crock pot the night before is that you have to smell it all day, all night, and all morning before you can eat it. And then you pig out even more than usual at Thanksgiving dinner.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Two posts in one day! The last one was getting a little long, so I decided to break it up. This one is more interesting, anyway. Well, if you're me. I don't know how you all feel about it.

I have been listening to a lot of Pandora recently. When I cook dinner, I like to dance (badly) in the kitchen to good music. I was getting sick of the songs I own, so I decided to make a new Pandora station: high-energy, fun songs I can sing along with.

My artist seeds are KT Tunstall, Regina Spektor, and She & Him. Apparently I like chick-rock with a twist of slightly crazy. All of my song seeds are up-tempo, catchy little numbers.

This is my conversation with Pandora:

Me: Okay, KT Tunstall radio, go!
Pandora: "Are you strong enough to be my man?"
Me: That's... not exactly what I had in mind. Thumbs down!
Pandora: "But the landslide brought you doooown."
Me: *shudder* Thumbs down!
Pandora: "I don't mind spending every day out on the corner in the pouring rain!"
Me: Okay, technically up-tempo, but not really what I'm looking for. Maybe if I give you some seed songs. Let's see... "Mushaboom"? "On the Radio"? "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"? These giving you any ideas?
Pandora: "Red, red wiiiiiiine! Stay close to meeeeee!"
Me: What? No!
Pandora: Haaaah! Haaaah! You cannot skip anymore songs. "Red red wine you make me feel so fine you keep me rocking all of the time..."

*three minutes later*

Pandora: "Red, red wiiiiiiine! Go to my heeeeead!"
Me: If I don't like it when UB40 sings it, do you think I'll change my mind just because Bob Marley does?
Pandora: "Red, red wiiiiiiine! Stay close to meeeeee!"
Me: Unlike!
Pandora: "Buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta..."
Me: I don't think you understand. I don't like Bob Marley, either. Yes, I'm the only person in America who doesn't like Bob Marley. I also dislike the Beatles. Stop looking at me like that. Bob Marley doesn't make the dishes get clean any faster. Bob Marley makes me want to be deaf.
Pandora: "You may say I'm a dreamer! But I'm not the only one! I hope somedaaaay you'll join us!"
Me: Remember how I said I didn't like the Beatles? That includes John Lennon. Okay, up-tempo, catchy, go!
Pandora: "Words like violence break the silence..."
Me: Are you kidding me.
Pandora: "I love you, you love me! We're a happy fa-mi-ly!"
Me: Now I know you're messing with me on purpose.
Pandora: "With a great big hug and kiss from me to you!"
Me: I'll give you a great big hug. With this KNIFE.
Pandora: "Won't you say you love me too?"
Me: That's it. You're going in the oven.

Don't forget. New blog.

Shaun the Sheep!

The children must have sensed my mood, or maybe whatever was making them unbearable was also making me cranky. I spent all day Saturday until about 2:00 in a funk. Angry, tired, sad, and no idea why. So I dragged myself onto the elliptical and set it for forty minutes, intending to take a long but easy workout. Instead, after about five minutes, I got going at a good clip, and worked my up to an angry sprint by the end. No, I'm not in that good of shape, and I'm still feeling the effects, but it certainly cured me of my bad mood. I've been on a high ever since.

As for the kids, they've never had such a long streak of delightfulness at the same time. One or the other is usually quite pleasant, but their good streaks rarely overlap like this.

I find that children's behavior is not a steady increase in goodness. I mean, duh, right? But I kind of lull myself into this complacent security when either of them is being particularly pleasant for more than a few days, Grace especially.

And I never learn. It always surprises me when she starts acting up again. Bad behavior usually precedes a milestone of some kind. The time before last, it was her leap into speaking in real sentences. This time, I think it was some kind of internal shift. I haven't noticed any particular developments that I can put my finger on, but she suddenly seems so very Little Girl and not Baby at all.

We don't watch too much TV. I'm not anti-TV; it just doesn't occur to me. We don't have any good channels, and it's more of a bother to get everything opened (baby lock on TV cabinet), turned on, set up, closed back up again, and on the right channel than it is to just find something else to do, or let Grace entertain herself.

But lately in the evenings, after Emmy goes to bed, we've been keeping Grace up for an hour longer. All three of us climb on the bed, Grace between us, and we watch Shaun the Sheep on Netflix. That show is hysterical, people. There's no dialogue. Grace likes the SHEEP! DOGGIE! PEEG! and Jeremy I like how funny it is. I highly recommend it, especially to those of you who loathe children's television as much as I do. It's on demand, so you don't even have to wait for the DVDs to come.

Speaking of which, I have shows to watch. It's been a few days since I sat around during naptime.

Friday, November 19, 2010

November is a terrible month for gratitude

Whoa, whoa, whoa, folks! My self-esteem is way more than okay. In fact, it's gone right past "healthy" and into "bloated" and "overfed." I have my insecurities, but thinking I'm ugly isn't one of them. I certainly hate a few of my features (chin wattle! chipmunk cheeks! beady eyes!), but on the whole I find myself to be rather attractive.

Sometimes, to cheer myself up, I gaze into the mirror for an hour or better.

(that was a joke)

I got to drag both children to the pediatrician's office yesterday. That was so many different kinds of fun.

It started off well enough. I put Emmy in the Ergo and Grace in the little umbrella stroller. The second the nurse took us back to a room, it all started falling apart. The nurse deigned to LOOK AT and SPEAK to Grace. Grace dissolved into tears.

With a naked Emmy in my arms, there wasn't much I could do. She followed me dejectedly when we walked across the hall to the scale, screaming the whole way. That scale wasn't working, so we got to walk all the way to the other end of the office, Emmy trying to climb my body to eat my hair and Grace trying to climb my body because of the baby-eating nurse.

At least a screaming toddler isn't unexpected at a pediatrician's office.

The problem with an extremely shy child is that the only way to get her to improve is to subject other people to this behavior. Taking her places is exhausting. I'm constantly worrying about how I'll deal with one very mobile yet untrained baby and one very frightened and vocal toddler--all without making everyone else want to pelt me with rotting vegetables.

She does fine much of the time--maybe even most, now. But there's no way to predict a bad day. You don't know it's there until you're in it, and your friends are being nice about it, but you can't help but think they wish you could just get control over that kid.

I'm a little burned out. The kids haven't been particularly difficult lately. I'm just so tired of the sameness.

I can't wait to be out of here. We move December 30th, but our lease doesn't start until January 7th. The next month is going to be long and dreary.

Don't worry. Today is mostly just a meh day. Crappy weather (oh, November, the last thing I want to do is feel thankful for things), and Emmy won't nap. She started making noise about halfway through this entry, and today is one of those days where I've been clinging to the idea of kids' naptime with all of my energy. I'll feel better tomorrow.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


This is something that has been bothering me for a long, long time.

When I look at pictures of me, I don't see me. I see this:


I don't know if I'm really that horrible-looking, or if I'm really unphotogenic, but that is not what I see in the mirror. In fact, what I think I see in the mirror is usually more like this:

Do you see the disparity?

Now, here's what bothers me:

Friend: Ooh, and here's a picture of you I took at the zoo last week!
Me: I didn't know our zoo had double-chinned ogres.
Friend: No, that's YOU!
Me: Oh my. Do I really look like that?
Friend: Oh, shut up. You look fine in this picture.
Me: Oh my. Do I really look like that?
Friend: It's really not that bad!
Friend: Oh, look! Here's a baboon's behind.
Me: ...
Friend: Oh, nevermind. That's you again.

I don't expect my friends to cater to my vanity. But PLEASE stop insisting that these awful pictures of me look like me. When you tell me I look fine in a picture, I don't hear, "You look fine." I hear, "Yes, you do look like a double-chinned ogre."

If you're trying to reassure me, reassure me. Say, "Oh heavens no. You don't photograph well. You look much better in person." Or don't say anything. But don't tell me this snapshot of ugly "isn't that bad." Because I have two eyeballs (and up-to-date glasses). I can see that it is that bad.

If it were just my fragile ego, don't you think I'd see this


in the mirror, too? But I don't! I see Marita Covarrubias. If anything, my ego needs a kick to the groin.

So, here are our choices:

1. I am really ugly, and my vision goes haywire every time I step in front of a mirror.
2. I am not ugly, and my vision goes haywire every time I see a picture of myself.
3. I am somewhere in between, and the camera adds 20 pounds, a bulbous nose, shiny skin, frizzy hair, giant teeth, thin lips, a wide face, and squinty eyes.

Which would you prefer to hear? Huh? Next time a friend doesn't like a picture of herself, and you actually think it's a bad picture, say so. Don't tell her over and over that it looks just like her! and it's beautiful! Because she will either conclude that your vision makes it illegal for you to operate a motor vehicle and that she truly is hideous, or that you are a liar and that she truly is hideous.

I can guarantee she's not going to conclude that the thing leering at her from the photograph is beautiful.

PS: If she really is that ugly, it's best to just not share any photographs with her. Unless you think her ego needs a kick to the groin.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Things I hate

Sorry, Gerber. That baby is real cute and all, and you have some of the most affordable baby items in existence, but I really hate you right now. These plastic pants have microscopic leg holes and are baggy everywhere else. Your cloth diapers are tiny, stupid, and non-absorbent.

I also hate me and my clumsiness. I have spent all morning trying to figure out how to properly fold and pin a diaper, and nothing is working. Also, 2.0 does not appreciate being a guinea pig, which means diaper changes just got WAY MORE FUN. I have compared her to a coked-up octopus before. The comparison still holds.

And YOU, Internet! You are no help! Tutorials, diagrams, instructions, videos, they all assume the baby will just lie there, docile and content, perfectly still. Where are they giving out babies like this? I want one! Even The Child, who is one of the most docile children I've ever known, was not that still for any diaper change ever until about the age of 18 months.

Oh, yes, I know all about Snappis. I want some. I covet them. Which brings me to the next thing I hate: Babies R Us. You are stupid and you have a stupid face. One tiny aisle dedicated to the lousiest cloth diapering supplies ever made, and all you have are pins. Given the not-so-recent trend toward cloth diapering, I think it's high time you got with the program.

And YOU. You people who say old-school cloth diapering it so EASY and SIMPLE and LA DE DA. You lie. You lie, and do you know what happens every time you lie? A baby cat dies. That's what. Think on it.

UPDATE: I still hate Gerber, but I'm no longer so stymied by pinning. I got some bars of soap out, stuck them in old socks, and use them for pincushions. The pins go in much easier now.

I also decided to ditch the prefolds. They make me too crazy. Instead, I'm just using flat fabric and using the origami fold. I fold them ahead of time and keep them in the drawer under the changing table. I think I will try the kite fold next. It will better contain 2.0's more enthusiastic output.

Those diaper covers, though... Tomorrow I get a vacation from kids. The Guy, may his name be praised, is kicking me out of the house for most of tomorrow and all of Saturday. I will be childfree until Sunday morning. Did you hear those angels singing? No? That's because they weren't angels. They were me. And I sometimes sing off key. I love my kids, and I want a million more, but it has been more than two years without a real break. I've had evenings out, but that's it.

Anyway, I am going to go to a real diaper store, not Babies R Us (which I also still hate), and I am going to find some Snappis and some diaper covers that are easier to work with. With the kids wearing at least two layers at all times, it really stinks (hah! pun!) to have to remove two pairs of pants just to get the diaper cover off. Meanwhile, the wet diaper is soaking into either the new diaper or the changing pad. Not a good system.