Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Hate Being Pregnant

After being asleep for barely an hour, I woke up choking and had to run to the bathroom to throw up. During which I also lost control of my bladder and peed all over the floor. I took a shower but I'm still too grossed out to sleep.

Yep, it's officially a new low. I am too grossed out by my own bodily functions to get back to sleep.

I hate being pregnant.

Monday, October 6, 2008

More Movies Not to Watch While Pregnant

It's been a long time since I saw A.I. I remember it being bizarre and going on far too long. However, I don't remember it being this disturbing and creepy.

Yesterday afternoon, Baby J and I were watching Fiddler on the Roof (she loves singing and dancing and I'm tired of baby programming). I knew Sunrise, Sunset was going to get me, because that's one of those songs that makes me cry even when I'm not pregnant. Sure enough, I spent most of the scene sitting on the floor, tears running down my face and being glad that no one else was home. Then Baby J pulled a kazoo out of the toy hassock. There's nothing quite like a 15-month-old tooting a kazoo to ruin a sentimental moment. :)

Still can't figure out how to embed video. But the scene is here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"My need medicine! My gotsa nuffy nose!"

Because part of the point of this is to record the adorable things my children say.

(Miss L did not, in fact, have a "nuffy nose." She got over the cold more than a week ago. But it's hanging on with Baby J and she's feeling left out.)

Four Months

Yeah, I suck at this blogging thing. But in my defense, it's been *really* busy in the real world.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Death by Easter Bunny

I haven't posted any recipes recently. That would be because I haven't made anything lately. Easter wiped me out.

When I was little, Easter was a big cooking holiday in my family. My mother and grandmother would make pierogi and yeast breads from scratch. The last time they did this, I was in high school. Grandma was the supervisor, Mom was the detail work, and I was the manual labor. We made all the food in my grandmother's kitchen instead of my mother's, even though Mom's kitchen was three times the size and right around the corner.

Once I went off to college, Mom was too busy and Grandma was too frail. We've spent the last 15 years patronizing either the Polish deli Mom found a couple of towns over or pierogi.com. Both are good, but just not homemade. Most importantly, they weren't our recipes - the potato pierogi were okay, but the cheese pierogi were just never right.

I've been agitating for a return to the tradition pretty much ever since. Mom and I had plans to make everything last year, but I ended up in the hospital (viral pneumonia + 7 months pregnant = no fun at all) so no go. Finally, this year, we did it.

The pierogi got a little out of hand and we ended up with just over 15 dozen. But oh, are they good. I wound up making the yeast breads almost entirely myself (as Mom forgot to tell me ahead of time that she and Dad had dinner plans Saturday night). The cinnamon and poppy seeds rolls were both gooey and uncooked in the middle, but the Easter bunnies came out perfectly. And I didn't overknead as much as my mother always does. (Even she'll admit that she's a rampant overkneader.)

But the most important thing was, my grandmother approved of our end result.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Baby's First Hockey Game


We took Baby J to the game against Carolina last Saturday. She spent the first period chewing on her Lightning smudge, the second period making faces at the little boy sitting behind me, and the third period skating on the edge of tired and cranky. Overall, a good experience. (And we won, which was nice. We won Miss L's first game, too.)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Success!

I knew I had a psychology assignment due yesterday. I was prepared; all my schoolbooks and things went with us to my parents' house for Easter, and even though I put the actual writing off until the last minute, I knew it was there.

The problem came when I logged on to my school email to submit my assignment. I had a message from my math professor - a reminder that the due date for taking the next test was Monday (today). So I had 35 hours to learn the entire chapter and take the test.

But I pulled it off! I've been doing well in this class, but I only got a C on the midterm (the last thing I had to do for the class) and that's thrown me off completely. Plus, the material was unfamiliar in its particulars and not conducive to cramming in an adrenaline-fueled rush. Fortunately, the chapter tests continue to be ridiculously easy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Universe is Laughing at Me

Miss L and I have been halfheartedly going through the motions of potty training for the last couple of weeks. She's on the young side and I don't have a lot of spare attention, but she's interested in the process and tall enough that she's going to be ready for some things (that also require no diapers) sooner than later. Like SmÄland at IKEA.

The major stumbling block is just getting her to understand what I want her to do while sitting on the toilet. She's perfectly happy to sit there, especially since she gets my undivided attention and we read books and look at catalogues. She'll even ask to go to the potty, but previously it's just been when my attention has been focused on other things, like making dinner or the baby crying. On the upside, she's very good at telling me when she's gone on the floor while I was looking the other way. (She refers to everything as "poopy" when it's not in her diaper.)

This morning, we went through the normal routine of her asking, then sitting there with nothing happening for several minutes until she got bored and wanted down. Less than half an hour later, she asked again while doing something that looked a lot like a gotta-go dance. So off we went, and within a few minutes of sitting down...tinkle, tinkle, tinkle.

I, of course, went nuts. She just gave me this look like, "Yeah, Mom, that's great; can we go back to looking at the ducks now?" We cleaned up and washed our hands, and I finally got to break open the big container of individually-wrapped Twizzlers that's been sitting on the back of the toilet since we began this process. (Note to self: chocolate was a much better idea. Must get M&Ms and a big jar.) Then I called everyone I know.

As I was crowing to my mother, Miss L comes up to me announcing, "Poopy!" I peer around the corner to see a very small puddle on the floor. Oh, well. I take her to the bathroom, pull down her training pants, and exclaim in dismay as several toddler turds roll out and across the floor.

*sigh* One step forward, one step back.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

WTF?

I was on campus a week or so back to take a midterm. On the way in, I drove past the backlit, movable-letter sign announcing upcoming campus events. All fine.

On the way out, I literally stopped in the middle of the street to stare at the back of the sign. It said:

ZOMBIES
ARE
COMING

I repeat, WTF? (I tried to take a picture, but my crappy camera phone couldn't deal with the backlight.)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tea Cake

This recipe is brought to you by the good folks at Bigelow.

5 "Constant Comment" teabags
1/2 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 2/3 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350˚. Scald the milk in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add teabags, making sure they're submerged. Set aside to cool. Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs. Squeeze and remove the teabags and add milk to butter mixture. Combine flour and baking powder, gradually add to wet ingredients, and mix until blended. Pour into a greased, 9" round pan and bake for 35 minutes until the center springs back.

Verdict: weird but tasty. It also turned out to be a lot more like quickbread than like cake.

Lightning: 2; Flyers: 3

I think hooking and diving should be mutually exclusive.

We're really not making the playoffs this year, are we?

Catching Up

Based on my history with things like this, I really need to concentrate on posting more often. If not, this is going to fall completely by the wayside.

The past couple of weeks have been oddly busy: 5-year anniversary, midterms, American Idol, one child teething and the other potty training. And I've found a new corner of the internet that I haven't quite sorted out my opinions on. Plus my parents were in New Zealand for two weeks, which meant no breaks in the routine to visit the grandparents (and no automatic babysitters to give the Committee and me a break!).

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tiramisu

I'm not a big fan of coffee. I like the taste but I can't stand the aftertaste, so I'm only willing to drink peaberry. And I really don't like coffee-flavored things.

The Committee, on the other hand, is a coffee fiend. So when my mother served us a Nilla wafer-pudding-Cool Whip abomination that she was trying to pass off as tiramisu, I promised to try my hand at the real thing.

(Tangent: My mother is a good cook. She appreciates fine dining far more than I did as a kid or my father does even now - I remember being very disappointed when the macaroni & cheese she said was for dinner turned out to be tagliatelle alla puttanesca. But not only does she cook less now, but her food snobbery seems to be waning. As mine is increasing pratically by the minute, this puts us at odds. I won't go into my reaction to the "tiramisu;" suffice it to say it was not particularly becoming.)


Ladyfingers:

3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

Separate the eggs. Beat yolks, sugar, and vanilla for about 4 minutes until pale and thick; it's important to beat long enough. Add flour and beat until combined. Add salt to the egg whites and beat until stiff. Fold whites into yolk mixture. Using a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip, pipe 4-inch lengths onto greased and floured cookie sheets. Bake at 325˚ for 15-18 minutes, until light and golden all over. Makes about 24.

(I have a pasty bag but couldn't find non-decorating tips so I had to improvise. The cookies came out flat and spongy, which worked for the tiramisu but not really like ladyfingers you'd buy at the store.)


Tiramisu:

6 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup milk
1.25 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
16 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup espresso, room temperature
ladyfingers
unsweetened cocoa powder

Beat together yolks and sugar in a saucepan; add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture boils. Let boil gently for 1 minute, then remove from heat and chill for 1 hour. Beat with mascarpone until smooth. Whip cream and vanilla.

Line bottom of dish (original recipe calls for 7x11; I used 8x8) with half the ladyfingers; sprinkle with half the coffee. Spread half the mascarpone mixture over it, then half the whipped cream. Repeat the layers and finish with sifted cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

(The original recipe also calls for a couple of tablespoons of rum mixed with the coffee, which I didn't use. I might try a splash a KahlĂșa next time, though. And there will be a next time. This was really good.)

This house has been quarrantined due to plague.

All four of us passed around three strains of the flu bug for almost two weeks. Not fun at all. (The Committee and I also realized this was the first time we'd both been sick at the same time since we had kids. We usually both get whatever's going around, but one at a time.)

There were a couple of upsides to this, though. Miss L has finally consented to walking up or down the stairs under her own power (because there was no way I was hauling her up and down two flights multiple times a day). And oddly enough, Baby J decided to suddenly start sleeping 7-8 hours at a stretch. Regularly. Like, every night. I put her down at 9 or so and she doesn't peep until 5.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Local Ad

I don't know which is more disturbing: that this program exists, or that I kind of think it's a good idea?

(It's been months and months since I've watched network television, and the local ads are far more amusing than they should be.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

American Idol makes me feel old.

The Top 24 have been announced for this year's American Idol, so I have gone back to spending time lurking on the discussion forum at Television Without Pity. And yeah, it makes me feel absolutely ancient.

One of the semifinalists is a young man named Danny Noriega, who comes off as a flaming high-school theater queen. He seems quite comfortable with himself and is very talented, as long as you can get past the mannerisms of a flaming theater queen. Having been a theater geek in high school and college (and I still bemoan the fact that I don't have the free time to get involved with my local community theater), I think he's adorable. Not what I'm looking for in an American Idol, but adorable and I wish him well.

The lastest post in his thread refers to him as "total hawtness" and expresses that all the tween/teen girls will love him and will probably be disappointed when they discover he's gay. My question is: when? Is it not obvious? It's not like he's in the closet or not, you know, a flaming theater queen!

*sigh* Today's teen heartthrobs are not actually young enough to be my children, but it's starting to feel like it.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day

We don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day. The Committee bought me flowers and hair bands once, probably 7 or 8 years ago.

Yesterday, he came home from work with presents for all of us. Apparently, he saw a really gorgeous frame at one of the stores at Downtown Disney, which started the whole gift kick. He took one of our wedding photos, made it black and white, took the distracting things in the background out, and put it in the frame for me. He brought Baby J a little pink stuffed Nerd and Miss L a Valentine's Day mylar balloon.

Now I have an excuse to get him something for our anniversary in two weeks. :)

I don't know how my ancestresses did it.

Yesterday morning, I was standing next to my bed folding laundry. Or at least I was trying to fold laundry. Baby J was lying on the bed (on her activity mat) screaming at the top of her lungs. Miss L was clinging to my leg and whining at the top of hers. Ah, motherhood. And I started to wonder how my foremothers dealt with this.

Of course, I was missing the obvious, as the Committee pointed out when I shared this with him. My foremothers had their own mothers (and aunts, cousins, etc.) around. I guess it's time to renew my campaign to get my parents to semi-retire and move closer.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Teef!

I've figured out why Baby J was in such a bad mood this weekend. She's cut her first tooth! It's the bottom right incisor. I discovered this at the grocery store this evening, when she chomped down on my finger.

(I spent the entire weekend trying to convince my friend's husband that Baby J really isn't like this all the time. And that it doesn't mean his sweet, placid newborn is going to turn into a shrieking harpy in six months.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Cautious Optimism

Last Friday, I finally decided it was time to get serious about Baby J's sleeping issues. The first volley was just as ridiculously difficult as I feared. For example, Sunday night went like this:

8:30 pm - Bedtime routine (bath, nurse, bed); I promise myself I won't feed her again for 6 hours

12 am - Baby wakes up and fusses; I go in every 15 minutes to comfort her (which only works the first couple of times)

2 am - Baby falls asleep; I realize that I'm not going to relax enough to sleep until after she wakes up at a time I'm willing to feed her (because I just know that as soon as I get to sleep she'll wake up, and I *hate* that)

3:45 am - Baby wakes up; I feed her

4 am - I finally get to sleep

6 am - Baby wakes up again; we start the every-15-minute thing all over again

8 am - I give in, feed her, and face the morning

Needless to say, I was exhausted beyond the telling of it yesterday. But last night, we seem to have had a breakthrough. She went to bed at 9 and woke up at 12, but only fussed for about 10 minutes. She then slept until 4, then until 8. I actually got 8 hours of sleep! Not all at once, of course, but two 4-hour blocks is more sleep than I've gotten in one night since before she was born.

We're travelling this weekend and will all be sleeping in the same room, so I a little worried about the potential setback. But we'll deal.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Angel Food Cake

I've never been wild about angel food cake. But it's one of the "Basic Master Recipes" in The Fannie Farmer Baking Book that my father-in-law gave me for Christmas, so I decided to give it a try. It's fantastic - so much better than any store-bought angel food cake I've ever had. It turned out a little bit denser and sweeter than I expected, but I'm okay with that.

1 cup cake flour
1.5 cups sugar
13 egg whites
1.5 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

Adjust oven rack so it's in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat to 375˚. Sift the flour and 3/4 cup sugar together three times. (I kept ending up with sugar crystals that were too big to go through my sifter.) Beat the eggs whites for a minute, until they're foamy. Add the cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt. Slowly work back up to medium speed, then very gradually add the other 3/4 cup sugar. Stop and scrape down the bowl when all the sugar has been added, then beat on medium until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Fold in the dry mixture. Pour into ungreased 10-inch tube pan and bake for 30-45 minutes. Cake is done when a tester comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched. Cool inverted until the pan is no longer warm.

The book recommended "White Mountain Frosting" to go with the cake. I wouldn't have thought to frost angel food cake and I have no experience with boiled frosting, but I tried it. Really, really didn't like it. It's entirely possible that I boiled the sugar syrup too long or beat the whole thing too much (or both), but the result was oddly marshmallowy. I ended up scraping as much of it off the cake as I could.

Cognitive Dissonance

Why does the Super Bowl have a red carpet? And if that's not odd enough, why is it hosted by Ryan Seacrest?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Word about Sleep

My daughter Baby J is less than a week short of 7 months old. She doesn't sleep. Well, of course she sleeps, but in no predictable pattern and never more than four or five hours at a time. For example, last night she did her impression of a snooze alarm: asleep for 4 hours, then 2, then 1, then 1 more. And that was a good night!

She also won't go back to sleep unless she's fed. I know all the books say that this is my fault for not being firmer with her, and they're probably right. But I have to look at my own short-term survival. If I feed her when she cries, she'll go back to sleep and so can I, even if it's only for a couple of hours. If I don't feed her, I either have to walk around with her until she settles again or try to ignore her crying. Neither of these has worked because she's amazingly stubborn and single-minded. I eventually give in and feed her, having not gotten any sleep in the meantime.

I've been trying to keep her awake during the day. She's also starting solids, so I'm feeding her that fairly late in the evening. Objectively, neither is really helping, but they do make me feel slightly more in control of the situation.

She gets this from me. I'm almost thirty and I don't actually sleep through the night either.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Speaking of whom...

Admiral Piett has a fan club! Sure, the page hasn't been updated since 2003, but at least it means I'm not the only crazy person out there.

What the Committee did instead of work this evening.

He found this video; he didn't make it. That was someone else. A very clever someone else.

(Bonus: my absolute favorite Star Wars character has a cameo.)

Adventures at the Polling Place

My polling place is the little community center in the park directly across the street from my front door. I love it. (It does tend to cause traffic problems, but my street is small enough, my community is small enough, and these things happen so infrequently that it's not really an issue.)

So yesterday was the Florida primary. My vote for a presidential candidate probably won't count but there was some important local stuff on the ballot. As usual, there were people with placards and fliers hanging out just beyond the no-politicking-beyond-this-point signs. (Those signs are recent and directly related to a local skirmish that I'll post about if I can Google up the names of the guilty.) No one approached us as Miss L* and I walked up to the building.

On the way out, however, was a different story. As we were making our way back home, a guy with small yellow cards practically ran over to get my attention. He handed me one and urged me to read the first paragraph, which read:

"The so-called Florida 'Marriage Protection Amendment' could take away benefits from all unmarried couples in Florida. This amendment won't just ban same-sex partnership recognition - all unmarried couples in Florida could lose the benefits they already have:"

(Then it went on to list the rights in question, such as hospital visitation and existing corporate domestic partner benefits.)

Now, in this matter I am the proverbial choir being preached at. (Hell, I'm all for skipping the civil union nonsense and calling it marriage.) But I was amused to be so specifically targeted by the person delivering this message, as it wouldn't technically impact me at all.

Then I realized that I was walking with a toddler and not wearing a wedding ring. So I suppose it wasn't a huge leap after all.

Oh, the two groups sponsoring the flier were Human Rights Campaign and Florida Red & Blue.

*my two-year-old

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Union

I only caught a few minutes of President Bush's State of the Union address last night. What exactly is "false populism"? From what I can gather, it sounds like democratically-elected leaders of Latin American countries doing things that we don't like.

(I really did mean to watch the whole thing. I feel like I'm not fulfilling my role as a citizen of this country if I'm not fully informed. Plus, I can't complain about things I'm not aware of. But the Committee* gets twitchy if he has to listen to the president for too long.)

*my husband and all the voices in his head

Monday, January 28, 2008

Must Be Nice

This morning, Trixie (the youngest and silliest of the household felines) was lying on her side in the middle of my bedroom floor, stretched out as far as she could possibly get. Her belly was about four inches away from the space heater. She was also curved at exactly the same degree as the oscillation of the heater.

I wanted to take a picture, but she moved long before I could dig up the camera.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Strawberry Pie

The 7-month strawberry season is one of the absolute best things about living in Florida. This afternoon, I bought my berries from an old guy with no teeth selling out of his van by the side of the road.

This was also my first attempt at homemade piecrust. I think it turned out quite well. The crust was a tad underdone (my oven and I don't have the greatest relationship and I get skittish when baking delicate things). It was also thin in spots, probably because I was using a 9-inch recipe in a 9.5-inch pie pan. But the end result was entirely respectable.

For the crust:
1.5 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3-5 tbs cold water

Mix the flour and salt together, then cut in the shortening with a pastry blender. Add the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together when pressed. Shape into a 1-inch thick disk. Roll out on a floured surface until 1/8-inch thick and about 2 inches wider in diameter than the mouth of the pie pan. Press into pie pan, trim and crimp the overhanging edges, prick all over with a fork, line with foil and fill with dry rice. (All my baking books talk about "pie weights" but I've not yet been able to prove the existence of any such thing.) Bake at 425 degrees for 4 minutes, remove the foil (and weighty material), and bake for another 8-12 minutes until dry and light brown. I think I baked mine for the full 10 minutes and it was still underdone, but I already mentioned my ongoing feud with the oven.

For the filling:
2 pints strawberries
3 tbs cornstarch
1 cup sugar
2 tbs lemon juice

Clean, hull, and halve the strawberries. Mash half of them and mix with the cornstarch, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened and translucent. (I took the "low heat" recommendation a little too seriously and my berries did absolutely nothing for about 20 minutes. Once I turned the heat up a bit it came along fine.) Let it cool a bit, then stir in the rest of the strawberries and pour into the baked crust.

For the topping:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbs powdered sugar

Whip the cream and sugar together and spread over the pie. Refrigerate the finished pie when not serving.

Yay, pie!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Learning something new every day

This morning, I learned that "Ben," that doofy Michael Jackson song, was written for the sequel to a ridiculous evil-rats-take-over-the-world movie. In which Ben is the giant head rat.

I'm just not sure where this falls on the disturbing vs. hilarious spectrum.

(This came about when CNN used the movie "Willard" in reference to Mitt Romney's first name. They didn't use the name of the movie, just a clip or two and references to sociopaths and killer rats. I'd never heard of this and it took me far too long to find it on IMDb, especially considering the name of the damned thing is "Willard." For the record, my only association with the name is the second-banana in "Footloose.")

Cold now

It was in the 80s the day before yesterday. Last night, we had a three cat night (and it was bad enough that they were snuggling, rather than just occupying their own spaces on the bed). Stupid schizophrenic state.

Yes, I'm from Florida. We talk about the weather as if it were an actual topic.

Make it stop!

Apparently, yesterday Tyra Banks did the "Plastic Surgery Nightmares" show that all talk shows are required to do at least once. Oxygen keeps playing the ad for their midnight syndicated broadcast (which was two hours ago, so I'm not sure why I'm still being subjected to this).

Main story: "I had a breast reduction and my nipples fell off!"

Yikes. This is why I should put on a DVD when I can't sleep.

(Of course, without 2 a.m. ads I never would have discovered Jingle Jugs. Hilarious and active in breast cancer awareness! And far less scarring as a concept than the previously-mentioned.)

Because there's nothing else on.

Oxygen is playing Peggy Sue Got Married. Again. This is the third time I've had this on in the background in the middle of the night in the past two weeks. It's not a bad movie, but it is deeply unsettling to see Jim Carrey making out with the mom from Seventh Heaven.

(Speaking of the Oxygen Network, I really thought these "networks for women" were supposed to have empowering, forward-thinking programming. Or at least shows that I wouldn't be embarrassed by their very existence. Could someone please explain the socially-redeeming value of The Bad Girls Club?)

(Okay, now that I've actually looked at the link, I suppose it does have a decent premise. But the ads just make it look like incredibly trashy reality TV. And would an apostrophe kill them?)

Testing, testing...

Still trying to figure this thing out. (Sure, I tried having a blog about a year ago. I posted maybe three times and then forgot my password. Here's hoping this one works out a little better.)