Thursday, December 31, 2009

got a feeling twenty-ten is gonna be a good year

Goodbye to 2009. The year of the end of an era in my life. (An era I can't wait to revive...or something. I'm not sure eras are revivable.) The year of a false start for me. The year in which we said goodbye to poor little Lucky and to Dona R/Abuelita.

Welcome 2010. The year Pic will start elementary (seriously, how did we manage to make it this far?). Another year in which we will move, but we hope this move will be much more long-lasting. A year in which I hope to begin building toward our grand plans for our grown-up lives.

I have a lot of hope for this upcoming year. I have hope for myself and for you all too. Here's to a great year.

We ended this year on a good note: a visit to Coach J and Company's new home. Pic had playmates for the evening! Cardo and I had fun entertaining a wee one (and, yes, we're still sure we don't want more of our own). It was great to catch up and hang out.

Cardo's melting with exhaustion (picture that) so I'm sure he's not going to make it to kiss my garlicky self (oh, but dinner was good) at midnight, but that's okay. Just being here at home with my little family is plenty for me.

Happy New Year! Felice Anno Nuovo!

------------


[The Who - 1921] No video and the song doesn't really fit what I feel (a deaf, dumb and blind future-pinball wizard...I can't even create a satisfactory metaphor for that right now), it's just that I keep singing to myself "Got a feeling twenty-ten is gonna be a good year" and apparently I'm not the only one.

on tipping

I worked as a server for a few years once I turned twenty-one. I was eager to leave the job I was at and I had these grand ideas that serving would be great and I’d make great money. Ha! said the universe.

The only place I could persuade to hire a completely-lacking-in-experience-me limited its servers to three tables. And, the word ‘unlimited’ applied to some of the staple menu items. (As in, people could come in and spend five bucks on their lunches and sit forever insisting they needed more to eat.) Turns out, I’m not such a great server. I was definitely competent. (Except that time I forgot to fire a meal. One diner had ordered steak, so, for a while, I figured that was the reason for the long wait. When I realized my mistake, I was almost in tears as I hunted down a manager to come help me fix the screw-up. Oh, and that time an entrĂ©e slid off my tray and down the stairs. Only once, though.) So, I was competent, but I just don’t have the personality for the job. I despise small-talk, I’m incapable of schmoozing and I hate trying to sell people things they don’t want or need.

This could turn into a rather different post, but I want to stick with tipping, at least for today. I think I was a decent tipper before I served. After I started, though, I became a great tipper. Cardo and I tip high when we go out to eat. We don’t go out often and we have a pretty set range of places we go because we’ve been treated well at these places. I like to tip…most of the time.

There’s a place we sometimes go when Cardo has work meetings. Cardo heads off to talk shop and Pic and I wander the shops in the little downtown area. This is where I first encountered what seems to be a growing trend: the frozen yogurt shop. Yes, frozen yogurt shops have been around all of my life, and, no doubt before. My older sister worked at one when we were all much younger. I still feel, though, that these new yogurt places are a new trend, different than the Golden Spoons and the TCBYs I’m used to.

At the particular place Pic and I visited while Cardo was at his metting, you walk in, grab either a 16-ounce or 20-ounce paper cup and you fill your own cup with the yogurt and toppings you desire. At the end of the line, you place your cup on the scale and the cashier, in your first encounter with this person, reads the scale, relays your total and collects your payment. That’s it. “That’ll be two dollars. Is that debit or credit?” If you’re lucky, “Have a nice day.” That’s it.

On the counter, there’s a tip jar. I was affronted the first time I saw the tip jar. I refused to leave a tip, as I had served myself my food. I felt it was like leaving a tip at a bookstore or a clothing store.

Here’s what I’m wondering: Is it okay that I don’t tip there? I know that at some places, like the restaurant where I worked, people are paid below minimum wage because it is expected that tips will make up the difference. Should I ask if the workers only make minimum wage? I don’t feel okay asking random people how much they make, though. And, anyhow, they’ve probably signed something stating they won’t discuss their compensation.

I see a big difference between the service provided me at this yogurt place and the service provided me at a traditional sit-down restaurant. I’d never not tip at the latter. Even at a coffeehouse or somewhere like HoB (my beloved House of Bread), the tipping situation is different. Something is being made for me. I can see a person preparing my hot chocolate or putting the finishing touches on the cinnamon rolls.

So, what do y’all think? Am I being a ridiculous miser when it comes to the yogurt place? Should I just give in and leave a tip? If I don’t want to tip, should I just not go there? Hmm?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the weight of my world

For the last month, I’ve once again been food-journaling: I’ve been writing down everything I eat. I know that my eating has been somewhat out of control for a very long time now. I never sit around an wonder how my body got in the shape it’s in – I know how I eat and how I exercise. I’ve basically been maintaining the same, unsatisfactory-to-me, weight for the last year. While I know I’ve eaten somewhat atrociously, I’ve purposely been largely myopic when it’s come to really looking at what I’ve been putting in my body. Actually, it’s more like I’ve noticed, but, at the same time, I’ve tried to ignore it. I’ve finally decided to do something about the state of my body (I’m imagining here something like The State of the Body, like the State of the Union/State because, well, I’m strange like that).

So, for the last month, I’ve been paying more attention to what I eat and what is in what I eat. The way I’m journalling (that’s a verb, right?) can be somewhat tedious, and I have to say, ‘Thanks be for the interweb and it’s plethora of information.’ I’ve only been good at this once before, and that was right after Pic was born and I needed to lose the pregnancy weight so I could fit into my dress for Poke’s wedding. I’m hoping that I’ll stick with this for a while. But for how long?

And this is where I get into my over-analysis. I loathe that I am a well-educated (okay, let’s face it, over-educated) woman with plenty of privileges and I’m so worried about the issue of my size. I’m not talking size in numbers – inches or weight – I’m talking the size and shape of my body. I despise that I think about this so much. Shouldn’t I be focused on other things? Family, career, learning, ecc? Shouldn’t I be able to look at myself and be okay with what I see no matter what it is that I see? Shouldn’t I just be able to accept what I so nonchalantly tell Pic, that people are just many different sizes and shapes (we also discuss other features, such as color, but that’s not pertinent here)? Yes, I think the answer to all of those questions is yes. But the real answer I serve myself is ‘Um, no, because have you looked at yourself lately?’

And, then, there I go feeling pathetic again. I tell myself that I need to get in better shape for my health. And, I suppose this is true. I know that I feel I need to be in better shape to feel more comfortable with myself and in my own body. I also know that I have this ideal body image in mind and that I would really like to look like it but that I feel so superficial admitting that.

So, wow, I’ve really gotten away from my starting point. I tend to do that, I know. For now, I’ll be paying attention to things like calories and ingredients and the numbers on the scale and the tape measure, because those are the concrete bits I can get at. I’ll most likely not blog about this much because I’m not nearly secure enough to put that much information out here in the great wide ether. We’ll see how this goes.

Some notes:
I know that I’m the one who drew attention to my body, but please don’t feel obligated to say anything complimentary about it either here or in real life. (I can put stuff out here that I can write about, but that I’m just not comfortable actually talking about. I'm just thinking and working through this in writing here.)

If I bake in the near future, as I am feeling wont to do, those near me may end up with the extras lest I feel the need to finish them off myself. I’m thinking to make some chocolate crinkles (my favorite cookies). Anyone nearby interested in a few? (I’ve never made them myself before…just a little warning.)

When the weather is nice enough again, and, more importantly, when the sidewalks aren’t so covered in snow-turned-ice, I’ll be doing a lot more walking again if anyone cares to tag along. (Cardo and I have decided that we’re somewhat boring, but walking makes me happy and keeps me sane and I think Cardo prefers me in a happy sane state so he walks with me. I imagine us, years in the future, as little old people, wrapped in cardigans, out for our daily strolls around the block.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

i resolve

I resolve

-- to eat better this week. By yesterday, I had pretty much given up on last week, although I didn't do my worst eating ever last week. I'm slowly getting better about this.

-- to vacuum at least once this week. Now, if I can get that done today, I'll be set. We'll see.

-- to post a bit more often. It feels weird to take three days off, but I was wrapped up in fun stuff like killer cramps and a UTI.

-- to work on career development today. I'll not be specific because I'm superstitious, but eventually I'll update on this.

These are just my resolutions for the next few days. I'll think about making resolutions for the new year (holy moly, it's coming soon!).

I hope you all had a good holiday season. Our was low-key. Even lower-key than I had planned considering I forgot our camera somewhere on Friday morning so we didn't have it when Pic opened gifts on Friday afternoon. Oops.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

magazine mania

I have a hefty stack of magazines to read right now. Usually, I'm not so into magazines. I think that I am, but that never turns out to be the case. I've tried Real Simple a few times, but I feel like it's for people who have oh-so-much more money than I have. I'm definitely not the intended audience. I've also tried O, but I'm not connecting with that one either.

So, what do I have right now? Well, I just finished looking at many of the pages of the most recent Parents magazine. I haven't subscribed to this magazine in at least a year (and I think it's been longer), yet they keep sending it. They also keep sending notices threatening that if I don't resubscribe, they'll stop sending the magazine. The Magazine That Cried Wolf. (Of course, the January issue will be the last I ever receive. I'm well past my interest in the magazine, though, so that's okay.)

I also just finished browsing a Better Homes and Gardens. This one just appeared in my mailbox recently. I thought it was delivered to me accidentally, but, no, my name is on the cover. I'm not sure how I ended up with this, but it does make me wonder who BHG thinks I am. Hmm.

I have a Time I've checked out from the library. I haven't yet delved into it, but I'll be doing that soon.

I have the most recent Self. I do subscribe to this. I'm not as fanatic about it as I used to be, but I still like to read it. I'll be reading that as soon as I sign off here.

Last night, Cardo dropped me off at Barnes and Noble while he and Pic went to find a holiday gift for me. I so rarely spend time in B&N any more -- I've been there twice in the last year -- that I was actually feeling overwhelmed. I went straight to the magazine section to see if they had the most recent issue of Bitch, but I couldn't find it. I walked away to browse many books I had no interest in, but then came back to look for the magazine again. I finally found it next to the bridal magazines, which I found funny. So, I also have Bitch and BUST lined up to read. (BUST was on the opposite side of Bitch. There's an article by Rachel Dratch on Amy Poehler, which was the selling point for me.) Basically, I was indulgent in my magazine purchases, but what else was I going to do while waiting to be picked up? (Y'know, other than read every single title of every single movie they have for sale?)

So, I often wonder what my magazine reading could say about me. What kind of a persona would someone expect me to have knowing that my current stack of magazines consists of Self, Time, Bitch, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents and BUST? Instead of contemplating it further right now, I'm going to take a quick but hot shower and got to bed...and at least flip through Self.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ww: child of mine

Sunday, December 20, 2009

oh food, how i love you

I haven't written any food posts lately. Don't worry, we're still eating.

One day last week, Pic and I were on a baking kick, so we started the day with some cranberry muffins and ended with some homemade pizza.



Oh, these muffins were so good while they were still warm that I ate two of them. They were still good after they had cooled, but I much prefer them hot from the oven (okay, not really, if I burn all my taste buds off, I won't be able to taste them...but I do like them warm). The Fresh Cranberry Muffins recipe is from one of my Cooking Light cookbooks. I kind of never got around to making cranberry relish this year, so I really needed to use up my cranberries. (I've only ever made cranberry relish once, come to think of it.)



Oh, the pizza was also so good. I needed to use up some tomatoes and spinach, so a tomato and spinach pizza it was. I again used the pizza dough recipe from The New Moosewood Cookbook (the recipe is part of the calzone recipe and, one day, I'll make some calzoni). I brushed the prepared dough with olive oil, added some dried basil, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and chopped spinach (I really, really like to chop my spinach). This was dinner one night and breakfast the next day. Oh how I love pizza for breakfast!

A couple more notes on muffins and pizza. Recently, I tried My Favorite Muffin and Bagel's fat-free cranberry orange muffin and it was delicious. I'll be having that again. As for pizza: last night we had zPizza's Italian pizza for dinner. It was good, except I'm not a fan of pesto. Next time, I'll ask for the garlic sauce instead. (We were sharing dinner with a friend and I didn't want to be too fussy.)

A final food note: Pic loves pointing out shapes that look like the shape of our state. How is that a food note? I'll show you:


That's Nevada there in the middle. The other two? Minnesota on the left and Ohio on the right. Fun with food! States in all their hammy glory!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

a love story

My parents have been married for twenty-nine years today. My parents are symbolic to myself and to my sisters. They are symbolic of a perfect kind of long-term committed passionate love. I don't mean perfect in that there were never arguments or doubts or difficult times. I mean perfect in that they so obviously belong together and they grow closer and more in love with each other with every passing year. I know it's cliche, but I really do believe that they love each other more now than they did twenty-nine years ago. I wasn't around yet -- almost, but not yet -- but I have seen the growth of their love and their dedication to each other over the years.

This love, a love like my parents' love, is what I aspire to in my own relationship with Cardo.

Here's to many more wonderful, wacky and happy years.

Friday, December 18, 2009

why can't we be friends?

From the book I'm speed-reading because it's due back soon and I won't be able to recheck it:

... I think yes, a man and a woman can be good friends. But it isn't easy for them, being as no one else will suppose that that is what they are. (The Children's Book, p486)


I can't quote that without including this


[When Harry Met Sally(Men&WomenCanNotBeFriends)-Part I]*

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I don't have many friends and none of my close friends are male, Cardo excepted of course. However, I always wondered about this and how heteronormative assertions like this are (of course, I haven't always had the term 'heteronormative' in my vocabulary). Words like this make me think about rules that parents have, forbidding a child to be in a room with a person of the opposite sex if the door is not open. I always wondered, 'Okay, but what if someone of the opposite sex wasn't what one finds sexually appealing?' It seems that we so often just assume that everyone is going to grow up being attracted to someone(s) of the opposite sex.

Anyhow, I've gotten away from that opening quote, which I like. I like that the speaker (Elsie) believes that two people of the opposite sex can be 'just' friends but that she also understands that many others will assume that there is more going on between the two...between the sheets (sorry, I couldn't resist typing that last part).

---------------

* These titles I include are not my own. I am just including the titles given for the videos in case a video doesn't work one day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

sending out for a little universal goodwill

Hello All,

I am writing to ask that you all please send along any extra good vibes you might have laying about. Please?

We are trying to secure a new place to rent (alas, we are nowhere near being close to buying a place) and we are to hear back either tomorrow or Saturday.

Considering no one pays me for raising Pic, I haven't been contributing to our finances for a while, although I'm definitely contributing to our bills. We need to move to somewhere more affordable. (Also, hello, we've been renting this specific place for almost a year. My restlessness is acting up big time. I need to believe that when I buy a place, it will be a forever place. Actually, I'd like to rent one single place for a good long while until we are ready to buy...it's just that we need to be able to afford the place we're renting, right?)

I know that my woes are so small compared to others' yet I'm still asking for a few good thoughts. Please.

Thanks ever so,
v

P. S. If you, any of you, need any good thoughts sent your way, I have plenty. Just let me know.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

winter wonderland

That's about how it looks outside. And, it's not even winter yet. This morning, I really didn't want to emerge from the warmth of my bed. Oh, it was cozy. I curled up under the covers for waaay longer than I had intended. Oops.

The forecast right now is predicting a high of 48 degrees with partly cloudy skies for Saturday. I know that will probably change in the next couple of days, but, for now, I'm looking forward to it. We are so walking this weekend. It's been almost two weeks since we went as a family and I really depend on these walks as sanity savers.

Monday, December 14, 2009

what if...?

The most recent momversation has me thinking, remembering.


Life Choices: What Would You Be Doing if You Weren't a Mom?

I'm not really one for "What if things in the past had been different? What if I had made different choices?" I don't see much point in thinking that way, other than, possibly, enriching my imagination skills. Things are the way they are because of the decisions that I and others have made.

That said, Cardo and I did have plans in case we never became parents. We were both convinced that there was a strong possibility that we might not be able to conceive (a conviction that was proven completely incorrect about fifteen minutes after we decided to test it).

Had we not been able to have kids, we were going to travel. That's it. We'd still work and possibly things would be a bit different than they are now in that arena, but possibly not. All we wanted was to travel together. We were so nonchalant about it, like, "Hey, if we can't have kids, that's okay. No biggie." Of course, I have no idea how that scenario would really have played out had we had difficulties. But, we have Pic now and we still have plans to travel. Admittedly, our grand plans have been scaled back a bit. For now, we travel to places near, as a family of three, instead of as a family of two. One day, we hope to be able to travel wherever and if Pic wants to come along, we're happy to have her. (The note of far-into-the-future-ness is there because we probably won't be able to afford anything so grand for a couple of decades and Pic will be an adult.)

talent show

This I believe is from the 4 April 2009 issue of Time



This makes me seriously contemplate if I have any super-special hidden talents. I don't think I've developed any yet. Ah, well...

things that make you go 'huh?'

From the 7 December 2009 Time, in a feature entitled, "The Year in Health: From A to Z," "If you've got both red hear and a fear of the dentist, you're not alone."

Yep, sounds exactly like me. (Actually, it sounds like pretty much everyone I know, regardless of hair color. Anyhow....) Apparently I have a gene that "shuts down a protein that would otherwise turn hair brown," and this fun, fun gene (the melanocortin* 1 receptor gene) also lowers the pain threshold. Of course, though, there's also research that shows the opposite and the Time writer(s) reports that "hair color and pain sensitivity are linked in some way."

From my own experience, I'm going to have to go with the former findings. I remember having dental work done when I was younger and being able to feel the pain from the drilling. I had already been given Novocain (not for the soul), yet I could still feel the pain. I remember being told either by the dentist or the dental assistant, "You can't feel any pain." I loved the condescending, exasperated voice the person was using too. Fun times.

-------------------

* Blogger's spellcheck has the following suggestions for this word: mulching, elongating, blanketing, plankton.

-------------------


[Eels -- Novocaine for the soul]
I cannot think of the word "Novocain" without thinking of this song, which I barely know anymore.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the blues

One Minute Writer from December 6th: Channel a blues singer, writing about why you've "got the bluuuuues."

For better or worse, here's what I think of


[Adventures in Babysitting -- Babysitting Blues]

I'm sure most everyone everywhere is thinking, 'Worse,' but, well, it's my automatic association.

Oh, yeah, this too


[Robert Downey Jr. sings national anthem]

Ha! You're welcome! (Yes, go right ahead and harshly judge my taste in movies. I refuse to even worry about it anymore.)

And, I know, I didn't actually reply to the prompt, but I'm going with these. Otherwise this could get downright depressing. I've been there in this space and I'm trying to mainly steer clear of it.

obsession

Pic is completely obsessed.


[You're A Mean One Mr Grinch]

We've been in Dr Seuss mode here for a while. Mostly, we're sticking to the books, but we don't have this book. We've rented the film from Netflix. Horton Hears a Who is also on the disc and we've also been watching a lot of that.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

trimming the tree

We’re right now (still) reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma and we’re finally close to the end. Pollan is discussing his hunting adventures and he’s mentioned a couple of times that ‘dressing’ an animal is really more like ‘undressing’ the animal. (He goes through this whole description of dressing the pig he believes he shot and, once again, I’m glad I don’t have to kill our meat.)

So, Thursday, we bought our Yule tree. This is the earliest in the season we’ve ever bought it. We’re compromising. Cardo believes the tree should be up for an entire month leading up to Christmas. I like to buy our tree at the last possible moment (and we usually get a discount on our tree this way). We bought it at the Top Notch tree lot, where we’ve bought every live tree we’ve gotten. (And, here we go with the opposites again, because, of course, our tree hasn’t been alive since they cut it down in Oregon a few days ago. A real tree, then, but then we can argue what is Real and what isn’t. Let’s not.) I like to go there. The people there always treat us well. From the moment we walk up, the guys (I’ve never seen a woman working there) greet us and point out what they have available. Yesterday, the person who first greeted us pointed out the different kinds of trees and their price ranges. As we were looking, another person told us he was glad to see us and told us they could answer any questions we have. Too often, when Cardo and I go places, we’re ‘greeted’ by people who seem to find it an inconvenience that we’ve interrupted their quiet time or something. It’s nice to go somewhere where the people seem genuinely glad to have your business and where they treat you like people, not just consumers.

Pic usually chooses our tree, but this time she was into the pricey trees. (I have no idea what ‘pricey’ means to other people, but anything that’s over eighty dollars, I’m going to go ahead and call ‘pricey.’ That’s where we are right now in our financial situation, at least.) We finally chose one that was only twenty-five dollars. The people working the lot didn’t treat us any differently when we chose an inexpensive tree. They trimmed it for us (as in actual trimming: cutting off the bottom branches and leveling the base) and told us how to care for it once we got it home.

Once home, Cardo set it up in the stand and Pic and I filled the stand with water. Cardo put the lights on and we all dabbled in the trimming: adding the ornaments in this case, of course. Pic did most of this.

While I was hesitant to buy and set up a tree so early, I think it’s nice to have it. First off, the apartment smells amazing. There’s the pine smell – we bought a Douglas fir – but there’s also a lemony smell underneath the stronger scent. The closer you get to the tree, the more you can smell the citrus. (Please don’t tell me that means something horrible about my tree. Let me believe it should have a slight lemony scent.)

For now, there’s nothing under the tree. We bought Pic’s gift last month. Pic and I have yet to buy anything for Cardo. I’ll probably get him something and then Pic and I will get or make him a little something. I’m leaning toward making something…but what? Cardo’s like a kid with presents: his wonder with and delight in them is fun to observe. Pic likes gifts, too. Me? I like to receive them, but I could really go without.

This end-of-the-year holiday season is one of our more difficult ones. I think the last one that was this tight was when I was seven months pregnant and hadn’t been working since the previous March. This is one of the times I’m glad we’ve never set up the tradition of going all-out-crazy in our gift-buying. First of all, I don’t think it’s worth it to buy a ton of gifts. We have plenty already. We have more things than we’ll ever need. Second, I somewhat dislike the focus on consumerism that is so much sharper this time of year. I do like to buy gifts for others, when I can, but rather than inundate people with a ton of stuff, I like to stick with something simple, and, I hope, meaningful (this isn’t always easy). Third, had we that tradition of gifts stuffed in every cranny of the apartment, years like this would seem like real bummers.

So, anyhow, the tree is up. Now what to put under it? Any suggestions for handmade gifts? (Made by Pic's and my hands, that is, because, yes, I could shop on etsy for hours and hours...if only I had the money.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

phil and lil

The day before yesterday, I talked to Indie on the phone. It’s been something like forever since we’ve talked, although, really, it’s only been a few months. However, it’s been a long few months. I don’t like to go that long without getting in touch. Every time that happens, I start to worry that maybe our connection will be lost. I worry that maybe our friendship has petered out and I never, ever want that to happen. I don’t believe that it will, it’s just that I become so insecure at times and I am sure that, truly, the sky is falling…or something.

So, Tuesday, we talked. I finally just called her up. And she answered. And we talked. Yes, duh, this is how this works, but I have a somewhat severe phone aversion, so it usually takes a lot for me to call someone, or answer the phone when someone calls.

And, as if to affirm our rightness as friends, even more so than our whole conversation to that point, was something of a sign, if you believe in that kind of thing. (Do I? I’m still contemplating that one. I really don’t need a sign to tell me that Indie is a great, wonderful person I always want to be friends with.) She was telling me she reads on her breaks at work. The people she usually encounters ask her, ‘What are you reading now?’ She says it’s funny because she’s been reading the same book for a while now – it’s not like she’s zipping through book after book. I asked her what books she was reading.

Sense and Sensibility.

I kid you not. Okay, so you might actually be wondering what I might be kidding about, but I am also very slowly making my way through Sense and Sensibility, as I’ve mentioned. We’re both about half-way through the book. I am purposely reading along with some others right now, although I’m sure Ms Kat and everyone else is either finished or close to it, while I’m muddling along, but I had no idea that Indie was also reading the same book until I asked her on Tuesday.

Meant to be? Definitely. We're friends for so many reasons and that just won't change. I just wish we lived closer and could actually hang out more than once every two or three years. (Yes, I’m sappy. I accept that about myself.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

homemades/handmades

I have been meaning to post forever and forever about a few handmade items I’ve acquired in the last eight months. (Why, yes, I do procrastinate.)

First, about the whole not washing my hair for five weeks over the summer. This has to do with that. Before that experiment, I switched over from regular, liquid shampoo to bar shampoo. I read about Blue House Soaps on nature moms blog and started ordering shampoo bars and face soap from them. I was very wary about the shampoo bars because I was convinced they wouldn’t really clean my hair. However, I LOVE them. And, the owners send the soaps wrapped in cute little bits of fabric. Right now, the owners are moving to a new house and they aren’t taking any new orders. I’m not sure when they will begin again, but I hope it’s soon. I have been using Dr Bronner’s All-in-One soap as shampoo for the last few months. I get that over at Whole Foods. I use both the plain one and the rose one. The face soap, though? I love the Blue House Soaps face saver soap. It’s the best face soap I’ve ever used and I’ll be sad if they don’t start making their soaps again.


I was so excited when I got these in the mail all those months ago. Also, I ordered that little wooden soap holder and they sent a free sample of soap.



This picture is from when we went to visit Poke and her family in August. I had just gotten a new order of soap. This time, I also ordered some soap for Pic. I got another free sample, but I don't have a picture.

As for the five weeks over the summer: I went no ‘poo. I used a baking soda paste on my hair, which actually did clean it, but it never felt clean enough. The instructions said it would take between two and eight weeks for my hair/scalp to get used to me no longer using shampoo. I almost made it six. I think I might try it again next summer and see if I can go until my hair feels normal to me again.

More handmade: my new pads. I’ve had them for a few months now, but I’ve had a few weird periods (which I’m sure everyone needs to know), so I still wasn’t sure if the pads were going to work out. Now I know, though, that I love them. I bought them from Crea8tiveMama on etsy, per Poke's suggestion. I’d like to get some more. I bought a starter set and a Pad My Stash set. If only I knew how to sew so much better than I do. I’m trying to talk my mom into opening an etsy shop and I keep giving her ideas about what to sell. I have no plans of ever going back to disposable pads.


(Not to worry: This is a pre-use picture. I just wanted to show off the fun designs.)


Now, just to gross you out (in case you aren’t already grossed out by the thought of cloth pads…because, believe me, Cardo is grossed out), I’m thinking about switching us over to handkerchiefs. I’m not sure how grossed out I myself will be about this prospect, but I’ll give it a go. However, what material are handkerchiefs made from? Cotton, I’m guessing, but there’s every possibility that I’m totally off on this.


Other ideas or suggestions for me?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SNOW!

Okay, so let's recall the day before yesterday when I was waxing on about snow. Lower-case snow. Let me refresh your memory.



Yesterday, though, we got actual snow. Please note:



Yesterday, Pic and I bundled up in so many layers of clothes that I was getting her pretty close to A Christmas Story bundled proportions on top. If only we had snow pants. We set off on a mini-trek. We only made it about fifteen minutes outside yesterday, but that was enough time for Pic to eat some snow and pack some away in the mittens that are attached to her coat. The neighbor kids were making snow angels in the back lot, but I think I might have lost Pic back there had we gone much further in. Anyhow, she wasn't much interested in being up to her mid-thighs in snow.

Today, the sun is shining, but there is still plenty of snow on the ground. Our parking lot still has a good layer of snow, although they did clear it as well as they could at some point. At least Cardo got to work in his own vehicle today. Yesterday, he left for work and then came back up to the apartment at almost the time he was to start work. 'Aren't you going to be a little late? What are you doing?' I asked him from the warmth of bed. I was still not quite awake and not really thinking that well. He told me that he had been outside for an hour, trying to get out. He left again, but ended up stuck at the entrance to the apartments. Someone helped Cardo and several other people out of that predicament. Cardo ended up calling a coworker to come to this end of town to pick him up just outside of the parking lot. It's days like yesterday that make me want to be able to buy the four-wheel-drive car we are wanting, but it'll be a while before we're in any position to do that. Also, we'd only need that car specifically a very small number of days a year. It would be nice, though.

So, now, Pic is 'resting' in her room. After that, we'll bundle up again and try another no-doubt-short walk, after which we'll come back for warm drinks to enjoy while bundled up on the couch.

It's days like these that I love to look at the snow and enjoy having it (as long as I don't have to drive in it) and that I'm also so very glad that we have a home, and a home with a working heater, especially. I don't look forward to our next power bill, but I'll think about that later.

-------------------

P.S. I just checked the temperature and it's 14 degrees here. I checked earlier today and it was 7 degrees. Whoo-hoo!

-------------------

Update: We made it outside for thirty minutes today. Pic was able to eat plenty of snow, one of her favorite pasttimes. We finally came back when Pic told me, 'I'm too frozen. Let's go home.'

Sunday, December 6, 2009

snow

Pic was quietly creating a story with colored pencils. I looked up from my book and realized she had stopped coloring and that she was staring intently out of the sliding glass door, mesmerized by the falling snow.

'I think I want to go outside in the snow now,' she told me.

I was tempted to tell her that, no, it was too cold to go outside, out of my own selfishness in wanting to continue sitting, wrapped up in blankets, reading. However, I put a paperclip in my book to save my page, put my book down, flipped the blankets aside and said, 'Okay, get your coat and snow boots.'

We bundled up, grabbed the trash, went outside and walked to the back of the complex. I dropped off the trash, almost slipping on the curb, and then we went to the back park area and crunched around in the snow. We used our boots to write our names in the snow and then headed for a very, very short walk. Despite my gloves, my hands were freezing. Pic told me she was freezing also, so we came home and made hot chocolate and an early dinner.

It was good to get out, no matter how badly I wanted to stay in. Also, I felt better about sitting and coloring and reading for pretty much the rest of the evening.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

balls; or, a night of double entendre

Tonight, I went to Furie Queene's, where she hosted a cookie exchange. First of all: Yea, cookies! Second of all: The promise of cookies made by Furie Queene! Not to be turned down, right?

You'd think, but I did hesitate. Well, actually, I immediately accepted the invitation, but as the gathering neared, I got more nervous about it. I'm a worrier. I'm not great in social situations, especially those in which I feel I need to make small-talk with people I don't know. I had many moments this morning, while I was making my own cookies for the exchange, in which I thought I'd just call and beg off. I'm glad I didn't.

I forced myself to talk to people I don't know, and I'm glad I did. I never doubted that the people who would be there would be great people, I just doubted that I'd be able to peel myself away from the wall long enough to talk to them. Let me just say, the people there were great. It helps some that I knew about half of the people there, but the people I was just meeting were so easy-going and open that it was easy to join in a conversation here and there. I'm not saying I really pushed myself, but I did a bit.

Usually, on returning home from an outing, I get this let-down sadness that I hate and that is one of the reasons I don't go out so much. I'm not feeling that sadness right now.

I'm off to watch Friends with Cardo, but, before I do...thanks Furie Queene, for being an awesome host and for getting me out of my hidey-hole.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

three firsts

I really wanted to title this 'a week of firsts,' but, well, one project alone took more than a week start-to-finish (I hope you can figure out which).

Yesterday, for my Wordless Wednesday, I posted this



She is my first all-on-my-own sewing project. She is based on a project from Sewing By Hand by Christine Hoffman and Harriett Barton. Of course, the amazon description says the book's for four- to eight-year-olds, but no matter. Of course, my mom has been sewing on her own since she was about eight, maybe younger, and I've seen her do this all my life, but no matter. I'm just getting a late start. I even made a modification to the pattern, which was for a cat, but Pic wanted a bear. She wanted a polar bear, actually, but she hasn't said anything to me about how un-polar bear this is. So, I rounded the cat's ears. Fancy, no? Also, the fabric? We recently went to Joann's to pick some up and I let her pick something from the clearance rack and this was her choice.

The sewing is definitely not perfect (um, yeah, don't ask what happened with that foot...let's just say that, first, my overhand stitch needs some work, and, second, I should not wait a week while Pic plays with the bear before I sew up her foot because by then the fabric is all nice and frayed). The beginning knots are a gargantuan mess, so I'm glad they're hiding on the inside there. Also, I did the sewing, but as this was Pic's toy, I wanted her to help with it, so she did the stuffing part. The project in the book called for filling the toy with beans or lentils or something, but I was afraid that my stitches would be too big and they would fall out, so we used polyester stuffing. Next, time, though, I'll use the beans, but only because Pic's four and past that whole three-and-under-choking-hazards-everywhere stage, because you never know when my stitches will split or whatever it is they do.

So...next.



A week ago, today, I made my first pumpkin pie from scratch. I'm pretty sure that at one point I made a pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin and premade dough. This time, though, I wanted to try my hand at something of a challenge (hey, for me, most cooking/baking is a challenge). I actually made a pumpkin and butternut squash pie. I roasted the pumpkin and butternut squash at the same time and then let the puree languish in the fridge for almost too long. Finally, Pic and I gathered all of the needed ingredients, made the dough (oh-so-not-as-difficult-as-I-thought), and mixed together all of the ingredients for the filling. That's when I started to freak out. Experimenting in the kitchen is daunting to me because so many things could go wrong when I'm in charge. Then what? We have a mess we have to throw out and we still need to eat. I know I sound melodramatic, but I hate the thought of wasting so much food on a failed recipe and we aren't exactly rolling in the dough here (ha!) so I'm worried about throwing away food we spend Cardo's hard-earned money on.

So, the pie filling? It was watery. Is it supposed to be like this? Shouldn't it be thick? This is not what it looks like when it comes out of the can. This is what kept running through my head, but I couldn't find any place where I had messed up, so I went with it. I was just extra-careful (or, overcareful) getting it to the oven. After the prescribed amount of time in the oven, though, the pie looked just like it was supposed to (except that kind of burnt spot there where the filling went over the edge of my imperfectly shaped pie crust). That night, I made some whipped cream and then waited as Cardo first tasted the pie. (I do this with just about everything I make. I wait until he tastes it first. He never complains, but I wonder if that's just because he doesn't want to have to do the cooking himself.) It was good! We ate all of it over the next few days. (Oh, I used the recipe from the label on the sugar pumpkin I bought at Trader Joe's. I used that pumpkin plus the butternut squash, so I just substituted half of the pumpkin with the butternut.)

Finally, tonight



My first homemade pizza dough! Just like with pie crust, I was thinking, I can't make pizza dough. It'll probably suck. I'll mess it up. It'll be too hard. Ha, ha! I say now. Although our apartment is about ten degrees (okay, so it hovers just under sixty most days now) and I was sure the dough wouldn't rise because there isn't a warm place to put it, unless I tuck it in my bed, the dough did rise.* I only had a recipe for the dough, a recipe I got from The New Moosewood Cookbook in Katzen's calzone recipe, and I didn't actually use any instructions other than that. I didn't bother to see how hot the oven should be or how long we were to cook it. So, I wung it ('wung' 'winged'...y'know). I set the oven for 425 and let the pizza cook for twenty minutes. We probably really didn't have to let it cook that long, though.

On top of the pizza: a bit of olive oil brushed on, queso fresco casero (it's the only cheese we had), yellow squash, zucchini, turkey bacon. The bacon almost didn't make it because I wanted to eat it while I was cooking it. I usually only make apple pizza, so I wasn't sure what needed to happen with the toppings for this pizza, so I cooked the bacon and the veggies for a bit before we assembled the pizza. Is that how it's done?

The taste? Oh, so good. I'm so having a piece for breakfast tomorrow. I'm so making pizza dough again...and again and again.

------------------

* When I'm making WHO bread and, now, pizza dough, I let the dough rise in a bowl on the rangetop. I cover the bowl with a hot damp towel (which, of course, cools). As I've only been making the bread for the past month and the pizza for the past few hours, I've been dealing with a cold apartment. To create some warmth, I set the kettle to boil (making sure to not light the nearby towel on fire) so I can have a nice warm mug of tea while I wait. Also, today, cooking the bacon on the stove and roasting the squash in the oven underneath helped create some warmth. Otherwise, I might have to actually turn on the heater and warm the apartment. So far, though, my methods have worked.

-----------------

P.S. Yes, you guessed it (I sincerely hope): the bear took more than a week. It could easily take a day (for me...a half-hour for others), but I was procrastinating. I copied and cut the pattern and pinned it on one day. I did all of the sewing, minus the last little bit the next day. And, then...I waited several days to actually finish it up.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

'tis a season

Right? It's a season for something. I'm just not sure how we'll be celebrating this year. I hope I'll remember to be jolly no matter what, though.

I'm beginning to teach Pic about Solstice. Every year, I tell her we are celebrating it, but we don't really have any traditions surrounding it. At least, we don't have any traditions solely for Solstice. We do buy a tree and decorate it with lights and ornaments, but that's so linked to Christmas (although not at all to the celebration of Christ's birthday, as far as I can tell). I'm working the lighted tree into our Solstice celebration. I need to do more research on Yule, no?

I have a couple of books on Solstice checked out and a few more coming, but I haven't found the story I want to share with Pic yet. (Really, I haven't found the story that I want to cherish yet.) Perhaps I'll just start by telling her what different people have celebrated at different times. For now, we are focusing on light. I've told her that Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year (although, as one book so clinically pointed out, every day is twenty-four hours, Solstice is just the day with the least sunlight) and that we celebrate because the light will be slowly returning for longer and longer amounts of time until Summer Solstice. We are celebrating the light and its return. I know this sounds flimsy, but I'm not building on personal tradition, here, I'm needing to come up with this on my own.

Growing up, we celebrated Christmas. A kind of Christmas. Once, at a time I was attending a Catholic church with my sitter's mom, I went to Midnight Mass, but I'm not sure how much of that I understood. I knew, growing up, that Christmas was the mass of Christ, a celebration of his birth (although I was also aware of suggestions that Christ wasn't born in December and that at some point Christianity had done what religions do in that it had superimposed one of it's holidays on that of a religion it was squelching). I never understood how lots of the elements of Christmas as we celebrated it fit in with the birth of Christ. Why a tree? Why lights on houses? Why crazy gift-buying for everyone? Why Santa Claus?

Here's what I remember: My mom would start gift shopping in July (or some other really early date). She'd have a list of gifts, and as she'd wrap gifts, she put a code or symbol on the package to indicate who the gift was for and what it was. Christmas was a time of baking and lots of food. Christmas was a time of tension. I'll not go into that.

It seems, though, that in moving away from what I know, and don't know, about this holiday, I've moved away from any sort of celebration at all. We went a good couple of years without even putting up a tree. Cardo doesn't say much, but I think he'd like if we did more. I'm sure he remembers somewhat...boisterous Christmases, what with having such a large family headed by a strongly Catholic mamma. Since Pic has been a part of our lives, I've more and more wanted traditions such as holiday traditions to celebrate and enjoy. I'm just getting a really slow start.

So, how will you all be celebrating this Solstice/Yule/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Chanukah? I'm sure I'm missing some important holidays here. Are there any other holidays you will be celebrating this month?

-------------------

P.S. December 19th seems to be National Oatmeal Muffin Day. It's also my parents twenty-ninth anniversary, in case you were wondering.

ww

Monday, November 30, 2009

blog sprint

Today's One Minute Writer: What is the worst part of getting time off work or school?

The time I have to think. Yes, really. I overthink just about everything, which is why I usually have entirely too many projects going on at once. That way, I have less time to dwell on all the uncertainty.

What am I doing and where am I going?

If only time off meant sleep.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

muppet queens


[The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody]

Yes, from Jane Austen to Jim Henson in just a few moments. That's how it goes around here.

'a total jane nerd fest': an invitation

Ms Kat is inviting us to join her in reading Jane Austen. We're starting off with Sense and Sensibility, which, it turns out, I've never read. I finally started reading it last night, but I was dead tired and had to put it down and drift off to sleep on the couch...before Pic even went to bed. (It could have been our two-and-a-half hour walk in the chilly chilliness yesterday in all of our layers and layers of clothing. But, it was good to finally get outside as a family again now that Cardo is feeling better.)

So, I will eventually be posting some more about what I'm reading, but I'm only about twenty pages in at the moment. See the comments on the Kat's Meow post I linked to above for the discussion thus far.

Happy reading!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

when i'm not sleeping...

...I'm learning new skills. Kind of.



I was attempting to learn the 'crowned princess' braid, but I flubbed up (there's a phrase I might never have used before) somewhere around getting across my forehead. I can't bear to post a picture of the front. I'll keep working on it. As for the back...yeah, I'm pretty sure there aren't supposed to be any inadvertent* (or advertent either) pigtails, but there they are. I like them.

----------

P.S. Yes, my office/library/den is a wreck.

P.P.S. I also try to write posts that need more brainpower than I have at them moment. I need to recharge and then later I may be able to post my other bit of rambling.

----------

* Why is that not a word? How do we have 'inadvertent' without 'advertent'?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

notes from a quiet place

Cardo is feeling under the weather (and the weather is beautiful right now). He's getting over something right now, which means that for the last almost-week, I've been sleeping on the couch while he germs up our bed. I cannot wait to be able to sleep in my bed again, after we change the sheets, blankets and pillowcases, of course.

For yet another year, Cardo is working this holiday. This just comes with his job and I don't really mind it, actually. We're not much for celebrating much of anything. This year, so far at least, I think I'm dealing with the 'holiday season' pretty well.Yes, I know it's just begun. Usually I end up pretty quietly depressed and weepy, which always upsets Cardo because he can't 'fix' it (or fix me).

I'm thinking we might end up having a very quiet evening. We're supposed to go to a friend's house, but Cardo might just come home and go to bed. I'm not sure. He hasn't really let me in on the plans past letting me know a few weeks ago that he had accepted the invitation. (I'm just thankful that he doesn't randomly bring people home for dinner.)

For now, Pic's 'resting' in her room and I'm waiting for the kitchen floor to dry (Pic was having a problem not dropping her yogurt on the floor this morning...but the floor needed cleaning anyhow). I'm listening to Dolly Parton here in the den and NPR out in the living room. I'm about to put on some real clothes (I'm not in my pajamas, but I'm not in clothes I'd go out in) and take Pic for a walk for a bit. Tomorrow's supposed to be much colder and we haven't walked much lately.

Right now, I'm thankful for this quiet time.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.


[DOLLY PARTON POOR FOLKS TOWN from 9 to 5 Soundtrack] -- the pictures don't really go with the songs, they're just a Dolly photo album, basically, so you can listen and do other things if you'd like

Monday, November 23, 2009

books, glorious books

I just finished reading Novella Carpenter's Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. It is due back at the library tomorrow, with a number of other books, and I'm working hard to actually turn books in on time, so others might have a chance to enjoy them also. (When we were reading aloud In Defense of Food, I actually finished reading it in the library parking lot, right next to the book drop.)

I can't remember where I came across mention of Carpenter's book, but I'm glad I did. I think I might read this again one day. At first, I thought the narrative jumped around too much, often taking a short trip back to tell a new little story, but as I hurried to finish the book as the due date loomed near, I didn't feel like reading this was a chore. I enjoyed it. Even when I was trying not to gag as she describes the killing and preparing of her various animals for food. (I've often said to Cardo that if I had to kill animals so that we could eat meat, we'd be vegetarians. I don't think I have it in my to hunt/raise animals and then kill them. If I were ever in some kind of Man Versus Wild situation in which I had to kill my own dinner, I'd probably die. As it is, I just try to not eat too much meat.)

Anyhow, I ended up really enjoying the book. And, I've become reinspired to, when we finally, finally one day have a house, raise chickens (for eggs, of course, unless someone else wants to come over and chop their heads off and do all the other preparing for me) and keep bees. (There, I've said it. I've only ever confessed these little fantasies to Cardo. Laugh if you will. I like to dream about the future, and I tend to get idealistic.)

So, tomorrow, I'll return Farm City and, I hope, pick up The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt. I'm next in line on the waiting list for that one. After that? It's coming up to my turn for one of my guilty pleasures: totally nonserious, nonacademic, nonnon-fiction (got that?) mysteries.

What else? I'm not sure where to go after that. No doubt I'll check out some more children's literature. I'm making up for lost time. I feel like I went from Clifford and Berenstain Bears and Ramona to Little Women and Are You There God? It's Me Margaret and Lois Lowery to Dean Koontz and Steven King, passing by oh-so-many great opportunities along the way. Oh, if only I could stop time and all other activity and read, read, read...my heart would burst with joy!

As for Pic, we are on a dog theme this week. She is fairly obsessed with dogs. There really wasn't much in the Juvenile non-fiction section on dogs, especially compared to the entire shelf devoted to cats, so I only picked up one DK Eyewitness Book on Dogs. Pic loves Susan Meddaugh's Martha (who has been animated for PBS Kids), so we also got Perfectly Martha. I picked up The Adventures of Taxi Dog, which I remembered from a Reading Rainbow...and I also picked up that episode of Reading Rainbow. (I also seem to remember something like Doggy News from Reading Rainbow, so I'll have to try to find that on our next library visit.) We got a couple of other books, too, including one we read today: The Very Kind Rich Lady and Her One Hundred Dogs. We both enjoyed this. It's very simple. I think that in 'regular' schools (ones not housed at my dining room table), elementary teachers sometimes do a 100th Day celebration for the 100th day of school, and this might work for that. We also have plenty of Clifford books and let's definitely not forget Go, Dog. Go!

So, what are you all reading right now?

declutter: days all the rest

My camera battery needed a serious charge last night and I've been lax on posting photos. Anyhow, I've reached the end of my thirty days of declutter. I need to do about 300 more, so I'll keep slowly whittling away here.


First, I have some items I got from an orientation over three years ago. Until the last few days, they've sat in the same bag in which I received them, waiting for me to actually getting around to using them. Not going to happen, it turns out.




(Don't you love how clean my carpet is? I have no idea what that is in that second picture there, but I'm hoping it was just a shadow.)



Cardo found me a new jacket at Goodwill this past weekend and so an older one has to go. This one is definitely warm enough, it's just never been a favorite of mine. Out it goes to keep someone else warm in these colder months.






These last have been with us an embarrassingly long time. I was once off on this whim where I wanted to make flavored iced teas at home. And I did, for a few months. These were all pretty full, but I emptied them, obviously, before I took the shot. I'll stick with honey for my teas (I brew it hot, add the honey and then put the whole mug in the refrigerator to cool).

(And, the 'sugar-free' just means with Splenda instead of an actual food. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with Splenda, but I have a looong way to go before I'm only eating what is actually food. One laboratory concoction at a time.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

reading...and how it's learned

I might have vaguely told this story before. If so, ah well, because here it vaguely comes again.

I hated learning to read. I remember it being a stressful time for both myself and my first teachers. I didn't get common, but then-difficult-for-me, words like 'the.' I also was easily confused when confronted with 'b' and 'p.' It wasn't until I was about halfway through my BA that I saw the video where a man was presenting to teachers the 'watch concept.' I really have no idea what the concept is called, but, basically, he holds up a wristwatch and asks, 'What's this?' 'A watch,' his audience dutifully responds. He turns the watch around, 'What's this?' 'A watch.' He keeps moving the watch around, asking the same question. Of course, it's always a watch. Then he holds up a shape: 'p.' 'What's this?' Ah, yes, it's a 'p' now, but when we flip it over, or around, it's also a 'd' and a 'b' and a 'q.' I don't know that it would have helped me to have someone point this out to me when I was five, but it might have been nice to know just how arbitrary letters are. I still occasionally mix up such letters when writing. I still, sometimes, write my 'S's backward and have to think for a moment, 'What's wrong with this?'

Ultimately, I came out fairly unscathed, I think. I love to read. I like to always have something on hand to read: books, magazines, blogs, newspapers, toothpaste tubes, graffiti. I'm a person who will bring a book or other reading material wherever she goes. Cardo's car seat pockets are stuffed with books. (Mine used to be too.) If I have a few moments of spare time to myself (ha!) and I don't have reading material on hand, I'm anxious.

I love to read.

Pic loves books. She loves to have them read to her. She loves to pore over them, taking in the pictures, making up her own stories to go along with them. She's pretty good at repeating a book to us once we've read it to her. I'll often read a book to her and then have her 'read' it back to me. I've recently started helping her make her own books.* But, how do we get to the next step?

Being as overly-educated as I am, with two degrees in Literature, I feel this pressure to be the parent of a child who reads right now. People ask me if she's reading yet or if I'm teaching her to read and then I'm filled with dread. I feel like a failure knowing that she's almost five and still doesn't read on her own. I know it is ridiculous for me to feel this way. (I know it, I know it, I know it.) It's just...the expectations. It's the stories that others I know share: My older sister was reading at four, my mom tells me. My friends were reading at four. And so on. As I said, Pic is almost five. I feel the ridiculous pressure.

Here's the thing: I have no idea how to teach a person to read. There are some who say that children should be taught the phonics approach. There are others who are for the whole language approach. There's the balanced literacy approach. There're probably more that I've never heard of.

I read to Pic constantly, or so it seems. We definitely reach and surpass that fifteen-minutes-a-day marker. She's getting much better at letter recognition and knowing their sounds (although I have to say, soft 'c,' hard 'c,' 'k' and 's' are presenting a bit of a challenge...but I'm just impressed that she's getting that). I'm working with her on sounding words out and recognizing/memorizing very common words like 'the' and 'and' (another although: this isn't so easy when there is no one standard way to write each letter). She doesn't have much patience for this, though, and I don't want to force it. I don't want her to become frustrated and give up. I don't want to lose my own patience and give up, or worse, speak sharply to her and make her associate reading with me being upset.

So, now that I've rambled for many, many words, I'm wondering: What did/do/will you do? What worked when you were learning to read, if you remember? If you've ever taught someone else to read, what helped?

I'd love some suggestions, if you have them, although I have to say, I may say, 'Interesting,' and file a suggestion away, unused. I know that not everyone learns the same way and that there won't be some panacea for all my woes. I know (or maybe just hope) that someone might advise me to just keep reading to her and set the rest of my worries aside for now.

----------------------

* At Poke's suggestion, I checked out (actually, I bought) How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell, which I use as a fantastic resource for lists of children's books by subject. One of the things Codell suggests is 'taking dictation': have a child dictate a very short story to you, as you write out about a sentence per page and then have the child illustrate the story as you read each of the sentences s/he has composed. Pic's first story was a variation on Jack and the Beanstalk in which all the characters were female and Jack and the giant were friends.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

and, so, goodnight

I haven't quite figured out where to fit in time to write here in my day. I'd like it to be a somewhat regular time, but, well, ideas don't come to me at a set time every day. (And, sometimes, they don't come to me at all, and then you're serenaded with complete nonsense, much like what is going on right now.)

I'm needing to get to sleep in just a few moments here, but a quick note first.

I don't like Sherlock Holmes, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for that matter, any more now than I did when I first read my Holmes collection about ten years ago. I don't care that Doyle had garnered canon-status, I'm not going to take it (no, I'm not going to take it! I'm not going to take it anymore!). Okay, so, actually for the next day, at least, I'm going to dwell on Holmes, but after that, I'll stick with my Millhone (when is "U" coming out?), Fletcher, Qwilleran and Swensen. I really don't care how frivolous any of my choices are/seem, I enjoy them. And, Grafton's books and Murder, She Wrote carry a kind of nostalgia, I guess, for me. I see no reason to stray from that. Especially for Mr Holmes, who irks me ever so much.

Actually, real quick, before I turn in, I suppose it'd only be fair to explain why I don't like Holmes. He seems to only slightly tolerate women (those silly creatures). And his arrogance? It makes me crazy. I've recently met someone who likes him, in part, for just that trait, but I can't stand his let-me-gaze-into-the-distance-as-I-slowly-explain-just-how-simply-simple-you-are attitude. Okay, so he's good and he's confident in that, and perhaps I should be happy for him, but I won't be. He's fictional, so I don't feel the need to be nice to him.

And, so, goodnight.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

scheduling for a laid-back (as far as scheduling my day goes) procrastinator

[I actually wrote everything before 'Decluttering?' yesterday, but never got it posted. Perhaps I'm not off to the greatest start, but today has gone pretty well so far.]

I’ve been trying at something of a consistent rhythm around here for the last couple of months, but I’ve been largely unsuccessful thus far. Now, though, I’m craving a somewhat regular schedule even more.

First, though, let me talk about ‘schedule.’ I don’t mean something along the lines of the following:
8a: drag self out of bed
8:15a: make breakfast
8:30a: eat breakfast
and so and and so on. I mean more of a loose schedule. I’ve been reading others’ writing about rhythm so much lately and I feel that ‘rhythm’ is a much better word. I’d like to have a somewhat set rhythm to most of my days (notice how I’m not exactly pinning down any specifics here).
So,…

The biggest hindrance to us having some sort of unwonky rhythm is my wonky sleep. I will again begin trying to work on this. However, that means that I’ll have to get more accomplished during the day which, in turn, means we need less random running around in what feel like pointless circles. Whew.

I’m not exactly sure what our loose schedule is going to look like, but I’d like it to be something along the following lines:
• wake up (at decent time, after having had decent sleep)
• morning abultions
• make and eat breakfast
• learning/exploring with Pic
• lunch
• picking up
• resting
• writing/reading/work prep
• make and eat dinner
• stuff
• bed

This only really works for some days. For instance, Pic and I only have four days worth of dedicated learning time (of course, that doesn’t mean that we don’t explore/learn at other times…that happens for all people at all different kinds of times in all different kinds of places). And, one of our days is a library field-trip day. We used to go at least twice a week, but our library is now closed two days a week and the hours have been shortened for the days on which it is open. I like us to be pretty free on Cardo’s days off, as this is when we run our errands and generally just enjoy his company. I very, very much appreciate that he works full-time-plus to keep us in a home with food on the table and so on, but I am also very aware of how little time his job seems to leave him for spending time with Pic.

In order to be able to stick pretty much with this rhythm, I’ll have to be more disciplined. I’ll have to have sort-of set times to do certain things. I’d like to have a set time to write and post to this here blog. As it is now, I write and post whenever, very often in the middle of the dark when I should be asleep like everyone else in my home.

I’ll also have to stick to my meal-planning. We’ve actually been pretty decent with this, excepting times when we have company or extra commitments.

Finally, I’ll have to set aside some time for myself on Sundays in which to prepare for the rest of the week.

I think that this is all doable. I’m not sure whether it is all doable by me, so we’ll see.

So, now: I’m wondering how you all keep a healthy rhythm in your own lives. Do you make lists? Do you have spreadsheets? Do you have no choice because your day-job forces you to squeeze in the rest of life in the remaining moments?

---------------------

Declutter? The camera has been living in Cardo's car the last few days. I had it out yesterday, but last night was one of those nights that I went to sleep freakishly early (a bit before eleven, I believe).

Days 26-8 (I'm almost finished!):


I kind of like this shirt, it just fits me all wrong. It hugs too tightly in some places and sags in others and is just unfortunate. Ah, well, back to the thrift shop it goes.


An album that was gifted to me, I believe, in high school. I haven't listened to it in the last ten years, so out it goes.


Another high school gift. Ah, gotta love Spencer's (or not...no, really not at all, although it was funny and fitting at the time).

Monday, November 16, 2009

book love

We currently have nineteen books checked out of the local library system, and two more on hold. I've also got three of a friend's checked-out books. I can't tell you how much I love libraries.

Here are some of the children's books we're particularly enjoying right now:

-- The Quiltmaker's Gift, written by Jeff Brumbeau and illustrated by Gail De Marcken. The overall message is so in-line with how I'd like to live my life (I'm working on it) and the pictures are so intricate and beautiful and we could pore over them for hours. We'll be checking out The Quiltmaker's Journey next.

-- I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, written by Alison Jackson and illustrated by Judy Schachner. Pic has had me read this to her so many times that I'll soon have it by heart. She's fascinated with it. It's wonderfully silly.

-- It's Not the Stork!: A Book about Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends, written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley. This has definitely generated much discussion, but it was also much discussion about anatomy and birth and such that led to us checking this out. Actually, the first time I checked this out was for a rhetorical theories seminar presentation. I'm still not exactly sure how we used this in the presentation and I suspect that I must have been pretty close to brain-fried by that point in that semester. However, I was happy that I had come across the book because I knew that I'd want to come back to it when Pic was a bit older.

-- With Love, Little Red Hen, written by Alma Flor Ada and illustrated by Leslie Tryon. Cardo really liked this one. I have to admit that I think I like it, but I'm not exactly sure, as I was reading it aloud with my mind half elsewhere. We still have it and I'll read it again before I turn it in to the library. I think it would be a great book for introducing letter-writing. Also, it would be cool (I just said 'cool' like I'm ten-years-old again) to use it as a basis for a writing project, doing something similar with other children's stories. We might return to it when Pic is a bit older and can better grasp the whole story.

-- Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face, and Other Poems: Some of the Best of Jack Prelutsky, written by [of course] Jack Prelustsky and illustrated by Brandon Dorman. I am loving this collection. Prelutsky's poems are fun and use some great vocabulary. I also enjoy Dorman's illustrations. We're having fun with this collection now and I predict we will still be for a long time to come.

And, finally, last and certainly not least:

-- Te Amo, Bebe, Little One, written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Maribel Suarez. This is one of Pic's all-time favorites. Cardo's too, actually. I love that it has become such a happy part of our lives. Often, Cardo will start reciting this and then Pic will join in. They do a kind of call-and-response with the verse. Little things like these make me happy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

a happy birthday...

...to Auntie L! I hope it was good enough, although I know it could have been much better. Here's to a wonderful year!

Love,
v

let's dish*

This weekend, and last week actually, we didn't do a great job of sticking with any kind of menu. I wrote one out. I was quietly ambitious, but then I was weak. So, this week, we're back to being frugal and making meals here. So, here's the tentative menu for the next few days (please note the lack of frozen pizza):

Mon: zucchini, brussels sprouts (with apples and turkey bacon)

Tue: baked triple-bean pot, sandwiches

Wed: possibly dinner with friends, as Cardo is going to go in early -- we'll see what the plan is, but we'll have a ton of baked beans and I might try for some popovers (no salty-times-infinity chicken, though)

Thu: enchiladas, Coach J-style

Fri: vegetable soup, popovers

Sat: lemony quinoa with spinach

Not ambitious, I know. Pretty tame. Just the kind of stuff I can handle.

I recently checked out the New Moosewood Cookbook from the library (after having seen it in use over at The Blankie Chronicles) and I have a whole slew of recipes I'd like to try, eventually, from there. They are as follows (get comfy, it's a long list of so much goodness):

Soups:
- cream of asparagus
- light cream of celery
- miso soup
- summer vegetable soup
- vegetable chowder
- cream of broccoli
- cauliflower cheese soup
- split pea soup
- Hungarian mushroom soup
- mushroom bisque
- homemade croutons (for some of the soups)
- herbed carrot soup
- lentil soup
- mushroom barley soup
- cream of spinach soup
- chilled cucumber yogurt soup
- vichyssoise
- chilled berry soup

Salads (mainly dressings):
- very green dressing
- basic vinaigrette
- sweet & tart mustard dressing
- tabouli
- marinated mushrooms

Baked goods and sandwiches:
- custardy popovers
- pita bread
- focaccia
- blueberry corn bread
- flour tortillas
- chappatis

Entrees:
- spinach-rice casserole
- calzone
- polenta

Desserts:
- orange cake
- Ukrainian poppy seed cake
- pound cake, and variations
- stovetop rice pudding
- baked custard
- strawberry-rhubarb crisp
- no-fault pumpkin pie
- crunchy-top peach pie
- real blueberry pie
- berry sauce and berry sorbet
- Moosewood fudge brownies
- lemon mousse

Whew! Yes, I'll have to check the cookbook (or foodbook, as Pic refers to it) many, many more times because I can't buy myself any new, or even new-to-me, books right now. ::big sigh of lament::


-----------------------

Yesterday, for whatever reason, I forgot to include my declutter item, so here're yesterday and today:



Containers. The first I got in high school and used to store various pieces of stuff I've since gotten rid of. The second I got from my aunt and I believe it was filled with potpourri. I haven't used either in a very long time and it's time for them to move on. G'bye.

Maybe if I don't have some many containers for random stuff/junk, I'll have less random stuff/junk...maybe...except, I am me.

Only five more decluttering days to go before I make it to thirty days! (Only about a billion more pieces of stuff here in my home that are completely non-essential to my life.)

--------------------------

*When I saying the title to myself, I kept thinking of this song:



...which I sing 'Let's dance, put on your night dish, la, la, hmm, hmm.' Yeah. I know the few words I fake don't make any sense, but there you have it.