Monday, December 31, 2007

Out with a BANG! or maybe a POP...

I am EXTREMELY sorry to report that I have unfortunately been successful in replicating KETTLE CORN, using only my All-Clad nonstick saucepan, 1/2 cup of popping corn, 2 teaspoons of oil, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and fine-crystal salt to taste. And now that the inaugural batch is GONE, folks, all gone, I am at this moment sucking on the unpopped kernels.

Chances are VERY good that I will make another batch. Tonight. Now, in fact. The devil has made this process just TOO easy. THE DEVIL HIMSELF.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Garden of Darkness, by Anne Frasier

LOVED it. I took it to Alabama with me, and the story consumed my every spare moment between eating, sleeping, opening presents, and chasing my children around my parents' house. Trust me, you won't be able to put it down either. For those who follow Frasier's writing career (her blog has been a must-read of mine for years--alas, she is powering it down for a while), there are some delightful references. Be forewarned, though, this is not a novel to read while holed up alone in a secluded forest cabin. The story is spooky, sad, and occasionally horrifying. But in the end, satisfying. Cheers, Anne, and happy new year!

Everyone go buy Garden of Darkness!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Down to the Wire

Just no time to blog, much less breathe. The last two days have been blurs. N's preschool pageant Wednesday was a no-go for him. We left school and came home early, then had a pizza lunch gift exchange with our weekly playdate friends at our house. Errands, phone calls, cards, cleaning, cooking filled out the rest of that day. Had to cancel my eye doctor appointment yesterday (Thurs) because there was JUST NO TIME to go. Spent the time the kids were in preschool running errands and seeing the therapist. If the to-do-list doesn't get me, the anxiety about the flight and the visit with my folks will. We haven't been to their house since AC was nine months old and N was two. Pretty manageable pair, then. But now? Ay-ay-ay. Hoping they can be contained, especially at Christmas dinner when there will be sixteen of us.

Lucky me came down with a cold last night. This morning, AC and I are trying to clean the house, and we opened a few gifts from D's family since we can't take them to Alabama to unwrap there. The washing machine is on constantly and I'm trying to set aside clean outfits for the kids and I as they come out of the dryer. Hoping they soon make it into the luggage.

I bought myself two pairs of jeans yesterday. Yes, TWO PAIRS OF JEANS. I haven't bought even ONE pair of jeans (exc capris) since I was newly unpregnant with AC. So it was quite a moment. Might I stress I bought TWO pairs of jeans? I am giddy with my self-indulgence.

I'll end on that note and say I may not be back on until we get back. Too much to dooooooooo...

Happy, happy, and merry, merry to all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Diagnoses Multiplexicae

So, R's diagnosis yesterday was cataracts, iris atrophy, and vitrious degeneration. Just glad it isn't luxating lenses (yet) or glaucoma. We will start the drops after Christmas, so we don't have to pay the kennel to do it while we are gone.

My dad's thyroid surgery went well this morning. He will be released from the hospital tomorrow morning and the path report will be ready Friday. Once he's up and running, the docs will get back to work on his neuropathy issues.

The physiatrist says today that I don't have carpal tunnel syndrome, I have ULNAR tunnel syndrome. The nerve tunnel in my elbow is giving me the pinch, making me uncoordinated, drop stuff and, as it turns out, hypersensitive to touch. Go figure. I've got to modify all kinds of things to get the neural kinks ironed out and conserve the rest of our glassware. I'm relieved that I don't have to have the carpal tunnel surgery, but damn the shock test and the needle test today were freaky.

Got a SafeFit 2-in-1 Car Seat Cover'n Carry at Babies R Us today. You can wear it like a backpack or pull it on its wheels through the airport. We need to check N's car seat as luggage, hence this purchase, but AC will sit in hers on the plane. Hope it works.

N was a trial today. Again. But I think I'm getting better at floating him back where I need him to be. On my part, it takes a few deep breaths, some creative thinking, and a totally unrelated suggestion or concept to derail him from the path to destruction. I am learning to read his periods of intransigence, and unfortunately, they can last for hours. We just try to stay out of his hair. His morning schedule lost its potency on Friday, but having the weekend away from it rejuvenated his interest, and he has followed it Monday and today.

AC developed an ugly cough and a runny nose last night, but it's no worse today. No fever, thank goodness.

Back to the Christmas cards...

Monday, December 17, 2007


Hurling myself through a plate glass window would've been preferable to living through my day from about 3pm on. Since getting the kids to sleep and then cleaning up the five (dog) pee stains in my study and the family room, I've been paying bills and considering what to write about today. Still have to file financial and medical papers, take a shower, and put away laundry. No time for Starter Wife tonight.

R's eyes are getting worse. Got drops today to slow the progression. Tomorrow will be extremely busy, including the dreaded EMG on my right arm. My dad has surgery scheduled for 7:30am. I don't think he's ever had surgery. Unless you count the vasectomy. Don't tell him I said that. I'm a bit stressed at the moment.

Busy Sunday

Yesterday's highlights included a birthday party for N's preschool friend at The Little Gym. The facility was very nice and N enjoyed the tumbling very much after a slow start getting involved. We spent the afternoon getting the preschool teachers' gifts ready, drawing, and watching a Caillou holiday DVD while D went to work for a few hours. I finally got my dinner out at the Chinese buffet. The kids were GREAT. The food was, well, it's a Chinese buffet, so you adjust expectations accordingly. But it had stuff to please every palate. Afterward we picked up some goodies at Trader Joe's to fill the holiday basket for the vet and her staff. They take such good care of our two aging Italian Greyhounds.

The kids were in bed kind of late (asleep by 9:00), and then Dave and I watched parts two and three of The Starter Wife miniseries with Debra Messing and Judy Davis. It is light, but a nice escape.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Typical Saturday

This morning the kids slept in until 8:45, which was pretty damn heavenly. I got to shower and drink a cup of coffee in peace. When has that ever happened in the last four and a half years? I got them dressed and we three headed over to "Breakfast with Santa" (different Santa than was at yesterday's "Lunch with Santa," but neither noticed). We visited with lots of moms and kids we knew and had a pretty nice time. We aborted the post office errand when we saw that the line was out the door, but that was only after an AC tantrum and much gymnastic strapping of two packages into AC's stroller. D rescued us in the parking lot and took over the wait.

Once home, the kids played rather nicely till lunch. After that, I set to raking our front yard. Several hours and eleven bags of wet plant life later, I am the worse for wear. Everything still hurts. But now our lawn won't die and our neighborhood association president won't ring our doorbell. Good thing you can't see our backyard from the street...

Although I desperately wanted someone else to cook dinner for us, the boy's volatile mood ruined our chances at having a pleasant dinner out at the Chinese buffet. Not worth the potential meltdown. So, I made a variation of my breakfast-for-dinner smorgasbord. Tonight it was potato pancakes, toast, scrambled cheese eggs, pineapple and oranges, and cauliflower (hey--the kids will eat it).

D bathed them while I ran out for his dad's Christmas present, then I gave myself a treat and sat in AC's room with tea and a book until they were done. Trimmed twenty little toenails and twenty little fingernails, and both of us parents found the kids unusually easy to put to bed tonight. Soooo...

With my newfound leisure, I made mock-toffee bars. Shoot me now. Anyhoo, I'm typing this while they cool, and after I publish this post, I'll clean off the dining table of its gift wrapping mess, and transform it into scrapbook and Christmas card central. After I get that organized, D and I plan to kick back with a beer, some toffee, and a DVD. Probably the first hour of The Starter Wife.

Last night (this morning, actually), I ended up going to bed at 1:30 after packing all the Christmas boxes to mail. Oddly, though, I didn't feel so tired today.

My son's weekday mornings

About a week ago, I helped N create a "morning schedule," which has improved certain grumpy attitudes. It was meant not only to get us out the door to preschool in plenty of time, but to help him feel more in control of his day. I have to say it has worked pretty well.

Obviously, I wrote the numbers, but he wrote out the words on one and two, and then dictated to me what he wanted for three through five. He illustrated each activity (sun, shirt and shorts, blueberries and glass of milk, toothbrush, and Mom's Subaru Forester), and drew a box to check off. I predict this will work another week or two at most, and then we will need another method of taming mornings. He is in two respects much like me: highly fickle and allergic to routine.

Friday, December 14, 2007


N had preschool as usual this a.m., and AC and I did some Christmas shopping until it was time for her to join her brother for "Lunch with Santa" in the preschool fellowship hall. I spent that glorious, childless time borrowing some DVDs and books from the library and then eating a sandwich at a coffee shop while reading chapter one of 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child by Jeffrey Bernstein. Yeah, N has a few problems with defiance.

Picked up the kids and took them home for the rest of the afternoon. They were both delighted with the toys Santa had given them at lunch: both received a stuffed dog, and N got a pirate sticker book while AC got a Disney babies bedtime book. The pirate sticker book was a lifesaver while I sifted through some piles on my desk. I have jury duty in January that I've already requested be postponed once. I don't think there's any getting out of it this time. I'd lost my card, though, and so wasn't sure of the date until this afternoon. I added lots of other things to my 2008 calendar as well--opera night (The Gondoliers), dentist, well-kid checkups, and the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Get your tickets early, folks! We change health insurance in January, so I also had to get those papers in order. After January I will no longer be able to see my beloved physical therapist without paying --- gasp --- full price. Don't know yet how to swing it.

Ordered take-out pizza for dinner, D got home early, we chowed and threw the kids in the car for babysitting night at the Y!! Then D and I went, with some trepidation, to the mall. Yes, it was as bad as we had thought it would be. However, our claustrophobic trip into Kay-Bee Toys paid off when the cashier couldn't ring up the Power Ranger that N will be giving AC for Christmas, and he just GAVE IT TO US FREE. Merry Christmas to you, too, pal! Finished the shopping for my side of the family, still lack all of my father-in-law's gift, but will nonetheless box and send all gifts to their recipients tomorrow. And then I will pray that they arrive in time.

Fetched the kids from the Y about 9:00 and promptly sent them to bed. The caregivers had to nix the oatmeal raisin cookies I had sent in with my kids, due to possible "tree nut contents," and instead gave them some generic corn puff cereal for a snack. YUCK. No wonder N was a mental mess until he collapsed about 10:00. He had mainlined processed sugar and preservatives!

Since then I've done some reading about oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) in preschoolers to get some more parenting ideas. When your son's attitude to punitive discipline is BRING IT ON, MOM. HELL--WHY DON'T YOU EVEN BUMP IT UP A NOTCH??, then you know you need to change systems.

Time now to shower, then will wrap and box gifts.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Let's Make this a True 'bLog

In the spirit of time and organization and someday looking back for a larf, I am going to log the next week and a half. No bells or whistles, no funnies, no editing, probably.

Today, I dropped the kids at preschool then ran to my physical therapy appointment. If you didn't know, I have a suspected labral tear in my hip joint. And I also have some kind of razor-like feature under my right kneecap. As of the past week, they are in cahoots.

After PT, I ran home to get a few household jobs done and answer a few emails, ate a bite, then ran to my (mental) therapist's appointment. One of his numerous recommendations today: "You need what we in the business call a little 'Pleasure and Mastery.'" Stop snickering--I don't want to receive any velvet handcuffs in the mail. It's getting myself involved in something I find pleasurable, a hobby (must look that up in the dictionary), if you will, that can give me a sense of mastery as I improve. When I have a sec, I'll think about that.

Then, after shelling out another co-pay, I raced to the preschool to pick up the kids. We came home and cleaned up the house some, then did some I Spy stuff, drew, and colored. N (4.5y) and I spent a little time learning about Pokeman. [ETA: like how to spell it. PokemOn.] Pikachu is a Pichu. Ash is a trainer. That's as far as we got. I printed out a Pikachu coloring page and researched what colors he needed on him. N colored most of him and convinced me to do the rest. I ate an egg salad sandwich and gave the kids bananas (they ate lunch at school today).

I assembled dinner ingredients (eggplant parmigiana, spaghetti, and broccoli) and then I sent the chirrun downstairs to watch a Charlie Brown Christmas (twice--it's short) while I wrapped presents at the dining table.

Next, I came to my study to catch up on my friendses' blogs and make a few comments. Now I'm writing what you are reading. Next, it's neaten the desk and pay a few bills, then make dinner.

The kids and I will eat together (D doesn't get home until their bedtime.) After dinner, I will make popcorn and we'll watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, then BED for the KIDS. My light at the end of the tunnel. After that I'll try to finish the chores I didn't get done during daylight.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

For Goodness Sakes, Buy Anne Frasier's Garden of Darkness on 12/4

So I haven't read Anne Frasier's Garden of Darkness yet because I just picked it up at Border's yesterday (they had it out four days early), but I know it's going to be just as exciting (and spooky) as her last, Pale Immortal. The reading commences TODAY!!! WOOHOO!!

Run out and pick up this paperback, folks--available everywhere December 4. Inexpensive, portable, entertaining--and a great gift idea. And while you're in the stacks, pick up a few more Frasier titles. I loved Play Dead, too!