Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's About Scent

I'm sure you're tired of hearing me whine about Little One and her teeth.  I'm sick of myself.  This morning I realized what was - is? - throwing me and messing with my emotions.  I can handle her soon-to-be front-toothless grin.  Seriously, I'm not that shallow.  What's upsetting my senses is that Little One's breath currently lacks that sweet baby's breath scent.  She's two.  She has sweet, fresh breath.  Right now her breath smells like blood and a little like decay.  Upsetting, yes?  Right now my baby doesn't smell like my baby and it's upset my senses, thus throwing my emotions for a loop.

The good news is that just like anything that's finally unveiled and not shrouded in worrisome mystery, it's not bothering me today nearly as much as it was yesterday.  Soon enough those little wounded teeth will fall out, her mouth will heal, and she'll smell like my baby again.  Unless she's been playing outside.  Then she'll smell like a puppy. 

Wondering what on earth I'm talking about?  Go here.

~ G

Jumping Back to the Gospels

The Lenten Commitment is going strong.  What's interesting, though, is leaping from Acts back to the Gospels.  Palm Sunday arrived and I felt the need to read about Palm Sunday.  For the past few days, I've been reading the Gospels and revisiting the details of Palm Sunday and the Last Supper.

Coming to the Gospels after spending time in Acts has shaken me - in a good way.  I was taking Jesus for granted.  I forgot how powerful he was on earth.  I forgot how amazing his teaching was.  Transitioning from reading about how the Holy Spirit worked through the disciples, the struggles of the early church, Paul's travels and then jumping back to the Gospels somehow made the pre-Resurrection Jesus more colorful and ... well, awesome.

I don't usually recommend jumping around in the Bible, as it's very easy to lose context.  As this experience has taught me, though, sometimes comparisons can bring illuminating clarity.  Today I'm floored by what Jesus showed the disciples.  I'm grateful for the teaching that shows it's possible to be revolutionary while following the law.  And I'm humbled by what the next few days of teaching will show us about what Jesus did for us - what he did for me.  And what he did for you.

~ G

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Baby Teeth

The plan today was to write about Attachment Parenting.  It's been on my mind a lot lately and I've been trying to arrange my thoughts into some semblance of a coherent post.  But, it's not going to get written today.  My mind is focused on Little One and her teeth.

Remember me telling you that she might lose 1-4 baby teeth? (For the whole story, go here.) Well, things were looking good.  The bruising lessened.  Her teeth felt firmly planted in her gum.  We've even brushed her teeth properly.  She started eating normal foods again this weekend and now those front teeth look crooked and weird.  I finally reached in her mouth today and one of the front ones wobbles terribly.

I panicked.  My calm and cool in the face of emergencies still hasn't returned.  If you see it somewhere, please send it home, because I really miss feeling calm and cool and collected when things look bleak.  So, I panicked and I called the pediatric dentist who said to put her back on soft foods for a month.  A month.

He also suggested calling the oral surgeon to see if the teeth could be saved, but we're probably talking about  root canals - on a 2.5 year old.  It would require general anesthesia.  On a 2.5 year old.  And lots of pain for several days.  And lots and lots of money.  But, I made an appointment with the oral surgeon, just for a consultation. 
I tried calling Darling, but he wasn't available.  I decided to call the orthodontist and the speech therapist to get more opinions.  Going to great lengths makes no sense unless not having those teeth will make a big difference in her future life.  The orthodontist said if she loses all four teeth that she'll just have a gappy smile longer and her permanent teeth might come in sooner, neither of which are bad things.  The speech therapist said if she's already articulating her sounds then losing her teeth won't necessarily wreck her speech.

So.  Darling and I just need to sit down and talk about it.  I can't see putting a toddler under general anesthesia just to save a few baby teeth she will definitely lose in a few years.  Darling might have another perspective.  Making big decisions can't happen until we talk and I'll feel a little at odds and ends until we talk.  In the meantime, here I am, blathering on about it.

Little One doesn't have much of an appetite today.  She acts like herself.  She doesn't appear to be hurting.  Me, on the other hand, I'm a little sick at heart and a little sick to my stomach.  I realize in the big scheme of things, this is not a big deal.  I get that.  I do.  I know there are things that would make me wish we were only talking about losing a few teeth.  But, like I tell people about grieving, emotions are emotions and you can't compare your hurt and ache to others.  Mama Worry is Mama Worry.

~ G

Lovely Aromas

Cooking kitchens smell good.  They just do.  Yesterday, I walked into a friend's house and it smelled like frying fish.  No, not old fish or fish that was fried yesterday, but fish that was being fried.  Mmm...  Over the course of 4 hours yesterday, Darling and I cooked pizza, popcorn, and pancakes (a "P" theme, clever - had it been intentional).  When I walked back into the kitchen late in the evening, the warm and comforting layers of aromas just made me happy.  What is it about inhaling aromas of edibles that makes me so happy?  Maybe I just like to eat?  Or is it that food represents nourishment that far surpasses sating physical hunger?

No Shit! You Don't Say!

I swear.  There.  I said it.  I curse.  If When I get mad enough I can make a sailor blush.  I'm also a Christian woman.  There's a great deal of pressure (from within and without) to keep my verbal rants in check.  I know God doesn't appreciate it when I spit out a "shit" or a "damn" or the mother of all satisfying curses: the "f" word.

My mother certainly doesn't approve.  She made it very clear when we were kids that only those with limited vocabularies use profanity.  Granted, her audience had no business cursing like little heathens in their grade school classes,  although I did hear her let fly the occasional "damn."  She would immediately apologize.  I do, too, when the kids overhear.  (Let this serve as proof that our kids follow our actions, not our warnings.)

I've tried to give up swearing over the years.  I've even given it up for Lent before.  Quite successfully, I might add.  Not a nasty utterance until after Easter.  Other times, I'll restrain my tongue for weeks and months and not a vile peep emerges.  Then I'll stub my toe or accidentally turn white shirts pink or Darling will (certainly never on purpose) rankle me beyond imagining and the sleeping sailor speech hurtles out.

Finally, science has caught up with me.  Turns out cursing as a response to pain actually increases one's tolerance to the painful situation.  Well, hell.  I knew that!   Here's the abstract

Now if someone would only do a study to prove that cursing adds color and clarity to storytelling...

~ G

A Daydream Reality

Last night I lived a daydream:  I crawled into bed early and read a book.  Yes, indeed.  I managed to shut down the computer at 8:30 PM.  Who knew such a thing was possible? 

~ G

Monday, March 29, 2010

An Annual Reminder of Where We've Been

Today was my annual lady exam.  You know, the charming annual visit to the OB/GYN.  Now that Darling and I are not makin' the babies anymore, she's really just my GYN.  It's a tongue-tripping adjustment.  For years she was my OB, now she's just my GYN - what is it I've heard other women calling them? - Gyno?  I'll try to make that adjustment.  It'll take some practice.

Anyway, today reminded me of where I've been, where we have been as a family, and how much we've experienced.  My Dr.'s been my OB - see?  there I go again.  One more time.  She's been my GYNO for almost eight years.  I love her.  She delivered Middle One, walked with us through two miscarriages and pregnancy with Little One.  We're been through a lot together.  She shepherded Darling and I through more than we could have imagined eight years ago.  Pulling into the medical center's parking garage brought up more memories than I anticipated.

It wasn't even the memories, really.  It was reflection.  It was parking in the back row of the garage, far from the door, that caught my attention.  Parking as close as humanly possible did not apply today.  I'm not pregnant and don't have the crumbling-hip feeling that comes with late pregnancy.  I wasn't rushing to get upstairs to pee in the cup, desperate to use the facilities because someone was sitting on my bladder.  My feet didn't hurt.  My back didn't hurt.  I wasn't cursing (in my head) at the able-bodied person who bogarted the closer parking spot while I was forced to waddle from the back, sciatica making every step an exercise in verbal restraint.  I wasn't counting down the days until I had a baby in arms or until I mistakenly believed I'd get a decent night's sleep. 

I also wasn't dreading going in for an ultrasound that I knew would confirm that the horror of the previous evening was the loss of our baby.  I wasn't going in, hoping beyond hope, that the ultrasound of the new baby in my belly would be perfectly healthy and make it to a full-term delivery.  I wasn't walking back to my car crushed and angry about having to have a second D&C two weeks after my last D&C because my uterus - the same uterus that didn't bother to protect the baby I just lost - didn't behave as it should.  I wasn't walking back to my car, holding on to the same camel's pack worth of new pregnancy pamphlets, samples, and calendars, wondering if this - pregnancy number six - would result in a healthy, full-term baby.  I wasn't willing myself to trust in the Lord with whom I was viciously angry. 

I wasn't doing any of that.  I parked in the back.  I got out of my vehicle quite comfortably, emitting no accidental bodily noises.  My shoes fit.  My clothes fit.  I didn't have to rush to pee in the cup.  The appointment went like clockwork, we talked about menopause and when it might happen.  I got a clean bill of health and a promise for the results of my pap smear.  I paid and walked back outside.  I smiled at a new mom with her infant in the car.  We chatted briefly and I thought how sweet those early days were, how much life and loss I've lived, and how thankful I am to be where I am.

It was a really good day.

~ G

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Balancing the Checkbook

Today I'm balancing the checkbook.  It's not my favorite chore to be deliberately reminded of how little money we have.  That said, we are rich in many ways - health, loving family, forgiveness via the blood of our Lord and Savior.  I should feel glum and blue - utterly despondent, really - after seeing the balance in the checkbook.  But, I'm not.  Somehow, it'll work out.  I don't know how, but that's okay.  Miracles aren't my business.  They're His.

~ G

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Exploding Diapers and Couches Don't Mix

It takes a lot of attention to have a blog.  Or the internet.  Or Facebook or a computer.  So, as I was ignoring my child working on my Pulitzer Prize-winning blog about installing a great rack, Little One's diaper exploded while she sat next to me on the couch. 

It didn't explode so much as it reached maximum capacity and leaked all over her toosh, her clothes, and the sofa cushion. 

What's a Domestic Know-How girl to do?  Well, the first step is to pull the cushion off the couch and then blot, blot, blot.  Pour some rubbing alcohol over the stain.  Let it sit for 5 minutes or so.  Or after changing Little One, feeding her lunch, and deciding to finish the blog masterpiece and stumbling over the cushion on the way back to the couch.

Ahem.  Then blot again.  Final piece of the puzzle?  Take the cushion out to the back patio (not the front, can't have the neighbors talking about the ugly, outdated couch) and let it dry in the sun.  The sun will kill any bacterial beasties the alcohol didn't obliterate and will leave said ugly cushion smelling much better than it looks. 

The end.

~ G

She's Got a Great Rack

It all started when Little One wanted her coat.  She reached up, grabbed her coat, and yanked.  She yanked until she pulled the coat rack on the wall down about 1/4".  It dug a deep hole in the sheet rock.  Looking at my new safety hazard convinced me something needed to be done.

So I asked Darling to do something about it.  He said he'd take care of it.  That was several weeks ago.  What's a woman to do?  Right.  Take it in her own hands.

So I went to the store and bought new anchors and installed them.  Without measuring.  I figured since the rack had hung on the wall for 4 years, surely the measurement was right?  Right?  Wrong.  We'd (really, it was me, not "we") angled the hangars to make them fit.  

Undaunted by such trivialities as measuring, I pounded the anchors in the wall and then commenced to screwing in the 2" screws.  Then I tried to put the rack over the screws to tighten everything.  Two things went wrong.  The screw heads were too large and were in the wrong place.  I tried to remove the screws, but they'd activated the molly bolt mechanism in the anchors and weren't budging.  

 This time I measured and pounded in the anchors to the appropriate place.   See the holes below?  Those are the first try.  "Measure twice, cut once."  I could hear it in my head, but it didn't make it to my hammer-wielding arm.

As you can see, the screw on the bottom is in too far to pull out.  See the white anchor?  You nail them in with a hammer until they "take" to the wall.  Then you screw them in until they're flush with the wall.  See how it's smooth in the middle of it? That's actually the flared part unactivated.  As the screw gets pushed into the anchor, that part flares out to grab the sheet rock from inside the wall that gives the screw strength to hold
heavy things.  Clever, eh?

This would be the opportune moment to tell you that I had to move the second anchor just a tad to the right.  Um, evidently I cracked the sheet rock.  I know this because when I screwed in the anchor to the correct place, I broke through the sheet rock and the anchor went in sideways, then crashed straight through the wall to it's eternal resting place on the floor inside the wall.

The wadded paper is there because it's easier to patch a wall with spackle if there's something for it to grab, like a wad of paper.  Here's my prep for fixing the wall.  Turns out we don't have any leftover paint from when we painted this room.  And Home Depot doesn't carry that color anymore.  Did I cry?  No!  I did not.  I acted like a man and pouted and was most unpleasant about it all.  Probably should have cried.  

And this is the left side of the wall.  The anchor had to be shoved through.  Pretty, isn't it?

So what's a girl to do when she's wrecked her wall and doesn't want to patch holes because she doesn't have paint?  Install strategically-placed hooks instead!  Nice, aren't they?

Pretty, pretty.  Don't look too closely or you'll see where I didn't patch the wall.

Bah!  I said don't look too closely!

And please don't notice that I covered the metal with black sharpie.  Really, it looks better in person.  Really.
Besides, in the above pic with the hats and coats, you can't tell the hook on the left was sharpied.  And, really, if someone comes to my house and gets offended that I sharpied the screws, they probably aren't worth hanging out with anyway.

While I was at it, why not install hooks for the kids' coats?  After all, Little One reaching her own coat is what started it all. More hooks.  Yeah, that's the ticket.

Little One's coat within her reach.  Hopefully. Like the stair step effect up the wall? Nice, right?  My darling friend who came over to help me retain the last bits of my brain came up with that idea.  Love her!

And this is the rack that started it all.  It now adorns another wall. Great rack, eh?  I need to get some sharpie on those screws...

Maybe this section of the blog should be called "Domestic Kinda-Know-How?"

~ G

The New Mess

I'm still in a funk over the passage of the Health Care bill.  It's an atrocity.  Companies are already forecasting having to cut jobs to secure enough capital to pay for the benefits they must now provide.  That surely won't help the unemployment rate.  The other thing that's plagued my mind is how we'll pay for this mess.  Hopefully, we'll be able to repeal it before it goes into full effect.  While I haven't had the stomach to write about it, or much of anything, I have been reading.

Charles Krauthammer outlines the taxes we're most likely facing in this piece.  

Friday, March 26, 2010

Latest Thoughts from Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan's thoughts on the new Health Care law and what needs to happen next.  This was published in the New York Times

March 26, 2010
Op-Ed Contributor

Fix Health Reform, Then Repeal It

ON Thursday night, Congress sent to President Obama the reconciliation package to remove some of the embarrassing provisions in his signature legislative achievement, health care reform. But a serious fix for what ails health care in America will entail far more than merely tweaking the new law of the land; we will need to... finish reading this article here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

I keep hearing my liberal friends say that the Republicans used Reconciliation to pass Medicare Part D and therefore the Democrats using it to pass Health Care Reform is fair.  That argument strikes me as being similar to hearing my child tell me he punched his brother because I didn't say anything when his brother punched him.  Well, I missed the beginning of the fight.  I wasn't paying close enough attention.  I was wrong for missing it, but that doesn't absolve the punchee for punching.  Both boys are wrong for punching.   Likewise, ramming legislation through using Reconciliation isn't right when anyone uses it.

Claiming that no one was really paying attention to the Republicans when they used Reconciliation is mostly true.  Most of us weren't really paying attention until the market crashed in 2008.  As more and more people started paying attention to what was happening and how things were being run in our country, more and more people got angry.  Many of those people became the Tea Partiers.  The Tea Partiers are non-partisan and are angry at America's elected representatives forgetting America is a democratic republic.  Too many of our representatives, Democrats and Republicans alike, have forgotten that "we the people" are not their subjects, but are rather their constituents.  I have attended a Tea Party rally and can verify that not everyone participating was Republican or white or rich.

The anger over the way the Health Care bill was written and how it was passed is not purely a Republican position.  22 House Democrats voted against the bill.  Using the argument "the Republicans used Reconciliation, too" doesn't make it right.  This is 1/6 of our economy.  Using an obscure legislative tactic that was designed 30 years ago to pass legislation that the majority of Americans don't like doesn't make it's passage right or noble.  It makes it wrong.

How will we get past our ever-widening political divide when we don't hold our elected representatives accountable for terrible tactics?  

The Tea Partiers aren't saying we don't need Health Care Reform.  They're saying that putting so much of it in the hands of the government is wrong.  No one is saying we don't need reform.  We need it.  We desperately need reform.  But this bill isn't it.  And the way it was passed is reprehensible.  Please, let's stop acting like children pointing the finger and repeal this monstrosity and work together to craft legislation that won't bankrupt the country and will actually help Americans. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Perfect Match, Pt. 2

For Part 1, go here

Perfect moment, but she didn't sleep.  She played quietly in her bed and then on her floor for about an hour.  She started crying because her lip hurt.  Again.  So, we moved to the couch and curled up with "Oswald."  She's finally in bed for the night now.  Hopefully her lip will heal more while she's snoozing.  Little One had a rough day.  And now I need some rest.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Perfect Match

Ever have one of those mama moments when you think, "God made me the right mama for this child?"  Yeah.  I just had one of those. 

Little One's lower lip has healed enough that the scabs feel dry and tight. (Here's what happened to her lip.)  She won't let me put balm on them, so she's more miserable than necessary.  How do you rationalize with a toddler?  Sigh.  Poor Little One.  We were finishing her nap time tuck-in routine and either I bumped her lip while kissing her cheek or her blanket grazed her lip, but she started crying again.  For the umpteenth time today.  Her poor mouth.  I knelt down at her bed and leaned over and just hugged her.  And hugged her.  And held her some more.  She scooted down into my lap and we read her tuck-in books all over again.  Then she climbed back into her bed.  We finished the routine (which means I kiss her bear, then her blankets, and then her) and I smiled and walked out.  As I shut her door, I said what I always say - "I love you, honey."  She smiled and said, "I lub oo, Mama."  Sniff, Sniff  Some moments are perfect and I thank God on my knees with tears in my eyes.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where Are You Politically?

Ever wonder where you fit into the political picture?  Take this quiz to find out.  I'm sitting on the line between libertarian and conservative, way over on the right.  How about you? 

Paul Ryan Interview with Politico

Paul Ryan discusses his take on the Health Care bill that passes Sunday.  Here's the transcript and here's the video of the last third of the interview.

Highlights of the interview:

  •  Yeah, so they do a lot of double counting so there’s lots of savings that come into this law that are being counted twice. And so if I could show you this chart real fast – let me show you, is this the right angle here? So they claim it’s $138 billion dollars in deficit reduction. They take premiums from a new entitlement called The Class Act. The Class Act is new long-term care insurance entitlement which, by the way, the chief actuary of Medicare says is already unsustainable, will not be paid for fully. They take $70 billion in premiums that are supposed to go toward paying that insurance and they use it to pay for this new healthcare bill. Then they take $53 billion dollars and after Social Security taxes, which are supposed to go toward paying Social Security benefits, and put that into this new entitlement. CBO is also telling us it’s going to cost $71 billion dollars in discretionary appropriations to run and fund various discretionary programs to implement this new law.

  • They’re also saying $398 billion dollars from a Medicare trust fund will not go to Medicare solvency, that’s tax increases in Medicare cuts; that will instead go toward funding this new program.

  • The Speaker three days ago said that they’re going to pass what we call a Doc Fix. Medicare doctors are going to get cut 21 percent in April unless that’s prevented. She is saying in April we’re bringing a bill to the floor to do that. We asked the CBO to include that in this bill because that was included in these earlier versions of the bill.
  • This is a government takeover of our healthcare system. It is the government basically running the entire healthcare system, turning large insurers into de facto public utilities, depriving people of choice, depriving people of options, raising people’s prices, raising taxes when we need new jobs. And they’re taking all this money out of Medicare and they’re not using it to make Medicare more solvent, they’re treating Medicare like a piggybank to fund this other entitlement. And I don’t think people on Medicare are going to look too kindly on that. 
  • I said look we’ve got to be adults about this. This is a serious situation, this isn’t something that we politicize. This is something if we start making, we shout things, yes in basketball games you hear things like this. We don’t do that. We’re grown ups. Look, my favorite kind of people up here are people who believe in something, people who are passionate about their beliefs and fight for their beliefs and are sincere about that. 
  • Now the people running the government right now, I believe are people who are very left of center who believe we should replace the American idea with this kind of cradle to grave society. They think it’s the right thing to do. I don’t think they’re evil, I don’t think they’re sinister. I just think they’re wrong and I think they’re really liberal. So to me don’t hate these people, don’t treat them in such a way. I engage on debate on the facts and the merits and have a tenacious debate but treat one another with respect. That is the way I was raised. I think that’s the way we ought to be.

Read more:

Gone to the Dogs

A new study shows that the carbon footprint of a medium-sized dog equals that of a SUV.  No, really.  Evidently:

"The Vales calculate the carbon footprint of a medium-sized dog as 2.08 acres, more than twice the 1.01 acres needed to create enough energy to build a Toyota Land Cruiser. However, the pair said the average driver travels about 12,000 miles a year, making the carbon footprint of the Toyota and the dog roughly equivalent."

Read more about it here.

I wonder how many of my vegetarian friends because of their concern over global warming (or is it climate change?) who have large dogs will have a crisis of conscience over this?   How many of them who get lathered up about how horrible it is that we're negatively affecting the earth will give up their large dogs?  What will PETA say about it?  Where is the line between enjoying your life and caring for the earth?  And what does "caring for the earth" really mean?

My thoughts?  Well, I don't believe global warming/climate change is man-made.  The earth goes through climate changes as a matter of course.  The earth was warmer and there was more CO2 in the Middle Ages than today.  That said, we should definitely be good stewards of the earth and not abuse our resources, but I'm not giving up juicy burgers or air conditioning.  Plant a tree.  Go organic when you can.  Don't dump waste into rivers.  Keep the A/C at a reasonable temp.  No need to get all nutty with the legislation.  Or to euthanize the pups. 

At any rate, there you go.  Hmmm... does this go in I'm Just Sayin' or Right-Wing Rants?  Eh, we'll call it a rant.  ;-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

In Line with Charles Krauthammer

Wow.  You know I'm thinking right when Charles Krauthammer and I agree.  Again.   He called Paul Ryan a rising star.   Oh, and I also heart Charles Krauthammer.  He's brilliant.  Sign up to my Twitter feed to read more!

I've already written about Paul Ryan here and here.

I Still Heart Paul Ryan

Here's his take on last night's Health Care Bill (debacle) passage:

Read the interview on National Review Online.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sums It Up

John Boehner's speech before the Health Care vote tonight sums up my thoughts:

Debacle of a Vote

Why are so many who are voting for this mess convinced this is the only option?  It's like deciding you have to buy a house and not bothering to a) get a realtor or b) look at all the listings and instead decide to c) buy the first house you find, despite it's bad location and outrageous price. 

We need health insurance reform - desperately.  But this bill is a debacle. 

Getting Little One to Eat

I have renewed sympathy for my friends whose kids don't eat. Little One's mouth hurts her so much she isn't eating.  She's miserable.  Straws hurt.  Cups hurts.  Forks and spoons get barely a glance.  My baby's in pain and not eating and we're both uncomfortable with that arrangement.

An Evening in the ER

The long and the short of it is Little One fell off or jumped onto her brother's foot board.  We were finishing dinner when I heard her long, painful scream.  Blood was everywhere - gushing down her chin, pooling on the foot board, dripping onto the comforter.  I scooped her up and grabbed a baby washcloth, shoved an ice cube in it, and tried my best to calm her down. 

She had bitten deeply into her lip, the blood wasn't clotting after 20 minutes, and a top tooth was shoved back behind her front teeth.  All this time she was screaming and crying.  How do you explain to a toddler that she'll be okay?  Or that you'll do her best for her?  How do you even know she'll be okay?

After calling our new Dr. and not getting a return call from the Dr.-on-call, I called our old Dr. and immediately got a return call from the nurse-on-call.  (Make no mistake, after I call our new Dr and give him a piece of my mind, we're going back to the old Dr.)  The nurse suggested we call our dentist.  I called our pediatric dentist who heard my voice and immediately said he'd meet us at his office.  

She's most likely going to lose the tooth, possibly the three around it.  Hopefully she didn't damage the permanent tooth forming above the root of the baby tooth.  Our pediatric dentist strongly suggested we go to the pediatric ER just to make sure we weren't dealing with head trauma and to see if she needed stitches for the deep gashes in her lip.

Two hours later, we were headed home from the ER.  No head trauma.  Stitches were another story.  If she'd been cut that deeply anywhere else, she'd need stitches.  Since the wounds cut into her inner lip, she'd probably chew them out anyway.  The wound expert at the pediatric ER said we could do stitches, but leaving her alone would net the same results - just without the anger and crying from getting stitches.  We were sent home with instructions to feed her soft foods, no salt, no acidic foods, and lots of popsicles.

Her lip looks huge.  She looks like she lost a nasty fight.  Her lip is swollen.  Her teeth are a mess.  She's very tired.  And wants to eat pretzels.  Aside from her annoyance that we won't let her crunch on salty pretzels, she's just worn out.  But she's going to be fine.

Darling was perfect through it all.  Well, mostly.  I about lost my mind when he couldn't find the Dr.'s numbers on the fridge, but that was me and not him.  He was the picture of calm.  I've never seen him so steady.  Thank God for two parents.

Me?  How am I doing?  I'm a wreck.  I'm an emotional basket case today.  Last night I was jittery and hyper-alert.  Today I'm ragged.  Suddenly, all the emotions and grieving I thought I'd processed thoroughly after two miscarriages in a row and then pregnancy with Little One jumped up and ripped into me.  The fear that we won't get to keep her leaped back into the forefront.

I remember being pregnant with her and desperately trying to keep myself from thinking about our new baby too much.  We already had two healthy boys.  I'd miscarried our first baby and then had two healthy, perfect, full-term babies in a row.  The next two pregnancies ended early and horrifically.  (Is there such a thing as a non-horrific miscarriage?  Didn't think so.)  So when I got pregnant with Little One, I managed to build an emotional fortress around my heart.  I numbed myself.  I was convinced we'd come home from the hospital without a baby in our arms.  No where in my heart did I think we'd get to keep her.  I know God's got it, but the miscarriages taught me that just because God has it doesn't mean it'll work out the way I want.  His will and my will are not always simpatico.

After Little One was born, it took time to settle into the idea that we'd get to keep her.  Bear with me, because I know this next part is a leap, but I had to give her back to God to be able to keep her.  I had to thank God for her and then tell him I knew she was in His hands, not mine and if he chose to take her, she was His.  Somehow, in that act of on-my-face humility, I was freed to love her and revel in her presence in our family.  And I did.  And I do.

And then last night she got hurt and all those emotions from being pregnant with her and those early newborn days have come flooding back and I feel like a wreck all over again.  Thoughts of what could have been keep rushing into my head.  I keep thinking back to last night and what if I'd gotten up and insisted on her bath, instead of letting her go play?  Why didn't I make sure her brothers had put up their door gates to keep her out of their rooms?  The "what ifs" and "why didn't I's" will paralyze me if I don't process this.

It was just a minor fall.  Her lip will heal.  Her permanent teeth might come in with spots from where her baby teeth roots bumped them.  But that's minor.  She's here.  She's healthy.  She'll heal.  And yet I'm reminded again we're here on a string, by the grace of God.  And it's overwhelming.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Mitts

I admit it.  I had a love affair with my oven mitts.  I'm a cook and a baker.  Oven mitts matter.  They do.  I realize professionals use towels to reach into ovens or to grab hot lids off the stove.  Not me.  I'm a home cook and I need good mitts.  I've tried using a towel and I'm not adept - and honestly don't care to be.  Give me good mitts.

My MIL and FIL gave us mitts as a wedding present.  At the time, I was young and stupid and didn't realize that the gray utilitarian mitts MIL bought at the barbecue store would turn out to be my favorite mitts - ever.  What did I know?  I was young and stupid and a newlywed and thought I knew everything about love and life and marriage.  What an idiot.  I digress.

Over the past decade, I've learned those ugly barbecue mitts are the best gift an experienced cook could give a fledgling cook.  They're the right thickness.  They stand up to 500-degree baking pans.  They're long and go up my forearms and I can reach into the back of the oven and not worry about burning my arms.  When I need coverage, they are perfect.  They are, in a word, brilliant.

But tragedy struck my love affair.  One of the mitts developed a hole in the tip.  Darling reached in the oven to grab a casserole dish and burned his finger.   His big 'ol man-hands couldn't dodge the hole as well as my delicate-flower-lady-hands.  He threw out the mitt.  I was left with one mitt. 

I asked for new mitts for Christmas.  Instead of getting a big, ugly, utilitarian mitt, I received a pricey, fancy Williams Sonoma mitt.  Lovely thought, terrible execution.  I hate it.  I hate it passionately.  Let me explain why:

It's too thick.  I can't get a good grip on roaster handles.  Pulling a 17 lb. turkey out of the oven is not the time to feel as if I don't have a grip on the situation.  The mitts are so thick I can't feel if I've picked up a pan or not. 

It's too short.  I can't reach to the back of the oven to retrieve baked potatoes without risking my delicate lady skin.  I constantly feel as if I'm dodging fiery hot racks.

It's ugly.  I don't like bright yellow.  The giver of said mitts loves yellow.  Me?  Not so much.  The above picture doesn't do the brightness justice.  A soft butter yellow is nice, highlighter yellow is not.

Okay, that last one was more petty than critique.  My bad.

The lesson here is that if you need good oven mitts, go to the barbecue store.  Just like if you want a good pair of working jeans, you must go to the men's side of the store, the same holds true for oven mitts.  If you need a good pair of mitts, go where the men get their mitts.  You can't go wrong.  Save the thick, fancy-label ones to impress your friends.  Maybe they'd be lovely on the wall?  If only I liked bright yellow... 

Before I post this I should add I've never tried the new-fangled silicone mitts.  Currently, I don't have the cash to buy a pair.  Should anyone like to send me a pair (or two) I'd be happy to try them and offer a pair as a giveaway.  Hint, hint.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Slow on the Uptake

It wasn't until I hit 30-something that I actually paid attention to politics.  Well, that's not true.  I paid attention, but I held on to a rosy naivete that what news organizations presented deserved my trust on mere face-value.  Sometime in the last few years, I had a crisis of conscience.  And, as a good student, I started reading.  I read everything I could get my hands on from across the political spectrum.  Fairly quickly, after years of considering myself to be a moderate, I realized I was a conservative.  

And as I read, one element was confirmed over and over - semantics matter.  Word choice matters.  How we choose to describe things matters.   That sentiment is explained well here.  

So Much for Sleeping Late

This morning was my chance to sleep late.  Never mind I heard Little One before Darling heard her, as usual.  Never mind I had to mention she's awake and he might want to get out of bed, as usual.  Those two facts alone made sleeping late a challenge, as usual.  

Darling finally rolled out of bed.  I willfully closed my eyes and slowed my breath, hoping to catch more sleep.  Seconds later, I heard Little One beating on the door.  Have I mentioned she's back in separation anxiety mode?  Yeah, this is what I heard from my bed:

>bang-bang-bang<  "M-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-a-a-a-a-m-m-m-m-a-a-a-a-a-a?!" >bang-bang-bang<  

Did you catch the hiccuppy-crying quality in her voice?  How can I a) possibly sleep through such a ruckus, and b) let her suffer like that?  Little Layla Grace flashed through my head and the idea that I'd regret opening the door forced my tush out of bed.

So I opened the door.  And she ceased wailing and flung herself in my arms.  She won't always want to meld herself in my arms.  I'll catch more sleep when she's older.  So the next time you're at the park and see a worn-out woman holding a child who won't let go, yeah - that's me.  Please be kind.  I'm sleep-deprived.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In All Fairness

My FIL just left.  YES!  In all fairness, he's of a very different generation.  Darling is older than me and he was a later-in-life baby.  Add all those years up and FIL is slightly younger than my grandparents.  He never changed a diaper.  Well, maybe he changed one or two.  Fathers in his generation didn't really do that - or anything else connected with childcare.  He comes from the generation of fathers who got involved with their kids when they were old enough to throw a ball.  It only makes sense that he rankles me - the woman who believes both parents should share parenting and household responsibilities.  

Either way, he's about to board a plane to fly home and we'll see him again many months from now.  And there was much rejoicing.

Well, It Finally Happened

Every night I fall asleep watching "Good Eats."  I love me some Alton Brown.  His show helps me refine my cooking methods.  I've seen every "Good Eats," save for the new shows. 

I digress. You see, I have a touch of insomnia.  I learned that if I curl up in bed, head on my pillow, watching the processes of cooking will relax me enough to fall asleep.  Weird.  And true.  When I stumbled upon the mellowing nature of my favorite cooking show, I wondered if I would ever incorporate "Good Eats" into a dream.  

Well, it finally happened.  Two nights ago I, uh, well, I... dreamed I loved me some Alton Brown.  I don't remember the details of the dream. I do know, however, that last night when I clicked on "Good Eats" so I could learn more about corned beef, I blushed to my toes.   

Keep in mind that I'm in my 30's (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) and I'm here to tell you that the rumors about women hitting their peak in their 30's is no lie.  Lucky Darling.  I digress.  All I can say is if I blushed to my toes about a dream, it musta been a good one!

And if I get a book deal or go on tv, this is the first post I'm deleting. Then I'm purging all that stuff about my FIL.  Just sayin' 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Enough Already

Please tell me, do we shirk our parental responsibilities when our kids pull the "well, so-and-so did it, too" card?  No.  We address our kids and say we're not interested in what their friends are doing or get to do.  As intolerant as I am with that scenario with my children, I'm even less tolerant of it when dealing with my adult elected representatives.

I'm not interested in who-did-what-with-which-bills in the past.  I care about this bill, now.  And I do not like what I see.  Read more here.

I'm more than tired of hearing the Democrats say the Republicans have used reconciliation.  Republicans did use it - in budget measures - as it was designed, not to remake 1/6 of our economy.  I'm also tired of hearing Progressive Democrats say they need to pass this bill and then we'll find out what's in the bill.  Who buys a house without getting it inspected first?  Fools, that's who.  Who buys a car without test-driving it first?  Fools, that's who.  Why on earth do the Progressive Democrats think Americans are stupid enough to want a bill passed that changes 1/6 of our economy when even they don't know what's in it?  It's insulting, really.

If we're going to change 1/6 of our economy, it should be with true bipartisan support.  Both Republicans and Democrats should have an equal say in the process.  That's how Social Security was passed.  That's how Medicare and Medicaid were passed.  Scrap this 2,000 page monstrosity and start over!

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Thanks for the prayers, dears.  Today has gone much better than expected.  Maybe it's the light at the end of the tunnel?  I don't know.  Today I don't care.  I'm just thankful - thankful it's better and thankful it's almost over.

You know, someday he'll be gone-gone and I'll wonder why I was ever so testy about him.  

70 x 7 and Standing Up

In keeping up with my Lenten Commitment, I had my nose in the Bible again this morning. Odd thing happened, actually, and I'm going to chalk it up to God knowing I needed to read something important.

I'm still reading Acts. This morning's starting verse was Act 16:7. Usually I read a section and spend the day pondering. Acts 16:7-10 really could have served my brain well. It describes how the Spirit of Jesus prevented Paul, Luke, Silas and Timothy from going into Asia and Mysia. Really, doesn't that sound like something to ponder? God leads us and sometimes, if we're paying attention, that means we might be prevented from doing something. Excellent message and something worthy of pondering, yes?

I almost closed my Bible, but felt as if I needed to keep reading (God's leading). So I continued reading and finished Acts 16. The end of Acts 16 describes Paul and Silas's jail experience (when the walls of the prison shook and they were released from their shackles, but didn't leave and taught the jailer about Jesus. The jailer believes and has himself and his family baptized). At the very end, the magistrates who had Paul and Silas beaten and thrown into jail send word to release the disciples.

Paul refuses to go. He states that he and Silas are Roman citizens and should not have received such poor treatment. He declares that the magistrates should come to the prison and escort Paul and Silas out themselves. The magistrates come, much alarmed that they treated Roman citizens so shabbily. They escort Paul and Silas out of the jail and invite them to leave town, which they do.

Wow. I had completely forgotten about Paul standing his ground. He knew they'd been wronged and did not shrink from the confrontation. He used facts. He used reason. He didn't just run out of jail and relish being free. He righted a wrong.

Why does this strike me today? Well, in case you hadn't noticed, my FIL is visiting. (Read about it here, here, here, here, and here.) The part I hadn't mentioned was that he made a quip to my chip-eating, healthy, average-weighted Big Kid about "wasting away to a small house." Nice, huh? I haven't said anything to FIL. I haven't stood up for my child. (The Mama Guilt is palpable.) FIL dotes on Middle One and Little One, but is very critical of Big Kid. I've respected my Darling's wishes for peace and giving his father a "free pass." Darling lives by forgiving people 70 times 7. But when is it inappropriate?

I can take the abuse. I can come here and blast him on my anonymous blog while keeping my peace with FIL. But I'm a grown-up. My child isn't and while he might behave like a little turkey, he's a kid and doesn't deserve to experience shabby emotional treatment from his grandfather. Today's lesson has struck me and shown me that keeping the peace doesn't have to mean lying down and taking it and not pointing out wrongs.

Maybe I should point out here that a girlfriend said the exact same thing to me yesterday. Gee, think God's trying to tell me something? Make no mistake, God talks to us.

I need to think about it and how to apply the lesson. Please pray for me. Please pray for my FIL. And please, please pray for my son. And please throw in a prayer for Darling - this won't be easy for him.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Because One FIL Rant Isn't Enough

FIL and Darling came home this evening while the kids were bathing. They came into the master bedroom where I was sitting on the floor, watching the kids in our huge tub. Darling said, "oh, honey, you deserve merit pay for this. You're working hard." Then FIL pipes up, "Oh, yes, how about $1.50? $2.00?" Yeah.

God bless Darling. He leaned over and hugged me and said, "Oh, no. That's not even close. I can tell it's been a day around here."

FIL 0, Darling 1000. Glad the apple fell far, far from that tree.

Freer Than Free?

Anyone interested in some free stuff? Giveaways coming soon!

Sporting a Little Crush

I freely admit it. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is a cutie and a smartie. Oh, how I hope he doesn't do something foolishly scandalous. In the meantime, read Ryan's take on health care.

Intrigued? Read more about him on the House of Representatives site.

Counting Down

Eventually, my FIL will go home and we'll get back to normal. He's a bit much for my taste. Is it his misogynistic tendencies? Is it the old-school perception that children should be seen and not heard? Is it his blatant favoritism of Middle One? Is it that he nitpicks Big Kid? Is it that Darling is respectful of his father to the point of (my) annoyance? Is it that my kids act simultaneously wired and stressed in his presence?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Spicy Black Bean Salad

Spicy Black Bean Salad

Prep Time: 40 min
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Assembly: 10 minutes

What You Need:
1 16 oz. bag dry black beans
1/3 - 1/2 Cup dry spices (salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder - The truth is I don't really measure my spices here.  I go by aroma.  If it smells good, I stop dumping in the spices.  Helpful, aren't I?  For the beginner, I'd say use ~1 Tbsp each of salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder.  Cumin adds depth and a smokey flavor.  Chili powder adds heat.  These are your beans, so season to taste.  When in doubt, stick your finger in the mix and taste.  Keep in mind the final flavor will be muted.)

1 red onion, chopped
2 large ripe red tomato, chopped
1/2 Cup chopped cilantro
3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 Cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

What You Need:
4 qt saucepan, with lid
large spoon
cutting board
chef's knife
large bowl

What You Do:
1. Rinse the dry black beans. Sort the beans to remove anything that doesn't look like a firm, black bean. Drop sorted, rinsed beans in saucepan.
2. Dump spices on top of beans. Mix well. You're looking for good coverage on the beans. Let sit for 30 minutes. This allows the spices to cling better to the beans, which means tastier beans.
3. After 30 minutes, cover the beans with water. The water needs to cover the beans by at least 2 inches.
4. Bring beans to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for one hour. You'll know the beans are done with they're tender and starting to split.

****Now I know you could easily use canned black beans instead of cooking them yourself and you're welcome to it. However, cooking your own black beans with this method gives you much tastier beans. Also, I know traditional wisdom is to soak the beans overnight and then cook them the next day or to cook them for an hour and then cook them again. I have made this recipe for 18 years and have finally concluded that the above method yields the best-tasting beans. But, to each her own.****

5. Drain beans. DO NOT RINSE.
6. Measure out 2-3 Cups of beans into your large mixing bowl. (If you like a lot of beans, use more. If you like fewer beans, use less.) Chill remaining beans and use later or freeze in a bag.
7. While the beans are still warm, add the remaining ingredients. Stir it up, but be gentle.
8. Taste salad. This is the time to adjust the lemon or lime juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.
9. Serve with tortilla chips. This salad is awesome warm or chilled. Refrigerate and keep for up to a week.

Rinse the beans.


Dump spices on the beans.

Look for this level of coverage.

Cover with water.

Yes, it will look like industrial sludge.

Other delicious uses:
- Heated in a burrito
- Heated in a skillet and served with a fried egg or next to scrambled eggs
- Served on top of a lettuce salad

A Smarter Blondie

Truth in publishing: I did not like this Smarter Blondie. My grown-up taste-tester did not like this Smarter Blondie, either. Our kids, however, fell on them like misers on gold.

Quotes from the kids: "This is the best thing I've ever eaten." "Mom, would you make these everyday?" "May I please have more?" "We're out of them? sniff, sniff"

Clearly there's no accounting for taste. But, if you're looking for a kid-approved, healthier, tasty baked snack for your kids, try this recipe:

A Smarter Blondie

Prep Time: 10 min
Bake Time: 25 min

What You Need:
1 Cup + 1 Tbsp flour
1/4 Cup quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 Cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 Cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, walnuts, flaked coconut or pecans (or throw them all in and experiment!)

What You Use:
microwave safe mixing bowl
small bowl
9"x9" square pan
parchment paper
cooking spray

What You Do:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Spray pan. Then cut a piece of parchment about 9" wide. Place the parchment in the pan with two "wings" hanging off the ends. Use your finger to crease the paper into the sides so the batter spreads evenly. (You're making a Blondie sling. When the Blondies are baked, you'll use the two pieces hanging off the end to lift the Blondies out of the pan for quicker cooling and easier cutting.)
3. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and chocolate chips in a small bowl. Set aside. (Mixing the chips in now prevents them from falling to the bottom of the pan during baking.)
4. Melt the half-stick of butter in the microwave safe mixing bowl.
5. Remove from microwave. Stir in brown sugar until sugar dissolves. Mix in applesauce.
6. Add vanilla. Then add the egg. Mix well.
7. Stir in flour mixture. Do not over mix! Stir just until combined, streaks of white are okay. If you stir too much, you'll have a tough Blondie. (hahahaha)
8. Pour (or glob) mix into prepared pan.
9. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Top will look puffy and sides will look browned and start pulling away from the pan sides. Let sit for 10 minutes, then remove to plate or cutting board. Cut and enjoy!

Pancakes, en masse

Pancakes. Mmmmm... Pancakes work as an excellent go-to dinner when the kids and I need a quick and easy meal when Darling's working late. I make a canister's worth of pancake mix and scoop out enough for a meal (and leftovers).

This recipe layout is set up for one meal or for assembling extra mix for later.

What You Need:

Dry Mix
Ingredients - (batch x10 in parentheses)

3/4 Cup Flour (7 Cups)
1/3 Cup Quick Oats (3 Cups)
2 Tbsp Ground Flax seed (1 Cup)
1/2 tsp Baking Powder (3 Tbsp)
1 tsp Baking Soda (3 1/2 Tbsp)
1/4 Cup Sugar (2 1/2 Cup)
1/2 tsp Salt (5 tsp)

Mix it all up in a very large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a large, airtight canister.

Wet Ingredients for one batch (double, triple, quadruple as needed):

1 1/4 Cup milk
1/4 Cup oil
1 egg
1 1/2 Cup dry mix

What You Use:
Measuring cups
large mixing bowl
griddle or skillet

What You Do:
1. Mix together dry mix. Pour into a large, airtight container.
2. Measure out dry mix into a mixing bowl.
3. Add wet ingredients.*
4. Mix just until incorporated. White streaks are okay. Let mixture sit for a few minutes.
5. Preheat griddle or skillet until hot enough to make pancakes. 325 degrees F on my electric griddle is best for pancakes.
6. When griddle or skillet is hot, pour on 1/4 Cup of batter. When bubbles have appeared and don't go away, it's ready to flip. Let bake until bottom is golden brown and delicious.
7. Slap tasty hot pancakes on a plate, smother with butter and syrup and enjoy!
8. If you've made extra pancake batter, use it all to make pancakes. Pancakes will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week. To reheat, microwave on a safe plate for 30 seconds at a time. They can also be reheated in a toaster.

*If you like thinner pancakes, add more milk. If you like thicker, fluffier pancakes, decrease the milk.

Final thoughts: I play with the flour amount. Sometimes I use a 50/50 blend of whole wheat and all-purpose flour or I reduce the flax seed and add some bran. Once you've made this recipe a couple times, feel free to make it your own. As long as the amounts of dry ingredients are the same, you can exchange your ratio of flours, oats, and bran. Experimenting is how the best things come about!


Related Posts with Thumbnails