Monday, December 8, 2008

Itty bitty entry

So we are back from Key West and, except for needing a new liver things are back to normal. Oh, and there is the black eye Hubs is sporting after this ONE CONVERSATION we had in the car while inching along I-95 South in Georgia...

Him - This is ridiculous. Check the map and find another road we can take to Florida.

Me - Hmmm. (Carefully checking the map for roads branching off of 95 that actually take us to Florida instead of oh, I don't know, Arizona.)

Him - Well?

Me - Hmmm. (Still checking. That part of Georgia is DESOLATE.)

Him - Those lines on the map? Those are roads. Which one takes us to Florida?

Me - *smack*

Next time? Flying to Miami and driving from there.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sinking

Here at Casa de Hinnant we only use our mobile phones for communication. We have no landline. In a house this small we don't need a landline since we can hear our mobiles ringing no matter where we are.

I used to have a flip-phone. Two years ago when I first got it, it was cool. It took pictures, I could text, it fit in my pocket, AND, best of all, it entertained my daughter.

Emmie could lay in my lap pushing the buttons, opening and closing it, listening to the beeps, for 30 minutes at a time. She was fascinated. If she was cranky in the car I was all here! Take my phone! And she did. It became hers. If you refused her the phone or took it away from her, or, heaven help you, gave it to her BROTHER to play with she became demented with denial. She would try to take it from me when I talked on it. Whenever I closed it after a conversation she would repeat "Bye" and reach for it. Yeah, cute the first 5 times and then, just annoying.

And one day I noticed the top half was a little loose. And then, a tiny, miniscule piece of plastic was missing from one of the hinges. And then, this.


Shit.

Off I went to the cellphone store for help. What? They said. No insurance? Two months shy of being eligible an upgrade? Bwahahahaha you shall pay full RETAIL for a new phone! I was furious. Incensed. I caused a scene and got my righteous indignation on and then I paid full retail for a new phone. And bought insurance.

But what a shiny, priddy new phone it was! What wonderful new things it would do! Oh touchscreen LG how I love you! There was a new rule in the house - nobody under the age of 18 gets to touch Mommy's new phone - and God love her, when Emmie sees my phone lying somewhere within her reach she picks it up and HANDS IT TO ME as though to say See mommy? I'm not touching your phone I'm just reminding you to KEEP IT AWAY FROM ME.

Then disaster struck. I was cleaning the toilet yesterday and I totally forgot I put my phone in the pocket of my shirt. As I leaned over to scrub I saw a sploosh and there was my lovely phone lying at the bottom of the toilet. And not only was it in the toilet but it was STUCK in the little groove at the bottom. I scrambled to pull it out but I couldn't get my fingers around it. I fumbled and grabbed and used both hands to leverage it but it was too slippery and I began to hyperventilate. Desperation gave way to sadness as I realized that even if I got the phone out of the stupid john it would be ruined. Finally, I got my fingers underneath it and pulled it out. The screen was blank.

The lady at the phone store said there was still hope and told me to take it all apart and leave it covered in uncooked white rice for a day or so. The rice pulls the moisture out and once dried, it may power up again.

It does, but everything is upside down. The numbers, the letters, all upside down and backwards. It's the strangest thing.

The company is sending me another one and I have a loaner until it arrives. A very basic, simple phone, which is probably all that I really deserve at this point. And did I mention that I blamed the whole thing on Emmie when I made the insurance claim? Much less embarrassing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm still here

Can I just say that the combination of a sick 3 year-old and a busy 18 month-old is not conducive to good writing? Because it isn't. It is not even conducive to mediocre writing.

Poor Thomas has had a fever all week and I have finally made him a doctor's appointment for this afternoon because he was awake all. night. long. And when I say awake I don't mean whining and coughing and being miserable, I mean just...awake. Lying there hugging his bear unable to sleep because he felt too bad. By 3:00 am I was stupid from exhaustion and went to bed, but then I couldn't sleep because I felt so guilty about leaving him awake and alone.

So now I am sleep-deprived and whiny, and Thomas is snoring through the first morning nap he's taken in nearly 2 years. Emmie is napping as well, which brings me to the question - WHY AM I NOT NAPPING?

Because I kick-started my morning with a double-caff cup of Earl Grey and now my fingers are trembling so badly I can barely type. Bah.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nothing Could Be Finer

Whew. It's so NICE to have all the election brouhaha behind us, isn't it? I love being able to watch TV without being bombarded by political ads and I discovered that CNN actually has stuff to talk about other than Sarah Palin and her wardrobe. Oh, and it's football season.

How'd you like that segue?

Hubs and I went to the Carolina homecoming football game this weekend. (For those of you reading this from South Carolina I mean the REAL Carolina. The one in Chapel Hill.) This is Hubs' alma mater and I swear every time we are on campus he tells me the same stories and relates the same factoids about the school.

Hubs - "This is the oldest building on campus and..."

Me - "...it used to be the entire school, all right here in one brick structure."

Hubs - "Have I told you this before?"

Me - *

We had front row seats in the endzone for this game and I have NO idea how that happened, but I swear if we said it once we said it 100 times "I cannot BELIEVE how good these seats are!" I actually was distracted from the game by the fact that we could see the players. That we were not in the nosebleed section trying to figure out which of the tiny bugs on the field were Carolina guys.

While Carolina football is awesome and getting even better with their new coach, Carolina basketball is what we live for in the Fall. So when a really, really tall dude in a suit walked by on the track right in front of us I paused. Then I saw another one stepping down from the bleachers.



"It's the basketball team! Look!" I started snapping photos like a paparazza on crack. They filed in front of us and grouped together behind the endzone obviously waiting for some sort of ceremony at half-time.

Then, He appeared.



I punched Hubs in the arm. "Hon LOOK! It's Roy Williams!"

"Where?"

"Right there!"

Where??"

"Right THERE!"

Where???!!!"

"Right. Damn. There. If I say it any louder he's going to hear me."

And while former basketball head coach Dean Smith will always be a god to Carolina fans, Roy Williams is the son of that god. I had to physically restrain my husband to keep him from hurdling over the shrubs in front of us and flinging himself at Roy's feet.

The good guys won and Hubs was happy. I got to leave the game in the 3rd quarter to go shopping so I was happy. It was a perfect day at Carolina.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

SQUEEEE

Scuse my SQUEEEING, it's just that I'm still a little breathless from the election.


How YOU Doin'?

I'm excited that my children will probably never understand what a HUGE deal it is that America has elected a black man to be president. I'm ready for our country to start putting racism and bigotry behind us. I'm also praying we can forget the last 8 years and move forward into a time where the world likes us again, trusts us again, and where Americans can (maybe) (possibly) start trusting their government again.

At least there is HOPE.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why are you HERE?

Go VOTE!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Suddenly Scrooge

In spite of my love of Halloween, I have to say that my first preschool Halloween party knocked me to my knees this morning.

This morning at O:Dark-Thirty (when is the TIME CHANGING??) I got Thomas dressed in his pirate costume, put a cute Halloween t-shirt on Emmie so she wouldn't feel left out, and dragged both kids to Thomas's school for his "Fall Festival". I had planned to stay to help out but really had no idea what to expect.

What I got - 50-plus kids cracked out on candy and cookies, one befuddled Thomas and one totally over-stimulated Emmie.

We arrived to find two classes of three-year-olds crammed into a single classroom. The noise was deafening. Shrieks, giggles, sobs and shouts were bouncing off the walls and ceiling and into each other and multiplying and dividing until the decibels were at an illegal level. Emmie immediately clutched the legs of any adult wearing jeans thinking they were me and Thomas put his head on my shoulder to hide his face. Thank GOD the speech therapist asked if she could work wtih Thomas for a bit because I could not have stayed in that room for longer than 5 minutes without wanting to stick a knitting needle into my eye to lobotomize myself.

After speech therapy we went to the playground for candy and games. Gah. The school has both special needs and typically developing kids, and the typical kids definitely had the advantage today. They ran around frantically picking up the candy they found on the ground while I carried Thomas and tried to pry Emmie off my legs. I finally convinced Em to pick up two Reese's cups for me and then we sat down on the sidewalk to watch the other kids spin circles and exhaust their sugar highs.

After carrying my 27 lb son for 30 minutes and watching Emmie get knocked down for the third time I told myself it was time to go. My kids had obviously had all the fun they could possibly stand for the morning and so I put Thomas in his stroller, turned to my terrified, crying daughter to encourage her to walk with me to get our stuff so we could go to the car, and then watched, amazed, as she had a total meltdown at the idea of leaving all the...fun.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I am such a Halloweenie

I LOOOOOOVE Halloween and it really wasn't until I had kids that I truly started appreciating this day. I mean, it was fun in college, another excuse to get stupid-drunk and an EXCELLENT excuse to wear a sheet to a party, but honestly, I love it so much more now that I can find the innocence in it again. I adore the little people running around the neighborhood dressed as ghosties and pirates and princesses and bumblebees holding buckets of candy and wearing astonished looks on their faces like "Seriously? You are just GIVING me candy? And my Mom knows about this and everything?"

I went to Walmart today with the intention of getting some candy for Friday. I always have to wait until the very last minute to buy it or I will eat it all, even if I buy stuff that I don't really like, and oh, hey! Let's take a quick trip through the other Halloween stuff just for fun.

I ended up with two new candy buckets for the kids, cat ears and a tail for me to wear so I'm not the boring mom who didn't dress as anything, a rainbow wig which my husband damn well better wear says he'll consider wearing as he passes out treats, THREE HUGE BAGS of candy, and when I say huge I mean 5 lbs each and it now looks like Halloween threw up in my living room.



My kids? I'm not sure they have hit their prime trick-or-treating ages yet. Friday afternoon I will get Thomas and Emmie dressed in time to join the rest of the neighborhood for the Halloween potluck dinner held each year, and then I will pull them in their wagon to a few houses for trick-or-treating. And at each house the following scenario will play out:

I will ring the doorbell and say trick-or-treat. Emmie will stare at the people opening the door like she has never seen people before, like this is the VERY FIRST TIME she has encountered an actual other person and she's not sure how she feels about it, and that person will try to get her to smile and she will continue to stare, unsmiling, until they give up. Thomas, meanwhile, will be looking at everything BUT the person opening the door while digging in his candy bucket and throwing the candy out on the sidewalk because he KNOWS THAT IT IS FOOD and by God that food will NOT BE GOING ANYWHERE NEAR HIS MOUTH. I'll just laugh apologetically and shrug it off and go on to the next house, and when we finally get home I will dig through their candy and eat all the Snickers bars right there while sitting on the floor and before I even get the kids undressed and ready for bed.

I'll be sure to take pictures for you. Because I LOOOOOOVE Halloween.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Friday Friday

Last night was one of Those Nights and thus today has been one of Those Days. We all slept in after having a sleepless night and I wandered around the house in my pajamas until 10:00 am. I finally decided it was time to get it together so I washed my face, brushed my teeth and changed from my pajama bottoms and a t-shirt into...sweat pants and a t-shirt. The transformation was less than miraculous.

Is this what it has come to? Elastic waistbands and men's t-shirts? An existence where jeans and a jacket is dressing up? I did put on mascara to go to the grocery this afternoon though, so there is hope.

In other fashion news, Emmie has been rocking this look for a week now.



The hat MUST be on her head and the brim MUST be turned backwards.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

AAAAARRR Maties

Thomas is going to be a pirate for Halloween this year. It will be noted that he was a pirate LAST year as well. When you are born without your left eye it sort of dooms you to dressing as a pirate every year until you can protest otherwise.

The costume I bought him this year has a hat with yarn-hair attached - the sole reason I chose it. Ohmyhell it is so cute. For a moment I tried to think of what it reminded me of, and then it hit me - with that tiny little nose and all that yarn around his face, he is a MUPPET.



I can't wait until Halloween.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some Things I've Learned

No matter how many books you read while pregnant, no matter how many childbearing friends you have, you can't possibly know what you are getting into when you have children. I mean, I knew that babies don't sleep much at night. I knew there would be lots and lots and LOTS of diapers to change. Lots. And lots. And in my case I was a first-time Mom twice.

Thomas was so sick when he was born and needed so much special care that I learned quickly how to tube-feed rather than bottle or breastfeed. I knew how to check placement on his ng tube using a stethoscope. I learned how to draw meds into a syringe using only one hand. I can now convert milliliters into ounces without thinking about it. I swipe medical supplies at the doctor's office when the nurses aren't watching.

Thomas's sensory integration disorder meant that he didn't want to be held - ever. He spent the first 6 months of his life being moved from one horizontal surface to the next because Godhelpyou if you tried to hold the little booger. He would scream ceaselessly until put down.

I slept on an air mattress on the floor of his room for the first four months because I was terrified of leaving him alone. In fact, I rarely ever stepped foot outside his room. It became my bunker, my hidey-hole, my refuge from the outside. Thomas and I became this little world unto ourselves that even my husband could enter only on occasion. It felt safe there and of all the things I wanted, I wanted to keep Thomas safe. He was so fragile, so small, and I wasn't ready to start explaining to the masses what his diagnosis meant and how many things were different about him.

(That came to a screeching halt when I took a few days to visit my parents the September after Thomas was born. I came home and found my air mattress had been deflated and tucked away in a closet and my husband announced I was moving back into our bedroom with him. I think he missed me.)

And the doctor appointments. LORD the doctor appointments - neurologists, gastroenterologists, surgeons, twice-weekly trips to the pediatrician for weight checks. It was neverending. It became my new normal and I felt lost and adrift if we didn't have at least one appointment each week.

When Emerson was born she was premature, and tiny, but she was totally healthy and did everything just the way a baby is supposed to. She spent a few days in the Special Care Nursery until she was able to maintain her body temperature on her own, but after that she was pretty much ready to come home. BUT, BUT...I wasn't sure how to feed her! She wanted to be held ALL THE TIME. What is this strange creature?

At the first checkup with the pediatrician she told me to come back in two weeks for a weight check. Two weeks? You don't want to see her for two whole weeks? I could seriously mess her up in that amount of time! Shouldn't we come back on, say, Friday?

I was assured that all would be fine and you know what? It was.

To this day I have to rearrange my thinking about Emmie. When she started scrooching around and putting things in her mouth I was shocked because THOMAS had never put anything in his mouth. She was mouthy and grabby and people, let me just tell you it took me a while to catch on. I would set her down next to a full glass of water and when she picked it up and poured it all over herself I was honestly surprised. When she grabbed a magic marker and created lines and freckles all over her face and colored her tongue blue? Amazement on my part. I actually had to BABYPROOF my house.

It has been an adventure parenting two such disparate children. I've learned to appreciate the differences and take pride in each child's achievements. But I still haven't really caught onto the grabby thing yet.

Exhibit A - my cellphone

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quickie

Hubs took the dogs for a walk last night. Since it was after dark and the vision of a large man walking two large dogs is, in his mind, not enough of a deterrent to muggers on its own, he took the canister of pepper spray.

We bought the pepper spray for our 100 pound babysitter to carry when she takes the kids for a walk.

About 10 minutes after he got back he started complaining about his forehead burning. Then one of his ears was burning.

"Honey," I say, "You have pepper spray on your face. What did you do? Test it?"

"No! It can't be pepper spray! How would it get on my face?"

"Are you sure you didn't test it?"

"Well, I just flipped up the trigger guard to figure out which way would be most effective for spraying, and then I put my finger like this and Really! I didn't press that hard!"

I mean, seriously?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Scavenger

This weekend was Punkin-pickin' time. It will be Thomas's fourth Halloween and Emmie's second, and I was really, REALLY excited about taking them to pick out our punkins - yeah, I said punkinS because who can really stop with just one?

I had visions of me carrying Thomas while Emmie toddled around pounding on various punkins, both of them just thrilled to be outside and helping me ready the front porch for Fall.



The plan fell apart a little when I realized that Emmie didn't want to walk, period. Something about the straw on the ground freaked her out and she wouldn't even stand up. Thomas had no problem with it and would have happily sat there throwing straw around for as long as we let him.



So, we did this.



We ended up with two tiny punkins, three smallish ones, one medium-sized and one HUGE one, the last one being the one I will eventually carve into a jack-o'lantern.

We brought them home and I began arranging them on the front porch and steps along with our two little straw-men, one of whom is on a stake so he can stand in the yard.


Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "stick up your ass".

Finally satisfied, I took the kids inside for naps and let the dogs out to play.

A bit later I went outside to admire my porch again (I know! I'm such a dork!) and Hey! What the? Some of my punkins are GONE. I was flummoxed. How on earth do punkins just disappear in the middle of the day? I hadn't been inside for more than a half an hour and the two tiny punks and one of the smallish ones - just NOT THERE ANYMORE. I started looking up and down the street thinking, I don't know, I was going to see some kids riding away on their bikes with my punky-punks and laughing?

About that time Jake The Bulldog comes lumbering around from the side of the house. He sees me and does that little head-duck thing that means he's up to no good and knows it. His lips are foamy and flecked with orange and Holy Crow, he ATE my punkins. I checked the yard and found a couple of stray seeds. Three of them. Gone. Stems and all. The gastrointestinal implications are unmistakable. That there dog was going to have one helluva bellyache.

Last night I related the story to Hubs and mentioned it might not be a great idea to feed Jake - maybe we should let his tummy rest a bit. Hubs was worried. Won't he be hungry? "Honey?" I said. "Do you REALLY think it's a good idea to load that particular gun?"

Jake will be spending LOTS of time outside for the next couple of days. Hopefully the remaining punkins are too big for him to carry off.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

First real word

Emmie has been babbling for months in that weird, Latvian dialect that only she understands. I mean, Thomas apparently only speaks Chinese, so obviously HE can't figure out what she's saying and we as adults have no memory of the days that we made up our own language and happily rolled with it, pointing and shouting lbulabulwhmfumleebullatablut! Weehblazoomak!

But day before yesterday she was watching the dogs play and I asked her Emmie? What does the doggie say? Does the doggie say woof woof?

And Emmie replied oof. oof. And smiled.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bump

You are asking "What on earth happened to that child? Did you smack her in the head with a baseball bat?




"Did she take a header down the stairs and land flatfaced on the flagstones below?"



"Did her brother finally get fed up with her antics and bop her a good one?"

Nope. Her mother left the screen door open and let a whole HERD of mosquitos inside and one proceeded to feast on her small child's vulnerable forehead.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Another example of fine parenting

Yesterday was the 21st anniversary of the day that Brenna, SuperNanny, was born. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Brenna's parents, by the way. About a week ago she asked me if I would accompany her on her first-ever visit to the liquor store on her big day and I thought sure! Why not! It'll be a field trip!

So first thing yesterday we loaded up the kids and the double-stroller and headed off to the local ABC store. No I really didn't think about how it would look. Seriously. But once we got there and I started unfolding the stroller and strapping the kids in it struck me. It's 9:15 am and I'm standing behind my mothermobile getting ready to roll my two small children into the liquor store. Whooo hoo! You can send the parenting awards in the form of cash please.

As we entered, the old guy that runs the place yelled out a good morning and inquired as to whether we needed any help. Oh nooo thanks heh heh. Just browsing and Hey! It's her 21st birthday! THAT'S why we are here! (Insert lots of nervous laughter here.)

Once it became clear that Mr. Liquor Store Manager had seen far stranger sights than we presented, I relaxed and we started roaming the aisles. I quickly found the perfect spot between aisles so Emerson couldn't play grab-and-smash, and then discovered that the liquor industry has been, well, industrious in the past few years. To wit: two aisles of nothing but vodka: pomegranate vodka, blueberry vodka, pepper vodka, forty-eleven makes of plain vodka. The back wall was chock full of premixed cocktails once obtainable only from a bartender: B-52's, Long Island Iced Tea, Margaritas, Mudslides, Martinis, Appletinis, Chocolatinis...I was nearly drunk just looking at it all and I haven't squealed that much since my last trip to a shoe store - I was fascinated! Astonished even!

We cruised each aisle twice just in case we missed something the first time. Brenna asked me all kinds of questions that I couldn't answer and really, what IS the difference between single-malt and blended whiskey, and why is that shit so EXPENSIVE? And, if I paid $150 for a bottle of scotch would I really be able to DRINK it? Or should I place it on the mantle, price tag intact, so people can be impressed?

Brenna finally picked out a lovely bottle of Patron tequila and we made our way to the check-out counter, where the guy dutifully carded Brenna and didn't even bother PRETENDING that he wanted to see my ID. Beh.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

September is my favorite month

And NOT because it's my birthday month, because now that I'm of a certain age I am not as fond of my birthday as I was when I was, say, eight. Remember when you wanted so badly to be older? You were 8 and a half, then 8 and three-quarters...

I love September because the ungodly heat and humidity of August is a memory and cooler air is arriving...even if it isn't quite here yet it's on its way and that's enough for celebration. I also love the way the water looks in September. The sun is starting to drift lower on the horizon which makes the waves sparkle and dance in a way that just isn't possible when it's July and the sun is directly overhead. The tourists are mostly back at home in September so the beaches are less crowded and the water is still warm.







Yeah, I know it's October now. I meant to post this yesterday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hey there y'all!

Where on earth have you been? Who, me? Why, I've been hanging out on the sofa, eating bon-bons, watching DVR'd episodes of Friends and Magnum PI! I certainly haven't been blogging...

Seriously? Wanna know what I've been up to this week?

Well, Thomas has a cold. Let's run the numbers on your average cold in this household:

Number of times I've wiped Thomas's nose - 273.

Number of times he yelled at me for wiping his nose - 275 (a couple of times were freebies in case I was thinking about wiping his nose.)

Number of times I've washed his face because he had glued his hair to his forehead with snot - 3.

Number of times I've rushed to his room in the middle of the night because he was coughing - 4.

Number of times he actually woke up while coughing in the middle of the night - 0.

Also? Emmie is walking which means I need to babyproof a whole new level of the house because there are so many new things she can grab. While I am making lists, I might as make a partial list of things I've had to snatch away from her just after she just before she put them in her mouth:

My lipstick

Ping-pong ball

Hairball from the cat left on the chest by the front door

Earplug

Nasty snot-covered Kleenex

DVD of I Am Legend (borrowed from a friend)

Lint-covered raisin from under the sofa (ok, she could have gotten that one before she started walking, but hey, it's my list.)

Canister of hairspray

Part of the problem is the Nor'Easter that blew in and kept us stuck inside for 3 days. Yesterday Thomas's nurse and I, in a fit of desperation to do something, ANYTHING besides sit inside and look at each other, took the kids to the mall, in the rain and 35 mph wind, to ride the carousel and the little cars.






And for a total of 7 minutes and 10 dollars I had two not-quite-so-bored children.

Monday, September 22, 2008

And she's off!

After weeks of standing up and refusing to take a single step without holding onto something no matter what we tried to bribe her with or how encouragingly squeaky our voices got (into the range of only-dogs-can-hear-it is how squeaky they got) Emmie decided today that she is ok with walking. Now from all around the house you can hear step-step-step-thump-step-step-step-step-step-thump-step-step-step-step-step-step-pause-thump. It's fantastic.


video

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Recipe of the Week



I realize I haven't done this in a while and I think partly it's because the Ol' Man was out of town for several weeks so I wasn't cooking, and no one wants a recipe about nuking a frozen dinner.

The NY Times has been running a series on roasted eggplant - no, seriously, they have! - and here is one of the recipes they featured. I haven't tried it yet but as soon as I make it to the store I will give it a shot and let you know how it turned out. Until then, if any of you tried it please let me know how you like it!

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Gratin

For the tomato sauce:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small or 1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste)
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, quartered if you have a food mill or else peeled, seeded and chopped; or 1 1/2 (28-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes, with juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
2 sprigs fresh basil

For the gratin:

2 pounds eggplant, roasted
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil leaves
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Roast the eggplant.

2. Meanwhile, to make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy, preferably nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the onion. Stir until tender, about five to eight minutes, then add the garlic. Stir until fragrant, about a minute, and add the tomatoes, salt (1/2 to 1 teaspoon), pepper, sugar and basil sprigs. Turn the heat up to medium-high. When the tomatoes are bubbling, stir well and then turn the heat back to medium. Stir often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and are beginning to stick to the pan, about 25 minutes. Remove the basil sprigs.

3. If you did not peel the tomatoes, put the sauce through the fine blade of a food mill. If the tomatoes were peeled, pulse the sauce in a food processor fitted with the steel blade until coarsely pureed. Taste and adjust seasoning.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set aside 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and mix with the bread crumbs. Oil the inside of a two-quart gratin or baking dish with olive oil. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce over the bottom of the dish. Slice the roasted eggplant about 1/4 inch thick, and set an even layer of slices over the tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon a layer of sauce over the eggplant, and sprinkle with basil and Parmesan. Repeat the layers one or two more times, depending on the shape of your dish and the size of your eggplant slices, ending with a layer of sauce topped with the Parmesan and bread crumb mixture you set aside. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbling and browned on the top and edges. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

Yield: Serves six

Advance preparation: The tomato sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The casserole can be assembled a day ahead, covered and refrigerated, then baked when you wish to serve it. Don’t add the last layer of bread crumbs and Parmesan, with the drizzle of olive oil, until right before you bake it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The other day I opened the fridge to get some salad makings out of the crisper drawer and Emmie, seeing her chance to get in some trouble, immediately crawled over to climb inside. When she saw the open drawer she started rummaging around in it like she knew what she was looking for. I threw some lettuce into bowls and turned around to check on her.



She was happy and quiet so I wasn't about to complain. She was also awfully cute so I grabbed the camera.

Next time I checked she looked at me with what could only be guilt on her face...and grapes in her mouth...



I just started feeding her grapes a couple of weeks ago and I have been OH SO CAREFUL to cut them into quarters so she doesn't choke on them, and here she is stuffing them into her mouth like they were CHOCOLATE or something. I googled "Heimlich Maneuver" and then let her go at it.



You like the off-the-shoulder look she's sporting? Yeah, it's classy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Does Starbucks sell these?

When we were in the mountains over Labor Day we visited a small tourist-trappy shop in Blowing Rock that had racks and racks of bumper stickers and they were FUNNY and some were DIRTY and actually had little pieces of cardboard in front of them with the words "adult content" printed on them so as not to sully the minds of the young people wandering the shop.

I took a picture of one that made me laugh out loud and got the stink-eye from the proprietress. I thought maybe she was thinking I was going to steal it or something so I said with a chuckle "I was just taking a picture."

"I know." Said she. "Please don't do that." What a frowny face she had! How offended she was!

Whoops. Who would have thought it was bad form to photograph a bumper sticker! I felt like a scolded child, but once we were back outside and I was over the embarrassment, I was all "I will SO be blogging this!"

And then I forgot about it until today. And I think that lady really could have used one of these.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jake the WonderDog

The bulldog, Jake, is an incomparable creature. He is loving, friendly, sweet, TOTALLY thinks he's a lapdog and is fiercely loyal...to my husband. I, on the other hand, can't do a thing with him.

One thing we've learned over the years about Jake - that there dog either has the highest pain threshold EVER, or he just doesn't feel pain at all. And it seems recently that he has been happily walking around with a fist-sized tumor in his mouth that we didn't discover until it became infected. Running to the door to go for walks? Check. Eating his dinner in 24 seconds flat? Check. Sleeping well? Begging for treats? Harassing the little dog next door every chance he gets? Check, check and BIG OL' CHECK.

This morning Emmie and I had to take him to the vet to have the tumor removed while Hubs took Thomas to school. I buckled Em into her carseat then went to get Jake. Regardless of the fact that 90% of his car rides are to the vet he luuuuuurrves going for a ride and ran hell-for-leather to the back of the car, attempted to jump in by himself then glanced back at me with this look that was all "lady? I'm nine years old here, can I get a boost?" I hefted him in, tied his leash to a bracket in the way-back of my CR-V since his first act in the car is ALWAYS to jump into the backseat, and since that spot was already occupied by mah fragile baybee, I wanted to make sure he'd stay put.

At the vet I opened the door to the way-back, grabbed Jake by his collar to keep him from jumping out while still tied up and thus hanging himself, then frantically started untying the leash because the silly dog had JUMPED OUT ANYWAY and was standing on his rear feet making a gaaah, gaaaah, gaaah sound. Fabulous. The vet can repair his esophagus right before they intubate him for surgery.

(Don't worry, no animals were harmed in the making of this story.)

I grabbed the stroller and buckled Emmie in, and Jake pulled us both into the vet's office. Have you EVER known a dog who fought to get INTO the vet?

The surgeon took a look at the tumor and said it is probably oral melanoma which does not bode well for our bulldog.

I hated leaving him there. It isn't until we got to the scales for a weigh-in that Jake remembered that he doesn't like the vet. He started to fight and pull away and gave me that pleading look that says "please please take me home, I'll be good! I promise!" I hugged and kissed him and Emmie and I ran out before I could cry.

Jake probably won't live much longer and I realize that both kids are really too young to have developed memories of him. They will never know what a fantastic dog he is and, even though I bitch and moan about him on a daily basis - his breath, his drooling, his stubborness - how much we love him. I'm glad I'll always have this photo:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

And then I got arrested

When Hubs discovered he had no clean underwear this morning (well, no clean DRY underwear - there was plenty in the washer!) I mentioned that it might be prudent, it's just a suggestion really, but doesn't he think it's time to buy some new underwear so he has more than FIVE DAMN PAIRS because how often does he REALLY expect me to do laundry??

That's how I found myself in Target this morning trying to pick out men's underwear for my husband. I never buy clothes for him unless he is there with me. I've tried in the past and, except for some really beautiful ties that I've chosen, he's returned EVERYTHING I've ever bought him. Or kept it in his closet until I forgot about it then donated it to Goodwill. *sigh* Underwear is, obviously, a very personal decision. Hubs had given me explicit instructions on what to purchase and I strode confidently into the store certain I would be in and out in 5 minutes.

I made my way back to the men's department and stood staring at row after row of briefs, boxers, brief boxers, bikinis (shudder) and some weird bicycle shorts/underwear hybrid that looked not only uncomfortable but also just a little bit nasty. I was flummoxed. There were regular boxers, jersey knit boxers with a tiny little button over the fly, briefs with two openings - one on *ahem* either side, I guess so a guy could mix it up during the day and keep things interesting in the men's room. The most disturbing - briefs with no fly at all.

I had no idea what to buy. My instructions, it seems, were worthless against the vast selection available. I had no choice. I pulled out my phone and started taking pictures of the packages and emailing them to Hubs for his advice. God, when you are writing about underwear every single phrase suddenly becomes a double entendre. I texted a few descriptive phrases for each one and waited for his reply while I cruised up and down, hoping against hope that the right kind would present itself.

My phone beeped indicating I had a message. It was from Hubs. "Are you really standing in the men's underwear section of Target taking pictures?? Don't you think someone might find that a little creepy?"

Oh. Shit. I hadn't even thought of that. I grabbed the first package I saw (see what I mean? That totally sounds dirty!) and ran for the checkout, hiding my face from the security cameras. If you see this on YouTube it isn't me. It's some other weirdo chick taking pictures of men's briefs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

AAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!

This is the sound I made when we woke up Saturday morning to clouds and wind, a portion of our fence laying on the ground and horrors! our cable draped across the backyard. No TV. Worse - no INTERNET. Gah! Tropical Storm Hanna had visited us in the middle of the night.

I immediately called TimeWarner and spoke to a woman who assured me that someone would be out on Sunday to fix our cable. We puttered around the house on Saturday picking up tree limbs and repairing the fence, then cleaned up so we could head downtown to finish celebrating my birthday week. I texted the babysitter to warn her about the cable and hey! She showed up anyway! Bless her.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and I relaxed in the warm glow of knowing that soon, very soon, I would be reconnected to the world. Time stretched on, 11:00...2:00...4:30...Hubs started getting antsy because his Chicago Bears were playing and come on, WHEN is the cable guy going to show up? Finally I called again to check on their progress only to be told by the computerized answer-lady that there were no reported outages in our area, please choose another option. How about the option where someone comes to FIX OUR DAMN CABLE BECAUSE WE DO-INDEEDY HAVE AN OUTAGE AT OUR HOUSE.

Please refer to the title of this post for the sound I made when I was told that it would be Tuesday before someone would be out to fix our cable. TimeWarner, are you listening? Even the Sunday paper said most cable customers had had their service restored already. Hello? We live RIGHT IN THE CENTER OF TOWN. LESS THAN A MILE FROM YOUR OFFICES.

Fortunately I was distracted on Monday by Thomas starting preschool. I know! I know! How many challenges can one person possibly face in a three-day period?? Considering the total breakdown I had on Sunday night, I was remarkably calm and organized on Monday morning. We actually got out of the house on time and arrived at school a little early, and except for the fresh roadkill just at the entrance of the building our trip was uneventful. Thomas seemed happy and excited that we were undertaking a new adventure, Emmie was just peeved that I had dragged her out of bed at O-Dark-Thirty.

We found his classroom and Emmie and I stayed for a bit to make sure Thomas was going to be ok. After about 30 minutes it occurred to me that he didn't even realize I was still there sooo, I left. That's right, I pulled up my big-girl pants and went shopping because retail therapy makes everything better.

When I returned to pick him up at lunchtime I found, instead of the little boy I had dropped off, this oh-so-grown-up child sitting at the table with all the other kids, looking as though this preschool thing were something he'd been doing for years.



When I walked in he gave me this look that was all "oh, hi Mom." Then he turned back to see what the rambunctious little boy across from him was up to. I was thrilled and relieved, then really bummed because I just don't think he missed me. Then I was thrilled and relieved that he didn't miss me. Too many emotions crammed into one tiny little moment of milestone passage.

My firstborn now attends preschool. And the cable is hooked back up. Life is good.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Breakthrough Perhaps?

Thomas's oral aversion started when he was first born. He was intubated for more than a week in the PICU, then had a tube stuck up his nose and down his throat for feedings. Add to that severe reflux and Sensory Processing Disorder, and the poor kid decided that anything in his mouth was bad. REALLY, REALLY bad. He had a g-tube placed at 8 weeks and we've been trying to convince him to eat ever since.

His first feeding therapist was a saint. Thomas was about 9 months old when we had our initial session and I walked in and announced that my son WOULD eat some of his first birthday cake. Bless her heart. She understood that we were going to be on Thomas time and that my goals and deadlines were essentially meaningless.

Those first few months it was a challenge just to get Thomas to tolerate having crumbs on his lips. He would toss his head to the side and throw his hand up in front of his mouth to prevent us from putting anything in there that he might have to chew and swallow. Over the years we've tried everything from applesauce to peanut butter to cheetos, and yes, before you ask, we've tried ice cream. Lord, if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me if we've tried ice cream. I know ice cream is the best, YOU know it, but Thomas doesn't agree. Unfortunately, since he doesn't speak yet we can't ask him to explain the reasoning behind his refusal.

Thomas has loosened up a bit and now will occasionally put something he knows to be food in his mouth. And he's very clever, this one. For someone who has never truly eaten anything, this kid can spot a food item from 20 yards. He'll stare balefully at it and giggle if we suggest he try it. Oh you silly grown-ups, he's thinking, why don't you just use your tubes to eat?

This weekend my mother made some of her famous and much-loved dill bread for me. I would eat a whole loaf smothered in butter in one sitting if people weren't watching me. As it is I usually try to limit myself to 3 or 4 pieces per meal. Large pieces.

We sat down at the table and the bread was placed in front of Thomas because it was the only available corner. Thomas checked it out, decided the loaf was relatively harmless and started pushing his finger into it to make little holes. Instead of letting him mangle the entire thing I sliced off a small piece and laid it on his tray and, to our collective shock and delight, he picked up that piece of bread and SHOVED IT INTO HIS MOUTH.

Seriously, I cannot overemphasize how unbelievable this is. The boy has been in therapy for 2 YEARS to convince him that food is ok. And look at this!






The look on his face was priceless. It was almost as though someone else's hand was holding the bread and OHMIGOD WHY AM I OPENING MY MOUTH?



How did this bread get IN MY MOUTH??



He's only repeated the performance once since then, but my mother has already promised him a bread maker for Christmas if he'll just try it again. I long ago came to terms with the fact that, if Thomas ever eats by mouth it will not be because I want him to, but because he is ready, and that's fine with me. But I have to say, I loved the experience of picking up the after-dinner mess and cleaning his hands and face.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Claude

The first thing we noticed when we arrived at the cabin this past weekend was Claude. Claude was a tiny little snake curled up on the gravel in the driveway. We were a little hesitant to approach him at first since we didn't know exactly what KIND of snake he was, but Hubs quickly decided he was non-poisonous and that meant I could mess with him.

I fear spiders. LOATHE them. But I love me some snakes.

That evening after our arrival, armed with my new camera, I went outside to find Claude and take his picture. I searched the driveway and the nearby woodpile but there was no trace of him. As I turned around to head back into the house I spied him sleeping on the first step of the porch. I woke him up to get a more interesting photo.



The next morning I stepped outside to check the weather and Claude was still hanging out on the steps. Seems we had a resident garter snake. Awesome!

I messed with him some more and got this shot:



Each time I checked on Claude (now officially named) he was a bit closer to the front door. By Saturday afternoon he had made it up the stairs and was sunning himself on the front porch. We took care to step around him so as not to disturb His Royal Slitherness.

Hubs joked that Claude was headed inside and we would find him in the kitchen making coffee if we stayed long enough. He didn't know I had already picked the snake up to bring him in but was deterred by Claude POOPING on me. Snake poop bears a striking resemblance to newborn infant poop, by the way.

By Sunday, sure enough, Claude had made it to the front door.



It took every ounce of willpower I had not to stick that snake in my purse and bring him home with me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Paparazzi

For my *gulp* 40th birthday, my sweet, sweet husband took me to the mountains for the weekend. We stayed in a cabin on the top of a hillside and played tourist, and because we were playing tourist he got me the Canon Rebel XSi and I managed to take over 400 photos. They are posted here.

Ok, seriously? I did take over 400 photos, but we were on vacation! And I deleted a bunch of them!

I cannot believe what priddy priddy pictures this camera takes. I'm going to have to buy a book to figure out how to use it properly but the automatic settings are so good that I sort of think Anselm Adams missed out on not being born during the digital age.

Look!











And here are the kids!






This blog is definitely in danger of turning into a photography blog with funny stories of my children interspersed. Hope you don't mind.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Phone photo(s) of the day

The kids and I are traveling. Again. This time we headed down I-95 into South Carolina and, if you have EVER traveled the I-95 corridor in either direction in Virginia, South Carolina or Georgia (or anywhere else on the Eastern Seaboard, for that matter) you have seen these:




They have proliferated like mosquitos after a hurricane up and down the interstate. They are a persistent and annoying reminder of how far you have to travel to get to what HAS to be the tackiest roadside attraction in the US.

South of the Border.



See the giant sombrero? It's an elevator! You can ride up into the hat and see miles and miles of...interstate. Woohooo!! PLUS there are go-carts! Miniature golf! Fireworks for sale! It's just AWFUL.

These billboards are placed every few miles until you get really close, and then they are just a couple of hundred yards apart. They mostly feature a stereotypical Mexican guy named Pedro and honestly, these things are so politically incorrect that they make my eyeballs hurt. The worst have Pedro snoozing under his sombrero saying "Pedro eez taking a siesta!" I'm not kidding - the words are spelled as though Pedro has a really strong Spanish accent.

As the story goes, the guy who built this monstrosity wanted to build it in North Carolina near his home, but the State wouldn't let him so he went to the middle of nowhere just on the other side of the state line and built it there - South of the Border. Get it? When I was in college there was a rumor that everytime a new billboard was created it was hung on the proprietor's bedroom wall so he could decide if he liked it or not. I would consider that fit punishment rather than careful deliberation.

I am about to admit something that embarrasses me terribly - I have always wanted to stop just to check out the eyesore for myself and that alone is indicative of how this guy has made so much money.

If anyone wants a bumper sticker let me know and I'll pick it up on my way back. That gives me a reasonable excuse to stop in and meet Pedro for myself!

Adios amigos! Back after Labor Day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

After I wrote this post a few weeks ago, I sat down and had a meeting with myself about my goals for Thomas, how to handle bureaucracy without pissing off the People Who Make The Decisions and what to do about the whole school mess. Then, I made some phone calls and sent an email to the PWMTD. Here is an excerpt:


Dear {PWMTD},

I want to follow up on our conversation yesterday with an email to summarize my concerns with Thomas's school placement.

My main concern about {preschool A} is that Thomas would be the only non-mobile child there. While there may be other kids attending the school that receive physical therapy, Thomas is unable to walk or crawl. Thomas is also unable to defend himself or move away if another child walks up to him and wants his toy, or pulls his hair, or tackles him like his little sister does.

I want him in an environment where he can see other children using equipment to assist mobility so he can learn from them. I don't want him to think of himself as an outsider because he can't walk yet. It also makes me profoundly sad to think of Thomas just sitting while all the other kids are playing.

I think Thomas needs to be in a situation with his peers, children who have difficulties that more closely resemble his own. I am willing to keep Thomas out of preschool until a spot at UCP opens up rather than send him to a school where I worry about his safety.


I'm happy to report that it worked. Thomas starts PRESCHOOL next week at the UCP Center. Oh Happy Day! Except for the Thomas-starting-preschool part. I'm not happy about that at all. I mean, he's just a baby! To me he's still the tiny thing that came home from the hospital weighing under 5 pounds.




I still want to cuddle him and kiss his little head and smoosh his face in my hands, and he still lets me, for the most part. Well, not the smoosh his face part but that's understandable.

I ask myself where the time has gone and then I slap myself upside the head and say Self, remember the last three years? The ones full of pediatrician visits and specialist appointments and hospital stays and surgeries and a bajillion hours of therapy? Remember the sleepless nights and the tube-feeding by syringe because you were NOT by God going to have your child hooked up to another machine? Then remember the feeling of relief when you got that feeding pump and you realized how much better it was for everybody?

Those were all in preparation for this. For Thomas being ready for School and Learning and the Next Step. And I'm really excited for him. So next Wednesday, September 3, I will drive Thomas to preschool and I will *deep breath* leave him there. For three and a half hours. Ok, truth? I'm not really leaving him there - for the first couple of days I will stay and make sure he's ok because C'MON PEOPLE! I can't just DRIVE OFF the first day and pretend like I didn't just abandon my firstborn and then go get a latte at Starbucks!




Oh, by the way, school actually starts THIS week but I forgot to consider that when making our plans to go to the mountains with friends for Labor Day and whoops! He's going to miss the first week of school! Heh. Three years old and already a truant.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Watch out Gene Simmons...

This is my daughter.



Letting you know just exactly HOW SHE FEELS.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Whomp

"Studies have shown". Heh. Don't you love that phrase? Whatever follows seems a little more boring because suddenly you sound like an NPR announcer. But seriously! Studies have shown! That dads tend to play more roughly with kids than moms do!

Last night post-bath and toothbrushing we had both kids on our bed to start winding them down for bedtime. Emmie considers exploring the bed the most fun of all. She climbs the headboard and checks out the distance she will fall when she actually takes that header off the side that I'm convinced will happen one day. She got too close to the edge at one point last night and Hubs grabbed her by the feet and pulled her back to him, sliding her face on the sheets. I gasped. She giggled and crawled away. He grabbed her and pulled her back. She giggled some more and crawled madly away from him. A new game was born.

One time, instead of crawling away she sat up on her knees and wavered a bit. Hubs gave her a little push on the back and she flopped forward on her face. I gasped again. "You pushed her!"

Emmie laughed out loud.

She sat up again, turned her head to the side and cut her eyes back at Daddy. Smiling. Waiting for him to push her again.

Whomp.

He pushed her and she fell forward on her face. Crawled away and sat up on her knees again.

Whomp.

Whomp.

Whomp.

So much for winding the kids down for the night. By the time I blew the whistle on the games and held the closing ceremony, Emerson's face was red from being dragged on the sheets and her hair was standing up from her forehead. She was breathless from excitement. Thomas was agape at the whole display.

Thomas is a very, VERY cautious child. Pushing him forward on his face, even on a soft mattress, would send him into a crying fit, so this new, physical play with Emmie freaks me out a little. But she LOVES it so I'm adjusting. And I'm glad that this household has someone willing to push the envelope a little so that Emmie remains convinced that she is as fearless as she seems.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Randomness

Following are a bunch of things that, by themselves, probably don't warrant a full post so I've just thrown them together here.

First, we have a (blurry) photo of the newest member of our household. I've tentatively named him Henry and, since he STILL won't eat, I'm trying not to get too attached. My stupid f&@$ing camera wouldn't focus on the fish so this is what I like to call an artist's representation:




Next up we have Emerson and Thomas, and she is CLEARLY as confused by his oral aversion as everyone else. She's all "Thomas, it's a GOLDFISH. It's GOOD. Just TRY IT." And he's all "No way let me see how small I can make my mouth so she doesn't have much of a target get that goldfish away from me I don't WANT it!" And then he yelled "MOM! She's TOUCHING ME!" Not really, but I totally know that's what he was thinking.




And finally, we have this:



They are called "DenTips", the tips are made of flavored foam and they are often used at hospitals to brush teeth. Thomas's feeding therapist uses them to desensitize his mouth and he brought some over yesterday. After the therapist left I sort of forgot that there was one laying around somewhere, until I found this...



...and realized that Emerson had bitten the tip off. I checked her mouth but didn't see any green stuff, so I resigned myself to the fact that she had, indeed, EATEN it. A few minutes later I offered Emmie some of my ice cream sammich (which I have developed a renewed luuuuurve for this summer) and as she opened wide to take a bite, the green foam fell out of her mouth onto the floor. Either she is learning to hide things in her mouth from me, or she stashed that thing somewhere so she could go back and chew on it some more. Either way, it shows WAY too much reasoning power in such a small creature.

Happy Friday everyone!