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.