Monday, June 30, 2008


I have finished two more books since the last time I posted (I think).

Assasin's Quest by Robin Hobb finished the Farseer Trilogy. It was good, as the first two were. Long. But good. No more Robin Hobb for a while--I have too many books on my shelf waiting to be read, and these are just too addictive.

Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews. It's a contemporary romance where the hero/heroine are TV chefs competing for a nationwide show on "The Cooking Channel". I love the concept. I think the characters sounded a little old for their purported ages. One 22-year-old secondary character was wearing reading glasses. Really? I'm sure some do, but she was 22, not 42...the 31 year old heroine also sounded a bit more like my mom than me in a lot of places (and I have kids! That should make me feel like a geezer next to a single-gal-about-town...). Also, I wasn't as happy with the point-of-views of the book. About half was the heroine. The other half was not the hero's. (well, one or two scenes were, but that was it) It was the hero's producer, the younger sister, and in one case, a shrimp boat captain that was only around for the one scene. I think I would have like to see his side of things more often.

I'm still in the middle of At Risk by Alison Kent. It's interesting so far. A bit much of the movie-star-perfect hero meets movie-star-perfect heroine, but interesting :)

What about you? Reading anything good?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Out with the Old

Yesterday our neibhorhood had garage sales. I debated up until the last minute about whether or not we'd participate. It's not that we don't have any old junk to sell. We do. Boy do we. I've only had one other garage sale, back when I was pregnant with Charlotte, and it was a lot of work and not a lot of money. I finally decided to just try.

We have an extra clothes dryer that we still haven't gotten rid of, and an assortent of clothes (all adult ones, though--outgrown kids clothes have many takers), and other odds 'n ends. If I had about a week (plus a dumpster and a dust mask), I could have stocked the garage top to bottom with stuff that I'm happy to part with. With less than 24 hours notice, we had 2 tables, the dryer and a few larger items.

I also got fancy and decided that garage sale shoppers get hungry and/or thirsty while they shop. I always do. So I had a cooler full of soda and bottled water, a tray of homemade cookies, and a bunch of my sticky buns (made with a cappucino-maple glaze this time...yummy).

Overall, it wasn't bad. It wasn't a huge moneymaker. I think we cleared about $25. We still have the dryer (there's an ad in the post dispatch starting Tuesday!). The weather was beautiful--mid 70's and breezy. Therefore, I sold very few sodas (like 2, first thing in the morning when folks wanted a caffeine hit). The cookies were popular (3/$1!), especially with the kids-with-spending-money demographic. I sold one sticky bun. Char, Trystan, and I polished off at least 3 more ourselves. If I did it again, I'd stick to sodas and cookies. At a minimum, I didn't lose money on anything, as we will drink and eat all leftovers. Eventually.

After lunch and a too-short nap, Trystan began puking. He continued, pretty much every 30 minutes all afternoon until almost bedtime. I still don't know what caused it--excess sinus drainage from a cold he's almost over, potential allergy to pecans that Char ended up sharing with him, some piece of dirt/leaf/bug/godknows that he found on the ground while playing in the garage and front yard, or just a stomach bug. The rest of us are fine (knock on wood), so there's just no telling. He seems fine today, but low on appetite.

While moving tables into the garage, I discovered that one of our folding tables is structurally challenged. I'm lucky that nothing on top of it broke when I tried to nudge it forward and the legs gave out. It was actually the one that I had been keeping both of my sewing machines on in our office. Yikes. I've been considering replacing it with a real desk. Today, I dragged my husband and the kids through a local furniture shop and think I know what I want.

It's silly, though, the one desk I like is the same one that a friend of mine recently bought. Not to be a copycat, but the desk would actually complement other furniture already in our house. Too bad it costs more than $25, though. Now I need the courage to actually spend money on it. And a plan to haul it home.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Real Food, Real TV

Do you watch The Next Food Network Star? I watched every episode last year, though I'm falling behind this year. By falling behind, I mean that I've watched just one episode so far, though the DVR is supposed to be keeping them for me. Of course, last year it started when I was on maternity leave and spent large blocks of time sitting on the couch nursing Trystan. This year, couch-sitting time is more expensive than gasoline.

I've never been much of a reality tv fan, though I love a good cooking show. My husband and I have been watching the Food Network for over 10 years, and remember seeing Mario Batali on a rotating kitchen stage (there was a different kitchen on the reverse side). I still miss Ready, Set, Cook where a chef + a mere mortal were given a mystery ingredient, stocked pantry, and 30 minutes to prepare a meal. I gathered many tips for getting dinner on the table in a hurry that way. I'm a huge fan of Alton Brown, and was hugely disappointed that I missed a book-signing gig of his here in St. Louis a while back.

I'm not sure about The Next Food Network Star, though. The whole setup kind of gives me the creeps, like the Food TV execs are having a good laugh at the contestants' expense. The show is full of crazy challenges that are neither realistic nor telling of anyone's ability to cook or perform. They stuff them into a tiny apartment with no privacy (bunk beds? I shudder at the thought), and then line them up, firing squad-style, so the so-called "judges" can complain about their supposed lack of cooking talent and grace under fire. I bet those judges get to sleep in their own homes every night. And the grand "prize" from this show is the chance to film 2 or 3 episodes of a oooking show that the network will air at such prized viewing times as 2pm on a Sunday afternoon.

I know that FoodTV didn't invent this game. There have been dozens of reality shows before this one that made the mold. Food TV just mixed their own jello for it. I only watched one full season of The Apprentice, too, before I lost interest.

The cooking challenges would be more amusing if the people completing them were less vulnerable. Why don't they pull together a dozen of their reigning "Stars" and run them through a season of challenges. I'd love to see what Alton Brown could do with squid and breakfast cereal (and minus his crew). How would Paula Dean and Sandra Lee fare if they had to share a bathroom? Come on, Food TV, line up your big guns and see how *they* handle that firing squad!

Ready, Set, Cook!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cute Weekend Photos

These were taken at the 1st birthday party for a friend's daughter over the weekend. Looking at these, Trystan actually pointed at Char's photo and said "hat", patting himself on the head :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dental work beware!

I've been experimenting with frozen dinner roll dough and overnight cinnamon/stick roll recipes lately. I get on strange kicks like that. I think it started with this post. I'm not much of a butterscotch fan, so I've been trying other options. This is what I made last Saturday night/Sunday morning. Note that the total active preparation time is just 10 minutes--there's lots of waiting, though (wait to thaw, wait to rise, wait to bake, wait to cool). They were really really really yummy, but the carmel topping was very very very sticky. Beware your fillings!

Caramel Pecan Sticky Rolls

8 Rhodes Texas frozen dinner rolls
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp butter
1 cup pecans--whole or halves

Sprinkle pecans evenly over the bottom of a bundt pan or rectangular baking pan. Distribute frozen rolls evenly over the pan (they will look very small as they have not fully risen yet).

In a small saucepan, heat brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla over medium heat until bubbling. Take the carmel syrup off the heat and stir in the butter until melted and evenly incorporated.

Pour the syrup over the rolls and pecans, coating the dough and pooling in the bottom of the pan. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, remove the pan from the fridge and place in a non-drafty location for an hour to rise.

Heat oven to 350. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Allow to cool in the pan at least 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. If you dump them out too soon, the syrup will run off the rolls and cool on your serving plate instead.
Also, you can eliminate the morning rise time by leaving the rolls out on the counter all night to thaw and rise, instead of using the fridge. Beware, though, if you are early to bed and late to rise, the rolls will be HUGE if you do this! Also, you can probably use smaller frozen dinner roll dough than the "Texas size." (that's just the package I grabbed from the store). The syrup will probably make enough for up to 12 of the larger ones, maybe more of the smaller rolls. Or, make fewer (I did just 6 this morning, which was almost more than the 4 of us could eat, and there was lots of extra carmel).

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pride goeth after a fall

I'm not 18 anymore. Shocker, I know. You'd think that by now, 13 years later, I would have come to grips with that fact.

I've been taking this great exercise class at my local Y called "Ballet Sculpt". It's basically a beginning ballet class. All those plie's and tondues are really good for your legs. I used to take dance classes when I was little, and was on the Pom Pom Squad in Jr. High and Color Guard in high school. I took a couple of dance classes in college, including ballet my freshman year, and I still own (and am now using) the shoes. So this exercise class was right up my alley. I think my body remembered some of the moves and postures quicker than it remembered how to ride a bicicylcle a couple of years back. Second nature. No problem. The class has a wide variety of people, and I've been one of the quicker students every week. Of the various deadly sins, I think pride and vanity are two of my biggest weaknesses.

So, Thursday night our class was progressing as usual, and the teacher had us trying a move called a tour jete. It's a jump I've done hundreds of times before. Here's a nifty example. It's that part where the guy jumps in the air and switches his feet. Mine aren't that impressive. There is definitely a jump, turn and foot switch, though.

So I was feeling all cool and able to do a series of them across the floor while most of the others in the class were taking things one step at a time and basically just turning in place and kicking one foot out and then the other, standing still. Pride and Vanity, I tell you.

Thursday after class one of my legs was a little more sore than the other. Friday I worked, so I spent most of the day sitting on my butt in front of a computer. By Friday night, I could barely walk without wincing. I was grumpy and sore, and had no desire to climb stairs or even so much as bend my left knee. I guess I landed wrong and did some thing bad to my knee.

I've never done that before. I had one ankle that used to bother me occasionally in high school, usually when playing tennis, probably for the same reason--sudden direction changes aren't great on joints. I am not good at sitting still, and this is driving me nuts. I can't just walk normally up and down the stairs. Squatting to talk to (or relocate) the kids hurts. Kneeling to bathe Trystan before bed was murder. I've been taking ibuprofin since last night, and after a series of pops this morning, I think it's improving. And it still hurts.

My ballet shoes are falling apart too. I guess after 13 years, they are entitled to have a few issues.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why I drive to work

As environmentally conscious as I'd like to be, there is a darned good reason why I drive myself to work every day instead of using public transportation. It would be silly for me to ride the bus.

I was playing around on Bistate's TripFinder to see what my options could be if I chose to not drive. I won't post my exact results (with bus #'s and times), in the interest of keeping my house and my specific job location to myself. Let's just say that I live and work on the north/west side of St. Louis County. But let me compare a few points:

Distance from my house to work via car, according to Yahoo Maps: 11.27 miles, 20 mins
Distance from my house to work via Metro (the best option listed): 11.98 miles, 1h 17 minutes

That's an HOUR difference in commute time. Yikes, for that kind of time I could move out to the middle of nowhere, buy a huge mansion with several acres of gardening space, and still save $ on my mortgage!

Just for fun, I also calculated how long it would take me to get downtown from here. Turns out, I'd be better off working for the Cards:

Distance from my house to Busch Stadium via Metro (the best option listed): 16.83 miles, 59 minutes travelling time

Note that my car gets around 25 mpg, which at $4/gallon comes to about $2 each way to work. Normal metrobus fares with transfers (without purchasing a monthly pass) is $2.25. With the $60 monthly pass, that's about $3.50 a day given my current work schedule. Sure, there's other wear and tear on my car, but my mileage and maintenance needs are low so far (my car's 5 years old, at about 40k miles, and has only needed routine maintenance + hail damage repairs).

This trip doesn't take the kids into consiseration at all--I would probably double my travel time to get them to or from daycare (assuming I could arrive or depart while daycares' even open!).

If I were actually looking to get rid of my commute, there are people I could attempt to carpool with (including my husband). But that makes it impossible to pick up a sick kid from school, or to allow for any flexibility in my workday.

So, for now I drive.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Deep thoughts

I need to watch the news more. Strike that. I need to watch the news. Period. Since Charlotte was old enough to begin requesting tv, we've limitied how much tv is on in the house while she's awake. Since her bedtime and mine are distressingly close together, that means I see no tv. I hear news blips in the car during my morning commute, but they tend to be fast, sparse, and overpowered by traffic noise (I prefer leaving the air conditioning off and the windows down).

Did you know that there is some major flooding happening around St. Louis? I heard a tidbit about the Iowa floods over the weekend, and I suppose I knew it would affect us here. But days get away from me. So, for the record, the Mississippi is flooding. There is water partway up the stairs to the arch. Levees are breaking all over the place. Panic ensues. (not really, but if you feel like panicking, call me. I'll bring a camera).

Did I mention that we live at the top of a hill in a part of town that's on high ground? And I don't cross any rivers during my normal weekly routine? Shallow excuses, I know. (oh how punny I am today).

My husband forwarded the following blog that has some nice photos of downtown (including the high water, and flood wall construction). I think I'm adding it to my blogroll, as it might remind me that there's a world outside my own little corner.

Feeling a Little Green

For the record, I am not Irish. In the tradition of the American Melting Pot, I claim a little of many things: lots of German, some Russian, a Welsh name, a touch of Asian (Chinese maybe? my great-grandmother was an orphan, so no one knows for sure), and a descendant who arrived on the Mayflower. My kids can wear their bonnie green and say "Top of the Morning" every St. Patricks Day--they inherited a great deal of Irish from their father. I just celebrate that day as my "birthday eve".

I'm lucky, though. Always have been. I don't win anything big. Just lots and lots of little things. I've been struck by lightening. Indirectly, as I was indoors with my foot on a floor register at the time--that strike took out our air conditioner. It was still under warranty, so it was replaced for free by the manufacturer. I did win the lottery once--$7 for choosing like 3 of the 6 correct numbers. I play maybe once or twice a year. Recently my luck has been in books. I've won two paperbacks from author's blogs--Nerds Like it Hot by Vicki Lewis Thompson from Robin Bielman's blog, and At Risk by Alison Kent, signed from the author herself. Last night, I got a call from the St. Louis County Library. I won a movie gift certificate in a drawing from their spring Adult Reading Club. The librarian was almost as tickled as I was that I won something. All this winning is great--I'm getting free stuff for doing what I like to do anyway--read books.

If only I could somehow channel that lightening into a lottery ticket or one of HGTV's Dream Homes... For now, I get to browse movie showtimes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

I need a weekend. I know we just had one. Someone really should adjust the calendar to double up on those occaisionally.

Starting a little over a week ago, we've been busy non-stop. Saturday was a wedding. Sunday was church followed by a birthday lunch for my brother-in-law. Eating in restaruants was relaxing before kids. Monday after work we attended a birthday pool party, in the drizzle. Despite chilly temperatures, Char was hard to extract from the pool, except for the piƱata. Trystan loved that thing too, and wanted nothing more than to stand independently in a group of 3-7 year olds and take his turn swinging the bat. Tuesday my husband had wallyball. Wednesday he had a night of gaming with friends.

Thursday I was "off", which meant making breakfast, taking the kids to the park (Char's little bike is still in my trunk), then to the library for story time, then home just in time for our Parents as Teachers lady to come see the kids, then lunch. I think they both napped for a while after that, and I mopped the floor and did a thousand other things instead of relaxing. My husband came home around 4:30, and I grabbed my laptop and ballet shoes and ran for the Starbucks. After an hour of writing time, I went to the Y for my "ballet sculpt" exercise class, then home for dinner and bedtime.

Friday I worked. Our daycare had a Father's Day "root beer social" so my husband went to that and stuffed himself and the kids full of hotdogs and chips. Unaware, I went to the grocery store after work and picked up dinner fixings, which I didn't make that night. After Trystan was asleep, I went to Borders (yes, the one with the flowery tote bags) with a couple of friends for a little more writing time. I didn't manage to buy any books (unusual for me).

Saturday morning we blessedly had nothing planned (swim lessons are now handled through daycare). I spent a couple of hours in the garden removing a veritable rain forest of weeds from beneath my rose bushes (I overflowed the compost bin, so we actually have a whole big bag of lawn waste to set out this week). Then my husband and I traded places, and I made the kids lunch and did some laundry while he mowed the lawn. Saturday afternoon we spent at my sister-in-law's house, celebrating my niece and nephew's first birthday (Happy Birthday You Two!). Baby pool, sprinkler, sand box (Trystan only ate a few handfuls before we stopped him), hamburgers, cake & ice cream, crash time.

Sunday, the schedule was up to my husband. Trystan arose bright and early, and I whisked him downstairs quicker than I normally do. Char slept till almost 9 (she had no nap the day before), so her daddy got to sleep in a bit. We got ready for church, and, surprisingly, arrived a few minutes early. After church, we had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen (Trystan slept the whole time on my husband's shoulder), then saw Kung Fu Panda in the theater. Back home, Char napped, Trystan played, I made the dinner I'd bought on Friday (Grilled Teriyake Steak Kebabs....yes, women can grill, even on Father's Day). Char got a little play time with her friend Gavin before bed.

Tonight: we have no plans. Maybe we'll get a step closer to finishing the trimwork project we started on Memorial Day weekend. Maybe I will get some laundry done. Maybe I"ll just sleep. Wait, Charlotte's bedtime is almost as late as mine these days. I need a weekend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I've been pondering bookstores lately. They're some of my favorite places on earth. Ever since I first saw Disney's Beauty and the Beast, I've been dreaming of owning a house with a library. A huge, honkin library with so many books you need a ladder and your own card catalog, and, possibly, a map to find your way back out should you ever feel like leaving. I haven't yet achieved that dream, though once the kiddos outgrow many of their baby toys, our basement full of tall bookshelves becomes fair game...

Back to bookstores. I do a lot of my book shopping online, but there is just no substitute for browsing shelves and shelves full of books, touching them, thumbing through them, tasting the paper dust in the air. If I know what I want, Amazon is great. If I want to look for something different, I need brick and mortar (or at least steel reinforced concrete and stucco).

I've been shopping a lot at Borders, for two main reasons: 1) It's the closest larger bookstore to our house and 2) my family has discovered my love of books and sparse gift wish-lists and keep buying me Borders gift cards (an excellent choice, should any of you feel the spirit move you...). But then, when we were in Indy for the wedding a couple of weeks ago, I went into a Barnes & Noble. Not just any B&N, but the one that I used to shop at in high school.

It isn't the rose-colored reminiscing that excited me that day. I am a much more savvy bookstore shopper these days, having acquired more buying power and a taste for fancy coffee (did I mention there was a Starbucks inside? And they were passing out free samples of a raspberry creme mocha...). Boy was that shop nice. The shelves were taller, the store was bigger, and the bargain books (my favorite department for random impulse purchases) involved several whole aisles. Compared to my local Borders where the front of the store is cluttered with non-book junk (flowered pens and expensive girly totebags? Seriously? And to think they're having financial trouble...), the place was like heaven. Add a shower and I could move in. The only downside is that they charge for membership into their discount program.

I still have some money left on a giftcard, and points on my Borders rewards card. But as soon as that's gone, I think I'm switching chains. Even paying $25 a year for discounts, I think the deal is sweeter at B&N--it gets you like 40% of bestselling hardcoveres alwatys, and like 10 or 20% off all other hardcovers every day. Just with that I could probably recoup my the required investment in just a few books, and not be impatiently waiting on Borders to email me a coupon (that I have to remember to print and bring with me). Did I mention that I'm kind of stingy? (or is it frugal? I know it's wierd to be hung up on bargain hunting when buying luxuries like hardback books, but I have never pretended to make sense to anyone else...)

Now, if only B&N would be so kind as to open a location near me, maybe around Bridgeton?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The difference between boys and girls

I am happy that our wedding-planning days are far behind us. I always thought I would like planning a wedding. I liked attending them after all. Planning it was a nightmare. Unfortunately, I think part of the horror was all of the so-called "help" I received. Most of it consisted of a list of "must-do's" that I didn't particularly agree with and that entailed hours of extra work on my part. I also expected that my husband (then fiance) would help more, and have more of an opinion. His most frequent response was "I haven't had time to think about it". I gather that many, many women have had the same problem--the guys just have never thought about planning a wedding and when they're forced to, they freeze like deer in the headlights of a stretch SUV.

We went to another wedding on Saturday, this time here in town with the kids in tow. It was a very family-friendly affair. The ceremony was at 10:30 in the morning, with a lunch reception starting at 1. There were lots of kids at the wedding, many ages 7ish and under, so my kids were in good company.

This was not Char's first wedding ceremony, and when getting dressed that morning, she asked to wear a white dress. She was unhappy with the 4 I produced from her closet, and then insisted that she needed a hat, like "the picture". Aha! She wanted a wedding gown and veil, like in our wedding photo from the family room. Sorry, kid, fresh out of veils. We'll discuss that again at first communion. We talked her into a lavendar dress instead.

Our kids are fairly well behaved in church, and Charlotte was looking forward to the party afterwards. She was fascinated with the whole scene, from the bride who dressed like a princess, to the cake, to the gift table. While the couple was dancing, the floor was surrounded by young girls watching enraptured as the day's Cinderella and Prince Charming floated by. The boys hovered also, squirming impatiently as they eyed the long stretch of romping room and weighed how much trouble they'd be in if they ran and slid on their bellies through the bride's skirts.

Trystan was enamored of the cake--during one of his pre-lunch strolls around the hall, he stopped, pointed and said "Needit!". He is too young to really compare to the older boys, although his favorite parts of the afternoon, besides shoving chocolate cake up his nose and down his shirt, was racing on all 4's underneath the nearest long-skirted table. I think he took the chairs to be tunnels, and the assortment of handbags to be the prize granted if he made it under before I caught him. It must be testosterone that makes boy children turn every activity into a physical contest.

Charlotte has been talking about weddings nonstop all weekend. I think she is finally convinced that she is not old enough yet, though she has assured me that she will turn 24 on her next birthday (August 24). She is currently debating her choice of groom. I have had to explain about Trystan's ineligibility. And Daddy's. The current contenders for her hand are two of the daycare boys, though she knows that she can only marry "one at a time". Surprisingly, her good friend and playmate Gavin has not made the cut, despite my suggestions that she plan to marry her best friend.

There was no garter toss this time, but you know that one of those 7-year-olds would have flown like MJ in order to win the prize, too young to suspect that the 3- and 4-year old girls already had their names and tux sizes filed away for later. I think that it would be in my best interest, as mother of the potential bride, to expound the virtues of all-inclusive-weddings-on-the-beach. And the sooner, the better.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Eating Lunch Out

I did get drugs. Amoxycillin, actually. Unfortunately, they don't give the bubblegum flavored kind to adults. I have pills.

My appointment on Friday wasn't until late afternoon, and I left work around 10. Sudofed makes me loopy, and pressure imbalances just make me irritable, so I planned to just go home and sit on the couch until time for the dr appointment. About 20 minutes into The Santa Claus 3 (there wasn't much on), I had a revelation. If I was going to sit around and watch movies all afternoon, I may as well do it in a movie theater. After all, there wasn't any food in the house for lunch so I was planning to go out and buy something. Why not popcorn?

I convalesced to Indiana Jones, with a large popcorn and a fruit punch (fiber + vitamin C...that's healthy, right?). Because the movie started before noon, the ticket was only $4, and as a bonus I had a Moviewatcher coupon good for a free popcorn & drink. In total it cost me way less than the sandwich I'd been planning to buy from our nasty building cafeteria. There were maybe 4 other people in the whole theater, so I snagged a seat square in the middle (no kids = no aisle necessary), where I could prop my feet up on the chair in front of me. The sound was more than loud enough for me to hear with my good ear.

By Saturday, my ear wasn't quite as painful, though it was ringing on and off all weekend (I'd blame that on the movie, except that it's only the one ear). It still feels funny, but no more fireballs.

Some days I wish I weren't so squemish about playing hookie. I was truly sick on Friday, but if I didn't always feel so darned guilty, then I might get to see a lot more movies.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Give me drugs

I thought LATCH systems were supposed to make carseats easier to install, not harder. Or maybe they make them safer. Or easier to install safely. In any case, the little metal anchors in my car are a pain in the neck. I would say "pain in the ass", as I'm not averse to such language, but my ass is about the only part that doesn't feel pain while I"m installing the dumb things. No, it's busy mooning anyone looking through the front windshield, and bumping random articles out of the driver seat-back pocket.

The stupid little metal anchors in between my seats are buried like six feet below the car, and my lovely high-quality leather seats don't budge to allow my fingers through, let alone fingers in wedding rings bearing a large metal clasp. I'm surprised I haven't lost a finger or at least my engagement ring diamond in there yet.

In order to properly attach a carseat to the car, it is supposed to be tied down so tightly that it almost doesn't move. The only way I've found to do this is to sit my knee on the seat and basically sit on it, tugging on the strap with all of my might to tighten. It doesn't help that Trystan's car seat buckle is on the passenger side of my car, where I have to either back the car out of the garage (and really moon the world while I roast in the sun, sweating through my shirt as I bitch about my discomfort to no one in particular), or I have to climb over Charlotte's seat. Lumpy plastic and I do not get along at such times. I bruise too easily to be bumping shins, knees and elbows on things. I need a bigger garage. Or body armor. That wouldn't help with the heat thing.

At least this morning, Char's seat was not in place. Hers spent the night in the house pending a cover wash, as she had an accident in it last night. No, honey, I cannot let you out of the car at the stoplight on Page at Schuetz to pee. Of course, this meant that I had to install her seat after Trystan's. Actually, hers was the only one out last night. Trystan has been alternating between rear-facing in my car and forward-facing in my husbands for about two weeks now. I suppose that's fair, as he alternately weighs 20.0 pounds and 19.4 pounds so he's really only heavy enough to face forward about half of the time.

I woke up this morning with one ear shooting flaming fire balls. Well, that is what I thought until I looked in the mirror. They must be invisible flaming fire balls. I had gone to sleep with a sore throat and sinus congestion that felt suspiciously like an infection. I think my sinuses are trying to implicate my ear to clear their name. After ibuprofin and sudafed, the pain has dulled to a dim sort of fog, and a pressure imbalance that feels like cracking a single window on the highway, and sounds like I'm riding an airplane over one of the engines. I'm sure this has nothing to do with my resentment towards carseats, however.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Reading List Update

Nerds Like it Hot by Vicki Lewis Thompson. This was a freebie from a drawing on Robin Bielman's website. It was amusing in concept. The writing was ok. I don't think I'll be specifically seeking out any more of her books (or at least not in this series), but wouldn't probably turn down a freebie again.

Remember When by Judith McNaught. This was another contemporary romance, though a somewhat outdated contemporary romance (published mid '90's...I must be old as I keep forgetting that it is like 10-15 years old now!). I think I read it back when it was newer, and I was in college. I pulled this one from a pile of my mom's books, and might suspect that it was actually my old copy, but the cover was in too nice of shape. It was still enjoyable the second time around.

A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffett. If you like a sort of meandering adventure tale set in the tropics, then go ahead. I had trouble connecting with the characters and kept wondering why I should care about what was happening. Complete lack of conflict. I hurried through the last 1/3 of the book just so I could set it aside and feel like it was finished (I really hate leaving books unread. It gnaws at me).

I'm finally starting Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb. I loved loved loved the first two books in the series, but put off this one for a rather silly reason. It's long (like 900 pages), and I was filling out a "book club contest" thing for the St. Louis County Library--if you read 10 books between March and May you would be entered in a drawing. Actually, it was 10 books or 50 hours, and I'm sure I read way more than 50 hours during those months, but I started marking books first and didn't want to go back and cross everything out. Don't know if I won anything yet, but it amused me to keep track of things.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Little Mermaid

Charlotte starts swimming lessons through her daycare today. She's quite the fish, and we've been taking her for lessons at the Y on and off since she was about 7 months old. Lately she swims very very well for hours unassisted with a bubble belt, and can travel about 5 feet underwater without one. Her daycare shuttles the kids (ages 3 and up) who sign up to a neighborhood pool nearby, up to three days a week. Last year, although she could probably out-swim several of the older kids, she wasn't old enough.

I'm scared, excited, and nervous. It's scary packing a 3-year old off to a pool without me. At the Y she has to have a parent in the pool area during all lessons, and in arms reach whenever she's just playing in the water. I know that there is some student-teacher ratio at work with the daycare lessons that's not 1-1. Deep breaths and the knowledge that they've been offering this service for years (presumably) without a casualty is helping. Some.

I'm excited because swimming lessons at the Y has become an all-day, whole-family ordeal. With two day jobs, our only options for lesson times are Saturday mornings, when every other 2-career family on this side of town is also at the Y swimming, and there are not enough family changing rooms for 1/4 of the folks who try to cram in there. The chaos generally results in frayed tempers, cranky parents, and recently, a lost bathing suit. With the daycare option, we are cutting out that mess, and actually getting Char in the pool more often, and for less money than the same number of lessons would be through the Y.

I'm nervous about how Char will handle herself, changing her clothes after class (we send her to school in her suit on swimming days, but she'll have to get dressed afterwards), with her goggles (that she insists on wearing but needs help with), and her hair and skin. Blonde hair, for those of you without it, has a nasty habit of turning green with prolonged exposure to chlorine. I finally found Ultra Swim shampoo on, which ought to help. I've broached the subject of cutting Char's hair short for the summer, but she is adamant that she likes it as is. She hates to comb her hair, though, and that worries me too. I did pack a labeled comb in her pool bag today, but I don't know that she'll allow any of her teachers near enough to use it (or if they'll even try). My husband coated her in sunscreen before she left the house today, and they have another bottle at school for recess. I hope they use that as well.

Of course, today, the first day of swim lessons, Charlotte headed to school among light showers and a tornado watch. I'm afraid she will be disappointed. But, she has the rest of the summer to make up for it.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Good Weekend

We had a wonderful weekend. Wonderful. Amazing, really. My husband and I had two nights in a row of dinner with friends with NO KIDS! I love my kids dearly. Really and truly. But I can count on one hand the number of nights we've had out without them since Trystan was born. And I think we just doubled that number (still counting on one hand).

One of our good friends from college and our church got married this weekend, and he and his wife were kind enough to schedule their wedding a mere 20-minute drive from my hometown. Actually, the drive would probably be shorter if I didn't keep taking the "scenic route" so I could drive through a part of Indy that I haven't visited in a while. I'm certain that they planned the entire weekend around my personal needs, and invited a large number of our friends from both college and our church to attend. In the process, they gave my mother an excuse to have both of my kids to herself (well, to herself and my two youngest sisters) for large stretches of time. I am certain that it was merely coincidence that the ceremony was celebrated in the bride's home parish, and concelebrated by her uncle, the parish priest.

Friday, mom had the kids from 6 until we arrived home at around 9:30 (to find Trystan sleeping peacefully, and Charlotte just waiting for a goodnight kiss). Saturday I dropped my husband at the church at noon, then ate lunch with my mom & sisters at Don Pablos, a mexican chain restaurant that I've missed. Mom took the kids to the Children's Museum, and I dashed through the church to the bathroom to change into my dress before sitting in the congregation. I caught a few funny looks as I hurried through in jeans and a t-shirt, though no more than I had the day before at the rehearsal when I was in grubby sweats and everyone else wore khakis and sundresses. We drove into town and straight to the church, late. I did change at my mom's before dinner.

The mass was awesome. It was touching, beautiful, funny, and a completely original Father Gary mass. I have seen several of his canned wedding ceremony homilys and I think he left all of those in St. Louis for the weekend. He actually made the bride and groom wash each other's feet--it tied into their readings (which were not the typical "My love is a gazelle" and "Love is Patient" choices). The groom had interned at the CSC, and asked Gary to drive to Indy to perform the wedding, so I knew it would be different. More. The best part for me, aside from getting to witness the sacrament, was that I could listen and experience the entire mass. I had thoughts and emotions to myself, and none of them included worrying about little people getting into trouble, needing to be held, needing a potty break, getting their toes smashed by the kneeler, or any of the other things I worry about through every church service at home.

My husband sang and played the guitar during the ceremony--he has always been a regular at the choir, until the past year or so when I've requested (demanded) assistance with the kids at church. He positively glowed throughout the rehearsals and the ceremony, and I know he needs time to get back to that. We shall have to find some sort of compromise whereby I get to actually hear and participate in a church service, and he gets to sing. Maybe we alternate weeks or start taking turns going to mass or something. I digress.

No trip out of town is complete without shopping at a local Walmart, and we went there directly after the ceremony. I had brought a brand new pair of sandals to wear, forgetting that brand new shoes have a way of chafing the first day you wear them. The tops of my feet were practically bleeding from the straps by the time I snipped the tags off of the clear plastic (with rhinestones, LOL) $5 flip-flops I bougth at Wally World. The flip flops were much kinder the rest of the evening (though they were a little slippery for dancing).

I drank far too much wine at the rehearsal dinner Friday night--a glass and a half. That extra half really put me over the edge, I think. 4+ years of nearly constant pregnancy/nursing really does a number on your alcohol tolerance, you know? It had a bad enough headache the next day that I only finished a half glass of wine at the wedding reception before I had to take a couple of advil. On the upside, with my head clear of alcohol, I was able to spend quite a while on the dancefloor without being over heated, overly sweaty, or overly tired. We danced so hard my husband was dripping with sweat, and actually split the seam in his suit pants. Seriously--from zipper nearly up to the waistline in the back. To be fair, the suit belonged to his late grandfather (his namesake, to whom my hubby bears a striking resemblance) , and that seam is likely to be as old as my husband. It was amusing. It's reparable. And my husband kept on dancing anyway.

Sunday morning, I was reminded, again, just how much I love my mother. Our kids were up, as usual, by 7am and were snuggled in our bed (a full size, which is a squeeze when we're used to a king size bed--they did sleep in other beds over night at least). Once Trystan was done nursing and Char was wanting to play, my mom poked her head into the guest room and offered to take kids downstairs and feed them breakfast so we could sleep in a little longer. Heaven!

Our house looks like a tornado hit it. Our fridge is bare. Our wallets empty. It's going to be a long week of catching up at home. But boy, was that a great weekend. It was also a great reminder of things we need to work on: balancing family and church so that everyone is able to participate and enjoy it, and balancing family vs couple time. We rarely hire babysitters because they're expensive and I always feel so pressured because we're "on the clock", making it hard to relax. But we need time together without the kids, preferably more often than once every six months. And, we need to find a new housekeeper, but that's a different (and far less interesting) story.