Monday, February 28, 2011

Dancing with Myself

This weekend I went on a hot date.

By myself.

And It. Was. Awesome!

After his week in LA the hubbs had another busy week (much of the busy had to do with a man named Jimmer and a whole situation that involved the hubbs getting tickets to the game by doing hours of work which pretty much ended up earning him pennies an hour) so I had to put Claire down almost every night and then spend my evenings putzing around by myself (before you start feeling sorry for me I should tell you that the 1 night he was home he helped put her to bed, did the dishes, cleaned up all her toys and started our taxes). The hubb's brother was also here for the last part of the week and was involved in the whole Jimmer scheme. Come Saturday afternoon after a stunning victory for the cougs I decided it was time for me to do something I wanted to do (This is both unflattering and true and thoughts like, "who's thinking about me and what I want?" may have gone through my head).

So I took myself out to a movie. The hubbs told me that if I wanted, we could get a sitter and he would come. To which I responded, "that's sweet, but no thank you." I love the hubbs and I love spending time with him but dates where you have to spend money aren't really his strong suit. He sees every penny that we spend on entertainment as a penny that isn't going into our retirement (which is mostly great because we won't be eating dog food when we retire but can also be a little annoying when you need entertaining). If you can talk him into going to the movies (which has happened exactly once in the last year), if you look longingly over at the treat counter he'll get a sad look on his face and say through gritted teeth, "Do you want anything?" Which makes you not really want anything even though the Jr. Mints had been looking good.

That was not the kind of date I needed. I was looking for treats and popcorn and enjoying a little Colin Firth. Have you ever been to the movies by yourself? It's awesome. You can eat almost a whole package of Cadbury Mini Eggs and 1/2 a bag of popcorn and no one even knows.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Homemade Thin Mints

Yes. You read that right. Home. Made. Thin. Mints. Ah. Those girl scouts, with their beady eyes and their smug looks, "oh, you're gonna buy our cookies at $4.00 per tiny box."

Not any more. Emily, from cupcakes and cashmere (I kind of hate her for her long lean body and the way she bakes treats) made this recipe the other day. I'm taking a frozen meal to a family one complex over who just had a new baby last week and I was looking for a dessert (which could hopefully be frozen) and thought I would try these out.

Our 2 year-old friend came over yesterday and she helped us dip them in chocolate. We used dark chocolate (which, because the cookies aren't sweet makes for some pretty bitter cookies) and the butter in the coating in the original recipe has a really strong flavor so I'd use a milder oil. We ran out of chocolate about 1/2 way through (which was only partially due to the fact that my helper was a 2-year old). For the other half we made mint frosting and drizzled them with the chocolate coating (AMAZINGLY YUMMY. Maybe even better than a thin mint). All that said, I'm posting the recipe with the changes I would make if I were going to make them again (which I might).

Homemade Thin Mints

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup milk (any kind)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5tsp peppermint extract

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. With the mixer on low speed, add in the milk and the extracts. Mixture will look curdled. Gradually, add in the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Shape dough into two logs, about 1 1/2 inches (or about 4 cm) in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1-2 hours, until dough is very firm. Preheat oven to 375F. Slice dough into rounds not more than 1/4 inch thick – if they are too thick, they will not be as crisp – and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cookies will not spread so you can put them quite close together. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until cookies are firm at the edges. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before dipping in chocolate.

Chocolate Coating
20-oz semisweet chocolate
1 cup vegetable oil

In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and oil. Melt on high power in the microwave, stirring every 45-60 seconds, until chocolate is smooth. Chocolate should have a consistency somewhere between chocolate syrup and fudge for a thin coating. Dip each cookie in melted chocolate, turn with a fork to coat, then transfer to a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to set up for at least 30 minutes, or until chocolate is cool and firm. Reheat chocolate as needed to keep it smooth and easy to dip into.

Makes 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.

**On an unrelated side-note. My brother-in-law is visiting and in our teeny apartment with only 2 bedrooms that means Claire loses hers. She is now sleeping in the spare bathroom. Yes, bathroom. We have this weird second bathroom attached to our bedroom vanity and that's where C is sleeping. I swear I can feel that parent of the year award getting closer and closer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

For Love of American Lit

On Sunday one of our friends, in paying a compliment to his wife, quoted Mark Twain. He introduced The Diary of Adam and Eve (I have not read any of the set but I am adding them to the list), set up the whole funeral scene and then quoted Adam having eulogized*, "wheresoever she was, there was Eden." He then said that was true of his relationship with his wife and young daughter....

"wheresoever {they are}, there {is} Eden."

The hubbs isn't someone who 1)would think to say something like that or 2)would look to American literature to find it, but for just a minute let's pretend that he (or your SO who might be the same kind of fellow that mine is) did say that. Swoon.

So, I guess I'll have to be the one to say it to my dear family..."wheresoever you are, there is my Eden."

Us taking our own picture at La Jolla Cove (it was impossible to get the Sea Lions in the background but we sure did try)

*I hope I'm not the only one who things of Zoolander whenever I hear or say the word eulogy (or any of it's derivatives). Best. Movie. Ever.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Parent of the Year Award (part II)

If Claire comes to your house and you're thinking, "my...what kind of delicious snack should I give her? She would love a piece of toast with peanut butter (Don't worry. I thought that yesterday--she's is only 6 weeks shy of her first birthday and our pediatrician is all about trying things out)." I would recommend that you do not try it (as we did yesterday) because her eyes will swell up and you will have to make frantic phone calls to all of the nurses you know and watch her all night long (checking on her in the middle of the night) to make sure that she is still breathing.

Don't worry. She's fine. And we've been assured that children often grow out of this type of reaction.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Man's Hands

A few weeks ago my good friend Marcey (if you're looking for a blog all about an amazing girl who is going to design school in London you should read hers) sent me this article from the New York Times wanting to know what I thought about it. It's an article all about waiting until you're married to have sex. The article has certainly made it's way around the block (get it? That was a joke) and I've seen lots of people respond to it (including one of my favorite ladies here).

The author of the Times article is a Latter-day Saint (aka Mormon) poet, Nicole, who has decided that she is no longer going to wait until marriage to have sex. That's a really big deal for LDS people--no hanky panky before marriage. As someone who is LDS and didn't get married until she was 29 I spent several long years in that grown-up virgin world with many of those same feelings and fears. I remember when the movie 40-year Old Virgin came out understanding why other people would think it was funny but it hit WAY too close to home to be funny to me.

Nicole ends her article by saying, "I would have an IUD instead of children; I would have intellectual and spiritual freedom; I would write poems and finally live inside my body; I would, for the love of God, feel a man’s hands on me before I died."

There is something missing in her logic but I know that I had some of those same feelings when I was single. As someone who is now in a sexual relationship after years of adult virginity I can say that the author is giving sex more power than it really has. If you're thinking that having sex will give you intellectual and spiritual freedom and allow you to live inside your body you have unrealistic expectations. I have been married for more than 2.5 years, I have a baby who is almost 11 months old and I am still trying to live inside my own body. The intimacy and acceptance that the author yearns for in the article don't walk into the room when your virginity walks out.

When you're not having sex it's easy to think that sex is the ultimate panacea. People who are having sex have a slightly different perspective. This week I read this thread which was started by another friend of mine. She asked a a forum of post-baby ladies this question,

how do you feel about sex?

it's awesome, the best thing EVER!
it's great sometimes and FAIL sometimes
i could be a happy nun, no lie
i'm a virgin and faked my pregnancy

The responses of the people on the forum were funny and interesting. The majority of them said that sex was "great sometimes and FAIL sometimes." There were also a whole slew of responses that can be summed up by this, "been there done that..over it."

I'm not going to try to say that sex isn't great. It is great. It is a great expression of love that I get to share with someone I love and it's pretty dang fun. There is a place for it in my own struggles with body, intimacy and belonging but it is only a piece. What I would have had to trade-in to lose my virginity at a more "normal" age (a whole slew of religious beliefs about potential and family) is a larger and more beautiful part of the whole puzzle than the piece that is "a man's hands on me before I die."

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Consumer

I have a friend who has committed for a whole year not to buy anything new (you should check out her blog here). I love the idea. I would love to tell you that I'm embarking on a similar journey but the truth is that I am a consumer.

I've had a Nordstrom's gift card burning a hole in my pocket for way too long (like pre-baby too long). So after a long day with no dad around Claire and I headed out to Nordies to put it to good use. I've been feeling tired of my make-up routine (I promise that lots of the time I think about things that are less petty than makeup). I have some MAC products that have been my go-to colors for more than 2 years. They're shimmery and purplely and they look nice but I am SICK OF THEM. So C and I headed to the makeup counter to ask about a new day-time look. The darling MAC girl who helped me had inch-long eyeliner wings, bright orange lipstick and a sparkly head elastic worn Nicole Richi style so it was sort of hard to take day-time advice from her but I came home with 3 new colors (an ivory and 2 light browns all matte), a new liner color (black for the first time in a long time) and a whole slew of application tips. The darling girl did one eye and then let me do the other one under her tutelage.

I'm a huge MAC fan but sometimes they are a little price prohibited (so I also have been known to go here for great $1 deals--sure the products smell like petroleum but for a girl who uses Vaseline to remove her makeup everyday it's no big deal) but if I'm picking an everyday color I'm going to shell out for it (and really, $14 per color isn't too crazy).

Here's the terrible thing. I have been giddy ever since. I considered putting on makeup before I went to the gym just to dazzle all of the people there. I just put it on (and it looks pretty dang great if I do say so). Buying new things shouldn't make me this happy but I have to tell you that I might like it even more than I like chocolate.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Parent of the Year Award (part I)

The hubbs has been gone since Monday morning and Claire and I miss him but we seem to be surviving. I did mumble some choice words under my breath at a women (who happened to be driving a $150,000 car which kind of bugs so maybe I would have cursed anyway) who tried to run us over as we walked home from the gym and then pointed to the green light as if that would justify her turning right when, in fact, it actually justified me crossing the cross walk. I've also increased my intake of caffeine and sugar and I am thinking of writing thank you notes to the girls who work at play-care at the gym*.

I'm hoping that the worst of it is over and will just tell you that if you have never placed your crawling baby in the furthest possible spot in your house from the kitchen (which in a tiny so cal apartment is not very far) and then ran to the kitchen so that you could put the dishes in the dishwasher before she got back and tried to crawl into the dishwasher and the REPEATED the process because you didn't quite finish you can give yourself a big pat on the shoulder because you are a better parent than I am. Good for you.

*we are on a tight budget and my one splurge item is unlimited day care at 24 hour fitness. For $20 a month I can take Claire to the gym as often as I want. I picked that over clothes and treats. Hard to believe but true and I'm hopeful that it will mean that all of my arm flabbiness will be gone by the time MoJo and Miss K's wedding pictures have to be taken.

**Those adoring fans who would like to know how the Valentine's Party turned out I will just tell you that as one 4-year old was leaving the house he turned to his mom and said, "this is the best house I have ever been to." S.U.C.C.E.S.S. And, one thing I learned at this party. Kids care more about quantity than quality when it comes to balloons. So don't buy 6 helium-filled balloons. For the same price buy 100 balloons you have to blow up yourself and go crazy. You won't be sorry (we're still playing with the leftovers--would you say the daily scalp massages are working?).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Welcome to the Family

This weekend my little brother got engaged (awwww Lil' brudder the heart of a champion--if you have not seen this Homestarrunner, click that link right now).

We are so thrilled. The whole week I've been walking around being all reminicent thinking of Mojo and what a good kid he is. It's also brought back lots of memories of my own wedding and the adjustments I had to being married (my adjustment to marriage was NOT smooth). I'm so excited for Mojo and K. And in the grand tradition of the RFC (that's what we call my family) here's some unsolicited advice to the newest member of our family.

Miss K,
We are so thrilled that you are going to join our family. Thank you for being so fun for making MoJo so dang happy. I love how active you are and how you inspire Moj to plan activities and carry them out (let's face it, he's sort of the type that would spend all his days watching TiVo and playing video games if we let him.) Though now that I think about it, that's kind of par for the course for our family. We're kind of solitary stay-at-home types. Don't let that frustrate you. Get ready for lots of family parties that involve enough food to feed 50 and sitting around quoting movies we love and The Simpsons.

Also, get ready for lots of unsolicited advice (we're good at that). You don't have to take it. Heck, you don't even have to listen. The nice thing is that us giving you lots of unsolicited advice means you can give it to us too. You may have already noticed but when it comes to gifts we're more about quantity than quality. So really, your joining our family will amount to lots of unsolicited advice and lots of cheap gifts (boxing nuns and more fortune-telling fish may be in your near future).


PS. Claire is getting scalp massage every night in hopes that she will have hair by the time pictures roll around.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

People Who Love Me

For Valentines Day Claire's gift was a book of "People Who Love Me."

I worry that living so far away from dear friends and family Claire won't know them. When my parents were here earlier this month Claire didn't remember them. And it had only been a month since she had seen them.

I thought that a book like this would help her recognize her relatives. I spent some time gathering pictures and with a little help from Picasa put together a book. I tried to include a memory of each person in the book. To give you an idea of what it looks like here is a sneak peak at Aunt Abbey's page. The caption says,

"This is my Aunt Abbey. She and my mom have traveled all over the world together. Aunt Abbey is so fun and she loves me so much. At my blessing my mom was trying to get the food for all of the guests ready. I was so hungry but my Aunt Abbey just rocked me and sang to me and I didn't cry."
The book is a hit. She has never liked trying to eat a book as much as she likes trying to eat this one.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Today (on this oh-so-romantic day) the hubbs left for a week's business trip.

We are going to miss him.

I looked through my pictures for some romantic image to inspire the hubbs on this Valentine's day. I imagine him in his lonely hotel room opening the computer after a long day of training and seeing something made him feel loved and appreciated. All of the pictures we have of us are where we're holding the camera and taking pictures of ourselves. Our engagement pictures and actual wedding pictures aren't on this computer but our reception pictures are. Nothing lovey-dovey but this one made me laugh. I am so glad to have this husband standing next to me (while I face the world and make unflattering faces like this).

Happy Valentine's Day Babe. Hurry home. Two ladies are anxiously awaiting your return.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The "c" word

There is a moment that my husband dreads more than any other in our lives.

Let me set the stage.

We're lying in bed and I'm feeling sad, lonely and insecure. I snuggle over to my husband and say the dreaded words, "Honey, say 5 nice things about me." He hates that. Compliments--the dreaded "C" word--do not come easily to the hubbs. Normally, that's not a problem. I'm not really the kind of a girl who needs or wants compliments all the time (I tend to think that people are being insincere if the compliments flow too easily). But sometimes...sometimes I just need someone to say 5 nice things about me.

We've reached a stage in our relationship where he can say 5 nice things but there was a time when saying things like that made him so uncomfortable the he just couldn't do it. Those days weren't too pretty (tears, fights and hysterical accusations of "then you don't love me!" would ensue).

After talking to lots of ladies I'm pretty sure scenes like this are playing out in bedrooms all over. The details may be different but the idea is the same.

Here is my Valentines Gift to the men of the world. Last night I made this Mad-Lib style Valentine for our party and thought I would share it with the rest of the men-folk. I jumped into the dating game pretty late in life which means that I have spent more hours than your average girl scanning MSN and Yahoo for dating advice which I think kind of makes me an expert on what girls want to hear.

Men, all you need to do is fill this out, cut it out and decorate it. Depending on what your family budget allows this can also be accompanied by a gift card from Nordstroms (some people say candy is the best option but in my mind that's a mixed bag. I love candy but always feel guilty after polishing off a whole bag). Done and Done.

Happy Valentines Day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

V I C T O R Y, Victory, Victory hear us cry

One of our dear neighbors got a spot in a community garden and they are sharing it with us. We're calling it our victory garden because we've planted nothing but plants which would probably produce fruit even if they were grown under a rock--zucchini, pumpkins, squash and herbs, I'm looking at you.

Last week we cleared some space and planted seeds. We've gone over every couple of days to water and make sure that the weeds are staying in check. No sprouting yet but we're hopeful. Claire enjoys the garden. The neighbors we garden with have a daughter who is 2 so we've dedicated a corner of the garden to be a children's garden. Nothing is planted but they enjoy digging in the dirt and moving rocks. I'll let you guess what Claire's favorite part is.

*Those of you who are thinking, "once she tastes that she won't do it again." Wrong. She loves it. Sand, dirt, rocks, grass. No sign of her stopping any time soon. The diapers this produces are almost funny.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beach Shoot San Diego

On Saturday the hubbs and I went sea kayaking with a friend of ours. He runs Beach Shoot San Diego (picture #16 is his amazingly beautiful wife). If you didn't click that link to see his pictures you should. They are incredible. He was auditioning a couple of new photographers and he needed a couple to be the guinea pigs and test out the social skills of the new hires. That couple was us.

We were a little unclear on what would be happening (we thought all of the photographing would be in the water with us in wetsuits) so we were a little surprised when we spent the first hour on the beach taking photos. I was in ill-fitting yoga pants, a white t-shirt and a cream wrap sweater. Hard to say if the hubb's super-huge ratty t-shirt from a 5 K we did in Salt Lake was better or worse. YIKES. I know Dan's a good photographer but I think that our little photo shoot might test his photoshopping skills more than any he's ever done before.

Once the beach shoot in our dazzling duds was over, we hit the water. It was so lovely to be out on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The sea lions were swimming past us and the pelicans were flying low to the water. If you are coming to San Diego you should go do this. Dan is really engaging and a great photographer (and you can get killer deals on living social). It was just lovely. I'm sure our photos will turn out like this this lovely couple.

Just like that except that I'll be screaming about how the waves are going to crash us into the rocks and we'll be frantically paddling because we can't seem to stay in a straight line.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Claire's Book Club

The Composer is Dead
By Lemony Snicket

This book is pretty much hilarious. My folks were here this week and they both laughed out loud when the read it. It comes with a CD version of the story which moves too slow to listen to at the house but might be a great if you have to be in the car for a while with the kids. The other great thing about the book is that it is informative. I learned some things I didn't know.

In all honesty, Claire doesn't really pay attention to books (except for this one which she loves and if you have a baby who is Claire's age you should buy it. The words are pretty stupid but the yarn that appears as you turn the pages and the pop-up picture at the end make it Claire's go-to calm down book).

If you're not ashamed about making orchestra noises it will certainly entertain any age of kids. She loved my version of violins.

This month Claire's book club is reading Henry's Freedom Box (in honor of Black History Month). Send me your comments by March 1st of you'd like to share.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Book Club: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

For days I put off doing writing this. I read through lots of reviews of the book and just didn't know what do say. Then I realized that I don't need write a review. This is book club. All I have to do is tell you what I think.

Book club looked at several different themes; Footnotes, Body Image and Description, Science Fiction and Magic, Narrator and voice, Cool vs. Nerdy, Knowing the beginning from the End, Acceptance vs. Trying to change others.

And I'm adding Fuku and zafa.

I'm not going to make you read all my thoughts on all the themes. Just one.

Fuku and zafa.
The hero of this book is a 300-lb Dominican American who hasn't had success with the ladies since he was in grade school. Oscar's story actually starts years before he was even born with the rise of Trujillo ("the most dictating dictator to ever dictate"). The family has a fuku (curse) put on them when the father (Oscar's grandfather) offends Trujillo by not letting him have the oldest daughter as his personal sex slave. Now zafa. Zafa is the counter spell, the cure, the good luck.

There you have your background.

Most of the story focuses on Oscar getting laid and everybody seems to think that that would be the zafa that the family needs. As the title would suggest Oscar is killed at the end of the book (all in the persuit of love). Months after he is killed a letter arrives home telling about a trip that he and his love took for a weekend away where he actually got some action. Here is what the narrator tells us about the letter, "what really got him was not the bam-bam-bam of sex--it was the little intimacies that he'd never in his whole life anticipate, like combing her hair or getting her underwear off the line or watching her walk naked to the bathroom or the way she would suddenly sit on his pan and put her face into her neck.....He wrote: So this is what everybody's always talking about! Diablo! If only I'd known. The beauty! The beauty!"

The idea that's been rolling around in my head is how that works in my life too. Often I think that my own Zafa will be one thing and when it comes things will be made better, or made whole or will be made to be what I want them to be. And often that thing doesn't come. Then, months or weeks later when I look back at it, something else came that was so much more lovely and wonderful. We loved our old neighborhood and the friends we made there and we were amazed to find the the best friends that we had there weren't the familes our age but rather the amazing people we worked with in our religious congregation (who happened to be either 5-years old or 18-years old.)

I love that thought. That our own zafa may not be what we expect but God or the Universe or whatever you want to call it will provide us with something so much more wonderful.

So there you go. Book Club. Done.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Few. The Proud

We live ridiculously close to the Miramar Marine Base. I consider myself to be very patriotic (I have to add that one of the rights I most adamantly defend is the right to criticize the country I so dearly love) and I love where we live. Normally I only recognize the Marine base due to the fact that the GPS on my phone goes out if I get too close to the base and F-18s fly over my house with their turbine engines all. the. time. (we get lots of helicopters and other planes too but the F-18s are the noisiest). Once a year there's also the airshow where these guys fly over my house.

(noise vs. Blue Angels....I'm gonna call the base a net gain.)

In honor of the pops (who is here visiting for a whole week and once again I will say how much I love having my parents here) on Wednesday we went to the museum at the base. If I were ranking things my dad loves, airplanes would easily be in the top 5. I grew up going to airshows and I have been to WAY more war/military/airplane museums than art museums in my life. It will take years to close the gap.

The Miramar museum is totally awesome. It's located in a triple wide trailer (really, what bad thing is located in a triple-wide?) and there are great planes and helicopters but the best part about the museum is the volunteers. The Sergent Major is a talkative fellow who will tell you all about his 30 years in the service including his exposure to Agent Orange during Vietnam. But I think the secretary was my favorite. A couple of gems:

"My husband smokes too much. Has emphysema. I'm doing my best to keep him this side of the grass."

"I had cancer 30 years ago. I was lucky, beat it and my husband was so supportive. Straight up says, 'I didn't marry you for you boobs.'"

And it's free.

When you visit I'll take you there. We may just bring a bevy and sit and talk to the secretary.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ahhh To Practice What We Preach

So the hubbs and I spoke in our religious congregation on Sunday. We each had to speak for 15 minutes (which is a really LONG time to speak). I'll spare you the pages and pages of hilarious stories and thoughtful insight and just give you the quote I built my talk around.

"There are three things which must guide all teachers (and, I would add, parents): first, get into the subject; second, get that subject into you; third, try to lead your pupils (and children) to get the subject into them--not pouring it into them, but leading them to see what you see, to know what you know, to feel what you feel.”

David O McKay
(Parenthetical by me)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What time is it? It's Valen-times

Now that the pressure of having to address our religious congregations is over I can get back to the really important things. Parties. I'm planning a Valentine's party. The majority of our friends have kids so planning a party can be a little tricky. We'd like a kid-friendly event (we're thinking either Saturday before dinner or early Friday evening). I don't like parties where everything is planned out and people make me play games (baby showers...I'm looking at you) but when you have kids coming to a party you have to have some structure.

Here's what we have planned
1. Love potion tasting (unidentified juice with a prize for the person who can identify the most of them)
2. Make a Valentine (with hints for kids and husbands in particular--think fill-in-the-blank (possibly mad-lib style) Valentines for husbands who have a hard time saying romantic things. Hubbs included)
3. Cookie decorating
4. Pot-luck treats

Any other suggestions? What are you doing for your parties?