Thursday, February 28, 2013

A little too realistic

Every 10 days or so we have a day here that's sunny and above 45.  In order to maintain sanity I've decided that anytime one of those days comes around we have to go to the zoo.  It's 10 minutes to the zoo from my driveway (this, of course, does not include the 45 minutes it takes to gather up snacks, bags and winter gear, follow proper protocol with door opening {Claire opens the door and I hold it while she then opens the screen.  If you do not follow this protocol your exit time has just doubled because you are then carrying 2 kids down to the car and one of them is weeping and wailing} and herd two kids into their car seats).  

The Bronx Zoo is amazing.  It's huge and scattered with building from the early 1900s which were the zoo's first exhibits.  And there is the grouchiest, loudest sea lion.  I feel sorry for the other sea lions that have to live with him but it's funny if you don't have to live with him. 
Watching the seals

I will say that the life-like wide open exhibits at the zoo are maybe just a little too life-like for me.  The zoo is pretty heavily wooded and sometimes it feels...well...a little spooky. 

Take this for example.

Walking along a lovely wooded path

the path turns and you head up a little hill

And right at the top of the hill there are two grizzly bears. 
Now those grizzlies were in their enclosure and everyone was safe.  It's just when their enclosure looks so much like the surrounding area it's easy to remember the natural order of things and know that technology may have put you at the top of the food chain but alone in the woods you are way closer to the bottom.

Maybe it's time to invest in some mace just for my own peace of mind.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Nailed It

This morning we set out to do a craft I found on Pinterest: painting with sweetened condensed milk.  The article claimed that painting with sweetened condensed milk would make pictures that were glossy and shiny even when dry.

So far so good.

The trouble arose when I walked into the other room to get the baby who was waking up from a nap.  I may have paused for just a minute to take a few off-center selfies.

 And when I came back

my two year-old had discovered that she was painting with sweetened condensed milk.  All afternoon she walked around saying, "My tummy hurts.  I think I ate too much paint."

Nailed It.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Girl Questions

I was 23 before I really learned to be a girl--you know; hair, clothes, makeup, flirting.  Girl stuff.

That kind of stuff didn't and doesn't come to me naturally. I have to make a conscious effort to stay on top of girl things because my natural entropy leads to over-sized men's sweaters and pants from the local thrift store.

That being said, I'm having a trouble with a couple of current trends.  Because I don't have anyone to turn to with girl questions I'm turning this over to the internet.

1. Dry Shampoo.  Now, I can get behind the dry shampoo trend.  Going a couple of days between stylings? Great idea.  What kills me is that yesterday while I was reading a review the woman criticized a dry shampoo for not letting her go more than a week between washings.  A week?  I don't know if I should be amazed or horrified.  Are average people really doing that?

2. Skinny Jeans.  Once again, I understand this trend.  Cute skinny jeans with a bulky sweater, or a scarf or a jacket.  Love it. I am now into my third pair of skinny jeans (one was a maternity pair so I'm not sure that they even count) and what I do not understand is how on earth do you keep them up?  Every time I wear them I spend the whole day pulling them up.  How do you ladies keep those jeans from giving you a plumber's crack every other second?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Top of the World

This morning everyone was a little off.  The baby was fussy, Claire was fussy and so was I.  Mid-morning, I was nearing a melt-down and I could smell tantrums right outside the door.  Then from some deep part of my soul, my single-girl inner self spoke to me.  She said two words.  Dance. Party.

I have learned to listen when that inner single-girl speaks so I turned on some of my favorite songs and just started dancing.  All alone in my kitchen.  Claire was crying because she wanted someone to sit with her in the bathroom while she pooped and Noah was fussing on the floor.  He joined me first.  I picked him up and we danced around the kitchen.  I plopped him in his johnny-jump-up and he jumped and laughed.  Claire, naked as a jaybird, joined us less than a minute later. She later decided she was getting cold so she put her arms in her pajamas backward--so her little tummy was covered but her bum was hanging out the back, her pajamas a penguin print fleece hospital gown of sorts*.

Twenty mintues later everything seemed different.  Everyone was cheerier and we quickly got ready and headed out for a play date.

It's funny that in those 20 minutes I swear I was channeling the strength of a single-girl life already lived.  I laughed and smiled remembering college dance parties in the living room and how the kitchen in my 3rd Av house had perfect acoustics and when the music stopped I was suddenly ready to face life again--crying kids and runny noses.

I am grateful to that single-girl life that I lived.  I am grateful that it was long, full of good friends, good music and lots and lots of dancing.

*I did stop to take pictures of her little bum sticking out of her jammies but I don't like to post naked pictures of my kids on the internet because of the pervs.

***This is our families current favorite dance track.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Newest Pastime

Recently I've fallen in love with sewing felted wool patches onto cheap sweaters. One night last week the hubbs asked if I wanted to watch a show and I looked at him over my needle and thread and said, "I've actually got a little sewing to do."

It takes all kinds of crazy to make the world go 'round

The next few months represent a kind of a windfall in our lives--we calculate tax returns and Costco sends us our rebate check.  This year's (from Costco) was almost $400 and we're going to have a pretty huge tax return (Thanks Noah).

When I asked the hubbs if he was saving the Costco refund for something special (thinking this might be the year that he's willing to fork out the cash for the 57 inch TV he wants) he said, "I don't know.  I was thinking formula, cheese and milk."

Our tax return will be spent similarly--investing in our retirement and repaying our short-term savings account (which we had to dip into in order to fund the move to NY and our new car). There is one splurge that we're making.  And, the fact that I want this plants me firmly into the camp of "certified crazy person."

Do you know what that is?  That's enough grains and legumes to feed my family of 4 for 3 months.  We'll also add salt, lentils, an heirloom seed planting kit, yeast and a kerosene heater. With next year's return we'll add more--some fats, sweeteners, maybe some dried eggs and milk and more grains and legumes.  In the end we'll have enough food for each of us for 4 months. I'd love to have a year's supply for each of us but we don't have a ton of storage space and in a couple of years we're going to have a find a new place to live and pay to move all of those 50 lb buckets so we'll probably just stick with 4 months per person until we have a more permanent housing situation.

It stems from my Mormon upbringing--Mormon's are urged to have a years supply of food for each member of their family stored at all times in case of emergency or unexpected need.  I think that most Mormons imagined some kind of zombie Apocalypse when the Prophets of our church started talking about food storage in the 1970s.  I have come to realize that maybe they were just worried about unwise farming practice and people spending more money than they make along with the occasional hurricane or earthquake.

My desire for 5 gallon buckets full of wheat, beans and rice was pushed to full furry when we moved to NY.  Hurricane Sandy arrived just a few weeks after we did and I was still in the process of stocking my kitchen.  We hit up Costco and stocked up on granola bars, canned chili and baby formula which, at the time, was all we could do.  We've been hit by two more storms this winter that knocked out power for people for days at a time.  We had a short period of gas rationing just feels like it's time.  Because even starting to think about food supplies being cut off and having to watch my children starve is enough to send me into the fetal position. In the past I could justify living by family who had food storage as my way out having my own.  That's not an option here so I just decided that we need to do it.  And then I had to talk the hubbs into it.

There are two schools of thought about food storage.  The first is that you store things you eat.  There are tons of specialty companies that make all kinds of dried,  freeze-dried and canned foods and meals that range from fruits, veggies and eggs to beef stroganoff.  I do not subscribe to this school of thought. I think that if you're paying a premium for foods that are packed to survive for between 20 and 30 years you buy the most basic things available, put them in a safe place and let them survive.  In my ideal scenario, in 19 years we'll open these pails while snacking on donuts and bonbons and if they're still good we'll donate them to the local food bank.  A couple of hundred dollars for peace of mind that lasts 19 years?  Well worth it.

Dear Family, 
If we ever have to use the food storage I'm buying please forgive me all of the freeze dried beef stroganoff you could have eaten and enjoy your rice and beans and the occasional peasant loaf. When we are through whatever emergency there was you never have to eat rice or beans again for as long as you live--You'll have a great tale to tell at dinner parties when they serve rice as a side.   

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion... love actually is all around. 

Happy Valentines Day

Last year's very romantic quote

And for the first time in our couple-hood the hubbs planned an extravagant evening out on Valentines.  He made the reservations weeks ago.  Man I love that man.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Our Time in the Sun

Today the sun was shining and the temperature was above 35 so we headed out for a moment in the sun.  Our googly-eyed sticks and rocks were awaiting placement and I thought that actually breathing air (you know the kind that hasn't been recycled through the furnace a million times) would be good for everyone.

Sliding a rock with eyes behind a fence.

Mostly interested in sleeping and not swinging.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stew Leonard's

Yesterday the cold that Noah has been nursing since Christmas took a turn for the worse--hacking cough, raspy voice and slight fever.  We went to the doctor and he ruled out an ear infection or strep throat.  He told us that second babies normally have two colds a month (meaning that there are only a few clear days) all winter long and really all we could do is use the humidifier, have him sleep at a slant, keep him eating and pray for spring.

Winter days stuck in the house with a sick little baby are totally depressing.  Today we had to cancel our play date (Claire's favorite play date of the week so I didn't mention that we were skipping it) because trying to take a baby with a hacking cough to a play date can get you nasty nasty looks.  But do you know where they don't give you nasty looks if you are walking around with baby who has a hacking cough?  The crazy grocery store with animatronic displays (Sarah Jones stop reading right now) and $2 ice cream cones.

Stew Leonard's is the most terrifying place I have ever been.  It's not like any other grocery store.  There are no isles--just a labyrinth-like wander from one end to the other, the highest prices I have ever seen, and the scariest singing people an animals above the displays.  Chickens singing "Old MacDonald" above a case full of raw chicken?  Scary.
That flame-like projection at the bottom of the picture is Noah's hair--that's what happens when you are pushing a cart and trying to take pictures while your baby is in his carrier

But Claire loves looking for the buttons to push that make them sing and it's winter people. Freaking winter and my baby has had a cold for nearly 2 full months.  We will stoop as low as we need to in order to prevent cabin fever--or at least keep it at bay. (3 out of the last five days she has never gotten dressed.  Just switched from one set of PJs to another)

Oh.  And guess who sits on his own now?

Friday, February 8, 2013


A few months ago my sister-in-law was struck by a drunk driver while she was jogging at 8 in the morning.  She broke almost every appendage but has made an incredible recovery.  She has done this amazing job working on a campaign against drunk drivers that is running this week on her blog.  You should read the stories she has posted. They are amazing and powerful.

And please don't drink and drive.

Here is a link to see her on the local news.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A bored person is a boring person

Growing up, if we ever scampered into my mom's room and managed out in a whine, "Mom, I'm bored." My mom would say, "a bored person is a boring person."

Bad news mom.

I think I'm a boring person.

Not because I'm bored.  I'm not.  I'm busy and active I just fear that I have become boring.  We don't have a TV (this is only because we are cheap.  We still watch lots of TV we just do it on the internet) so I don't watch the news.  My knowledge of current events comes from facebook, yahoo and the occasional perusal of the BBC iphone app.

Earlier this week I invited a friend from story-time over to our house for lunch and a play date (in mom speak this is the equivilent of having a new friend from school come over to your house.  Right now Anna and I are library friends but not real friends.  The house invite is a major step.).  Right after I did it I sent out an email to 5 other women from my church group asking if they wanted to join us because I am petrified that if Anna came over we would have nothing to talk about and then she would know that I am boring.

Just to prove my point here is a quick list of things that I could talk about

1. After a miserable attempt at creme brulee a couple of weeks ago I turned to the source that I should have turned to from the beginning--Cooks Illustrated.  Did you know that the creamiest custard are made "cold combine?"  The heating up of the cream to gently cook the eggs is a big fat lie. And vague explanations of cook it until the center is set but not firm?  Nope.  170-175 on an instant read.  Bam!

2. In church we're learning a song about how beautiful the world is and how we are so thankful to God for that.  The song's a little dated (whenever I touch a velvet rose? Pu-lease) so I had the kids draw illustrations and we're making our own verses that are mostly about jumping rope, the pool and the beach.

3. The cold weather and the best times to go to McDonald's in order to use the playplace and actually find other kids there who are 3-4 (the answer is between 11 and 2 on weekdays).

4. My love of wireless headphones. My dad gave the hubbs some wireless headphones 2 Christmas' ago. I didn't really understand how amazing they were until just a couple of weeks ago.  Being able to watch TV while you do the dishes?  Total Dream.

5. Hilarious things my kids say.  Last week Claire colored all over everything.  Her bed.  The walls. The carpet.  While cleaning up I turned to her and said, "I am very frustrated."  She thought for a second and said, "Do you think and Diet Coke would help?"  Why yes Claire, I do think a diet coke would help.

6. Tantrums and how you deal with them.

7. Menu planning and how we're spending $600+ a month on food around here!  And I cook.  Everyday. Maybe we should change this topic to how crazy expensive it is.

8. Best Thing about New York. Full-fat mozzarella.  Whoever thought of part-skim was no friend of mankind.

Things I can not talk about.

1. The Mindy Project.  Because I'm wayyyyyy behind.

2. Downton Abbey. Also behind.

3. Current events.

4. Recent conversations I've had with adults.

5. New books.  Because I'm so slow getting through them all the adults I know have already heard about the ones I'm currently working on.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Just a few more books

I forgot to mention that I read one of the most enjoyable books that I have read in a long time and it's called City of Tranquil Light.  My mom loaned it to me and when I called her to talk about it after I'd finished it she said, "You're not mailing it back to me are you?"  I stumbled around and said, "well, I want to read it again" and I blundered on.  My mom finally said, "I'll go buy a new one."

It certainly isn't going to win a Pulitzer (and the reviews were mixed on Amazon) but I loved it.  It's the story of a Mennonite missionary in China at the turn of the century.  It was one of the most thought provoking books that I have ever read about religion.

The other book is one that I haven't started yet but I will soon.  This week I got this package in the mail.

Inside was this book with this recommendation from my friend Claire (and a drawing from her Eli for my Claire)

"I thought it was pretty good--perhaps not as great as the Amazon reviews led me to believe, but worth a read. It did give me a bit of validation--which I have also been searching for."

And taking a lesson from Claire's kindness, I will mail the book (when I'm finished) to the first person who comments that they want it (be warned that I dog-ear pages and underline haphazardly).