Thursday, March 29, 2007

13 things I dislike about my body

Before anyone gets on my case, let me be completely honest. I have an unhealthy love for my body. I think I'm much hotter than I probably appear to other people. But I'm crabby today, and especially miserable because of #2 & 3.

  1. My chin waddle.
  2. The fact that I produce an inordinate amount of wax.
  3. My itsy bitsy ear canals which prevent #2 from exiting my body in an orderly fashion.
  4. My heels, which remain cracked no matter what I put on them.
  5. My smile lines are not symmetrical. I love my smile lines, but it bothers me that the left one is deeper than the right. I think maybe I smile like Elvis sometimes.
  6. The mole in my right armpit.
  7. The matching mole in my left armpit, which causes amazement in both of my children. There are two! And they're both ugly! Wow!
  8. My fingers. They're all crooked even though they've never been broken.
  9. And the nails are all chewed off.
  10. And they're cracked because I don't put on enough lotion.
  11. The hair on my big toes. I forget to shave it and then I look down and there is HAIR on my toes. And since I'm not a very hairy person in general, it freaks me out.
  12. My skinny minny veins that always make phlebotomists raise eyebrows and pull out pediatric needles while tsking.
  13. Did I mention my chin waddle?
I promise, next week I'll do 13 things I love about my body. I might have to do that two weeks in a row because I'm sure I have more than 13.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

30 to 1 Odds

Jacob wears a uniform to school. Navy shorts or pants, a white polo, and an optional school sweatshirt. He wore shorts every day until mid-October when the winter uniform code went into effect. That was roughly five months ago. He has put holes in the knees of at least eight pairs of pants since then. That's about one pair every 2.5 weeks. And that doesn't even consider dress down days and days off of school. I'm buying a pair of pants out of every single paycheck, people. This must end! Summer uniform starts on April 16. He has one pair of whole pants left and he is wearing them every single day until then. I'm thinking that we have about 30 to 1 odds that the pants are going to last long enough. But I refuse to buy another pair. I will patch them, he can wear them holey, whatever. Today, March 28th 2007, is the day I put my foot down and say NO MORE PANTS! In two more weeks, he can wear shorts and put holes in his knees instead. Which means that I'll be buying jumbo band-aids instead.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The cat surrendered.

Tweety has been around for around 11 years now. Nick and I adopted her from my mother-in-law when we began cohabiting. For a glorious 5 1/2 years, she ruled the household. We adopted her because she's constitutionally unable to peacefully co-exist with other cats. After a year of terrorizing mother-in-law's two old and ditsy sisters (Remember the Waltons? Remember the elderly sisters who made their papa's recipe for homemade wine? That is the exact personality of those two cats), rehoming Tweety was the best way to make all three cats happy. And Tweety was fabulously, gloriously, regally happy. Then came Jacob. Since then, Tweety has largely pretended that the children don't exist. She avoids them and their belongings. I can almost hear her singing, "I can't see you!" when they are in the room. We taught Jacob to leave her alone. We taught him to always give her an escape route. We established a kid-free zone so that she could jump over a gate for safety. She gets a little peeved that adult laps aren't always available. She perches on the back of my chair and whips me with her tail to express her displeasure. While it's not the ideal life for a queen, we've managed to avoid injury. Then Sunday afternoon, Claire ripped past me calling, "Kitty! Kitty! Pretty kitty!" By the time I cleaned my hands and raced into the living room, Claire had almost succeeded in putting a ponytail on the poor cat. Tweety just stood there and endured it. A little while later, she harfed up her third hairball of the weekend. Because I am smart, I can make the obvious connection between excessive hairball harfing and warm spring weather. It's only taken me 11 years to make the connection. Impressive, no? I found the soft brush and started to brush her. Surprisingly, Jake showed an interest. I showed him how to brush her, explained that purring is a good noise and hissing is a bad noise, and warned him away from the sensitive spots. Tweety endured (enjoyed?) the brushing for five whole minutes. That was FIVE whole minutes. That's longer than she's ever tolerated being less than 5 feet away from a child. So, at long last, surrender. I realize this is going to make my days a lot harder. I'll have to constantly interrupt Claire's attempts at feline beautification. I'll have to watch that Jacob doesn't try to brush her tail. She might actually come back into the bed with us, consigning Nick and I to the very edges of the bed while her 9 pound self stretches across the center. But maybe, just maybe, she'll be content again.

Monday, March 26, 2007

What Rhymes with W?

Remember how I've been yearning for Spring and remarking about how unusual it is? That's because I forgot that in St. Louis, spring is two days and then we embark on summer. It's hot. This weekend was just about as hot as I like it to get. Given that it's only March that means Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pissy. (Well, whiny really. But T doesn't rhyme with W.) Jake was so hot that he had a nightmare about a hot monster. A HOT MONSTER IN HIS DREAMS! Now that's hot. So we put the children in shorts and sent them outside for a while. They came back in flushed, sweaty, and completely happy. When did I lose the ability to be happy while hot? And how do I get it back? I have the feeling it's going to be a long summer.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

13 Sacred Places

A few weeks ago, I heard a portion of a homily that really hit home with me. It was hard to listen - a different church, a different priest, Jake had a million questions, a bad time of day. So I missed a lot of the homily. But one thing that I did hear has been percolating around in the recesses of my brain since then. The priest defined "sacred place" as "a place where we meet God." So I've been thinking of all the places besides churches (because, well, of course I'd expect to find God there) that I've met Him in one form or another. Places and times that I felt as if I were intended to be there at that moment. And since we don't mark such places with shrines anymore, I'm marking some of them here. There are no burning bushes, but they are holy to me nonetheless.

  1. A hospital
  2. Door County, Wisconsin
  3. Nehalem Spit, Oregon
  4. A hiking trail in Pere Marquette Park, Illinois
  5. The Lime Kiln Trail
  6. A river in the Black Forest, Germany
  7. The quad at Truman University (although it was NMSU at the time), walking with a friend
  8. A breakfast table
  9. Duck Lake, Michigan
  10. Misery Bay, Michigan
  11. Epiphany Fields (hey - it's not technically a church!)
  12. The patio of a nursing home
  13. The redwoods (how could I NOT?)
Reading over my list, most of these are place where I've been once, twice, three times and had seminal moments. I think maybe the challenge is to find (or bring) the sacred into the mundane.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

100 Books

I lifted this from Nikole, who lifted it from Katie. I like books, so what the hey! How Many Have You Read? Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read. Italicize the ones you want to read. Leave same the ones that you aren’t interested in. 1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) 2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) 3. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) 4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell) 5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien) 6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien) 7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien) 8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) 9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) 10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) 11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) 12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown) 13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling) 14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) 15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) 16. Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone (Rowling) 17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald) 18. The Stand (Stephen King) 19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling) 20 Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) 21. The Hobbit (Tolkien) 22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) 23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) 24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) 25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel) 26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) 27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) 28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis) 29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck) 30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom) 31. Dune (Frank Herbert) 32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks) 33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) 34. 1984 (Orwell) 35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley) 36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) 37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay) 38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb) 39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) 40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) 41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel) 42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) 43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella) 44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom) - started it. Yawn. 45. Bible 46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) 47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) 48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) 49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) 50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb) 51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) 52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) 53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) 54. Great Expectations (Dickens) 55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald) 56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence) 57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling) 58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough) 59. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood) 60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) 61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) 62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand) 63. War and Peace (Tolstoy) - I've read excerpts 64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) 65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis) 66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) 67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares) 68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) 69. Les Miserables (Hugo) 70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) 71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding) 72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez) 73. Shogun (James Clavell) 74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) 75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) 76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay) 77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith) 78. The World According To Garp (John Irving) 79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence) 80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) 81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley) 82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck) 83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier) 84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind) 85. Emma (Jane Austen) 86. Watership Down (Richard Adams) 87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) 88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields) 89. Blindness (Jose Saramago) 90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer) 91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje) 92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) 93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck) 94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd) 95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum) 96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton) 97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch) 98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford) 99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield) 100. Ulysses (James Joyce) - I've read excerpts only Grumpage: What's with Dan Brown and JK Rowling? Brown writes poorly researched fiction so far as I can tell (I have read excerpts) and Rowling writes children's books. I understand that they are good children's books, but still. Kind of an odd list. But it did remind me of some books that I want to read, so there's that. Request: If you have recommendations for me based on what I've read, I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The End of Winter

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Anne Bradstreet Happy spring! Jacob informed me last night that today is the first day of spring. I suggested that we do something special to mark the occasion. After a little debate regarding the feasibility of blow-up pools (guess whose idea that was), we settled on making a cake. I baked it last night and we'll decorate it tonight as a family. Jake wants details, "Not too many. Maybe 20 details." As I remarked the other day, I am glad to see the spring come. I have two daffodils in my backyard and the buds are coming on the cherry tree. This morning, the rose that I thought killed by a false spring February was unfurling a new leaf. Spring has sprung! Wahoooo! This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to see some good friends in the flesh. When I was pregnant with Jacob, I found an online message board. Six years later, these women are a huge influence on my life. They both bear me up and keep me grounded. Many of the women came, although a few were sorely missed. A weekend of laughter with them marked the end of winter for me, despite the chill weather. I am rejuvenated. I am energized. And I am very, very grateful for their friendship.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Love Notes New and Old

I cleaned out Jake's backpack yesterday. Amid the flotsam and jetsam that usually collects over the course of the week, I found a piece of scrap green bar paper. It was folded in half like a greeting card. On the front was a decorative (I assume it was intended to be decorative anyway) grid. The inside said "To Jacob" then "I love you!" then a drawing of a clown. And the "I love you!" was scribbled over but clearly legible. He told me it was from Olivia. Now, Olivia is a very sweet, pretty little girl. Her family usually sits a pew or two ahead of us in church. She and Jake furtively wave at each other when they file into the pew - hands held waist high with a quick and decisive flap while looking in the other direction. It's adorable in an I-want-to-like-you-but-you-have-cooties sort of way. I can just see her writing her little note, then deciding that she can't actually admit that she loves a boy. So she scribbled it out. Jake was so cavalier about the whole thing. When I asked him if he wanted to keep it, he said, "Hm? Yeah. OK." and then went back to watching TV. Hm? Yeah? OK? That's all the poor girl gets? She drew a clown, for crying out loud! A CLOWN! I put it on his desk, just in case his attitude was a facade. He can moon over it (or not) in private. I have a slightly more mature note on my desk. On our first Valentine's Day together, Nick gave me a single red rose, a glass box with a fabric rose inside, and a small handwritten note. It's written on a scrap of paper and folded just like Olivia's note. And it says everything but "I love you." After all these years, I can see the "I love you" hidden in the words Nick chose. He more or less scribbled over them with words like "important to me" and "care for you deeply." But the "I love you" is legible to the experienced heart. I am not a sentimental woman, but I keep that little glass box on my desk hidden behind my computer monitor. It's not for everyone to see - I just like knowing that it's there. I am not foolish enough to believe that Jacob and Olivia will be life-long loves. But Olivia's note is the start of something big for Jake. She loves him not because of any familial obligation, but simply because she sees something special in him. I hope that Jacob learns to read through the scribbles and see the love that is offered to him from the many (I assume - he's charming) girls that he will meet. And I hope that one day, he finds a girl special enough that he scribbles it back.

Friday, March 9, 2007

A sad, sad cake tale and a lenten recipe

I'm sick. Everyone take a moment to feel sorry for me. So yesterday, I had two meetings that I could not miss. I dragged myself into the office, kept to myself as much as possible, and trudged through my day accomplishing an astonishing amount of work. I wonder if I should get sick more often as it seems to be a boon for my productivity. Anyway, I arrived home to find subsection 16.8 of Murphy's law in evidence. That's the section that states, "The amount of do-gooder responsibility is inversely proportional to the amount of energy a woman has to spare." In other words, I had to make a cake for Jake's school. I powered through making dinner and the cake. I fended off multiple cake feints by both husband and boy. "No you may NOT eat that cake! It's for the fish fry! Don't even THINK about eating the cake! I can see you thinking about eating that cake, you know." After dinner, the kids were working on their homework while we adults were clearing the table. Nick and I were periodically spelling words for Jake and reminding Claire to share share SHARE the markers. I looked over Jake's shoulder to check his work and saw something on the periphery. Or more accurately, I didn't see someone on the periphery. And then...I heard a giggle. "Noooooooooooooo!" Too late. Claire had snuck over to the counter, snaked her little hand up and taken a big chunk of cake. Knowing she was caught, she attempted to shove the entire illicit lump of cake into her mouth. Jake knew better than to attack the cake, but the huge crumbs on the floor were fair game. He hit the floor running and started snuffling up the cake crumbs like a dog. Nick went to the grocer and bought another cake. I ate a big piece of the ruined cake with my tea. And I have to admit, I was a little bit glad that Claire ruined it. Tonight, we're eating this unless I'm too tired. Plus cake, of course.

Aslam's Mash Daal [Lentils] (serves 6)

Recipe from Operation Rice Bowl
  • 3 cups dried lentils
  • 1½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 cups water
  • 1½ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1-4 cloves garlic, chopped (to taste)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt (to taste)

Wash and drain the lentils. In a large pot heat the oil, and then add thinly sliced onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt and, cumin, and chili powder. Fry until golden brown and crisp. Add the tomatoes and stir well for about 10 minutes.

Add the water and heat until it reaches a boil. Put lentils in the pot and continue to cook at a full boil, stirring frequently, until the lentils are half-cooked. Finally, put on the lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve hot over rice.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Weeping to See Fair Daffodil

I am ready for spring. It's an unusual feeling for me. I love winter, especially if it's brutally cold and bright. Winter is almost always cop show. This year, though, winter got a late start. By the time the lovely freeze burrowed into my lungs, I was bored of waiting for it. We did get some snow (which delighted the children) but I mostly humbugged my way through it. Now my house and soul are stuffy and in need of a good airing. So bring it on, daffodils! When I see your yellow heads, I know that I can throw open my windows. I am ready to scrub my walls, shine the windows, till the soil. I am ready for the delicate tenacity of new leaves in the spring winds and rolling storms. I am ready to bury winter for this year and move on to the bustle of a new season.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Mother knows best

The other day, Jacob and I were sitting in the big blue/green (the actual color is a matter of some debate) chair working on some homework. The topic turned to math. Jacob told me, "Ms. Meyer knows math the best." I told Jake that I was no math slob either. "Nope. Ms. Meyer knows the best at math. She knows a lot of science too, but not as much as Dad. Dad's the best at science." Feeling a little disgruntled, I asked Jacob what I knew best. "Me. You know the best about me."

Friday, March 2, 2007

Theodore was not a bore

Today is the birthday of dear Dr. Seuss* Whose books for all people were really quite choice. He rollicked and rhymed for the listening ears Of bathed and pajamaed sleepy little dears, While olders could glean from the nonsense galore An ethical stance on the absurdity of war. We all grew up reading about Cindy-Lou And everyone loved Horton Hears a Hoo. So on this fine birthday of a very fine man, We all should go home to read Green Eggs and Ham. My rhymes are a stretch and my meter is poor, But my affection for Seuss is nothing but pure. * According to Mr. Geisel himself, it should be pronounce "Soice." But between you, me, and the living room chair, I say Sooce like everyone else.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Rice Bowl Recipe

I used the official Operation Rice Bowl recipe for this week on Ash Wednesday. It wasn't a big hit so I'm not going to repeat it. So, I'm winging it! The country of the week is Mexico, so I'm making Arroz con Huevos (recipe from the American Egg Board). This looks pretty good and I think the family will eat it. Plus, I have too many eggs in the refrigerator. Arroz con Huevos

1 cup water
1/2 cup rice
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons bottled taco sauce or salsa
1/2 cup chopped tomato
4 eggs
1/4 cup (1 oz.) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

In medium saucepan stir together water, rice, onion, garlic and salt, if desired. Cover. Over high heat, bring to boiling. Reduce heat to keep water simmering. About 10 minutes before rice is done (check rice package for total cooking time needed), stir in green pepper and taco sauce. Re-cover and cook until rice is tender, about 10 minutes longer. Stir in tomato. Remove from heat, cover and keep warm while poaching eggs.

In saucepan or deep omelet pan, bring 2 to 3 inches of water to boiling. Reduce heat to keep water gently simmering. Break cold eggs, 1 at a time, into custard cup or saucer or break several into bowl. Holding dish close to water’s surface, slip eggs, 1 by 1 into water. Cook until whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard, about 3 to 5 minutes. With slotted spoon, lift out eggs. Drain in spoon or on paper towels and trim any rough edges, if desired.

To serve, spoon 1/4 (1/2) of the reserved rice mixture onto each of 4 (2) plates. Top each with 1 (2) of the poached eggs, sprinkle each egg with 1 tablespoon of the cheese.

Except of course I'm using brown rice and I'll just put in a can of tomatoes instead of bothering with fresh (Because fresh tomatoes at this time of year? No way.) and I'll be frying those eggs instead of poaching them. But rice and eggs? Simple fare and cheap to boot.

13 sites that I like

Thirteen Sites I Like
1. Knitty - Online knitting magazine with fun patterns and interesting articles. 2. Daily Gospel - Self-explanatory, eh? 3. Merriam Webster's Game of the Day - Just a quick word game every day of the week. 4. Daily Oliver - Pictures of a dog in the French countryside. What's not to love? 5. pushmepullyou - Pretty. 6. Missouri Botanical Gardens Hortline - Everything the Midwestern home gardener needs to know and then some. 7. Hungry Girl - Where else can you whack a snack? 8. Search400 - OK, so this won't interest anyone else who actually reads this blog. But this site has saved my bottom more times than I care to admit, so it deserves a place on the list. All hail the power of midrange professionals! Woo! 9. SparkPeople - Just a good site to track your diet and exercise. 10. The Sartorialist - I don't care about the clothes (sacre bleu!), but the photos are fascinating. 11. The Vatican - Soooo handy. The entire catechism is there. And you can search it. Just lots to read and think about. 12. (to be inserted later - sorry, the bookmark is at home!) - A nice site for people who teach Christianity to children. 13. Word Cloud - Use your blog or someone else's and build a word cloud. It's like visual poetry. Links to other Thursday Thirteens! 1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!