Monday, October 29, 2012

Month 26

Dear Sweetpea,

I’ve been terrible about writing letters to you; on paper anyway. I’ve written hundreds in my head if only you could just reach in and find the words…

There are so many little things to capture about you, the ones that make you so heart-searingly, delightfully you. Your smile – it is big and bright and full of teeth that your aunt has dubbed “piranha teeth”, spaced out with little points. Your smile lights up your face and makes the entire room brighter. No one can maintain a straight face when you turn on your smile and, luckily for us, you smile all the time.

Your blanket and bear – they are a unit, a dirty unit that you love beyond anything else in the world. I try to sneak them into the washer and dryer every once in a while but you maintain a vigilant and protective watch over them. So, when I do manage to sneak them in, I’m lucky if you don’t notice until they’re in the dryer. Then we just have one cycle to cry through instead of two. Also, your blanket has a second job. You love to stuff a piece of your blanket in your ear; it’s comforting and relaxing for you. When you’re sitting quietly, upset about something, being comforted, and even when you are asleep I’ll catch you carefully worrying blanket through your fingers until you have just the right amount which is then stuffed into your ear. Head is cocked then, to keep the blanket in place, and every bit of you sinks down into the last missing degrees of relaxation.

Your words – you talk constantly. I think your vocabulary is as good as the Princess’s was at your age you just use it 90% more often than she ever did. It just exploded out of you and it is so fun to understand what you are thinking about and what you want at the moment. (even if it’s a trip to Winco of all things!)

The other night we had to take you to the ER for tummy pain and a fever. There is nothing more pathetic than a little tiny person on a big, adult size gurney at the hospital. You were so, so brave. The entire time we were there you kept asking to “go home” but the only time you really cried was when Daddy left to take the Princess home. You had a variety of tests and they were scary and uncomfortable. But, though your chin trembled, you fought your fear as we talked about pictures of your tummy and got to see your heart beating (that heart that I first saw in my own ultrasound and cried in amazement over.)

Everyone, me included, was in awe of you that night. Except for your big sister, because she knows you, and the ways of the stoically brave, and that you’ve been watching her every movement from the very beginning. The Princess just climbed into the bed to give hugs and kisses and color with you, because sharing a room together in a variety of circumstances is what the two of you do. (which of course makes me start thinking about her leaving for school next year and separating the two of you and I’m a potential puddle of tears once again….)

Sweetpea, we love you beyond words, beyond time and reason, and any other method for measurement they come up with in the future. When you’re on my hip you hold my arm in a vice grip with your own. I can only disentangle you by force or when you decide you’re ready to disconnect. Someday soon I know you’ll choose to walk over being carried and the vice grip will change to a handclasp and then a handhold and then a happy wave as you run further and further in front of me. No matter what, though, you will always have the most unbreakable hold on my heart.

I love you,

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's the worst season of every four years

Election Season. It's almost over. Can I get a collective HALLELUJAH!!!?

This has been, for me, by far the most stressful election to date. Am I more aware (possibly, but probably not any more than usual), feel like I have more on the line (Yeah, I've got kids to think about now), shortened nerves (yes, I've got kids now)? 

Honestly, I've been pretty decided on who I'm voting for since I couldn't ignore the endless parade of politicians anymore. I'm not one of the undecided this year.

However, I've also made a real effort of listening (to the candidates, not so much the "analysis") and reading (as many transcripts available, and a purposefully varied set of sources) to understand where the other side is coming from. I don't disagree with everything, just like I don't agree with everything my candidate espouses. This is the infuriating beauty of the right to vote in this country.

What I've been alternately astounded, flummoxed, and horrified by is the absolute vitriol and hatred leveled at each side from the other.

And I'm not talking about the media - I expect it from them.

I'm talking about the posts on facebook to "friends" that make me cringe. The tweets that generalize, warp, and insult in 140 characters. That's what's sucking the energy out of me.

When did this become okay? When did we assume that everyone we know thinks the same way? When did an insult, a dart, a supposed joke about someone else's ethics, morals, and humanity become appropriate? When did we make it a matter of bravery just to have a differing opinion? 

Instead of telling me (in inflammatory language no less) why I'd be an idiot (or worse) for voting for the person you despise, give me a real reason to vote for your candidate. Maybe I'd be convinced and I'd certainly rather be voting for a positive reason rather than a negative one.

All that to say... Go Vote!

I have my opinions and I may not like the boxes you check on that ballot, but those differences are what have kept our country great and I'll support you, even if I don't like the result in the end.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Young Adult Dystopia

I love to read (obviously) and the genres I read are wide and varied. However, lately I've been reading a lot of Young Adult books. More YA than I read when I fit into the category's age range. Part of it is because they're quick reads, you can jump in and out of them without a lot of catch-up, which is great with all of the distractions swirling around me right now. But, I thought of two other reasons why I'm really loving almost every single one of the YA books I've read lately.

1. They're fun. (for the most part) Much of the really popular YA books are set in alternate realities or in dystopian futures. Dystopian, of course, doesn't promise to be fun but the adventures that happen really are. I like the action, the drama, and the imagination involved.

2. They are digging into the teenage girl's mind and providing a counterbalance to the idea that a girl's worth is in her looks and her clothes and her popularity. The characters I'm reading about are flawed, strong, intelligent, awkward, and slowly developing their confidence. You can't help but like them, root for them, and want to be them. Of course, since it's YA (and honestly, in pretty much every genre) there's usually a love interest. But that swoony boy is flawed too. He's honest and true. He sees more and wants more than the popular chick with the perfect figure and shiny hair. Hmm, what a novel idea for teen boys and girls (and adults, when we come right down to it)

Reading these books is a blissful escape from the reality of cooking dinner and doing laundry, but it's also been a walk down memory lane of my own teenage inner angst and drama. And, looking forward, it's making me think about the conversations I want to continually have with my daughters about inner value, bravery, confidence, and kindness.  Plus, I'll have a really great reading list for them (they're never going to get through it!)

Here are a few recommendations:

image via Goodreads
 I was lucky enough to hear the author speak in person.
She was delightful.

image via Goodreads
Here's my Goodreads review


image via Goodreads
Here's my review on Goodreads

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Spot of Color

The Princess continues her streak of fantastical outfits. And, as the weather turns gray (not that I'm complaining), the color is a wonderful bright spot.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Airline Fun in 140 Characters

Last week I took a quick, work related trip to Chicago. Flew in one day, had hours of meetings, flew out the following evening. Well, it was supposed to be late evening but, as my live tweeting captured, it turned out to be a rather long and involved night... I don't tweet much or very often, but that night I broke all my records. I thought I'd just let the tweets tell the progression of the night.

As part of [airport] security there is a t-rex skelton gazing down on us  4:53 PM 

This lady is watching me eat. Which makes me even more awkward than normal

Just had to tear into a piece of broccoli with my hands. Because I have no knife and lady still stares 

Shes probably tweeting about me.

This is the 3rd time they've changed my gate since I got here. I'm putting in extra miles 

And we have a 4th gate change. I'm getting a little nervous, do they know what they're doing?

Almost time to board, feeling sick. Lets all pray that I'm not   

It's cause I had to shovel my food to get away from the lady! 6:28 PM 

New plane. Screen in the seat back. Perhaps i'll survive 

They are holding us hostage on board until 5 people volunteer to get off. She [flight attendant] used threat and guilt 7:06 PM

Seems that no one is tempted by a night at a hotel and meal vouchers. 7:07 PM

We need a better offer before we will negotiate! 7:08 PM

They have threatened "off-loading" 7:09 PM 

FYI, it's not like any of us snuck on the plane, though they sure made it sound that way. We all had over-priced tickets that gave each of us 16 inches of seat to huddle in for 4 hours...

$600 card on the table. 4 volunteers to go 7:10 PM

1 more, people! Can we hold out for a trip around the world? 7:12 PM 

Someone backed away. Back to 2 volunteers needed 7:13 PM

Limbo... They got their 5 but the seats are still empty. What kind of racket is this? 7:17 PM

At this point my seatmate and I realize that the middle seat in front of us has been open THE ENTIRE TIME.

I haven't named the airline yet but I'm getting super close... 7:19 PM

Oh no! Its like the Hunger Games, they're calling us by name! 7:20 PM

They're bringing bags up from underneath. What are they making room for?? 7:21 PM

Bodies? Stowaways? Those 5 volunteers? 7:22 PM 

Must go NOW!! 7:22 PM

They SAID we were leaving...

4 empty seats on this flight... You do the math. (still at the gate.I'm not endangering the flight!) 7:28 PM 

They've now counted us 4 times. Next up, roll call. 7:31 PM

They may need more volunteers, 4 empty seats are not enough...I'm baffled. 7:33 PM
A volunteer reappears...and has re-seated himself. I hope he got the voucher!

Door closed. We might actually be going somewhere! 7:35 PM

Cue 4 hours of quiet. They did give us all free TV but only AFTER the guy across the aisle "suggested" it to one of the attendants.

Here. 1 1/2 hrs late. 12:23 AM

Taking off I counted 13 planes waiting in line behind us. 12:24 AM

Watching to see what they unload from underneath. Still suspicious 12:25 AM

So, to sum up:
  • "Volunteers" were all but forcibly removed from the plane in order to make room for the crowd of people still waiting to get on the plane (like it was our fault for buying a ticket and taking up their room on the plane!). 
  • We sat for an hour while they shuffled around some luggage. 

I have concluded that we know even less than we thought we knew when it comes to air travel. Is ignorance bliss? Perhaps, if it keeps us from sitting at the gate for an hour while fellow passengers randomly disappear...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Monthly Menu Review (September 2012)

Oh, hi. Remember how I used to do these? Remember how I haven't done one since last March?  That's right, five months of no-plan-for-dinner and a strong likelihood that burritos were on the menu. But, I stepped up my game in September (I fooled myself into thinking it was fall but it wasn't. That thermometer cracked the 80 degree mark more times than I'd like to admit.) and had much success, or at least, edible food.

Here are a few of the recipes I tried (see the calendar for what I made and I made all but one, the Brazilian Black Bean Stew.) that have been added to my "make again for sure" list.

Roasted Potatoes - I served these on a bed of baby spinach and topped them with chopped tomatoes and avocados and they were to die for. In fact, they were so good that I didn't eve get to eat the leftovers...(Steve doesn't do leftovers, he made an exception.) They will change your life.

Pan Roasted Chicken - this one is probably more iffy, I liked it more than Steve. But, if you like citrus, this is the one for you. The chicken (I used boneless tenderloins), potatoes, and green beans (I've used frozen and fresh) bake on a bed of sliced lemons. I've never described lemons as "creamy" before, but that's the word I kept coming up with. They are so unique and so good.

Roasted Corn Chowder - Yay for soup season! This one has a sweet potato in it so I was totally excited to try it. I loved it. (I used frozen corn, roasted would make it 10x better even. I didn't have fresh tomatoes but used canned.)

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

House Crazy

I made this quilt a number of years ago but it's been packed away so long that The Princess thought it was brand new. I finally got it hung on the big blank wall that made me uncomfortable every time I walked by. One thing checked off the ever growing list of things I imagine accomplishing...

This one was really fun to make because the pattern was very "loose". Basically it was, cut at random angles and sizes, sew a straight line in the opposite random angle and call it good. Everything was squared off in the end.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Color Run

So, I did this over the weekend. That explains the faint tinge of green still on my skin.