Monday, September 17, 2007

all good things must come to an end

and hopefully, despite highly sporadic posting, pookiellama has been a good thing.

but it's time for me to pull the plug.

i've been putting this off for a while now. i really had all intentions of fulfilling the promise i made in my last post, and going out in a blaze of glory. but it seems that instead i'm destined to go out in a smolder of procrastination. oh well—less dramatic, more fitting.

why am i signing off, you ask? has the stress of wile-raising finally worn me down? nah. you may remember a while back that i mentioned that i finally had an inkling of what i wanted to do when i grew up? well, that inkling has become more and more real, and i need to give it all of my free time and brain cells.

if you're so inclined, you can find out more about it and follow it's progress here.

thanks for reading, y'all.

p.s. wile says bye too—and to check in with him at his site.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

dress + promise + awesome

here's a new refashion.

and i owe a big old post telling you what i've been doing for the past few weeks since i obviously haven't been spending a lot of time posting here. it will include thrilling tales of ozzie dogs, naked backhoeing, ice cream, king diamond cover bands, and toddler beer pong.

in the meantime, here's this:

Monday, July 23, 2007

pass the kleenex

i have spent the last three days crying.

saturday and sunday, i was consumed by the new h.p., and basically wept right through it. but that's not a spoiler! it wasn't all sad crying—some of it was happy crying, and most of it was just "dear god i've known these people for almost 10 years i can't take any more ups and downs and highs and lows and i am emotionally drained !" (i'm halfway through my second reading now, much less crying.)

then this afternoon wile and i had to cry together for a little while. he's still not napping yet still really needing the nap, and sometimes the afternoons get a little hairy. today gwen was here for a few hours, which was mostly fantastic. they laughed their heads off at everything, and were really sweet with each other—gwen patted wile's head when he bonked his knee, he always asked her if she was okay when she fell down. they also invented a new game, when wile was naked after he escaped me mid-diaper change, in which gwen would chase him around the house then tackle him onto his bed and tickle him in his happy zone, which she told me was called "tic tac toe penis." i cannot make this shit up.

anyway, the highest highs are, of course, ususally followed by the lowest lows, so by the time mona came to get gwen, wile was teetering on the brink of meltdown, and then jumped right over the edge. he wanted to read a book, but didn't want gwen touching it, which he told us all about very very loudly. so i told him we would wait till they left, but that wasn't the right answer. so i left him on the couch screeching while i said goodbye to mona and gwen, then had him yell for at least ten minutes about how he did not want me to say goodbye to them, how i should never do that again. i tried to take him upstairs to calm down, but he couldn't. and that's what he told me: "i can't stop crying!" that's when i started crying. partially because we were on minute 30 of screaming crying now and it was wearing on my nerves, and partially because i know all too well the feeling of not being able to stop crying from my intense pms days, and it's fairly awful, and hard enough to deal with when you're 20, but must be even harder and scary when you're 3. so i suggested we lie down, but no. then he bit his tongue and insisted that i put boo-boo cream on it. i told him that we didn't have any boo-boo cream that could go in his mouth. he told me we did, and that if i'd carry him into the bathroom he'd show it to me. okay. so when i opened the bathroom cabinet and he didn't find what he had imagined might be there, it took the crying to a new level.

finally he quieted down to the point where i could suggest food, and thankfully he said yes to that. then he wanted a bun. okay. i took one out of the freezer, and he started crying again. he didn't want it cold. could i put it in the microwave? no. toaster? no. what he wanted, and i quote, was "a bun from the warm frigerator!" the what now? apparently he would like us to have a refrigerator that keeps food warm, not cold. because he doesn't want food cold. he wants food warm. we spent a good 10 minutes on that one. i'm still not sure that i have him convinced that there's no such thing as a "warm refrigerator", but i think i at least convinced him that we don't own one.

he let me microwave-defrost the bun, ate it, then told me that he wanted to go upstairs and lie down. alright, then! we went up, he got into his bed. he asked me for his train to play with, i gave it to him but told him he had to stay in bed. he said fine. i told him to call me if he needed anything, and walked out of his room. he called, "see you later, mama!" half an hour later, around 5, he was asleep. here's hoping he doesn't wake up till morning.

i think i should be done crying for the week, though. the only thing i have on my schedule for the next few days is a few mets games, and as we all know.....

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

the way life should be

so as all parents know, vacation with a toddler isn't really a relaxing break. it's kinda like life lived in extremes. you get the very very good—seeing best friends! going to the beach! lobster and steamers and whoopie pie! four square! fun wedding!—alongside the very very bad—off schedule! sleeping in odd places! subsequent screaming fits!

i have to give the litle man credit, he really mostly kicked ass. there was just one really bad day with much wailing and lamenting. and unfortunately with me, this day landed on the day that we were spending with my in-laws. sigh.

i'm kinda braindead from the 95˚ and the hunidity, so i'll just hit you with the highlights:

going electric

ocean with jess

maine 07

fried clams

maine 07


maine 07

the world's biggest lobster bib

maine 07

naked in echo lake

maine 07

digging (what, you thought there'd be no digging?)

4 great iPhotos


4 great iPhotos


4 great iPhotos

and, we're done.

4 great iPhotos

Saturday, June 30, 2007

another old shirt rescued!

the permalink to my latest post on wardrobe refashion is all fuckered up for some reason, so in a departure from my usual refashion m.o., to save you from having to scroll through wardrobe refashion looking for my post, i'm just posting it here:

this was part of my college uniform:


not only is it ridiculously big (as all of my clothes were back then), it has developed some issues in the back....


.....and so has since been relegated to the pajama drawer (or, more accurately, one of the pajama drawers. i have a few pajama/loungewear drawers. some of my friends find this odd). but i never wore it, because i was afraid it was just going to keep ripping and fall apart. so, clearly, it was time to take it apart myself.

i started by removing the sleeves, then cutting across the back at the spot of the enourmous gaping hole, leaving me with this:


then i cut down the sides, making two pieces, and slit the part of the back that was attached to the front down the middle, comme ca:


i decided that those two pieces coming off the top of the front piece would become straps, so i trimmed them a bit to make them slimmer and hemmed the edges. i also turned the neckband under in the front and stitched it down to make a uniform hem all around.

then i put it all together: pinned the side seams (which, since i don't have a dress form yet, involved pinning the front piece of the shirt to my bra to keep it still while i held the back piece in place) and sewed them up, hemmed the top of the back piece, attached the straps to the back, and hemmed the front piece— which had ended up longer than the back—at the bottom. and this is what i got:



putting it on, i realized that the part where i had hemmed under the existing neckband stuck out....


...and i was going to fix it by turning it under one more time and re-hemming, but then i realized that i liked it the way it was.

the finished product definitely retained some of the pinholes and frayed edges of the original shirt, and i'm glad it did.

off to maine on vacation, more when i return!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

it is unwise to get only 5 hours of sleep before taking a 2-year old and an 8-year old to the natural history museum because

maybe you'll not have the energy or mental stamina for the "i don't want to wear paaaaaaaants" argument the preceeds leaving the house and end up stuffing the 2-year old in the shorts and carrying his screaming ass to the subway station.

maybe you'll give a total parker-posey-in-dazed-and-confused bitchface to the 12-year old who snottily tells you that the reason the bell rang in the elevator was because you were holding down the "door open" button for too long.

maybe you'll give a slight hip-check to the pushy tourist who tries to bustle past you on your way out of the elevator.

maybe you'll not-so-silently curse out the stupid euro-tourists who walk up the stairways like they had specially reserved them for their own private use instead of staying to the goddamn right, goddamn it.

maybe you'll need to go to bed at 9:30. good night.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

a dark day

today, wile said "little".

Saturday, June 16, 2007

new refasion post

is up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

not really grasping the concept

"mama, you pick out my clothes."



"okay. [walk to dresser. choose shirt and pants] here you —"

"no! not pick those pants! pick the other ones!"

Thursday, June 07, 2007

why i love ebay

i just bought this for $4.99:

will you look at that? those shorts!! vintage 1985. it's a size 6 months, so obviously not for wile. first met fan to have a baby gets it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


that's right, two days straight. yes, i would like a high-five. thank you. ow, not so hard.

during the glorious time of the sleeping baby, i put a new post up on wardrobe refashion.


sorry, i'm a little delerious.

here, have a picture of wile and gwen eating lunch at the queens farm museum earlier today:

and the insane-o rooster we saw:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

what is this "flow" i'm supposed to be going with?

all of this non-napping sleep insanity has made me realize how far i've come in terms of dealing with the two-year-old behavior ("behavior" is a nicer word that "bullshit", right?). i can roll with whatever he throws at me now. and i can look back at the past few months and see how hard it has been for me to deal with this transition to the 2-y.o. state of being. which is totally understandable—i mean, how would you like it if 50% of everything you said was met with a resounding "no!"?? plus the whining. oh my god the whining. and as i've mentioned before, the constant negotiation. and the iron-clad refusal to give in to reality. example, from bedtime last night:

"wile, you always fall asleep by yourself"

"no! i dooooon't! i don't!"

it has taken me a few months to learn to just say "okay! but tonight you are."

so the fact that i have been able to deal with this whole not-napping-totally-unpredictable- schedule-that-leads-to-frequent-decents-into-inconsolability-and-insanity development without losing my shit or just walking out of the house and telling trucky and lulu to call me if anything bad happens makes me feel....pretty damn good. i've reached a place of toddler-parent zen. you know, not every second of every day, but most of the time. and this is fairly amazing not only in itself but also as a component of my personality as a whole. i am not very zen about anything. i like—okay, fine, honesty: need—to control things. the fact that i can let go a little and adapt to a wholly new set of variables every day is unprecedented.

so what has he been throwing at us lately? let's see:

thursday, aunt susie was visiting. around 2:30, we were on our way into the backyard to dig and he told me he was tired. i asked did he want to nap now? no, soon. okay, soon. around 2:45, i told him 5 minutes to play. "no no no mama i want to dig more!" it was too hot to fight. i told him now or never. the answer was never. so in my new zen state, i decided not to force the square peg into the round hole and just said fine, no nap! onward! so we dug, then went to the park. headed home around 5:45, started making dinner. he said he was hungry, and took his place at at the table and asked me what was for dinner.i told him fish. "what kind fish?" tilapia! thus began the battle cry: "no, i want salmon! i want salmon!" repeated at varying degrees of whining, wheedling, pleading, and desperation until he literally sat back in his chair, closed his eyes, and nearly fell asleep, all "i want salmmmmmzxxxzz". i scooped him up and took him to bed. he was nearly asleep when he asked for pajamas. i got him some ones he hadn't ever worn before, with appliqued gators on the shirt. "mama, look—there a yellow one, a blue one, and a gray one." i say: "actually that's more like tan than gray." what the hell was i thinking? shut up, pantone girl! the chin started wobbling, the eyes welled up with tears: "i not like that color! mama, take that bottom gator off! take it off!!" ten minutes later, i was coloring in the f-ing grey/tan gator with a red sharpie. then he said "where that gator's face? mama, i not want the gator's face at that side! i want it over here!" something in my tone thankfully convinced him that i didn't have a magic sharpie in my bag that was going to make that happen. i sang no songs (the tradeoff for the sharpie), he fell asleep. at 7 o'clock. that's an hour and a hlf earlier than normal.

that was definitely the worst day lately. saturady he went to the mets game with stephen and iden + luella and jake and pulled another marathon session—fell asleep in the car on the way home from the game around 4 and slept till 6am. sunday there was no nap, and bedtime was peaceful because our friend courtney (hi courtney!) was visiting from colorado and wile was too excited to have her here to have any freakouts. but yesterday he woke up in a hellacious mood. thankfully, he asked for some ba-boo around 10, so i gave him some and he passed out till 11:45.

and today? today we had a long talk about naps and school and how at school you have to participate in naptime and how naps make you feel good and happy and then we have more fun together and blah blah throwing every sales tactic in the book at him and, though his mouth was still forming the words "i don't want to take a nap" as his head hit the pillow, he! is! asleep! asleeeeeeeeeeeeep!

wanna take bets on whether he'll wake up in two hours or tomorrow morning?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

home runs off the wall

he can't poop in the potty, but he can do this....

Thursday, May 31, 2007

on my honor...

"i pledge that i shall abstain from the purchase of 'new' manufactured items of clothing for the period of 6 months. i pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn, or other medium for the term of my contract. i pledge that i will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted, or created item of clothing on the wardobe refashion blog, so that others may share the joy!"
signed, hey mama.

i'll be posting on that there blog once a week, and i'll post the links to those posts here. oh look, here's the first one now! i think i babble a little bit....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

right back where we started from

maybe you recall, if you've been with us here at pookiellama since the beginning, that i used to talk about wile's sleeping a lot? specifically, that he really didn't like to do it? for the first year and a half, it was the defining issue of our lives. but we've been in such a good place with the sleeping for so long now that even though it hasn't been perfect—some early mornings, some ridiculously drawn-out good-night sessions in which i get called back in to the room to fix his blanket, put mets bear's hat back on, turn on the ceiling fan, find his water, take a booger off the tip of his finger, or some other important task—it hasn't been anywhere near traumatic enough to write about.

but now we've hit the next phase of sleep issues, and it's not pretty.

let me start at the very beginning (a very good place....). about two months ago, we found out that wile got in to our preschool of choice for the fall. which is totally exciting for many reasons, but that's another post. the thing about preschool that applies here and now is: it runs from 8:30 to 3:30. which means that they have naptime. and i will not be dropping by each day at that time to hit him with some ba-boo.

as i've mentioned, i've been afraid that the napping and the nursing were so tightly intertwined that if i tried to take away the nursing, the napping would follow, and that was a truly petrifying idea. but now, with preschool shimmering on the horizon, the time had come. so we started slow: we talked about school, and how awesome school is going to be, and that in order to take part in the awesomeness, he needed to get used to napping without falling asleep on the ba-boo. so we would sit up (instead of lying down) in bed and nurse for a short time, then i would lie down with him and we would snuggle* until he fell asleep.

and it worked! not only would he go down for a nap with me this way (after just 2 or 3 times with a little crying/lamenting the loss of the ba-boo), but both stephen and his mom were able to put him down with just snuggling! and then....oh my holy crap, and then.....he stopped asking for the ba-boo, and i could put him down with just snuggling. and he was still sleeping well at night, if waking up a little earlier than usual. it was a golden age, those two weeks or so.

then, of course, the crash. two weeks ago, we went up for nap, happy happy, changed the diaper, smile smile, and then: "mama, i not want to take a nap." oh no no no no no no no. no. i call bullshit. he insisted no. i insisted yes. he cried. i cried. i had to leave the room. i came back. he cried more. we snuggled. he finally went down.

we followed that pattern for 3 or 4 naptimes, until the day that he just wouldn't go down. no way, no how. less crying, more standing up and walking around the room. and what the hell was i going to do, stap him to the bed? so, no naps. and the night sleeping was definitely affected, with him giving us the same "i not want to sleep!" nonsense at bedtime, and waking up between 5 and 5:30, wide-eyed and clamoring for toast.

this non-napping has had some interesting side effects (aside from, you know, the gradual deterioration of my sanity). on friday we headed out to the met to see the paul poiret exhibit. at around 2, he told me he was ready to go home. i said okay, looked down two minutes later, and he was alseep in the stroller. he hasn't slept in the stroller in over a year, easy—he slept for 2 hours. then on saturday, he went down for a nap in his bed—unwillingly, unhappily, but he did it—at 3. he woke up at 9:15, ate a piece of toast, drank some water, and went back to sleep around 10 until around 6am. ooooookay! last night, he went down normal time (8:30) and slept until 8:15am. today there was no nap again, and by 6:30 he was definitely tired and cranky, and i whisked him through a quick dinner and had him alseep by 8.

so, clearly it's not that he no longer needs the naps. he just doesn't want them. still, i can't accept that we'll never nap again. because, dude. i can't hack it. for serious. what i've done in the last two days, after we've lay down and it becomes clear that the nap ain't going to happen, is insisted on "quiet time", in which he's allowed to play in his room, in a calm and orderly and independent fashion, while i semi-nap on the bed. so i've been able to catch up on a little rest, but haven't been able to get anything done or gotten any time to myself. which is going to wear reeeeeeealy thin after a few days.

actually i did get some time to myself today, between 7—when i woke up and couldn't believe that he wasn't up yet—and 8:15. and, granted, he was asleep by 8 tonight, which means that i have a couple of hours to get some things done now before exhaustion sets in and i'm too braindead to do anything but watch blake lewis videos on youtube. and i could handle this schedule, if i thought it would last. but, i don't. i'm too shell-shocked by all the recent 5am wake-ups. plus, it really cuts into our social life if we have to be home for dinner at 6:30 for bedtime at 7:15—in the summer, we're usually just wandering out of the park at 7!

so, sadly, i think this all proves my theory about the napping and the nursing. and i definitely felt, in the past few months, that by giving him the ba-boo at naptime i was kinda....drugging him. so what we're dealing with here, i guess, is withdrawl?

but i'm just as addicted to the nap, yo! i can make do with the early bed/late rise methadone, but really, i want the hard stuff.

*i have to describe wile's conception of "snuggling": he starts by burrowing in close to you, very sweet. then he takes his forehead and presses it against yours, also very sweet. for about 30 seconds. until he keeps pressing, harder. and harder, until it feels like he is trying to phase through you to the other side of the bed, if he....only....had.....the....power....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

yay! boo!

good job, nbc!!

bad job, america!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


i am currently the kind of tired where my eye sockets are burning. wile was up at 5 this morning, carrying on, and we ended up downstairs making toast at 5:30. he, with that wise toddler intuition, asked to watch bob the builder after he ate his toast, so i got some sleep on the couch for a couple of hours (two bob episodes, one firetruck dvd, and some playing with his wooden food that i only know about because i woke up with wooden carrots and bread and apple slices strewn about my head), but it wasn't the good kind of sleep, it was the kind of sleep where i woke up feeling more exhausted than when i started. and now wile is napping, and i should be too, but i can't fall alseep. so, let's talk about food.

my favorite meal this week was the one i made on sunday night. yes, i made dinner on mother's day. the horror! except not, because 1) i like to cook, 2) stephen took wile into the yard to play baseball so i got to cook alone, which is a rare and beautiful thing these days, 3) stephen did the dishes, 4) i knew what i wanted and if stephen had insisted on making it just because "it's mother's day and mothers don't cook on mother's day" or some such nonsense, he would have had to ask me questions and checked in with me a bunch of times and it would have been not at all the "break" for me that it would seem, and 5) we had gone out to a great dinner the night before.

i made pork chops and a salad, which sounds pretty boring, no? except. i've discovered, thanks to cook's illustrated, the perfect way to cook pork chops. it's a little wacky, but you really honestly do end up with the juiciest pork chops ever. here's the deal:

take your pork chops (bone-in or bone-out, but bone-in is better; either way, try to get them at least 1" thick) and rub them all over with some vegetable oil, then salt and pepper them. on one side, sprinkle with a pinch of sugar. if there's a lot of fat on one edge, make a couple of cuts into it, just down to the meat, so that the chop doesn't curl up in the pan. then grab a non-stick pan and put it onto a cold burner. yes, cold. take the chops and put them in the pan sugar-side down, pressing them into the pan. (i've used two kinds of pans for this technique, a calphalon and a cast iron pan. with the calphalon, i found that i needed to put a little bit of oil into the pan, in addition to the oil that i rubbed on the chops, to keep then from sticking totally. with the cast iron pan, not so much. so, see how it goes with your pan.) turn the heat on under the pan to medium high, and don't go far away. the chops should start sizzling within 2 minutes; if they don't, turn the heat up. let them cook for somewhere between 2-1/2 and 7 minutes, until they're browned on the one side (that's why you put the sugar on, to help with the browning). then turn them over, turn the heat down to low, cover the pan, and find your meat thermometer. i usually start checking them after about 3 minutes, 2 minutes if they're on the thinner side—you want them to come up to 140˚ in the center. this could take up to 10 minutes, depending on your pan, what "low" means on your stove, the meat itself, etc etc. when they've reached temp, take them out and throw them on a plate, tented with aluminum foil.

then make a sauce in the pan. my favorite thing to do is saute some shallots in the residual pork fat, then throw in some brandy, let it cook down, and finish it with a tablespoon or so of butter. i've also made a good one with just a 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and a couple of teaspoons of mustard, boiled down a little bit. last night i wanted the brandy sauce but we were out of brandy and shallots, so i used some slices of garlic and medium-dry sherry instead, and it was delicious. when the sauce is made, turn off the heat and throw the chops back in the pan for a second the coat with the sauce and warm them up, and serve.

and for our salad, we had some baby swiss chard that i got from the crazy hydroponic organic people at the farmer's market. it was really tender but a little bit bitter, so i made a honey vinaigrette (1t honey, 1t mustard, 1t white vinegar, 1/3 cup walnut oil) to go with it. it was a great salad, much more interesting than any lettuce, but the best thing about it, and the reason that this was my favorite meal of last week, was that wile ate 7 helpings of it. he went to bed 45 minutes late becaue he kept asking for more salad, and there was no way in hell i was going to say no.

ps - one of my tag-ees has risen to the challenge.

Monday, May 14, 2007


i've been tagged. it's a blog thing.

here's the rules:

1. List 7 random facts about yourself on your blog
2. Tag 7 more blogs , making sure to let them know.

and away we go....

1) i have no spleen. or gall bladder. but i do have a lovely 18" scar on my abdomen, shaped like this: ^.

2) i hate bananas. but i love banana bread.

3) when i was in 8th grade, the popular girls (who were my best friends the year before) organized our entire class against me. they came up with a lovely nickname that i......nope, still can't talk about it. thought maybe i could, but no. it'll go to the grave. and when they "apologized", i was too shell-shocked to even tell them to eat shit and die. however: one of them got knocked up our senior year, one of them ended up married to the loser local cop who used to bust us for doing donuts in the school parking lot, and one of them got in a car accident and screwed up her throat in some such way that she can't speak above a whisper. lesson? don't fuck with me. hee. just kidding. maybe.

4) my favorite book is anne of green gables.

5) i didn't learn to ride a bike till i was 10 years old.

6) trucky has a recurring zit under his right armpit, and once a month or so, i squeeze it for him .

7) in 6th grade, for our "yearbook", we had to write an essay about what our lives would be like when we grew up. mine said that i would be living in a brownstone in new york city with my husband and some cats and that i would be an artist. yes, yes, yes, and working on it.

okay, so but as far as rule 2? i don't think i can hit 7. i'll do 3. i'll let you know if they comply...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

hello amoxicillin my old friend

so, it's strep throat. which, now that the worst of the illness seems to be over, is actually good news, since i've got the meds and hopefully i'll be back to normal by next week. i went to the walk-in clinic this morning and the doctor took one look at my throat and said "oh honey, i don't even need to swab you. you've got it." i have the kind of strep throat you can see from space.

the worst part, now that i can swallow without feeling like my saliva is made of crushed glass, is keeping up with wile, poor thing. i can't pitch. i can't dig. i'm no good in the joint. he's had it with me, and i don't blame him.

i'm going to go take a nap now, while he naps, but i'll leave you with this bit of entertainment: when we were up at aunt peg's house, wile got a rake and a hoe for his gardening work. which means i now get to hear him say, "mama, where my ho?"

and if you don't find that funny, we can't be friends.

Monday, May 07, 2007


have been out of town for a couple of weeks.

have returned.

have come down with some sort of lovely illness that constists of a headache, body ache, chills, and the feeling that i have been stabbed in the throat.

hope you're all better than that!

back soon.....

Thursday, April 19, 2007

crunch crunch

[i've been putting this post together for about a week now, and just realized that sunday is earth day.... i really wasn't trying to be so cheesily timely. oh well. read on!]

so in the midst of all of my other life-adjusting activities, i've also been making adjustments that will (hopefully) have consequences for the world beyond me and the people in my line of fire: i'm becoming more...what's that trendy word?....oh, right, "green".

it's been a long and troubled road for me and the green thing. i tried to join the environmental club in college, but it didn't take. it seemed to me that to really belong with the other members i should like things like camping and hiking and mountain biking, which, no. not going to happen. also, everybody was getting all psyched about discovering seitan and tofu and whole wheat pasta and i was like, dude, whatever, the moosewood cookbook was my stepmom's bible. i took organic puffed-rice-and-rice-syrup "krispies" in my lunch in 7th grade. sorry, but i can't share in your wide-eyed tempeh evangelism. plus, the enviro-kids were just so....earnest. i was much more into cynical and ironic.

also, in my youth (or childhood) i was much more prone, as most teenagers and college-age-type people can be, to absolutism. black and white. right and wrong. more specifically, i'm right, and if you don't agree with me, you're wrong. and it just pissed me off so much that so many people could be so wrong!! i mean, what's the point of doing anything to help the environment if so many other (stupid fucking) people weren't going to do anything! it's all hopeless. screw it. pass the bong. and i also applied this to myself, as in: why bother being a vegetarian if i'm not going to go whole hog and be vegan and stop wearing leather? wouldn't that just be hypocritical? and why bother making an effort to conserve energy and shit if i don't want to go live totally off the grid with, like, some goats?

so that whole attitude eventually (mostly) wore off somewhere in my mid-twenties, but i still didn't jump into any big eco-activity. i don't know why. i mean, i am certainly on the hippie end of the spectrum, with my cloth diapers and herbal remedies and so on. but as far as doing more, i think mainly i didn't know where to start—and i still, subconsciously, felt like making a difference meant doing something on a grand scale, or doing things like going to rallies and marches and such, which didn't really appeal. but in the past couple of years—and more so even in the past few months—i've found ways to connect to the whole green thing on a personal, small scale that really make sense to me, and that reinforce ideas i've already had. and since i've started making these changes, i can honestly say, with no snark or sarcasm, that i feel more peaceful. and that's not a natural state for me. so i thought, at the risk of sounding preachy, that i'd write about what i've been doing. if this isn't your thing, you can just stop reading now. you know, if you hate the earth and don't care about our children!! ahem. sorry. the old absolutist rage bubbles up now and again. on with the show!

in general terms, i've been trying to be much more conscious of: how much stuff we put in the garbage, how much energy we use, and what we're putting down the drains and therefore back into the dirt and water.

more specifically, that breaks down like this:

cleaning (the house): when wile started crawling around and touching everything and then shoving his hands in his (and my) mouth, i started thinking about all of the nasty cleaning products we use and how i really didn't want them in my mouth, thanks. so i threw out our fantastic and bleach and scrubbing bubbles and replacing them with stuff that doesn't come with a poison control number on the side of the bottle. partially this has meant switching to method products, which are totally non-toxic and smell lovely. but as i'm diving deeper into this green thing, i'm moving away from even that into using things that are even less toxic and have less packaging. like baking soda. now i use it as a gentle abrasive, for scrubbing the stovetop, the pots, the tub, the shower, the countertops if they need it. and i'm going to replace my grapefruit all-pupose cleaner with a reusable spray bottle filled with diluted(1 teaspoon : 3/4 cup water) dr.bronner's , which comes in nice big recycleable gallon jugs and is super non-toxic, organic, fair-trade, and comes in a just-as-good-as-grapefruit lavendar scent. for the floors, i'll continue to use apple cider vinegar, which also comes in nice big recycleable jugs. vinegar actually has tons of uses, which i'm going to start to try out. i also just ordered some laundry detergent from charlie's soap, which is all eco-excellent and recommended for wile's diapers and a small company. supposedly you can use it in the dishwasher too. we shall see.... and i'm amassing a collection of cloth rags (from old clothes, towels, etc) in a quest to never use another paper towel.

cleaning (me): again, i came to the realization that i didn't want to put anything on my body that i wouldn't put in my mouth.... plus, my history with beauty products is an unhappy one.

i've fought a long with shampoo/conditioner. the day i washed my hair, no matter how well i conditioned, my hair looked and felt like crap. it would be okay the next day, good the next, perfect the next, then all of the sudden super greasy and gross the next, and i'd start the dance all over again. so i figured i had nothing to lose by trying this natural method i read about: you wash/massage your scalp with a baking soda paste, and then rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar. yes, i'm cleaning my hair with the same stuff i use to clean my stove and my floor. not kidding. and i l-o-v-e the end result. this is a good description of the whole process. it did take a little perserverence, i'm not going to lie—everything i read about it warned that you'd have "yucky" hair for a couple of weeks as you weaned your hair off shampoo, because your scalp would continue to overproduce oil, as it had been doing to compensate for all the oils that the shampoo stripped away. i could never get a more precise description than "yucky", but now that i've lived through it i can give you one: my hair felt like it was coated in a mixture of wax and motor oil. by day 13, i was getting a little cranky, and tired of bandanas. but then like magic, on day 14, after i did my new "wash" again, my hair was perfect and soft and glossy. no joke. i'm still getting my proportions down—like, today i used too much baking soda and my hair's a little dry. but i just threw a yodi tiny bit of rosemary oil on it and it's fine. and no, i don't smell like a big pickle.

my (combination) skin has always been tempermental and blotchy and responded exactly the same whether i used some shmancy wash from keihl's, or some organic wash from weleda, or cetaphil from the drugstore, or just water. so for a long time i went with just water, especially after i read some article about milla jovovitch (katinka!) that talked about how she only used warm water to wash her face because that's what her skin/beauty guru person told her. sold! but as i'm getting on in years and seeing more wrinkles, and since my beloved city doesn't have the most pristine air quality, and since i don't like the idea of the sunscreen that i use on my face in the summer hanging around on my skin any longer than it has to, i figured it was time i found a wash/moisturizer that i liked and that was chemical-free. so i did: olive oil. again, not kidding. i'm not going to type out the whole process, as it has already been done so well here. and here. my skin looks good and feels awesome. i still get zits every now and then, but that's hormonal. but the flaky dryness with the oily spots next to the red blotches? gone. amazing. i've also been using the almighty baking soda to exfoliate—make a very watery paste of it in your hand and then use it like you'd use any scrub.

recycling my own clothes: a couple months back i was reading casey's blog and discovered wardrobe refashion. yes!! ecology via clothing! now that truly, like nothing else, spoke to me. i've always preferred vintage/thrifted clothes. and i've always hated getting rid of clothes. so i'm signing on for the next round, and i'm psyched. i've got big plans for my favorite shirt from 5th grade. and i've jumped the gun and already done one project, which you can see in the pic of wile chowing on the hot dog up there. the mets shirt he has on? i cut the mets symbol out of a mets shirt that i got at shea on some promotional date that i was never going to wear because it was a size xxxxxxxxxl, but i hadn't gotten rid of because it had a mets symbol on it. so i chopped it up, donated the copius scraps to the aforementioned rag pile, and sewed the symbol on to an old stained t-shirt of wile's. i even managed to use the zig-zag stitch on my new sewing machine and only mess up in a couple of places! not bad for a first effort, yeah? oh and i crocheted a hat that i thought was for me but ended up being for wile. you'll see all of this and more once i take my refashioning pledge....

screwing con-ed: most simply, doing what my parents told me to do a million times and turning off the lights as i leave a room.... but also trying not to turn on the lights at all during the day, and just opening the window shades when it's dim, which is double-good because it saves energy plus natural light is good for your mental health. next, i'm going to replace all of our lightbulbs with flourescents. no, our home will not be all yellow-blinky-buzzy-light-y. they make good flourescents now.

and i'm trying to ignore the fact that we have a dryer. we put up a clothesline in the backyard when wile was born to hang his diapers on, since they last longer that way, and the sunlight bleaches out the poop stains. and at the end of last summer, i found myself hanging more and more non-diaper items on the line. so even though it's been too cold for the line, i've been trying to hang more things to dry on my indoor racks. and now that spring (knock on wood) seems to be here, finally, and the line can go back into use, i'm going to hang everything. no dryer. and i'm going to buy some more racks and keep it up even when it gets cold again.

and speaking of coned, they now allow you to get your power from a windmills and stuff. i'm looking into it....

eating: as i've documented here, i'm in love with our farmer's market. and at this point, i'd say we do about 80% of our food shopping there. cheese, butter, milk, fish, vegetables, honey, poultry, beef, pork, smoked trout, jam, eggs, bread, turkey sausage, pickles—really, there's not much more we need. and i like eating only what's there—i like waiting till the peaches are in season to have a peach. and i'm even liking finding creative things to do with the slim pickings of the winter. most out-of-season fruit tastes like it's been shipped from halfway across the planet. of course, there are some fruits i won't give up, even though they're never going to grow on a farm within driving distance of my farmer's market in any season: lemons, limes, grapefruit, pomegranates. and some things—oils, vinegars, beans, rice, pasta—that they just don't sell there. so for those things that i do go to the store for, i've been buying organic, and shopping at the little health food store, when i can.

also: i'm not a vegetarian, nor am i going to be. obviously. i asked for beef-cheek ravioli for my birthday. and stephen is planning a pig roast in our backyard for sometime this summer. but there's no need to eat as much meat as we had been. i know it would be better to not eat meat at all; we've all heard about how land being used for animals to graze could be about 20x more productive if it were used for growing soybeans or grains, and how the waste from factory farms is polluting everything, and about the scary hormones they're giving the animals, etc. but i'm not ready to completely step away from the meats. so, as i said, we're buying all our meat from the farmer's market, from a small organic family farm. and i'm trying to make a few non-meat meals every week, which, as i mentioned, i have a lot of experience with....

trash: another cool thing about our farmer's market is that they have compost bins at the entrance. i would always watch people dumping their compostable trash into the bins and think "wow, that's great that people do that." it only took, oh, i don't know, about a year for that thought to progress to "wow, it would be great if i did that." i'm a little slow. but finally i took the plunge. we put all of our food scraps into a variety of old chinese delivery tupperware and haul them off to the market every saturday. and if we need to do a mid-week dump, there's a compst heap....right in the back of the playground i take wile to. so convenient. it took a little getting used to at home, but now i don't even think about it.

i'm also trying to exorcise plastic bags. they're inevitable sometimes—and useful to have around for things like toting home wile's dirty diapers from a day out of the house—but they're like gremlins, they just seem to multiply, and all of the sudden there's 50 of them under the sink. so i'm trying trying trying to remember to bring a tote bag with me whenever i go shopping for anything. and to ignore the looks of amusement/confusion/annoyance from some of the baggers at our local supermarkets.

so, that's my story. it's not perfect; i could definitely do more, and maybe next year i will. hey, i haven't even seen an inconvenient truth yet! who knows what i'll do then!

some other good links, if you're so inclined:
no-impact man

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

the stars looked aligned, dammit

the rangers swept.

sanjaya was voted off.

i really, honestly thought it could be finally, finally be our night.

*sigh*. 7171 games and counting.....

p.s. screw you, mark beuhrle

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


as you already know if you live on the east coast, it rained on sunday. no, i'm sorry, that's wrong—it motherfucking rained on sunday. as stephen said, "i've seen it rain harder, and i've seen it rain longer, but i've never seen it rain this hard for this long." pouring, pounding rain for at least 12 hours straight. so i decided that it was the perfect day to cook up the short ribs that i bought at the farmer's market a couple of weeks ago and that had been lingering in the freezer ever since.

i'd never cooked short ribs before, but i was prety sure i should just braise them. i looked on the interweb, and got confirmation of my hunch, plus some hot tips. so here's what i did:

1) browned the ribs. which is absolutely necessary when braising any kind of meat, but a pain in the ass, what with the spattering oil and the entire house ending up smelling like fried. but i found a new method, from james beard, via jeremiah tower, by way of regina shrambling. throw them in the broiler! so much freakin easier! just brush or spray the meat with some olive oil, salt + pepper it, put it in the broiler, and turn it turn it turn it so that each side gets some flame. granted, i had to clean the greasy broiler pan, but i think if i had used heavy duty foil i wouldn't have even had to do that. so. much. better.

2) put them in a deep ovenproof pot/pan/dutch oven along with a quart or so of beef stock (enough to cover them almost entirely), a sliced-up onion, some fresh herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary), and a couple of splashes of sherry vinegar. then i stuck it in a 300˚ oven for about 3 hours.

3) made a sauce. i took the meat and bones (which the meat had fallen off, yum) out of the pot and set them aside. then i de-greased the stock, which could have been a much easier process if we owned a dang baster and i could have just sucked the layer of grease off the top. as it was, i had to pour the stock through a strainer (to weed out the onions and branches of herbs) into a gravy separator, then pour it back out into a different pot (because i had to do it in batches, since there was about 4 cups of stock and the gravy separator holds about a cup and a half). which was a whole lot of effort, and a whole lot of implements that needed to be washed. don't let this happen to you! go forth, procure a baster! also, tie up your herbs with twine or wrap them in cheesecloth so that you can just pluck them out in one fell swoop.

anyway, once it was all de-greased, i threw it back in the original pot, threw the bones back in, and put it on the stove on high heat to reduce. i also splashed in a litle more sherry vinegar, like the internet had told me to do. which, when i tasted the sauce a little later, i thought was a big mistake; it was really vinegary. but once it went on the meat, it was perfect. the meat is so rich, it really needs a sauce with bite to balance it out. then i made a quick faux-roux, by melting a couple of tablespoons of butter in the microwave and whisking in a couple of tablespoons of flour, which i whisked in to the stock when it was just about reduced as far as i wanted it. it's right when it will coat a spoon like cough medicine. then i took out the bones, turned off the heat, and put the meat back in for a couple of minutes to warm back up.

all done! it was warm and delicious and just the right thing for a rainy, gross day.

oh, and i made some swiss chard to go with it, which was delicious. i used to go through a totally annoying blanch-then-saute song and dance with greens like swiss card and spinach, becuase somewhere along the way some cookbook or food show or something told me that you couldn't just saute the greens without blanching them first or they would get too oily by the time they were done. or too soggy. or something. i don't even remember anymore. i just did it, like looking in the bathroom mirror while i brush my teeth, another unnecessary habit of mine that i have absolutely no good reason or justification for. anyway, when i was down in sunny port st. lucie, my mom just threw her spinach in the pan with a little olive oil, sauteed it for a couple of minutes, and it was perfect. huh. so i did that with the chard, sprinkling in a little water and salt too, and it was the best chard i've ever cooked or eaten.

Friday, April 13, 2007

thanks, but no thanks. but, thanks!

so when i laid out the life-changing aspects of my time in florida, i didn't tell you the whole truth. i know! the deception has been eating at me inside since i posted it! but it's a longer story than i felt like telling at the time, and i just wanted to get those digging pictures up. the world could not wait for those digging pictures.

i'm starting this post on tuesday, but it could be days before you see it. cause like i said, it's a long story. and i'm still processing it as i'm writing it, so i'll probably rewrite it at least five times. and naptime, she only lasts so long, and i can't be on the "puter" when wile's awake anymore, because then he wants to "type emu", and you'd get a post that would look like this:


crane car sarah GWEN 0

weilh5 j







anyway: it all began well before we even got on the plane. somewhere around the middle of february, to be vaguely precise, i realized that i was not, as they say, in a good place. that the past couple of months had been a kind of a low point in my mothering career and career as a person.

i felt like my brain was turning to mush, and i was really just bored with....everything. i had all these things i should be doing, some fun (learning to use my new sewing machines, plotting out my world domination, posting on this here and that there blog), some not so fun, but necessary (cleaning out the front room downstairs, hanging up pictures in wile's room, weeding out the toys that wile hadn't glanced at in months), but i couldn't pull myself out of my torpor to do them. i was down in the doldrums with milo, and i didn't have tock to pull me out. combine that with some rough weeks here and there, in which i had some horrifyingly yell-y, guilt-inducing incidents with my poor defenseless young man, and i was left just plain unhappy.

thankfully i wasn't so far gone that i couldn't recognize it, and start to think about how to pull myself out of it. and i decided that i what i needed to do was start doing some work outside the house again. not full time or anything wacky like that, but some freelance editing, like i used to do. before calling my former place of employ (who i have freelanced for in the past), i jumped on mediabistro to see if they had any interesting freelance ads up. and what i found was an ad for a part-time job.

it was at a small company, very similar to the first place i worked at in publishing and loved, before it was acquired by a larger company and i ended up sitting in a cubicle and ran screaming for the exit. i was intrigued. i knew i could do this job, and do it really well. and it seemed like this was the solution to my problems, staring up at me from my computer screen. yes! i would completely overhaul my life! make a dramatic gesture! if freelance work would be good for me, a part-time job would be great! it would wake me up, give me purpose, balance my life! w! o! r! k! wooooo!

so i emailed in my resume. about a week and a half later, i got a call. i went in for an interview the day before i left for florida. i thought it went well, but really i had no f-ing idea. i've never done an interview before. for serious. well, i guess i technically had an interview with the crazy italian chef/owner at the italian restaurant where i apprentice-chef-ed, but all i can remember from that is following him around the restaurant saying "uh-huh" while he talked a mile a minute, and then he made me put a bunch of corks in a saute pan and flip them, and i thought i did a crappy job because i only got 5 out of 9 to say in the pan, but later found out that the reason he hired me was because of the cork-flipping, since he thought that he wouldn't have been able to do as well. so, but, anyway, i'd never had an interview before that required actual speaking.

but apparently i did just fine, because i got a call when i was at my mom's house asking me to do a second interview over the phone, and a couple days after that, a call offering me the job.

and pretty much just like that, i didn't want it.

there were a few technical factors—the hours were really much closer to full time than part time, and the money would never be more than just okay—but mostly, it came down to this:

> there might be hours, days, even weeks when i wish someone besides me was dealing with the whining, the arguments over wanting to wear shirts that are currently in the washing machine and how even asking really nice won't make them dry, the constant asking of "why?", the endless games of backhoe and catch, the total immersion and suppression of self that is being home with a baby or toddler. but when it came down to it, when i was faced with the real choice of making a few calls and putting wile in someone else's care for a few days a week, i didn't want to do it. and that made me realize that:

> i have a job. i'm bringing up my baby boy. but my current gig, the mom gig, had become both stale and more challenging (hello, twos!) , and in applying for this other job i was essentially trying to switch careers. and this was the wrong solution. i didn't need to change jobs, i needed to change my relationship to the job that i have.

and.....i'm actually following through on it! i did some self-diagnosis, and am working on my shit.

so what did i figure out? that i'm a prime example of what newton was talking about. when i slip in to a pattern of being lazy, i tend to stay there. so here i am, home with the kid, no real obligations, no one telling me what to do, no one watching.....and i slipped. i mean, wile and i certainly didn't lie around the house in our pajamas all day watching lifetime movies and eating bon bons. we went to playgroup, playdates, the park, music class, waldorf school, etc etc. but when he napped? i was much more likely to watch something on the dvr than read one of the issues of the new yorker glaring at me from the endtable or anything else constructive. once he went to bed? back on the couch. eating too many crappy snacks.

also, i had decided, sometime around the holidays, that i should just let go of the need to have the dishes done i went to bed, and wile's toys cleaned up, and the clutter in neat piles. that if i just chilled out about the (not so awful, really) messiness, it would decrease my stress. this was an epically bad idea. piles of undone dishes stress me out. i should not deny this. i have to embrace it. plus, once i told myself that it was okay not to do the dishes after dinner, it became a million times harder to force myslef to do them anytime. so it only fed in to my general state of inertia.

but of course the second half of newton's law is that if you start moving, you keep moving. and the whole job search/interview process/offer/refusal got me moving. and i've kept moving. trying to be a lot more conscious of myself. to force myself to go down and put the laundry in the dryer before i go to bed instead of telling myself that i can do it in the morning. to not look at the stack of unread books on my bedside table and say "jesus, i'll never catch up", but to just pick one up and start reading it. to create projects for myself, and actually do them. to be ambitious but not unrealistic in thinking about what i want to get done in a day/week/month. to turn off the tv. to eat better. to exercise. and to ask stephen for help when i need it. and to not kick myself in the ass if i do backslide for a day or two. to grow the hell up.

it's not easy, yo. i've never had to be my own boss before. and that's what being a stay-at-home mom, essentially, is. so i'm trying to be a better, more motivational boss, and i'm doing alright so far—even without the kitten poster. and it's made me a better mama: if i'm happy, i'm much more patient with wile, much less likely to be beaten down by the horrors of the twos.

but none of this is going to make any kind of difference in the long run, none of this is going to stick, unless i deal with my other issue. and i want and need it to stick. so i'm dealing with it, finally.

the issue is this: i've always had bad pms, or whatever you want to call it. "bad" doesn't even express how bad. crying fits, intense mood swings, total lack of rationality, hair-trigger temper (the temper is always bad, but when i'm hormonal it's off the charts).... all of which is toxic enough. but couple it with intense depression, and it's just debilitating. so for most of my adult life, i've been way-less-than-functional a significant percentage of the time.

i don't exactly know why i've never addressed it before. probably mainly because i have trouble asking for help. plus, pms isn't a constant state of being, so when i would come back to normal i'd be so relieved to be out of the woods that i just didn't want to think about it anymore. but it's time. if next month's hormonal joyride free-falls me back into a black hole, i won't have a job or school—things that have pulled me out of my body-at-rest state in the past—to help me out. i'll still be my own boss. and even after wile moves on to the wonderful world of s-c-h-o-o-l, i'd like to continue being my own boss, by starting up my own business. but if i don't do something about the pms, it will never ever happen. because for 2/3 of the time it seems absolutely acheivable, exciting (if just a little bit terrifying). but the other 1/3 of the time, when everything seems hopeless and folding the laundry feels unattainable, creating and sustaining an enterprise seems monumentally, preposterously unattainable.

and also, and especially, i have to face it for wile. though i obviously don't feel good about it, i can handle snapping at/bitching at other people. but to have wile bear the brunt of my problem? unacceptable.

i've found an ob-gyn who specializes in pms disorders, and i'm keeping a log of my daily crazy levels so that when i see her in may, i can hopefully help her figure out what i need to do to not have this happen every month.

so, ironically, not taking the job did what i thought taking the job would do, way back 17 paragraphs ago.... actually, it did more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

once more, and then i'll leave you alone. till fall.

okay, so as wile sleeps off his illin' on the couch, i've been getting in some time on the interweb, and i just watched a deleted scene from last week's episode of friday night lights and ended up bawling. this show, it just.....okay, every week i get so excited for the new episode, but then i tell myself to calm down a little, it can't be perfect and wonderful every week. but it is! every week, it totally knocks me on my ass.

and still, a second season is not entirely cemented.

so, i'm asking, one more time: check it out. you can watch all the episodes on or, if you don't feel like dealing with commercials, you can buy all the episodes on itunes. or you can wait till this summer when bravo will be airing at least one friday night lights marathon.

i'm doing this for your own good, i swear. watch. love. write to nbc and tell them not to cancel it.

return of the sick pic

"wile, why don't i move you to the couch?"


"alright. do you at least want a pillow for your head?"


this time, i think we can't blame the cheese. stephen's feeling icky too. trucky, lulu, and i are hanging tough.

for slightly more cheerful pictures, you could check out wile's website.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


even before i got a jewish best friend and a jewish husband, i had been to my fair share of passover seders. when i was little, my stepmom's friend judy kesselman would throw these enormous seders every year and we'd go and eat all the good food and ignore all the god talk (not that there was much; these were, after all, my stepmom's hippie jewish friends). so since my youth, i've loved me a good seder. and the best part of seder is the charoset (alternately spelled haroset, charoses, charoseth, haroses, and probably a dozen other ways).

i love it so much that in the last few years i have volunteered to make it for our seders with stephen's family so that a) i can make extra to hoard all to myself, and b) i can guarantee that it's going to be good.

so what the hell is (c)haroset(h)(ses)? ritual-wise, it's supposed to represent the mortar that the enslaved jews used to make the bricks that they built the pyramids with back when they were enslaved by the pharoah in egypt, before moses came and did his thing with the plagues and the parting of the sea and all that jazz. culinary-wise, it's a pitch-perfect mixture of grated apples, nuts, honey, wine, lemon juice, and cinnamon.

you can tweak the proportions to your taste, but the formula i follow is: about 6 cups grated apples, 1-1/2 cups finely chopped nuts, 1/3 cup honey, 1/4 cup wine, juice of two lemons, 1/2 t cinnamon. i use granny smith apples or a mix of grannies and another tart red apple like a winesap. for the wine, you want a light red, a little spicy is nice. this year i used a tinto roble. for the love of all that is holy do not use manischewitz.

i used to grate the apples by hand, but went for the food processor this year because i was making a double batch, and....well, i prefer the texture that you get when it's grated by hand, but if you're making a lot—and are looking for a way to involve a 2-yr. old—the f.p. does just fine. and if you've already got the f.p. in use, you can chop the nuts in it. then just throw all the ingredients together, and mix it all up with your hands. microwave the honey for a minute on low before mixing it in, makes it easier to disperse. then throw it in the fridge and wait.... it's better the next day, and will keep for a good long time (2 weeks? who knows. it doesn't last long in my fridge).

i've already bought more apples to make another batch....

guess who's sick again?

is it the flu, or the after-effects of about 2 pounds of cheese and three bowls of matzoh ball soup? only time will tell.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

spring break 07

i can say in all honesty, with not that much exaggeration, that our trip to florida this year was a life-changing experience. no, really.

but i'll get to that later. first, we dig:

okay, so that last one was plant-watering, not digging. but it's still yard work. and there had been digging, right before the watering, but i didn't get to the camera in time. if you're keeping score at home, that's 7 out of 14 days that there was digging. thankfully he was fine with nana as his digging partner....

we did manage to leave the yard a few days. one day we went back to the local playground, which still has this sign, which i've mentioned before:

plus a new one!

at the playground! and i don't think they're talking about squirrels, people. we didn't see any creatures, but still. i know there's some wacky wildlife down here in southern florida, but you really can't locate the playground somewhere that alligator warning signs wouldn't be necessary?

anyway, we tried to ignore the possibility of impending doom and concentrated instead on the certainty of impending nausea:

man, i shudder just looking at that thing. i still remember feeling dizzy and wrong for the rest of the day afer taking wile down it last year. but he's a big boy now! he can go down it himself!

yay! except that he wants me to go down after him, to share in the joy! not yay! i managed to limit my involvement to one slide down. nana may have had to go down twice. as it should be.

we also made it to a few baseball games. wile was way into it, but possibly even more fun than seeing jose and david wright and paul lo duca, the catcher, in his endlessly fascinating "gear" was the wiffleball game that they had set up for the kids on the walkway into the stadium. the bat was definitely taller than wile. but he rocked it, of course.

that's a sure double. totally. thankfully there weren't any other kids who wanted to play, and the 14-year-old running the booth was amused rather than annoyed with wile, so he got to take some really long turns, much to the amusement of all the people heading up the walkway, who were literally taking bets as to whether this tiny little thing was going to be able to get any hits with the him-sized bat. they didn't know who they were dealing with....

and at the last game we went to, with dada, things got even more exciting. there was a first-ever ballpark frank....

and the thing that wile had been asking for all through the other two games came to pass: jose signed his ball.

i still can't believe it. this sets the bar just a little bit high for the rest of his baseball-viewing career. oh, you want the most popular player on the team to sign your ball? the young, cute all-star, whose autograph everyone wants? sure, no problem. here you go!

we also drove up to casselbury for a visit with uncle nate:

and, of course, when you hang with uncle nate, this is how your day ends:

not. surprising. not even one litle bit.

alright, you say, sounds like a fun trip, but what was life-changing?

first: my mother has an electric stovetop. and....i liked it. this is after decades of bad-mouthing the electric stove. (yes, decades—i've been a cook since i was 12, and a critic since i was born.) but my experience has been with those nasty exposed-metal-coil monsters. the nana has one of those snazzy glass-top numbers, and it is really f-ing awesome to cook on. the heat is so even. all the pancakes cook at exactly the same rate! and it's consistent—every time you set it to 5, it's the same heat. unlike my gas stove, where i'm forever fiddling around with the knob, trying to find the exact spot around the 2 on the dial that will give me the same "2" heat that i had the last time i used it..... and the cleaning. the cleaning! it's a smooth, continuous glass surface! i know i sound like a total geek, but man. changed my whole perspective on things.....

second: my mother watches american idol. so i watched with her. and....i liked it. i take back everything bad i've ever said about it. that is some seriously entertaining shit right there. i'm in for the long haul now. go melinda and jordin! woo!

third: i'd been noticing for a while before we left for florida that wile's hair was looking a can i put this....forty-year-old alcoholic beach bum. when we got down to the sunshine state and the humidity put the curl back in to wile's hair, it became even more apparent that there was a problem:

you couldn't quite call it a mullet, but it was just as bad. there was this lovely hair—shiny, bouncy, silky ringlets—being suffocated by a layer of stringy, fried, frizzled mess. and so, the die was cast. the scissors were fetched. the hair: was cut.

wile seems happy with the result:

as stephen says, he looks like less of a wildman now. true. but instead, he looks kinda like a 14-year-old skater boy growing out his hair. can't argue with that.

Monday, March 19, 2007

fear and loathing in port st. lucie

(here in florida, when you have no internet connection in your (mom's) house, there are no open wireless connections to hop on to. you have to come to barnes & noble and pay $4 for 2 hours, 1 of which you won't even use because you have to get the child home for early bedtime so that he's asleep before 24 starts. more vacation reports to come when i find somewhere with free wifi!)

Monday, March 12, 2007

there's a litle bit of bobby in all of us

i feel it's time i told you all about bobby:

bobby lives way far down that block with his mama and dada.

bobby will never come to wile's house.

where bobby? bobby is in mama, in dada, in wile.

bobby has two cats.

their names are soap and sprayer.*

this is a song about bobby:

doo doo doo doo doo
bobby not share
his toys with wile
he say no
he just play with them
dig in the yaaaaaaard

(*we initially thought that wile said "slayer" which would have of course been pretty impossible because i don't think he's ever heard the word "slayer", but regardless of what was actually said, "slayer" and "soap" are so the names of our next cats.)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

btietw: queens edition

so, the inevitable has come to pass: the previa, she is no more. sometime last week, the alternator stopped....alternating? see, i almost sounded like i knew what i was talking about for a second there, and then the truth came shining through. anyway, the car done wouldn't start. every time stephen had to move it for alternate side parking, he had to use my dad's christmas gift. oh, and the inspection was about to be up. so when the weekend rolled around, i let any hope of getting some non-wile time go, and focused instead on finding an activity that would get us out of the house. we hit on this plan: wile and i would go to the queens zoo (pumas!) while stephen tried to find somewhere to try to answer the question: will a car that won't start independently pass inspection? and possibly test-drive some cars.

we were the only people at the zoo, since it was f-ing freezing out, but wile loved it. on the way there he kept saying he wanted to see "lions and hoshies", and i kept trying to prepare him for a letdown. but as we pulled up to the zoo, there were some big old hoshies, out in the paddock. hot damn. the hoshies were in the "farm" end of the zoo, along with really amazing hairy steer:

and the biggest white mutant rabbits i've ever seen. they might have had big fangs, i didn't get close enough to see.

over on the non-farm side of the zoo, there were a buttload of birds, hibernating bears (aka fuzzy rocks), an m.i.a. lynx, coyotes howling at a passing firetruck, and pumas who wanted to eat wile. i swear. we went down to their area and checked them out, they were walking around, everything was cool, wile liked them. then as we were walking away, i sensed a movement behind me, turned around, and saw that one of the pumas had come right up to the glass and had a bead on wile. she was watching him like he was a tenderloin with legs. the look on her face was kinda like the one on the puma on the left in this pic:

in.tent. her head followed wile's every move. i hustled us over to the aviary to see the nice birdies.

stephen returned from his errands (answer to the question: no, a car that needs outside help to start will not pass inspection, and so must be taken off the street and put out to pasture in stephen's parents' driveway....), saw a few animals with us, and we jump-started our way back on to the road. on the way in to the zoo, we had passed a couple of empanada places—one was more crowded, but looked less interesting. so we went to the less-crowded one, empanandas del parque, which i just had a feeling about.

apparently my radar was working. the menu was nothing but empanadas, your choice of corn, organic whole grain, or flour shell. corn seemed to be the right choice. i put together a meat sampler: beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, fish.

the shrimp was my favorite, with little rock shrimp that popped like caviar in the potato filling. the pork was a close second runner-up, the beef was good but too salty. the fish was the weakest, bland. they came with this fantastic housemade hot sauce that wasn't too hot, all garlic and scallions and cilantro and vinegar. delicious. and they cater with mini empanadas, hello wile's 3rd birthday party menu! i also see a sack of empanadas picked up on the way to shea in my future sometime this summer....

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sunday, March 04, 2007

and don't get me started on elmo....

dear people who write children's books (that would be "children's book authors", huh? leave me alone, i'm tired),

hi. listen, can you do me a favor? can you stop making books about obnoxious little animals/people who i want to smack upside the head? seriously. cause otherwise your books are going to get hidden away way back behind the extra towels on the shelf in my closet until wile learns to read and can enjoy your stories without me.

you want examples? okay, how about olivia. little pig, big ears, spoiled brat. why is this book so popular? it's not funny! it's not entertaining! why do i want to read about some ugly little pig yelling and kvetching and bossing? especially since olivia's parents give in to her whims and seem to condone her totally crappy behavior! why in the hell would anyone think that i would want to give voice to dialogue like this:

wile is getting quite proficient at the yelling, he really doesn't need any encouragement.... so, okay, olivia freaks the hell out over the missing toy, berates and apparently scares the bejeezus out of her little brother, yells at everything that moves, and then when she finds the toy, slightly mangled from the dog chewing on it, and has another screaming fit, her dad says "oh, don't worry honey, we'll get you an even better toy tomorrow", at which point she turns around and is all "oh i love you you're the best daddy ever." i....i'm at a loss. honestly.

and then there's this one:

so duck and goose spend the whole book fighting over this ball that they think is an egg, yelling at each other and being mean to each other. they finally come to a sort of unspoken truce—at least, they stop yelling at each other—only to turn around and act like a couple of little turds to this poor blue bird who comes to talk to them, trying to get their attention by kicking the ball (egg):

it's just so.....unpleasant. and do they ever apologize to the poor litle blue bird who's head they ripped off? nope! she apologizes to them for bothering them! and then they run off and play with the ball—without her. lovely.

i'm certainly not saying that all children's book characters should be perfect little models of decorum. some of our favorite books are about characters who are definitely troublemakers.

like everyone's favorite, good night gorilla.

he steals the keys, he lets all the animals loose, he follows the zookeeper home, and when he's discovered and sent back to his cage? not only is he unrepentant, he sneaks right back out again and back into bed with the zookeeper and his wife! but he never verbally abuses any of the other characters. i never have to give voice to him putting anybody down or flying off the handle. he's mischevious, but he's not a jerk.

and then there's the awesome (and amazingly illustrated) book that dexter's mom gave wile, 17 things i' not allowed to do anymore. this girl is definitely hell on wheels.'s funny! (i mean really, beavers? hysterical.) and none of the things she does—doing a history report on beavers instead of george washington, walking backwards to school, showing her classmate her underwear—are mean-spirited, they're all just kinda kooky and creative and limit-testing. okay, so she staples her brother's hair to his pillow. but i can see the thought process behind that: will it really work? can staples hold hair, or would the hair just slip out? and her mom is there throughout the book, obviously telling her she's not allowed to do this stuff anymore, and getting more and more frazzled as the book goes on, which is nice to see.

but in the end, the girl is unrepentent and definitely on the path to more mischeif, and that's fine by me. look, i'm not asking for morals. i don't need for wile to learn a lesson from his picture books. and believe me, the overly-earnest books, where everyone literally or figuratively has a group hug at the end, squick me out even more.

i just want some characters who i don't mind spending time with. i have to personify these little animals. give me something better to work with than screeching pigs and huffy ducks.

go to it!