Sunday, July 31, 2011

At what point do you worry?

Johanna has a bit of an obsessive-compulsive personality, with an emphasis on obsessive.  I suppose this isn't too odd, as I'm pretty sure this is learned behavior (not that I'm OCD or anything, just that I have certain ways I like things done, particularly with food/kitchen/anything-to-do-with-germs).

Anyway, this is what she's been working on this morning:

(In case you can't read phonetically-spelled 6-year-old writing, it says,
"Nobody in the bathroom!")

I think the pillow barrier is a nice touch.

Here's the thing: Johanna is worried about dust.  "Do you know what dust is?  DEAD HUMAN SKIN."  She's completely freaked out by dust.  And apparently there's dust in this bathroom, so it must be condemned and we should all use the master bathroom instead.  (Which is ironic.  You should see it.)

So.  Seriously, what am I supposed to do about this?  Aside from listen to REM's "It's the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)"?  A LIVE VERSION to boot.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Johanna wants a freezer in her room, but that's not what this post is about

This has been a rather hellacious week, the sort of week that, by the time you make it to Friday, you're feeling slightly shell shocked by the whole ordeal and more than a little bit cranky.

Which is probably why I'm canning today.

Well, that and the fact that our downstairs refrigerator (aka Eric's beer fridge*) is filled with cherries and Eric keeps dropping hits that he'd like them out of there by saying coded things like, "Hey, are you canning cherries this weekend?"

(It would be so much easier to know what he was thinking if he'd just come out and say it...)

So anyway.  I love to can.  That's why it's a good project to take on after a crappy week.  I love to see the finished jars lined up on the counter, cooling.  And it's sort of therapeutic--you can't multitask when you're canning, so you have to be in the moment.  (Zen!)  It also makes me feel kind of connected to my grandparents, and great-grandparents, and so on and so forth.  No matter how much the world has changed, THIS hasn't.  (Now, where did I put my iPod?)

And I can say things like, "Not now, my darling child.  I'm CANNING.  Otherwise I'd totally drop what I'm doing to fulfill the demands you place on me daily."

The first bag o' cherries had enough inside for 7 quarts.  Cherries are dead easy, by the way--you just wash them and pluck off the stems and boil up some sugar water.  I was feeling, naturally, a bit relaxed about this whole ordeal.  It's just cherries.  What could go wrong?

Never let your guard down, people.

Two of my seven jars broke as I put them into the water bath.  I didn't think the water was that hot, but apparently it was.  Or my jars were defective.  That's probably the case, right?  Instead of an error on my part?  So that pissed me off.  I mean, they broke cleanly, so the cherries were fine and there weren't any glass shards floating around in the water or anything, so that's a plus.  It's just that now my water is all sticky and the jars are going to be sticky and the whole thing is going to be sticky.

Let's recap,  in case you've missed my point: STICKY.

My five jars are now cooling on the counter.  Another seven are in the water bath.  So far so good, but that's just because my guard is up and I'm expecting the worst, so now the worst won't happen.  I'm partially through my second bag of cherries, and I have two more in Eric's beer fridge.  This might be a longer day than I thought.

Also on the list: Cherry jam (that never sets so I call it "syrup") and cherry pie filling (I never make pies because crusts confuse me, but I rock the crisp, not that I'm bragging or anything, but I'm totally bragging).

*Eric's beer fridge isn't excessive or anything--he's a homebrewer.  Where else is he going to store his kegs?  Fun fact: His fridge is actually the very first fridge of our married life.  We got it used, so it's this awesome avocado color.

Just in case you're wondering, the proper canning music happens to be anything by Linkin Park.  Like DON'T STAY.  Not for any particular reason, just that it's good background music.  And I like when Chester screams.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An unintentional rebellion

(Oops.  I suppose we should have paid closer attention when we parked.  Ah, well.)

Choir of Young Believers, "ACTION/REACTION," would be a really great song to listen to about now, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Once upon a time, exactly 12 years ago, Abigail Rose was born.  Eight days late, not that I'm still bitter about that, although she was due on my birthday (sorry again, really the last time, although I'm not sure how to avoid mentioning my birthday when all sorts of stuff happens that particular day).

I was awake at 1 a.m., staring at the ceiling, wondering why I was still pregnant, and feeling rather sorry for myself.  At 1:15, my water broke.  Which was actually not what I was expecting at all; I was ready to count contractions, only I wasn't having any.  Still, at least now I could go to the hospital.  Progress!

I'm not quite sure about my voice level once I figured out what was going on, but I called to Eric, who went from sound asleep to sitting up in record time.  His first words to me, as he realized the miraculous path we were about to embark on?  "Do I have time to take a shower first?"

Well, why not?

I called my parents because Mom had already committed to being in the room with us and she was not going to get out of it even at this ungodly hour.  She said she'd meet us there.  Yay Mom!

Eric and I drove out, honking our horn so the neighbors would know what we were up to, as they'd requested weeks before.  We got to the hospital and found Mom out front.  The door was locked.  We causally walked to the side emergency entrance.  I was sent up to the birthing wing, on the condition that they had to verify that my water had indeed broken.  Trust me, you know, but whatevs, nurses.  I was willing to play their reindeer games.

The conformation came back, of course, so I got to keep my fancy gown and robe on, and crawl into the bed.  It was about 5 a.m. at that point, and what I really wanted to do was go back to sleep.

Only in the next room, someone else was giving birth.  Loudly.  And I was all like, come on there, lady! Why do you insist on keeping me awake?  And also, I'm nervous enough about doing this myself, so could you please tone it down a little?

By 10 a.m., the lady was finally finished with her screaming (a girl!), and quiet settled over the ward.  I tried to close my eyes, but sleep was just not going to happen.  I gave up and took several walks around the hallways with Eric instead.

Oh, they were all about taking walks around the hallways to induce labor.  Which seemed weird to me because clearly I was in labor, so what more did they want from me?  Shouldn't I have been getting my feet massaged instead?  Apparently they didn't think I was "in enough pain yet" because I was being too quiet about the whole ordeal.  I just felt like we all knew I was in labor, so really, what was the point of yelling about it?  The monitor showed I was in the thick of things... what more did they need?

Then 11:30 came, and with it, "transitional labor."  And wow, that was fun.  The nurses who didn't believe I was in enough pain yet were shocked that suddenly this show was officially on the road.  I interrupted their lunch.  Ha!  Well, that's what you get for not taking the monitor seriously.

So yeah, this whole next part is sort of a blur to me.  All I remember is that it wasn't particularly fun, but in the middle of that somewhere I found myself thinking, this is it?  This is what I've been worried about my entire life?  Because really, the hype is way worse than the actual process.  (And no, I still wasn't screaming.  I just made my mother hum to me and wouldn't let Eric stray so much as an inch away from my side.)

It's funny how the entire world just stops, when you're focusing so hard on something.  Time literally stood still.  They said I could push, and I did.  For 1 1/2 hours, not that I was counting (I was too busy with other things to count).

And then!  Abby!

My mother, by the way, was having some sort of post traumatic breakdown at this point--apparently watching me give birth was more than she could handle (and, incidentally, she was not in the delivery room with Johanna when that time came, so we obviously broke her).  A half-hour after Abby was born, the visitors started streaming in--grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins--and Mom was like, wait!  You do know know what we've been through here!  We need space!

I know that because she told me afterwards.

It was so wonderful to finally meet Abby.  She was absolutely perfect, weird cone head aside.  (Well, that's what you get when you're eight days late.)  We loved how she slept all crunched up, with her hands in her face.  We loved how she fit so perfectly in our arms.  We loved to finally be able to touch her, and hold her, and see her in real life.

And that's the story of the day Abby was born, how our lives were irreversibly changed forever, and for the better to boot.

Tonight's song is Foo Fighters "Times Like These."  Because it SEEMS APPROPRIATE.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What a difference 12 years makes...

Twelve years ago, I was a week overdue.  I had lost all hope that Abby would ever be born, and I was trying to reconcile myself with the fact that clearly, I was going to be pregnant forever.

My mother refused to leave me alone in my house, so I drove... or maybe even Dad came and got me, I can't remember... to my parents' house and spent the day reading "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe."  One upside of being pregnant forever: Convenient book shelf on what used to be your midsection.

Mom invited us to dinner, so Eric came over after work.  Mom made halibut fish and chips, and I spent the entire dinner shifting around in my seat, unable to get comfortable.  One downside of being pregnant forever: You are never comfortable.

Today, I am making Abby a cheesecake (the birthday girl rules... even if her birthday isn't until tomorrow).  I'm getting the house ready for company, trying to be stealth about wrapping Abby's birthday present, and continuously annoying my precious first born by telling her that I CANNOT BELIEVE SHE IS 12.  ("You say that every year," Abby says.  And I do, because I still can't believe how fast she's growing.)

Happy pre-birthday, Abigail Rose!

Abby has requested today's song be Cake's "Short Skirt/Long Jacket."  Because I'm MAKING CAKE.  And we love that song.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A truly crap-tastic day

This is so not the entry I wanted to write today.  When I got up this morning, I was feeling fairly optimistic.  (I know, weird--but you try living with Eric for almost 16 years and see if it doesn't rub off on you, too.)  But today?  Sucked.  On multiple levels.

Let's recap, shall we?

We were gone all weekend, so all those chores I should have done last week but didn't get around to, what with working full time and everything, continued undone.  Not that THAT was a big deal.  I had a strategy!  Toss in a load of laundry, pick up the main room, more laundry, get fruit measured out for slated jam making tonight, more laundry, and maybe attempt to clean the kitchen.

Add to that: Scream at the girls to PLEASE QUIT FIGHTING, repeating every five minutes.

(When does school start again?)

As I'm walking out the door to go to work, it occurs to me that I didn't look up the cheesecake recipe for Abby's pre-birthday party tomorrow evening.  The birthday girl gets to pick her dinner and dessert, and who am I to deny my kid cheesecake?  Only it would have been sort of nice to actually have ingredients on hand in so I could work on that as the jam cooks.  Well, whatevs.  Dinner, then store, then jam, then cheesecake, right?  I can be calm!  I can be collected!

(You don't believe me, do you?  Wise.)

Work, while fine in and of itself, continued the Train of Suckiness.  First of all, one of our beloved managers passed away this weekend, not unexpectedly, but not expected, either.  A thick sadness has settled over the office.  And secondly, there was a major technological breakdown, so no phones, faxes, email or internet all morning... and by the time I got there, everyone was playing catchup and pretending that the phones, faxes, email and internet were working. Which was not actually the case no matter what our provider says otherwise.

It was sort of interesting, trying to get my work done without the technology I rely on.  No credit cards, no way of getting that thing I typed to the person I typed it for (yay USB drives!), no way to fax the proofs I'd promised I'd send out today--and no way for me to get them anyway.  I vented some frustration by tossing my pen into my inbox.  Two points for me!  Unfortunately, that didn't make my computer actually work any better.

So finally, home.  I'd had the smarts to take tomato sauce out of the freezer before going to work, so at least I had something concrete to go on.  (I am not the best person to be around when I am hungry.  It's like all that poise I've managed to acquire these 39 years just flies right out the window, and I'm roughly three again.)  Spaghetti, green beans, some bread I tossed in the freezer and forgot about so it tastes all weird now, and blueberries.  A dinner of champions.  I had not lost it yet, and I was feeling very, very proud of myself.

Which was when Johanna took her plate of spaghetti et al off of the counter to move to the table... and dumped the entire thing onto the floor.

I don't know, people.  There's only so much a girl can take, and I think I reached that particular limit at noon.

BUT.  I suppose I should also mention that Eric just came in, and listened to my sad rambling tale, and actually seemed sorry about my pain and agony, and gave me a back rub.  So you know, maybe I can do this whole thing tomorrow after all.

On days like this, all I want to do is crank up Linkin Park and not think.  Thus, tonight's musical link is to "By Myself."  Because it IS LOUD.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Johanna, artist

One of the absolute best things about Johanna is that she has no problem playing by herself.  For hours on end.  Every day.

Yay Johanna!

Tonight after dinner, she went outside with Eric.  I presumed she'd help him water the plants (i.e. make mud balls), but what she actually did was create this:

Note to Eric: Is there some sort of rock/boulder adhesive we could use to preserve this little masterpiece? Because I think I love it.

After I fetched the camera, we had a rambling conversation, of which I was very proud, about photo angles and such.  She wanted to make sure I got it right so she could put the photographs on her wall.  ("Not the wall that's on the computer, but the wall in my bedroom.") 

Ah, Joey.  I do love you.

Johanna has requested I link up Iggy Pop's "Johanna" for tonight's musical entertainment.  For obvious reasons.  We downloaded THIS SONG for free from Amazon several months ago, and she's pretty proud that SHE has a song with her name it it, but Abby does NOT.  (Please, no one tell her otherwise...)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Some thoughts on wigs, just for Mara, who will not comment, but that's okay

My friend Mara (who would totally leave a comment if Blogger didn't want her firstborn to register.  Note to Blogger: Ask for the second!) has suggested that I not wait for awesome to come to me, but to go forth and actively seek out awesome myself.

Which makes me wonder if we've actually met.

Our supposed meeting aside, she suggests that the best way to find awesome (or to be specific, "to add some zip and glamour") is to buy a wig.  She even sent me a link because she's terribly helpful:

Wig Link!

(And look!  I'm finally getting the hang of this website linking thing.  Good lord, this is all a lot to take in.  And I didn't even ask my kids for help.  Maybe some awesome is coming to me?)

I'm pretty sure she's thinking I should go blonde, or perhaps black, but I'm thinking purple.  I wonder why it's on sale?

But then, being a recluse, where would I actually wear my wig?  Obviously, I'm supposed to go OUT and meet awesome head-on, but mostly I just like to stay at home and maybe read a book out on the deck or in my squashy blue oversized chair with the smashed up cushions from the girls' self-taught kung fu demonstrations.  I'm not sure a purple wig would be conducive to reading, what with the wind and the cats and everything.

Which means that Eric and I would have to make an effort to go out.  And clearly, we just went out for my birthday (sorry, last time I'll mention it).  We've got MONTHS before we have to do THAT again.

And then there's the fact that I'm lazy.  How much work does it take to put on a wig when you have a head of hair equivalent to three normal people?  And is there wig maintenance to take into account?  What if I toss my wig in my closet and it ends up on the floor, smashed by all the other stuff that's "put away" in there?  This entire line of thought is stressing me out.

Abby will also totally steal it, and wear it to some seventh grade dance, and start a trend, and then forbid me to wear my own wig 'cause I'll be junking up the trend or something (I can be very embarrassing, apparently, just by standing still next to her).  Then I'll be depressed and the reality of my age will crash down around my ears, and I'll have a pre-40 breakdown, and then what?

In conclusion, I'll buy the blue wig instead.

Our song this evening: Michael Penn, "It's No Myth."  (And you get a video this time, too.  You're welcome.)  THIS SONG has nothing to do with wigs, but everything to do with Mara.  (Who's Heathcliffitz again?)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy birthday to me, part dos

(See?  Those high school Spanish classes totally paid off.)

So I'm still sort of waiting for the awesome to begin, what with my days before 40 being numbered and all (364 left!  Or is it 365 because it's a leap year next year?  That's my vote), but apparently these things take a while, so in the meantime, let me tell you about my birthday.  And then I'll drop it.  (Probably.)

This week I'm working full time, mostly because it seemed like a good idea when I agreed.  That was before I realized I'd be working on my birthday.  The last time I worked a real job on my birthday I turned 23. And I was a day camp counselor, so perhaps that doesn't even count.  (Eric* always works on his birthday and says he's tried to set a good example for me so I know how to behave.  I have no idea what that even means.)

Anyway, I dropped off Johanna*, made it to work with seconds to spare, and was greeted by a card and a lovely looking package on my desk from my co-worker/friend Stacey.  Three navy blue bracelets!  And she made me a chocolate sheet cake and brought me coffee.  Seriously, this made working on my birthday seem like a really good idea.

Aside from that, the morning was fairly quiet, and I thought I'd dodged a bullet, not being one for public acknowledgement.  (Which is odd, I know, considering I'm now blogging.  In public.  This is called "irony.")  I was working, rather in a zone, on something that slips my mind, but was obviously of the utmost importance, when a group of my co-workers snuck up behind me.  They started singing (yelling?) "Happy Birthday to You" (do I have to pay a royalty or something for mentioning that song by name?) behind me.  Since they were so stealth, they completely freaked me out and I jumped about a mile, give or take a mile.  And apparently turned red, which is most excellent.  Glad to see I haven't outgrown that.  My co-workers thought that was hilarious, but they're awesome, and are thus forgiven.  Plus they wrote really nice things in my birthday card and gave me a gift certificate for coffee, so they're all my new best friends.

I met Eric for lunch, a tradition that spans... well, a few years, anyway... and is made more convenient now that we literally work next door to each other (okay, fine, we're separated by a rather steep hill, but whatevs).  Fish and chips for me, clam chowder and bread for Eric.  It was a great date--we don't do that very often, mostly because we both tend to fall on the homebody side of things and it never occurs to us. But anyway, yay lunch date!  It was nice to talk to him without anyone interrupting to ask for stuff.

Back at the office, it was time for cake (which I could not finish because Stacey cut me the very-most center slice that was the size of a children's board book, so I walked some of it over to Eric, who was ever so pleased to see me).  And this cake?  Was amazing.  If I ever get the recipe, I'll totally share it.  Chocolate cake with fudge frosting is my idea of perfection.

It was a hectic day because the public didn't care it was my birthday and made all sorts of demands, but!  I spent the morning on a caffeine high, and the afternoon on a sugar high, so it wasn't so bad.

For reasons I am still not completely clear on, Abby* ended up at my office right before closing time.  I was all, what the heck?  And she was all, hey.  And I was all, I guess I have to take you home, huh?  So that was exciting.  We took a detour and went to a store downtown that offers a 40% discount on one item on your birthday, and I tried my hardest, but I ended up walking away empty handed.  Although Abby found a thing or two, so we might be back for her birthday.

I was starving by the time we got home, but that's okay because Eric made dinner.  He makes the best grilled onion/pepper/meat/cheese sandwiches EVER, and, quite frankly, he outdid himself this time.  All for me!

Then he cleaned up (!) and started passing around dessert.  I had not consumed enough sugar yet and ended up with another piece of cake, this time with raspberries strewn decoratively over the top.  (Or just tossed on there.  One of those two things.)

My presents: Eric gave me an e-book (perfect), Abby gave me a coupon for world peace (awesome), and Johanna gave me a flower she'd picked three days before and was shocked that it had wilted/died (also awesome).

And that was pretty much my day.

*My little family members.  I'll probably write about them a lot, just FYI.

P.S. This entry brought to you by She Bears, "Victim of Circumstance."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy birthday to me

I've been threatening to start a blog for a while now, mostly due to vanity, probably, and the fact that words amuse me to no end.  And what better time to start than my... 39th birthday.

Thirty-nine!  Bloody hell.

(People keep asking if I'm "thirty-nine and holding."  Um, no.  I'm too OCD for that sort of thing.  I'm a stickler for proper acknowledgment.)

Well, whatevs.  I was thinking that this might be a nice way to keep track of all the (probably) awesome things that are going to happen this year, before I'm old and decrepit and 40.  I used to keep journals, and maybe I'd go that route again if only writing by hand didn't give me cramps.  (Keyboarding!  That's where it's at.)

So anyway.  This is all just to say hello, here I am, and wow, there's an echo in here.  Ah, well.

P.S. This post brought to you by Jack's Mannequin, "Spinning."