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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The World oF Momcraft

Greetings, wanderer of the digital twisting nether! I am Beatriz Brightbolt, a fireball wielding mage fighting evil forces in the name of the Alliance and Gnomergan (which we will get back eventually, blasted Trogs). I am practiced in alchemy and herbalism, an avid collector of small, non-combatant companion creatures and I have a massive stable (in a portal in my pocket) filled with hard earned mounts. I am beloved by dozens of factions throughout Azeroth and the Outlands and have been granted the title of "Insane" for my efforts on behalf of obscure causes most choose to ignore. I control (through proxy and a bank alt with her own guild) the low level herb and ore markets in my community and have amassed a large fortune which I use to finance my obsessive pet and mount hunting projects.
I roam the forests and deserts, searching for useful plants. Occasionally I find the time to raid, I'm always up for questing, and when I get into trouble it's frost nova and blink time.

Oh, yeah, and I'm also a mom and wife.

My life as a mother just doesn't sound as exciting, and since I'm a gnome, the cuteness factor is a close call. I probably spend too much time concentrating on gathering gold and questing and not enough on house cleaning and cooking, but when given the choice between being a powerful controller of arcane forces and an efficient wielder of Lysol . . .well, you can imagine which wins out.
Motherhood, however, does have awesome advantages. My daughter, Coryn, enjoys a healthy dose of fantasy, likes to watch my mage ride various mounts and fight dragons, but even more she likes my undivided attention, so my wow time is usually restricted to when she is napping or watching Sesame Street. That isn't to say that I don't sometimes sneak back to the computer when she is coloring or building something out of legos. I do that. I also usually manage to get a healthy dinner on the table on time for my likewise MMORPG addicted husband and keep the house in something akin to order. Coryn is the light of my life, though, and we spend a lot of time together, reading books, putting together art projects, and studying the alphabet.

Coryn is already fascinated by WoW, the bright colors and interesting creatures, but I plan to keep her our of WoW for as long as possible, not because I think the game is harmful, but because there are a lot of really really weird people playing it, and even with language filters, any person with an average notion of swear words can mentally fill in the blanks. Plus, if she inherits her mother's easily addicted personality, she will probably be as hooked as myself in no time. I'd like her to explore our world for a bit longer before she is sucked into the other world. . .of warcraft.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making a blankie

Coryn has been stealing hand towels out of the closet to wrap around her baby dolls and stuffed animals, so today, before her nap, I told her she could pick out the color of yarn for a baby blanket. She chose burgundy red; I thought it was a very mature choice, especially considering there were brighter (pinker) colors available. I had intended to finish it over the space of her nap, but after three Voyager episodes sitting their reading, I felt my wrists needed a break. Still, I've made good progress.

I like Voyager episodes. I also like figuring out if I've seen the guest stars in any thing else. Today there was one who I have seen in Warehouse 13, White Collar, Burn Notice, CSI, CSI:NY. . .well, among other things. Playing "connect the guest stars" is a favorite game of mine. I watch the names in the beginning credits for anything familiar and try to track down familiar faces online. Most of my favorite shows intersect weekly. If you were on Psych, chances are, within a year, you will also be on Burn Notice or House, maybe both.

Voyager is a little harder since all the episodes are over a decade old. Still, Neelix has popped up in Criminal Minds and Bones, the Doctor was in CSI:NY, and Tom Paris is a producer on Chuck. I miss Tom Paris.

Well, back to the blankie.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Specific Snake, a work of fiction based on Coryn's Specific Snake.

My specific snake is missing! There are many snakes but specific snake is specifically mine. No other snake will do. This snake was intended for me. . .specifically. Did I mention that she was missing?

This afternoon Specific Snake and I went to the library. Specific Snake is green and snaky with a red forked tongue. She is fun to hold onto and if something or someone scares me she hisses at them and scares them back. When Mommy reads me stories I hold Specific Snake and listen. Specific Snake likes stories.

When I got home I wanted to hear the story about the purple crayon again, so Mommy picked it out of the book bag. That's when I realized that Specific Snake wasn't in the stroller. She wasn't under the couch. She wasn't anywhere on the floor. Specific Snake was no where specific . . . Specific Snake was missing.

Mommy made Specific Snake out of green yarn. She also made snakes of other colors, but Specific Snake is specifically my snake. I can't listen to stories with a non-specific snake. Mommy tried to give me a red snake, then a blue one, and even one that was green, but it wasn't the specific green.

Specific means special. Specific means no one else will do. Specific can't be replaced by just any old snake. Specific snake was specifically mine. Did I mention that she's missing?

We went back to the library (me and Mommy, not me and Specific Snake, she was still missing). The librarian hadn't seen any snakes. She tried to be helpful and offered a book about snakes, but that wasn't what I wanted.

On the way home I looked down at the sidewalk. Maybe I had dropped Specific Snake on the street. But I didn't see her. Maybe some other kid, some non-specific kid, had already found her. Some other kid had my Specific Snake.

Specific means important. Specific means the only one. Like how only one specific key opens the door to our apartment and how I have a specific name and don't answer to any other. Specific means just right. Specific Snake was all that and more.

Mommy says she understands that Specific Snake was special, but maybe we can get something else that is specific at the toy store tomorrow. Maybe a Specific Spider or Salamander. Maybe even a special dinosaur that roars when you press his back or a cuddly teddy bear with soft soft fur. She says we can go first thing in the morning; it's too late today. I try not to be as sad, but I'm still not as happy as I have been before. . .specifically when Specific Snake wasn't missing.

We sit on the couch.

"Are you sure you don't want to read your story?" Mommy asked. "Maybe it will make you feel better." She picks up the book bag and turns it over onto the dining room table. Out falls the book about the crayon and a book on dinosaurs and a stack of non-specific books, and then, from the very bottom of the bag, slips something green and long and specific.

"Specific Snake!" I squeal.
"I wish I'd looked there before we walked all the way to the library," Mommy groans. "Let's read."

Specific Snake is Special, a specific green color like no other snake. Mommy made Specific Snake out of yarn, specifically for me. No other snake will do, and I'm so glad she's not missing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

An ode to my day

Life keeps on pulling, first three ways then four,

so much to do here; time to head out the door.

It's so hard to balance each pleasure and chore.

The molehill gets bigger, too high to ignore.

Oh life keeps on pulling, first three ways then four.

I wake up each morning a little too soon.
In the room next to mine, my kid's humming her tune,
Then she brings me a copy of "Good Night, Moon."
Unbrushed and still yawning and wanting to snooze
I read of the telephone and the red balloon
When I wake up each morning a little too soon.

I'm lucky if I get time to eat
Im lucky if I can take a seat
I'm lucky if the clock I beat
This is how the day I greet

Life keeps on pulling, first three ways then four,

so much to do here; time to head out the door.

It's so hard to balance each pleasure and chore.

The molehill gets bigger, too high to ignore.

Oh life keeps on pulling, first three ways then four.

Every day I'm not sure what I gain
The dishes, the carpets, the windows and pane,
I'd say I'd go crazy, but I've never been sane.
I feel like I'm on a toddler's chain.
Perhaps its just memories that I have to gain.

Because life keeps on pulling me, three ways then four,
So much to do, but I know what it's for
I've got to believe, 'cause it strengthens my core
That every day is a gift with surprises in store
And that's why life's pulling me, three ways then four.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Day with Coryn

I don't really consider myself a shopaholic. I generally get burned out after a half hour or so . . .unless it is a pet or book store. I can window shop a pet store for hours and if you let me in a book store, my expendable income will be expended. Targeted shopping is more my thing. I am a shopping hawk, hovering over the store looking for a particularly juicy price then diving down and snatching it with my talons in a precision extraction that rarely takes more than a half hour. Online shopping is a little more my thing, mainly because I really like getting mail. So does Coryn. She assumes every package is a "grandma box," a term she developed for the goodie filled packages my mom sends over from the states every so often.

Today we received one package which turned out to be a magnetic "paper" doll set. They're actually made of wood, but are meant to be played with like paper dolls. This one is princess themed and came with multiple gown and crown options. I had intended it for a Christmas present (yeah, I'm basically done with my Christmas shopping for my immediately family. . .I told you that I like online shopping!), so I told Coryn she couldn't see what was inside the box and continued on my way. On a whim I decided it would be easier to book my next hair appointment in person since we were in the area, and I swung into the salon.

The receptionist said that one of the stylists was taking walk ins and would be available in a few minutes . . . I looked at Coryn. I looked at the stylist. It was the one who actually speaks English as her first language . . . I thought of the magnetic dolls. I thought of how they were supposed to be a Christmas present. I thought of how hard it is to get the hair cut you want with a language barrier the size of the Great Wall of China (or Japan, in this case). I decided to take the risk, said a quick prayer, gave Coryn an early Christmas present, and got into the barber's chair.

Coryn was such a sweetie. Every so often she'd bring me her doll to show its latest outfit and twice she interrupted my haircut because she had to go potty, but she was a precious angel right up until the last fifteen minutes or so and even then she was restless, not naughty. When I got done she touched my hair and said, "Mommy, haircut beautiful." I was so proud of her. Afterward we went out to lunch and she ate most of a Subway kid's meal then we came home and played with her new toy a little more.

A little bit later she ran up to me and said, "Mommy! Need dancing shirt!" I didn't know what she meant and asked her to show me. She went to her room and returned wearing a pink ballerina tutu; I guess she had meant skirt. Either she finds the "sk" sound hard to say or she just assumes that because they are similar sounding, skirt and shirt have the same name. I turned on some Enya and we twirled around until I got dizzy. I collapsed onto the couch. She spent a few minutes trying to revive me then climbed up next to me, smiled her biggest smile, and said, "I love dancing."

I love spending time with Coryn.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Finger paints

The other night I got out my last blank canvas and let Coryn cover it in finger paints. I had been saving the canvas for a significant project, but the proper subject never presented itself . . . and also using oil based paints in this tiny apartment has contributed to the decline of our carpets, and no matter where I try and store my drying masterpieces, Coryn seems to get her fingers on them . . .finger paints come out of fabrics a lot easier.

Coryn has a steadiness to her which I admire. Unlike some children I've known who scratched out a few lines and then want to move on to a fresh piece of paper, Coryn will spend forever on one picture. She sometimes takes it too far. Coryn has a well recorded history of “over-crafting.” The paper will reach a saturation point and she'll literally brush holes through it. I usually have to take projects away from her to stop her from just gobbing on more and more paint or stickers or glue.

She covered every inch of the canvas, and then recovered it, then swirled her fingers through it, then reached for more paint. Finally I called it quits and placed her art work out of reach to dry. I lifted her up to show her where it was sitting.

“It's beautiful,” she said, matter of factly. The next day we hung it on her bedroom wall next to the watercolor my youngest sister had done of Dory and Marlin of “Finding Nemo” (for Coryn when it was her favorite movie; she's since moved on to “Up!”) and an oil painting I did of Coryn as a baby.

Coryn climbed up on the back of what had been my hope chest (my brother used to call it a hopeless chest, but that's a whole other story) and touched the now dry paint almost reverently.

In the past I have attempted to display Coryn's artwork in more conventional ways (such as on the fridge) only to have her take them down to improve upon or just play with. I managed to save the Christmas tree magnets we made by sticking colored crepe paper onto triangular poster board. I love them so much that I keep them up all year round. I know we will be moving several more times over the next few years, and any of these precious items could be lost or destroyed, but that canvas of finger paint I am holding onto with all my might.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mommy Notes

If your kid left half an apple behind and then won't eat it because it has started to turn brown , try thin slicing it, covering it with cinnamon and/or honey, and microwaving it for 30 seconds. Even if she still won't eat it, I promise, you will.

Found out Raffi is an Armenian name today. That was something that puzzled me since I was a kid. Most of his songs are over 30 years old and still are entertaining to young children.

Up! is my current favorite movie. It keeps Coryn entertained and isn't mind bogglingly inane or annoying.

I remembered today that the process that turns apples brown is called oxidation, the same process that turns iron rusty. High school science win, I guess.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rhymes without reason

There have been times when finger rhymes have salvaged just enough of my sanity to keep me hanging on until reinforcements arrive. I owe a lot to the flight attendant who taught me “Around and Round the Garden” en route from Vancouver to Tokyo. Coryn didn’t sleep the entire flight except for two catnaps that cats would’ve turned up their noses at. This rhyme kept her sitting still for a baby eternity:

Round and round the garden like a teddy bear
(draw a circle on her palm with your finger)
One step, two step
(walk your fingers up her arm)
Tickle under there!
(tickle her gently under her arm).

She still sometimes asks for this rhyme and tries to do it on me.

As she grew older she began to like more interactive rhymes and would sometimes choose doing the “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” dance or Raffi’s “Brush Your Teeth” song over a bed time story. When potty training confined the two of us to the bathroom for achingly long periods of time I checked out a finger rhyme book from the library and after looking through it a few times, she picked out two favorites which she would ask for over and over again, enthusiastically mimicking the motions and sometimes repeating the rhymes.

These are Grandma’s spectacles
(fingers around the eyes like glasses)
This is Grandma’s hat
(Hands cupped on top of head)
This is how she folds her hands and lays them in her lap.


Clap your hands, clap your hands, clap them just like me!
Touch your knees, touch your knees, touch them just like me!
Tap your shoulders, tap your shoulders, tap them just like me!
Shake your head, shake your head, shake them just like me!
Clap your hands, clap your hands now let them idle be.
(End by folding your hands dramatically in your lap)

The second is a great way to get your wiggles out; the first tends to calm her down a little bit.

Pleased with her verve for what is essentially poetry (albeit in its simplest form) I wrote her an original piece:

There once was a frog, ribbit, ribbit
Who was scared of a dog, arf, arf
(put your hands up like a begging dog)
He lived in a lake, splash, splash
(hit an imaginary puddle in front of you)
But the dog made him quake, shiver, shiver.
(Hold your arms crossed over your chest like you are cold).

Coryn loved making the animal sounds, but the other time tested rhymes always won out over my composition. Today, however, I heard her singing my frog song from across the room. I felt as proud as a published author. Coryn knows my song by heart, and that’s awesome!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Easy Dinner Night

Tonight we were supposed to go out to dinner with another couple from Matt's work, but Matt came home about 3pm and told me that was off . . . and he was hungry. So I had to force thaw some chicken in hot water. Night's like this, though, make me really appreciate recipes like this one: simple, quick, and filling. I got this off the back of a can of diced tomatoes:

6oz dried bow tie pasta
12oz skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
1tbs olive oil
1 can (15oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5) diced tomatoes with Italian herbs (or regular diced tomatoes and you season them yourself to your tastes)
1 can (15oz) sweet peas, drained
1/4 cup whipping cream

1. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain
2. Meanwhile, cook chicken in hot oil in large skillet over medium-high heat, 2 to 3 minutes or until no longer pink
3. Stir in tomato sauce, un-drained tomatoes, and peas. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes or until thickened. Slowly stir in cream. Serve over hot pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

I always have to add more spices,usually garlic salt, black pepper, and Italian seasonings, also good are crushed red peppers if you like some heat in your sauces. This makes enough food to be a one dish dinner, or you can serve it with salad if you are needing another vegetable serving for the day.

I wish all my friends would start blogs and share their favorite recipes! Sometimes it feels like I have the same six or seven meals over and over again here, and I'm dying for something new to try my hand at. I honestly love cooking, but there is only so far googling "chicken recipes" will get you.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


This evening on my walk
I saw a giant cloud
Thoughtlessly, ruthlessly, hungrily devour a smaller cloud
Oh the humanity!
Someone, somewhere, call a summit.
We must deal with this issue,
This pressing issue.
This tragedy of cannibalism among clouds.
But then, fat and heavy, the giant cloud
Burst apart at the seams,
Scattering into many, many smaller clouds.
Justice has been achieved.

Art from the Heart

Sometimes Coryn absolutely perplexes me, not so much because she is ill-behaved or unpredictable, that I expected when I became a mom. Not because she can be messy. Not because she thinks it is funny to try and scratch my eyes out when she is pretending to be a kitten, but because she can be such an orderly little OCD thing. Tonight at the end of her bath she stacked all her toys in a pile along the edge of the tub. It seriously looked as if an adult had done it. She did not get that from me. My idea of orderly is sweeping everything neatly under a large rug.

Tonight Coryn and I focused on an art project and ate chips and homemade ceviche salsa. I make this salsa at least a couple times a month for both Coryn and myself, though Matt has never been a huge fan of it. I love the recipe because it uses up extra cilantro. Every time a recipe calls for Cilantro, I buy a bundle of it and use maybe three or four sprigs, so unless I can find multiple recipes the leaves start to turn black and gooey in my produce crisper. They really need to sell that stuff in smaller quantities. Any way, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic salt are three ingredients you must have to make the salsa. The other items can be replaced or completely ignored with still decent results.

The other ingredients (and their possible replacements) are:
Ideally green onions (but any type of onion finely diced will do)
Fresh squeezed lime juice (lemon works just as well, and to heck with fresh squeezed if need be)
Crab meat (or precooked shrimp, or artificial crab meat, or if you feel like going vegetarian, leave it out entirely).

Basically you just dice up tomatoes and your choice of onion, rip and/or chop up some cilantro, add enough of the juice so that the other ingredients are covered, throw in a generous portion of the meat, and sprinkle it all with garlic salt. It’s better if it sits at least over night before you eat it. Coryn loves anything you can dip chips into and since this is mostly veggies I feel less guilty than I do with onion dip or something of that nature.

I’ve decided to start sampling more Japanese candy. It is one of the things I am going to miss about this place. That and how wonderful their stickers are. Japanese sticker companies make really cool stickers. Their candies are weird, but they feel exotic, and since I can’t read Japanese, it’s always an adventure when I try out a new flavor.

The art project I mentioned earlier involved the aforementioned stickers, these zoo animal themed. Coryn stuck them onto paper and then scribbled around them with markers, colored pencils, and one green crayon (the lone survivor of the pack she got for Christmas and promptly devoured). She even drew a heart with my hand guiding hers. It was the most heartwarming heart ever drawn. She beamed when it was done.

“Mommy, heart,” she said. Such a sweetie.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Of Odor and Order

Oh my, Billy Joel’s voice makes me melt just a little bit. I am such a sucker for music that was written before I was born. Music written after I was born, I only know if Weird Al took the time to parody it. Well, that’s not totally true, but it is close enough to being true that I’m not going to bother and list the handful of exceptions.

Today was a productive day. I feel like doing a photo shoot of my house because it NEVER looks this good. Thanks to some fabric spray it also smells pretty good. This fabric deodorizer spray is one the few products I’ve ever bought because of a commercial. Ironically, the commercial was for Febreze and I bought Glade, but that was Febreze’s fault for being more expensive than Glade even though they have more pervasive advertising.

The reason for this fabric spray stuff, which I don’t think my mother ever used, probably because she keeps her house so clean that the bad smells never have a chance to set into fabrics, is our beautiful couch, one of my favorite pieces of furniture. Our couch has been in use for about a year and half now and is starting to look worn. I took some Woolite to several spots on it last night, and the scrubbing brought forth a musty odor that had prior to this gone unnoticed. Matt, who has a super smeller Burton “Gus” Guster would envy, immediately took note and started to moan about how Coryn and I weren’t old enough to be trusted with furniture as nice as our couch.

One of the most common advertisements on Hulu is the one for Febreze where the lady takes her recliner through a carwash to get the smells out, so I thought, hmmm, I guess maybe that stuff has a use after all. Today I went to the store and got that (as mentioned, the cheaper brand over the advertised one) and a bottle of soy sauce. Coryn and I then went on a cleaning spree. She followed me around as I sprayed the couch, sniffing it appreciatively. Coryn likes spraying things. I have to watch her if I‘m using any cleaning product. She will put Pledge on ANYTHING. The plus side of this is she really likes helping me. I give her a rag and she’ll go to town rubbing down any surface. Today we ‘pledged’ every piece of wood (or faux-wood) furniture in the house. She wanted to keep going. I have a faint hope that this enthusiasm continues until she is competent enough to actually help me out, but I know that by the time she learns how to clean effectively, the novelty of helping Mommy will have probably worn off. For now I’ll just smile as she commandeers my mop and pushes it around the kitchen floor yelling out, “Sippery! Sippery!”

Coryn has made some impressive strides in potty training, including short trips out of the house wearing underwear. She has yet to actually use a toilet outside of our house, but she has been able to stay dry until we return from the store or post office. I rewarded her with chocolate ice cream at the Cross Roads café today. She wanted cupcakes. The ice cream was a compromise because I didn‘t feel like baking. Matt would say I am spoiling her again, so don’t tell him. Honestly, she does get a heck of a lot more treats than I did when I was a kid. Mainly because I think we have more expendable income than my parents ever did when we were little. Because of this, as soon as I started making money (and I was quite the baby sitting entrepreneur. . . Well, I had one well paying consistent customer, anyway), I couldn’t go to town without wanting to buy some sort of treat. Even now, every time I leave the house my ‘treat’ sensor goes on and I start thinking about where I can stop for coffee or ice cream or something. . . And of course, if I have something, Coryn needs something too. . .at least according to me. According to Matt (again who thinks I spoil her) children should be seen and not treated. Or something like that.

She is a good eater, though. As a notoriously picky eater who is just now starting to enjoy foods with more than two ingredients and who still has a long list of taboo foods, I expected many battles over vegetables. However, Coryn will eat just about anything. I’m just glad she is getting these good habits ingrained before she is old enough to say, “Hey, Mommy, you aren’t eating your broccoli. Why do I have to?” Last night, for instance, I made a chicken stir-fry with red bell peppers, broccolini, green onions, and carrots . . . I don’t like carrots any way but raw, and even if it is smaller, prettier broccoli, broccolini is still broccoli, but I put them in for added color and because Matt likes that sort of thing. Coryn gobbled up her carrots while I was still picking around my helping looking for the chicken and asked for more carrots. She had the leftovers for lunch today then stole a leaf off the head of red cabbage I was cutting up for my salad and sat there happily munching it. I guess she got that from Matt.

Well, that’s it for me for now. Now I’m just holding my breath that Matt gets home before the Law of Entropy kicks in and the house disintegrates into its usual disorder. I’d like at least one other adult witness to its current state.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Normal days

Here I am at the end of the day, a cup of licorice tea, a Castle episode on the TV, uploading photos of my itty baby boo to face book to be admired by friends and family around the world. It’s a good time for reflection. Especially since Castle will be over in a few minutes and then I will be sans amusement. Matt is working nights this week, so he could be home as early as the next five minutes or at late as midnight. I’m not crazy about my husband’s schedule, but I do like having some nights to do things like this.

Today was a productive day in that I got done everything I intended to do: took Coryn to playgroup, collected the mail (including a “Grandma Box” my mom sent with some treats for Coryn and Matt’s birthday present), picked up a few items at the grocery store, and cleaned the bathroom. Not a hugely impressive list. Would’ve been better had I thrown in some writing or had more success with Coryn’s potty training.

Coryn’s potty training has been going much better, but today we had a lot of accidents, and it felt like a step backwards. She has taken it into her head that she has to use the big person toilet rather than her own potty chair. We purchased a stool so that she could wash her hands at the sink, and she uses that to get onto the toilet and balance herself. I think she got the idea because her friend Jack was over yesterday and she burst in on his potty training session. I’m just glad she didn’t decide she should go standing up because I was sure she’d want to try that too. We did manage to make a trip to the store with her in training underwear rather than diapers. That’s a nice first. I explained to her that there are potties pretty much everywhere if she needs to go and showed her the one in downstairs next to the community room. She thought this was hilarious.

“Haha! Potty!” she said, pointing to the toilet.

We only needed a handful of items at the store. Matt won’t be home for dinner at all this week, so we just got milk and bread and a few other lunch items. When we got back to our building there were two shopping carts full of food items with a sign that said the owners were PCS’ing (moving) and couldn’t take them so people should help themselves. I picked up a ton of spices, baking staples, and other unopened non-perishables. The moving person apparently had high baking ambitions. I got three bags of chocolate chips, a bag of powdered sugar, a box of salt, a ton of spices and seasonings (Including chicken bullion cubes, which I covet), and lots of canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. We still have two years here, and I hope we don’t have two entire cartloads of baking supplies left over when we finally leave. I can’t stand throwing things away. That said, I do have two containers of cornstarch which I will never use up. . . Anyone want some cornstarch?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Potty Training Peril

I bought Coryn some training pants. She seems more accepting of them than she is of "big girl" underwear. I guess it's the extra padding, and since then potty training has improved considerably. Coryn does not like the feel of wet training pants. She is still, however, completely terrified of her potty seat. I have no idea why. It doesn't flush or make any scary noises. It's comfortable and just her size. But still, she acts like using it is the end of the world.

Yesterday, we were continuing on our potty training quest, me escorting her to sit on the potty and asking her constantly if she had to go. She would sit there and stubbornly do nothing. Occasionally she would try to milk to situation by having me play hand clapping games (she is very into games/songs that involve finger motions and hand clapping, right now), but she never actually "went." Her training pants even stayed dry.

Confused and wondering if I needed to up her fluid in take, I was about to give up and put on her diaper for nap time, when I noticed she was crouched down in the middle of the living room with her legs and knees clenched desperately together.

I rushed her to the bathroom and took off her training pants. They had a small wet spot, so I thought, "Dang, too late." Exasperated, I told her to sit on her potty pot while I went and got her another set of training pants. She started to sob.

"No! No! Diapers!" she begged.

"No, you stay on your potty pot until I get your new pants, and don't get up or you will get in trouble," I ordered. She kept whining but obeyed, so I left her there long enough to put her old pair in the laundry and grab a new pair out of the bedroom. When I came back she was weeping while potty tinkled uncontrollably into the potty pot.

"No, no, no," she said. She couldn't hold it in any longer. She had to go in the potty pot. The agony of it was too much to bear.

"Wow! Awesome! Such a big girl!" I gushed. "Look what you did! What a good job!" She sobbed some more. I ended up having to hug her and give her her "treat" reward (some candy hearts) before she'd stop crying.

That was our only success for the day. After that I put her down for her nap, and when I got her back up, she chose to pee on her bed when Daddy put in her a time out for throwing a book at Mommy (I told Matt that maybe until we are finished with this stage of training, unsupervised time outs aren't the best discipline solution). This morning she went on her pot again, but only after I caught her "in the act" and forced her to sit down to finish.

I'm not sure why she finds going on the potty scary, but after she does it, she literally quivers in fear . . . she likes washing her hands A LOT though. I have to be very patient with her five minutes scrubbing, four minutes rinsing, three minutes drying process. Well, little steps forward, I guess.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Various Poems that Flitted out of my Pen

The Centipede

In this park there is a centipede
A villainous, poisonous centipede
A loathsome, wretched centipede;
I saw him just today.

And when I saw this centipede
It started a one woman stampede.
I could not sit and quietly read
Til it had gone away.

Oh it would be a valorous deed
To step upon that centipede
But I balked and went weak kneed,
And so its here to stay.

I appeal to your pity or maybe your greed
If you should spy this centipede
Please its creepy breath impede;
Perhaps I'll even pay.

Cleaned the bathroom in my underwear.
That's not as sexy as it sounds
And looking back it doesn't even sound sexy.
Spent hours in the park
Rescuing my toddler from other toddlers
And frequently visa versa.
There are few things as stressful as a toddler war.
Remembered a day when I had time.
Remembered a day when all was in order.
Remembered a day that didn't involve diapers.
This year was not that day.
Nor the year before it.
Yet it has been an extremely good year
for baby kisses.

Consider the ant, O sluggard,
But if you don't my two-year-old will
She'll hover above fascinated
Amazed at how creepy they feel.

“Bye-bye, chickens!” my two-year-old waves to the sparrows.
Her world is too busy for multiple categories
To her all birds are chickens
All women are mommies
And all people are friends.

Gonna party all Summer
In the sun and in the shade
Gonna eat some ice cream
And drink lots of lemonade
Put a blanket on the grass
And sleep outside all night
Gonna go fishing
And hope the fishies bite.
Gonna have a picnic
With cookies, cake, and pie,
Gonna blow some bubbles
Watch them float up to the sky.
Maybe we'll vacation
Go down to the sea
Run barefoot on the sunny sand
We'll be happy as can be.
Gonna play this summer
We're gonna have a ball
Oh yes, we'll love this summer
The best season of them all.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ninja Kitty

The events of the last few days lead to only one logical conclusion: our cat is a Ninja.

Our second story apartment has two balconies, one off the bedroom and another off our living/dining area. Both of them are netted in to keep birds out and pets in, so I've always considered them a safe place for both Coryn and Kamikaze to play. Yesterday morning, however, Coryn comes to me in a panic.

“Mommy! Kazi! Kazi!” She took my hand and pulled me out onto our living room balcony and pointed through the mesh. There, on the four foot wide ledge, was Kamikaze, on the wrong side of the netting.

“Meow,” said Kazi, looking innocent and lost. I carefully inspected the mesh, finding no cat sized holes. I checked around the edge for gaps. Nothing. Realizing that she could've gone through in the bedroom and walked around to the living room on the ledge, I checked the bedroom. No holes there. Now what?

Cats stuck in trees, call the fire department. Cats stuck on ledges? Call in the Marines! Well, a Marine. I just happen to have one handy.

After a few attempts I got a hold of Matt at work. Now, Matt has not been on speaking terms with Kamikaze since she chewed through the cord for his computer headset (among other things, she's a destructive cat.).

“Is she meowing?” he asked.

“Not at the moment,” I said. Actually, she was taking a nap, but I wanted my cat back.

“Hopefully she stays there,” he grunted. Finally he agreed to come home. Matt suggested she probably got out through the un-screened window in the laundry room, but she didn't seem to be able to jump back inside, in spite of my coaxing and pleading.

Meanwhile, Kamikaze had discovered this new perch put her within hissing distance of birds. She sat there “Merrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrowwwwwing” at a large crow who sat just out of reach. Finally, one of her victims, a smaller, black and white bird, had had enough. It launched itself at her dive bomb style, pulling up just inches from her (now cowering) kitty head. For the first since the beginning of her high wire adventure, Kamikaze looked ready to be rescued.

“How are we doing this?” I asked.

“I figured you could climb through the window and hand her in to me,” Matt said casually.

“Me?” I asked.

“Yeah, I can't fit through the window.” This was true. Still, I had expected Matt to draft me into cat rescue ops. It was actually pretty uncomfortable, getting through the window, but I managed, and a four foot ledge makes the second story seem pretty tame. I fetched her, handed her back in to Matt, and grabbed onto his shoulders so he could hoist me back in. Safe inside once more, I cuddled my kitty, feeling pretty good about the whole thing. I made sure to keep the laundry window closed after that.

Then, this morning, I realized the cat was missing. . .

I found her, again on the ledge, this time with the window still closed. Frustrated and not wanting to call Matt home again, I opened the window and started looking for something to put outside so she could climb up. . .

“Meow,” Kamikaze said, right in my ear. I turn around and there she was, sitting right on the window seal beside me.

“Now why didn't you do that yesterday?” I groaned. Kamikaze just looked smug.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Last night I was plagued by guilt and regret over something left behind, something abandoned over three years ago when my marriage started over shadowing all other pursuits. I lay in bed, trying to sleep, going over all the mistakes, all the things that had gone wrong, and all the other reasons I never finished writing that particular novel.

I start stories all the time, but I finish maybe one in ten (if that), but this particular story had grown to almost 300 hand written pages (with my handwriting that equals about 200 type written pages) before it was set aside in a box of manuscripts to suffer three years of neglect. I'd even typed up the first few chapters (57 pages type written). . . and last night, unable to rest, I found the file on my laptop and started reading. I forced myself to stop around midnight, but now I'm determined to start again. I know where I went wrong. I always make the mistake of letting my characters get married too early in the story and then they want to settle down and stop doing exciting things that keep the plot going. After all, who wouldn't rather go on a honeymoon than return to the castle of the evil king to challenge the dark forces attempting to overrun his homeland?

Jonas, my main character, certainly didn't want to go back to the castle (especially since his new bride was supposed to be the bride of the king's son. He married her after their daring escape.). Oh, he had reasons to go back. There was destiny involved, and evil bad guys in black capes and hoods (you know anyone in a black cape is bad news.), and I planned to burn down his hideout in order to force them out of hiding, but at that point I just wasn't buying the storyline any more. I abandoned the story and started writing “The Invisible Princess,” a shorter, less dramatic work that I did finish, and am still proud of despite several very rough patches in the narrative. Then I got married and basically stopped writing. I have had very few projects since then that got over the first few paragraphs and the two that did ran into plot holes even larger than Jonas's unwillingness to return to danger post wedding. Well, the story about the young man pursuing a fugitive who happened to be his own father ran into a plot hole. The story about a prince who has to go on a series of quests to save his father from supernatural forces in an Egyptian style kingdom ran into bad writing. I still think the plot works. I just wasn't happy with the way I was conveying the ideas.

But Jonas's whole issue was that I went about twenty pages allowing him to be perfectly happy simply because I got sucked into the love story, which was very appealing. Maybe it just wasn't the story to write while desperately missing my (then) boyfriend. After all, if I had to be half a world away from the man I loved, at least I could write about two lovers who weren't spending the summer on different continents. Now that I have my guy handy, there is no more need to live vicariously through Jonas and Lady Brynn, so I can make them as miserable as I want. Mu ha ha ha! Oh the power . . . Nah, I still like writing kissy scenes too much.

Either way, I think I can make something of this story. I need to just force myself to write again. It's been too long.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Someone is barbecuing in the park outside our building and our house smells like charcoal. It’s a smell that makes me think of camping. It’s been awhile since we’ve had truly barbecued food. I’ve learned to broil steaks and pan fry chicken , but sometimes I miss having grill marks on my food.
I’m doing everything possible to put off cleaning my bathroom today. After shopping and getting Coryn down for a nap, I put away the groceries, emptied the dishwasher, and folded some laundry. All of which needed to be done, but none of which were the bathroom which is my specific chore for the day. I also invented a few chores, wrapping Matt’s Father’s Day presents and writing in his card and decorating a liquid soap dispenser . . . In a way that looks like my two-year-old did it.

Our soap dispenser broke a few months ago, and the one we bought to replace it broke almost immediately. Shortly thereafter I discovered some “Bath and Body Works” foaming soap for sell, and bought four of them, even though we had a Costco sized container of liquid soap under the sink (but no dispenser to put it in). Foaming soap is so luxurious, especially in scents like “kitchen lemon.” Coryn likes it. I like it. Matt seemed to think using it was taking away from his manhood, though, and wanted me to buy some cheap soap.
“But it was on sale!” I pointed out. Now, however, we are down to the last bottle of the stuff, so today, I went and purchased a bottle of dial liquid soap which we should be able to refill over and over again. I pealed off the “Dial” and product information stickers and started to look around for some stickers of my own. I couldn’t find anything except some fabric glue and my collection of cloth ribbons I use for wrapping presents. I selected a shear ribbon and wrapped it around half of the bottle. Then I ran out. So I wrapped a yellow ribbon around the bottom half. I’ll see how it looks when it dries, but I’m not hopeful. Maybe I could crochet a something like a tea cozy except smaller to pop over it.
Matt has a very practical style, and most of the large items in our home reflect this. If we made the decision together, he normally gets his way, so we have a lot of dark wood and square shapes in our furniture. My style is more whimsical, and everything else is that. There are the unintentionally abstract pictures I painted myself from the cat falling from heaven picture in our bed room to the messy rose petal portrait in our living room. I did take a community college art class, but our instructors method of teaching was to walk around eating a sandwich while complaining about then president Bush to his favorite students (ie ones who agreed with his politics) while the rest of us just sat and did whatever we wanted. Literally the only requirements for grade in his class were attendance and to “produce one piece of completed art.” I was at the productive table. I completed four in the time I hung out there, all the while wondering why I was paying for the whole thing. The only three things I got out of the class was some help with color mixing, some perspective hints (given by the teacher’s aide instead of the teacher himself), and a ten percent student discount at my local art store for the semester. Experiences like this really killed any inclination I had towards getting any sort of a degree.
Though that wasn’t the point I started to make. I was going to talk about how I sneak playful whimsy into our home design in the form of a ridiculous number of cat themed knickknacks and hanging quilts on walls.
My husband is uber-practical. He complains about my green towels because they don’t get as clean as the white ones in the laundry and he thinks they smell musty because of it. He really doesn’t want to paint walls any color other than off white, and he is constantly crusading against the clutter on my desk. All pretty down to earth for a guy who spends most of his hours flying a tamed dragon around the imaginary kingdoms of the World of Warcraft.
I’m hoping today to incorporate pictures into this blog for the first time. I haven’t really figured out that feature yet. . .
Well, I took a break and got my bathroom clean and started another load of laundry. Coryn will be up in about forty-five minutes. We’ve started a bad habit of watching Spongebob every evening, so she’ll want to do that and then we’ll see where the evening goes from there. Buenos tardes!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Agony of a Scraped Knee

Today our park time ended with a disaster of the earth ending sort when Coryn scraped her knee. I had brought along some bubble solution and some of the wands I had left over from our Bubble Park Party a few weeks ago.

At first everything was going along swimmingly. I would send out clouds of bubbles, wafting on the breeze. She would chase them down and giggle gleefully as they popped at her finger tips. Then she tripped onto all fours and came up bleeding and screaming. It was just a tiny scrape with red blood beading up through the surface, but apparently Coryn had no frame of reference for blood. She screamed. And screamed. And then she stopped screaming and started sobbing. I dabbed it with a wet wipe. That made it worse. She screamed louder. I produced a band-aid. She was convinced it would bite. She screamed harder, pushing it away. I held her hands away from her knee with one hand and stuck the band-aid on with the other. The screams had now reached a “Save me! This woman is trying to kill me!” pitch. I blew more bubbles. They brought her no joy. I made soothing noises and offered to kiss it to make it better. Nothing worked, though with me avoiding the “gaping wound” itself, she subsided to mournful gasps and whines.

Matt, who had said he would join us after he ate, meandered out, the last few bites of sandwich in his hand.

“Scraped knee,” I winced.

“Are you just going to let her keep screaming?” he asked, not very helpfully, I thought.

“She's hurt,” I pointed out. “She's never scraped her knee before.”

“You know, this just proves that you are coddling her too much,” he said, again, not very helpfully, “if this is the first time she has scraped her knee.”

He then decided to be helpful. He blew Coryn some extra large bubbles and she stopped crying to watch. After a few minutes I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I realized her band-aid had come off and was sitting in a puddle of bubble water.

“Show Daddy your war wound,” I said playfully. Coryn, apparently, has no sense of humor where pain is involved. The memory of her agony came flooding back to her and she started screaming again. We swiftly packed everything up and carried her inside.

Matt insisted on putting hydrogen peroxide on the wound, so after that we sat on the couch in a family cuddle while she shook with rage and fear and all the emotions associated with a betrayal of the “you poured stingy stuff on me!” nature.

“What an awful owie,” Matt soothed. “You should get the purple heart for this.”

I read her “I Am a Bunny,” and she calmed down. Matt walked away, and she looked up at me expectantly.

“Purpoh heart!” she demanded.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I thought tonight I might start by sharing a recipe that I tried for the first time tonight with good results. I got it off the back of a teriyaki sauce label. It’s La Choy Teriyaki Marinade (on a side note, it really frustrates me that the commissary charges more per ounce for the bigger bottle of teriyaki sauce than it does for the smaller one. . . Especially since I’ve had it pounded into my head that bulk is better when buying an item you use frequently. Doesn’t it save them on packaging if I buy one 20oz bottle instead of two 10oz bottles?). Normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning the brand, but this teriyaki sauce has a thicker consistency than ones I’ve used in the past, so it probably matters which type you use. Anyway, recipe:

½ Cup Teriyaki Sauce
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1 tsp crushed red pepper
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive. I’m too lazy to stock multiple oil types)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken, sliced into 2x½ inch slices (I just used four medium chicken breasts)
1 (8oz) can bamboo shoots, drained
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp water
½ cup cashews (optional) I actually completely forgot about the cashews even though I bought them specifically for this recipe. Anyone want some homeless cashews?

1. Stir together teriyaki sauce, marmalade, crushed red pepper, and ginger in a small bowl until well blended, then set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Cook and stir chicken about four minutes or until no longer pink. Stir in bamboo shoots and peppers.
3 Add prepared sauce to skillet. Stir together corn starch and water until smooth; add to skillet. Cook until heated through an sauce thickens. Top with cashews if desired (or if you remember that you bought them).

I served it over rice. Matt really liked it, though he’s not really a big bell pepper fan. He suggested using broccoli instead next time, but I’m not a big broccoli fan. Basically any vegetable you’d include in a sweet stir fry would work. The crushed red pepper element, also, would’ve probably freaked me out when I was a younger, pickier eater. Coryn, thankfully, has a very open minded pallet for a two-year-old. She eats all kinds of things I wouldn’t touch when I was a kid.

Coryn gets so sweaty playing in this weather. Even when playing inside she ends up with her hair plastered to her scalp. I’ve thankfully been able to keep her hydrated so far, but it’s difficult when she’s on the go. Coryn conquers play parks like a Sherpa conquers Everest. She’s up ladders and down slides and clinging everywhere in between. She likes nothing more than to get another kid to chase her in circles, and she played follow the leader with a girl who was at least two years older than her for a good half hour today at the park by the pool then came home and found that her friend Jack was at the park by our apartment, so we invited him and his mom up to our place for popsicles and running around chasing balloons . . . And this after a morning dancing to Weird Al songs.

Well, signing off for now. Coryn needs to get out of the bath and I need to get into it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I spent an hour tonight lying next to my husband trying to get to sleep before getting up, putting my contacts back in, and slipping out to the living room. If left to our natural bent, both my husband and I would be up every night until at least midnight, but with Matt’s alarm scheduled to go off at 4:30 am he usually wants to turn in before nine, and I like to be there to snuggle . . . Tonight, though, there is just too much of nothing in particular going through my head. So here I am, with my laptop, my herbal tea, and my cat, typing away about nothing in particular.

Our cat, Kamikaze, earned her culturally insensitive name by being a late night wrecking ball. She used to run circles around the living room, shoot down the hall into our bedroom, launch herself onto the top of my dresser, then dive bomb my head as I lay sleeping Later on we discovered her destructive tendencies included chewing through electrical cords and eating socks, so when not supervised she is locked up in one of two safe zones, the laundry room or the balcony. When she saw me up, she meowed pathetically through the screen door until I rescued her. She knows me. She knows if she finds a quiet place to hide I will most likely forget that I let her in and she will be able to have her way with the apartment once I finally settle into bed. She is very clever this way.

I’m a huge tea drinker, not exclusively. I also like coffee, and actually know a fair bit about coffee, having worked for both a mom and pop style coffee shop and a Starbucks/Barnes and Noble Café. I was actually thinking about Barnes and Noble tonight. Matt and I used to use one as our personal library back when we were first married. We’d use my employee discount to get our coffees and sit in the café area reading whatever we wanted, no purchase necessary. I miss those pre-baby days a little bit, but I wouldn’t trade what we have now to get them back. I do wish I could get the employee discount back somehow though. . .

I think I’ll close now with a random quote from my collection:

“The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” Bastiat.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tail of an Extraordinary Cat

I love children's books: good, pure children's books where the whimsy is a point to itself. Having a daughter like Coryn, who loves stories already, gives me an excuse to read even more of them, but even before her, I was sure to surround myself with fairy tales and story books. One that made a huge impression on me, maybe because of its simplicity, is "Jenny and the Cat Club" by Esther Averill, a sweet story about a shy, black cat in a red scarf who longs to join a society of extraordinary cats, each with their own special talents.

I've always wanted a place like that, for me and my little girl, a place surrounded by good things and good company, a place with extraordinary cats. I'm already convinced Coryn herself is an extraordinary cat . . . and while I know every mother sees their child as above the norm, the life that radiates out of Coryn's eyes and actions is the brightest light I could possibly imagine. Heaven must be brighter, but my imagination can't handle that level of illumination, and it shorts out when trying to fathom anything more radiant than Coryn.

Since this is an introduction of sorts (though most people who read this won't find any surprises; I'm a transparent personality, I like to think.), I should mention my husband, Matt, my lifetime crush. I have been in love with him since I was old enough to handle the emotion, over ten years now. While we were friends all through high school, Matt managed to evade me until adulthood, when I finally wore him down and reeled him in. Matt is my complete opposite, a pessimist with a biting sense of humor who keeps to himself and communicates mainly by grunting . . .but he's also smart and funny and caring . . . and hot. Smoking hot. I'm sure I'll find lots of reasons to write about him.

Well, that's all that I want to say for now.