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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Free time?

K, Coryn is in bed. Now what. . .I used to know what to do with my free time. Now I always want it and when it comes I'm just assaulted by the 900 things I'm always saying that I would do if I had more time, and by the time I've decided, my free time is gone. Maybe I should make a jar where I can reach in and randomly draw an activity to do. . .Yeah, I'll put that jar together. In my free time.

So, crochet?
Copy more of the recipes I have on loose paper scraps into my new recipe book?
Do some stretching to relieve neck tension?
Read something?
Write something (technically, I'm writing something right now . . . hey! I must've made some sort of decision). . .

oh wait, eat something, I'm hungry.
No, I'm not, I'm thirsty and that is tricking my mind into thinking I'm hungry.
I should probably take my contacts out now. It's getting late. I wonder when Matt is going to want to go to bed tonight.

Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh BATMAN! (I've been wanting to say that all night)

Nothing on TV right now so at least I'm not wasting time doing that, though if I were I could also be crocheting at the same time. Wow, that would be awesome. . . I think a drink of water then stretching is going to win out. Yeah, definitely need to work my neck and back before bed or I'm not going to sleep to night.

Off to youtube to search for prenatal relaxation stretches. See you later!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Long days with Coryn

I'm honestly not a huge fan of weekends. My husband has a rotating schedule where he works from early morning to mid-afternoon one week and from early afternoon to nine or so at night . . . oh and he works Saturday and Sundays either way. So when other families are off doing stuff for their weekend it is just me and Coryn, fumbling around for something to do when our friends are off base or just at home with their husbands/fathers enjoying some rest. Church breaks up the monotony and is something for Coryn and me to look forward to.

This week, however, there was a music festival on base so a lot of our friends were out and about. The festival was a bust. There were slides and bouncy houses set up for the kids, but the people who had put it together for the base had chosen to charge $2.50 for a few minutes in a bouncy house, and it just made myself and the other mothers mad. Coryn had gotten pretty excited and she is used to seeing bouncy houses at parties (for free, the base housing office loans out very similar bouncy houses) and so when she saw them her instinct was to kick off her shoes and climb in. I bought her one turn just because she'd gotten so excited but I wasn't willing to pay the prices for more than that. We regrouped (myself and three other moms. . .and a dad) to discuss what we were going to do next and found that the base of one of the inflatable slides had a wide ledge made of bouncy house material. I'm not sure who started it, by the time I noticed three of the toddlers were already sitting/standing/bouncing on it. They did that for about 20 minutes (about $20 worth of bouncing at the current rate), having an excellent time. A few employees gave us the stink eye but nobody said anything, and we were all so ticked off at the whole place I think we would've liked an employee coming up to us so we could chew them out . . . though in all fairness most of the people working the festival were volunteers who probably had nothing to do with the price gouging, which sort of makes the fact that they were charging so much at a “community” event feel even worse.

After that a few of us wandered over to a playground and the kids played for awhile longer. At the end of the day I was exhausted, sweaty, and had blisters on my feet.

The next morning (Matt was on the afternoon to 9 or so schedule), I had planned to take Coryn to church. Coryn loves church. She loves playing with her friends there. We walk to church. We walk pretty much everywhere. You need a special license to drive in Japan as an American “guest” and I never got mine. Matt has his, but on Sundays he's normally either recovering from working late the night before or just plain working, so we don't depend on him for rides. What I do depend on him for is a couple of extra hours of sleep on the Sundays he is on this schedule. He tends to be up by 7:30 or so so I take advantage and sleep until nine while he's in charge of Coryn. Normally I wake up to find her dressed and with a belly full of breakfast and I still have an hour before we have to leave for church. This morning, however, I woke up to her still in her pajamas and a messy house. Still figuring we had time, I tried to prod her into getting ready quickly, but we were both in a slow mood. I changed my clothes more than once and fooled around in my closet looking for shoes that wouldn't irritate the blisters on my heels. It wasn't until five minutes before go time that I found out she hadn't had breakfast yet either. By the time she had finished her cereal it was just too late to get started.

I decided to be productive instead. In spite of the fact that we hadn't even been home the majority of the day before, the house was trashed. So I started in the living room only to have Coryn (desperate for attention, I suppose) beg me to help her clean her room instead. She really just wanted me to play with her. While I (extra active for one reason or another) went through her mixed up toy chest, sorting out things and throwing away broken toys (I also put together a large sack of things she doesn't play with any longer to take to the thrift store . . .boy, I'm parenthesis happy today.), she kept bringing me toys she wanted to play with or claiming she needed help for simple tasks she usually does by herself.

Then she found a toy dog and asked me if she could take him to church, and everything went to pieces.

She was brokenhearted that we were skipping church, that it was too late to go, and she cried and cried. She wanted to go to church. Had everybody left already and all her friends gone home? Why had we been too late for church? I was mad at myself for disappointing her, so after a few minutes I was crying too. Matt came to see what was up but didn't quite get it.

I'm not even sure how we picked up the pieces. I got her involved with cleaning again. We finished her room and I gave her a sponge to wipe down the walls. I was able to do every room except for the kitchen and the second bathroom. She's still mad at me about missing church today, though.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crochet Days

Yesterday I crocheted Coryn an extremely pink piggy. I did it without a pattern and I'm proud of it, mainly because it looks like a piggy. A lot of times when I invite a pattern it isn't immediately obvious what the heck it is supposed to be. You can see pictures of it here: Critters for Coryn.

I also made a giraffe using this pattern. It took about double the time it should've because I missed the part about "British" vs "American"crochet terms and worked it completely in double crochet which apparently was incorrect because British double crochet is American single crochet. I would've noticed if they'd called them something completely different but the "same words, different meanings" thing is confusing. Like Robert Mitchum's character says in The Grass is Greener the biggest barrier to mutual understanding between America and England is our use of a common language. That's a rather obscure classic; all star cast, though (Mitchum, Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, and Jean Simmons).

The giraffe has experimental stuffing. My usual stuffing material are dried beans and yarn pieces that are too short or tangly to be used for anything else. None of these seemed to be stiff enough to keep my giraffe's neck upstanding, so I cut up a used plastic shopping bag and used that. I loved how it turned out. Not only does my giraffe work but when you squeeze it it makes a neat crinkly noise. I love a successful experiment.

Oh and because I haven't mentioned kids books lately, Coryn's favorite read (at this current time) is Green Eggs and Ham. Can you blame her?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Food finds, broken laptops, and just hanging in there

I found a great deal on Cinnamon Life cereal today at the commissary, $1 per box. I don't normally buy kiddie cereals. I'm a big fan of Kashi Go Lean Crunch but when I offer Coryn cereal, I don't do anything fancier than plain Cheerios. Hence her preference for Kashi Go Lean Crunch because it is sweeter than plain Cheerios (though sometimes I allow a sprinkle of sugar on those and restrict her to cinnamon on other cereals). I was pleasantly surprised when the price on the Life cereal drew me to read the nutrition info. I only really look at two places when I read labels, the sugar content and the first few ingredients. The first ingredient was whole grain oat flour and the sugar content was lower than I expect for cereals aimed at kids. When she was watching Dora that afternoon she asked me if she could have a bowl of cereal and she devoured it and asked for another.

That said, the biggest news, and the main reason I haven't been posting much, is that my laptop has died. I am hardly tech deprived. I have a desktop, but it is sequestered in a computer room in the back of our apartment. I keep telling Matt we need to set up a table in this room specifically for Coryn so she can color or do puzzles in here while we are computing, but so far that idea is just an idea, and usually if I am in here, she is unsupervised in the living room which is inadvisable for long periods. I had known my work horse of a laptop which my husband bought me right after Coryn was born (so it was nearly four-years-old) was dying. There were just little quirky things in the way it was running, unexpected crashes, driver-failure messages. Sometimes it wouldn't play dvd's. Sometimes it would lose its internet connection for no particular reason. Just generally, it has become a little bit slower and a lot quirkier than it had been in its youth. Still, I had wanted to put off buying a new machine until I was back in the states, which will be probably April 2012, tantalizingly close. Right now I don't think I'm going to survive that wait, though, and Matt has already agreed to start looking into buying me a new laptop.

I am spending less time on the computer, but I'm also a little less productive. As I mentioned, there has been no blogging since it broke (when Matt asked me to list the things I do on a computer in order to narrow down the type of machine I should get, he pretended not to know what blogging meant and rolled his eyes at me for it). I also currently can't upload photos to Facebook or Winkflash (where I order photo prints) because I don't have an SD card port on my desktop and am not sure where I hid the connection-cord-things for my camera. Because of this my memory card is getting a little backed up. I also like to watch TV while I cook (on my laptop) and use a lot of recipes which I search for at my kitchen table and then reference directly from the internet. Now I have to copy them down on paper if I want to try them out. My laptop also was the only computer in the house hooked up to a printer (which I could fix by downloading the drives onto here, but so far I've just decided not to print anything); I use it to change my Facebook status on a whim. . .now it has to be worth going into the back of the house and alienating Coryn to do. . .maybe that one factor is a good thing, though. I guess my Facebook friends can live without the latest Psych quote that made me LoL.

Anyway, tonight I made myself a special treat dinner because Matt is gone. Matt works nights every other week and so for that week I don't have to cook him dinner. . .but he still eats a ton while at work, so I'm cooking a lot today anyway. I'm marinating chicken which tomorrow he will grill so he can take it to work. I'm trying out a taco rice recipe (found here) which hopefully he will like and also take to work. He's big on protein and I guess rice+beans=a whole protein, whatever that means. I figured since I'd be cooking anyway, I'd make myself something "real" for dinner instead of having leftovers/breakfast cereal/popcorn/something frozen and defrosted/usual-I'm-cooking-for-myself-and-a-toddler-who-would-rather-just-have-candy-fare. So I bought some top round steaks for $3.00 (cheap cuts but good for what I intended) marinated them quickly in the following recipe, pan cooked them, and served them over salad with some sesame Asian dressing. I love doing that. I almost ate two whole steaks by myself, but I stopped myself from doing so and wrapped up the left overs for later. Here is the marinade I used:

1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
2 Tbs Rice Vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger (who am I kidding, I didn't measure this at all, so this should read "however much fell out of the ginger bottle when I gave it one good shake)
4 tsp sugar
4 tsp cornstarch

I guess to cook a top round steak (according to the interwebs) you heat oil over medium then put in the steak four minutes a side or until the blood starts to bubble up through it. I did four minutes for the first side and then about 2 1/2 for the second because I like a little pink in the center, even when over salad. I also included some of the marinade in the pan while cooking. So good.

And that's what's going on today.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Poem about my husband

I have had the idea for this poem brewing in my head off and on for awhile, but I never can get the meter right. It isn't very elegant, but I finally scratched out a version that I feel comfortable sharing.

So many times my bed is empty
My heart so far away
When you call I'll hold on to the phone
Long after I've run out of words to say
Because on the other side,
That's where you stand;
Called away by duty
To a dry and dusty land.
Yes, loving a brave man
Is a blessing and a curse
But I think back before you loved me
And those empty days were worse.
To love and long
Is so much better than not at all
Which is why I thank the Lord each day
While you're off on duty's call;
Because I'd rather lie here wishing we were kissing
Than be a girl who doesn't know what she's missing.

The night I had our daughter
You were half a world away.
I would've given all I owned
To bring you back that day.
Clinging to your photograph,
I felt so ill-prepared,
Missing you so completely,
Feeling alone and scared.
It was two month's til you saw her,
All wrinkled, fat, and pink.
I couldn't help but worry.
I didn't know what you'd think,
But seeing you two together
Bound my heart up in one place,
The two of you together,
Finally face to face.

Sometimes at night I worry
That you'll go away again.
I watch headlines, hear rumors,
Pray, "Let him stay, amen."
'Cause you're brave and you're willing
But most of all, you're mine.
If they never called you away again,
Well, that would be just fine.
But I have faith in God,
And I know who you are.
You'll always be my man
If you're near or if you're far,
And even when I'm wishing we were kissing,
I'm glad I'm not a girl who doesn't know what she's missing.

Cat Poetry

My cat perches on the edge of the tub, watching me bathe. How strange, these humans, to shed their furs and submerge themselves in water, how strange, and yet when the water drains, she sits in the tub and wishes she could wet her paws.

My cat does not fear water. She is a primal hunter and knows not fear, but she admits that water, in most forms, displeases her and will not be tolerated.

She watches the drops fall from the leaky tap. She tastes one with her tongue. Ah, so fresh, much fresher than her bowl which neglectful humans let sit for days. She licks her lips. Her whiskers twitch and she dreams of the sea.

She is now a sailing cat. Sea spray beads on her fur. She puts back her ears and yeowls against the pounding waves. The air about her tastes of fish.

She swishes her tail and balances on the edge of the sink, imagining it is the rail of a clipper ship. The gulls scold her, but she scolds back and they fall away, subdued. Her hiss singes their ears.

With a mighty leap, she dives into the waters. She sinks beneath the waves where all is calm. Suspended she floats, watching the glint of scales as a school of fish swims about her. She springs forward. The water in her mind gives no resistance and the tuna scatter like frightened pigeons.

She clutches a fat prize in her jaws. The juice of the fish so succulent, so fresh, that her stomach growls. She licks her whiskers as the dream fades. Rising from the bathmat, she stretches and yawns and pretends to be content with her lot.

She hears the familiar crunch and whir as a can opener cuts through tin. Romping down the hall, she springs onto the counter. She smells fish, not as fresh as in her dream, but real and moist against her waiting tongue.

Her realm is the kitchen, the cushioned couch, wherever she chooses to lie. I am her servant, at her beck and call. She knows this. She lives this. She is satisfied.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Quick Read for Preteens . . .or Me.

I don't often have time for reading any more . . .or perhaps, more accurately, when I do have free time (Completely free time, where there isn't any extra cleaning to do or I simply don't have energy to do anything that doesn't involve sitting), reading is behind online browsing (and or game playing) and crocheting (generally while watching TV) on my priority list. Crocheting, especially, has been consuming me over the last year or so. A little under a year ago I started crocheting small toy mice, then snakes, then fish, then monkeys, etc. You can check them out on Facebook or Etsy by searching Critters for Coryn. I've made about $500 on these at craft fairs and from word of mouth sales. I also do stockings and scarves and various special orders.

Back on topic, if I get a chance to read it is either in pieces or something that I can polish off in an hour. I really like children's books so this isn't a huge problem but anything longer than two hundred pages (about what I can process in an hour if I concentrate) I read slowly, usually a few pages or a chapter at a time.

That's why I am recommending a short, incredibly simple book because I'd already read through the first chapter while Coryn was looking at picture books at the book store. Apparently it is from a series called "Dish" by Diane Muldrow. The first book is called Stirring it Up and involves a pair of 11-year-old twin girls who, sick of their dual income families consistent parade of take out, decide they want to cook, first dinner for their family, then at a cooking class, and finally in a club with other girls from class. It's a simple, non-problematic book that actually encourages girls to do something productive and help others. In the back are a few simple recipes to try and there are actually some helpful kitchen tips for aspiring chefs.

This book isn't going to "rock anyone's world" but it might be a nice summer read to channel kids away from television or computers and into the kitchen.

Also, check out my creations here:
Critters for Coryn