Things that are pissing me off today

The Cavs 1st 2 games of the season.  I didn’t think they would be unstoppable, but I did expect to see some good basketball. Other than the 1st quarter against the Celtics these 2 games were painful to watch.  I know they will get better as they improve their team dynamics and get a rhythm with their new players.  But I’ve been looking forward to this season all year and right now it sucks.
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The fact that every freakin’ class for preschoolers offered by my city is during the workday.  These are awesome programs (ballet, jazz dance, music, gymnastics, art & basketball) offered at great rates because they are supported with our tax dollars.  But hey!  If you dare have 2 parents working & still don’t make enough to have a full-time nanny then screw you!
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Old people driving cars.  I work across the street from a very large community center and if I leave at lunchtime I take my life into my own hands.  The amount of geriatric drivers leaving the center at that time is staggering and there not one turn signal in sight.  And forget about basic traffic laws governing 4-way stops or, you know, not driving in 2 lanes at the same time. Gesh…take the keys away from grandpa already!
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I hate the fact that 11 years ago Mattel took over a very cool little doll company that made reading and history fun and turned into the crazy consumerism-driven American Girl that we know today. American Girl Place and all the insane things that happen there – live musicals, bistros with doll chairs, hair-styling classes and a flippin’ doll hair salon that will pierce your doll’s ears(!!) – started the same year Mattel took over. Blech.

I got my Kirsten doll from the Pleasant Company when she was introduced back in 1986 (my friend’s aunt worked for the company, so we knew about the dolls before they got really popular). I spent the next few years sacrificing all other birthday and Christmas gifts so I could collect the 3 original dress and accessory sets.  Now, they are discontinuing Kirsten, just like they discontinued Samantha at the end of last year. I’m sure that in 2010 they will do away with Molly and thus be done with everything that the Pleasant Company created.

Yes, I still would rather have my daughter play with an AG doll over a Bratz doll, but everything about Mattel’s AG seems so obscenely material to me.
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The fact that after over a year with nearly no issues, all of a sudden M’s daycare/preschool can’t seem to send the correct items home with her.  Last week her blanket went home with another family.  Yesterday her dirty clothes didn’t even make it into her cubby to come home which means her crapped-on pants have now been sitting in a sealed plastic bag for over 24 hours…I’m sure that will smell awesome.
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*end rant*

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Haphazard Tuesday

I don’t have the brain power to compose a cohesive post these days, so here is a random listing of what’s being going on around here.

Pregnancy
I’m now 16 weeks along but it feels like 25 weeks.  Being pregnant with M was so easy that this one is kicking my ass.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, or chasing around a 3 year old or what, but I am TIRED all the time.  Food still is unappetizing and so I end up getting so hungry that I get sick…not a fun cycle.

This baby seems to be riding low.  I feel like I’m already doing the 8-months-pregnant waddle.  I have no motivation to take daily walks like I did last time and instead of the fruits I constantly craved with M, I am craving only carbs this time.  A big bowl of ramen noodles or Kraft Mac & Cheese are the only things that consistently sound appealing.

The girl
She won’t go to sleep at night.  When we switched from crib to a toddler bed we used the much lauded and successful “by any means necessary” route to get her to actually stay in the bed at bedtime.  This evolved to one of us staying in her room until she fell asleep.  Nearly one year later and we are still doing this, and these “bedtimes” can last up to two freaking hours.  It’s killing both Mark and I, because on most nights by the time we can sneak out of her room it’s after 9:00 and evening is shot. I know the solution is going to involve lots of screaming and tears (probably for all of us) so we are girding our loins in preparation.

She won’t poop on the toilet.  We started potty training on Memorial Day weekend…it’s been FIVE DAMN MONTHS people!  She will successfully do her business on the throne maybe 3 times a week, and only at school.  At home if we even suggest that she try to go she flips out and sometimes even throws herself off the toilet.  It’s not pretty…and neither is the wreckage to her princess underwear.  We’ve tried everything – reward charts, M&Ms, even the John Rosemond method that worked for Amanda’s daughter.  The kid will not perform, and her newest trick is to hold it all day and fill her nighttime pull-up at 9 PM, thus guaranteeing her a later bedtime.

We took our first trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art this last weekend and she was enthralled.  After her initial slip-up of hugging a marble statue (OMG! I was so happy no one else was in the gallery at the time), she was great.  She loved Frieze of Dancers by Edgar Degas (“Just like Olivia!”) and Armor for Man and Horse with Völs-Colonna Arms (“look! A king on a horse!”) in the Armor Court.  I think we will be making several trips to the CMA this long, cold winter.

Life – pregnancy style
I have had the itch to cook and bake for the last few weeks but have fallen woefully short on time.  I was all set to shop for a and make Pauline’s Bigos on Sunday only to be sidelined by a migraine.  Now it’s on the menu for a hearty pre-trick or treat dinner on Saturday.  Tonight I am going to prep my mom’s lasagna and as usual, I will make 2 since it’s just as much time and effort as making one.  The extra will go to our friends and neighbors who have a 6 week old (whom we haven’t even met yet because of the sick that has plagued at least one of us for weeks).  I am feeling the need to start stocking the freezer so if you have any great recipes that “freeze beautifully” as Annelle says in Steel Magnolias, please send them my way.

M doesn’t have one single photo album.  There are probably over 4000 photos of her on the computer (and obsessively backed up daily) but not one album.  I would really like to get at least her 1st year on paper before the baby is born but can’t decide on a photo-book company.  I don’t want to use Shutterfly and have had some success with MyPublisher in the past – are their other suggestions out there?  I would love to have books of 50+ pages, but quality and price are my two main concerns.

I have a deep desire to clean out all of our closest and do a major purge of stuff.  I just lack the motivation to get off the couch and actually do something about it.  Anyone want to come and do it for me?

Zing Zang Zoom

Last night we scrambled after work to get down to th Q for the opening night of Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey’s “Zing Zang Zoom”.  MomCentral and Feld Entertainment had a little event set up for local bloggers before the show and we got to meet some of the clown cast.  M loved them from afar but refused to get close enough for a photo.  So we had to settle for one of her with a cardboard elephant.

cutout

After watching the clowns she agreed to at least put on the clown nose:

ClownNose

We went down to the arena floor to enjoy the All-Access Preshow where you can get up close and personal with the performers; and maybe even get to be a part of the act, like Pauline’s Lola.  M loved trying on the costumes, watching Larry the Clown juggling and the Qi Qi Har Acrobatic Troupe’s foot juggling.

Costume

Juggle
ChinesePerformer

 

As we made our way back up to our seats M was so excited for the show.  When the opening act came out and the elephants went on parade, to say she was on the edge of her seat would be an understatement.

Elephants
EdgeofSeat

She danced in her seat, laughed full belly laughs and clapped wildly.  We had a fantastic night and the whole ride home she talked about all the clowns and animals.

Zing Zang Zoom is in Cleveland through Monday night – don’t miss this chance to have a great family night out.  And thanks to Mom Central you can purchase a 4-pack of tickets for weekday shows for only $44, or receive $4 off any weekend ticket by logging onto TicketMaster and entering the coupon code: MOM.*

*Get 4 tickets for just $44 for weekday shows, or $4 off weekend tickets by entering the code “MOM” at select ticketing channels. Minimum purchase of 4 tickets required; additional weekday tickets above 4 can be purchased at $11 each. Not valid on VIP Gold, VIP, and Circus Celebrity seats or combinable with other offers. Other handling fees and service charges may apply.

I was given 3 free tickets to the opening night show by MomCentral and was invited to a “meet and greet” prior to the show.

Just Like Ma Ingalls

Last week, at the height of the man-cold I decided it was high time I make some chicken soup.  And, unlike my mom’s yummy chicken soup I wanted to make it with my own stock*, something I had never done before…I know this isn’t rocket science but how much water do you use? How long do you cook it? What veggies are best to use?  Off to Goggle I went and found 1000’s of various ways to make chicken stock.  So next I shot an email off to my foodie friend Danielle who responded to me with this post.  Much like Danielle, I cannot follow a recipe or instructions  exactly so I used her post as a jumping off point.

I had saved the carcass from our last store-bought rotisserie chicken and was planning on getting another for Friday night (shut up, I know how to roast my own very yummy chicken but rotisserie chix have been $4.99 lately and we are a house with 2 parents who WOTH).  So Saturday afternoon I loaded up my Busia’s huge stockpot with the bones, some chicken skin, the wings and thighs – meat on – from Friday’s bird, veggies (minus the parsnips), a roughly chopped bunch of parsley because I think my mom used parsley and 2 nice big pinches of salt.
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A few hours later the house smelled divine.  About 5 hours later I poured everything out through a strainer into a smaller pot – a technique that could used some work…it wasn’t pretty.  I kept a few of the carrots and sliced them up, but didn’t do much with the rest of the veggies.  I had cleaned the meat off the bones pretty well before hand, so after giving our dog a few spoonfuls of the stuff, I threw it all away (don’t worry, he didn’t get any onions or bones).  I was kind of disappointed in the amount of stock I had, it only filled my smaller stock pot to not quite the half-way point.  My plan was to freeze some of the stock for future use in other dishes but I was worried I wouldn’t have enough for the soup so I just used it all.  Here is my batch of golden goodness:

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I added the carrots back in and threw in the leftover meat from the previous night which had been chopped (about 2-3 cups).  I had sent Mark to the store for egg noodles and he brought back Kluski Noodles which are fine, just not my preference  – I like the super-thin egg noodles.  Since the Kluski Noodles take so long to cook, I was worried about cooking them in the stock and over-reducing it.  So I opted to boil them separately in water with a bullion cube added (damn it, I can’t get away from them!) and then added the cooked noodles to the pot of stock.  The result was delicious.  The stock was rich and had just enough fat for a nice mouth-feel and was full of flavor.  It was so rich in fact that I could have easily kept some stock aside and maybe thinned the rest out for the soup.

The soup  was loaded with noodles and chicken – a perfect heartly meal for a cold autumn night. It has gotten better as we continue t0 dig into the leftovers. Plus I have a big container of soup in the freezer waiting for a cold day this winter. Next time I would make a few slight changes: I would add a handful of whole peppercorns and maybe a bay leaf to the stock, plus some more onion.  And I would add more water about halfway through cooking.  This round I didn’t add any water because the bones and vegetables stayed submerged the whole time, but I could have stretched the flavor into more stock without sacrificing any flavor.

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All in all this was way easier then I imagined and I felt quite proud of my finished dish.  The only thing you really need is a full afternoon at home to monitor the pot.  Thanks, Danielle for helping me figure it out!

*My mom kind-of made her own stock in that she boiled a whole chicken along with veggies and used that as a base, but she also ALWAYS added a box of Mrs. Grass’s Soup Mix with a “golden flavor nugget” (i.e. bullion) for extra flavor.  She blamed it on the fact that today’s chickens not being as good as they used to be (which is true).  But now I know that my way is much better.  I was always oddly fascinated by that flavor nugget as a kid.

Diary of a Harried Mom

Mark has a man cold* so he stayed home from work yesterday.  When I called to check on him around 4:30 and see if he needed me to pick anything up on the way home he said no.  But then, just before he hung up I asked “You’re going to pick up M, right?” (Because pick-up is his gig, I do morning drop off).  He answered “Oh…I wasn’t planning on it – can you do it?” Thus began my crazy evening.

This was the day we needed to pick up the prints of M’s 3 year old photos by 6:00 and there was no way it was going to happen if I stayed in the office until 5:00 and had to go pick her up. I went and told my very kind, understanding and generous boss (who is also a mother and wife totally gets it and I love working for her) who said I could leave early.  I go to get the girl who had yet another potty accident (a story to be blogged about later) and was wearing some of her back-up pants.  These happened to be hand-me-down leggings that are about 6 years old, faded, dated and about 4 inches too short.  Oops! Guess it’s time to restock the daycare cubby with new clothes in the correct size.

So I load up my little ragamuffin-in-flood-pants and realize I need the payment paperwork in order to actually pick up the photo prints.  So I head home, calling Mark to tell him to meet me in the driveway with the papers – which he had in his laptop bag as this was his chore to do – and a snack of peanut butter crackers for M.  Then we retrace our path back northeast and I recognize that taking the expressway during rush hour would mean certain failure so I hit the back roads.  I pull into the parking lot of the Target where the photo studio is located at about 5:30 (don’t judge – I had a massive coupon and the photos are way better then I expected. Cheap formal photos are a good thing).  As I get the girl out of her carseat I find that she did not so much eat her snack as lick off the peanut butter and discard the crackers all over the back seat.  Wonderful.

We hurry inside and I drag her past Halloween and princess displays (why does Cinderella have to be on everything?) to the Photo Studio.  I love the photos and as I’m admiring them I don’t see M pull a couple of sheets off the counter and proceed to mark them up with peanut butter smears.  The very nice Target lady offers to re-print them for free; I will just need to pick them up in 10 days.  Awesome. 

I grab some meds for the man-cold and do a quick look at the toddler girls clothing section where I find a pile of knit pants on clearance for $2.  New daycare back-up pants – Score!  Some of the prints are kind of fugly up but I load up with 4 of them, at least they will be long enough for her.  During the 2 minutes I am choosing the pants, M is wandering in and out of the clothing racks and I find her stuck in the center of one.  I haul her out and we walk the gauntlet that is the front of the store (again with all the princess stuff!) and I have to physically drag her away from the rack of shiny pink princess purses to get in line.  Here M promptly latches on to some $5 princess mini-doll and I have to bribe her to put it back. 

Back out to the parking lot where I’m trying to juggle 2 bags while keeping a firm grip on M’s hand and simultaneously trying not to crease the envelopes of photo prints.  I buckle her in the car and call Mark to ask about dinner.  It’s already 6:00 and M is hungry. He doesn’t want anything so I tell him that we are going to stop somewhere for dinner. 

Because it lacks any forethought or planning I decide to just turn into a McDonalds and M is ecstatic at the thought of her Happy Meal toy.  As we are crossing the parking lot I glimpse our reflection in a window. Her with wild hair, too-short pants and bright pink shoes; me with ill-fitting maternity pants (I don’t need them yet but the thought of an elastic waist sounded good that morning…but they are truly horrible pants), my in-need-of-a-cut hair pulled into a haphazard and crooked ponytail and my makeup is long gone.  We were quite the motley pair and I had to laugh at our image.  Once inside the first set of doors, M pried loose from my grip and ran straight into the inner glass door.  She hit so hard she bounced off and all I could do was laugh…really hard.   She wasn’t hurt and didn’t shed a tear but was a bit stunned, and she couldn’t figure out why I was laughing.  I scooped her up and we held each other tight, both of us laughing out loud for a minute.

She kept bringing up her run-in with the door throughout dinner and the whole episode made me purposely slow down and enjoy my one-on-one time with her. The rest of the night was pretty uneventful, but given the unhurried pace of my girl’s eating we didn’t get home until 7 which is the start of bedtime.  As I sat in her room for the next hour, waiting for her to fall asleep (again, a post for another day) I kept thinking over the 2 ½ hours we spent, just my girl and me, and had to smile.  From our disheveled appearance to my constant chirping of “hold my hand!” and “you need to listen!” it was a rushed and exhausting round of errands. But, of all things, a leisurely dinner at a fast food joint gave me a little perspective.  Sounds like a perfect evening to me.

*he really is pretty sick, but the man-cold stereotype still holds true.

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Don’t forget I’m giving away a 4-pack of tix to the opening night of Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey’s “Zing Zang Zoom” at the Q over on my review page. You have one more day to enter!

April 14

Remember this? And this?  Well, there here is some more happy recent news:

We are expecting!

I am 13 weeks pregnant and the baby is strong.  I am also doing well.  Some morning sickness (worse this time, but still not daily) and fatigue (oh the fatigue!) have been my main complaints.

Like last time, I’m losing weight at a decent clip thanks mostly to the fact that no food sounds good and my usual vices (sweets) are unappealing (FYI – with M I lost 18 lbs in the 1st and 2nd trimesters but rallied like a champ and gained all that plus a couple more in the 3rd).  In “normal” times I do not keep ice cream in the house lest I eat the entire container in a single sitting.  Right now there is an untouched 3-week old carton of dairy goodness in the freezer because, meh.  I wish my cravings were like this when not pregnant. All I really want are apples and noodles.  And Whoppers.

…And maybe some bacon.

With M we did not find out what we were having but this time around we will.  We have an entire basement room filled with girl clothes in every size, so I want to know if I should hang on to it or start sorting it for Goodwill and sale.  The so-very-clinical-sounding “anatomy scan” ultrasound is scheduled for the middle of next month.

Just like before I have found a great hippie commune midwife practice which is a part of my regular OB/Gyn office and I am getting great care.

To sum up:
Baby D 2.0 will be arriving in April, 2010.  We already have 2 September birthdays in the house and therefore 2 virgos. Thank goodness that while the baby will share a birthday month with it’s daddy, it should not overlap signs.
All is well.
Send bacon.