Thursday, February 28, 2008

Well, that was Orwellian!

There I was, minding my own business. Okay, perhaps I had just snitched a handful of chocolate chips, but what do you want? I'm in my own house, and if I want to eat chocolate chips right out of the bag, well, that's what I'm going to do!

So imagine my surprise when the phone rang and I looked at the caller ID. Guess who it was? Big Brother! Oh my gosh, he really *is* watching, and I'm in big trouble for my chocolate chip addiction.

I picked up the phone and gingerly said hello. I knew I had been caught. I prepared to have a discussion about proper nutrition and the reason why my scale keeps reading larger and larger numbers. I have been telling myself that my scale problem has been due to changing gravitational pull within my bathroom, but I'm just not sure why there's such localized gravitational flux only within that small room.

Hello, Big Brother replied. We're going to be in your area next week. Do you have any clothing or furniture you would like to donate to Big Brother Big Sister?

They're a great charity organization, but they really should consider changing their caller ID handle.

Random related thought: mmmmm, chocolate!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

If only reading was a workout!

I've been continuing to go to the gym in the wee-hours of the morning. No rational person should be up so early. So of course I have to worry about the zillion other people at the gym, because clearly they are irrational and not to be trusted.

Anyway, I've been continuing to tell myself that I feel good...more energetic and healthy. You would think with all the lying to myself I do that I'd be better at it by now. But, I persist. The past two gym visits, however, my subconscious mind has had different plans. As I was driving by the library, both times I nearly turned into the parking lot. Blinker on, starting to turn the wheel, when it suddenly occurred to me I was not going to the library and that I had to continue on down the road to the gym.

But how I wish I was going to the library instead. Why doesn't the library open at 5:30am? I think I could trust people up that early if they were up to read. And why doesn't reading improve my physical health like it does my mental health?

Random unrelated thought: We've been listening to Laurie Berkner and Dan Zanes all afternoon and while they are certainly the more enjoyable of the kids' CDs, I was starting to lose my mind. There are only so many songs about snack food one can listen to. So I just put on Regina Spektor. B-man is singing along. N-man is playing guitar. I guess there is some hope for their musical tastes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I love winter. Just keep repeating that mantra until April...

I do love winter. Really. Now here comes that complaining you knew had to follow.

I appreciate the snowplow drivers. I know that job has to stink...long hours, through the night, and it just keeps on snowing! However, the person who plowed our road last night was not very good. He missed the edge of the road by nearly 3 feet, which meant I had to shovel nearly three feet past the end of my driveway. That's a lot of extra shoveling. And, we have a u-shaped driveway. Convenient for turning around, but that means we have two "end of the driveway" sections, which everyone knows is the worst.

Compounding the problem, we have pretty much no where to put the snow from our driveway. We have a huge pine tree in the middle of the u of our driveway, and the house is on the other side. Which means whenever you get a shovel full of snow, you have to walk it halfway down the driveway until you get the pile, which quickly becomes taller than me. Throwing snow as high as one's head is not easy, and when the wind would blow, I'd end up with snow in my face and falling down inside my coat.

Cars driving by on the road sprayed me with icy, slushy, salty water.

Oh, obviously our snowblower isn't working. Yay, shoveling! I called into my husband after about 20 minutes with no noticeable dent made in the amount of snow covering our driveway and asked him if he would come out with the boys to help.

The boys "helped" us shovel. They were pretty funny, but they kept pulling down all of our piles of snow back into the driveway. It was anti-shoveling. They had a good time, though.

When we finally finished, we decided to go to a local park to go sledding. The boys still aren't loving sledding. They especially don't like sledding down through powdery snow that blows in their faces. But I love it, so that was fun for me!

And then we all had hot chocolate when we got home. Maybe this winter thing is okay.

Random unrelated thought: Despite the sledding being fun, I still think I need this day to include a frozen strawberry margarita. If the boys wake up early enough, I'm going to try to convince TK we should go out to my favorite Mexican restaurant. Wish me luck!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Eat Local, if you love winter squash

Okay, so I figured I'd bore you all with an update of our "eat local" goals. We've been at it over a month, and starting to eat local in Massachusetts in January...well, let's just say I could have picked a better time to start. Really, if you're going to be successful eating local through the winter, you have to be like the ant, not the grasshopper, and plan ahead!

Here's what's going well:
  • Dairy is easy to find locally. Milk, cheese (although I'm still looking for cheddar closer than Cabot, but that's still pretty good), butter: all readily available. Easy-peasy, and since I'm a big dairy fan, this is great!
  • Chicken: readily available from Wilson Farm. Expensive, though...about three times as much as I pay at Stop and Shop.
  • Eggs: again, readily available at Wilson Farm (we even visit the chickens laying the eggs before we buy them!) These are more expensive, but not cost-prohibitive.
  • This isn't shocking, but winter vegetables are easy to get as well: squash of a few varieties, carrots, parsnips, potatoes.
Here's what's not going well:
  • I love vegetables, of many varieties, and those asparagus from South America and Brussels Sprouts from Holland were beckoning louder than I could ignore! We can't live on winter squash alone!
  • I found local tomatoes at Whole Foods, but they were where near as good as those grape tomatoes shipped in from halfway across the globe.
  • Meat, besides chicken, is still stumping me. I see meat CSAs to join, but I'm not sure I'm ready to make that commitment.
  • Seasoning: herbs, garlic, onions, vinegar, etc. No idea where to get these locally.
  • Staples like flour, oil, sugar, etc. I assume at least some of these will be impossible to find locally. Are there any olive farms in Massachusetts to make me olive oil??
  • Cost. It's undoubtedly more expensive, especially local meat. Prices I've seen run around $7-$8 per pound, which is more than I ever pay for meat. I always shop sales, getting boneless skinless chicken breasts for under $2 a pound, stew beef for under $3 a pound, etc. We don't eat much meat, but I don't think we can swing local meat on a regular basis.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased. We've made some definite changes to our purchasing, and also to our diet. I tend to use at least one local ingredient per meal. I'm more cognizant of where our food comes from, and I have hope that as we move into summer, our choices will open up much more widely.

So, if anyone has any advice for me, post it! Cheer me on, give me your tips, whatever!

And, just to warn you, the book sitting at the top of my to-read pile is The Omnivore's Dilemma. So additional over-analyzing of our food is probably in our future!

Random unrelated thought: Gotta go help TK get the boys out of the bath!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bon Jovi rocks, but not that much

One of my friends was telling me about a Bon Jovi concert she is going to, and asked if I wanted to go. Only problem is the tickets are $175. $175! To see Bon Jovi! I was telling TK about it. I mean, I like Bon Jovi, and I somehow missed ever seeing them in their heyday, so I wouldn't mind going to a Bon Jovi show. But $175? I just don't like them *that* much.

So, TK and I started talking about what bands we would be willing to pay $175 to see. There was a long silence as we thought about it. Both of us like music, and both of us, in our younger days, saw a slew of concerts. In fact, TK did see Bon Jovi in the 80's, and said it was awesome, although he trashed Skid Row, who opened for Bon Jovi. I refuse to believe that my imaginary celebrity boyfriend Sebastian Bach was anything less than amazing, so I'm not sure I can trust his opinion.

Anyway, we were thinking and thinking and thinking, and couldn't come up with anything. Until I said, "well, I'd pay $175 to be sent back in time to see a Nirvana concert before Kurt Cobain died. Or, if they brought Jerry Garcia back from the dead, I'd pay $175 to see The Grateful Dead. And the Beatles? $175 would be a bargain!" Apparently, for $175, I expect a miracle of some sort.

Seriously, though, who is the band you would pay $175 to see? I'm sure most people have one. I think TK and I are odd...perhaps we're getting too old or something, or perhaps we're just in a music slump where there just aren't any bands that we love beyond reason. So who do you love enough that you'd part with your hard-earned $175?

Random unrelated thought: I went out with a girlfriend last night. We met at the bar in a local restaurant. Okay, fine. I don't drink (well, except really girly drinks like frozen strawberry margaritas). So I order an iced tea. I get a strange look from the bartender, but whatever. After we had been there a little while, we decide to order some food. What do I get? Strawberry shortcake. The woman working at the bar actually laughed at me!

I don't think I'm allowed to sit at the bar. An iced tea and a strawberry shortcake apparently aren't appropriate bar-food choice. Hey, now I know.

1K Wednesday, Foodporn edition

I should have added bacon to my list of foods that improve nearly every dish. Here's an awesome pasta and veggie dish that, with bacon, becomes outstanding. Sorry all you vegetarian readers, this one isn't for you!

Here's my version of this recipe for Penne with Garlicky Broccoli(ni):


8 oz penne pasta (1/2 of a 1 pound box)
5 slices of bacon
2 broccoli crowns (or one bunch of broccolini), cut into small florets
6 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half
Parmesan cheese to taste


1) Cook penne according to directions on the box. Drain.

2) Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crispy. Move to a paper towel to drain.

3) Add the garlic to the bacon grease* and saute for 3 minutes over medium low heat. Add the broccoli(ni) and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the pasta and grape tomatoes. Stir or toss to coat and mix.

4) Remove from heat. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese, and top with crumbled bacon.

*Okay, fine, I couldn't do it. The recipe called for using the bacon grease. I'm sure that's delicious. I drained most of the bacon grease and used some olive oil.

This recipe originally called for broccolini. I've made it with both broccoli and broccolini, and quite honestly, prefer the broccoli. Of course, I'm in love with broccoli. I should probably marry it. So, my opinion is to use broccoli, but feel free to try it with broccolini.

Random unrelated thought: Bad blogger! I've been sick. Not sick enough to actually get any sympathy, just an unrelenting cough that lasted from 10pm every night until about 3am in the morning. Needless to say, I wasn't getting much sleep. No sleep doesn't make me particularly lucid so it's probably for the best I wasn't blogging. At best, my posts are barely coherent some days anyway :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It must be MIRACLE syrup!

I went to the coffee shop today, to feed the coffee addiction. Mmmm. While I was there, I had a very depressing conversation with the coffee-wench. I refuse to call her a barista, one: because it seems like a vast overstatement of her skills, and two: because she was kind of wench-y, as you'll soon hear about.

I ordered my non-fat decaf caramel macchiato (because apparently I love to waste my money on overpriced coffee drinks. It's so yummy, though! Why couldn't I become addicted to some cheap truck stop coffee?). Do you know what she has the nerve to ask me? "Do you want sugar-free caramel syrup?" No, I don't. If I did, I would have ordered it. That was what I thought, but what I said was, "No thanks, I don't like fake sugar."

Her response: "There's no fake sugar in this." Really? Do you have miracle syrup? If it's sugar-free and there's no fake sugar, what makes it sweet? I'm sarcastic in my head, but what came out of my mouth was a friendly "I'm sure there must be some kind of artificial sweetener in it. Otherwise, it wouldn't be sweet."

"No," she assured me. "Here, you can even look at it." She handed me the bottle, which I spent one second perusing until I found it, right near the top of the ingredient list. "This has sucralose in it," I tell her. She stares at me blankly. "That's Splenda," I clarify.

"No, it doesn't say Splenda," she insists, starting to really get an attitude. Her opinion that I'm an idiot is just dripping from every word by now.

"I know," I answer. "Splenda is a brand name..." Here's where I finally decide to drop it. "I'll just have the regular syrup, please."

She makes my coffee, I take it and rush out as my boys are really starting to get a little crazy. As I sit in the car and take the first sip, I realize, yep, she used the sugar-free. See, wench-y. What did I tell you. If I hadn't already strapped both boys in their car seats, I would have gone back in and asked for a new one. Of course, that probably would have been a spit-flavored coffee, so perhaps this is for the best.

Oh, I drank my coffee anyway. What can I say, I'm addicted. But now I have this gross tinny-metallic aftertaste that I just can't get rid of, even with brushing. Yuck.

Random unrelated thought, adult humor warning: B-man is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, so we've been trying to teach him about it so that he knows not to take food from people and to ask if things have nuts in it. Both boys are getting really interested in talking about it. That's the set-up to the story.

So, last night at dinner, N-man busts out, unrelated to anything we were currently talking about, "Mommy eats peanuts!" I don't know why he said this. For the time being, we keep a nut-free house so I *don't* eat peanuts. Okay, this doesn't sound like adult humor yet, right? Well, when the boys say "peanuts", it sounds like a word for the male genitalia. So, his happy announcement of "Mommy eats peanuts" sounds like something far worse than he intended. TK and I couldn't keep a straight face, which is the hardest part of parenting. Because as soon as you laugh, they do whatever they're doing, except more. So, B-man picks up the chant, and now both of them are practically yelling "Mommy eats peanuts, Mommy eats peanuts".

Thank goodness we were in the house and not out to dinner. Although I'm sure they'll try this one again. They're probably waiting until my in-laws are in town.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

1K Wednesday

Here are my two little chefs, helping me make pizza. You know what the funny thing is? Neither of them likes pizza. Gasp!

Well, more for me!

Random unrelated thought: I'm sick. Again. Cough, cough. Wah.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Just in case I need more practice...

Here it is, my list of things to worry about for the boys when I've run out of real things to worry about:
  • That my boys will want to play football when they grow up.
  • That my boys will listen to country music.
  • That my boys will listen to pop music.
  • That they will grow up to be Republicans.
  • That they'll cut class in high school to do something like smoke pot or hang out with their significant others.
  • That they will *never* cut class in high school to do something a little bit bad.
  • That one day they'll want to spend every holiday with their spouses' families.
  • That they won't like each other.
  • That they'll grow up to be "supertwins" know, those twins who never spend a minute apart and only want to marry other twins and live together and work together.
  • That they won't get into a good college.
  • That they won't want to go to college.
  • That they'll need to go into therapy because their mother is neurotic.
  • That despite all advice I've gotten to the contrary, they'll got to high school either in diapers or sucking their thumbs.
  • That I'll get called in for teacher's conferences every day because they're the class clowns.
Oh, I have plenty of real things to worry about. Just figured I should continue honing my skills. You never know, they may add an Olympic event in worrying, and I'd like to be ready to represent the United States.

So, what are your favorite non-issues to worry about?

Random unrelated thought: Despite saying that I was going to look for a short, light book to read, I picked up A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. It's good so far, but I'm wary as the only thing I've read by him previously was A Son of the Circus, and I found that book to be an epic struggle between me and complete boredom. So he's on notice...this book better be great or I'm going to refuse to read anything else by him, no matter how many people tell me he's an amazing author. Wish me luck...I may be limping through this book for weeks to come.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thank you, Dr. Atkins

You know what would make the Atkins Diet more palatable? Carbs.

Seriously, though, there is one good thing that came out of that Atkins craze. It introduced me to mashed cauliflower. (Only one thing, you ask. Yes. What did you think I was going to say? That the best thing was the irony of the people who went into McDonalds and ordered a Big Mac, hold the bun, and thought it was a healthy choice? You're right. That was another good thing to come out of Atkins.)

But I wasn't kidding: I love carbs. So, tonight I decided to add some potatoes into my cauliflower. Oh my gosh, what a great addition. Normally, my only complaint about mashed cauliflower is that the consistency isn't quite right. It's a little too runny, a little too gritty. Well, throw in some potatoes, and it evens it right out. The garlic, butter, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese probably helped, too. Whatever, it was awesome. So thanks, Dr. Atkins, for banning carbohydrates and forcing people to find an alternative to mashed potatoes.

Random tangentially related thought: I'm a cheese fanatic. So get used to my cheese reviews! Two more local cheeses to review. The first is an herb goat cheese from Westfield Farm. Wow, this was outstanding. It was creamy and neither meek nor overpowering. I'm usually not a huge goat cheese's okay on things or in things, but I'm not much for eating it by itself. This one, though, yum! As an additional plus in its favor, I served it over my roasted veggie polenta. Yes, some eat local meal. I'm fully aware most of those veggies are completely out of season and were assuredly *not* local. But, as I said, small steps. At least the cheese on top was local. And the meal was outstanding. Worth the week-long polenta quest.

The other cheese was a blue from Great Hill Dairy. I love blue cheeses. They're definitely in my top ten favorite cheeses. This was an acceptable one. It had a bit of a bitter bite, if I can be alliteratively descriptive. Interesting, certainly, and quite good crumbled over a salad (with a great blueberry vinaigrette dressing). But not my favorite blue. Of course, if we're being honest, what I really love is a triple creme bleu, so I'm not sure any traditional blue can really compete.

I found both of these at Wilson Farms.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A food epiphany

I just realized, there are only two different kinds of food in the world: foods that taste better if you add mushrooms and/or onion, and foods that taste better if you add chocolate.

Think about it. It's a universal truth. Soup: add onions or mushrooms. Fruit: add chocolate. Eggs: add onions and mushrooms. Mexican food: add chocolate. Or onions. Stew: mushrooms and onions. Doritos: chocolate (don't knock it until you try like chocolate covered pretzels, right? I rest my case!)

Just try to think of a food that doesn't fit in one of these two categories. Or perhaps this just elucidates my culinary love affair with mushrooms, onion, and chocolate. Maybe normal people don't add at least one of these three ingredients to every dish.

Random unrelated thought: I just finished Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I have to say, it's currently on my "all-time favorites" list. I absolutely loved it. It's strange. The structure was oddly reminiscent of My Sister's Boring Keeper, but it completely escaped being gimmicky. I'm glad I read these two books so close together, since Kafka on the Shore was such a beautiful example of an interesting structure adding to the story rather than detracting from it. I won't say more since I know a few of my book group members are reading (hi!), but I just had to comment on how wonderful this book was.

I'm not sure what I will read next. I've got to take a look at my "to read" pile on the book shelf. I have a few long tomes waiting, but I think I might need something quick and light.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Are there stars on your underwear?

So, today I'm thinking of pickup lines. I went out to dinner with two girlfriends a few nights ago, and for once in my life, I got there early. I was waiting for my friends, standing right in smokers' alley. You know, that lane between the bar and the door that all smokers must take on their walk of shame to feed their addiction. I guess they might not think of it as a "walk of shame", but I digress.

Anyway, while I'm standing there, some guys come by and one asks if I'm waiting for him. I say "no", and he asks if I want to wait with him. No thanks, I'm fine. Move along now. Later, after one of my girlfriends, L., arrives, another guy walks by and calls us "pretty ladies" and asks us to go out and smoke. I think. I'm a little hazy on that part as it was noisy and I wasn't paying a lot of attention. I think I better forward this to L. for verification. Because if that's really what happened, that's a pretty weak pick up line.

All of this has got me thinking, what are your favorite pickup lines? Mine is the one I used as a title for this entry. Much to my dismay, no one ever tried that one on me. TK, if you're reading, you better get moving on this one!

So for all you readers (all five or six of you :), share, please, the best pickup lines you've heard.

For the record, I never get hit on anymore. I'm not sure when this happened. Or stopped happening. Last time I got hit on was at a sci-fi convention a few years ago (note to anyone in the mood to get a lot of attention: sci-fi convention = awesome place to meet men apparently. Who knew! I was there watching TK play piano so it was a long night of gesturing to the stage and saying "my husband's in the band". But I digress, again). On the plus side, I don't miss getting hit on. I find it kind of awkward at best and annoying at worst. That's my unfriendly streak at work again, I'm sure.

One last thought on this whole experience. Okay, advance warning: I'm neurotic. Warning done, now back to story: You know how young guys hitting on older women is the new big thing? Yeah, these guys didn't think I was an older woman did they? I'm only 33. Damn, I suspect they might have thought I was an older woman. Fine, these guys were in their 20's I'd guess (once again, I have to turn to L. for verification) so yes, I guess technically I am an older woman. Shoot. I was looking rough that night thanks to my early morning workout schedule. And twins. Can I blame the twins for prematurely aging me? I think I need to start using the Stephanie Plum theory of big hair and lots of makeup to distract from any flaws like huge dark circles under my eyes.

Random unrelated thought: B-man was wandering around this morning saying "Biko" over and over. I'm not sure if he's a Peter Gabriel fan or just really into human rights. I think it was just random syllables to be honest. But, it reminded me of TK's roommate when I was a freshman in college. This guy would play Peter Gabriel's Biko over and over again. I mean, I like that song, but isn't it a little repetitive to play multiple times in a row? He'd stick it in the CD player on endless repeat, and listen to it for hours on end. I've never understood it. What do you think: was he purposely trying to drive TK crazy so that he could have the room to himself most of the time or was he just a really annoying guy?

Carrot Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here is the Carrot Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie recipe I mentioned a few posts back, for Snickollet or whoever else is interested. It's originally from Taste of Home, with a few minor changes of my own. Plus, I've halved the recipe here so it doesn't make ridiculously huge quantities. If you have to feed a roving band of teenagers or something, feel free to double it back up.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups quick cooking oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips


In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat the eggs and vanilla. Add the carrots; mix well.

Combine the oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.

Random unrelated thought: N-man had a huge tantrum today. It lasted for about 10 minutes while we were trying to get out the door, then for quite some time in the car as well. Suddenly, he stopped screaming, and one second later, said, "I'm happy now." Wow, talk about emotions changing with one second notice. Or perhaps I'm finally developing that tantrum-stopping superpower.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My Alumni Update

My husband and I recently got our college alumni newsletter in the mail. Whenever we get them, I'm always tempted to send in an update and see if they publish it. I crack up at all the "so-and-so has just been promoted to the 2nd assistant to the assistant of the head assistant". Is it just me, or does it always seem like they are trying to play up how super great their lives are? Or, maybe their lives are super great and they just need the official recognition of it. Whichever, I've never understood the draw. Perhaps it's because I'm still in contact with all my friends from college, for the most part. Anyone I want to update on my life, I just send them an email and say "here's my update".

However, the temptation is there. I'd love to send in an update about how unsuccessful I am and see if it got published. I'd especially like to send it to the newsletter for the University Honors program I was in, since those newsletters are all about how phenomenally successful their graduates are. Hee, hee, I ruin their image with my lack of success!

It makes me laugh, and makes me a little sad, how much emphasis is placed on traditional success. I did well in school. I got my degree. Three of them, in fact. I had a well-paying job with a nice job title. Did that make me successful? Am I less successful in life now that I'm a stay at home mom?

Maybe it's because I took an odd path to stay-at-home-ness. I hadn't planned to stay home. In fact, I had planned a career change and schooling around being able to work after my child was born. Then we found out we were having twins. Then we looked at daycare costs, and compared it to what I'd make as a first year elementary school teacher. That was a funny day! The day I realized...oh my gosh, I'd make about $1 a day if I went back to work. Forget that, let me give this staying home with the kids thing a try.

I've been lucky that I had that choice. So many people don't. It's been odd and fun and tiring and difficult. And I've been lucky not to have second guessed my decision too much. Yes, I walked away from a career, but I'll have time for that later. Yes, I've probably assured that I will never be labeled as traditionally "successful". Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

I've been thinking of this more, since my boys will be starting preschool in the fall. I have to say it, I'm excited and a little apprehensive at the thought of reentering the working world. I have no idea what I'm going to do. Teaching is out as I'll only have 3 mornings a week. Maybe I'll return to accounting, or maybe I'll think of something entirely different. Or maybe I'll get off my butt and finish that novel. Who knows! But what's the rush, I still have a few months to work it all out.

Well, back to my original point. Here it is, my alumni update:

Ms. Whatacard has recently been promoted to the eliminations expert position at Card, Inc. She has changed a grand total of over 5,500 diapers and is now embarking on potty training adventures with her two and a half year old twins. She also holds advanced degrees in avoiding thrown food and wiping up spilled milk. She has memorized her 150th children's song and can sing all of them off-key. Ms. Whatacard's future goals include going to the bathroom without an audience and developing a superpower to stop tantrums mid-scream.

Random unrelated thought: How big is the Island of Sodor and why do they need such an elaborate rail system?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Oh dear, that wasn't pretty

I went this morning at 6am to workout after the previous fiasco at the gym daycare. In theory, it's going to work very well I think. I'm a morning person, so this shouldn't be too bad. However, there were a few problems.

First, I got the best elliptical this morning...the one right in front of the window so I can look out onto the world. I don't have headphones, so I can't listen to music or TV. If I don't get the elliptical looking out the window, I have to spend my time staring at a blank wall. Which is fine, but the window is better. So, I was pretty excited this morning. For about 10 seconds. Until I realized that since it was pitch black outside, the window was effectively a mirror. Staring at myself working out is far, far worse than staring at a blank wall.

Now I know.

And to make matters worse, I'm slow. So I look like death 5 minutes into the workout, and I'm not even going fast. It took me a little over ten minutes to go half a mile. How can that be? I used to run track in high school, and the half-mile was one of my main races. I was pretty much always under 3 minutes for a half mile. Yes, I've had knee injuries since then. Yes, I'm 15 years older. Yes, I wasn't sprinting. Yes, I'm out of shape. But still, that seems awfully slow.

Then, I went to do the weight circuit. I was right behind aging super-guy. I mean, this guy had to be over 50 years old, and he looked slight. But he was lifting at least quadruple what I was at each circuit. Okay, fine, I'm not trying to bulk up, just tone, so I lift lighter weights. But made me feel like a big wimp.

All in all, it wasn't my best self-esteem morning. I came home and put on a big sweater. Because it's cold out. Sure, that's my story.

On the plus side, I do feel pretty good.

Random unrelated thought: The boys and I made some carrot oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. It took nearly two hours to make the dough since I had two little helpers. I can't believe they stayed interested for so long. B-man was especially into it, while N-man was kind of popping in and out as time went on. The cookies turned out delicious, but I have to learn to check recipe quantities before I start cooking. This recipe makes 6 dozen cookies. What are we going to do with 6 dozen cookies? I have to look up to see if I can freeze some of the dough since it's just sitting in the fridge at the moment. Oh well, they are yummy! I think I'll be sending some in to work with TK...

Sunday, February 3, 2008


I swear, in the fourth Bourne movie, it better be revealed that the evil government agency grafted adamantium onto Jason Bourne's skeleton. Because that guy can survive anything. Oops, did I give something away? I hope I didn't spoil it for anyone that in The Bourne Ultimatum, he takes a beating with no apparent damage.

Really, if it doesn't turn out that he has some kind of superpower that lets him walk away from car crashes completely unscathed, I'm going to be sorely disappointed. Because the movies are otherwise so believable.

But I'll be honest, I really enjoy the Bourne movies. Of course, that has little to do with the plot...

Random unrelated thought: We tried out another very good winter-local recipe. Winter Vegetable Soup. It is a combination of butternut squash, parsnips, potatoes, and rutabaga. Besides the rutabaga, which came from Canada, I was able to find all the rest locally. Very yummy, and had the great addition of balsamic vinegar drizzled on top of the soup. I never would have thought of that, and it was so awesome. I'll have to try that on butternut squash soup, too, as the taste is similar.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Hypocrite? Does that have something to do with a hippo's blood?

Am I a hypocrite? I think so. I recently made a comment about people who spend a ridiculous amount on a preschool, that they should send their kids to a reasonably priced preschool and sponsor two or three other kids to go to preschool with the money they've saved. I feel the same way about many things, like people who spend $500 on a pair of shoes, or $1,000 on a purse. If I had that kind of money, I hope I wouldn't spend it on status symbol products, but would instead continue buying more reasonably priced things and then use the extra money to donate to charity.

However, I wonder where the line is drawn. I don't buy the cheapest products available. I just bought a pair of $60 sneakers. I could have gotten a $30 pair, but I didn't because I didn't like them as much. But should I have? By my reasoning, I should have bought the pair that was half as expensive and sent the extra $30 to the March of Dimes or something.

Maybe sneakers aren't the best example, since there is a health risk...bad sneakers could lead to hurt knees or sore calves or just uncomfortable feet. But what about other things? I buy my kids a lot of new clothes rather than used. I don't buy haute couture for me, but I also don't buy the least expensive things I can find. I live in a comfortable house in a very expensive area. We could certainly cut back on our spending. What is the level of comfort that is okay, and where does it cross the line into over-consumption?

And, here's where I really get hypocritical: if we do have some money leftover at the end of the month, we rarely give any more than normal to charity. It's earmarked for the boys' college fund. So I should probably get off my high horse and stop judging that guy who drives around in the ridiculously expensive car or the woman who buys face cream that cost $1,000 an ounce.

But it is kind of fun, isn't it? Is there anything more rewarding than laughing at the people who think you're going to be impressed by how expensive their stuff is?

Random unrelated thought: Here it is, the complete list of good things about having hands that are always freezing cold:

1. Chocolate chips don't melt in your hands.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Phonics Er-ant

My boys have a Leap Frog Fridge Phonics set. I'm not big into the "learning" toys, but this has been awesome. They love it, and have known all their letters and letter sounds since before they were two.

So, why am I about to embark on a rant? I just can't help myself! See, I don't expect perfection in a children's phonics toy. I mean, phonics are confusing, and it would hardly be fair for them to have to cover every single sound "y" makes in their "Y says..." song. (For the record, /y/ quite commonly says a long E sound although their song only tells you that y says yuh and y says I).

But, there's one hugely glaring error. R. According to their song, /r/ says -er. Um, no. It doesn't. Do you pick an er-ed er-ose? No. The -er sound is only if there is an r-controlled vowel, like in butter or mother. And here in Boston, even that's debatable. Hee, hee, I just teased about the Boston accent! But back to my point, /r/ never says -er on its own...there always has to be a vowel with it for it to say -er. On its own, r more commonly says something closer to ruh, especially at the start of words. So that's my rant. Or er-ant, as Leap Frog would have you believe.

Does this really matter? No, it just grates on me. I've gone so far as to hide the R from their phonics set, but then I feel all guilty, like N-man and B-man are going to have to recite their ABCs to graduate from preschool or something and they'll be all "A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q ummmmm, uhhh, what comes next?" So then I give the R back. And it ends up being their favorite and they play it again and again and again. And I slowly lose my mind until I'm forced to purge my insanity via this blog.


Random Unrelated Thought: We finalized our preschool plans, and are pretty happy with our decision to go with our second choice preschool. At least this way we know the boys have a slot for the fall, and I don't have to spend all summer wondering and hoping, and we don't risk them not getting into preschool at all. However, I did get a call from crazy preschool with the ridiculous "lottery" that is so biased against everyone who doesn't live in their pricey neighborhood. They wanted to know why we hadn't turned in an application. Um, if I could afford to put down a deposit for two kids at one preschool while sitting around with my fingers crossed waiting to get into your preschool, I'd just move to your overpriced town and then wouldn't be stuck at the very bottom of the lottery. Well, that and the fact that I'm a total control freak and can't stand the uncertainty of a wait list. So in exciting news, our boys are officially preschool bound come September!