Hands down, this has been the best year of my life.
Just like last year.
And the year before.
I like this pattern. :)
Posted by Lissa on June 12, 2014
Hands down, this has been the best year of my life.
Just like last year.
And the year before.
I like this pattern. :)
Posted by Lissa on June 10, 2014
If not smarter, I’m at least more open-minded :)
We moved to a new house in October 2013. Only half a mile down the road from our old house, it gave us another bedroom, another bathroom, a nicer pool, and an actual backyard. The only thing I miss about the old place (besides the neighbors*) is my garden. My rosemary bushes were all about waist high; I still had parsley and Greek oregano and thyme and a few other herbs.
I didn’t want to dig up the lawn and make a garden bed, so I decided to try to imitate this idea instead.
I put the pic on my phone and asked the lady at the front of Home Depot what she recommended for the grate. She didn’t really understand what I was asking for so she called the Garden Guy to the front desk. He hemmed and hawed and told me there was nothing in the garden section that would serve; I should go ask the folks down at Lumber. Which I did.
Lumber Guy thought really hard and brought me to the gate section. Thick, sturdy fencing securely attached to a rigid metal border. Perfect! . . . wait, does that price tag really say $159??? Holy crap!
Lumber Guy agreed that it was a pretty expensive solution and recommended that I build a frame of two-by-fours and staple fencing to it. I explained that I don’t do home improvement stuff, just garden stuff. I wanted to tell him I don’t do staple guns, only real guns, but it didn’t seem productive. He regretfully told me there was nothing in the store that would suit my purposes.
So I wandered around until I found the security bars to put over windows and decided they would suit just fine. THEN I went out to the garden section to measure bags of potting soil and discovered the garden-fence-section racks. PERFECT. *EXACTLY* what I needed.
*It may seem funny that moving half a mile down the road has such a drastic impact on how much I hang out with the nice ladies by the old house, but it does. We all have kids. Whereas previously I could poke my head out and see if anyone was outside playing, I now have to text them and work out schedules to visit. I’ve lost that casual the-whole-neighborhood-is-chatting-at-the-corner vibe.
Posted by Lissa on June 4, 2014
Good evening all! Well, my resolution of posting every day didn’t last very long. I’m in the midst of transitioning Bubber to the preschool that Little Gronk attends, but I’ve been trying to introduce him piecemeal – an afternoon here, a morning there. I will say that Bubber seems perfectly happy there and it’s more my own anxiety trip that has led to my crazy driving back and forth and commuting.
Also, there’s gardening.
Also, multiple book reviews.
Also, at least one film review of a movie that I thought was just plain awful.
Also – Workout Wednesday!!
So, I’ve run exactly one 5K in my life: the Wounded Warriors / Operation Giveback run/walk/roll on May 11, 2013. I ran it in a hair under 30 minutes, which made me super-happy. And obviously it was for a great cause.
A month later I got pregnant (again). A month after that the fatigue hit me HARD, and I went from doing three miles on the treadmill to panting when I walked up stairs.
And so, yet again, I’m starting the Couch to 5K training app. This is the app I used to get me up to three miles; and then again, after I had the stupid foot injury take me offline for a YEAR; and then AGAIN, once I had recovered from birthing Little Gronk. Slow and steady makes one able to race!
Before I introduce this week’s songs, I would like to state for the record that if you’d told me my favorite radio station would be Christian Rock, I would have laughed in your face. Laughed so hard I choked. Laughed so hard I’d be rolling on the floor. Laughed so hard they’d have to sedate me and cart me away for observation.
But I *DO*. I love it.
My station is 106.3 The Rock - “positive rock alternative.” What that means to me is:
1) No commercials
2) Really great rock music that I don’t hear anywhere else
3) No swear words when I’ve got kids in the car. (Bitch, whore, sex, etc.)
And it really is VERY good music.
So here are your three songs to inspire sweating this week: (Just listen to the music. I’ve no idea what the videos show.)
1) “Unless” by Everfound:
2) “Electric Ladyland” by Kingsdown
3) “Off with her Head” by Icon for Hire
Posted by Lissa on May 27, 2014
Good morning all!** I hope you all enjoyed your long weekends; I trust you took a few minutes to count your blessings, and I hope you spent a little time thanking those who gave all in the service of our country.
We had a BUSY weekend here! Mike’s friends K and L got married on Sunday afternoon; Nana and PopPop babysat the kids and Mike and I had our first Date Night (with overnight hotel room!) since Noah was born two months ago. We considered it a belated anniversary celebration, since our five year anniversary was spent in the children’s hospital; our anniversary dinner was pizza and Diet Coke, eaten while seated on a rollaway cot. (The company was still excellent, but it was not as romantic or relaxing as I’d planned. Especially since it was laced with low-level terror about Noah’s fever.)
We are so VERY lucky that Mike’s parents live nearby and are willing/able to babysit. Did you know, though, that it takes a LOT of preparation to have overnight babysitters? Even babysitters who have spent quite a bit of time in your house and have crossed the line from guests into family. (They were always Mike’s family – duh. But it took a while for me to view them as family rather than guests. I now think it’s okay if they come over and I haven’t scrubbed the toilet in the last twelve hours.)
So I spent Saturday and Sunday morning doing the following:
-Buying a new grill. (This didn’t have anything to do with the babysitting; this had to do with our dying gas grill and Memorial Day sales. We got a Big Green Egg. It’ll probably garner its own post in the coming weeks.)
- Assembling two pasta bakes. (I needed to have dinner available for his parents that didn’t make them cook. Usually I’d crockpot something, but since I was going to be out all night they’d have to clean the giant heavy pot at the end of the night. No thank you!) A chicken from the deli, some Italian sausage broken up and browned with garlic, rotini, tomato sauce and some spaghetti sauce, mixed with reduced fat cheese and topped with a layer of full-fat cheese. Put into a cold oven and cook at 350 until the cheese is melted and things are bubbly. (They said it was very good – hooray!)
- Making up the beds in the spare room, aka nana’s room. Actually, Mike did that.
- Baking blueberry muffins and three loaves of pumpkin bread
- Bleaching the SHIT out of the spare bathroom to get rid of all traces of ants. Die die die!!!! I seriously used an entire container of Lysol bleach wipes in addition to soaking every bathtub toy in bleach-y water.
- Writing a two-page email with details on the boys – sleeping habits, eating options, eye drops, wraps, diapers, lotions, etc etc etc.
Then we went to a wedding. And I went back to the hotel to pump. Then we had dinner. And I went back to the hotel to pump. Then we went dancing and drinking and out to a bar to dance and drink some more.
Oh my GOD I’m old. I was moderate in my drinking and was careful to switch to Crocs for the dancing and walking and I still felt like hell the next day.
At least we look pretty :)
P.S. L’s favorite movie is Top Gun; they walked into the reception to the dulcet sounds of “Danger Zone.” And my favorite part of the evening was just after the reception ended; they called L to the balcony and K and about twenty male buddies sang “You’ve lost that loving feeling” up to her. It was AWESOME.
** Okay, it was morning when I started this post. Then Mike lost his wallet and I ended up tearing apart the house to try and find it. (We found it this evening.)
Posted by Lissa on May 23, 2014
Well, I haven’t been blogging about ANYTHING in the last year, so I guess it’s not surprising that I haven’t blogged about politics. But when I did start posting again it was all Mommy blogging. Do you know why?
Because politics are F***ING DEPRESSING, that’s why.
When I got back into blogging I spent some time reading the hits from my archive. You know, click on a post, read it, then click on the “related posts” linked at the bottom. It’s a great way to kill time while you’ve got an infant attached to your milk-makers :)
While some of my political posts still make for good reading, I got more enjoyment out of the personal recollections I’d captured for posterity. There are so many political bloggers, most of whom are smarter than me / work harder than me / have more time than me, etc. I don’t think I, or the world, is missing much if I don’t add my two cents. On the other hand, if no one writes about the digestive gymnastics of Little Gronk, no one will remember them a few weeks hence.
So that’s the personal aspect.
On the wider front . . . I’ve just gotten so damn cynical and disillusioned when it comes to politics. I still follow the news – Ace of Spades is my first and last read of the day – and every time I think things can’t sink lower . . . they do.
No politician of any stripe is an angel. Republicans have clearly earned and continue to deserve their moniker of The Stupid Party. But the crap that the White House pulls on a weekly basis boggles my mind. Here’s a quick recap from Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt email yesterday (the original includes hyperlinks, but they didn’t paste and I’m just too damn lazy to do it manually):
Similarly, I loved Pete Wehner’s post “New Obama Narrative: Epic Incompetence,” but I feel like it needed a bit of expansion. Because it’s not merely the competence that never arrived after all the hype of 2007 and 2008, but the entire gamut:
Bipartisanship: Obama doesn’t really respect anyone who disagrees with him; he prefers to adopt an “only adult in the room” pose, demagogue issues, and attack straw men. He’ll talk about the need for a “new tone” and then stand by as his allies attack opponents as “not one of us”, accuse them of committing felonies without evidence, and even of causing cancer. Far from the post-partisan healer he was sold as in 2007-2008, he’s a ruthless demagogue who urges his followers to “get in their face” and “punish our enemies.” “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother.”
Honesty and willingness to acknowledge inconvenient truths: He thinks nothing of saying something that isn’t true if it helps him at the political moment — “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” When the promise is broken, it’s everyone else’s fault but his .
Engagement with the world: The president is functionally an isolationist and not that interested in the world beyond our borders. Russia’s aggression doesn’t trouble him enough to move beyond routine sanctions. Whether it’s the territorial saber-rattling of China and Japan, the Iranian nuclear program, the Syrian Civil War, increasing violence in Iraq, the increasingly routine provocations of the North Koreans, or the prospect of leaving a bloody, Taliban-re-conquered mess in Afghanistan. . . it’s clear from his weak-tea proposals, sporadic public comments, tone, and body language that the president wishes it all would just go away.
Consistent Concern: He doesn’t give a rat’s tush about half the things he criticized in the Bush administration: the increasing national debt, a dysfunctional VA, domestic surveillance, concerns about Americans’ privacy, meeting with lobbyists in the White House, appointing lobbyists to high-level White House staff positions, rewarding big-time donors with ambassadorial appointments. . .
A Focus on What Matters Most: His own staffers have described him as “impatient and disengaged” in key meetings, and the intelligence community has wondered how closely he reads his briefings. With increasing frequency, he says he learns about problems within his own administration from media reports. (See the NRCC’s new “Obama Excuses” page.) He really enjoys the good life of the presidency and doesn’t see any reason why he should limit public expenditures on himself and his family during hard economic times. He recently laughed, “That’s the good thing about being president, I can do whatever I want.”
Accountability: Obama is perfectly fine with letting his subordinates investigate themselves and assess their own failures — the Justice Department’s investigation of itself in “Fast and Furious”, the U.S. State Department’s review of its own actions before, during and after the Benghazi attacks; he picks his own people to examine his own NSA policies on domestic surveillance, and now Eric Shinseki will get to the bottom of any wrongdoing at the Department of Veterans Affairs. He rarely if ever fires staffers; the rare cases, like General Stanley McChrystal or Jofi Joseph, involve cases where an underling criticized him. Even the most consequentially incompetent, like Kathleen Sebelius, are given a soft landing months after they’ve made crucial errors to avoid administration embarrassment.
Respect for the Constitution: He was sold to us as a Constitutional law professor; in office, Obama enacted policies that violated almost every amendment in the Bill of Rights.
I think everyone who cares or thinks seriously about politics, world events, government or the like should be in favor of Republican presidents. Not because they will be superior in any way to Democratic presidents, but solely because Republican presidents are pressured and held accountable by the press while Democratic presidents just aren’t.
Sorry to end the week on a bummer note, but I’ve been meaning to mention this. To make it up to you, here’s a picture of Bubber without his cervical vertebrae:
Posted by Lissa on May 22, 2014
Bubber is almost two months old – how the time flies! Seems like just yesterday he was in the hospital with a fever of 103 despite regular infusions of Tylenol. (That wasn’t yesterday. That was a month ago. He was 3 1/2 weeks old and scared the hell out of me.)
Bubber has been sleeping in a bassinet next to my bedside since we brought him home. We kept a small desktop lamp on so that at any time during the night I could glance over and make sure he was still breathing. Furthermore, it meant that for his 1 AM, 3 AM and 5 AM feedings I could roll over, pick him up, feed him, and roll back into bed with minimal disruption.
The great thing about our house is that the master bedroom is separated from the kids’ bedrooms by the kitchen and living room, so any noise will cause minimal disturbance to sleeping parents. Of course, that’s also the bad thing; when Bubber wakes up crying I’ve got to leap out of bed, dash out of the bedroom, negotiate my way across the playroom (which means I damn well better clean up the toys before I go to bed, or I’ll have new feet piercings), run behind the couch, and burst into Bubber’s room before he wakes up Little Gronk.
Anyway, Bubber’s move to the crib has been fairly successful. I moan and petition the gods when he starts crying five minutes after I finish the feeding (which means I have to jump out of bed and run over to his room to replace the binky) but thankfully that’s pretty rare.
As for the technology bit, I want to say that VIDEO MONITORS ARE TEH AWESOME. During the first week when you leave your tiny baby in that enormous crib, it’s hugely reassuring to be able to watch him rolling around or sleeping peacefully. Plus, when they get bigger, you get phenomenal pictures like this:
Posted by Lissa on May 20, 2014
WARNING: BUG STORY FOLLOWS. IF YOU ARE AFRAID OF BUGS DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
I kept noticing an ant here and an ant there in the baby bathroom (the one between Little Gronk and Bubber’s rooms, where Gronk bathes and brushes his teeth). We tried to figure out where they were coming from; they seemed to group around the light switch and medicine cabinet. Then we thought they were coming from behind the mirror, but Mike slid it out and there wasn’t a horde behind it. We finally just bought ant traps and put two in the cupboards and two in the windowsill (which I’d previously sprayed down with vinegar).
I checked the ant traps the next day and didn’t see any visible swarming. I shrugged and we went about our business.
I checked the traps again the day after (yesterday) and there were a few ants around the traps. Meh. Maybe the problem wasn’t as bad as we thought. Maybe they’d all died off already. Right?
Ha! I live in Florida; who are you kidding???
I noticed a swarm of ants by the toilet. Wrinkling my nose in distaste, I moved a trap from the windowsill directly into the thickest stream of ants.
Two hours later I peeked in to see how Killing the Ants was progressing. There were a few more ants around the toilet.
… oh, and a line of ants crawling down from the windowsill. Is that where they were coming from?
… and there’s a line of ants crawling down the side of the bathtub. Is that how they’re getting to the toilet?
… wow, that’s a rather heavy stream of ants. Like, a lot. And they seem to be disappearing … under the bath mat? Let’s move it aside and take a look-see . . .
This led directly to the following text from me to Mike:
“OMG OMG OMG THEY WERE ALL UNDER THE BATH MAT OMG”
I plopped an ant trap directly into the stream, whimpering under my breath. And then, out of curiosity, I flipped the mat over.
And SCREAMED at the HUNDREDS of ants thus revealed.
OMG OMG OMG.
At this point I had to pack up the baby and the cat for Rajah’s annual checkup. I sprayed a vinegar barrier across the bathroom floor so they wouldn’t infest any other part of the house and ran for my life.
A few lessons:
- When you have hired a pest service for comprehensive control, don’t be afraid to call them.
- When said pest service tells you – on Monday – that they can come out at the end of the day on Thursday, politely losing your ever-loving sh*t at the operator will result in a visit from the branch manager at seven thirty in the evening.
- Don’t put out ant traps if you have professionals who you can call. All that did was sing the siren song of sweet succulent food to the horde of ants outside, all of whom invited their mothers and uncles and cousins and neighbors to come inside and partake. Gah!!!
P.S. Today most of the ants in the bathroom are dead. There are about 20 live ants – a great improvement over 200. They’re coming to spray again tomorrow. *spit*
P.P.S. Yes, I *know* it could have been spiders or snakes or roaches or the evil red bitey ants that infest Florida. These were relatively harmless. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. Nor does it mean I can’t do the Happy Dance upon their demise.
Posted by Lissa on May 19, 2014
Good afternoon all, and Happy Monday! It was a VERY busy weekend at Lissaville South. At this point in our lives, that means that we had events on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a trip to the in-laws’ house (about 75 minutes from here) so that the local aunt-and-uncle could coo over Bubber and dance with Little Gronk. (Yes, dance. More on that later.)
Did I mention that I’m officially a minivan mommy? Her name is Circe and she’s a Honda Odyssey in Dark Cherry Pearl; that was the closest I could get to red. I was bound and determined that if I was going to go Minivan Mommy at age 33 it would be a non-boring color. I made the dealership trade with another shop 100 miles away to get the good one :)
Unfortunately, I’m now spoiled for life when it comes to vehicles. There is SO. MUCH. ROOM!!! And a backup camera. And a sidemirror camera!! (That one is especially joyous; my night vision is blurry and I have trouble figuring out if I have room enough to change lanes on the highway.) And stow-and-go seats and three different a/c zones and SO. MUCH. ROOM. I love this car. I’m never giving it up.
Anyway, thanks to Circe car drives are pretty pleasant… until one or the other of the boys wakes up and goes off like a fire alarm. Can’t be helped.
Sunday we went to a park to attend a birthday party for a friend of ours. (The dad went to school with Mike and was the best man at our wedding; their oldest just turned three.) Little Gronk had a great time climbing on the playground equipment and even more fun figuring out the Magic of Juiceboxes. He didn’t mind playing with the straw – and, incidentally, consuming some fruit punch along the way – but the real ecstasy came from squirting it onto his shorts. (We tried to get him to squirt it onto the ground instead. Nope – had to be on his clothing!)
Thanks to two days in a row of a disrupted sleep schedule and added to a bit of GI distress, Gronk was an absolute pill that afternoon and got put to bed almost an hour early. Thankfully, he slept peacefully and was his usual cute, charming and sweet – if demanding – self this morning.
Which leads me back to the dancing.
We usually have TV on in the mornings. Mike turns it to Mike and Mike for background noise (I tend to put it on the classical music channel). Gronk sometimes waves at the ticker and tells it “bye-bye” – so cute! – but otherwise ignores it. We’ve tried him a few times on Monsters Inc. and other cartoons, but the only time he’s ever watched TV for longer than ten seconds was when he was sick.
There’s this show called the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. And each episode ends with the Hot Diggity Dog dance.
Gronk thinks this is the greatest thing ever invented in the whole wide world.
And if you are in the room, you WILL celebrate with him by dancing. That’s just the way it has to be. If you try and demur, you will get tugged by the hand and pushed from behind until you are in proper position; then you will get indignant stares and imperious gestures until you dance, monkey, dance!!!
If he didn’t have such a huge, gleeful, delighted grin on his face, we’d mind it more. :)
A few finishing notes:
- Our two little boys had two diaper blowouts apiece on Sunday. Parents of older kids, don’t you miss those days??
- Gronk has discovered the TV remote (aka the Magic Wand) and now demands it whenever he sees it. Crap.
- Bubber’s hair is just ridiculously awesome. Everyone says so.
- While I’m haunted by the theme song and Hot Dot Dance music, the rest of the Mickey show isn’t nearly as bad as I feared. They actually have a storyline each episode; they also do little counting exercises and other games that are non-stupid. Finally, compared to Teletubbies or Barney the Bastard Brontasaurus, Gronk is practically watching Masterpiece Theater.
Posted by Lissa on May 16, 2014
Happy Friday, all! You know how you never know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone? Well, you never know how easy it is to balance life tasks and your first kid until your second kid shows up.
It’s Friday, which means that Mike is going for a haircut after work. Little Gronk’s new preschool is about fifteen minutes from here, but Mike’s work is perhaps halfway there, so he’d normally pick up The Package. (Yes, we send each other texts that say “I have the package.” What?) However, since the barber shop is by the house, I’m going to head over and get him. Which means making sure Bubber is fed either before or after, getting him packed up, and juggling baby-in-a-popout-car seat along with Little Gronk. Who needs weight-lifting when you have two sons that both need to be carried?
The challenge here is that I’m cooking dinner (as opposed to serving leftovers) and that Little Gronk does NOT like when I cook. That is, he whines and fusses and begs to be picked up and can’t understand why I tell him he has to wait.
(Of course, sometimes he doesn’t like WHAT I cook, either. Child is a seriously picky eater, and like all toddlers we play the fun game of wondering whether his new “favorite food” will get devoured or violently rejected the next time I serve it.)
In tonight’s case, I’m making braised cabernet chicken (basic recipe below), which is one of the few grown-up dishes he’s consistently eaten. The challenge is that I can’t leave it bubbling on the stove while I go for the pickup; nor can I wait to start it until I get home from pickup. (It’s a bath night.) I’ve therefore adapted it for the crockpot and it’s heating up on the counter.
Is there anything that smells better than onions and garlic cooking in bacon fat?
P.S. I wonder if I should include a #firstworldproblems disclaimer with these posts. I assure you that I know how lucky I am that I have two wonderful, healthy children, a marvelous and healthy husband, and sufficient material comfort that I have childcare options and vehicular ability to juggle pickups. Does that go without saying? I don’t want anyone to think I’m complaining in earnest!
Braised Cabernet Chicken – Originally from the Pampered Chef and adapted for crockpot cooking
-2 packages boneless skinless chicken thighs (12 thighs total)
-4-6 slices of bacon (however many your biggest frying pan will comfortably hold)
-1 white onion
-4 cloves of garlic (your taste may vary; any recipe that calls for 2 cloves usually gets about 6 in my kitchen)
-8 oz mushrooms (white mushrooms is the default, but baby bellas will add a richer flavor)
-4 sprigs fresh thyme
-1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
-1 cup chicken broth
– 1/2 cup red wine (Cabernet is called for but I use whatever is left over)
– starch to serve – I recommend egg noodles
– Fry bacon over medium heat until crisp (slightly overdone is okay). Dice the onion while it’s cooking.
– Remove bacon to a plate. Use as much of the leftover fat as fits your diet. (I personally hate pouring fat out of a pan, as it inevitably gets down the side and the bottom; I’ll use a paper towel to sop it up instead.)
– Toss the onion into the fat and slice the garlic while it cooks. The onion needs four or five more minutes than the garlic does. (If it takes you longer than five minutes to slice five cloves of garlic then you need to practice your knife skills.) Add the garlic to the pan and cook 2-3 more minutes until you can smell the deliciousness.
– Plop the chicken thighs into the (large!) crock pot. Pour wine and broth over chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste (you can add more later if needed). Lay mushrooms on top and glug the Worcestershire sauce over it (I don’t measure; you don’t have to either). Lay the thyme down the side where it will definitely be covered by the liquid. Toss the hot onion, garlic and bacon fat mix over the top.
I’m not sure how long to cook it; usually I’d simmer it stovetop for a half hour or so. In this case, I’m putting it on high for four hours. If I’d started earlier in the day I’d have done six hours on low instead. We’ll see what level of doneness results.
Also? I cheat on the sauce. I like it to be thick and cling to the egg noodles, so I add a cornstarch slurry at the end and boil for two minutes.
Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend!