Friday, February 29, 2008

Because I had nothing better to do while driving in a raging snowstorm in the Wal-Mart parking lot

"Mommy, are you still sick?"

"What? I don't remember telling you I was sick. Why do you think I am sick?"

"Because ... because ... because yesterday you had blood in your panties."

sigh. "Oh, sweetie, that doesn't mean Mommy is sick."


Ever try to explain menstruation to a 2-year-old? While driving? In a snowstorm? On a day when you're short on both sleep and caffeine?

Yeah, let's not do that again.

3:45 playtime

When she's nap-free, Liza's afternoon play sort of degenerates into "let's lay around on the floor and whine and refuse to even entertain the idea of laying in a bed."

I love the fact that the construction of the doll gives it massive cellulite deposits on the backs of its thighs. Who says dolls don't portray realistic representations of average women?

Not what it sounds like

Strangely enough, you buy "impregnator" at the hardware store, not Fertility 'R Us.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I snagged a treasury on etsy

geez, I really need to go to bed. Somebody please look at this and tell me if it makes any sense at all. 'Night, all!

Anyone want to guess why I'm posting this today?

Great moments in parenting history


"Dad, I've got friends coming to the house in 15 minutes and there's a squirrel dying right in front of our front door. What do I do?"

"Hit in with a shovel and put it in the trashcan."


"Or have them come in the back door."


With a little gentle coersion from a broom, the squirrel slunk behind the snowshovel on our front porch and proceded to twitch for the next hour before finally succumbing sometime during Liza's dance lesson. I'm a little sad about it, because I have a feeling this was Gimpy, the squirrel who spent the whole summer walking instead of bounding. Nothing makes a squirrel look more rodent-like than walking. Stupid tree rats.

I'm not sure which is more disturbing, the mental image of me trying to whack a dying squirrel in the head with a snowshovel (which I didn't do), or the memory trying to pick up a frozen squirrel carcass with that same snowshovel (which I did ). And the whole time I was thinking, Dude, there's a vacant house in foreclosure right next door. You couldn't go die on their front porch?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

America's Funniest Home Videos, here we come

Liza's going to be a flowergirl in Jason's sister's wedding in July, and my mother-in-law is anxious to get the dresses ordered post haste. So today we braved the weather to go try on a couple sizes of dresses that are similar in style to the one Susan has picked out, so that we can make a best guess about what size Liza might be six months from now. Her Royal Highness was in favor of the "fancy dress store," especially the platform in front of the mirror.

And for you, Susie, some stills, which should take less than four hours to download:

Did I mention the snow?

Not a drift. We actually had 13" of snow at 9am. And it kept snowing!

I'm not sure, but it might have been a good idea to clean off the car yesterday, rather than waiting until we ran out of food today and had to go to the grocery store.

Snowpants required for a trip to the grocery. You can tell she hates it, right?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Artsy from etsy

See, dear? This is why I needed the mobile, so I could have something cheerful to look at in February when I am procrastinating the snowblowing by cutting out 400,000 swaddling blankets for the shop.
8" deep and counting (sigh)


When it looks like this on my back deck ...

... the only suitable breakfast is toast dipped in hot cocoa. The nipper agrees.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Children's book recommendations

Liza and I were running errands this morning and my attempt at rewarding her good behavior with a trip to the pet store went horribly, horribly wrong when the pet store was - horrors! - closed for remodeling. In an attempt to staunch the flow of tears and snot, we stopped by the Borders outlet store next door, where I promised her we could at least look at pictures of puppies, since the real ones were unavailable.

Thirty minutes of her banging tunelessly on a Little People xylophone book at least allowed me some time to browse through children's books that don't require a home equity line of credit to purchase. And I found two that I just love, love, love, and Liza does, too.

The first one is The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. Basically, it's about a girl who tells her art teacher she's no good at art, and the teacher inspires her to create a different kind of art, and at the end the girl passes that on to another kid. The whole thing is really simple - a sentence or two per page, with watercolor illustrations throughout. But it's got a great message about how art doesn't have to be a realistic drawing or sculpture, and the illustrations are so nifty I want to frame them and hang them all over my studio. Really, use the online reader tool on Amazon and browse through them ... I just love how this book looks. Anyhow, this would be great for kids who are just getting started with art or for older kids who have been getting frustrated because they can't duplicate the art they see around them.

Same theme, same author, different book: Ish, by Peter H. Reynolds. This time, it's a boy whose brother laughs at his drawings because they don't look exactly like what he's trying to draw, and the boy wants to give up drawing, but his sister shows him that looking "Vase-ish" is fine, and it lets the boy explore a whole different style of art. Again, great for young artists or those who are frustrated perfectionists, because the "ish" paintings are really cool despite not being photographically realistic portrayals of the objects.

One thing that I like about both of these books is that the characters aren't rich white kids - the girl in The Dot is named Vashti, and the boy in Ish is Ramon. There's nothing particularly multicultural beyond the names and the less-than-albino skin color, but it's still nice to see in a kids' book.

I recognized this author's work from the book Someday, which he coauthored with Alison McGhee and which my mother-in-law gave us at Thanksgiving. It's a beautiful book in the same vein as The Giving Tree, in that it makes me bawl like a baby if I read it to the kid during certain days of the month. Mother has hopes for her little girl, who grows up and moves away and remembers her mother when she's an old woman ... blah blah blah sniff bawl. Liza loves it, and I do too, except for the bawling involved, so I was glad to find some new books by the same illustrator so I can enjoy his paintings without dripping on them.

Anyhoo, The Dot and Ish are available at Borders outlet stores for about $4 in hardback.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy blogiversary to me!

Two years (and counting) of prattling about poop, projects, and profanity. I'm profoundly proud (sniff!)

Recipe - Tomato Gorgonzola Soup

Here's the soup recipe that won rave reviews when we took it to the Wendlings' house for dinner last night. I wish I could give credit to the author, but I photocopied it out of a cookbook and there's no title information on the page. Sorry!

Oh, and we used Feta cheese because I was too cheap to spring for Gorgonzola.

Tomato Gorgonzola Soup (serves 6)

1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 tablespoon butter
2 1/2 cups canned plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup V-8 juice
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh basil

slurry: 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup cold water.

  1. In a large pot, saute the bacon, onions and celery in the butter until they are tender. Drain off the fat.
  2. Add all of the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the slurry, Gorgonzola and basil. Simmer for approximately 45 minutes.
  3. Make the slurry with flour and water, whisking the flour slowly into the water. Be sure the slurry has no lumps.
  4. Add the slurry to the soup and use a whisk to mix it as it thickens.
  5. Simmer for 15 more minutes, or until the flour taste is gone.
  6. Add the crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and fresh basil.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sorry, but this is just pretty

Super-secret project under development at Lazy Mama HQ. Codename: YoMama.
Trust me, if you happen to know that those round things are called "yoyos," it's hilarious.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

ParentHack - Letting a toddler SAFELY cut things in the kitchen

So the kid wants to help in the kitchen, but lacks the dexterity or wrist strength to wield even a table knife safely? Try the hard-boiled egg slicer - you know, the thing with the wires that slice through the egg? (I linked to a site that has a nice picture - ours cost maybe $2 at a discount store, not the $17 this place charges.)

Our not-quite-three-year-old uses it to slice eggs, mushrooms, zucchini, and cooked potato - and that was just for tonight's dinner. You could probably also use it on soft cheese or any soft cooked veggie, but we haven't had a chance to try that yet.

This is a great way to let the kid help - they'd have to be downright determined to hurt themselves, but it's so easy that most kids can handle it by themselves. Plus, it cuts five or six slices at a time, so it takes a lot less time than letting the kid whack at it with a bread knife.

Also - blunt-nosed scissors work well to cut up things big-leafed things like spinach or lettuce. You can even use them on things like canned tomatoes - just be prepared for the mess :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Total lunar eclipse, that is. Here's what it looked like from my front stoop:



my gawd, how cool is it that you can see it's a shadow in this photo? I love my camera (and tripod)!


Gonna have to move my tripod for the next shot - stupid moon moving into the stupid branches

That dot in the lower left is something bright - Saturn? Jupiter? Star? that the etsy folks have noticed.


ooh, spooky!




Check out how much the moon has moved in the picture compared to Saturn (lower left) since 10pm:

Compare modes - this one was shot in nighttime:

This one was shot a minute later from the same spot, only in landscape mode:

Now I'm kinda wishing I'd done the rest of them in landscape ... they wouldn't have been as nice and red, but I think the details would have been crisper. Oh, well - I'll file that away in the back of my brain for next time I need to photograph a full lunar eclipse :)

Okay, folks, I'm off to bed. Here's hoping the little girl and her uber-snotty nose let me sleep tonight ...

One of those weeks already

Monday - Liza gets her first case of croup. Mild, but still bad enough that she startles herself awake every time she coughs, screaming bloody murder, which doesn't help the barking noise coming out of her throat. It literally took me 45 minutes to calm her down enough after nap to get her to drink apple juice, which normally she will knock old ladies and kittens out of the way to get. Other than the horrible barking cough and an almost laughably quick falling asleep at nap and bedtime, she was fine.

Tuesday - Croup cough is replaced with an almost-normal cough, which is sporadic and seems to get much better with steam, so it's "let's take an hour-long bath at 10am" day. She's pretty chipper all day, right up until bedtime, when her nose starts to run. Every time she sneezes, she wakes herself up wailing, and we have to go in and wipe her off and calm her down, only to have her sneeze 10 minutes later and have to repeat the whole procedure. After like the fourth episode of this, which was punctuated by screams of "I want to sleep in Mom's bed!" and "I need a kleenex!" we gave in and brought her to bed with us. She settled right down, which is unusual for her, and proceded to start radiating heat like a freakin' furnace. I don't think she had a temperature - it's just that she's normally so hot when she sleeps that she wakes up drenched in sweat a couple times a week. The 400-degree child insisted in remaining in bodily contact with me at all times, preferably with hundreds of square inches of body involved, and she had really bad cold breath. She slept like a log, but I'm not sure whether Jason or I got more than an hour or two of sleep, what with all the shoving her over, taking off bedclothes, shoving her over, taking off pajamas, shoving her over, etc. At least she had the decency to go back to sleep after Jason got up this morning.

Wednesday - all snot, all the time. I mean, ginormous quantities of snot. Now, I'm used to runny noses, I'm even inured to the occasional snot bubble ... but I've never seen a kid so comprehensively snotty that when they sneeze, they get a foot-long souvenir hanging down their face and onto their pajamas. Every. Time. She. Sneezes. I have no idea where it's all coming from - maybe some hidden snot fountain down in her leg or something? I swear, it's like a bad special effect in an even worse gross-out movie.

And Benadryl doesn't do jack against whatever this is.

At least she can tell when she's going to sneeze, so we're working on the whole "sneeze into a kleenex or I will beat you like a government mule" training, but so far we've only made it to "Mom! Moooooooooom! I need a Bless You! I'm going to Bless You!" at which point I back away and dive for the tissue box so I'm prepared to clean up the aftermath. I had her hair pulled back in a ponytail all morning, but I know she's going to wake up from her nap with a 1/4" thick layer of crusty hair on at least one cheek, which I will have to soak off while she writhes around and screams and claws at my face with her razor-sharp, virus-encrusted fingernails.

I have washed my hands approximately 400,032 times so far today, and I'm still spreading virus on every surface I touch. There is literally no way to keep up with it - I mean, I had to wipe her nose 8 times WHILE I FIXED LUNCH (I counted). It's just not feasible to wash my hands that often and still expect to have any skin attached at the end of the day. And she can wipe her nose occasionally, but it ends up smeared all across her face, and that's just a case of chapped skin followed by impetigo waiting to happen, and I really don't want to deal with that, because speaking from years of childhood experience, that shit hurts.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go douse my sheets with bleach, soak myself in Lysol, and suck down as many Crystal Light Immunity Defense drinks as I can manage between now and 3:30. And take a nap - I couldn't even get in a catnap during the 14 videos we've watched today because I had to wipe her nose every 48 seconds.

Edited at 2:13pm to add: Great. She made it for almost an hour before she woke up screaming in a pool of her own snot. Gotta go back in there - again - and bail her out. My crystal ball says we'll be ordering takeout tonight ...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wanna see my latested finished project?

It's a dress for Liza, with a crocheted top and fabric skirt, with a crocheted ruffle at the bottom. If you want more detail than that (or a picture of more than just her back), you'll have to visit my other blog:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Know what I love?

I love that fact that at least 1% of the people who read my blog each day ended up here because they googled "baby poop stain removal," or something similar. Hey, it doesn't matter what I'm famous for, as long as I'm famous, right?

What's up with that?

I think Cleveland is competing in some sort of international Weird Weather marathon or something. How else would you explain the last 24 hours ...

  • Yesterday when we went downtown to a matinee of Wicked** we had to brave 40 mph winds. By the time we left to pick up Liza, it was 50 degrees. In February. In Cleveland.

  • Last night there was a thunderstorm, with rain so hard it drowned out the white noise machine in our bedroom and so much thunder and lightning that Liza was in bed chanting to herself, "I am not afraid of thunder. I am not afraid of thunder. I am not afraid of thunder."

  • This morning it was snowing those big, fat, fluffy snowflakes that have so little weight and so much surface area that it takes each one an hour and a half to hit the ground, after many repeated attempts and side trips to snow UP.

  • This afternoon it was snowing furiously in the bright sunshine.

  • Right now it's blizzarding outside, only it's so warm that the snow melts immediately whenever it touches anything. I'm looking forward to scraping this mess off the windshield tomorrow morning.

** See how casually I worked that in there, exactly as if I haven't been dying with anticipation for the last two weeks, since Jason pulled the old "Don't plan anything for next Sunday afternoon" trick. Getting the tickets was a tremendously thoughtful thing to do, and not just because I've seen the charge on our credit card bill, and boy, was it tremendous. No, he actually came up with this on his own, with no hinting around from me, and he even had to use his super-secret corporate contacts in order to find tickets when he learned the shows happening when he was in town were already sold out. The show was a lot of fun, and not just because it was my first chance to break out the high heels in a loooooong time. If you've got a chance to go, take it - it was a beautiful production. Not that you can tell from my blurry cell phone picture of the curtain before the show ...

Dumb and Dumber

What happens when you spread birdseed on the ice on the deck to keep the contractors from slipping?


The interloper

"Neener neener!"

There's something evil in me that really wants to wipe the smirk off that squirrel's face by pulling the door open, but Zach's clawless and clueless, so he'd either get lost or beaten up by the dumb thing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Pasta Recipe

Stove? Check.

Sous chef? Check.
Mise en place? Check.
Tasty Valentine's Day dinner, eaten alone while my husband was at a conference two states away and the kid peed on the kitchen floor? Check.

Here's the recipe for the pasta, which was honestly the best thing I've eaten in the past 40 days.

Cook, according to package directions:

  • 1/2 box of bowtie pasta

Meanwhile, saute over medium-high heat:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

When the onion is starting to turn translucent, add:

  • 1/2 small box of baby portobello mushrooms, sliced

Let them cook for a few minutes, and when they start to give up some liquid, add:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste (1/2 teaspoon-ish)

Cook until the butter is melted, then add:

  • 1/2 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces

Cook until the asparagus is nearly done, then add:

  • the juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • two handfuls of spinach leaves (whole)

Cook until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with:

  • two golf-ball-sized tomatoes, diced
  • two golf-ball-sized globes of fresh mozzarella, quartered

Serve over pasta.

Work Day 28/Calendar Day 40

Best sentence I've read in a long time

"I'm telling you, when I get done organizing the kid's library, we're going to have dewey-decimal subdivisions for hairlip-sensitivity fiction and illustrated polio memoirs."

From Sweet Juniper!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Work Day 27/Calendar Day 39 - Stoned

Bye, bye, tetanus! Hello, slate!

Nope, no variation in color or texture at all in these rocks ...

I've been gettin' busy (hanging pictures) in the living room ...

... and mounting things under the sink.

See this? This is where my stove would be, if the electrician had bothered to show up yesterday. Or today. Not that I'm bitter or anything ... it's not as if he's the only thing separating me from a completely functional kitchen, and the pan of brownies that will christen it. Oh, wait - yes he is. Show up, dude, lest I tell everyone in the blogosphere which electrician NOT to call (and send even more evil thoughts your way).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A peek at my day

This morning the waste removal company came to pick up the dumpster from our kitchen renovation. It's been parked in our driveway for more than a month now, collecting scraps from our job and several other jobs our contractors are working, as well as random stuff I think our neighbors have contributed (a Christmas tree stand? Why couldn't you wait and put that out with the regular trash?).

It had also collected a relatively large amount of rain, sleet, snow, ice, and pretty much every other form of precipitation you can come up with. If you had asked me this morning what state all this moisture would be in, I would have thought that the days of single-digit temperatures would have frozen everything up nicely. I would have been wrong.

When the truck driver tipped the dumpster at a sharp angle to pull it up onto the bed of the hauler, a huge flood of dumpster soup came rolling out the gaps at the back. I'd say we probably had 20 gallons of sludgy water spill out onto the driveway ... the driveway that was 18 degrees F.

When I went out to use the snowblower tonight, not only did I get to fight my way through the several inches of snow that had accumulated since this morning, I also got to slog through an inch-and-a-half-thick layer of tea-colored sludge where the dumpster used to be. The snowblower sucked up a decent amount of it, flinging it off into our yard, which now looks like we have a troupe of the world's most incontinent squirrels living in the trees overhead.

While I was snowblowing, Liza was playing with her toy broom, trying to sweep the snow off the front porch. She was hampered by the fact that it had started raining shortly before we went out, so everything was glued down with a sixteenth of an inch of ice. Did I let that stop me? No, sir! I blowed and scraped and swept until I was at least within sight of the actual concrete ... all the better to ice up as the rain kept falling.

After Liza went to bed, I went back outside to move the car back into our driveway so the overzealous local police wouldn't give me a ticket for being parked in the driveway of the vacant house next door. Needless to say, my nicely cleared sidewalk and driveway were a total skating rink - I'll have to post a photo tomorrow of the sun glinting off of our glasslike driveway.

I got the car moved without incident, and as I went back inside I noticed the contractors had left the light on in the garage. I unlocked the side door, flipped off the light and closed the door, not remembering that this door is the best lubricated on the planet, so it requires a tiny push to slam shut with an earshattering thud. Which is exactly what it did ... 10 feet from the head of my daughter's bed.

When I went inside, Liza was screaming her head off, so I shucked off my coat and went upstairs, wet boots and all. She was sitting bolt upright in bed, obviously still mostly asleep, yelling, "I want some more carrots! I have to have another carrot! More carrots!"

The artist's early years: prolific, yet monochromatic

The artist's early years were marked by a willingness to experiment with technique but not color. Despite the ready availability of multiple colors, she chose to work primarily in a custom-mixed blue-green shade now known as "a-LIZA-rin blue."

Fingers, hands, stamps, and a variety of paintbrushes were all used, sometimes within the same work. Of particular interest are the larger masses of color in many works, which are washes the artist applied over top of previously stamped animal figures.

The artist was also open to collaboration, as shown in this twelve-piece installation. The work in the upper left of the photograph was produced in cooperation with another artist, who painted the "Z" and "A," as well as the series of dots in the lower right of the paper.

Fingerpaint and tempera paint on paper, February 2008.
The artist's output was prodigious, at times outpacing her supply of traditional art paper. You may be surprised to see that the smaller, deeper green prints in this installation were actually painted on the backs of recycled office paper.

Focus for a moment on the piece in the lower left of the photograph above. Here we can see the beginnings of the artist's signature "four colors on one brush" style.

Tempera paint on paper, February 2008.

Often imitated, this style requires a delicate touch to keep the colors from melding together into an earthy (but undesired) brown color.

Work Day 26/Calendar Day 38 - Cue the choir


"Take my picture, Mommy!"

Told you it would look even better once the grout was in

Look, Jason! No dumpster!

(Port-a-potty is still hiding behind the corner of the garage, at least in this picture)

Work Day Twenty-wheeee!

I'd complain about the fumes from the PVC glue, but it means that I might - MIGHT - have a working sink tonight. Hoo-freakin-ray!

Monday, February 11, 2008

She's got talent

With no prompting from us:

"This is the eye [blue], and this is the other eye [green], and this is the nose [pink], and this is the mouth [pink line], and this is the hair [blue], and this is the eyebrow [green], and these are the ears [blue]."

Holy shit, she made a face! On purpose!

I was bored enough to bust out the tempera paints for the first time today, and Liza amused herself attempting to paint with all four colors at once on the same brush. I'll have to post a photo of the result - it's actually really cool.

She also used one brush to paint the bristles on another brush, and she watched me paint part of a cardboard box. And she tried to lick the brush. And she mushed all of her colors around until they turned brown.

So, basically, she's two. Go figure.

And yes, her painting apron does say "irresponsible" at the top. Can you think of anything more appropriate?