Friday, September 26, 2008

Damn, I miss naps

Liza is napping for the first time this week.

Thank you, Higher Power, for giving me 90 minutes of solitary splendor. It's a nice change from the kid's daily afternoon meltdown followed by giddiness followed by inability to listen to even the most basic directions. Apparently sleep is necessary for basic rules of public conduct to apply, things like, "Don't throw the seat cushions from the restaurant's patio chairs over the railing and into the gigantic river gorge it juts over." Yeah, that was a great dinner, let me tell you.

Anyhoo, I have a ton of stuff to catch up on, and with the ongoing lack of naps around here and some Lazy Mama projects that are increasingly time-constrained, it may be all quiet on the Mind Flush front for a few days. I'm (probably) not dead or institutionalized, just busy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stuffed animal overload

Liza never plays with her stuffed animals, but since most consignment stores won't take them - and most of them were gifts, anyway - we're accumulating quite a morass of stuffed stuff underfoot. There's a really useful way to corral them and use them as a chair, but the $60 price tag was a bit high for something that was going to be used to store something we don't use, anyway. But Liza has been lusting after her friend's bean bag chair, so I thought we'd try a little self-help.

Found a free pattern online, found enough fabric in my stash and another one of my mother's free zippers, carved out enough time to sew by parking the kid in front of a seemingly endless stream of the same two Blue's Clues episodes over and over again. This morning, it was done.

You can tell she hates it. It's a traditional bean bag chair, only instead of tiny little styrene balls, it's stuffed with that giant dog I knit for her and some polar bears and Blue and whatever else we had laying around.

It would be cooler if we had the clear windows to help locate the contents, but since she never actually uses the contents, who gives a flying fig where any particular animal is located inside? As long as it's not poking you anywhere when you sit on it, one place is as good as another, I suppose.

If you're not crafty and don't have the fabric laying around, it would probably be easiest and cheapest to just go buy a vinyl one at Wal-Mart and throw out the liner that has the beads in it (or stick that part in the attic to use once the stuffed toys are outgrown or smashed flat).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Not quite what I had in mind

I planted two eggplants seedlings this year, and as they both put out a steady stream of lavender blossoms, I dreamed of a summer of caponata and baba ganouj and eggplant spaghetti.

Instead, I got this.
That's it. One eggplant that is, strangely enough, the size of an egg. Yum, that'll make about a teaspoon of baba.

Here's hoping there's an eggplant growth spurt before the first frost. Which will be in like, a week.

Much more fun than picking apples

On this episode of, "Who Wants To Be A Migrant Worker?": Raspberries!
Usually Daddy is at work when we do these sorts of enriching activities. He was thrilled to come sweat with us today. Really. He barely complained at all.

So proud of herself!
Look at the form! The concentration! The quart of berries she's picked by herself!**
Some berries couldn't agree on whether it was time to be ripe yet.

Our haul ... so, anyone have any good raspberry recipes they'd like to share?

**She picked pretty much continuously the entire time we were out in the fields, and most of the ones she picked were ripe and actually made it into the basket instead of her mouth. She'd probably still be out there picking if we hadn't filled out baskets and told her it was time to go get a quesadilla. The girl is a berry-picking machine.

Photos taken at Rosby Berry Farm in Brooklyn Heights, OH. If there's a less likely place to find a raspberry orchard than Brooklyn Heights, I don't know where it would be ... but the place is great.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

She loves that tomato plant a little too much

Last night was awful, sleep-wise. After the fifth time we had to go into her room (all after 3am), we gave up and brought her into our bed. Since her usual mode of sleeping in our bed involves snuggling with me while kicking Jason in the crotch, he elected to sleep in the guest room. I still ended up several hours short of "enough," and Jason has apparently been sleepwalking around work all day.

This morning I was apparently dead to the world, since I didn't even notice when Liza got up. Usually she's all about dragging me out of bed, too, but for some reason today she didn't bother. And while her room has a kid-proof lock on the inside**, ours doesn't. Liza had the run of the house for a while until I finally awoke from my stupor.

Eventually she woke me up, though, and things proceeded as usual for a weekday morning. While I was downstairs getting her breakfast ready, Liza was sitting at the table looking out the back door.

"I forgot to close the screen door all the way when I checked the tomatoes this morning."
"That was last night that you checked the tomatoes, sweetie, and it was probably me who left the screen door like that."
"No, I checked them this morning."
"Are you sure? You unlocked the door and went outside this morning?"
"Uh-huh. There aren't any more ripe tomatoes."
"Wait, show me how you got the door open."

And she hops up from the table, flips open the lock on the sliding glass door, and heaves the door open. Which she's never managed to do on her own - the screen door, yes, but she's never had the muscle to get the glass door open.

Son of a bitch.

Guess we're going to be using the extra lock at the top of the doorjam from now on, although if she sees me use it she could reach it if she climbed up on one of the dining room chairs. And we're going to have to investigate getting a new lock for the front door, too, since there's no reason she can't open that one if she feels like it.

And we're going to have to get a spare child-proof lock for our bedroom door, I guess, because this whole "hanging out by herself for god-knows-how-long in the morning" thing is not acceptable.

** Apparently, this makes us both evil and negligent parents, at least in the view of quite a lot of moms over on . Their thought is that the kid couldn't get out of the room if there was a problem like a fire or something. Apparently, keeping my child safely contained in her room makes me one step above somebody who chains their dog to the back step in the middle of winter. My thought is that there's more chance of something catching on fire if she's wandering around the house on her own. And if there's a fire or something, she's not going to have the presence of mind to try to get out of the house anyway, and since it's only on the inside of her room it doesn't slow us down getting in there. Plus, it prevents this whole morning wandering thing from happening every morning, since she wakes up at erratic times and I would literally have to wake up at 4:30 to be sure I was always awake before her. And if I had to do that, dying in a fire would be the least of her worries, trust me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I am the most brilliant parent EVER

Okay, so my daughter has atrocious table manners. Won't eat, throws tantrums, leaves the table before the rest of us are done, whines, wants to sit on my lap for the whole meal, interrupts any conversation that doesn't involve her but won't participate in any conversation in which we try to include her, etc. It gets REALLY bad when she goes on a food strike and will only eat like one meal a day, such as, um, the last two weeks. We've tried distraction, rewards for good behavior, coloring books, ignoring her, time-outs, just about everything short of beating the living crap out of her, to no avail. It had gotten to the point where I was actively dreading trying to eat dinner as a family, she was being so unpleasant.

Then in the library yesterday I had a total brainwave - the easiest solution to this problem EVER.

Kid-appropriate audio books.

I mentioned to her today at lunch that we were going to listen to stories at dinnertime, and at dinner I racked up the CD and told her she only got to listen if she stayed in her chair and behaved herself.

For fifteen blissful minutes, all we heard was a story about a kid detective finding a friend's missing drawing. She sat still, she listened intently, she didn't fidget, she didn't interrupt, she didn't throw things, she didn't whine, she didn't ask to sit on my lap ... nothing.

The only time she spoke was to ask for more of her dinner after she had cleaned her plate. True, we had resorted to serving her miniature waffles with (all fruit) jam sandwiched between them, but still - she NEVER asks for seconds of anything other than candy or juice.


If you're going to try this for your family, try to find a book that's got several short stories on one CD, so you can tailor the playlist to fit how long you want dinner to last. Otherwise, you'll get sucked into the whole "just one more chapter" thing, and that NEVER ends well. This might also work for older kids who complain about having to sit through the whole meal instead of calling their friends or whatever - pick a longer book where they'd miss important stuff if they leave early or miss dinner one night.

Also - your mileage may vary, since my child is obsessed with books and stories and regularly forces me to tell her the same "fairy getting lost" story EVERY FREAKING TIME WE DRIVE FOR MORE THAN FIVE MINUTES.

Yarghh, how awesome is this?

Too tired to rip off, er, post the photo from the listing - trust me, it's worth the effort to click through.

How awesome would this look on the wall of Jason's office in Corporate Paint Company Land? Like, over the door so that you couldn't see it from the hallway, but it would be staring over your shoulder if you were sitting in the visitor's chair in his office? Oh, the coolness.

Anybody got $900 they want to give me?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


She dumps a huge handful of Tinkertoys on my desk while I'm trying to find out whether she has school today (please, god, please let there be school today).

"I want you to make me a gigantic, glorious, glorious flower!"

Usually I can trace the big words back to which television show or book they came from ("a beautiful dress that sparkles and shimmers" is her term for her dress-up dresses, and it comes verbatim from a version of The Nutcracker we've been reading since last Thanksgiving). But I have no idea where "glorious" came from.

J - any clue? Because it's not exactly something that comes up a lot in casual conversation.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Either a) my mother hasn't read the previous post yet, or b) she read it and passed out, clonking her head on the desk on the way down, and my father hasn't found her yet.

Because I haven't received the phone call in which she will tell me every single thing that could possibly go wrong with the trees, the roof, the insurance, the repair, the neighbor, the basement, and maybe a few other things I haven't thought of yet. I let her handle all the doom and gloom, and I focus on things like "Since our neighbors across the street have had no power since 6pm yesterday and we're babysitting the salvaged contents of their refrigerator, how many groceries can I snitch from their stash without being noticed? Not that I would, of course, but how many slices of cheese would it take to go from a 'Huh, didn't I have more than that?' to a 'Damn, you can't trust anyone anymore'?"

Now, if they'd just get the power back on at Liza's school so I can get her out of my hair for a couple hours, things would be peachy-keen around here. Except for the giant yardsale sign that's nailed and duct-taped to my roof, of course, and the huge pile of debris that used to be my side yard.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dear Hurricane Ike: Fuck you.

Howling wind all afternoon from the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

Splinter. Bang. Thwump. Crash. What the fuck was that?


Good thing that didn't hit the house - it's the diameter of a dinner plate at the splintered end. So what made the crash?


Good thing it didn't damage the roof.


(that's after it was patched with a piece of metal ductwork we borrowed from our new neighbors and a wooden yard sale sign - thanks again for those, Dad!)

Well, it's just the one hole, right?


Thanks for the present, Ike. It's been a while since we've had to deal with insurance companies and roof problems. And lord knows, there's nothing I enjoy more than dealing with shingle patching that will leak right on my head in bed if it isn't done right. Thought I was done with that when we sold the house in Avon back in 2004. Guess not.

At least there aren't any other branches left on that tree to fall on our house. Now, if I can just ignore the neighbor's 15 other trees that overhang our property, I'll be fine.

Thanks to a dream that Jason had last year in which a branch from one of these trees crashed through the roof and killed both of us in our sleep, leaving Liza to starve to death alone in her room (nice), we're all sleeping in the (below ground level) guest room tonight.

And no, this was not an oversight on the part of our tree trimming company. This is the entire fucking top half of a tree that (was) entirely on our neighbor's property. And it's healthy, as far as I can tell, it was just overbalanced. Shucks, no lawsuit there, I guess.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Yet another fun way to drop $20 on etsy

It's decals to make your toilet tank look like an aquarium. I sooooo totally need this. Liza think's it's hilarious. Jason thinks it's stupid.

In case you agree with me and Liza, here's the link:

It's funny how this appeals to me, but the results I get from a search of "toilet seat" on etsy just don't, um, move me. Except maybe this one, because really, who can resist sparkly trim and beads?

Our newest obsession

I think this was the best $3 garage sale purchase of all time. My mother was going to go out and buy a new one on Monday in preparation for Christmas, but this was a little bit of a better deal. And the kid loves watching the marbles go through ... she can only make tiny little towers on her own, but heck, I love the building part, so it's kind of a good collaboration for me to build and her to run the marbles through. Liza doesn't even mind waiting while I build - she takes off the little paddles that spin around when a marble goes through, pretends they're flowers, and makes up stories that involve me being a bad witch who comes and takes away the mommy flower and all the little flowers are sad, so I end up not being able to use any of the spinners and half of the marbles fly out of the turns that are supposed to have spinners, but it's all good.

Now, if I can just resist the urge to see how many sets it would take to run marbles from Liza's bedroom to the basement, we'll be fine.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Now THAT'S customer service

Our local parents' group is sponsoring a stay at the Kalahari ** waterpark that's about an hour away from here. Since the group discount is close to $80 and it brings the price of the room and four waterpark passes down to an amount that's close to what a regular hotel room costs, I was all over that.

When I called today to make my reservation - have to call to get the discount - I was on hold because all of the reservation folks were busy. After two or three minutes on hold, a person came on and took my name and phone number so they could call me back.

What an extraordinarily great idea. Someone explain to me why nobody else does this?

It was so nice to NOT be on hold for 10 minutes, and instead get a bunch of other stuff done while I waited for the call. And when my cordless phone died in the middle of the registration, they had my phone number and called me right back ... same person and everything so I didn't have to go through the "let me find your record, oh, you don't have a record, let's start over again" bull.

Such a refreshing change from most customer service phone lines or reservation lines. Way to go, Kalahari!

** Now if someone could just explain to me why they named a waterpark after a desert, I'd be perfectly happy. With that naming logic, their next property is probably going to be Gobi Waterfront Villas. Or Botswana Beach. Sheesh.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Excuse me?!?!

"Okay, if you're not going to take a nap, please go get dressed so we can go to Target."
"I don't want to go to Target. I want to swing."
"That's nice, but we have to go today. You have your dance class tomorrow, so there won't be time to do it then."
"But ... you could go to Target while I take my dance class. Is that a good compromise?"

"Um, it would be, but Target is too far from the dance studio to make it there and back before your lesson is done. Nice try, though."

Since when? Say what? Huh?

Sorry, I'm having a few problems adjusting to the Teflon Wonder Child, who seems to have temporarily replaced VelcroBaby.

Now what the hell am I going to blog about? A month of houseplant photos? Cat puke I've discovered this week? What I had for lunch?


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Once again I am the last person on the planet to discover a cool website

Totally addictive (at least for those of us with large vocabularies and/or good reasoning skills).

Monday, September 08, 2008

No drama, no trauma

Immediately before her first half-class of preschool:

When I came to pick her up an hour later:

Notice the complete absence of tears, whining, crying, wailing, clinging, throwing things, banging things, and otherwise making a nuisance of herself? Yeah, me too.

She loves her pencil box! And her cubby! And her bag! And she (says she) gave her teacher a hug! And there wasn't a craft, but tomorrow they're supposed to paint! And she thought school was really, really fun! And she wants to go back tomorrow!

(Gretchen swoons)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Behold the awesomeness

See what I done designed and knit all by my lonesome? A hat with stripes that swirl away into nothingness at the top. It will be for sale in the etsy shop as soon as I get some good photos of it ... in the meantime, you can just meditate on its mesmerizingly incredible awesomeness.

Guess who starts school tomorrow

Friday, September 05, 2008


Okay, so mommies aren't allowed in the studio, and we're not even supposed to peek through the window because it distracts the girls, so my selection of photos from today is pretty limited. That didn't stop all of us from milling around at the edges of the window, sneaking looks from a vantage point where we could see the girls reflected in one of the mirrors but we didn't think they could see us. Not ideal conditions for photography, but I did manage to sneak a few, such as "Dancer listening to the rules of the class"

And "Dancers enjoying a break" (which I took by sneaking just the camera up over the bottom ledge of the window - just call me Smart)

And "You want me to do what with these tappy things?"

Notice that none of them feature my daughter crying, whining, or clinging to me like Velcro brand hook-and-loop fasteners. And they were taken over the course of an entire 55-minute class.


Not only did she make it through me leaving her there without so much as a wave, she didn't even snivel the entire time, even when "Miss Mo wanted me to join in with all the other girls but I didn't want to so I watched and then I joined in after a while," which in the past has been a major trigger for her. She didn't burst into tears when I came in to pick her up at the end ... and she gave the teacher a hug even though she'd never seen her before today, and she agreed to go to Burger King afterward so she could have lunch and play with one of the girls in the class. And she didn't burst into screaming when she saw there were other kids on the play equipment, or when the other kids ran into her, or when the baby tried to borrow her kid's meal toy.

For one brief, shining, two-hour period, I had a normal kid.

And now she can't stop talking about how nice her teacher is and how much fun the class is and how much she likes her shoes and how much fun the class is and how she was supposed to join in to the Mickey Mouse clubhouse song but she didn't want to and then she watched the rest of the girls and she DID join in, and can we go back again NOW and will Leah be there and when will it be Friday again and did I mention she liked the class?

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Liza.

Alien invasion

You spot one giant fuzzy yellow caterpillar in your backyard, it's kind of fun. You spot a second one, and all of the sudden you start wondering if they're eating your roses or leaving poisonous spines in your daughter's play castle. So you do some googling, and you come up with this:

Apparently we have American Dagger Moth, Acronicta americana, caterpillars in our yard. They feed on maple and other hardwood tree leaves, so I guess the Oak Forest around our backyard is like a giant salad bar.

info above from, which is one of the coolest and most sensible names for a web site that I've seen in a long, long time. There are better photos here: The neon yellow ones are closest to our residents - they might as well have a huge "Birds - eat me! Toddlers - torment me!" sign hanging on their backs, they blend in so well with the foliage.

And they're harmless ... or so they say. Still, if you find me dead in the backyard and covered in furry yellow things, grab the Raid, okay?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Then and now

Then ...

Now ...

MAH BABY STARTS DANCE CLASS TOMORROW AND LOOKS SO PRESHUS AH CAN HARDLY STAND IT! And she probably won't take off the tights or the leotard until after her class, possibly not until she has to get dressed for swim class Saturday!

Look, she knows second position already! She called this the "dancer who is afraid of thunder during a storm" dance.

How do I know she's going to have a great career in dance? She's got the basics down already without any prompting from me ...

How scary is that picture? She just started this last week when we moved the scale to paint the bathroom. I swear, she has almost never seen me even step on the thing, much less get upset over the number it displayed. Now she obsessively checks her weight every time she sees the thing, like some sort of anorexic supermodel with a massochistic streak. The funny part is that she doesn't recognize numbers higher than about 15, and sometimes she reads them out backwards, so her weight varies from "0-3" to "3-3" pounds over a week.

Plus, the poochy tummy cracks me up.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Omnivore's 100

Okay, I may be the last person in the blogosphere to complete this, but here's my Omnivore's 100.

Here’s what I want you to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (I hate having to do the html to get the crossout, so I'm going to italics them)
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (it was alligator sausage, but that counts, right?)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich (PB&Nutella is better)
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (thank you, Matt)
19. Steamed pork buns (didn't like them)
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas (thank you, Delta airlines)
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut (thank you, high school trip to Europe where wienerschnitzel was unavoidable)
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail (thank you, Peter in Holland)
41. Curried goat (thank you, Pete in Holland)

42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu (thank you, Kylie-Ann, and the cardboard sign tacked on a telephone pole you used to recommend which place we should try)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips (thank you, hippie babysitter in elementary school)
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers (carnations and nasturtiums, thank you high school friends)
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

37 isn't bad for a start, right? I think Jason may actually have a higher score than I do, what with him actually liking seafood and all. Bet I've got him on the carob chips, though!

Smoky Baba Ghanouj

My god, this is soooo good. And it only took two grocery stores and half an hour of staring at the imported food section to find the tahini (hint: it was in the Kosher food section). Go forth and baba-fy the world while the eggplants are cheap at the farm markets!

From The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook, p. 24, not that they were nice enough to put this online with all the other recipes or anything.

Smoky Baba Ghanouj

Prep: 30 minutes, Chill: 2 hours

6 (6-inch) pitas
cooking spray
2 eggplants, cut in half lengthwise (about 2 pounds)
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 400F
2. Split pitas; cut each half into 4 wedges. Place wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400F for 9 minutes or until crisp and browned. Set aside.
3. Coat a grill rack with cooking spray and place on grill over medium-hot coals (350 to 400F). Place eggplant halves, cut side up, on rack; grill, covered, 20 minutes or until very tender. Remove from grill and cool slightly. Peel eggplant and set aside.
4. Drop garlic through food chute with food processor on; process until minced. Add eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, and salt; process 45 seconds or until smooth, scraping sides of the bowl once. Transfer to a bowl; cover and chill.
5. Sprinkle with paprika; serve with toasted pita bread wedges.

Yield: 24 servings (serving size: 2 tablespoons dip and 2 pita chips)