Thursday, April 30, 2009

California Is Where They Make Movies, Right?

This may be mostly for the grandparents, but here is a movie of our trip to visit Rob's parents in Sonoma earlier this month.  I hope to bore you all to tears with many movies in the upcoming months because for Mothers' Day and my birthday I've asked Rob to edit and make little movies with all the unedited video we have sitting around on tape and hard drives and whatnot.  Hooray for memories!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


  • Grace has discovered the joy that is peanut butter and boy, has she DISCOVERED it.  She wants to eat it at every meal now.  This means she will finally eat sandwiches, which is great, sandwiches being such a convenient portable, packable type of food.  I suspect her new openness to peanut butter is a result of seeing her little classmates eat it at preschool.  She is head-over-heels in love with the stuff; it's like it is the new chocolate.  She still loves chocolate too, though, and now I wonder what paroxysms of joy she might experience if we combined them.  Maybe I'll try making these-- they look delicious and are vegan to boot.
  • Violet had her 4-month check-up last week and is doing well.  She is 15 lbs 4 oz-- so big!  She gained about 2.5 lbs from her 2-month check-up, which is good and adequate and all that.  In the same timeframe, I lost almost 15 lbs, which I also consider good and adequate.  Violet's latest developmental trick is rolling from her back on to her front.  For some reason, watching her do this is endlessly amusing to me; it is so funny to watch her heave her little baby self and giant cloth-diapered booty over on to her tummy.
  • This time last year, I knew that I was pregnant, just barely pregnant with the tiny person who Violet was.  It is am amazing, mysterious miracle to contemplate but goodness, life is so much better now-- I find being pregnant fairly miserable but having a baby is great!
  • Speaking of Violet, she is such a delightful, beautiful baby.  I sometimes can't believe my good luck at having a baby who is so content, so lovely, so delicious.  Her skin is so beautiful and smooth and soft, and her cheeks and her arms and her legs are just plain delicious, just the perfect balance of squishy and firm.  I shall eat her up.
  • We are considering doing some energy-efficiency-type improvements to our house before summer hits us in full force.  We try to keep our house at 78 degrees when the AC is on and last summer on the 100+ degree days our AC couldn't manage it.  As the afternoon would crawl by, the AC would run constantly and the thermometer would creep upwards-- 78, 79, 80.  It has become very obvious to us over the past year that our house has serious efficiency issues; we have duct work problems and insulation inadequacies and terrible 50-year-old windows and a slightly under-powered AC unit.  We went to an Earth Day green living expo and talked to a bunch of contractors and companies and whatnot to figure out what we can do.  We're definitely going to repair the ducts and seal up things and do the insulation, and now we are trying to decide between replacing the windows with fancy windows that block infrared radiation and replacing our furnace and AC with a geothermal heat pump.  I normally get depressed about spending money on such utilitarian stuff but for some reason I am super-excited about sealing up our ducts and making our house more efficient.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Rob recently played this, perhaps our favorite Jonathan Coulton song, and I realized that there are a lot of zombies in my entertainment right now.  What is up with that? It must be the zeitgeist.  The zombie zeitgeist.

We like to play games and Rob got several new ones for his birthday in December.  We also had a new baby in December so we didn't break them out and actually play any of them until our trip to California last week but they all turned out to be really fun.  One of them was "Give Me the Brain", a card game where all the players are zombies working at a fast-food restaurant.  You have to complete jobs, some of which you need a brain for and some of which you do not.  We've played this with both sets of our parents now and it is great fun, and I highly recommend it to any other game enthusiasts out there.

And then right now I am reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  How does all this Jane Austen fanfic keep getting published by actual publishers as actual books?  Why isn't it confined to the internet like most other fanfic?  A lot of it isn't even Bridget-Jones-style modern retellings, just straight-up fanfic. It must say something about the cultural importance and commercial appeal of Jane Austen that people publish, buy, and read books telling the original story from Darcy's perspective, scandalously explicit post-wedding sequels, and now the original story infested with zombies.  I'm about a third of the way through it right now and so far am enjoying it quite a bit.  It is a gimmick and a one-joke book, of course, but oh, what a good joke it is...  Seriously, it is literally the original novel (abridged a bit) with scenes of zombies attacking and being fought off inserted in.  I'd estimate that about 75% of the phrases are lifted straight from Austen, with the balance of the book involving zombies attacking during the balls, Elizabeth vanquishing zombies, Mrs. Bennet bemoaning the plague of the undead, etc.  It's a fantastic concept and is funny, funny, funny.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What We Did in California

  • Had a picnic dinner in Oakland right on the bay in a park nestled amidst the docks there
  • Sent Grace on the last Easter egg hunt of the season
  • Spent time with Rob's aunt and uncle, whose visit overlapped ours a bit
  • Tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to explain social networking sites to them
  • Grew hungry and tired too early due to the time difference between Texas and California
  • Celebrated Rob's dad's 70th birthday
  • Got motion-sick every time Rob's dad drove us up the winding road to their house perched on the side of a mountain
  • Drank plenty of wine, it being Sonoma County and all
  • Tried to deduce the source of a crazy rash on Grace's face that got worse every time she slept overnight or took a nap (it's getting much better now that we're home)
  • Left Grace with Rob's parents one evening while we drove down into the little town they live outside of (Violet in tow) for a wonderful dinner at a fancy restaurant
  • Ate lots of animal products, including homemade bratwurst (a tradition for Rob's family, which is very in touch with its German roots) and some delicious escargot and duck at the aforementioned restaurant
  • Also ate at a fantastic vegan, mostly-raw restaurant where I had what may be my new favorite rice: Bhutanese red rice
  • Gave Grace and Violet lots of opportunity for sweet grandparent time

And now we have returned home.  I am SO GLAD that this trip went so much more smoothly than our last one to visit them, with none of the toddler sleep traumas or plane-missing disasters of that memorable trip.  I think that Grace has finally turned the corner on travel difficulty.  From her birth until this trip, every time I traveled with her it was worse than the trip before-- more stressful, more effort, more misery all around.  This time was easier, though, and hopefully it will only continue to get easier.  Now we just have to wait out Violet turning that corner, and then any other children we may birth/adopt...  Hmmmm, travel isn't going to be easy for a long time, is it?

Also now I sit facing the task of getting us re-settled here at home.  So much LAUNDRY, such interminable piles of laundry...  And for some reason I have been overwhelmingly tired since we returned.  Perhaps it is the relief after the stress of travel, or maybe it is that I keep a tenuous balance of being marginally well-rested during my normal life with a baby and the sleep disruptions of travel pushed me off balance.  Whatever the cause, this week will find me trying to do enough household stuff and sleeping to get back to normal life as we bask in the glow of our balmy California week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Grace Asks Me a Question

We have arrived safe and sound in California, not even that much the worse for wear.  While we enjoy time with Rob's family today, I leave you with this cinematic masterpiece based on a conversation I had with Grace a few months ago.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Eggs & Bunnies & Chicks

Easter Crafts

This week Grace's preschool celebrated Easter and she brought home these, um, crafts? pieces of art? What is the best way to refer to such things?  Notice the eye on the chick, which is happily located on the animal's head.  We have a dog who was not lucky and has his googly eyes surrealistically placed on his abdomen.  Also notice the shiny globs of glue everywhere; Grace is very liberal in her application of glue, as well as paint.  Anyway, she had a grand time putting them together and doing an Easter egg hunt.  All the cultural rituals that surround Easter make me contemplate the weird, winding history of holidays-- how a celebration with deep spiritual meaning to the believers among us gets mixed up with ancient pagan traditions (right down to the English word we use) and then contemporary commercialism.  I think about it most with Easter because it seems like the most meaningful celebration in the Christian calendar, and pastel eggs and hopping bunnies seem ludicrously out of place within a reflection on, you know, Jesus' death and resurrection.

I have been pondering my hair lately because I am deep in the throes of postpartum hair loss.  Seriously, I am not sure why I am not yet bald.  Also I have realized there is a LOT more gray in there than I thought.  My mom grayed early and my sister (2.5 years younger than me) also has gray hairs in there so it is my genetic destiny, I suppose.  I remember reading somewhere that brunettes turn gray earlier on average than lighter-haired people because we use up our lifetime supply of pigment faster with our dark, highly-pigmented hair.  Anyway, I am contemplating whether I want to go in for decades of hair color to stay brunette or take a more zen approach.  I could see myself happy with all silver hair and a chic haircut in 15-20 years; I think it would be nice with my general coloring.  But do I want to just live with the wiry silver hairs sticking up from my hair presently?  Not really.  But if I stay brunette for the next 10+ years, I am setting myself up for a very awkward year when I eventually transition to silver.  Such a dilemma!  A first-world dilemma of vanity and self-absorption!  Anyway, I just colored my hair brown to try to finally blend in the lighter bleached bit from when I went pink (and of course, to send the gray ones packing) but eventually I will have to take a stand one way or the other.

Other than contemplating Easter and my hair, I've spent this week getting ready for our big trip to California to visit Rob's parents.  We leave Sunday afternoon and are so looking forward to seeing them, with their grandparently selves and northern California surroundings.  I've been working on all the logistical details of packing up a household, leaving behind a dog, and making sure we have everything we need.  It's motivated me to buy and sew some clothes for my current size (I'll try to work on reviews for Pattern Review when we get back), which is probably a good thing.  My immediate post-partum clothes have outgrown me, but I can only fit into a handful of my pre-Violet clothes.  I'm still going to need to do laundry while we're there, what with all the spit-up that lands on me on a daily basis, but I think I have a more reasonable number of presentable clothes to pack into the suitcase now.  Speaking of which, I should go put more things in that suitcase right now!

Friday, April 3, 2009

How Not To Get Things Done

I feel like I'm lacking discipline in a lot of areas of my life right now and can't quite get things together.  Sure, life with small children is challenging and requires flexibility and all that but I think I may have given in to "flexibility" a bit too much and not maintained discipline about the things that are important to me.  This is my job right now, after all, and not an easy one.  I bemoan the difficulty of keeping on top of everything I need and/or want to.  I went back to the Arboretum with some friends today and managed to pack adequate lunches and put sunscreen on Grace but failed to bring a hat for Violet.  My sweet 3-month-old is sporting a little sun across her nose and cheeks.  Ah, small failures...

Another small failure is that dinner is an unknown, nebulous concept for this evening.  I am normally big on planning meals, shopping efficiently, etc but I have passed the end of my planning into the no-man's-land of "What are we having for dinner?"  I have even passed the breakfast-for-dinner solution as we had pancakes just a few nights ago.  Tomorrow is our produce co-op day and so I didn't want to go grocery shopping until I know what we will have, but the pickings in our cabinet and freezer are pretty slim today.  What can I do with spaghetti squash and pine nuts?  I'm the one doing the shopping for our produce co-op this weekend, which means that tomorrow's early morning hours will find me hanging out with the produce wholesalers at the Dallas Farmers Market.  It's a pretty disappointing farmers market, with practically no local farmers, but the produce co-op has gotten us screaming good deals over the past months on regular grocery-store style fruits and vegetables; that's nothing to complain about too vociferously.  We are bowing out of the co-op this spring, however, because I found a CSA for this coming growing season!  I am really excited about it starting up next month and hope that we like it as much as the one we did in Connecticut.  I have really missed the amazing food.

Grace has spent the better part of this afternoon cycling through some very specific activities.  First, she asks me if she can play with Play-Doh.  I say that yes, she can, after she cleans up her room by putting all her toys in her 2 toy baskets.  She goes in there, half-heartedly puts a few things away, then gets engrossed in the toys and plays with them for a while.  She eventually grows bored and wanders out to find me and ask if she can play with Play-Doh.  Repeat.  I think her room is actually a bigger mess than when we started all this.  It all feels pretty familiar to me, actually, as I can't seem to get anywhere with my responsibilities either.  Either Grace is suffering from the same lack of character as me or she is showing me that I should stop being so task-oriented and just enjoy myself.  One or the other.