Friday, February 29, 2008

Better living through science

I'm not big on medications except for the occasional Aleve or two. I get every horrible side effect that a drug can produce, ones that usually outweigh the original symptom. But, every spring, I'm hit with horrible hay fever for the 30-or-so days that the Live Oaks pollinate. I don't even have to be outside. If I see a live oak with its huge clusters of yellowish pollen I'll immediately start sneezing, itching, tearing up, etc. Anyway. This year is the first time in the last three pollen seasons that I've not been prego or nursing so I decided to take a little Benadryl to help me through the day. Wrong! After three days of taking one measly Benadryl per day I was completely stricken for 24 hours yesterday. It wrecked my stomach, gave me a fever(!), palpitations, dizziness, extreme drowsiness (fun with two kids!) and joint aches and pains. We thought it might be the flu, but I stopped taking the Bendaryl and bam! all side effects gone. However, all the allergy symptoms have come back, so I consulted with my friendly neighborhood pharmacist and now I'm trying some OTC loratidine, aka Claritin. It doesn't work quite as quickly as Benadryl did, but I don't feel like I'm dying either. Yay OTC scientific breakthroughs!

And don't think for a minute I'm exaggerating about the dying. M took one look at me when he got home last night and VOLUNTARILY stepped in to handle bath & bed time for the kiddos. I have to be really bad off for that to happen. I only recall three other times, actually. And two of them were before A was born. So, I was able to sleep for two whole blessed hours and then rallied to catch American Idol and most of Lost. I still can't believe that during what was probably the most interesting, mind-blowing and revealing episode of Lost ever, I managed to fall asleep for the last 7 minutes. Thank goodness for TiVo.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dear Mr. Winter

I love you! I love cold weather (hey, 43 is cold for Florida); I love my cozy sweaters; I love my new parka; I love hearing the radiators hissing away; I love actually needing my flannel pjs; I even love a little wind chill. BUT, do you think you could've waited until the weekend to make an appearance? When we all could have had a nice little sleep-in, then wake up lazily and have hot coffee/cocoa and pancakes in our pajamas?

Instead you choose TODAY, when:
1) I've been up since 3:00 a.m. with a weird little fever and undefined aches & pains - I've imagined I've had everything from meningitis to toxic shock syndrome - AND....
2) I had to get up at 5:00 since M was flying out early AND....
3) That means I have to walk the dog myself, in the cold, and the really strong winds, with poor little A bundled up in his measly assortment of winter gear AND...
4) I had planned to be outside this afternoon, since this month's Daisy meeting is an outdoor activity. Which means, between the cold and wind I am going to have a flare up of my winter exzcema.

Boo. Come back and play on Saturday!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A cookie is a sometime treat...

7:00 Update: I was kinda kidding earlier about the MommyKarma thing, but really I may never leave the house again. I just spent the last hour and a half cleaning up A, his high chair, and the kids' bathroom after the worst case of exploding poo I've ever seen. Why do these things happen at dinnertime? Anyway, I'm down to 3 pb cups and one caramel roll. And M & I don't even want to think about our dinner. I may need a drink instead.

3:30 Update: When I posted this morning I forgot to post WHY I've eaten most of my batches of pb cups and caramel rolls this morning. Basically, last night Sister Debbie took me out for a wonderful, belated birthday dinner. And this morning I had a hair appt. at 10:00. I guess I used up all my MommyKarma by scheduling two nice, relaxing kid-free events within 24 hours of each other because A was up at 3:30 this morning and now D is running a fever and is complaining of aches, pains and a sore throat. Oh, and don't forget the tree. Because I haven't. There are huge chunks of it lying everywhere. So that is why I've had 6 pb cups and almost a whole pan of caramel rolls today - it goes without saying that one of my weight problems is consolation eating.


...but not peanut butter cups or homemade sticky caramel rolls. I made both this past week and both are almost gone. Happy, happy Saturday. On an unhappier note, we had another giant - like 30ft - tree limb come down last night. It's lying (laid? lain?) across our front walk until the tree guys can come chop it off. We're calling ourselves the "Near Misses" since it's the second humongous limb that's come down that's barely missed damaging the house. If our cycle holds true, something horrible will happen to the dog next. (Knock wood.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pass the nutmeg

You know how you have that one recipe that calls for some semi-obscure ingredient that you never remember you already own so you always buy more? Like ground cardamom or marjoram or whatever? Well my ingredient is ground nutmeg and I pretty much only use it in my pumpkin-cream cheese roll that I make for Thanksgiving. I always mean to remember I have some for next year, but of course I always forget so I have about 8 damn bottles of the stuff, all of which I couldn't throw out when we moved so I packed them up right next to the 7-year-old bottle of fennel seeds, the McCormick tin of whole cloves that my beloved grandmother gave me to me when she moved to a retirement community (they must be at least 15 years old, since she's been In Heaven with Jesus for 12 years - but there is no way I can toss them), and the jar of celery seed that isn't even open. Waste not, want not right? So every thing I've made recently has gotten a little dash of nutmeg on the way into the oven, pot, microwave. However, I learned the hard way (is there any other?) that you can't mix it with your kids' cinnamon-sugar and try to pass it off as "spice toast." It also doesn't blend well with the aggressively pre-packaged taste of Eggos, our go-to breakfast on the mornings that we are running behind and need something that can be consumed quickly.

If you have any good recipes calling for scads of ground nutmeg, please send 'em my way. And someone please remind me next Fall that I DO NOT NEED any more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Feelin' groovy

I may be on the wrong path here, but I believe that indoctrinating introducing the children to classic rock n' roll, 80s hits, New Wave and even the occasional foray into folk, blues and clean punk music is much better for them than letting them "discover" rap, hip-hop or (gulp) Hannah Montana all on their own. So that is why my 5 year old can belt out Talking Heads, Squeeze (she looooves Cool for Cats) and Simon & Garfunkel songs. I can't think of any reason why she'd ever watch Hannah Montana, Lizzy McSuckFest or any the other dreck on Nick or Disney. I'm sure as she gets older and starts spending time at her friends' houses she'll encounter such things, but for now, she doesn't even know they exist. It's also why I'm such a fan of hosting playdates at our house. A bit of a mess to clean up is nothing compared to the peace of mind I have knowing what my kids are doing, saying, eating, watching. The more the merrier, actually, since having friends over means less time for me sitting on the floor playing MailBox or Garage or Bunny TeaParty. I'll take any excuse for down time to blog, clean or cook...

which leads me to my latest Naptime Foray into the Kitchen... Easy Peanut Butter Cups from the March issue of Everyday Food. I will have to hide these from myself or I'll end up eating the whole batch. Give them a try if you want an easy sweet treat.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Blast from the past

So maybe this weekend you saw some of the news coverage of Kosovo's historic vote for independence. Maybe you asked yourself why this was so important. Maybe you wondered what all the fuss was about. Maybe you've never heard of Kosovo before. Well, I hadn't heard much either before my bro-in-law was stationed there as part of the international peacekeeping force helping the area after the war. Then in February 2005, M was selected by his law firm to work in Kosovo as part of a joint UN-USAID-NCSC project to help develop and implement Rule of Law for their emerging country, in anticipation of one day declaring their independence. M spent several months there and then, because these things always take longer than expected, and I was tired of being stuck in Florida with a 2 year old and no husband, in the summer of 2005 D & I packed up our suitcases and went to live in Pristina, Kosovo for almost 2 months while M worked with the people at NCSC. It was an absolutely amazing experience, complete with homesickness, language barriers, visits to Albanian pediatricians and lots of Balkan-style exploring. I will never, ever forget living there. We are so happy for all the Kosovars and other internationals that we met, got to know and spent time with while we were there. I hope that things can remain peaceful for them throughout this transition.

Here's a picture of D on one of our first mornings in Pristina looking out of our back door to the fields and mountains behind our apartment building:

And here's another of the street leading away from our neighborhood, Sunny Hill (not-so-Sunny in this pic though):

Here's a picture from the medieval city of Prizren of the road leading to the city Center:

Besides Kosovo, we also visited Greece, Slovenia, Macedonia and Hungary. Here's a link way back to the beginning of my blog, which I started in honor of this journey. (Scroll down the page to get to the first posts, pre-trip.) If you have time, take a look!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Feeling the love

M surprised me for Valentine's Day yesterday by both remembering before I did (rare!) AND bringing home a beautiful present, complete with box of chocolates! He got me a pair of really lovely pajamas - I love them and can't wait until tonight when it will be a tad bit warmer and I can wear them.

Today the kids and I are joining some friends for our Third Annual Trip to the Florida State Fair. It's been a tradition since D was 3 and I'm so glad we can continue for at least one more year with the older kids (A might get a few more chances -- at least til he's in school full time). The fair is awesome, the rides, the 4-H exhibits and my favorite part - Strawberry Shortcakes made with Plant City Strawberries. Everyone thinks Florida is all about oranges, but our delicious winter strawberries are our secret weapon. They are so good they even have their own festival.

Have a great safe weekend! See you on the giant slide!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Clean sweep

Our cleaning lady comes today. Back in my working mom days, we had weekly service because it was a total stress reliever for me to have one less thing to worry about. It was one of the little luxuries that we gave up a while back though. But now with a much bigger home, and especially one that was left in the condition that this one was, M has agreed to let someone come in to help with the hard stuff (like mopping 3000 sq ft of hardwood floors) once a month. However, my house is never so clean as right before the cleaning lady comes. I'm a freak about picking up all the junk, cleaning the kitchen counters, etc. The first time Nadia came (last month) I even went so far as to clean the bathrooms the day before. To M's amusement. This time, I successfully avoided the compulsion to vacuum last night -- or scrub the toilets -- but you can bet the playrooms look neat as a pin.

Sister Debbie is coming over this afternoon to hang out and have dinner with us. It's especially nice because M's been out of town for two days and the lack of adult conversation is beginning to get to me. Anyway, I'm making french onion soup, salmon, roasted asparagus and orzo. Yummmmm. And did I mention the meringue with roasted pears for dessert? I'm attempting the recipe that Jamie Oliver used on his show this past Saturday. Without the chocolate sauce, since I am bitterly doing without gave it up for Lent. And by the way, if you're NOT watching his new show, Jamie's Kitchen, you really should because it is both entertaining and really "doable" for a cooking show. Plus his house and garden? AWESOME. I wish I had that kind of land. Oh wait, I do. I just hate gardening.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

39 days to go

Woke up this morning with a splitting headache, upset stomach, vague feeling of anxiety. Classic withdrawal symptoms. I am now 24 whole hours into my Lenten sacrifice: No Chocolate. I shall be tried and tested. Or maybe just testy, given the little argument I managed to pick with M at 8:30 this morning. Anyway. I had my usual Diet Coke this afternoon and it felt mighty strange not to have a little piece of something sweet to go along with it. Now I'm not expecting a Religious Epiphany, Spiritual Clarity or any kind of Divine Enlightenment. And maybe my "sacrifice" will end up being a little self-serving if I end up losing weight. But I like the idea of a Lenten sacrifice anyway. And I sure don't mind a few weeks of meatless Fridays aka, Breakfast for Dinner.

And there's always Vanilla.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Cuppa joe

I did something yesterday afternoon that I've never done before -- had a cuppa coffee about 4:00 pm. I was desperate. D had the day off from school, I had a JL puppet show in the morning, A only took a 45 minute nap: it all conspired to drive me into the welcoming and loving arms of Caffeine while I was cooking dinner. Result? I was up until 1:00 a.m. watching DVR'd episodes of What Not to Wear. Now I'm paying cause I'm BEAT, but have a really busy day of busy work and busy-ness and busy stuff ahead of me. So I'll probably end up drinking some coffee again this afternoon and isn't that how cycles of addiction start?

In other news, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and I'm trying to figure out how I can get to Mass with A. I'm also contemplating what my Lenten sacrifice should be and if it should be something that impacts the whole family or just an individual thing. I haven't done any food-related sacrifices for a few years now what with pregnancy and nursing and baby-related issues, but this might be a good year for it. In terms of both a meaningful sacrifice AND good for my waistline, which is totally nonexistent at the moment. We'll see.