Friday, July 31, 2009

Diaper Days

We are deep in the throes of potty-training. And so far I'm pleased to announce it's going fairly well! Much better than I anticipated given Anders absolute lack of interest as recently as this past weekend. Luckily, while we were running errands on Tuesday, Dagny managed to shame him into at least trying the potty. Despite all of my bribes, entreaties and threats, all it took was some well-placed verbal barbs from his sister and voila! He went!

We've only had two accidents so far, and he even woke me up at 4:13 this morning to go and yes, I managed to muster enough enthusiasm to make a big deal out of that. He won't go on a public toilet yet. But I'm sure we'll work that out by school. Yesterday we went to Target to pick out Big Boy Un*der*wear and I stocked up on Clorox wipes 'cause it's true what they say about boys being a bit messier while they are learning. In the meantime, we're using pull-ups at night and in the car.

I can't tell you how excited I am that my Diaper Days might finally be behind me. So I get a little angst-y when I think "just one more... should we have just one more?" But at almost 43 I just don't think it would be wise.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What's cooking

Today: Baked chicken meatballs with peperonata; baguette; chopped green salad. For dessert: salted caramel ice cream.

I was going to experiment and make my own creme fraiche but got nervous about the 8-10 hr. 72-degree incubation time. Even with the a/c going full time we can barely keep it at 78 here.

The kids are playing "zoo." There are 23000 stuffed animals in various exhibits all over the house - an aquarium, an aviary, Africa, and the nursery featuring a white tiger and baby leopard. Thank goodness for beanie babies.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

27 days

School starts in 27 days. And not a moment too soon. You know you -- and the kids -- are ready when you find yourself in a pointless argument with your 7 year old about whether or not you'll help her take the carrying strap off a toy. For the record, I was stubbornly refusing to help her because I end up taking the thing on and off 23000 times per day. She was whining at me to "puhleeeez helpppp meeeee" on the grounds that she can't play at all and was getting mad because I wouldn't help. I'm not stubborn by nature, but I can dig my heels in when I have to.

I'd say this marks the turning point of the summer where "childlike" turns into "childish."

The other turning point is when it's officially too hot outside to BBQ and you'd rather crank down the a/c and just use the oven.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I rarely link to other blogs. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I follow about 50 on a more-or-less daily basis? Because I'm too lazy to figure out Blogroll? I don't know. Once in a while though someone's blog strikes me as so passionate, committed, well-written, funny or just darn-right useful I HAVE to link. It would be criminal not to. So I bring you, my faithful readers, all 10 of you:

Ellie of Vintage Victuals

I hope you have a couple of spare hours days to browse her archives. And some Kleenex to wipe up your drool. Because her food? Her writing? Her photos? A-MAZING.

I can't wait to make the Cheez-it Chicken. I think even my kids would eat it.

Sew what

So (sew) I begged and begged for a sewing machine last Christmas and Santa obliged. And there it has sat, lonely in its box, ever since. I desperately want to learn to use it. People with large, oddly oval dining room tables NEED to know how to sew. I will never, ever find ready-made tablecloths that fit my table. And I've been hankering to make some bright, cheerful, peppy table linens for a while now. Sew (so) what's a girl to do? Enter:


Perfecto! What great fabrics! What great space! What a great idea! My flighty neighbor J and I are going to take a sewing class, if I can pin her down to a time. If not, in One Month, if the potty-training muse smiles on us, Big Boy Anders will be in preschool three mornings a week and I'm going to learn to sew on my own. 'Cause it's time to Step Up My Game.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Style me

My style personality is: Eastern Boho! Who knew!?

Take the quiz.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Lizard Law

The Lizard Law: If Mr. J is out of town one of these buggers will get in:

It never, ever, ever, ever EVER fails. So I should have predicted that, since Mr. J was out of town yesterday, that there would be one sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for me when I came down for coffee.

Sometimes they're big ones, sometimes they're baby ones. I don't know how or why they get in. But they seem to know I'm all alone here and they take advantage of my horrible, terrible, debilitating lizard phobia. Then I'm faced with chasing the thing all over the house, screaming like a maniac, spraying in with Raid (the new Natural version, which smells like clove cigarettes to me) or trying to smash it with a shoe. Or worse, staying up all night staring at walls waiting for them to jump on me or make a run across the living room. One got into Anders' room when Mr. J was in Michigan for 3 days. I spent almost the entire time trying to track it down, terrified every time I had to change a diaper. Another time Mr. J was out of town but his parents were visiting and one got into my bedroom. I promised them a steak dinner if they could get rid of it. They were up there for about 2 hours trying to scootch in out the door, but in the end gave up. I slept with one eye open waiting for it all night and then when Mr. J got home he managed to corner it in the laundry hamper -- it had been waiting for me there so that it could scare me to death when I did the laundry.

It's useless to remind me that I've lived in Florida and/or the tropics all my life. I'm sure growing up in Jamaica was were this fear started -- all the women in my family are pretty lizard-phobic too. It seems to me that people who grew up in a lovely, lizard-free Northern states are never afraid of them. I know people in Pittsburgh who think they are cute.

Next week I'll discuss my Fear of Frogs.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer reading short list

This is the first summer I can remember that I don't have an official Summer Reading list. I was so focused on picking really good books for the kids, I forgot about myself.

Luckily, I happened to find a few MARVELOUS books at the library without having to put in requests:

Atlas of Unknowns, Tania James*

Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman**

Gentlemen of the Road, Michael Chabon***

The Bridegroom, Ha Jin****

As for the fall, I'm looking forward to September 29 when Audrey Niffenegger's new book, "Her Fearful Symmetry," is due out. I love her writing, so I might pre-order this one from Amazon so I don't have to wait for it at the library.

*Have I ever mentioned how much I love books set in India? LOVE.

** Speaking of love, I LOVE Neil Gaiman. His writing makes me tingly. Who else can combine fantasy and horror so very well? His collections are as good as his novels. And the ending to Stardust makes me cry and wish the book would never end.

*** Speaking of wishing for more, let's talk about Michael Chabon. I've read and LOVED everything he's ever written. This book is no exception. There is no one writing today who has a better sense of pacing. And Summerland? One of the best young adult books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Its like a kid's version of The Talisman (Stephen King & Peter Straub), which was one of my favorite summer reading books from several years (decades?) ago.

**** I have an on-again/off-again relationship with Ha Jin. I liked Waiting, but haven't been as wowed by some of his other stuff.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Save a tree

A while back I posted about this crazy children's catalogue featuring $14,000 baby beds and $500 crib sheet sets. Yes, $500 for crib sheets -- one set, not a lifetime supply. Can you imagine? Anders destroyed at least 3 sheet sets a month. He was a poop machine.

Today I called the nice people over at Chasing Fireflies to ask them to take me off their list too (for all I know it's the same company). I'm in no mood to shop for $100 Halloween costumes and $54 monogrammed kids tee shirts. Not to mention the $48 personalized tooth fairy pillow. My tone of voice probably said it all; they didn't even ask me why. On a positive note, the fact that they're still in business at all is a sign that maybe the economy is on the rebound.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Et tu, Target?

As I predicted a few weeks ago, my fave local Target ALREADY has their Back-to-School stuff up. Really. I know some parts of the country go back in early August, but here? We're not starting until August 24. Over a month away. Unless you're planning elective surgery or a prolonged vacation, there is NO REASON to be buying school supplies in mid-July. Even a school supplies geek like me, who loves picking out new pens and pencils and Trapper Keepers and lunch boxes and folders and could spend hours looking at spiral notebooks, thinks it's way too soon. Sure I've already got the kids supply lists compiled and ready to go, but I don't think you should actually buy anything until at least August 1. It just feeds into the retail merchandising ethic that brings you Christmas displays* in Walgreens starting in mid-October. Or Valentines stuff on December 27. I'm sure if you took a peek into a Target supply room you'd find boxes of Halloween stuff waiting to be put out the day school starts.

It makes me feel kind of grinchy. And also anxious that if I don't buy the kids' school stuff rightthisverysecond all the good stuff, cool colors, neat-o things are going to be snatched up and picked over and my kids will go back with lame no-brand crayons and the ugly spiral notebooks no one else wanted either. But this year, I Will Be Strong. I will not go back to Target until August 3 (I don't shop on the weekends). I will have Faith that there'll be cool stuff left to buy in August. I will Remember that since the majority of their lists is glue sticks and hand sanitizer I am not going to Worry about notebooks and pencil cases. I know I say this every year, but this year I Mean It.

*I'm not saying that if you found the perfect Christmas gift for someone in July that you shouldn't buy it, even if it is at Walgreens. No sir/madam. I'm all about advance planning. I'm just saying that I don't want my halls decked yet.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Birthday party recap

The party was a blast! The girls all played very nicely (mostly) and I had the perfect amount of activities planned -- mostly involving dancing and limbo and games to keep everyone moving. Dagny got some wonderful gifts, including an INSANE amount of gift card moola. But being her father's daughter, she has already said she wants to "see what's out there" before she decides to purchase anything. She's also already asked how long she has before she has to use them. Not like me -- they'd be gone already.

I did, however, wake up at 5:00 a.m. this morning with the worst migraine I've had in about five years. It was awful. I went downstairs to lie in the dark cool living room and alternated between there and the bathroom until Anders woke up. Then I had to wake up dear sweet hubby to help out while I lay in bed. It was gone by about 1, but I still feel that sore, icky headachy feeling. I attribute this one to WAAAAAY TOOO MUCH chocolate cake yesterday. It was practically all I ate and I had about 2 pieces whilst cleaning up. So fudgy, rich, creamy yummy... but I've not had chocolate much at all lately and apparently it did me in. Ouch.

Better now though and Mr. J is on his way home with yummy takeout from the burger joint across the street.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Moot point

All that worrying about frostings and fillings and cake decorating? All that time spent reading every buttercream recipe on Epicurious, tastespotting, et al? MOOT!

The dang cake ripped in half as I removed it from the pan. I cried a little bit.

Then, having neither the time nor mental fortitude to attempt another cake, I rushed to Publix to order this:

Chocolate with chocolate pudding filling (just like Mom was going to make!)

Cross another thing off the to-do list.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Back to our regular schedule

We've been back on our regular bedtime sleep schedule here and I couldn't be HAPPIER. Both kids are so much more relaxed, easy-going, less argumentative. Anders slept until 7:30 this morning!! Which means I could sleep until 7 AND get about 1/2 a cup of coffee in me before he got up.

And the bonus? Spending time with Mr. J during those wonderful early evening hours.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

7 years ago

Seven years ago at right this minute I finally delivered our beautiful baby girl after 3 hours of pushing, hallucinations, and a near-miss C-section.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Birthday countdown freakout

We're in the throes of getting ready for the big party this weekend. I don't know who's more excited... the birthday girl or me.
We've purchased favors, craft supplies and the food. Drinks will be done on Friday - I'm still debating whether handing bottles of Izze to a bunch of 7-year-old girls is a good idea. Maybe I'll stick to juice pouches and water (but fancy water of course). Tomorrow is her actual birthday so we're having a family dinner and opening family presents, but that's just her usual menu of steak, mac n' cheese, corn on the cob and fruit (and some green salad for Mr. J and I). I've no idea how she's going to eat anything since she's missing about 3 teeth right now with another 2 or 3 loose.

So that leaves me with freakingout about the cake. Since D wants a chocolate cake, I'm making the classic Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" cake. I'm either doing a chocolate mousse filling (if time and Anders permits) or a simple raspberry filling. But the frosting.... I can't decide if I should go for gold and make a yummy swiss meringue buttercream or a delicious, but much lower-key regular uncooked buttercream (you know... butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, a little milk). I doubt the girls will care much one way or the other, but I do. There are so many factors: time is the primary one, but I worry about heat too since a meringue buttercream tends to have a real hard time coming together when it's warm and goodness knows it's warm in Florida in July and then the frosted cake will have to sit in the fridge overnight 'cause there's no way I'm attempting to make buttercream Saturday morning with everything else going on. And I'm decorating with shredded coconut and jellybeans and will that look fancy enough or should I find some mini palm trees or hula dancers or flip-flop candles and ohmygosh I forgot about the dog, who's going to watch the dog, she can't be running around the house eating scraps and she'll tear our bedroom apart if I lock her up there and she's going to bark constantly and what will Mr. J and Anders do all afternoon since they didn't want to be around for the party thank goodness my sister is coming although she hasn't really confirmed that and I still have to ask Kari if she'll take pictures and I still haven't got RSVPs from about half the invitees this is kind of stressful but I'm looking forward to it anyway.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, July 06, 2009


At the beginning of the summer I thought I'd experiment a bit with the kids bedtimes and let Anders stay up to 7 and Dags until 8.

After a full month of the experiment I can tell you it is a resounding FAIL. They are up at the crack of dawn and are cranky, belligerent, argumentative and fight almost constantly from 4:00 - bedtime. It is horrible and I blame myself for messing with the almost foolproof sleep schedule that I have adhered to religiously since Dagny was 2 and my BFF, Lisa, told me that her secret to happy kids was sleep, early bedtimes and lots of sleep.

So tonight I'm going back to their originally scheduled bedtimes, although I may allow Dags to read in bed for a bit before lights out, and see how it works.

Bring on the blackout shades.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

God Bless America!

Have you ever read the Declaration of Independence? Do you think our current government is being true to the principles and ideals that our founding fathers laid out for us? God Bless and Protect America.

I'm including the complete text of the Declaration of Independence from this site.

And I'd like to send a special Fourth of July shout out to Uncle Mike (aka the Colonel) and all the other men and women who proudly serve America.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
July 4, 1776

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Friday, July 03, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

Mr. J has the day off today so we've got a babysitter coming so we can enjoy a rare lunch date sans kiddos. Hurray! What a nice way to start the holiday weekend.

Next week we begin the big Countdown to Dagny's 7th Birthday Party Luau Bash (C.D.S.B.P.L.B.). She's never had a kids party before so she is just a little excited. Like "Starry Night" is a little bit of a masterpiece. I bought a bunch of cute stuff from Oriental Trading, which has a huge section of their site dedicated to nothin' but Luaus. Also, they must be hurting for business because I got everything for 25% off plus free shipping.

This will be the first non-family party we've had at the house and I'm a bit excited about that myself. She's also the first girl in her class to have a birthday party at home instead of Chuck E. Cheese or one of the other popular venues. So the pressure is on to make the D.S.B.P.L.B. fun (limbo, Twister contest, freeze dance) .... but also because I've got that thing about kids entertaining themselves, I'm going to have lots of free time for the girls to just run around, play, dance, whatever. I hope I'm not expecting too much. To alleviate the need to feed, we're having an afternoon party and I'm putting out punch, fruit, veggies, pigs-in-a-blanket (actually Sister Schubert's Sausage Wraps) and the kids can feed themselves like at a real grownup cocktail party.

And the cake? Darnright it's homemade.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

More rain

Raining again today. Whatever. I'm in a BAD MOOD.

Some joker was setting off fireworks last night in the rain. I can't stand hearing fireworks before it's officially time to set them off, i.e., Independence Day night or worse 10:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve. Can't you make it to midnight? Sheesh.

48 hours of almost constant rainfall and I've got the worst cabin fever. I'd even brave a trip to Wal-Mart just to get out of the house. And if you think it's bad for the humans... think of the poor dog who hasn't had a real walk since Tuesday. Plus she is terrified of storms so she's spent her days pacing up and down, up and down, and then pants at your feet from anxiety. Sleepless her, sleepless me. Anders is up every 30 minutes, nervous that there might be lightning. "What's that flashy stuff?", he asks us over and over and over again.

S'mores for breakfast and now the kids are watching Horton Hears a Who. And I don't care a bit.

I'll try to find a more positive frame of mind tomorrow. Mr. J has the day off (woohoo) and we're going to have a lunch date.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Park... not

I guess we're not playing outside today. AGAIN.

Polyvore... not

I almost got sucked into wasting time online using Polyvore. Then I realized all my "dream" sets would be cleaning products, cooking gadgets and pictures of food.

I'll go play Farm Town instead.