Blog Archive

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Would, I Swear

Right now I'm watching the finale of The Song Off. Pentatonix just won. I knew they would, but I'm a little disappointed the Dartmouth Aires didn't win instead, since I bet Pentatonix would have gotten a record contract regardless (they really are super talented).

Dave is still home tonight since he's been too sick to go back to work. Poor guy fell ill just before Thanksgiving, spending the hours leading up to the big meal in bed. He lost his voice for two days, and mob mentality had us all whispering along with him during the meal.

He's feeling okay at the moment, so he's working on getting my laptop's operating system to the point that I can use some software for my research. As it is, I have to use the programs on my instrument's computer, which is situated on a lab bench without a knee hole, forcing me to stand in a very uncomfortable way. It is fine for programming my sample runs, but that's about it.

So *if* I had a working laptop, I swear I would update the last post with pictures and would be working on my photobook. Instead, I'm relaxing and typing this on my phone via email.

My upper back and neck hurt quite a lot because I spent too much time using the leaf blower yesterday. Holding a heavy, vibrating machine in one hand for so long seriously took its toll on me! Our front yard had amassed a month's worth of wet leaves so it took about 45 minutes to blow all the leaves from between the plants. Sometimes leaves are okay, but at this point they were just acting as snail habitat. My lacy looking cabbage and bok choi leaves show it. So I'm laying here on the couch with a heating pad on a pillow to ease my tight muscles.

I got my composts (of my BIG experiment) wetted up last week, just before the holiday. Hopefully I'll find some time soon to finish writing and post about my qualifying exam experience...I started it months ago, but other things have taken priority. Of course, I also have a deadline for using my free photobook promo code, so I need to work on that, too. Christmas cards probably won't happen this year, unfortunately. We have no decent family pictures at all from 2011...I might end up just using a picture of Eddie, though.

Dave just told me that our blue gourami fish died so I put the body into a canning jar and some water into another jar. We bought Eddie two fishies this weekend, something we intended to do just before he got sick with hand, foot, and mouth disease, which prevented us from taking him into the store since he was sporting nasty blisters on his touch-everything hands.

Because Amex offered $25 refund on small shop purchases on Saturday, Dave figured getting the fish that day was ideal. Poor little blue fishie never did seem quite right. He didn't swim much and seemed to sink to the bottom most of the time. The brown one, though, seems fine. We still have the receipt so we will take the body and the separate water sample in for a replacement fish (store policy requires each of those).

So tomorrow we will hopefully have another fishie and I'll be trying to convince Eddie to name them something more unique than "the blue one" and "the brown one." It seems like he'd at least choose Thomas and either Annie or Clarabell, you know?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Busy in the Lab

Sorry for being such a blog-slacker lately.

Two weeks ago Eddie got croup again (I heard him wake up at about 1am barking like a seal). I put him into bed with me, hoping to God he'd fall back asleep quickly. He did, but I was worried. He hasn't slept in our bed since we were in France last year and I wasn't sure either of us would get much sleep. It worked fine, except at 6:30am the dogs started walking around on the bed to alert me that it was their breakfast time. Normally I roll over and tell them to lie down and they do. But that stern command apparently wakes adorable toddlers up so we ALL got up.

Eddie only barked a few more times that day, but of course I had to keep him home from daycare for 24 hours. So that put us at Thursday afternoon. And what's the point of taking him to daycare for only a couple of hours? What could I get done in the lab? Not much. And then of course it was a holiday on Friday so I ended up away from the lab for 3 solid days. The first day I was annoyed, but then I fell into my stay-at-home-mom groove.

I already posted about the following weekend (Indian food feast), everyone was happy and healthy.

Fast forward to a little lab work on Monday. Everything was going great, I had my Excel sheet calendar with my HUGE experiment all worked out. The plan was to wet up my composts on Tuesday afternoon. But then I noticed that the diaper rash on Eddie's rump has migrated to his thighs (nothing gross, just red dots that don't seem painful to him at all). And then I see them on his feet. And his hands. UG. They literally popped up on his hands between daycare pick up and bath time.

I realize he must have hand, foot, and mouth disease. Not a big deal, not painful for most, and apparently only contagious BEFORE the rash appears. I put Eddie to bed and figured I'd call Cassie in the morning to ask her opinion (not contagious, but gross looking...could be still come to daycare?). After talking to the advice nurse and Cassie...and then Cassie talking to her OWN advice was decided that while the sores on his hands were blister-like (with a potential to pop and spread ickiness around), he had to stay home.

My friend's daughter had had it a week before, but the babies hadn't had any contact in like a month. But we soon learned that it was spreading around a lot of Davis preschools and daycares. As common as it is in these places (like lice and colds), Cassie had never dealt with it. My understanding is that only 2 other kiddos got it. does a mama entertain a toddler inside the house or outside in the cold air without allowing him to play at the park next to his house? Especially when said mama is on the verge of freaking out because she's got so much work to do in the lab? build a giant fort in the livingroom, you let him watch too many movies on Netflix (new favorite: "mousie," aka Stuart Little), rake leaves in the front yard, give him a shovel and let him scoop nearly all the sand out of his sandbox and distribute it around the yard even though you REALLY REALLY wish he'd just leave it in the freaking box. And then you recruit your wonderful brother (your child's namesake) to come baby sit. It is a God-send that Edward lives in California again and works for himself, from home. And then you deal with text messages like this once you get back to work:

"You'd better be getting a ton of work done. This is exhausting!" I texted back, what's so exhausting? And got this back:

"Fix the choo choos! I hiding! Read dis book! Fix the choo choos! I want a nack!"

The sores on his rump, thighs, and feet cleared up within one day...but of course, the ones on his hands lasted for DAYS. I think they finally disappeared on Saturday.

So we had another healthy weekend. Saturday night we had Justin babysit Eddie (they went to foyo and then did some thrift store shopping, apparently) while we did a double date with Edward and Jennifer. We went to a Russian restaurant in Carmichael and ate soooooooooooo much good food. It was a nice change of pace from our normal Indian, Thai, Japanese, Mexican routine. Afterward we saw the Trans-Siberian Orchestra perform at the Power Balance Pavillion. I don't have the album from which they played most of their songs and I found the first half of the show a little slow, boring, and confusing (they had a narrator but it was hard to hear him so I was confused about the plot of his story). The second half was much more exciting and we ended up having a good time.

When we got home to Justin, he was pretty distraught--not by Eddie or studying for his stats exam, which is what he was supposed to be doing after Eddie went to bed. He'd been following the news reports and Facebook updates about the Chancellor's press conference and the silent protest as she exited her office building on campus that night. Justin is involved in the protests against tuition hikes here on campus and was present at the pepper spraying incident (luckily, not sprayed). I think he was sad and frustrated that he didn't get to be a part of the thing that night and still angry at the Friday events. Poor guy.

I spent Sunday cooking some freezer-safe, make-ahead components of our upcoming gluten/turkey free Thanksgiving meal to accommodate family allergies. So far I made: mashed yams, cranberry relish, gluten free bread and focaccia, red pepper hummus, and butternut squash bisque. Hopefully I can do my last shopping trip tonight at Safeway and finish cooking Thursday morning.

I just spent hours wetting up my composts (each tube has to be done individually and there are 216 of them) right now I'm taking a sit-down break. And I finally remembered to eat some lunch, too.

Back to the lab I go!

(I'll update with some pictures later on.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weekend in Pictures

This was our LAST short weekend with Dave. Woo!

It went by fast and included a lot of cooking (on my part) and playing trains with Eddie.

Here we go...

Saturday Dave worked at the rental house we manage for a few hours in the morning (no pictures) while Eddie and I played trains, went to the store, and prepared some of the many components of our Sunday Feast.

We blenderized the vindaloo garlic pepper paste, caramelized a ton of onions, marinated chicken, etc. Eddie is learning how to CAREFULLY stir food in pans and pots. He understands that it is very hot and seems to understand not to whip things around violently like when he's "pretend" cooking with Legos. That night we had pinwheel steaks. I filled them with kale and sweet potato greens (wilted them in microwave first), Swiss and Parmesan cheeses, purple basil, and sun dried tomatoes. They were super yummy, but took a lot longer to cook than I expected. And what would a day be without long stretches of train-playing with Eddie?Sunday Dave and I worked in the yard while Eddie took a nice, long nap. I removed all the tomatillos and green tomatoes I could find on the vines before ripping out the plants. Meanwhile, Dave strengthened and expanded the shelf in our shed so it can hold more (heavy) stuff, as evidenced below:
That afternoon I finished cooking up our Indian Feast. Eddie helped with the naan, from a safe distance:
I made tons of food, admittedly, but since we love variety, we treated it like a buffet. I doubled most of the recipes so we can have left overs for the freezer and one or two meals during the week. Dave took some food up to Gualala for one of his dinners. Hopefully his dad will have a taste, too.

Our dishes included: peach lassis (with canned peaches in pear juice since mangoes are expensive), butter chicken (made with less butter and mostly half-and-half), veggie vindaloo, raita, naan, and gulab jamun for dessert. I also pulled some pre-made spicy brinjal eggplant and saag paneer (recipe below, from my friend Geetika) from the freezer.

It was all soooooo good. The only thing I need to change is to make real mango lassis next time. Dave didn't care for the only-peach flavor. Since I'm terrible at cutting mangoes, I might look for canned mango or something and cut it with peaches, since they are super cheap.And, of course, we spent a lot of time playing trains on Sunday:
Geetika's Saag Paneer
  • 2 T oil
  • 2 t cumin seeds
  • 2 T coriander powder
  • 1 t turmeric powder
  • 1 t chili flakes
  • 1.5 t chopped garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger root, grated
  • 1 medium/large red onion, chopped
  • 8-9 Roma tomatoes, chopped finely or pureed (or 2 cans tomato puree)

Heat oil in pan over medium high heat. Add cumin seeds and sauté until they begin to split open. Then add coriander powder, turmeric powder, and chili flakes, garlic, ginger and sauté until it barely turns golden. Then add onions and cook until the onions are pinkish brown. Next add the tomato puree. Simmer until all excess liquid is gone; continue to cook so that the paste fries and the tomato flesh eventually releases all its liquid, too. Transfer to containers to freeze if you like, or use as is. Geetika uses this curry sauce for her saag paneer dish (a few tablespoons curry for about 4 cups cooked spinach or other greens like chard, mustard, collard, etc.).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Where Did the Weekend Go?

Only one more "short weekend" until Dave gets back to his regular 4 day work week (3 days home with us)! It can't come soon enough.

Friday I picked Eddie up early from preschool for some "us" time. We had a snack and then watched Toy Story 3 on Netflix. He snuggled with me for nearly an HOUR under a thick blanket...I was in H.E.A.V.E.N. He hasn't stayed still for so long on me since he but a wee nursing newborn. But this was nicer since we got to talk about the movie (he liked Lotso, the creepy magenta bear best and was very concerned when Buzz broke the garbage bag using the dinosaur's tail to escape).

My big man, eating out of Uncle's old "bunny dishes" that we had as kids.

We had split pea soup made in the crock pot that night, along with some skillet cheddar corn bread. Perfect for the cool weather.

On Saturday we puttsed around the house for a while until Dave got up the gumption to set up the stone saw on the patio so he could lay the paving stones in the LAST (promise) part of the soon-to-be outdoor kitchen. He didn't get any work done that day, though, because I had to leave right after we set up the saw so he had to be on daddy duty. Eddie can actually be quite helpful with projects nowadays, but the loud saw scares the bejesus out of him! Plus, it started to rain.

That afternoon/evening I went to my friend Kelly's Shutterfly House Party. She was one of 3000 people across the country chosen to host a party showcasing the all new Custom Photo Books. It was fun--wine, delicious food, fun ladies, and lovely Kelly teaching us how to make amazing books. Plus we each got a free book! I've made several photo books over the years, but usually just opt for a pre-designed one where I just modify the text and pictures. My friend Joanne got married a year ago and I keep meaning to send her a recipe book for a gift. Well, now's the time! I started her book, called Julie's Scratch Cooking, filled with tons of step-by-step pictures and tutorials on canning. I hope she likes it...and that I don't take forever finishing it!

That night we watched Gnomeo and Juliet after Eddie went to bed. It only occurred to us afterward that it was a movie we should have waited to watch with Eddie. Oh well, it was cute enough to watch again. (Side note: Dave is thinking of replacing one of our toilets and I told him I'd like to put it in the yard with a wisteria in the tank. Fun, right?)

Sunday we tackled the to-do list and tried to embrace that fact that Eddie didn't roll his clock back to regular time:
  • shell beans
  • disinfect Eddie books (he had a diarrhea explosion a month ago during nap and we weren't sure which, if any, of the 12 books in his crib got I Lysoled all of them...finally)
  • pack away Halloween decorations (but I hung some of the spider lights in Eddie's room on a timer so he can enjoy them before bed)
  • laundry
  • install paving stones
Dave worked on the paving stones for about 3 hours while I kept Eddie busy and out of his way. Eddie and I went to the grocery store to get some things for dinner, and that activity alone took about an hour. That's crazy when you realize we live only 1/2 mile from the store. But Eddie insisted on walking most of the way to, through, and from the store...even though I had the comfy BOB stroller for him. He had to inspect every yard we passed to see if there were any kitties he could pet. Luckily I wasn't in a hurry.

This is where our outdoor stovetop, sink, and countertops will eventually go:After his nap and Dave was done outside, I got busy cooking a Thai dinner for us. We had pad Thai noodles (with a recipe I am finally happy with and Dave said was better than most restaurants!), tom ka gai soup (realized that "light" coconut milk is not worth it...gotta use the full-fat stuff), Thai iced teas, and green curry made with eggplant and sweet potato leaves from our CSA basket. We wanted to make fried bananas to eat with coconut ice cream, but we were way too full.

Last night I finally got to see a picture of our newest niece/nephew on Zennie's blog! Bernie's having another baby Bower in May. I'm soooooooooo happy for them (well, all of us)! My feeling is that the baby is a boy. It'll be so fun to see what this baby looks like and what they name him or her. Ahhhhhhhhhh, babies! And Bower babies to boot--Bower genes sure do make some adorable babies.

Right now I'm taking a break from standing at the lab bench, weighing out my leaves, stems, and grass for my compost experiment. I'm nervous and happy that I'm FINALLY getting this thing started.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween 2011: Peter Pan!

When talking to Cassie about costume options for Eddie, we decided to have Eddie be Peter Pan and Leila could be Tinker Bell (we knew she wanted to be a fairy of some type). All of us adults jumped on it and decided to take part, too. I was Wendy (wearing one of my mom's frumpy nightgowns), Dave was Captain Hook, and Cassie's boyfriend was John Darling. Cassie intended to dress up as Princess Tiger Lily but she couldn't find any non-slutty costumes. So at the last minute I suggested she be Peter Pan's shadow. So she wore tights, a belt, and a tunic all in black. She had a hat, too, but since Eddie refused to wear his, she skipped hers.

As far as festivities, we started the Halloween celebration by going to Impossible Acres to tour the petting zoo and pumpkin patch with Eddie's daycare. My mom and I were chaperones.
Holy geez, daycare is a lot of work! We had like 11 kids and 5 adults but it was STILL overwhelming and exhausting! Each kid got to choose a pumpkin before eating their mini sack lunches. And of course, Eddie kept choosing rotten/squishy pumpkins. I eventually picked out a normal orange one for him.Saturday evening we attended Cassie's Halloween party. It was a potluck and we contributed several jars of apple cider and some orange olive bread with spinach dip. Edward and Jennifer came to the party, too. I LOVED Edward's costume. He just finished reading the book and apparently drove around to 4 stores looking for all the components to his costume.

The kid party lasted until about 9pm--there was a chicken grain pit (like a sand box but full of corn and other chicken "scratch" things), coloring, lots of food, and a projector showing Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin movie at the end.

We all had a fabulous time at the party. At one point Dave had a sword/light saber battle with a mini Darth Vader, followed by a game of tug-of-war with his sword against 5 kids! The sword broke, so they all moved on to playing "keep away" with Dave's pirate hat. It was adorable watching my man play whole heartedly with so many kiddos. Eddie was getting out of control by the end of the party (waaaaaaaaaaaaaay overtired and coming off all the candy he ate throughout the night) so Dave took him home to bed. My mom and Gayla were there so they hung out with sleeping Eddie while Dave returned for the "adult" party. Edward brought some Chipotle burritos to Cassie's while we waited for Dave to return.

The adult party was super laid back. I think we were all too worn out from the kid party to do much more than eat our burritos and talk. We ended up getting back home at about 11pm.

We don't have a single picture of all of us together since we were too busy at the kid party to gather together. And because Eddie is at the stage where he hates having his picture taken, we didn't get any super good pictures of us (someone is always not looking). Sigh...maybe next year. Some of these are Gayla's pictures, thanks for sharing!Dave took Monday off of work so he could be here for Halloween. Eddie went to daycare as usual and then all of the parents (plus my mom and Edward) met up at 3pm to take the kids trick-or-treating downtown. He seriously ate just about every piece of candy he got immediately. My friend Kelly and her daughter Renee came along with our giant gang. It was a little busier than last year, but i think all the kiddos still had fun.I asked Edward to push Renee's empty stroller so Kelly could go into some of the stores to trick-or-treat with Renee. It was so funny to watch Edward walking along pushing a stroller. Normally when he's pushing one, I'm right next to him so I can't see how "fatherly" he looks.We went home, carved pumpkins, ate dinner, and then waited for the trick-or-treaters. We didn't get many. (More candy for us!) Dave let Eddie color a pumpkin with a permanent marker. When he was done, Dave used the zillions of marks as a "suggestion" of where to carve. It was a very unique looking pumpkin. I was lame and just cut out various shapes (circle, oval, square, diamond, star, etc.). Our pumpkins were pretty lame this year and we didn't take pictures of them.

Edward, my mom, and I took Eddie out to only 5 houses (he didn't need more candy). This time he wore a hand-me-down fireman suit since he didn't want to wear his tights anymore (who can blame him?). Eddie had been upset earlier in the evening and hit me in the face. I asked him MANY times to say sorry, but he wouldn't. The only thing I could think of to threaten him with (since he doesn't get dessert or other luxuries regularly) was not letting him to trick-or-treating. Knowing that I still wanted to take him out that night, I kept telling him that he had to say "sorry Mama, no hitting" before he could go. FINALLY he said it once he saw kids coming to our house and collecting sugary loot. I know I'm a pushover for letting him have SO much time to apologize...I promise I'll be tougher next time. It is hard to discipline when they are small and don't have privileges to take away!

Over all it was a fun Halloween. Next year it'll be fun to see what costume Eddie chooses for himself (I guarantee it won't include tights!) and watch him carve his own pumpkin.