January 29, 2009

At what point in man's evolution did he start wiping his butt?

The mind boggles, no?

I love it when folks ask me about the status of Arun's "potty-training". When I "confess" he shows no interest in the whole thing, there is an awkward silence before I quickly jump in and honestly state, "But I don't care. He'll do it when he is ready and that's it. I refuse to fight that battle."

A wise old guru once told me, "Grasshopper, you cannot make a kid eat, sleep or poop." True that, yo. I do not try to force Arun to eat certain foods, but rather, I just make sure that all of his options are healthy ones, he gets to choose from there. I do not try to force Arun to sleep at specific times, but rather, I try to set up conditions that will help him get to sleep at a decent time (unfortunately, we are still having serious "decent bedtime" issues as we navigate the whole To Nap? or Not To Nap? question we have going on.) And "potty-training"? I have provided an ample supply of underwear themed with Diego, Pixar and rockets - none of which has enticed Arun in the least. Eh. Whatever. When he is ready, he will be ready. And at this point, it appears his sister may be ready in a few months, so I must confess that in strict accordance with my Lazy, 2nd Rate Standard of Parenting that I am intent on honing into a fine art, I am fervently hoping that both kids simply go for it at the same time. Two birds with one stone, indeed. Besides, Arun's teacher said that winter-time "potty-training" is more difficult because there are so many more layers of clothes involved than with springtime.

Oh and in other news, I have raised the bar on my level of Lazy and I actually put plastic in the dishwasher this morning. Folks, I am living on the edge here.

Over and out, good buddy.

January 27, 2009

Are you game?

First, some housekeeping - I have updated my sidebar and have finally updated my long-neglected Blogroll.

So. I have written previously about my endless love for boardgames - I even have an entire closet devoted to my collection. So, while Candyland is perhaps, the most boring game ever created in the history of games, I still cannot help but get a little misty-eyed at the fact that I am playing boardgames with my kid. Some of my happiest family memories from when my parents were married are those of us playing games together.


I do not let Arun win. Ever. Fortunately, the kid is one little lucky twerp because he nearly always wins Candyland on his own. His luck is equally sickening with Memory. And furthermore, we play by the rules*. X thought I was being too strict by making Arun only go the allotted spaces per the card he drew on Candyland and only letting his turn over two cards at a time on Memory, but what is the fun in playing if you cheat or bend the rules?

I not only want my kids to learn that winning is, indeed, fun but also in the end, simply playing is the very best part of it all. This is precisely why I can lose game after game after game of Wii Tennis to X and still keep coming back for more virtual punishment.

* Or some fascimile of rules. Ahem. For example, when playing Monopoly**, I will most certainly teach my kids that you do get the pile of money in the center of the board when you land on Free Parking. I merely choose to believe that Parker Bros meant for it to be an actual rule and merely forgot to put it in the instructions. Ahem.

** Speaking of Monopoly, have you seen the "electronic banking" version that includes some sort of ATM/computer thingie instead of paper money? What fun would that be? Bah. Playing with paper money while obsessively stacking and counting it was half the fun of Monopoly. Right?

January 26, 2009

Your place or mine?

I...... I ......I don't know where the hell I have been. Right here. Reading...... Commenting....... But not writing much of my own thoughts down. I have had loads of them lately, but I just have not been inspired enough to cobble anything meaningful out of them. Reason #23892 why I could never be a writer. If I am not in the mood to write, I find it difficult to force my hand at it. Literally.

Last week was fairly emotional for me, as it was for much of the nation. For the first time ever, I cleared my calendar to watch a Presidential Inauguration. I am looking forward to the next 4 years. I think Obama can do it and yes, he has a lot on his plate, but he does strike me as earnest - a quality I have not previously utilized in describing our Presidents. I am anticipating his reaction to what is most likely going to be some Seriously Bad News coming out of the market today.

Okay, on to the usual triflings I spew here.

1. Two of our neighbors have put their houses on the market. Every time a new neighbor comes in, I cannot help but indulge a bit of wishful thinking. The dream that my New BFF will scoot her equally fat ass into one of those houses with her own precious progeny who magically happen to be the same ages as my own children. That she will share my unabashed love for all the HBO Series, Antiques Roadshow, HIMYM, Ugly Betty, The Office, 30 Rock, Old Christine and Househunters International. I envision scenes of us sneaking to each other's houses in the afternoons with bottles of cheap wine and boxes of Choxie tucked under our arms at 3:55, just in time for Oprah. Our children will also be BFFs and will play quietly with each other, gladly sharing theirs toys all the while saying "please" and "thankyou" as my New BFF and I drink the afternoon away. Bah. Do not judge me. I said I was dreaming.

2. Sort of related to #1 - I really, really miss spontaneity in my life. In college, my friends and I used to pick up the phone and say "Wanna come over?" and that was it. We would just get together. To get with any of my friends now requires careful coordination of schedules. I believe even some planets and moons must be aligned just so, but I have not been able to prove that theory just yet. Anyway, I miss getting together with friends haphazardly.

3. I have made no secret about the fact that I am mighty particular when it comes to dishes and the dishwasher. But please - am I the only one in America who is loathe to put plastic items in the dishwasher? I rarely put plastic in the dishwasher and therefore, handwash most of the kids' dishes. Besides all of the practical considerations of plastic melting in the hot water, I am always a little wary of the chemicals leaching, in particular after all that has been found the past few years with some of the plastics coming out of the China.

January 15, 2009

Are there time limits on the fortune you get inside your cookie?

First up, a random rant for you: I loathe videos on the Internet - I feel trapped within that specific period of time. I would rather read an article and glean what I want rather than be force fed. As such, I rarely ever click on video links. The worst for me is going out to a news site and clicking an interesting headline only to find out it is a frockin' video. If I wanted to watch videos on CNN or any of the other jillion newsites I visit daily, I would just turn on the damned TV. I use my computer for reading, not watching.

Anyway......awhile back I read an inspiring post titled The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Working Out. Joe the Peacock begins his article by pointing out that the guide could be boiled down to 5 simple bullets:
  • You will not work out regularly and eat right until you care enough about yourself to take care of yourself. There are no shortcuts.
  • To lose fat, you must burn more calories than you consume every single day.
  • Although cardiovascular exercise (running, jogging, walking, skipping, the StairMaster, and others) are great ways to burn calories one day at a time, building muscle is the only way to raise your metabolism permanently. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn 24/7.
  • To build muscle, you must destroy and then rebuild muscle.
  • Working out is not just for muscleheads and jocks. It's a special, devoted block of time each day for you to focus solely on yourself. You are worth it.
Oh sure, the article can be done in 5 bullet points, but I recommend reading the whole thing. The part that really got me was this:
Overall, the program I advocate is a combination of strength training and cardio training, at least five days a week.

Yes, five days a week. It sounds like a lot... But this is not about making an effort to change your life, then accidentally letting a 2 day break become a 3 day break, which becomes a 7 day break, which becomes "Ok, I'll start over next week..."

You need to change your life. Remeber, you WANT this. So... Five days a week. One day breaks AT MOST. Try to never, ever go more than two days without a workout. Even if that workout is a quick jog somewhere, or fifteen minutes of pushups and squats... Do something every single day.

Overall, I found the whole thing to be very informative and inspirational. And I have came upon my new goal - it is quite simple: "Do something at least 5 times a week." I have no excuses to not do Something - I have weights, I know how to do a multitude of floor exercises, I have exercise DVDs, X has a bike in the basement. All this in addition to the fact we have a membership to a lovely gym with an awesome nursery that the kids actually request to play in. So, even on days where we are running around, there is still no reason why I cannot take 20 minutes or so to do Something, right? Right! And when the the weather gets nice, there is absolutely no reason why I cannot at least take a 20-30 minute walk. Right? Right. So that is it.

For the past two months, I have been inconsistently active and going to the gym. For the past three weeks or so, I have been consistently active and going to the gym. I have felt better in the last few weeks, than I have felt in a long, long time. Coincidence? Duh.

What is your inspiration or advice for getting active and exercising??

January 13, 2009

When does it stop being partly cloudy and start being partly sunny?

A few housekeeping notes:

  • Commenting Policy - I am trying really hard to reply to comments more consistently. However, if I don't have an email address with the comment, I will not be able to reply personally. Also, I sometimes check comments via my phone, which makes it more difficult for me to reply in a timely manner.
  • TastyKakes - I did forget to mention that I actually liked the Peppermint KandyKakes.
  • Facebook - If you add me as a friend on Facebook and are a reader, can you please note that in the request? I am getting friend requests from folks I don't recognize and that would help me immensely in knowing how you found me.

And now. My baby girl? Is no longer a baby. Whoa. Miss Thang turned 18 months old last week! My baby wants to walk everywhere now. She wants to dress and feed herself, dammit. And she doesn't want to wear that shirt, she would rather wear this shirt. She informs me when she has a dirty diaper and yes, she needs cream on that butt, thankyouverymuch. While you are at it, Her Royal Highness would like you to put some lotion on her, too. Now, she would like some chocolate milk. No. Wait. She has changed her mind. How about some banana yogurt instead? Yes, she needs to watch Diego. Not Blue, not Jack and not Dora. Preferably, NOW. And when you are in the car, she informs that snakes and dragons are chasing you. Go faster, please. Hey, wait a second. Is that McDonald's? In that case, she would like some ice cream, instead. Please? PLEASE. And when she is tired, she needs her puppy or her monkey or Curious George doll, you damned fool. Good grief, woman, are you not listening to her?

The other day, I made a list of all the words she knows and I finally gave up and stopped at 106 words even though I was not done. She is speaking 2 - 3 word sentences. She knows exactly what she wants, how she wants it and when. She is a such little firecracker. I hope she never loses that spirit and mostly, I hope she never, ever stops demanding what she wants.

Chair Snap - 18 months

Still Rockin' Those Blue Eyes
I am going to make a bet they still change color. Maybe not to a brown, but to a green, perhaps? My mom has green eyes, which is where Arun gets his weird tint.

A Match Made in Heaven
Anju is really into feeding things - people, dolls, stuffed animals and yes, the cats. Pearson was more than willing to partake. I don't know who was more excited about the situation. Anjali getting a willing participant or Pearson getting his beloved ice cream.

January 12, 2009

How did the Twinkie get pregnant?

If you do not know the answer, boy oh boy, have you been missing out. Although, truth be known, I was really more of a Ho Ho kinda gal -- Ding Dings just never quite hit my sweet spot. But a Twinkie? A little piece of hydrogenated sponged heaven.

Where am I going with this?


At the risk of alienating an entire geographic region from this wee site, I must confess that I am not a big fan of TastyKakes. I have tried. Oh my, how I have tried. Furthermore, Mojavi may ban me from her social circle now. But really - TastyKakes? The cakes are a bit dry and the creams are too sweet and not very flavorful. Little Debbie? For reals, that little harpie knows how to do cream fillings. And nothing matches Hostess in terms of moist cakes.

So, in conclusion, I do not like TastyKakes. I give up. I hope Hostess and Little Debbie will allow my wandering eye back into their good graces.

There. I said it.

January 9, 2009

Since KFC stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken, why the heck do they play Sweet Home Alabama in the commercials?

Last year, I set up a blog for my sister - she is a runner and goes by the online moniker of Marathon Mom (she has run a half-marathon and has a goal of running an entire one someday.) I thought she might enjoy having a space of her own to share her thoughts, maybe some of her poetry. I think she has enjoyed her little site and I am glad I set it up for her.

Today, it is her birthday. She is coming over for lunch, our grandma is coming, too and I will be serving some ziti (Average Jane's baked ziti recipe ROCKS.) I think it will be a nice day.

I remember the day she was born. I was at my grandma's house when we got the call that I had a new little sister (remember those days when you had to wait until the actual birth to find out if it was a boy or a girl??) I was so excited and enamored of her in the beginning. Sadly, over the years, I did not appreciate her and treated her like a little pest. Fortunately, my sister is the bigger person and has forgiven me for not being such a great sibling while we were growing up.

Now? She is one of my greatest inspirations. She is such a loving, caring mother, friend and wife, it is hard not to be inspired by her. She never stops growing, learning and striving to become a better person.

So today, I am just asking that you folks hop over to her place and wish her a happy birthday. At this point, it seems that this year is going to present her and her little family with some new challenges. It is nothing bad, just a new situation for them that will need to be navigated. It would be nice for her to start off her 33rd year with some good wishes.

January 6, 2009

Are you happy? Why not? What hell is happiness anyway?

Being happy doesn't mean everything is perfect. It means you have decided to look beyond the imperfections. --Unknown

The Journal of Joe Peacock had a recent post that made me think....and think....and think. I thought it was inspiring enough that I wanted to share it here and encourage everyone to read it. (Hat tip to Average Jane for the link - this is not a site I read. Also, hat tip for Google Reader and the ability to share items.)

The post features a really goofy picture of a really goofy looking guy who took his cat to a professional photographer with him. But? The goofy guy just really looks freakin' happy. And Joe Peacock writes a nice post about it:

I hope that among the horrible crap that 2008 (and other years) has brought you that you can find at least one thing in your life that you can just grab and hold and smile about every time you think of it. I hope that you find joy in moments, if not in life as a whole. And if you aren't there - if everything's miserable and you can't find small victories each day, please do try to find one. Maybe your cat. Maybe pick up a pencil and doodle something that will make you giggle. Maybe write a blog entry on the net about the silliest thing you've ever seen.

Maybe this picture of Walter and his cat.

Who knows. I just hope you find joy where you can. And when you find it, I hope you hold on to it. Cherish it in your heart and keep it deep within you, like a coal which warms you from deep within. Never let that ember burn out. Always stoke it and give it plenty of air to breathe. Hold on to your joy. Never let it go, because there are plenty of forces in this world which would be glad to take it from you.

Definitely read the entire post, I thought it was worth the time.

At the same time reading that post, I was receiving an email from Goofy Girl with an incredibly thoughtful quote from Stephan Hoeller:

A pearl is a beautiful thing that is produced by an injured life. It is the tear [that results] from the injury of the oyster. The treasure of our being in this world is also produced by an injured life. If we had not been wounded, if we had not been injured, then we will not produce the pearl.
I spent much of 2008 being unhappy for some reason or another. Some of which was out of control, some of which was very much in my control.

I am not one for New Year's Resolutions, but I am totally up for Life Resolutions. I am going to try harder to get off of my lazy butt and to quit complaining. That is all.

I suspect it will be enough.

Aren't library fines really just non-taxable charitable donations?

That's my story and I am sticking to it. I have become a horrible borrower lately. In a quest to become more financially responsible, I started using the library. The results? Not even close to the realm of "saving" or "penny-pinching". Yikes.

Anyway, awhile back I read something where a popular blogger totally dissed the whole "posting a recipe thing". I thought was quite snobbish of her to say in a such a public forum, as if her content is so much better and higher quality. Furthermore, I thought it was sad. Some of my very favorite recipes that get frequent rotation in our kitchen came from the lowly blog.

Recently, Monkey posted a scrumptious Balsamic Chicken Squash bake thingie. I made a few changes (am I the only one who cannot resist making some sort of change to virtually every recipe I touch?) Anyway, it was a White People Food recipe that she got from MLE. Monkey sprinkled some of her Desi Magic on it and Bam! We are hooked. The best part is that I add the hot sauce to individual servings to make it kid-friendly (Arun has turned 3, which means his taste buds are so boring now. But Anjali? Totally eats this stuff up.)

I made this dish for Christmas but deleted the chicken so that it was more of a side dish. Let me tell you, everyone raved about it and wanted a copy of the recipe. It will definitely be a part of our future Christmas Menus - and I will add it to the Thanksgiving menu as well. And yes, I did re-type the recipe because I am a Type-A Anal-Retentive Bitch when it comes to recipes. Monkey was kind enough to acknowledge that I am, indeed, a Type A Anal-Retentive Bitch and was not bothered in the least by my re-typing her recipe. Besides, I needed to re-type it so that I could store it in my PDA (yes, you read that correctly - I store recipes in my PDA. Then, they are always available when I am at the grocery store shopping for ingredients. Snap!)

This recipe is gold, Jerry! GOLD.

Monkey's Chicken, Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Bake Thingie

2 cups chopped butternut squash (approx. 1/2 inch cubes)
2 cups sweet potatos (approx. 1 inch cubes)
1 whole chicken breast, cubed (approx 1 lb or so)
1 medium onion. Finely chopped.
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 - 1 cup Italian cheese mix, shredded
1 tbsp Thyme. (Monkey also thinks you could substitute other White People Herbs (WPH) such as rosemary, sage, savoury, basil or tarragon for this. I agree! I just haven't tried it yet.)
1 tsp kosher salt
regular Salt/Pepper (to taste? I suck with measurements of pepper or salt. I sprinkle and grind until it tastes good)
Sriracha sauce (Monkey also uses Togarashi or that even spicier Rooster Sauce.)
Oil (Canola, Corn or Olive) and Butter

1. Heat oven to 375. Dump butternut squash and sweet potatoe cubes in glass baking dish, sprinkle with the kosher salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of oil. Let them bake while you get busy on the stovetop.

2. Heat oil on a non-stick skillet on range over medium or medium high heat.When oil is heated, add onion, let saute for a minute or two. Add garlic. Saute, making sure that it doesn’t burn but always stays a light brown. Decrease heat if it’s cooking too quickly.

3. When onion and garlic look lightly browned, add chicken and sautee further. Season lightly with a bit of salt and pepper (or you can save that step for when you dump it in with the butternut squash) and dump your thyme or WPH of choice in. Adjust heat as necessary to keep the onion/garlic from burning but allowing the chicken to cook. Medium should be okay-the chicken will release its juices and thus keep the onion/garlic from burning (they’ll soften further in the juices released instead).

4. Cook chicken through. I like to chop it up with the spatula as a I cook, but that is because I hate hunks of chicken - feel free to leave "as is" if you prefer bigger chunks. Open oven and toss the onion, garlic and chicken in the dish with the butternut squash. Sprinkle with a bit of balsamic vinegar (1-2 tbsp). Don’t put too much of the balsamic vinegar in right now. If you want it to cook more quickly, increase the heat too 400. Keep a close eye on it!

5. In the same non-stick skillet, melt a pat to a teaspoon of butter on low and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar. Simmer it and allow to reduce. When reduced, or to the consistency you like, open oven and spoon over the bake. Add the cheese. Mix thoroughly.

6. The bake is done when you can slide your fork through the squash.

7. For individual portions, add the hot sauce to taste. This is really useful for families with small children! Eat up!

January 5, 2009

If pro and con are opposites, wouldn't the opposite of progress be congress?

Arachnophobics, be warned - there are spiders in this here bloggy thing I have going on. And I cannot promise there will not be more. We decided to go with the moniker of Madison for our new a. versicolor. OH MY, she is SO beautiful. I had no expectations that she would be so brightly colored this early. After all, she currently just the size of a quarter - I cannot wait to see what she looks like as she continues to grow.

And X's reaction? Um, let us just say that "not enthusastic" is a genteel way to describe the situation. For better or for worse? Right? That's my story and I am sticking to it.

As a truce, I have offered up gratuitous snaps of the kids. Arun finally, finally!, will deign to actually pose for pictures. And Anjali? Is beginning to piece together her own wardrobe, which is actually quite frightening. More so than a wee spiderling, I believe.

Enough spiderage. Now, I want to talk portable DVD players..........

January 9th, 1976, we brought my newborn sister home. My mom held her while riding in the front seat of our mustard-hued Nova (sidenote: Am I the only one who remembers Novas back when they were rust-free and not totally uncool?? Am old, I know.) I rode in the back, but constantly leaned over the front seat to get a gander at my new baby sister. The point? None of us were wearing seat belts. In fact, throughout my childhood, we never wore seatbelts. As kids, we had free will to roam all over whatever car, truck, station wagon we happened to be riding in. During one roadtrip to from Leavenworth, KS to Taos, NM, my cousin slept in a sleeping bag in the bed of the truck for a good part of the trip OH MY GOD NOT JOKING. Again, the point? In short, we were not tightly strapped in and expected to sit stockstill for hours upon hours. I am not saying this was a good thing, I am saying that it was a different time, different standard.

Back in my days of Armchair Parenting, I absolutly decried the portable DVD player, openly mocked it and randomly judged. Of course, now I am eating my crow (topped with a nice raspberry confit and served with a side of garlic mashed potatoes). And here's the thing - my kids like being in the car! We talk, we sing, we have particular games where snakes and dragons are chasing us (hence, the reason why my 18 month old declares incessantly "Oh no, snakes coming, mama! SNAKES COMING!) But. BUT. At night? All bets are off, get your hands away from the chips, ma'am. When I am on long, dark, lonely highways coming back from my parents' or my sister's homes, the wailing is hideous. Even Arun used to cry as a baby on K-10 and that was pretty much the only highway that would send him over the edge. He does fine now, but Anjali does not, DOES NOT, do fine on any highways that are long, dark and lonely.

About 2 months ago, I bought a portable DVD player and I Have Not Looked BACK. And the rules for using it are simple: It has to be nighttime and we only get to watch it coming back from Lawrence or Tonganoxie (or Surrender, Dorothy's crib). Unofficial Rule: The DVD itself has to be something non-irritating that will not make Mama drive off the road (Curious George is the ticket.)

Yeah, color me Hypocrite, folks. 'Tis a pretty shade on me anyways - it brings out the blue in my eyes.

World, Meet Madison.
Madison, our a. versicolor (common name: Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula)

Finally, He Has Become a Poser.

Lolita Meets High Fashion