Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sickness Reading

My appetite for books has been even more voracious since I got pregnant.  I’m sick, especially in the evening, so I read.  I sit in the recliner or on the couch while the children sword-fight around me and I read.  I read to keep my mind off of how bad I feel and I read because, as much as it is a leisure activity, I still feel like I accomplish something when I finish a book.  Which is kind of dumb, because doing the dishes and playing with my important little men would be accomplishing something.  But there you have it.  Distraction.  I’ll (hopefully) feel better soon and then I’ll spend the evenings in a flurry of dinner-making and children’s book-reading and pretend-playing (Jamie and Charles like to “make” food for me – pretend food – and bring it to me to “gobble” up.  Little do they know that sometimes the mere thought of that pretend hamburger and fries makes me gag).


In the past few months, I have read several books I would recommend to you, dear friends.  If you like that sort of thing, go ahead and read the Game of Thrones series.  I read the first two books, and while I wasn’t overly impressed with them, they passed the time.  A friend of mine pointed out that the women were portrayed really terribly, and it’s true.  But there’s intrigue and politics and I might even keep reading for more dragons.  I can see, however, that these might actually (don’t shoot me for saying so) be a better TV show than they are books.  I’ll look into it when I get ambitious enough to requisition the first couple of seasons from Netflix or something. 


I also started on the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley, thanks to my mother’s recommendation.  I am enjoying them thoroughly, even if the age of the main character is far-fetched.  They are fun little mysteries narrated by a precocious eleven-year-old in a small town in 1950 England. 


For Christmas, I received two books from a good friend, and I have devoured them (yes, in the past week).  The first was a Robert Ludlum book, The Road to Gandolfo.  I had never read Ludlum before, but this certainly inspires me to check out some of his other novels.  Of course, like most of the world, I have seen The Bourne Identity, but I have a feeling the book will be better.  He also sent me an economic history of the Great Depression called The Forgotten Man.  I can’t say enough good stuff about this book.  Do you enjoy history?  This is very well-written and a page-turner, which cannot be said of most non-fiction books, in my opinion.  Maybe I’m just difficult to please.


My most recent loan from the library was A Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison.  I was skeptical at first, despite the good reviews, because a goodly portion of the book is in the present tense.  I usually hate that.  In fact, just a few weeks ago, I put down a book after only a few pages because it was not only written in the present tense, but the second person singular.  Gah!  It hurt my head to read it.  But A Silent Wife was different.  The present tense was juxtaposed with flashbacks, which were written, of course, in the past tense.  It was similar to Gone Girl, in that the story was about the disintegration of a marriage and told from the perspective of both the husband and the wife, but that’s where the similarities end.  It was not a psychological thriller, and I knew whom I wanted to win well before the end of the book. 


Speaking of Gillian Flynn, I read Dark Places, and that was enough for me.  I don’t need that kind of horror in my life.  I am looking forward to the Gone Girl movie, however.


The other thing I do to distract myself is watch TV after the kids go to bed.  Normally, Tony and I watch a show or two on Netflix a few times a week, or less often even, depending on how much homework he has or how into my book I am.  But right now, I need all the distraction I can get.  It’s no fun to spend an entire evening watching your kids have fun and your husband do all the work while you sit quietly, trying not to vomit.  So after the kids are asleep, but before we go to bed, we watch TV.  But here’s the rub: we finished the last available seasons of the shows we watch.  We need a new show (or two).  Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.  What are your favorite shows on Netflix streaming?  We have watched and finished all available episodes of (over the past eight years, lest you think all this watching happened in the past two months) 30 Rock, Bones, Psych, Scrubs, White Collar, Greek, The Office, and The League.  We started watching Raising Hope last night and Tony was interested in Eureka.  What say you?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Further Christmas Recap

I do like to find out what people gave and received for Christmas – it’s a big part of the holiday, and even though it feels tacky to talk about it afterward, I am giving you permission.  What did you give for Christmas?  Specifically, what did you give to your parents/spouse/kids?  It’s easy to buy for kids, but I like hearing new ideas.  It’s not always easy to buy for spouses or parents.  Also, what did you get that you particularly love?  No need to exhaustively list the entire contents of everyone’s stockings.


I’m afraid I don’t have many photos – I couldn’t even begin to tell you where the big camera is, and I’m a bed-head mess in Christmas morning photos anyway – but I can describe.  With words.


“Santa” gave both of the boys harmonicas this year.  A total of $12 for two harmonicas, and they love them.  Even though they are different colors, they appear interchangeable in ownership.  They already need washing and we have now established that food and harmonicas don’t mix. 


I bought a book for each of the boys:




Jamie first read Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site at a friend’s house and he loves it.




Our local library has a copy of Iggy Peck, Architect, but not Rosie Revere, Engineer, so I added it to our collection.  They’re both must-reads.


And my dad gave the boys Toot, Toot, Zoom!, which they love to read along with and they especially love when Tony reads the Pierre character with a zany French accent.




We also bought each of the boys a toy: Jamie got a Play-Doh bulldozer set and Charles got a LEGO set.  We’re working on fine-motor skills with Charles, so LEGO was a good choice.


Our generous friends and family also showered the boys with many presents, the most absurd of which were three ball-hoppers:



But the coolest was a child-sized Adirondack chair painted to look like Mater from Cars.  Charles loves his computer game the most, while Jamie loves everything and everyone, and transfers his affections from art stuff to the big, giant box, to a new nightlight, almost without taking a breath in between.


We gave my nieces and nephews books, of course, and a LEGO set for girls (it came with a book and LEGOS that went with the story, similar to this), and some of the fun B. toys that you find at Target.


I gave Tony a portable USB backup charger, because his phone is always dying when we’re away from home, and his only charger is in his truck.  We gave my dad some gourmet tea and my mom some gourmet coffee.  They’re probably the most difficult to buy for each year because, well, they have everything.


I was spoiled with plenty of chocolate, new books, and some lovely jewelry, among other things.  Tony gave me some gorgeous sapphire drop earrings (which I’m not wearing today, so no photo), and my mother-in-law gave me (and my sister-in-law) a beautiful pendant necklace:


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So there you have it!  Much fun was had by all.  Now I want to hear from you.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Recap & Beginning the Bump Watch

Since I feel better in the morning than I do in the evening, I made breakfast for everyone yesterday.  I did not do dishes.  I did not cook Christmas dinner, or even Christmas Eve dinner.  In fact, I haven’t made dinner in weeks, and that is not an exaggeration.  Fortunately for everyone, my mom and dad and their neurotic dog came to town, and mom made dinner and did dishes and laundry.  Under “spoiled” in the dictionary is a picture of me.


Like most of us, I imagine, as I get older, I find that there’s much less stuff that I want for Christmas.  Every year, I get more and more enjoyment from buying gifts for others and watching my children go nuts on Christmas.  I let them eat all the candy.  I let them skip naps.  I let them make huge messes.  And it is wonderful.  This Christmas continued that trend.


Their favorite present, possibly, was a giant box.


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Jamie loved his art supplies (thank you, Uncle John & Aunt Lisa!).


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Charles spent a goodly chunk of the day playing on his new R/C Airplane Flight Simulator, and I spent a goodly chunk of the day in bed or on the couch.


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Am I feeling better?  Well, better is a relative term, so I’ll say yes.  I’m feeling better than I was last week.  But I’m still super nauseated and uncomfortable.  Also, this is what 11+ weeks looks like on me the third time around:


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A little thicker in the waist, so long as I’m not wearing a constrictive waistband and have the help of camouflaging black.  From the side, though?  That’s where we get obvious:


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That’s some extreme baby belly for this early in pregnancy.  I’ve decided to embrace it.  I will not, however, show you the view from the back.  The widening of my pelvis and waist is MUCH more obvious there.  I seem to have gone from no love handles to extra-thick handles in a very short period of time.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Santa Train

Let’s make some precious, seasonal memories, shall we?  Mom’s laid out on the couch, occasionally emitting a burp or a moan, dad’s tired and still taking ibuprofen several times a day to combat post-surgery pain, Charles is in trouble at school and at home, largely because he’s bored out of his mind, and Jamie finally got sick, though hopefully he’ll be the only one to suffer from that particularly nasty stomach bug.  Merry Christmas, everyone!


Some years are like this, you know?  I had stomach flu one Christmas and missed out on the egg nog entirely.  Another year, I was pregnant with Jamie and not feeling in any way magical or filled with love for mankind.  I was especially green on Christmas day and spent most of it in bed, while others engaged 3-year-old Charles.  This year, although I think (knock on wood) I am feeling a bit better than a week or more ago, I am not feeling great.  I have not taken my kids to the park in weeks.  I have not held an extra-special Christmas cookie baking party with them.  I have not taken them shopping for Christmas presents.  We did not visit the lights of Christmas as a family.  Shoot, we haven’t even been to church in a couple of months, and singing carols during worship is one of my favorite things about the season.


Do the boys care?  Yes, I imagine they do, even if they can’t verbalize it.  Charles really is bored.  He’s not stimulated in preschool and he’s sure as hell not stimulated at home.  The weather’s crappy.  Our normally packed schedule has been reduced to evenings at home, and Tony can’t wrestle with the boys until he recovers fully.  But we’re all doing the best we can, and this too shall pass, as they say.  It’s my hope that I’ll be feeling great by mid-January and then I can start overloading them with character-building, time-consuming activities once again.


We did manage to pull together one Christmas event this year: Santa Train.  Thanks to a friend who invited us to go along with her family a couple of months ago, the trip was booked, the tickets paid, and pregnancy-induced nausea’s got nothing on my sense of frugality.  We bought it?  We’re going to use it.


The kids had a wonderful time, of course.  So did Tony and I.



Waiting for the train


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Charles asked for a computer game, Jamie asked for “presents”



Jamie really, really wanted to climb on the “do not climb” locomotive


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Cookies from the coal-fired ovens

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Walkin’ the tracks


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On the way home, we stopped at Snoqualmie Falls.  Why not?


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I’m so glad that we went on this little trip, even if, in my current state, it was exhausting.  I’m looking forward to things being a bit easier next year, with more opportunities for making cookies with my two favorite small people.  And a new favorite small person!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Candy Cane Fudge

Note: Did you see my interview over at Kate Scott Writes?  Kate is a good friend from college and an amazing writer.  In fact, her first published novel, a YA read called Counting to D comes out in February (here’s a review)!  I can’t wait to read it.  In the meantime, check out my interview!




For the past four years, I have hosted a cookie exchange party.  A couple of years ago, I somehow coerced two good friends into co-hosting, and I’ll admit that they did most of the work this year.  Hors d’oeuvres, wine, hot cocoa, and more cookies than you can imagine… yeah, it was a great time.


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Every year, I have made Candy Cane Fudge.  Every year, I consider making something else, but I’m always asked to make Candy Cane Fudge again.  And then I’m asked for the recipe because this is a favorite treat among husbands and sons.  Which is not to say that it doesn’t appeal to women, but that I have found it to be particularly popular with men.  Why?  I couldn’t say.  Maybe because it’s not chocolate.  Maybe because it’s not overwhelmingly minty.  Whatever the reason, it’s a festive dessert and so easy to make.  Here we go!

Step one: Assemble all four ingredients.


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Yep.  Four.  Two packages of Nestle Vanilla Chips, one can of sweetened condensed milk, one or two (depending on how much you like peppermint) packages of candy canes, and green food coloring.


Step two: Unwrap and beat the crap out of those candy canes.


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This is the most time-consuming and difficult part.  After a while, the candy cane wrappers start to cling to everything.  Your fingers get sticky.  There is candy cane dust everywhere.  But then!  Then you get to put the candy canes into a ziplock bag, grab your meat mallet, and crush them.  Take out all your holiday frustrations on those candy canes!  The smaller the pieces, the better.


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I should be less excited about this part.


Step three: Melt vanilla chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan.


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Melt the chips and milk over medium heat while stirring until everything is smooth.  It doesn’t have to get hot or anything.


*I made a double batch, so yours will not look like quite so much fudge.


Step four: Remove from heat and stir in green food coloring until you get a nice, minty green color.


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Step five: Add the crushed candy canes and stir.


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Step six: Pour the gooey mixture into a pan lined with greased foil.


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Let it set up, then cut it into pieces and enjoy!

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Candy Cane Fudge


Line 9 x 13” pan with foil and then grease the foil (I use spray PAM).


2 Bags Nestle Vanilla Chips

1 Can sweetened condensed milk

1 Box peppermint candy canes

Green food coloring


Unwrap and crush the candy canes.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the vanilla chips with the sweetened condensed milk, stirring until smooth.  Remove from heat and add food coloring as desired.  Stir in crushed candy canes.  Pour mixture into pan and let cool before cutting.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Early Weeks

I’ve been pregnant for almost three months!  Here’s what you missed (it’s not been pretty):


Week 5

I’m sorta tired and my stomach is in my throat sometimes and the gas… oh, I remember this nonsense.


With Charles, I ate my weight in cottage cheese.  With Jamie, I ate Oreos, sometimes an entire package in a day.  This baby is a salad baby.  It’s the only thing I want to eat at all.  I gagged at the sight of the chicken I made for dinner last night.  Butter and cheese hold no appeal.  But salad?  Glorious salad, I could have it for every meal.  Don’t hate me, I swear I’m not salad martyr pregnant lady.  It’s just what I want.


Looking at Pinterest makes me gag.  Looks like I’m giving up The Devil’s Website for a while.


Week 6

I had an epic tantrum last night.  Me, not one of the boys.  I have been feeling pretty poorly, as one does when growing a child, and Tony and I had made an agreement that he would come home after work and make dinner for us while the boys and I were at Baby Boot Camp.  Only he called me at 6:10 and was just leaving the office in Bellingham.  No food prepared at home for this ravenous, sweaty mama.  I went home and found that we didn’t have enough chips, had no olives or sour cream, and nothing else remotely ready to make into food.  I made the world’s plainest nachos for the kids and when Tony got home I screamed at him and threw a monster fit.


Sometimes it happens, right?  I’m pregnant, I was really hungry and also feeling like I was going to barf, and I couldn’t express myself in any way that didn’t scream bitch.  Well, as it has been pointed out to my by both my mother and my brother (but not my husband, because he doesn’t like to see me cry), I am a total bitch while I’m pregnant.  Which is why I probably won’t see much of my mom for the next nine months.  Poor brother of mine is stuck with me at work, though.


Plus, you know what sucks?  Pretending that nothing is wrong because it’s “too early” to tell everyone that we’re having another baby when I am miserable.  I want to sleep and vomit.  That’s all. 


We went to dinner last night, to Hibachi, and the fat and salt was too much for me.  I spent the entire night writhing in pain.  It was horrible, so now I’m back to bland foods and no grilled vegetables to try to avoid the gas.  Pregnant ladies cannot win with food.


Week 7

Sick.  So sick.  Cannot move.  Barfing in the middle of the night.  Water tastes bad.  Sick.  I honestly don’t know how I’ll make it through several more weeks of this.


Heartburn is back, along with it’s friend, Tums, world’s worst-tasting supplement.  Why can’t they taste like SweetTarts?  If they did, I would probably vomit, though.


I remember now why I get so fat when I’m pregnant: to keep from vomiting, I have to keep food in my stomach AT ALL TIMES.  But I can’t eat anything good for me, or I’ll vomit.  My early taste for salad is gone, and now I eat mostly rice.  Rice with butter.  Rice with ranch dressing.


I’d love to exercise, but when I get home from work, I push myself to do dishes and laundry and I gag through dinner prep (if my family is lucky - some days I abandon the thought of cooking dinner and then we have cereal), and then I fall asleep on the couch until it’s time to pick up the kids, at which point I try to be fun mom, but mostly I just read stories to them on the couch.


Week 8

No more rice.  Don’t come near me with a potato.  Tortillas make me gag.  I’m stuck in that awful hungry-but-nothing-tastes-good cycle.  First trimester is just a gross bundle of misery, and I’ve added to it extreme bloating – so I look 15 weeks pregnant when I’m only 8.  I didn’t even begin to show until the second trimester last time.  This time, I’m “sharing” news with certain friends and coworkers because it’s becoming obvious.


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Gas baby


I’m super tired but I sleep badly.  I have tried running a little, but unless I get the timing juuuuust right (in the morning, when I’ve had food, am not already feeling rotten), the exercise just makes me feel worse.  I haven’t been to a workout class in weeks.


We told our families at Thanksgiving and everyone was duly shocked.  My mom said something rude and then spent the weekend making it up to me by cooking for my family and my freezer, and my dad was just nonplussed.  He must’ve spent 30 seconds with a shocked look on his face, unable to say a word.  Sometimes it’s the little things that make you the happiest, you know?  I’m glad that after 32 years, I can still render my father speechless.


Week 9

I vomited so hard last night that I broke capillaries in my eyelids, so I had to cake the makeup on pretty hard this morning.  Mornings are going okay, but afternoons and evenings are a downhill slide into hell.  How many more weeks must I endure?


Oh, and Taco Time and I want you to know that pinto beans taste WONDERFUL and are a great counter to the dread pregnancy-induced constipation.


Oh!  And Tony had surgery on Friday, which was just the worst.  He’s unable to take care of me, I’m unable to take care of him, and the kids… well, let’s just say they’re watching a whole lot more TV than every before.  Thank God for friends – I let my fitness group in on the secret and they have brought meals and taken my children for playdates.  I could not be more grateful.


Week 10

More of the same.  Sick, sick, sick, WILL THIS NEVER END?  I feel like there’s definitely a point in the first trimester where I am convinced that I will never feel well again, and I have hit that point.


I am so sick by 4 pm, but I’m also hungry at dinner time.  I usually choke something down to cure the “I’m hungry” queasiness, only to have it come back up a couple hours later.


Also, I need new bras.  And potentially a new wardrobe – I have quite the belly (mostly gas/bloat), so my pre-pregnancy clothes are out.  But it’s not really a “pregnant” belly yet, so maternity clothes are out, too.  I’ve been wearing the same three loose dresses for two weeks straight.


I wish I could have a meatloaf sandwich every day.  Someone get on that, please.


I belch like a pre-teen boy: loudly and often.  I should learn how to say the alphabet when I burp; I’d probably make it through all 26 letters several times a day.


Week 11

I am managing to make it until 7 pm before I feel truly terrible now.  This is an improvement, if a small one.  It means that I am not such a dangerous driver, distracted by my own nausea, when I pick up the kids from preschool.  It also means that I can eat dinner without gagging.


We had our first doctor’s appointment and got to hear a wee, bitty heartbeat.  We won’t have an ultrasound until 20 weeks or so, so this is our only confirmation that baby is alive until I start to feel kicks.  Such a relief.  I also got a nice prescription for Zofran, so I’m feeling a bit better in the evenings.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Making Room for Another Cook

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Come July, Charles and Jamie are going to have to make room for a new sibling.  Fortunately, I think all our hearts are big enough.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Weekends Are Too Short

Whew, this was a long week, amirite?  Fridays, though, I sure do love Fridays.  The weekend is here and I can look forward to pancakes for breakfast, snuggling on the couch with the kids, getting all the laundry done, and reading stories to the boys during the part of the day that I’m actually awake (the best is when Tony reads to the kids in the evening: he falls asleep mid-sentence on every single page).


Bonus: Tony is done with his master’s coursework for the year, so he won’t be retreating to his desk to study all weekend long!


It has been a tough week, but it has also been nice.  I’m enjoying the Christmas music, reading by the light of the Christmas tree, telling the kids “no, you can’t have another candy cane before dinner” for the bazillionth time, and fantasizing about a world in which I am not exhausted and overworked and have time for Christmas crafts and baking and well, dinner, I guess.  Maybe next year Cheese the Elf will get to experience inspired displays of mischief instead of the frantic, 7 AM “Oh, crap!  Did you move the *%@*$! elf last night?”  I also enjoy threatening to call Santa with a naughty report whenever Charles refuses to get ready for school in the morning.  Works every time.  And maybe, in a way, it’s good for the kids to see me and Tony be less-than-stellar parents for awhile.  I’ve been sick and Tony has been recovering from surgery and we haven’t been in the least energetic about things like getting on the floor and putting together puzzles or playing in the backyard or baking cookies.  Shoot, the house is dirtier than I ever let it get and I haven’t cooked dinner in a long while.  The kids have watched more movies and played more iPhone games in the last week than they have the entire year.  But sometimes we get sick, and sometimes we get hurt, and my boys have had a good chance to learn how to be concerned for our well-being, how to take care of some little things by themselves (pajamas, jackets, shoes), and how to play with each other even more than usual.


It’s all about looking on the bright side, right?  Every cloud has a silver lining, and all that nonsense.  Now if I can just get my butt in gear to finish the Christmas shopping and the baking for the cookie exchange tomorrow, I’ll be set.


In a world where the only things we see are Pinterest-perfect holidays, I offer you this reassurance: the Cook household is in a holding pattern at “barely festive” and everyone is happy, my boys shower me with kisses and love every day, and the only one truly neglected is the dog, who really, really wants a walk for Christmas.  Let’s start a new holiday campaign and call it “Merry Less-Stressful Christmas!”  What do you think?


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“Lately, my exercise consists of chewing on frozen blankets.”

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sick Day

Three-quarters of the family is home today (plus the dog).  I’m home after working a few hours because Charles is sick, Tony’s home because he worked too hard yesterday and needs to recover (stubborn, stubborn, stubborn), and Charles… well, Charles is sick enough to stay home from school (low fever, terrible cough), but not too sick to thoroughly enjoy Mickey Mouse Christmas.


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Charles “doesn’t like school” until he is there, of course.  But where’s the line?  How sick is too sick to go to school?  I probably would have gone to work with the cold he has, but I can judge where Dayquil will be effective, and he can’t.  Actually, he can’t have Dayquil at all.  And he probably got the cold at school.  But still.  I can’t inflict him on anyone else.  If he’s going to cough up a lung, he’s going to do it at home.


Jamie is rarely sick.  He might have fought something off this weekend, or he might have just been exhausted from an all-day playdate on Saturday.  On Sunday after lunch he was wailing about getting his diaper changed, tears streaming down his face, and he said, “Mommy, I want to go night-night!”  We snuggled together in bed and he was out in an instant:


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My sweet baby boy got a solo ride to school this morning, and we sang songs and counted train cars.  Happy and bubbly, he told everyone at school that his brother was sick and will watch movies all day long.  Since movies don’t really appeal to Jamie, I don’t think he was all that upset about the inequality of it all.  Plus, he loves school.


Merry mid-week illness everyone!

Monday, December 9, 2013

All’s Well That Ends with Surgery

After I had Jamie, I got a hemorrhoid.  First one in my life, and hopefully the last.  Thank the good Lord, it vanished quickly, and was clearly a consequence of pushing Jamie’s giant head out of my you-know-where.  But some people, like my dear husband, are prone to hemorrhoids and there’s just nothing they can do to avoid them… and as in Tony’s case, nothing they can do, short of surgery, to correct them.


We’ve had a rough week.  I’ve been sick and Tony has been suffering.  Several doctor’s visits over the course of the week concluded with a hemorrhoidectomy Friday evening.  Tony was under general anesthesia for nearly two hours and the surgeon had to remove part of a vein.  How scary and awful does that sound?  He’s still recovering, of course, but I can tell you that the pain I see writ across his face is much different than the pain he wore last week.  It’s healing pain, now.


He told me I didn’t have to wait at the hospital for him, which is good, because you know what three things don’t mix?  My two children and a hospital waiting room.  I took them to McDonald’s to burn energy and because I really didn’t feel like cooking.  Charles took his socks off in the PlayPlace and got a sliver in his foot (learning his lesson about socks and their protective properties, I hope) and Jamie rolled in fry dust and McNugget dipping sauce until he was head-to-toe filthy.  This is how I keep my children healthy: make them bathe in the sea of germs that is a fast food play area. 


I got a call from the nurse at 6:40 pm that I needed to come to the hospital right away so I could pick up Tony’s prescription for pain medication before the pharmacy closed.  There was probably no way I could have made it in time, but I tried.  I shouted at the boys, who were in the top of the hamster maze, to come down and get dressed, we have to go pick up daddy at the hospital, he’s out of surgery!  Nothing like yelling that in a crowded restaurant to earn you some strange looks.  The boys dawdled, we got to the pharmacy too late, and then we proceeded to wreak havoc upon the hospital waiting room.  When Tony was finally moved to recovery, the boys raced back through the halls of the day-surgery floor, careening into garbage cans and wheelchairs.  Fortunately, at 7:15 pm, there weren’t a whole lot of people there.  When it became clear that Tony was not going to jump out of the hospital bed and get dressed to go home, I called my brother to pick up the kids.  I couldn’t risk them destroying expensive I.V. equipment or something, and things were definitely headed down that path.


We spent a pretty easy weekend.  Friends of mine absconded with Charles and Jamie for most of the day Saturday to give us a break, so we slept a lot.  Yesterday, I felt recovered enough to run the Jingle Bell 5k through Mount Vernon and then we watched the Christmas parade and had dinner.  Now, if we could all get well and stay well, the holiday season might feel a bit more like a holiday.  And Tony, well, this was his second surgery since we’ve been married.  I’d sure like it to be the last.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

12 Days of Christmas, Husband Style

I was an ambitious little bird last year; I put together 12 days of Christmas gifts for my husband.  I think Tony enjoyed it.  I mean, who doesn’t like gifts, right?  And I got a lot of joy and satisfaction from picking lovely things to give him, things that corresponded to a theme and which allowed me to indulge my obsessive side just a little.  YOU have enough time to do this for Christmas 2013, if you start now, though you should obviously replace the interest-specific things on my list with interests specific to YOUR husband (for example, I doubt there are many men out there who are as excited to read accounting novels - yes, novels in which the protagonist is an accountant and uses his mad accounting skills to solve a crime - as my husband is). 


12 Days of Christmas for Your Husband

*Sing the song, it helps: “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

1. Some sexy lingerie (it’s the gift that keeps on giving)


2. Two photos for the office (I did framed family photos)


3. Three new shirts (work shirts, always needed in our family)


4. Four accounting books (one of the ones I got was, honest to God, described as a “Forensic Accounting Action Adventure”)


5. Five new toys! (I gave toys of a sexy kind, but you could give model airplanes.  Whatever.)


6. Six pack of beer


7. At least seven minutes of massage tonight + new massage oil (could be seven minutes of anything – the point is to spend time together)


8. Eight sweet treats (Tony likes dark chocolate)


9. Nine colorful condoms


10. Ten bucks of coffee for you and me – meet you at Starbucks whenever you choose!


11. Eleven “I love yous” (alternatively: eleven things I love about you)


12. Twelve ounces of choffee (I wanted to try this, and it was weird, but also good)




Now, can anyone help me come up with a gift idea for this year?

Monday, December 2, 2013


I hope you’ll forgive me for being a bit absentee here at T&A lately, but I’ve been putting all my free time into enjoying the last few moments of decent weather outside (it’s not decent anymore, but we try) with my kids, ditching work and school to spend time with my family, and getting through all the daily tasks that come during this busiest season of the year.


I’m late, but I want you all to know that I am grateful in this season of gratefulness.  I am grateful all year long.  I might not participate in the “30 Days of Thankfulness” postings on FaceBook or tweet constant photos of my happy family, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings.  I do.  I have feelings.  And anyway, happy family photos are few and far between; Charles just glares at the camera these days and Jamie reaches for it before I can snap a photo.


photo 1 (17)

No!  Don’t take my photo!”


photo 3 (10)

I want to see!”


I am thankful for my healthy, stubborn children who drive me crazy in a thousand ways every day. 


I am thankful that I have extreme work flexibility and can take a day off just to play with them.


photo 2 (14)

On our way to the Everett Children’s Museum on Wednesday


I am thankful for my family and Tony’s family, all of whom are fantastic people and who love my kids almost as much as I do.


photo 1 (16)photo 2 (15)

Even the furry ones

I am thankful for a wonderful husband who works so hard for his family (and who turned 36 yesterday!).


 photo 1 (15)


And I am thankful for you, my friends, for your love and support all year long.


photo 3 (9)     photo 2 (16) 

Happy December!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Planning

Well, Charles continued to complain about the great toys that we put into the Christmas boxes, but he did go with Tony to deliver them to the drop-off site.  So, 50% win, I guess?  The vehemence of his complaints calmed quite a bit, so that’s good.


I’m thinking I will just table this whole “turn my kid into a good person whether he likes it or not” thing for awhile.  I’ll continue to lead by example and I’ll involve him as much as I can in actual charitable acts, like the community service projects my Rotary Club does, over the next few years.  We’ll get there.  When he’s old enough, I’ll have him choose a recurring charitable act, like helping with our local homeless shelter or walking dogs at the humane society.  We’ll get there.


In the meantime, we’ve turned our thoughts to Thanksgiving and the holiday season, which seems so compressed this year.  I mean, I know this is stating the obvious, but with Thanksgiving so late, it feels like there’s barely any time to get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy the season!  Time to make a list so we can pack it all in.


1. Get family photo with actual smiling children for Christmas cards.  Maybe the one from our pumpkin patch trip?


October 039[3]


Nope, not smiling.  Damn!  Maybe I’ll just go with something cute that makes them look like they actually love each other:


photo 9


You might not be able to tell that they love each other on any average visit to our house because their favorite pastime is beating each other up, but this photo is evidence that they are pretty close.


2. Sample all the eggnogs on the market to find one I really like.  I have an idealized version of eggnog from when I was a teenager and my mom made a big punchbowl of eggnog – a mix of store-bought eggnog, whipped or whipping cream (I can’t remember which), rum, and Kahlua.  I didn’t say I had a lot of it, just that it was really good and were it not for the alcohol content, I would have consumed several glasses.  Because I am unlikely to make an entire punchbowl of eggnog concoction just to recapture my teenage ideal, I’ll be trying out several off-the-shelf brands soon.  The higher the fat content, the better.  I suppose I could add the whipped cream and alcohol by the glass.


3. Put up the tree and lights immediately following Thanksgiving.  Write it down, Tony.


4. Finish Christmas shopping and stock up on wrapping paper.  This should be a joy, but we’ll see – usually I have more ideas than I have money.


5.  Go do some fun holiday things.  We already have tickets for the Santa Train and I’d like to see the Lights of Christmas in Warm Beach on a non-rainy evening this year, too.  I’m hosting, once again, a massive cookie exchange, and I’d like to see a Christmas concert, maybe.


6.  Do a craft.  I’m not much of a crafty mom, but it would be a lot of fun to have some salt dough ornaments made by my children.  We’ll see if they’ll put up with it.


What are your plans this season?