Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Squash I Squashed

I have learned sooo many new things today! One of them being that I really find pulling hair out of my tub drain distasteful. And my daughter always looks cute in a short bob (yes, she cut her hair again). The most . . . entertaining, perhaps, thing I have learned is that a jack-o-lantern is probably the closest I think I'll get to a whole, raw squash again.

Here's why:

Last week at Sammy's preschool, they had a whole passel of butternut squashes that they were giving away. Feeling slightly adventurous, as I get sometimes, I grabbed one. I figured, hey, if I can't figure out how to cook the thing, we can always paint it for Halloween decor, right?

It'd been sitting on the counter since then, and I've been contemplating it. I looked up a few recipes on Google, and found everything from soup to roasted squash to pureed squash. Lots of options. Now, I know that most squashes are naturally quite sweet. Hello, pumpkin pie anyone? They didn't arrive at that delectable treat without some kind of suggestion in the right direction. So I'm figuring that most of this squash will probably be going towards some kind of sweet dish. Worst case scenario, we have butternut pie, a la imitation pumpkin! Which, really, how is that a bad thing? And the rest of it can go towards a savory dish, say, a halved recipe of soup since I'm the only one that will eat this stuff anyway!

I've been meaning to cut the sucker up and get cooking since Saturday, however, I've also been battling a cold that has been flirting with me for over a week and settled in for a nice, long-term relationship around Friday. Suckage. Big time. So, poor squash just sat on the counter, waiting to hear its fate. And that cold, yeah, still hanging around. I've packed its luggage and put it outside, even left an eviction notice, but it's not taking the hint.

Anyway, I picked up the squash this afternoon while dinner was baking, and I didn't even have a chance to decide what to do with it before I felt a squishy, wet soft spot on it. Well, obviously, if this squash is going to start going bad, I need to do something about it pronto. And painting it to look like a cutesy-pootsie ghoulie is out of the question now.

So . . . the real question is . . . what the devil do I do with the thing?! I start looking around online. And it seems like every recipe I find calls for already cooked squash. And the most common way to do that? Cut it in half and bake it in the oven for a couple hours.

Er, problem there. Because, um, I kind of already went Sweeney Todd on the thing, and it it now in three pieces, and sans the whole part that was soft. Not exactly perfect roasting material now, huh? So I'm just gonna have to find a different way to cook it! Which brings us to recipes, because there is no easily accessible alternative out there for what to do with three big pieces of butternut squash.

I did, however, find a unanimous agreement that the squash needs to be peeled and cubed. Ok, peeled. Peeling a squash. Zucchini is easy peasy lemon squeezy, that stuff has a thin peel like a cucumber. However, I have never tried to peel a pumpkin, and that was pretty much what I was lookin' at right then. So, for kicks, I pull out a vegetable peeler like it says.

I would have been there until December, I kid you not. Because not only is it practically impossible to peel a concave-shaped vegetable, but I would need to go over this thing with my dinky little potato peeler about three times to get through to the lovely orange stuff underneath the tan skin and pale stuff under it. Think orange, here. No that texture, but that idea. You take a peeler to an orange, what do you get? That white stuff underneath that you don't wanna eat. Same concept, pale yellow flesh under the tan skin that I don't wanna eat. So, peeler is a no-go.

Next option, I'm gonna have to just cut the skin off with a knife. So, which knife. Let's play a game! You bring me a knife that you think would peel a pumpkin, and I'll tell you if it'll work. And do not even think about touching that butter knife, because I will snigger at you. Put the paring knife back. Fillet knife? Don't be funny. Long skinny knife. Ha. Butcher knife, no. You will cut off your finger before you skin a butternut, because a knife that big will be a joke.

Ok, I'll tell you. You want a knife about 6 inches long, half the blade width of a butcher knife. We have two at my house, and they're my favorite, especially because I sharpen them before each use. I tried the fillet knife, and started laughing because I got 3 inches into a cut and realized that this was a fail of epic proportions because have you every tried to cut a jack-o-lantern with a fillet knife? Yeah, it's like trying to carve an apple with a spaghetti noodle. You need a big, sturdy bad boy to cut into a super-firm thing like a squash. You need a slightly flexible, equally sturdy smaller bad boy to PEEL a squash.

Now, I finally got started peeling this thing. It was not pretty, to say the least, my squash looked more like an abstract sculpture than a vegetable (fruit? What category would this be in?) by the time I was done with it. By this point, I was sighing a sigh of relief, and then hurdling onto my next project in between checking on my dinner and two pots on the stove (dinner is baking and cooking, remember?). Now I need to cut this puppy up!

This worked pretty well, and for this job I used the biggest baddest knife I had, a super-long butcher knife. Butternuts are tough suckers, and it took a little muscle to get through the big pieces, but after that cubing the small stuff was nothing. Wanna know what I did next?

Um, sorta nothing. I put them in a ziploc bag, and now, some five hours later, they're still there. Sitting on the counter. Waiting. I don't know what to do with it! I checked for how to store the stuff, but I got nothing for raw, cubed squash! Don't refrigerate was a common one, but that was for WHOLE squash. Apparently the cold does bad things for the flavor. But letting a skinned, cubed squash out all night might be bad, right? Yes? No? I don't know!

So here I sit, polishing off the leftovers of some truly fabulous chicken and some cold french toast from the day before, dipped in powdered sugar. A worthy dinner, I assure you. But I'm still bothered by the incredible conundrum that is THAT STUPID SQUASH! Because it's after 11 at night. And most of these recipes I'm looking over take a minimum of an hour to make! I really don't want to be up until nearly one in the morning, but what do I do with my baggie of squash in the meantime? I'm so stymied.

I guess . . . I'll stick it in the fridge. And then, in the morning when I take Sammy to school, I'll take it out. That can't do it TOO much damage, can it? I have no idea. *Frustration*

Anyway . . . I'm going now. I'm going to go stare at that cubed squash in a most cheerful shade of orange, and I'm going to get some information out of it if kills me. And, worst case scenario . . . I'll have a go at that butternut pie!

Friday, August 31, 2012

How the Baby Grew Up

I had another one of those moments a minute ago when I think about my daughter and kind of . . . sit there in awe and shock and completely unadulterated terror for a second about how fast things are changing. Thankfully these moments don't happen too frequently, or I'd be a basketcase, but I just had one. Allow me to explain . . .

So, Sammy starts preschool in one week. I know. A week ago she was still wearing toddler size clothes that come from the baby section, and then this week suddenly she knows her alphabet, is reading the letters off the label on the ketchup bottle, and we have to buy her clothes from the little girl section at the store.

Seriously. She picked an absolutely hideous pink and white zebra striped jumper to wear for her first day of school. I wanted the light pink, yellow, and orange plaid, or the cute striped one of the same color scheme, or the blue shirt and pant set with little chalk drawn hearts in different colors. But no. She wants the zebra stripes. Because she loves zebras. And it hasn't occurred to my nearly 5 year old that zebra stripes in preschool is a bit much. It doesn't help that I have exactly one bra that is anything other than boring and it happens to be zebra stripes (only fun one they had), which makes it the default when Sammy picks out my bra for me (don't ask how this got started, I still don't know).

Anyway, where were we? Oh, me freaking out a little that my baby is growing up. See, I can kind of figure out how this is catching me weird. It's because up until now, for Sammy's whole life, she's always been at home. She hasn't had daycare or anything like that to go away every day for, no schedule to meet. She was still a baby, a toddler, something other than a little girl in school.

But now . . . this is the precipice of a completely different time in her life. From now on, my baby is a student, a school kid, and for the next 14 years of her life, she will be going to school 9 months of the year. No, it's not like she's leaving home to go to a boarding school on the East Coast. But it's weird. Good and bad weird. Good because the child is driving me absolutely nuts, increasingly so over the last year or so. I think a nice 4 hour break 4 days a week sounds DIVINE.

But it's also bad, because . . . she just won't be my baby anymore. She is officially and irrevocably out of her toddler stage. And yeah, she hasn't been a toddler for something like 2 years now, but she's still kind of been in that group in my head. She's still been the baby. And now . . . nope. Not anymore. She is a grown up little girl who is going to school. And in two years, she starts elementary school, first grade, full time school. Which might be another big change, I don't know. I just know that this one, this leap from baby to preschooler, is a weird thing for me.

She is going to have so much fun. She's going to get to interact and play with a bunch of little kids her own age. She's going to suck up information and learning so fast, and I know she's going to love it. She'll have an absolute ball! And I'm sure she'll make new friends, and get to love her teachers, and I think she's just going to be the type of kid that loves school. I'm really excited for her.

But I sure will miss my baby. She'll always be my baby, in a lot of ways, but she's past that age now where she's still my toddler running around the house with jingle bells on her shoes so I can find her. She's a big girl. And her life is about to change in a major way. And so is mine.

I'm looking forward to making the journey with her. And at the same time, already missing my baby.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blood-Curdling Fear

I was thinking about something the other night, something intriguing and terrifying all at the same time. This is kind of a two parter. One is deepest fears. The things that you, as a person, are absolutely terrified of. I'm not talking about jumping when you see a grass snake slither across the yard or avoiding horror movies because they kinda freak you out. I'm talking bone-deep, lung-constricting, literally shoots terror through your soul kind of fear. The second part was, oddly enough, death. I shall attempt to explain how these two are intertwined. And how they have nothing to do at all with that picture.

One of my deepest fears, and it is a recent one, is that I will die through some act of stupidity on my part, and in the seconds before I die horribly, I will know it is my fault and it could have been avoided. As I'm pitching off a cliff or a building because I wore unwise and unstable shoes, or leaned over too far to look. As I'm about to rear-end a semi and see God up close and personal because I took my eyes off the road for a second to skip a song on my CD. I have loads of these, the probable, the unlikely, the downright unfathomable, all things that end in my immediate demise or fatal injuring, things that could have been prevented.

I don't know why this scares me so much. I really don't. But it does. Just having that one crystal clear moment of "hindsight is a b*tch" before my life ends and I'm standing on the other side, unprepared and in an absolute panic about what just happened.

I have a theory as to why this terrifies me like it does. I have been the lucky winner of two near-death experiences, and a whole host of other experiences that shaved right close to near-death, but those are closer to the accident category and not the near-death one.

When I was 10, I nearly drowned trying to cross a river with my friend. This culminated with me, unconscious, hanging onto a log by no means that logic, reason, or science can explain, floating like a windsock in the water while hypothermia nearly set in. After a terrifying ride in an ambulance and night in the hospital, I was sent home, but it was a near miss. While I was in that water, when I was still conscious and flailing, trying to get my head above water long enough to suck in a breath of air and yell, I had one of those "life flashing before your eyes" kind of things. I pictured my family and, oddly enough, our pet. The whole time, from when my feet first started slipping on the slick rocks to when I finally fell unconscious, all I could think about was, "Why did we do this? Why did we try to cross the river? Why didn't we just go around?"

My second near-death experience isn't near as dramatic, but it easily could have been. When I was 14, I climbed a tree in my grandparent's yard, and 25 or so feet up, put my weight on a dead branch. It broke. I remember that I managed to grab ahold of a branch above me, and this is where I'm not sure what happened. I don't know if I slipped or if I just let go. Maybe part of my brain overrode the other part, and somehow knew that I wouldn't be able to hold on anyway. I honestly don't know.

Anyway, I fell, and escaped the incident with a broken bone in my foot and scratches on my hands and stomach from sliding down the trunk. I barely missed bashing my head open on several large branches on the way down, and although I wore a boot for the next three months for my foot and had one slightly panic-driven trip to the ER, it wasn't that big a deal.

I do remember thinking, on that split-second trip to the ground, "Why did I climb this tree? Why did I climb so high?" What was I thinking?" To find myself on the ground, alive, and certainly shaken up a second later was a relief. But I've had an intensified fear of heights ever since.

Other than these, I've been in several (at least 6) car accidents, been very near a lightning strike, had an emergency c-section with my daughter, and most recently ended up in the hospital with a very badly failed miscarriage that people tell me would have killed me if my sister-in-law hadn't taken me to the ER when she did. You might say I've led a very adventurous life.

I think it is from these experiences that I find myself in a panic when considering all the ways natural human folly and stupidity could lead to my death, and that undetermined amount of time at the end to look back and know exactly where I went wrong and pulled something stupid. It must mean that I am unprepared for death, and I know that in most ways, I am. I am not morally or spiritually ready for death in any way. Death itself does not scare me. The actual separation of spirit from body is not something I fear. It is the pain beforehand, and the judgement afterward that have me scared spitless.

I have other things like this that terrify me. Pain is one of them. I can handle normal pain, although I DO NOT like it. Headaches, hangnails, cramps, that sort of thing. I've even come through two surgeries and the pain both before and after. But I don't do extreme pain. Of the few times in my life that I have experienced this kind of pain, I know for sure that torture isn't for me. They wouldn't even have to get out the thumbscrews before I'd be spilling everything.

The other is the concept of eternity. I'm a Mormon, so eternity is something that is real and definite for me, but it sure scares me. I mean . . . eternity. Time without end. So after the end of the world as we know it and all that goes about, after all the things happen that I've learned about my whole life . . . then what? I'll tell you this, I have some theories about what happens next, and I don't like the one that seems most likely. Terrifying idea, that. But even if, after this life, we will live in a state of eternal bliss . . . what if I get bored? Seriously, ETERNITY. I can't even comprehend that, it's too much, it's too big.

I know that I will be able to keep myself busy for awhile. I want to learn everything. I want to learn every language of this world and be able to speak it fluently. I want to go back to the beginning of the world and watch it all. I want to know all the mysteries, all the stories, all the histories, I want to be able to see it all. I want to see the rise and fall of Rome, the life of Cleopatra, what happened with the dinosaurs, how mankind spread across the globe, what kind of a personality Alexander the Great had, what it would have been like to have lived in Turn of the Century America. What really happened with all the scandals that rocked the world. What happened to Amelia Earhart. What's the deal with aliens? I want to learn everything. And I want to learn how to do everything do. Every instrument. How to fix cars. How to program a computer. The exact process that would go into making a whole world.

But eventually there will be an end to the things that I could learn and learn to do. And I worry that someday, in the far off reaches of eternity, and I will maybe just want to peacefully cease to exist.

This is deep stuff, huh? I know. I get way up in my head sometimes. That's probably why I don't act so serious the rest of the time, because my forays into the deep stuff always send me sprinting away post haste as soon as I've adequately frightened myself. Sometimes I like to contemplate the universe, the sheer size and composition of it, and I'm usually a brain-fried puddle after those little exercises.

Deepest fears. The real ones. Do share with me, dear reader, your deepest fears. I am intrigued. The things that terrify me might seem silly to you, so tell me something about yourself. What leaves you awake at night, alone in your bed, too afraid to close your eyes because your mind is too much for your matter?

The Incredible Ineptness of Me

*Drums fingers on laptop* This is a problem. I am officially deeming myself incapable of knowing how to actually run this blog. Because I just pulled a stupid.

I have, in the whole time writing this blog, and my other one, I have gotten 4 comments. Yes, four. Just four. For two blogs, written over almost two years, I think.

And do you know what I just did? I deleted a comment I just got recently. It popped up in my comments box and I was SO EXCITED! And you know what was even better? It was from someone I don't even know! Two of my comments have been from my sister-in-law, which were awesome, but hardly counted since I know her! I live with her, actually, so she usually yells her comments through the wall or if we're feeling particularly lazy, she texts or IM's me.

But this comment was from a stranger! And it was an awesome comment, about my Superhero post, and I even replied to it! And now I feel like such an idiot because I was stupid and deleted it! I figured that it was some kind of an alert, that I could delete the alert and keep my "comments inbox" looking all pristine and lonely. No. That's not the case. *Slams head against wall*

I need lessons. I need someone to explain things to me! Facebook and Pinterest I was able to figure out just fine, but for some reason I cannot get the hang of this blog site! It's driving me nuts! How am I ever going to get followers to see how awesome and funny I am (oh please, I am practically leaking sarcasm right now, don't look at me like that) if they think I'm deleting their comments on purpose! *Wails*

Anyway . . . I'm still feeling retarded. Betcha couldn't tell. I keep wracking my brain, trying to think of a way to undelete comments, since I've apparently been deleting them after I read and squee about them.

Apologies, my dears. We are talking about a very incompetent and inept person, here. I am the girl that still does not know how to turn the wipers off in her car, so I guess it is to be expected that I managed to foul up a blog. I just expected this to be a little more, I dunno, easy?

*Le sigh* Apparently not. Random stranger that left a comment on my Superhero post about your power being teleportation, I love you! I replied, I really did!

I suck.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Superhero Era

And that era is now. And I'm not just talking about how superhero movies have been on the rise lately, culminating most recently in The Avengers coming out and followed by Comic Con this week, I'm mostly talking about the glorious rise of the superhero in my life.

I can actually tell you exactly when this all started. It was a few weeks ago, I had told my husband that unless he took me to see Avengers with the gift card we got from my grandparents at Christmas (yeah, it took us that long), I was going to see it with somebody else. He knew I was serious about it, so he agreed and in preparation we started watching whatever superhero movies that had preceded it, specifically Hulk, the Iron Man's, Thor, and Captain America.

It was all over when we watched Iron Man. I had seen it before, once, and I did like it a lot then, but this time . . . somehow the stars aligned, the planets were in the right positions, and the power of the universe united in that moment and I was undone. Besides the MASSIVE crush/obsession I developed for Robert Downey Jr. that is still ongoing, I also fell in love with superhero movies. So far I have watched Captain America twice, Thor at least three times, I am not going to share my count of Iron Man movies (partly because I lost count), the 2008 Hulk with Edward Norton, Green Lantern, Hancock (don't argue, he's a superhero), Daredevil and Elektra I've seen many times, and I have a list waiting that I'm making my way through.

I have Fantastic Four from Netflix on my bed right now, X-Men's in my movies cases, the Batman movies with Christian Bale, the 2003 Hulk with Eric Bana, and I'm considering the Spider Man's with Tobey Maguire. Leaning towards a no on those, since I don't like, well, most of the actors in those movies. And I've heard that the new Spiderman is amazing! I've seen all the others except Spiderman. I'm also debating Cat Woman (yes, the Halle Berry one that was reportedly awful), and I counted League of Extraordinary Gentlemen on my list just 'cause.

I also saw Avengers. And oh. My. GOSH! It was so awesome! It was epic! It was on the scale that Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and Star Wars were done, it was just . . . I was in awe the whole time. So, so good. I will actually pay full price for that movie when it comes out, and I RARELY do that. I am a discount bin/Amazon/Ebay kind of girl, so when I am willing to pay full price for a movie, you know how serious things are.

Anyway, so you can see how serious I've been about my superhero movies lately, and that is only part of it. Actually, probably about half of it, but still. There is more. I have been reading fanfiction. I have never been a fanfic reader before, I never had a ship (relationship) that I was in favor of, and I never wanted to take on the enormous task of sifting through the loads of crappy fics out there to get to the really golden ones. But I kind of have with this one. At this moment, I have three massively long (over 100 pages each) fanfics saved on my computer because I like them so much! Two are Avengers and the other is Pepperony (Pepper and Tony Stark from Iron Man). This is getting serious. I also spent the better part of the last two days trolling over an Avengers Tumblr, just looking at all the fun pictures and nonsense on there.

Ok, enough about that. I didn't actually intend to come on here and have a whole fountain of every little superhero thing going on in my life. I actually thought of the popular "If you could have a superpower, what power would you chose?" question. And I have had mine decided for years, so I thought I'd make it official.

There are a lot of superpowers to choose from. Invisibility, strength, x-ray vision, all kinds of body transformations and manipulations, just everything! All of them would be awesome to have, I can imagine, but my superpower . . . would be the ability to fly.

Oh, yes. That would be my dream. Which is ironic, since the closest I have ever come to flying was jumping off the swings at the playground, or the rides at Lagoon. Nope, never been on an airplane. But maybe that explains it, my yearning to fly. Imagine how much easier things would be! Getting to work would be a matter of mere moments or minutes! Going to the store to grab that one stupid thing you forgot would be a breeze! Just getting out of the house and going soaring to escape normal life for a minute without having to use up the gas in your car! I would love to be able to fly. Seriously. Most awesome superpower ever!

Although, come to think of it, being able to summon people to me at a whim would be pretty epic, too. My life would be a constant stream of celebrity visitations, I'm telling you. Starting with Robert Downey Jr.

So how about you? Favorite superhero, superpower, or super movie?

Friday, July 13, 2012


I've been having that kind of week . . . the kind where you look at your sweet child(ren) and honestly understand why some creatures eat their own young. Oh yes. You moms know what I'm talking about.

First of all let me put this out there, I am SO NOT Mommy of the Year material. To be quite frank, I'm not all that good at being a mom. It's just really difficult for me. Probably because I'm a selfish, self-involved person, especially with my free time, and sharing that time is incredibly difficult for me. This is not something that Supermom deals with, I swear. Supermom always plays with her kids and they always look nice and act polite and never do naughty things, and Supermom herself is so disgustingly good at it that you kind of want to bash her head into a wall just to give her a handicap to put her about level with yourself.

So. Mommyphobia. Let me explain. Mommyphobia is what you have when you find yourself completely and utterly overwhelmed and stifled by the cute little blessings in your life. You love them dearly, you always will, but if you could hire a babysitter for the day, you would do it and run away for a few hours without a backward glance. Just to go somewhere to get that crazed look out of your eye that makes you want to take a baseball bat to every single toy in the house.

It's like being claustrophobic (fear of small spaces), agoraphobic (anxiety in situations where it is perceived to be difficult or embarrassing to escape), and suffocating all at once. You feel panic, sheer and utter panic, and it's a very unstable lid that you're keeping on it all. You want to run away, you want to scream, you want to bury your head under your pillows and cry. All that is happening is your child wants you to play, just take the big giraffe and follow her prompts and play house with the little giraffe, but it feels like you're being water boarded and there's no way out.

As you can imagine, this is a problem. This is a situation that really has no solution. The best you can do is turn on one of those sickeningly happy and perky kids shows that you hate, send your little angel in to watch it, and hide for a bit. Eat a pound of chocolate, chug a 64 oz. Dr. Pepper, turn on soothing music, try to back away slowly from that anxiety attack you've been flirting with. If you have a babysitter, now would be the time. If you have a spouse or family around to help, now would be the time. Preserve your sanity while you can!

Because you know that in fifteen minutes, your little darling will be coming to barge in on your little cocoon of seclusion, waving around another plastic toy to play with, demanding string cheese and chocolate milk, and you are going to have to suppress the urge to scream while you smile and remind them to say please.

You love them, you adore them, you really do. But some days you feel a stunning oneness with the creatures that eat their own young.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


This isn't a happy post, unfortunately. Nor is it a sarcastic or a witty one, because that would have been a lot more enjoyable for me to write. Actually, this particular blog post is kind of an "in memorium". And it probably won't be important to anybody, but for some reason it is important to me.

I went through a miscarriage this month. Jeremy is the name that my husband and I picked out for our baby. We don't know for sure that it was a boy, but . . . that's just what we feel. And we've been calling it a him.

I got pregnant in April after about a year or so of me being off birth control. I'm not really surprised it had taken us so long, since my husband's job requires him to be away from home literally almost 90% of the time, and we actually had to make special arrangements for me to go with him so we could conceive. And I did.

I took a pregnancy test in May which confirmed I was pregnant, and my husband was absolutely thrilled. He couldn't stop smiling, he posted it immediately on Facebook, and told everyone in the family that he was going to be a daddy again.

About a week later went in for my first prenatal appointment. I was almost 9 weeks along, and despite me being so early in the pregnancy, my doctor did an ultrasound anyway. And there it was, just a tiny little shape tucked in there, and yet despite him being so young we still got to hear the heartbeat. And due, of all days, on Christmas Eve.

All this time, and over the next couple weeks, we made plans. I had the names all picked out if it was a boy or a girl, although we and most everyone else still thought it was a boy. We figured out where to put the crib in our cramped bedroom, got it figured out how to work around Pete's work schedule when it got time for the baby to be born, and even got it settled with my doctor that since I'd had problems with my last labor and delivery, this time we'd just schedule a c-section.

Long story short, I started spotting and then cramping about a week after my appointment. I called my doctor in a controlled panic when the spotting hadn't stopped after a couple days, and I was put on bed rest for the weekend. Unfortunately, at that point it was already too late. After a very long afternoon of tests and ultrasounds at my doctor's office, it was confirmed that I had miscarried. The baby was too small for me being 11 weeks along, and there was no heartbeat.

I had called my mom the day before to have her come and be with me for my appointment because Pete was at work. And I had bawled to her on the phone when I did, because I just had this horrible, sinking feeling that I had lost our baby. I sobbed about it, trying to be quiet so I didn't make Pete worry, but he caught me anyway and just told me over and over that it was ok, and I tried so hard to try and be hopeful for him.

Telling Pete that it was a miscarriage was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I didn't want to tell him. He'd been texting all day, asking how things were going, keeping up with what was going on, and for a few minutes I just didn't have the heart to tell him that we'd lost our little one. When I talked to him on the phone a little while later when I had some privacy, it was undoubtedly the worst phone call I've ever had. The sheer . . . grief in his voice made my heart break, even more than it already had broken.

I had let myself get excited for our baby. With our first child, it was easy to hold back a lot of the emotion and attachment, to wait until she was here until I let myself fall in love with her. I wanted to make sure we would actually get her before I loved her, just in case. So I wouldn't be so hurt if we lost her. But we got her, and I loved her, and she was perfect and healthy, and she still is. It was harder this time to keep emotion out of it. I had already had a baby, I knew what to expect and I had already gone through this before. So it was easier to love the little life I was growing inside me, the little piece of me and my husband that we were looking forward to.

So it was devastating for me to have lost him. It hasn't hit me as hard and as abruptly as it hit everyone else. Pete was still talking about it as if everything would be fine, even the night before my appointment. But I was very worried long before I got confirmation from my doctor that I had miscarried. I had an entire week to dwell over the possibilities, and due to my extremely rational, often pessimistic mindset, I had plenty of time to consider and even expect the worst. Even though I hoped, and prayed, that everything would be ok, I still tried to prepare myself. Just in case.

I was doing ok, and Pete was doing ok, until this week when my sister in law had her first baby, a little boy. Pete got to see and hold him yesterday morning before he went back to work, and I got to hold him yesterday evening. It didn't surprise me that both of us have suffered a sort of relapse. Pete mostly. I've been so overwhelmed from my body going through this and even being in the hospital because of it last week that I haven't had a lot of time to be able to just think about it. To just let myself feel the emotions I need to feel to be able to move on again.

I guess this post is a part of that. I tried to write it over a week ago, I tried to just get it all out, but I couldn't. I couldn't find a way to say what I wanted to. But last night, Pete and I were talking, and something he said made it easier for me. Both he and I have been independently struggling and wondering if, with how young the baby was, if he really was someone or if he was still just an empty body waiting for a spirit. He died shortly after my first appointment with my doctor, so that heartbeat that we heard in her office ended within days or even hours of us hearing it. And both times, he was very small, and only measured about 7 weeks. Is that long enough for a body to exist before they are a real person? Did we actually have a little child in there, a baby with an identity and a mind and a character all his own, or was it just an empty shell waiting until it was more mature before it got its soul?

We don't know. And that was what was tormenting my husband the most. So he asked me if we could name him. For me, it gives a little bit more of something, I don't know what, but something to my own grief and mourning, to be able to miss and feel the loss of a real person, not just the possibility of someone. Someone real, with a name, that I can wish I could have known and held and been able to watch grow up.

We named him Jeremy. I suggested two names to Pete, and we both liked Jeremy. I had actually thought of this name before, on the day of my appointment with my doctor, and had considered writing it on the ultrasound pictures we got during my first prenatal checkup. And now I can for certain.

We had a son. A little boy named Jeremy that we never got to actually see or hold or have as our child, but we was ours, and we miss him. And we loved him. We were looking forward to having our Christmas baby, and we would have given a whole lot to have been able to have him. I just wish he could have been able to know his daddy. To have that relationship with the most amazing man I know. That's the worst part of the whole thing, is that he is missing out on a family that would have loved him dearly.

We love you, Jeremy. And I'm so sorry.

The Evaporated Milk Miracle

I am going to share with you possibly the most life-changing cooking secret I have ever stumbled upon. And I wish I could say that it has been my new trick that has been keeping me away from my blog for so long, but sadly that would be a lie. I just haven't had anything to write, honestly. But I do now, yay me! And so . . . the secret.

Anyone who cooks regularly and is on a budget, like me, has a certain set of skills that are necessary for their kind of cooking. One of them is looking at a recipe, and depending on the list of ingredients or the number of steps it takes to get to a finished product, lots of recipes go on the "Psh, that's not happening" list. Another skill is being able to see the shortcuts or cheats in a recipe, or even the ability to look at the picture, the ingredients, and be able to kind of wing it on their own without needing a recipe. And then there's this skill: the inconvenient ingredient spotting.

You know what I'm talking about. Shallots, pecans, buttermilk, puff pastry, weird herbs, wonky mushrooms, phyllo, milk of camel, eye of newt, you get it. Those ingredients that, yeah, you could find at most grocery stores, but honestly, you don't keep them in your house. And you wanna know the number one reason? You don't use them a lot, and they don't keep.

If you're buying yourself a pint of buttermilk and only using one cup and two tablespoons of it, what the crap are you supposed to do with the other cup? It would be immensely convenient for me to have a complete recipe database where I could look up things like "Recipes that use buttermilk" and then I'd be ok because I'd end up being able to use all my buttermilk. But I don't have that, and frankly, the thought of making one gives me a headache despite how much I would love it.

So, you find a recipe you want to make that calls for one of these pain in the butt ingredients. Sometimes you're already planning a trip to the store with enough money, so getting this ingredient is no problem. But then there's those times that you either just went to the store and you're not wasting the gas to drive there again for one stupid ingredient.

Half and half or heavy cream is one of those ingredients for me. And for good reason. There is no practical use for cream on a daily basis, there just isn't. I don't drink coffee, and that's honestly the only thing I can think of that would justify me keeping cream on hand. Which means that unless I buy it specifically for a recipe, I do not have it in the house, because it will spoil before I get around to using it, even though I have several recipes that call for it. So I've been suffering without these particular recipes simply because I was missing that one dang ingredient.

Well, folks, just recently I discovered the magic secret that has changed my cooking life. And I didn't even find this intentionally, I literally stumbled across it in an article or blog or something that I was reading. And it is this: a substitute for half and half or heavy cream in a recipe is . . . evaporated milk.

*Heavenly glow of light* That's BRILLIANT!

I seriously had a complete *DING* of awe when I read that! It's so simple, yet so genius! I have evaporated milk in my pantry, I use it enough that it's on hand all the time! Because, this is the BEST PART, it's CANNED! Which means, it lasts for a long time! I can buy four cans at Walmart in April, and they're still good at Christmas!

I'm serious, I almost had an aneurysm over this. Ecstatic fit. And that very night, I made one of my new recipes that I'd found and discarded at first because it called for heavy cream. It was a peaches and cream overnight french toast, incredibly easy to make (once I found out I could use evaporated milk!), and it was DELICIOUS. I'm going to make it again, it was so yummy, and I had every single ingredient on hand in my pantry. *Boogie dance*

So, ladies and gentlemen, that was my wonderful discovery that I just had to share with the universe. The magical substitution that changed my life. So many avenues are now open to me, I can do whatever I want! Who knows, maybe someday soon I'll learn how to FLY! (Ok, maybe this has gone to my head a little).

Now . . . if only I could find a good substitution for cream cheese . . .

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Wonders of Pinterest and the World of the Internet

It is really no surprise that I, practically an internet addict, am now also addicted to Pinterest. Really, it was just a matter of time.
For those who don't know and have been living under a rock for the past year, Pinterest is basically an online pinning board. You find pictures or blogs or sites off the internet that you like, and "pin" them to one of your boards on Pinterest.

It sounds useless, huh? And you know what, it pretty much is. It is purely frivolous, although I have found it handy in some situations. It gives you some boards to start with, six or so, with categories like "I can do this", "My library", "For the home", stuff like that. I, occasionally and even often one to flout tradition, changed all mine to something else all my own. I started with six or so, and I've extended that to fifteen. Ranging from "Someday Dream House" to "Purty Jewelry" to "Fandoms and Favorites". I have a board dedicated to shoes and clothes, of course. One for crafts I mean to do. All sorts of things.

It kind of reminds me of flairs on Facebook, in the way that it really is something completely meaningless, but I take joy from it all the same. It's like having a physical testament to what kind of a person I really am. What I like, what I think is funny, things I want to do. I guess it's just kind of a way to give yourself some meaning in the world. Having a footprint in the vastness of the internet that is all your own, a Facebook profile you don't have to apologize for if you're being yourself and someone doesn't like it.

Blogs are like that too. I figure, if no one's gonna read it, why bother pretending? Same concept. The internet is full of ways to lose yourself, people stealing your identity, or even just getting so sucked in on your computer that you forget to have a flesh and blood life. But there are ways to find yourself, too. Through things like Pinterest, blogs, DeviantArt, all these places where you can be an anonymous face in front of a person with incredible depth. Without having to apologize or be ashamed of everything you are. It's a curious sort of freedom.

Finding easy recipes to make dinner for the rest of the week or cute picture of fluffy animals doesn't hurt either. And someday, when the apocalypse comes and all the power shuts down and the internet is no more? I am going to go through withdrawals.

Because no matter how silly it is, parts of my life are in the endless void of the internet. Even if no one else ever sees it or reads it or even knows if it exists, it's still there. And I always know where to find it. And some days, it's like coming home.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Feminization of Ken

When I was a little girl, Barbies were kind of my life. Well, toys in general were my life, but Barbies were in that special zone of versatility where anything that could happen to a person could happen to a Barbie. Barbie had lots of fun clothes, tons of shoes, accessories out her cute little wazoo, she had a bunch of friends, and she could drive the pink Barbie Jeep Grand Cherokee even though she always seemed to lose a shoe when she did.

But the best thing Barbie had? A boyfriend. Oh yeah. And not only did Barbie have a boyfriend, but she had options for a boyfriend. There was (these are what I named my Barbies, by the way) Michael, the first Ken doll I ever had. Michael was a blonde, blue-eyed teenage basketball Ken that came with a cool jacket, sneakers, the nylon shorts, and a basket ball. In later years, Michael's head would come off and have to be glued back on, so he never was able to look to the side, but Michael had the glorious status of being my first Ken.

The next I got for my birthday when I was six or so, and I got a Belle and a Beast Barbie set. This Ken doll was *dun dun dun*, our villain, Daniel. Because he had long, "real" hair, and he was ugly. Or at least, nowhere near the Leonardo DiCaprio-like cuteness of Michael. But let's face it, that particular Disney prince never did have the looks like the other ones did, although I have warmed to him more in my adult life.

Next Ken in line was actually named Ken, but he was my sister's first Ken doll. With his hard plastic hair and good looks, he got to be boyfriend to a whole host of desperate Barbies. We had a lot of Barbies, mind you. A LOT of Barbies. I can't even remember how many now. But I can tell you all of them had names, we had an Evil Stepmother/Villainess Barbie, and we even had Skipper and a whole bunch of Kelly's.

And then . . . then we got the real deal. Mr. Hottie himself, the cream of the crop, the Supreme Hunk . . . Facial Hair Ken. *Swoon* This Ken had it all. "Real" but normal guy length brown hair, wonderful blue eyes, he smelled vaguely like Old Spice, and the best part . . . he had facial hair. A beard and mustache that just screamed masculinity. There was a new Ken in town, and he was taking no prisoners.

His name was Kevin, and with his arrival the dating lives of Michael and Ken suddenly became not quite as exciting as they'd been before. They got shuffled off to the side and set with permanent girlfriends, Michael got Melissa until her head popped off and then he got the redhead cowgirl Amber. And Ken got to date the two blonde twins. Daniel dated Martha, the older lady who was our villainess, or she was his mother. Different plot lines, different days.

Kevin was a total dreamboat. His adventures with prettiest-Barbie-of-the-moment were the stuff of legend, and his skills of wooing were incomparable. Romantic dinners in the kitchen of the Barbie house my Dad built with real linoleum floors. Boat rides at sunset in the pink Barbie boat with an attachable sun shade. He was the sexiest, most sought after man alive, the Johnny Depp of the Barbie world. It was a very, very dark day when Kevin's story ended. The boy I had a major crush on came over with his family, and in a fit of tantrum at his younger brother, threw Kevin across the room and broke his leg off. I almost cried. I almost got mad at the boy I had a crush on. It was that bad.

Fast forward about 18 years. I'm a mommy with a Barbie-loving daughter of my own, and the Christmas before last I decided that she needed another Ken doll to go with her three Barbies and lone Ken. Such a momentous day, Sammy's first Ken doll that she would remember, since her first one she got when she was something like two years old. I have never stopped loving Barbies, and I sometimes find myself wishing I could sprawl on the floor with a Barbie and a bag of clothes and shoes and just start off with, "And then let's say Ken came over and asked Barbie on a date."

I went into the Barbie aisle, filled with a familiar sense of glee, getting a big old eyeful of that unearthly hot pink color that is Barbie's and Barbie's alone. I practically pranced down to the dolls, my husband dragging along behind me only because we were stopping at the Legos next. I found the dolls, grinning like a seven year old as I saw the pretty dresses and fluffy hair and sparkly eyes. I looked for the Ken doll I had in mind, Steven, a surfer Ken with brown skin and fuzzy dark hair. It would be so great to have another boy to even out the odds at home.

I looked for him by the beach Barbies, but he wasn't there. A little put out, I decided to keep looking, figuring that if nothing else, another blonde Ken couldn't hurt. I looked and looked. And do you know what I found?

I found Ellen Degeneres wearing flip flops and a pink and plaid black shirt, that is what I found. They were trying to pass off the most ugly boy doll I had ever laid eyes on under the name of Ken, and he was horrible! This Ken doll had a face that was so feminine, it almost passed as Barbie! But it wasn't even a pretty feminine, it was like a woman who'd had WAY too much plastic surgery and her face was going to fall off from all the plastic in it! Which is ironic, since Barbies are made of plastic.

To make matters worse, this "Ken" who would have done better with the label "Drag Queen Ken" all over the box, had the most awful hairstyle since Robert Pattinson in Twilight! They combed the hair on the crown of that doll's head straight up, practically glued it there, and then lopped it off to create this totally bizarre flat plane of hair sticking straight up. And then the rest of it was combed down and likewise practically glued in place.

The worst part? Do you want to know the worst part? HE WAS WEARING PINK!!! Who in their right or wrong mind, would put Ken, the hero of Barbies and little girls everywhere, in PINK?! I was shocked. I was horrified. I stood there in the Barbie aisle at Walmart at eleven o'clock at night mere days before Christmas, and gaped at that horrendously ugly Ken doll. I said, out loud, a number of times, "What did they do to him?!" Pete just kind of stood there and rolled his eyes while I got the attention of a few shoppers that were passing by, clearly not understanding that my childhood was practically being gang-raped in front of my eyes. It was awful.

I bought the stupid doll. I think it was the 23rd of December, so it's not like I had time to do a any more shopping before we were down to the wire. Even so, for the next couple months I kept my eye out for a Ken doll that was actually Ken, not Barbie's weird second cousin Bertha who'd had a sex change. No dice. And I haven't had the heart recently to go Ken hunting again. I just don't think I can handle it if my childhood gets violated like that again.

I think from now on I'll do my Barbie shopping online. Somewhere out there, there has to be a Ken that is more like Kevin was. Handsome, manly, attractive, maybe with facial hair, just anything other than the pink-wearing freak of nature that is shoved reeeeeally far under Sammys' bed right now. And you know what, even if he was in the box with all the other Barbies, Sammy doesn't like him. I think he confuses her, with his what-a-joke hairstyle and "I need more Botox, doctor!" face. Not that I blame her. She has good taste in her fake men.

And someday, I pray that we will have a return of what Ken should be. Because honestly, last time I went to the Barbie aisle, I saw a pale, glittery Edward Cullen doll. And I went home and vomited. Kevin, please come back!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Head Feels Like A Dead Squid

I shall attempt to explain. I'm dyeing my hair. This is not nearly the first time I've done this, although I've only been dyeing my hair for fun for a few years now. I was, for the most part, a hair dye virgin for most of my life. I did do highlights a couple times in junior high and high school, and once or twice after that, but I didn't do a full on dye job to a different color until about two years ago.

My natural hair color is kind of a really dark blonde/light brown color. Since I highlighted it when I was a teenager, it looked golden/dark blonde. Which worked out great, because I truly am a walking blonde moment. My sister actually calls me that, and I have an MSN Messenger emoticon specifically used for blonde moments, too.

I love being blonde. That's me all over, my personality and everything. But after I had Sammy and had been married a few years, I started wondering what I'd look like as a brunette. My sister-in-law was a Mary Kay consultant at the time, so we played around on the virtual makeover site all the time and I played with hair colors. And on the computer at least, I looked good with dark brown hair.

So I was talked into it, but instead of going way dark, I went with a medium chocolate brown hair color. And my hair takes a dye really well, so it turned out great. And it was even a few shades lighter than the picture, which worked out fine, since it was my first foray into the dyeing world.

That opened the way for me. Next I went red. And we're talking fake fakedy fake bright red hair that looked truly awful on me, but it was a hoot anyway. I did it for the Fourth of July, and went swimming the day after I did it, so a good deal of the dye faded out in my day in the chlorinated pool. Which was ok, since we went from a truly garish shade of bright coppery red to a more muted copper blonde color.

Going blonde next was probably not my best idea . . . I'm sure you can imagine. Orangey strawberry blonde anyone? Oh yeah. But at least that one looked better than my bright red attempt. And it faded out a bit and looked decent.

Next was another shot at blonde, which went just fine, and that brings us up to tonight. Now, it's been at least six or seven months since I dyed my hair, and tonight I took my two boxes of champagne blonde Revlon dye to my brother and sister-in-law's. Aside from making my brother a pretty darn awesome t-shirt to wear to work for the midnight release of the new Twilight movie (Team Van Helsing, we're Twilight haters), I got my sister-in-law to dye my hair for me.

And so, after a good half hour or so of gooping up and trying to untangle my hair when it was roughly the consistency of hair covered in half-dry glue, I was pronounced done. So I wrapped my head up in a plastic bag, and I was totally rocking the I Love Lucy bandana look. Hard to imagine, I'm sure, but trust me. I was a fat Lucy.

I had twisted my hair up and smooshed it down on my skull, and since it was basically like chilling Jello, it stuck really well. And since my gooey hair was kind of in gushy dreadlocks, it felt like I had a cold, dead squid on my head that kept dropping tentacles down over my face. It made for some pretty hysterical giggling on my part, and I finally got all the tentacles tucked up nicely and secured inside the plastic bag.

And now, I'm fresh from the shower smelling strongly of the special dye treatment conditioner that came in the boxes of dye, and the jury is still out on results. My roots look strawberry blonde and my ends look maybe a few shades lighter than they were before, so I guess only morning will tell. And when I emerge from my little bed cocoon with my dry hair twirling out of control in Roman-esque curls, we'll have to see what color of the rainbow I'm sporting.

Anyone want to take a bet?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Things Pete Does That I Find Annoying/Endearing

I couldn't resist. I really couldn't. After the post of things I do that are annoying/endearing about me for Pete, I just could not help the snickering and immediate sense that I am the devil when I started thinking of doing the same, vice versa. So here it is.

Things Pete does that I find annoying:
#1 - This is the biggest thing, hence, #1. You know how people, men and women young and old, tend to kinda leave things on the floor or bed or whatever, especially when they're getting undressed? Yeah, everybody does it, no biggie. Um, to a point. OMG. This man . . . sometimes I honestly think he looks over at me, dead to the world in sleepytown, and just gets this evil grin on his face while he leaves his pants and shirt from the night before on the floor, drapes his robe over the end of the bed, ditches his shoes right in front of the bedroom door, AND LEAVES TO GO BACK TO WORK. Oooooh. *Strangles* We've discussed this before. You know what he did? He smirked at me. SMIRKED! I threw something at him.

#2 - Puts the clean, folded blankets and/or sheets . . . on the floor. The FLOOR! The floor that the dogs lay on and shed on all day long! And I swear, it does not matter how much I sweep and vacuum, there is no escaping the dog hair. And the dogs know it, too. So then Pete, my darling beloved husband . . . puts the freshly washed and perfectly folded blankets on that grody, hairy carpet. It makes me want to gouge my eyeballs out with a rusty spoon, I swear. Also under this category . . . putting the towels on the floor in the bathroom. Same problem, only the towels are often damp.

#3 - This relates to the first one. My husband has this bizarre problem, I swear. It's like he actually has no physical ability to clean up after himself as he makes messes. Take, for example, something simple like having a bowl of cereal. There are four things involved, cereal, milk, bowl, spoon. I cannot list one single time in my memory where all four things were cleaned up within an hour of that cereal being finished. I'll always go into the kitchen afterward, sigh loudly, and demand for him to come fix it. He does this with Spaghettio's all the time. The bowl will likely make it in the sink, but there will be a thick layer of dried tomato sauce the next morning that has to soak for awhile until it comes off. Can we just mention how nasty that is to look at? Kinda like the condensed, scummy 1/4" layer of Nesquik goo in the bottom of his chocolate milk cups.

You know, those ones actually cover just about all of it. I'm sure later I'll remember a dozen other things he does that annoy me, but the majority is in those three infractions.

Now for things that I find endearing (there are way more than I could ever fit in a blog post, but we'll do some favorites:
#1 - His laugh. Pete's mom has one of the most distinct laughs I have ever heard, you don't even have to know if she's in the room, as soon as you hear that laugh, you go, "There's Rita." Pete is EXACTLY the same way. I've never heard anyone with a laugh like his. It's part Mozart's laugh from Amadeus (YouTube that, seriously), part normal man laugh, and part giggle and snort. Usually when I hear it, I'm laughing harder at his laugh rather than what was funny.

#2 - This would embarrass the crap out of him, but he'll never see this, so it's ok. So, he does this one thing when I'm doing whatever in front of the mirror and he's taking a shower. Out of the blue, he'll all of a sudden just do this whale call, and then I don't know how he does it, but somehow he poofs a spray of water (sounds exactly like a whale doing it) over the curtain and all over me! I have no idea how, since he's at least a foot lower than the top of the curtain, and I'm a good two feet away at the sink, but he still does it!

#3 - He has the worst potty mouth in the world when he is playing video games with friends. Every word in the book, from A to Z (if there is a Z), usually shouted at the top of his lungs when he gets a good shot or dies. It is hysterical to listen to. Especially when he plays with his sister and they are both running around the screen during Halo toting big guns and swearing like sailors.

#4 - This is one that he hates, it drives him crazy when I point it out. His facial hair on his right cheek on this one spot grows in a circle. Seriously, it looks like some kind of UFO alien crop circle in his beard. It is HYSTERICAL! He hates it, and he'll always bat my hand away when I sit there and trace it with my finger while taunting, "Growing in a circle." But I think it's awesome. Really, who else has crop circles in their facial hair?

I really could go on for ages, like about how his feet are like twice the size of mine and when I wear his shoes to take the garbage out I feel like I'm wearing clown shoes. And how he snores like an epileptic with sleep apnea and a head cold. How he, like me, beats his clothes and shoes into the ground but still clings to them like a baby to his blankie. And how he sneezes a different bizarre way every time. And he gets SO HIGH on even simple drugs like Lortab or Ambien, and once he tried to take our dog out in the middle of the night, in December, stark naked, while hopped up one some pills he got from the doc. Like I said, I could go on. But we'll stop me now, shall we?