The Common Mommy Denominator

I'm a Mom. I need adult conversation. I need to talk about the banalities and the excitements of life, and be understood by the masses. Most of all, I need feedback. Let's chat. You about yours, me about mine, us about ours. Let's find and discuss the Common Mommy Denominator.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Needed to Share This...

Even as I'm listening to reports of the swine flu rampant in Mexico and bleeding into the US (and that the US is not closing their borders for some uber-lame "the horse is already out of the barn" reason), I find it incredibly important to share a new blog created by a man whose other blogs I already follow. His name is Mark, and he knows what he's talking about. Check out this new blog here:

Kudos to him for getting the word out. Please get the word out, too, and share this blog address. Lord willing, it'll all come to naught, but just in case, there's not a single person I know and care for that I wouldn't want to be privy to the incredibly insightful, timely, and insanely valuable information in this blog. Please pass on the address. If this turns into something and you don't, I guarantee you'll feel awful about it later...

Sorry to be so bleak and glum, but I'm just being practical. 'Night.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No, Really, I DO Need a Boob Job!

Today I was watching Bella, and Tyler was at school so I sat Magoo and Bellagirl on the couch with the Little Einsteins and hopped in the shower for the first time in 2 days. (I'm a Mom. You understand.) Now, 'Goo has this habit of opening up the shower door and greeting me with a big "Ow yooou tateena towoo?" (That's Mikayla for "Are you taking a shower?") "No, kid, I'm taking a nap." Yes, I'm in the please close the door so I can enjoy what warmth I have left.

But this time she didn't close the door...she just turned around and walked away, and less than a split second later Bella's little face poked through to say hello...but instead of "hello," she asked, and I quote:

"Jessica, where your boobies go?"

Aaaaaaaaaaah, the honesty of children.

I'd like to use the excuse that because my hands were above my head (I was washing my hair) everything sort of stretched and flattened out.

The truth of the matter is, I don't know where they went, Miss Bellagirl. Not the foggiest idea. They were there 5 years ago, but then they just sort of...vanished.

"Where your boobies go." That is a statement that will haunt my dreams until I'm able to find them again in some doctor's office. "Where your boobies go." Huh. I really don't know...but last I saw them, they were so gigantic, thanks to breast feeding, that I didn't know what to do with them. Maybe that's why they went away. I didn't appreciate them enough. But seriously, who appreciates their fourth bout of mastitis? Or their first, for that matter?

"Where your boobies go?"

Yeah. Gonna go sleep on that one. And I'm going to fall asleep on my stomach, mind you, because ain't nothin' there to get in the way. "Where your boobies go?" I just don't know, kid. And with that...goodnight.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oh, Sweet Corn!

That was supposed to be a sort of moaning "Oooooh," by the way.

You see, today I ate some corn. Not just any corn, mind you: fresh-picked, farmer's market organic first-of-the-season sweet corn.

No, first-of-the-season is not always (okay, seldom) BEST of the season, but it is FIRST of the season, meaning it gets you all excited for the best of the season, and what a season it is! In another state, it'd be summer and early, it's RIGHT NOW.

I bought 3 ears (and ate all 3 ears) of yellow corn still in the husk from the farmer's market (where else would I get my produce?), and today decided they'd make a great lunch in concert with some zucchini-tomato bisque I whipped up the other day (using farmer's market produce...duh), so I turned on the oven and popped that stuff in.

The corn.

You see, the best way to cook corn, I've discovered, happens to be the EASIEST way to cook corn: buy it in the husk, leave it in the husk, throw it (in the husk, untouched!) into a 350 degree oven (preheat it or not, your choice), directly on the rack with the rack positioned in any area of the oven you please, and leave it there for 30-45 minutes until the husk is browned and dried out-looking and your home smells like the corn booth at a county fair. Then remove the corn from the oven (with a potholder!), let it cool for a couple minutes, yank that husk (and everything else) off the cob (feel free to twist it into a handle or just pull it off and use your spike-ended corn holders), butter, salt, and eat. (You may need to let it cool another couple minutes before you get into the eating part.)

Too long to wait for your corn to cook? Shame, really, because it's soooooooooo good that way. Fine, then husk it, steam it for 10-15 minutes, and eat up.

Still too long? Baby. Whatever...boil it for 8 minutes. But don't you come complaining to me if it's not as sweet and juicy and insanely delectable as its ovened counterpart.

Anyway, yuuuuummm. Try it out. Seriously. Farmer's Market First-of-Season Corn in the oven @ 350 for 30 minutes. Oh yeah. You won't regret it. (And you might even leave a comment on this entry that looks something like this: "Oh, Sweet Corn!") Now go forth, and good luck.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Devil and the Duck

My mom sent this to me, and I love it. I'd seen it before, but sometimes you for those of you who've seen this already, it's either a great reminder or you can skip it, and for those who haven't, well, enjoy!

There was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit the target.

Getting a little discouraged, he headed back for dinner. As he was walking back he saw Grandma's pet duck. Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head and killed it.

He was shocked and grieved! In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to find his Sister watching! Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.

After lunch the next day Grandma said, 'Sally, let's wash the dishes', but Sally said, 'Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.' Then she whispered to him, "Remember the duck?' So Johnny did the dishes. Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing and Grandma said, 'I'm sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper.' Sally just smiled and said, 'Well, that's all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help.' She whispered again, 'Remember the duck?' So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's, he finally couldn't stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck. Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug and said, 'Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.'

Thought for the day and every day thereafter: Whatever is in your past, whatever you have done. that the devil keeps throwing in your face (lying, cheating, debt, fear, bad habits, hatred, anger, bitterness...), whatever it is...You need to know: God was standing at the window and He saw the whole thing. He has seen your whole life. He wants you to know that He loves you and that you are forgiven. He's just wondering how long you will let the devil make a slave of you.

The great thing about God is that when you ask for forgiveness, He not only forgives you, but He forgets.

(Love this one...)

Quick Update from Below...

Remember that bunch of Kale?

What bunch of Kale?

Yup, you guessed it...just polished off the last piece.

Hey, did anyone ever notice that the word "polish" as in polishing furniture and "Polish" as in from Poland are spelled the same way but pronounced differently? Depends on the situation, how it is pronounced and thought of. Huh.

Anyway, toasted kale.............aaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhlllllll.

Family Fun Screws a Good Way

I've subscribed to Family Fun magazine for ages, and I always love the projects and things that they come up with; in fact, I've gone so far as to tear out the pages for the last 4 years and keep them in a binder of good ideas, since I know it'll be a few years before my kids can do most of the crafts presented.

Anyway, in the last issue of FF, I found a suggestion for getting your kids to eat more veggies: toss them with olive oil, lay them out on a baking sheet and bake them for x number of minutes, depending. One of their veggie suggestions - apparently the "kid preferred" veggie, in fact - was Kale. Now, kale rocks. It has an awesomely green flavor, and it's great used many favorite is chopped up in Italian Wedding Soup. So I got excited: new use for kale, and my kids will undoubtedly LOVE IT...right?
Yesterday at the Farmer's market I picked up a lovely bunch of semi-curly kale and proudly brought it home in my reusable shopping green am I on Earth Day? Whatever. Anyway, today I whipped that kale out of the fridge, pulled off some leaves (removing a good portion of the tough stem area), tossed it with some olive oil and spread those leaves out on a baking sheet, popped them into a 400 degree oven, flipped the leaves after 5 minutes, took them out of the oven after another 3 (8 min total), removed them to a paper towel-lined plate, and immediately sprinkled them with sea salt. Then I tentatively picked up one of those perfectly browned, gleaming, lightly salted leaves (attempting to keep it from crumbling on its way to my impatiently-awaiting mouth) and popped it into my face.


If you like toasted pumpkin seeds, you will LOVE oven-toasted Kale. As my parents would say, (sorry, Mom and Dad, it's too funny not to steal) my mouth climaxed. See, I LOVE pumpkin seeds...but I hate that hull, and I'm too lazy to strip the hulls away. Not so with kale. No hulls...just perfectly crisp, toasty, tasty yumminess...

...that the kids hated. All three kids, in fact, since Bella was here today too. Tyler took a little bite and proclaimed it "Not so Yummy." Bella chewed thoughtfully for a minute and then spat her small mouthful into the trash. Mikayla ate the first little bite I gave her and asked for more, so I gave her a whole leaf...which she immediately bit, crumbled the rest, and announced was "Eeeew Yucky."

Note to self: do not feed ANYONE oven-crisped kale over a black area rug when previously inundated by cockroaches. Crumbled browned kale on black fibers look an AWFUL (and I do mean awful) lot like cockroach parts.

So the kale wasn't a hit...with anyone but me. But lemme tell ya, it'll get ME to eat a whole bunch more kale (and I do mean bunch!), and the kids can just go back to popping cherry tomatoes.

As for me? Heading back into the kitchen to make some more kale

Monday, April 20, 2009


No, not news of an impending move out of state...

THE KOREAN BATHHOUSE!!!!!!!!!! YES, it is finally time!

You see, I had to seperate myself from the experience a bit...just to see if it really was as wonderful as I remember. And, ooooooh, it waaaaaaassss...By the way, the photos included herein are not of the actual bathhouse, but they are similar to what I'm talking about, fyi.

Jewels - who was rapidly beginning to wonder if she'd made the right choice, agreeing to go with me to a place full of naked Korean women - and I arrived at the Imperial Health Spa in Garden Grove sometime around 10 AM. We entered through the women-only entrance and approached the front desk...which was basically all there was in the room, minus a couple potted trees and a little table and chairs. We were asked if we'd made a reservation...and my heart sank. Reservation? Sorry. Never been here before...didn't know we were supposed to. The woman behind the desk informed us that the next available scrub/massage treatment for two more women would be at 11:30. Whew. No problem. Did we want a specific therapist? Nope, wouldn't know who to ask for. We handed over our credit cards and were given a slip of paper to sign - and tip, if we so chose, and not knowing what was appropriate, we each tipped $10, bringing the grand total for our (FIVE HOURS LONG) session and day to $80. Did I read that right? $80 (including the tip) for a 90 minute scrub-down and unlimited access to all the facilities? Yup. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

So we were handed a stack of towels, a stretchy locker "key" with a number (which would later be the number by which our therapists identified us), and a robe. (We collected our plastic nubbly slippers near the door.) We both stripped down - admittedly a little nervously - and donned our robes, carrying our towels along with us. Just around the corner of the changing area was a primping area with a water dispenser, tissue, hairdryers, benches, mirrors, lotions, whathaveyou, and a row of wall hangers for robes...with about half a dozen robes hanging from it. It was time. Directly to our right was the wet area of the spa, glassed in and through a door. We peered through the glass, tried not to giggle like little girls, and looked around at the small handful of naked Korean ladies in their plastic slippers showering off at little sit-down shower stalls and scrubbing the heck out of each other...I HATE to relate it to monkeys grooming each other, because that SOOOOO is not how it was, but since that's the only thing I have to which I can compare it, was a foreign expression of community I was witnessing.

Anyway, we each took a deep breath, shed our robes, and plunged into the spa area, taking a good look at what surrounded us. Most of the explanation signs were in Korean, of course, but each area had a sign in English, too: the hot, still saltwater bathing pool (sigh), the steam room and the dry sauna (double sigh), the ice water (okay...cold water...) plunge pool (that looked like a baptismal font!) outside the dry sauna (UBER-sigh!), the large rectangular whirlpool, the salt-scrub steam room (more explanation to come), the stand-up shower stalls, and the sit-down shower stalls. What's an uncultured pair of white girls to do, you ask? Well, start with a good rinse-off, just so no one thought we were planning to contaminate the water with sunless tanner or Peony lotion from Bath and Body can imagine. I'm uncultured enough as it is.

We rinsed, soaped, rinsed, and then headed for the saltwater tub. It was the perfect (not too hot, but not pansy-warm) temperature, then tried out the salt steam room. It wasn't until 20 minutes later when we saw another woman take a bowl of salt into the steam room that we got it. It was nice before, of course, but we learned by watching that the point was to scrub yourself down with salt while hanging out in the steam room, and then to sit there and let it suck the impurities from your newly buffed body, rinsing off afterward. Huh. Good times. In fact, such good times that neither Jewels nor myself flinched when we scrubbed each others' backs.

Naked? Yeah, we'd forgotten about that after a good two minutes there.

No, seriously. We did. But I'll get to that.

So we enjoyed the whirlpool, hung out in the dry sauna...and then took the plunge. I don't know that I've ever moved so quickly in my life, but after the dry sauna (on two different occasions while there, mind you!) I grabbed onto the hand rails and plunged into the (ICE) cold water to my waist...and summarily dunked myself under the water. I then leapt with the speed (but lacking the grace) of a cat back out, shaking off the cold and then lounging on a lounge chair. I just know shivered thinking about it, and for those of you in southern CA today (enjoying our 90 degree heat), just imagine the ecstacy.

But that was just the first room, people. Back out in the primp area we toweled off, collected and donned our robes, and headed into the next room, full of soft padded lounge chairs, a smoothie bar and food area, and four other rooms ready to provide us with new experiences. The first had a sign written only in Korean, but Julie and I called it the "nap room" because it was silent, contained lots of blankets and "pillows" - rectangular chunks of foam covered in a plastic-type fabric - and it was just mildly cool. The second was the Jade room, wherein the floors, walls, and decor were all jade. The (very heated) jade floor was covered by bamboo mats and blankets, and even though I thought it seemed a little nuts, I felt more mentally in-tune lying in that room than I have since...well, since I gave birth to Tyler. Of course, pretty much the only thing I was thinking in there was "wow, it's hot in here," but that "it's hot in here" though wasn't corrupted by all sorts of other thoughts, ie. "I wonder what Jason/the kids are doing right now, I have to do the dishes/laundry/feed my family when I get home, I wonder if Jack Bauer's going to die on this season of 24..." You know, the usual.

Anyway, the heat won out, and we moved to the other two was the Salt room. On the floor were salt rocks - big chunky things - and the walls and ceiling were made of bricks of salt. Another woman joined us in this room, and showed us that on the back wall was a light switch that lit up the back salt brick wall...from the rear. It glowed. AWESOME. So we lay in there on blankets and "pillows" and chatted with the woman about how this was the greatest Korean Bathhouse in southern California, how she herself was Japanese and didn't want to return to Japan because she knew how much she'd miss this very bathhouse, and how she had been afflicted for years with a completely debilitating fibromyalgia, but had started coming to the bathhouse to enjoy the facilities numerous times a week for the last six months, and was now (though not pain-free) able to get out of bed and get on with everyday life...a miracle for her. Double awesome. So then we headed to the last, and arguably my favorite room: the Mineral Fomentation room. For lack of a better description, it looked like some railroad ties had been set up on the tile floor in 6x4 "bed" shapes and filled with large red-brown marbles...marbles that turned out to be mineral-rich dried clay from the mountains of China. Japanese woman, Chinese mud, Korean bathhouse...tour of Asia! Anyway, you lie on - more like in - these toasty-warm marbles and sweat, and the sweat causes the minerals to stick to and supposedly be absorbed by your skin. You come out (particularly if you were lying in them neck-ed, like me!) coated in red-brown powder and looking like you've got a swell tan, but the best part is not the minerals...its just lying in them. They completely conform to your body. If they'd been deep enough, I'd have used them to replace my regular bed. It's like a temperpedic, only mineral-y! Aaaaaaaah.

So, anyway, it was getting close to 11:30, so we bopped back into the spa room after a quick stop off for some water. My number was called first, and I was a little worried that Jewels wasn't being called with me, but it turned out they'd whisked her away to another treatment room; she got the room that had only one bed, lucky duck, but still, I'm not complaining. I rounded a corner in the showering room into an area with three twin-sized massage-table-sans-headrest-type beds covered in thick clear plastic, drains underneath each bed. I was in the middle, and two women - one older white lady and a younger Korean girl - were on either side of me. My therapist was not a massage therapist so much as a therapy provider; there was no artful draping, and she was wearing a heavier-lace bra and underwear. (Makes sense...with all the water sloshing around, they need something they can get wet in, and something that dries quickly!) (If you bother arguing a swimsuit would work, I'm just going to roll my eyes at you.) So I lie down on this table, and the therapist begins her work scrubbing me to within an inch of my life.
If you've ever wondered what it would be like to scrub down your body with a dish scrubber - or maybe steel wool - this was it. I can't say it is for the faint of heart (especially because my shins were a little sunburned), and once or twice I wondered if she was going to draw blood in any given area, but looking at the radiant, beautiful skin of the elderly Korean women in the place, I was game for anything. My therapist donned a pair of mitts akin to loofah pads over her hands, doused me with a bowl full of heavenly warm water, and went to work. With the exception of my face and my, um, nether portions, she scrubbed EVERYTHING. Yes, EVERYTHING. Bum? Chest? Thighs?, you ask. Come on, didn't I already say everything? Even your boobs?, you say again...YES. EVERYTHING. And it's not all that bad.

Disclaimer: It is not in any way a sexual experience. It is a sensual experience, perhaps, letting your body take a serious scrub-down, but no matter what you're imagining (gentlemen) with an underwear-clad woman buffing my buns, it's not what you think. It's WAAAAY more fabulous.

So after she did my front, she told me to flip over, know how, when you scrub the bottoms of your feet, you get all that nasty crumbly dead skin? Yeah. I was COVERED in it. So she rinsed me, did my back, rinsed me, did my sides, and then sent me to rinse at the shower while she sprayed off the table. And people, my skin was BABY soft. No, that's not true...I'm pretty sure it was softer than it was when I was a baby.

Anyway, I returned to the table, she positioned a towel alongside and under my face, neck, and chin so that I could lie comfortably, and doused me with warm baby oil from what I imagine was a ketchup-like squeeze bottle. Truly, if you've never had warm baby oil flow over your freshly-scrubbed skin, you have not lived. Oh my goodness. And then began the massage. And more massage. And smack-like pounding of various parts, which, I'm astounded to report, not only didn't hurt (like they sounded like they would), but forced that area of my body to instantly relax...almost like whatever was being smacked was scared into submission. She used her fingers, hands, elbows, forearms, and at one point she even climbed on my back and massaged my hips with her knees. And I did not bat an eye. It was too wonderful.

After the massage, she placed warm towels on various parts of me and kneaded those areas after the towels came off...then she lifted my head, put a warm towel under my neck, draped some sort of cotton or paper toweling or - something - under my chin and at my hairline, and proceeded to cover my face in what could only have been semi-frozen cucumber mush. It smelled fabulous and felt exquisite. After she was done with some more massaging, removed my face "mask", and had dragged me with my under-neck towel to the edge of the table, she actually shampooed, conditioned, and made a bun out of my hair. Every time I thought it couldn't possibly get better, it did. Then she sat me up (and had to...I was a giant lump by then) and had me rinse my face with a coconut milk mixture, which she then poured on me...and offered me some warm water to again rinse my face, then rinsed me one final time with the rest of the water. She helped me up, gave me back my shoes, patted me, smiled and offered her name (which, regrettably, I've forgotten, but it was short and started with a K, so I'll be asking after her again!) and sent me on my way.

When I ran into Jewels again, we giggled like giddy schoolgirls, jumped up and down, exchanged quick and excited "Did she...?" stories, and then I hugged her. And we were naked.

I told you, you really get over the naked thing super-quick. And if you don't, let's be honest, it just doesn't matter.

So we donned our robes once more and sat down for a $9.00 (cash-only, be prepared!) lunch at the juice bar...seaweed soup, kimchi, some sort of yummy pickle-type veggie, and a huge bowl of bulgogi (bbq Korean SUPER-tender, ULTRA-tasty beef) with rice underneath it, onion and carrot in it, and lettuce alongside it. It is also served with a semi-spicy sort of soy sauce to dump over the meat, if you so choose. I SUCKED IT DOWN. (No surprise is ME we're talking about.) DIVINE. Hands-down, some of the very best bulgogi I have EVER eaten, EVER, and that's saying something. Yuuuuummmm.

We did our thing after the massage and lunch and ended up spending between 5 and 5 1/2 hours there that day, but it was some of the best time I've spent, both for myself and with my dear friend and sister-in-law Jewels, in months...maybe years.

See, my therapist didn't need soft music and dimmed lighting and artful draping to make this one of the very best, most beneficial health experiences I've ever had. She just needed to know what my body needed. My shell. That which houses my spirit. And she knew exactly what my body needed to treat it just right. I'm not arguing that my body is just a shell...quite the opposite...but I think we often treat our bodies like they are too sacred to let anyone else touch them, and that's so incredibly unfortunate. Humans thrive on touch, first of all, and second, our bodies do NEED things if they are to continue to happily, healthily, and comfortably house our spirits, and we often disregard those needs in favor of, I don't know, television, junk food, obsessive work, lack of exercise, disregard for lotions and tonics and all things restorative.

So for me, this experience was a revelation.
It was also so incredibly FREEING. The idea that I could walk around stark naked in full view of - and in close proximity to, and even close contact with! - other women was baffling at first. There was no one averting their eyes, but no one looking at me to compare my body to theirs, to judge my paunches, wrinkles, flab, stretch marks, saggy boobs, any of it...we were all just women, no one wearing anything to set them apart or impress upon you their superior taste, money, style, or shape. We were just women, all there to take care of ourselves. Because that was what was important: us as individuals, and us as a unified group of women. There WAS no playing field to playing field at all.

I remember chatting with Julie while we watching a mother and daughter at a couple of the sit-down shower stalls helping to scrub each other down using the same little scrubby mitts that the therapists use and thinking "that is AWESOME...and something I doubt my mom and/or sister and/or mother-in-law and/or friends will ever do with each other." Why? Because in this world, today, we equate intimacy to sexuality, and sexuality to sexuality, but not intimacy to intimacy. We are so afraid of being thought of as lesbians or snobby or - whatever - that we're afraid to be close to another woman, and I find that that bleeds into our emotional relationships...not just physical closeness. Anyone else ever notice how hard it is to make a good girlfriend as an adult? And I'm not talking pick up on a lesbian, I'm talking becoming earnest friends with another female. How sad. If only we could all take a page from the Korean Bathhouse book...
Point is, it was one of the best times of my life, those 5 hours in the bathhouse. I wish my husband could be there to share it with me, but I'm almost glad he can' means I either go alone (more likely than not, all you squeamish twits!) and spend the time reflecting, or I go with a girlfriend and bond on a completely different, intimate-but-not-sexualized level, something I/we seldom get to do with other women.

How awesome, people. A-W-E-S-O-M-E, awesome. If anyone is up for it anytime soon, has a few hours to invest, and is willing to drop $89 for lunch and a complete day at the spa, let me know, because I am SOOOOO "in." And like Julie said, "After the first 2 minutes, you don't even notice you're naked." It's true. You're just reveling in being free to be yourself without judgement and take care of your body for the God-given gift it really is.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Real Quick...

This weekend BIT, primarily because Jason had to work like the slave public accountants are expected to be, but on Saturday he took a couple-hour break so we could go as a family to rent a surrey-bike in Newport! (We also had dinner at my folks on Sunday, which did not bite...WE bit. Food. Anyway...)
Can I just say HOW FUN that is?!?! No? Well, I just is SOOOOOO fun! Jason and I got to sit next to each other and pedal a surrey down the boardwalk (all the way from Balboa Pier to Newport Pier and back!) with Jason steering, and there was a bench-basket in front for the munchkins. I wish we'd had our camera with us, but I've included a stock picture so you get the idea.

It cost $25/hour for the size surrey we "drove", and avoiding boardwalk traffic was half the fun. I fear that Jason's side of the bike had to do most of the work because the steering column was attached, but it was still a great ride, the kids loved it, and I couldn't get enough of the people we passed by commenting on how cute our kids are and what an adorable family we have. (It's rough to be so stinking cute!)

Anyway, we returned about 10 minutes early, the kids had a blast, and it was an odd - but fun! - memory for us all. If you get a chance, fun times, people!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fumbling Toward Our Goals - Easter

Happy Easter, and hello to all our family, friends, and fellow bloggers!

Today, however, I'm experiencing a new degree of difficulty in feeling the spirit of Easter, rather like I did last Christmas. This is not the fault of faltering beliefs, but of selfish circumstance...which, unfortunately, doesn't really make it any easier.

You see, the Easter Bunny visited (minimally) last night, and my children have been coughing and coming to my side for nose wipes since discovering their baskets. My husband is in bed even as I type this, miserable with what we believe is an impending cold...the same cold of which I seem to be possessed. My throat (and presumably his, based on the every-other-hour "keeehk-keeeehk of throat spray being shot into his mouth during the night) (TANGENT WARNING: Cory introduced us to Cepacol, and bless her for it...if you're still relying on Chloraseptic to knock out throat pain, spend the $4 to swap to Cepacol and - after swallowing the wretched stuff and thinking momentarily that you made the wrong decision - revel in your complete pain relief!) (picking up with the tale...) feels as though a master carpenter has been performing sandpaper magic in it, my nose is - I'll spare you the details - disgusting, my head hurts, my eyes are weepy and gooey...and I think Jason is worse. My dad is ill, so we're not going to have Easter dinner at my folks' as planned. My sister has strep throat, so she and Victor won't be joining us, either. Oh, crap...speaking of which, I'll be right back. I still need to feed my family tonight, so it's time to go throw a chicken in the crock pot.

Okay, so half an hour has passed here, the chicken - and onions and carrots and potatoes - is in the crockpot, and I'm back. You (I hope) never left. Anyway, there will be no church today, lest we infect everyone within coughing range, there will be no egg hunt, for we never had the time or opportunity to color any, and our home is in such disarray we couldn't find the plastic ones for the baskets, let alone a hunt, we are all ill, and...basically, none of my goals have been met for Easter. I had even planned to bone and stuff and roll the chicken, all of which was abandoned when I learned that dinner would just be us tonight, and though I can't imagine any of us will have much appetite, the chicken required cooking, hence the crockpot. (I'll remove it from the crockpot and stick it under the broiler for 10 - 15 minutes for crispiness and browning later.)

Jason and I have some lofty goals, you see, none of which are coming to fruition, and most of which revolve around owning a home. Yes, we, like all other Americans, want very much to be homeowners. We, however, did not get ourselves into ARMs to attempt to live in a home we couldn't afford, only to expect the government to bail us out of the consequences for our stupidity. (This is not a political's just frustration with the blatant stupidity of our generation.) We scrimped and saved and prayed and waited. Now we are in a position (almost) to purchase - somewhere - and would like to do so before December 1st to enjoy the tax credit, but we feel impotent to do so. Jason's work is here, and here is not an option.

We would like to have a garden...and raise chickens...and join a CSA (or two)... and learn home canning...and build food storage...and purchase a giant garage freezer to freeze the grass-fed cow we want to buy and split with our family or friends...and basically just opt out of the regular food market. But that means we need a home.

We would like to celebrate the holidays (particularly the religious ones) with great fanfare, decor, tradition and spirituality...and, apart from hoping to be healthy when that occurs in the future, let's be honest: it's really hard to feel all Christmas-y as an adult in a teeny little apartment where we live on top of each other...or to want to buy gifts - which equates to "more stuff" - when living in that same miniscule dump.

We would like to replace our furniture. Have our kids in their own rooms. Have a distinctly different area (or ROOM!) for our office, dining, laundry, cooking, and living. (A lot to ask, I know.) Have a home that doesn't contribute to our myriad illnesses.

Huh?, you ask. In the last week we have had the place sprayed for cockroaches (Jason did it once, and two days later the professional did it...) and have discovered and attempted to irradicate a(n un)healthy amount of MOLD in our bedroom and bathroom, thanks to the pathetically poor ventiliation in this forsaken hades. Neither of those things can possibly be good to breathe, right? Mold spores alone can kill you - slowly and painfully - and exposure to multiple types of roach death spray just cannot be good to inhale.

So here we are. It's Easter, and my kids don't know that at Easter time we dress up in beautiful Spring-oriented clothing and attend a worship service in honor of their Savior who rose from the dead. They don't know that at Easter we hunt for Easter eggs colored and bedecked by them on the kitchen table we don't own. They don't realize that there is more to Easter - family visits, special dinners, candy galore - than a cheap wicker basket with some plastic grass and an Easter bunny who leaves playdough and a chocolate bunny...oh, and that "Jesus died but isn't dead any more!", as quoted by my son after I spent half an hour attempted to explain the atonement and resurrection. (I guess that's not bad for 4, really.)

No fresh chicken eggs in the back yard requiring collection. No sacrament talks. No seperate bedrooms. No extended family celebration via egg hunt, scripture-reading, and grandiose dinner. Not even clean air to our very own home. No wonder we've all been taking turns being sick the last number of months. Our "home" is killing us.

So I apologize for the pages-long's really just for me. I know that "someday" we'll own a home, "someday" we'll have to time and wherewithal and ROOM to do all the things that we both feel are so pressing and important...but that time is not now.

Now we're sick...on Easter...and have nothing to show for this most sacred of holidays except the few minutes we'll spend over dinner attempting to teach the kids more about the REAL "reason for the season". I know that's something - the most important something - but they'll be breathing toxic air while we do it, and eating a makeshift dinner that they can't taste, thanks to stuffy noses.

As always, we find ourselves fumbling toward our goals...and never really reaching that light at the end of the tunnel, which is constantly falling farther and farther back. Aaaaaah, depression on Easter. I think I'm gonna go take a prozac.

Happy Easter, everyone! Hope yours is better - and healthier! - than ours!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Can Anyone Relate?

Before we get to the Korean Bathhouse, I have a question:

Does anyone else out there struggle in drinking milk?

I've never loved milk by any stretch, which is ironic considering the fact that my dad could just attach a long straw to a cow and have it follow him around - he loves the stuff - but I found it tolerable, and even pleasant when accompanied by oreos or chocolate chip cookies...until I married Jason.

Jason has always found the idea of milk disturbing. I mean, it's breast milk from a farm animal. That, and typically, adults of all species, including humans, generally build a lactose intolerance. Adult cats won't go near the stuff. And I don't know ANYONE who wants to be within a mile of a lactose-intolerant adult after they've eaten ice cream or drunk a glass of least not downwind, if you catch my drift.

Now, I LOVE CHEESE, in almost any form. (Not a big fan of cottage cheese or queso fresco, but pretty much anything else, including pasteurized processed Velveeta "cheese", is fair game.) I also happen to have a weakness for ice cream...particularly chocolate ice cream with a peanut butter ribbon swirl. Mmmmm, sweet AND salty............................................but back to the topic at hand. Butter, people, ROCKS, and I put heavy cream in anything that will hold it...and I DO realize that all of these things start with cow's milk (or sheep's milk or goat's milk or buffalo milk or...well, best to stop there).

But a couple months ago, I was at Whole Foods Market and jealously eyeing the Danish butter when something else caught my attention. To my GREAT DISMAY, Whole Foods was marketing something that grossed me out to within an inch of my life. Ready for this one?

Cow Colostrum.

I kid you not. Someone, somewhere, has decided that Cow Colostrum is good eats...or good to drink. Whatever. Either way, people...I've had two kids. I had to pump just to get anything to give to Tyler, who never learned to latch. He got (pumped) breastmilk for a month, and then my supply ran out overnight. But I remember that first time I pumped, and wound up with exactly 1 1/2 ounces of COLOSTRUM. It was nasty yellowish stuff and carried with it the most uniquely funky smell...and here I was at Whole Foods staring at it again. It had seperated and required shaking to redistribute it's "pure goodness", and it had a horribly yellow-gray tinge to it.

Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmm. (Uh...what?)

That one experience served as a reminder to me that I might as well be breastfed directly by the cow, since that's what I'm drinking. It's just so far removed from the cow, thanks to a plastic jug and marketing expertise, that we don't really relate it to nursing. We drink cow breast milk. My dad may as well have been nursed at a cow udder these last 60-some years. I might as well eat an oreo and then turn my head to suck on a cow teat.

For some reason I find this incredibly disturbing. I suppose that if and when I'm able to raise my own cow, milk my own cow, and make my own butter and cheese and whatnot, it won't be so bad...and yes, I do hope to do those things, and not all that far into the future, Lord willing.

However, for now, though I still must occasionally cook with cow's milk, we've switched to soy milk. My father finds that repugnant. I think it's just a little thicker, a little sweeter, a little more golden-colored, and contains a lot more protein, and it's GREAT on cereal. It doesn't do much for me where cookies are concerned, but I'm not eating (too many) cookies these days, anyway. And Mikayla and I both suffer from lactose intolerance (me mildly, her miserably), so we're cutting down on cramping and contributing to greenhouse gases. (Maybe we're not; I just read The Omnivore's Dilemma, but more on that a few posts from now.)

Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone can relate to my grossed-out-edness. Does anyone else struggle when offered a tall, frosty glass of cow's milk? Anyone else cringe at the thought of being breastfed indirectly by the teat of a cow? Or am I the only one?

Your thoughts, please...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Julie's Visit

Having Jewels here just sooooo totally rocked, people. No pressure, no "go here, do this, get this done, enjoy this, why don'tcha!" It was all about relaxing and only doing what we felt like doing, which at any given moment could be absolutely nothing.

Jewels left RooRoo with Mom&Dad2 and rode back with us all the way home, arriving in CA at the ungodly hour of about 3 in the morning. Needless to say, we slept - yes, we! (minus the kids, who should have!) until NOON, or close to it. (Okay, Julie did...we were up at 10:30.) :) That was Wednesday, which day was at Goodwill. Yes, Goodwill, and Julie found some awesome stuff...not to mention a $30 handbag. $30 at GOODWILL, you ask? Yes. And here's why: she bought an authentic, genuine Coach handbag - that perfectly matched her earlier splurge on a Coach wallet! - for $29.99. (We're guessing that purse retailed somewhere between $300-500 originally, and it was in brand new condition!) She found some other awesome things, bought ME a brand-new-looking leather coat (from Wilson's...100% tan suede leather!), and then we, in turn, bought little miss ReillyRooRoo a gigantic (sit-on-sized) white-and-pink stuffed what ALSO appeared to be brand-new condition...with all sorts of fun little details, for exactly $1.50! The clincher on that one, though, was a particular detail: it had super-long curly eyelashes! AWESOME. And it'll go perfectly in her white, pink, and chocolate brown bedroom, heehee!

Thursday was kick-back as well, and other than hitting up the Anaheim Farmer's Market (and sharing a divine Nutella-and-banana crepe) and having dinner at Portillo's (of the famous Chicago-based Chicago dog chain) our big outting was Laguna herein. See, Jason is auditing Montage Resorts right now (rough life, I know...) and is down there most everyday these days, looking out on the ocean from the converted hotel room, now an audit conference room. In fact, just yesterday morning he called me from "work" down on the beach as he was watching a humpback whale and a school of dolphins swim along the beach, the dolphins leaping through the waves and the whale spouting from its blowhole. I've been out WHALE WATCHING and never seen that! Sigh. Anyway, Julie. Yes. So, he took us to the beach adjoining the hotel, and we basked in the sunshine, played in the (first foot of the) waves, wandered the tidepools, took advantage of Jason's binoculars to inspect a flock of seagulls and a seal lying on the rocks, enjoyed a sandpiper racing back and forth in and out of the surf seeking sand crabs, and just generally had a blast. Tyler got DRENCHED, Julie was soaked from the thighs on down, Mikayla was terrified of the water and sand (so, the beach as a whole) and never left the blanket, but all around, we did what we planned: gave Julie some time at the water's edge, and she loved it. (Didncha, Jewels?)

Friday was a day unto itself, courtesy of the Korean Bathhouse, which will feature in my next blog entry, and we got to enjoy it child-free thanks to the Emergency Backup Care Plan at Jay's work: I took the kids to their day care center with their lunch, diapers, clothing changes, what have you, and they had a TOTAL BLAST for the entire, I don't know, 6 hours or so they were there. Oh, and did I mention it was free? And that I have 9 more check-ins per child through the end of the year to use whenever I need, for any reason? Yeah. Looooove it! So, thanks to Bright Horizons for my kid-free, happy-child day!

Saturday was super-laid-back, too...Jay, the kids, and I went to Bella's 3rd birthday party, where we were later joined by my folks, while Jewels went to see Roman for a complete hair overhaul (including cut and color). She stopped at my favorite nail salon on the way back for a spa mani and pedi, and returned with perfect, multi-faceted chocolate-blend hair color, an awesome stacked-and-layered cut, and hibiscus-bright matching nails with little white flowers on her big toes. Aaaaaaah, the refresh. :)

We were devastated to see her go on Sunday, but we know how eager she was to get home to her little Reilly, and how much she missed her (both parties), so we put our saddness in check and wished her a safe flight. She's now been home safe and sound for a week and and a half, and we look forward to the day that we can be closer.

The highlight, people, really was the Korean Bathhouse, and I'll get to that, but I want all you crazy squeemish anti-nudist girls to's AWESOME. ABSO-STINKIN'-LUTELY AWESOME. Julie had been worried about what she was getting herself in to, but she will attest to the fact that after 2 minutes, no matter how embarrassed or tentative or modest you are, it just doesn't matter anymore. AWESOME, people, did I mention that? Because it was AWESOME. But more on that later. Enjoy the photos for now!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Courtesy of my Mom, on Obama

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."~~~~ Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931

On Fatheads and Fathood

It started out a nice, family-oriented conference weekend...until, that is, I microwaved some Cream of Wheat at around 6 PM yesterday evening for what was supposed to be my random, fill-my-belly dinner.

But I digress.

A few weeks ago, we got new neighbors. They're really nice people, of course...except when they're screaming the eff word at their 4 year-old son so they can be heard over their hard rock music at 11 o'clock at night shortly before they put him down to bed in the bedroom directly behind our bedroom wall in the room he shares with his gothic skinhead mustacheoed "uncle" who has been living with them since a few days after they moved in.

Aaaaaaaaah, apartment living.

So, guess who brought their cockroaches along with them, which cockroaches quickly migrated under our companion back patio wall into our kitchen? Yup, that would be the fatheads. In fact, I remember the day: my son screamed like a girl from out on the back patio while riding his trike, and as I opened my mouth to ask him (sternly) please not to scream like that (because, of course, shrieking like a girl is a much better way to be heard than just to yell "Mom!"), he followed up his scream with "Mom, there's a big bug by my bike!!!" It was a roach. I thought nothing further of it once the roach was dead...until we came back from AZ to face the infestation.

Yes, it's the infestation that ruined my microwaved Cream of Wheat dinner. As it nuked on the turntable deep in the microwave, my husband wrapped his arms around me and kissed me tenderly, and I leaned my head upon his shoulder to hug him for a moment more when...there, on top of the microwave, in the back corner, scurried not one but three nasty a baby cockroach.

Jason went berserk. Who could blame him? He faced infestations of all types on his mission, one of which was a cockroach infestation. (Admittedly, THOSE were Salvadoran cockroaches, averaging the size of his open palm and occasionally growing as large as his whole hand, but having your average American roaches in his adult home is to him every bit as repulsive.) So he went into action, stripping the cabinets and drawers of all their contents, cleaning everything to within an inch of its life, squashing three roaches where they stood, and spraying roach spray on every viable area...basically anywhere that doesn't regularly come into contact with food was fair game.

Before you worry about the health of our children, however, I whisked them away to my folks' house, where my simple dinner of Cream of Wheat rapidly became three chicken flautas with guacamole for dipping, courtesy of my parents' most recent trip to Costco.

Which, of course, leads me to fathood. Why is it that when I step on the scale in the morning and it reads five pounds more than usual, I'm sure that scale must be right and I am, indeed, a cow? (When it reads 10 or 15 pounds heavy, I shrug and figure it must not be reading right, but 5? 6? 7? 8 pounds? I'm a COW.) However, when the scale reads five pounds less than I believe it ought, I...(smash!)...GET...(BAM!)...REALLY...(whump!)...FRUSTRATED...(bash!)...with that STUPID...(SLAM!)...scale...(blam!)...TEASING ME!!!!! (THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP...sproing!)

Oops. Guess I got a little carried away.

After all, I ate three flautas WITH guacamole LAST NIGHT, and today I weigh half a pound LESS than I did yesterday morning! (stupidstinkingcoldheartedscalegrumblegrumblegrumble.) Heaven forbid that might actually be correct, right? Because when it comes to us girls and our weight, we never lose, only get fatter and fatter and fatter until we're officially part and parcel to the Fathood.

Not that half a pound is that big a deal. Which is my point. I freak out all over the scale for its inaccuracy when I think what I'm really doing is taking out my anger at my next door neighbors and my need, at 10:47 PM on a Sunday night, to ask them to turn down their shoot-'em-up movie after my husband has spent 3 hours killing their cockroaches in our apartment. It's not my scale's fault that my kitchen is infested...or that I chose to eat flautas at 7 PM...or that, even after eating flautas (and guacamole) at 7 PM, I weigh half a pound less today than I did yesterday.

It's the neighbors' fault. Mm-hm. Their fault that when we finally move from this place, we're going to have to comb our own belongings with a fine-toothed comb to make certain WE don't bring THEIR roaches to OUR new home.

And now for a plea: GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Report on Julie's visit after I scour our desk for cockroaches! Hold tight!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

From Jess Garthe...

In honor of the 44th President of the United States, Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream has introduced a new flavor; "Barocky Road".

Barocky Road is a blend of half-Vanilla, half-Chocolate, and surrounded by Nuts and Flakes. The Vanilla portion of the mix is not openly advertised and usually denied as an ingredient. The Nuts and Flakes are all very bitter and hard to swallow.

The cost is $100.00 per scoop. When purchased it will be presented to you in a large beautiful cone, but then the Ice Cream is taken away and given to the person in line behind you. Thus, you are left with an empty wallet, no change, holding an empty cone, with no hope of getting any Ice Cream.

Are you feeling stimulated?