Not So Much

I wasn’t even going to write a post today. I have been going back and forth about writing this one, the one you are about to read. (Unless you change your mind right now.)

See, it’s my birthday today.

And in many years past, I have liked my birthday. I have loved my birthday. At one point in high school, someone dubbed it “The Day of Dawn” and it stuck. I have certainly had better luck than some people.

On my birthday, I would treat myself very special. I would take the day off of work (if I were working); I would go to a museum, treat myself to lunch, write. One of the best, more recent birthdays, I did a poetry reading that I organized with several other women, Pittsburgh poets I admired. That was a good one.

But the past four or five birthdays, they haven’t been so hot. Last year doesn’t really count; I had a 3-week-old infant. My present to myself was this here blog. Boy, that first entry was rough.

This year’s birthday, though, looks like a new low.

I am sitting in my office at 1 a.m. I cannot sleep. I just got offered a job, a job I should take solely for financial reasons, and I am assailed with doubts and depression. Not about the job, per se; the job will be fine. I just have to show up.

It’s the not-job stuff that has me anxious and up at 1 a.m. That and the fact that DearDR and I… I don’t know if you can call it a fight. But it was certainly a conversation that made rest, sleep that is, next to impossible. For me, at any rate.

See, I was explaining how hard things were going to be around here (the homefront) with me working full time. And while I know he, too, works full (more than) time, he was, at the least, going to have to take the girls to daycare. Which is going to require some new habits for him. But, to be honest, we are both going to have to develop new habits, more disciplined habits, in order to survive and become stronger.

Anyway, it’s 1 a.m., and I have been crying on the couch. Because the talking didn’t go so well tonight, and DearDR said some things that really hurt me. And because DearDR is a last-minute type of person, I know he doesn’t have a little gift or even a card to give me later today to soften the blow.

We’re broke anyway, another birthday theme for the past few years, so I don’t know what I could expect in any case.

And while I entertained the thought of taking the girls to the Children’s Museum on this day of me, the reality is I have to go grocery shopping. So that’s what I’m doing later.

That and accepting the job.

I’m not so sure about sleeping, though. That may be a long time coming.

Happy freakin’ birthday to me.

Because I’m Tired of Thinking About Stuff

From Chag at Cynical Dad, I lifted this fun little meme.

For the name of your band, take the title of this page.
The title of your album is the last four words of the last quote on this page. If you’re not happy, cheat and hit the button for more random quotes.
Finally, your album art is the third picture on this page.

If you can, Photoshop the whole mess together (I am barely talented enough to do this), and post it on your site.

Blog Album

I originally tried to do this from Niobe’s page, but my band name was going to be List of Optometry Schools, and even I am not that lame. I let her inspire me differently instead.

I decided to link to the first music video I ever saw. (Can’t embed it. Darn.)

Can you spot the misspelled word?

Edited to add: Here are some other cool album covers around the blog-o-sphere: Niobe’s; the weirdgirl (who is apparently having my week, too… will try roller derby name soon); Sci-Fi Dad; and Ewe.

What NOW?

Holy crap.

I got the job.

I’m freaking out a little bit. I’m glad I got the job. Very glad.

A lot of things will change around here. They will have to change. I am apprehensive, nervous, scared.

I’m scared. And happy.

It reminds me of a scene from Gerald’s Game by Stephen King (you knew he would pop up again sooner or later, right?). It’s from the point of view of a child of 10 or 11. She is wondering about adults and their emotions. She compares the way adults seem to mix emotions to mixing up your food in crazy combinations. For example, gravy over ice cream, or cherry pie with peas and carrots.

It fits. How can I feel so many things at once?? Argh.

But mostly happy. Mostly good feelings. I guess that’s the most important part, right?

These Are the Days

Because what one finds relaxing these days is different.

For example, only having one child as one runs errands. And I had the quiet one, at that. The Bun one, who is content with her binky and her new Uniqua doll from Barnes & Noble. The one who will walk in circles around me as I exchange clothes at Old Navy. The one who will share my spinach and feta pretzel, and talk to me. I’m not sure I understood, but I think she was saying, “Hey, mommy! It is nice to have you all to myself for a change. That other one is noisy! Always chatting, or screaming in the car when the sun gets in her eyes, or yelling, ‘Look at that!’ while you’re driving.”

It’s nice to only have one child to follow or feed or buy a treat for (thank goodness for gift cards). And also have the one child who will smile at everyone and hug legs of people who don’t belong to her. “Hey,” I know she explained at some point during that lunch, “everybody looks the same from the knees down.”

What makes us relax, what vacation days are like, they are different now.

I think I am also holding onto these things because things may be changing. Some job interviews have gone well. And these contented hours I spend now, will be hours I seek, hours we need to get, hours that will have to be scheduled. And while that kind of change makes me apprehensive, I know that it is a change we need.

(Oh, sorry about the lack o’ recipe this Monday. I haven’t tried anything new in a while, so I wanted to wait until I had a couple stored up to share.)

Photo Friday: Just Dolly

Since I don’t remember when, dolls have creeped me out. But not my Bun.

We have three dolls similar to this, courtesy of Day Care Lady. And Bun loves ’em all.

Monkey takes their clothes off, and Bun walks around forlornly with the little outfits. She comes to find me, and fix it.

And even though dolls completely creep me out, I do it. I put their outfits back on, and even (gulp!) let Bun sleep with one.

“Bah-by!” she crows when she sees a doll. She cradles it in one arm, kisses its head.

Baby, indeed.

Just Daze

For the record: It was 4 a.m. today.

And then coughing, sniffing, kicking, pulling and general restlessness until 5:30 a.m.

I’m telling you, icebox or no, next time Monkey climbs into bed with us, I’m going into her room.

I honestly don’t think I have gotten a complete, full night’s rest since I conceived Gabriel in October of 2002. Not even on “vacation”. I know I have plenty of company.

And a study like this comes out. Makes you want to go on a rampage.

I’m going to try to lay down. Sleep may be too much to hope for, as I will be in the same room as Monkey (on her couch); she is still coughing. I am hoping that she will feel that 4 a.m. wake up, too, and just pass out eventually. If everything is quiet enough.

Sick Daze

So much for my bravado of Monday. I was seriously laid out yesterday. It’s probably for the best, as I feel better today. I am still thinking of taking some rest time… right after I finish this post.

Monkey spent almost three hours yesterday morning on the couch with congestion and a fever. Bun still seems fine, although she is running from the nose and drooling like crazy from teething. The minute we step out of the house (IF we step out of the house this week), her face is going to be instantly chapped.

Monkey is wondering when the days’ DVD viewing is going to start. Yesterday, she got a steady diet of TV — I couldn’t deal. We even watched Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit twice. I managed to get some sleep during The Wizards of Ha’s. And I am a notoriously light sleeper.

Which brings me to another problem I am having: Monkey coming into our room in the morning to “sleep” with us.

We have started leaving Monkey’s door open at night (after she falls to sleep). She stuffed some diapers (unused) down her heating vent a couple of weeks ago (escalation of the no napping activity). My husband and my father-in-law both assure me that it’s not a fire hazard because we have electric forced air heat. I did manage to get a few out, but the vent is still clearly blocked. Because Monkey’s room is an icebox.

We gate off the stairs and the bathroom, but Monkey has full access to our room. And she takes full advantage of it. Usually, she comes in around 7 or 7:30 a.m. (which is what time I am getting up anyway), and urges us out of bed. But the past couple of days, it’s been much earlier, because it’s hard to sleep when you can’t breathe.

This morning, it was coughing at 5:30 in the morning, and pitiful cries of “mommy, mommy”. I got her tucked in, dosed with cough syrup, and waited for her to a) quit coughing and b) fall back to sleep.

My husband has no problem with Monkey coming to bed with us. He assures me that it is developmentally appropriate. Also, DearDR would sleep through a trumpeting herd of elephants stampeding through the back yard. I, on the other hand, wake up if he breathes too loudly.

So on top of the cold, I have the added bonus of being extra tired from trying to sleep with a toddler in the same bed. I don’t know about yours, but my 3-year-old tosses, turns, kicks and sings to herself.

She steals the covers, too. And as the cover-stealing champion for almost 37 years, believe me when I say that girl gives me a run for my money.

I’m a little groggy. I’m sure the cold medicine hasn’t helped, but I didn’t want to drip all over the library when I took Monkey for story-time.

That’s what Bun did.

Meatless Monday: Easy Peasy Dinner Pie

I love my friends, and my friends’ children.

But it is a bummer when social interactions leave you and your children with itchy noses and scratchy throats. Putting my children in daycare again is going to be a shock to their systems.

At least they are napping.

It’s also good to know I am not alone. I remember one time when Monkey had brought home a little bug from daycare (or maybe it was Bun, before she got kicked out), and DearDR and I both came down with it. As he was laying in bed — if I remember correctly, I had just brought him some hot tea — and I was asking him to help me out a little bit, he whined to me, “I just feel like I’m not allowed to be sick.”

I coulda smacked him. I’m the one not allowed to be sick. Scratchy throat and minor headache not withstanding, I just cleaned the kitchen and started some laundry.

Monkey is asleep on her little couch downstairs, one hand thrown over her head. She feels a little warm today, and she hasn’t had much to eat. Last night, she woke up crying at 1:15 a.m. I went in to her, and she cried, “Something is wrong with my nose!” Phoenetcially: “Dom-ting is wrog wit by dose!” She was so stuffed up, she couldn’t even sniff.

After checking that she hadn’t stuffed anything up her nostrils (it’s happened), I gave her a decongestant (FDA warning be damned; I read directions. I’m the daughter of two pharmacist’s for Pete’s sake!), and let her sleep in our room. She is definitely not her spunky self. Bun is running at the nose a little. I am filling all the humidifiers upstairs, and getting them running.

Here’s a quick one on the recipe front. Adapted from the back of the Biquick box.

Serves 6

1 Tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 package soy crumbles*
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Bisquick
1 cup milk
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray nine-inch pie dish with cooking spray.
2. Saute garlic in oil over medium heat. Add soy crumbles and brown. Pour into pie dish.
3. Sprinkle cheese over crumbles.
4. Mix together remaining ingredients. Pour over cheese and crumbles in pie dish.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until knife inserted in center of pie comes out clean.

* If you are using Boca crumbles, use one pouch. If you are using Morningstar Farms crumbles use 1/2 a bag. I would estimate you want between 4 and 6 ounces of crumbles. An entire bag of the Morningstar Farms crumbles is too much. Trust me.

Here’s the original recipe from Bisquick. It uses real meat — and onions and salt. I don’t think this recipe needs salt.

…Baby, One More Time?

No, I’m not pregnant. Not even “trying”.

It’s just that the other night, out of the blue (okay, not totally apropos of nothing; we were watching Lost Season 3 on DVD, and Juliette had just told Jack she was a fertility doctor) DearDR said, “Do you want to try for another baby?”

To which I was quick to respond, “Not right now.” I’m such a wit. Or twit. Your pick.

But it’s had me thinking for a couple of days now.

In truth, I always thought I would have three children. Technically speaking I did have three children, of course, but I thought I would be raising three children.

I don’t know why three. My mother had three children (really three, not three with an asterisk like me). I mean, I have never made plans according to what my mother did (as she can well tell you), so I doubt that’s it. (Although, as the third aside in this paragraph alone, I will admit I am turning into her. That’s to pre-empt DearDR from pointing it out later, if he ever reads this.)

Another truth is: I really want another boy. I mentioned this in my Crazy Eights post. And I know DearDR brought it up because he, too, wants another boy. It’s a guy thing. Especially an Italian guy thing. Although it turns out, we are firmly in the majority in preferring a boy over a girl (in a future pregnancy; I wouldn’t trade my girls for anything…). For completely different reasons than those listed in that article. (I know in part DearDR wants a boy to carry on the family name. He’s the last shot.)

I don’t want a boy for him, though, I want a boy for me. Because (rumor has it) mothers and sons have a completely different relationship than mothers and daughters. More akin to the father-daughter dynamic.

As a first-hand witness to my mother’s relationship with my brother, and comparing said relationship to my relationship with my mother, yeah, I get that. He was special to her — not more loved by her — it’s just that there was truly something different about their dynamic. It was more peaceful, maybe… more hopeful. It’s hard to describe. Suffice to say that I remember being on the outside and looking in at my mother’s relationship with my brother, and thinking, “I want that at some point in my life.” (Not the relationship with my mother; a relationship with a son.)

To clarify: I did not have a bad relationship with my mother (with either of my parents). As a teen, I butted heads with my father — we were each as stubborn as the other. In my early 20s, after Mom saw my tattoo, she did threaten (in writing, in a letter about three days later) to never speak to me again, because of, and I quote, “the things you have done to and with your body”. Which, to sum up in my mother’s eyes, included piercing my lip, losing my virginity, smoking, and getting a tattoo (not necessarily in that order). I’m not sure she knew about the birth control pills.

Anyhoo, I have gotten way off track here.

To attempt to return to the subject and in the spirit of High Fidelity (the movie with John Cusack, not the book by Nick Hornby; I haven’t read it yet, and I just caught some of the movie today), here are the Top Five Reasons to Immediately Have My Tubes Tied:

5. I have very stressful pregnancies. Der.
4. Every child I have seems to put my writing career further out of my reach.
3. As if it’s not bad enough, I’m sure another child would be financial suicide.
2. I’m pretty sure my perinatologists’ reactions would be, “You again? What are you, out of your mind?”
1. I’m almost sure my midwives would kill me.

(I would never, ever have my tubes tied, for the record. DearDR’s not getting snipped, either.)

Plus, what if I have another girl? I mean, I wouldn’t care, as long as she was healthy and happy and all that, but poor DearDR. I don’t think he would be able to handle the hormones, especially once they hit puberty and I hit menopause.

Top Five Reasons to Try One More Time:

5. It’s a baby!
4. It would totally mess with my in-laws.
3. It’s actually possible it will be a boy. I thought it was more likely that older moms had girls, but not according to this article. She adds, “(Actually, there is about a 51% chance that everyone will have a boy! Older mothers are also more likely to have boys according to some recent studies.)” I wish she had linked to those studies!
2. I just don’t feel like we’re done. Even after Bun was born, I didn’t have the feeling, “That’s it; we’re done.” More like, “Oh, good. She’s here; she made it. Maybe when I get over this, I’ll think about having another one. It’d be nice to have a healthy, living baby boy.”
1. We would have an excuse to have lots and lots of sex.

Listen, people, not having sex as a method of birth control is fool proof, but frankly, it sucks. And technically, NFP isn’t NO sex, but it’s so… rigid about when to avoid sex if you don’t want to be pregnant that it feels that way sometimes. Especially when we’re horny at the same time (DearDR, it probably goes without saying, is horny almost all the time) and/or I want to feel close to my husband.

Also… well, let’s just say, I was no virgin when I got hitched. But, baby, I saved the best for last.

Meatless Monday: Black Bean Bonanza

I’m sorry; I couldn’t resist the alliteration.

I have two very easy (as per) black bean recipes.

Simple Seasoned Black Beans
Adapted from Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook
(mine was published in 1995)

Olive Oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic (or to taste)
4 cups cooked black beans (or two 16-ounce cans, rinsed)
1/2 cup bean cooking liquid, or vegetable broth, or liquid from canned beans
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Cumin, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste

1. Heat oil in large saucepan; add onions and cook, stirring, over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook another 5 minutes, or until onions are golden.
2. Add beans and bean liquid and bring to a simmer. If you want to thicken the mixture, mash a quarter of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon.
3. Add lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper; simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

That’s it! Serve over cous cous, or brown or white rice. I also serve with soy sauce for DearDR and me.

RPM Tofu, Black Beans and Broccoli
I’ve been making this recipe so long (i.e. since I was single and living on the South Side) I don’t even know where I first got it. I suspect I adapted it from Vegetarian Times Magazine.

Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic
12-16 ounces extra firm (or firm) tofu, pressed and cut into 1-inch cubes
Cumin or curry, to taste
1 16-ounce can black beans, with liquid
One or two stalks of broccoli, cut into florets

1. Heat oil in large skillet; add garlic and cook for a minute or so.
2. Add cubed tofu and cumin (or curry). Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.
3. Add black beans and broccoli. Stir, then cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, or until broccoli is tender.
4. Serve over brown or white rice; add soy sauce to taste.