Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Moon Festival!

Right Now

Brightest rainbow I've ever seen...and it's a double!

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Including several from the August with Gommie and Pop:

As I've mentioned, the kids are obsessed with Pokemon, thanks to Mama and Goo (who was obsessed himself, years ago).  I know enough about Pokemon to identify Ash, the major Pokemon, and the basic plot of the tv show (we're not playing the card game yet).  I even have a favorite:  Snorlax, the giant sleeping cat.  But recently, the kids have decided I'm a different Pokemon--Smoochums, the huggy-kissy one!  So instead of our usual "huggles" or cuddles, we now have "Smoochum attacks!"


Bud, in telling us about a trip to the fitness room at Gommie and Pop's hotel, said, "I picked up 5 ton weights."  We didn't have the heart to tell him differently.


Last night after the Brownie ceremony, Sis and Bud were having so much fun playing and Mama and I were so ready for bed that we said they could stay up and lay and then camp out downstairs!  And they did!

But around 4:30 a.m. they both ended up in our bed after a spate of nightmares, snuggling up between us.  But because Bud had left Mr. Big below in his rush for safety and comfort, he would roll to one side and hug Sis and then roll to the other side and wrap his arms around me.  At one point, he said, "You don't feel like Mr. Big."  And so I gave him one of my stuffed penguins (yep, I sleep with two; they're big and support me, like those long pregnancy pillow things) and he said it didn't feel right.  i told him it was a penguin and that seemed to satisfy.


When Bud broke out in a rash from too much fresh fruit (a holdover from babyhood), I said, "No fresh fruit, Bud.  How about some ice cream?"  Best.  Mom.  Ever.


Bud on dressage during the Olympics, "Is that a real sport?"


When Pop tripped on a basketball and fell in the driveway, scraping his knee (but not hurting himself otherwise), Bud panicked, "Did you get blood on the driveway??!!"


At some point, and I forget the whole story, Gommie and the kids were talking about what if you didn't hear with your ears.  Gommie lifted up her shirt, as if her bellybutton were listening, and said, "Whadya say?"  The kids now randomly lift up their shirts and repeat her question, breaking into hysterics!

Happy Moon Fest

Today during their visit, Ma and Gong reminisced about the celebrations of the Mid-Autumn Moon Fest in Thailand during their childhoods.  They would make paper lanterns by hand, carefully folding special paper with the aid of a pen knife and a ruler (they demonstrated, roughly, with notepaper.)  At night, they would process gingerly with lit candles inside the delicate lanterns to celebrate the moon and the harvest.  Often, the lanterns would catch fire before too long.  They would eat Chinese mooncakes, stamped with images and writing, filled with lotus seed paste or nuts, seeds, and citrus  They also remember it as a holiday for women, with the Buddha's altar decorated with handicrafts, cosmetics, brushes, and other feminine articles.  It was a holiday, they recall, associated with Kwan Yin (or Guanyin)--or in Thai, Kuan Im--the goddess of mercy and compassion.

They told us these stories, demonstrated how to make lanterns, roughly, with a piece of notebook paper, and gave us mooncakes and pink and blue lanterns for our own celebration tomorrow.  We'll eat the mooncakes (or the rest of them; we started early!  Sis likes the lotus paste.  I eat both, but not the egg yolk inside.  Mama likes them all; not Bud.) and head outside at dusk with our new lanterns. We'll also read some of the stories about the Moon Rabbit, who (I think) lives in the harvest moon and Kwan Yin.

Happy Moon Fest, everyone!

Soup's On

It looks like soup weather outside, rainy and dark, but it's warmer than I would expect for almost October, hovering around 70F during the day.  And so we've made a few batches of soup:  a Polish-inspired adaptation of Hunter's Stew (bigos) and a Spanish lentil soup like one I make in the slow cooker.  They were delicious (Bud even liked the Hunter's Stew) and perfect for the weather.  The first of many soups this season, I think.


Hunter's Stew
1 onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
olive oil
1 head cabbage, shredded
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 can diced tomatoes
bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced

Cook down the onion and carrots in olive oil.  Saute the cabbage briefly.  Add 4 cups vegetable stock and 1/2 can diced tomatoes.  Add a bay leaf and some minced garlic. Simmer until cabbage reaches desired tenderness. Season to taste.

Mama Hungry


Stovetop Spanish Lentil Soup
1 onion, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1/2 red pepper, seeded and chopped
olive oil
3 cups kale, de-stemmed, washed, and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
6-8 cups water
red wine vinegar

Saute onion, celery, carrots, and red pepper in olive oil until tender.  Add kale and garlic and saute briefly.  Add lentils, paprika, and water.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer about 20 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender.  Serve with a splash of red wine vinegar.

Mommy Hungry, inspired by Bloodroot and adapted from a slow cooker recipe

Reviving an Old Tradition

On almost every evening that we know I was pregnant, Mama read a story to the kiddos in utero.  Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram.  It was a tender, touching moment in an otherwise very uncomfortable pregnancy.

Then, on the day the kids were born, Mama went upstairs to the NICU to visit Bud, who stayed there most of his first five days on a CPAP, the biggest baby there (we were so grateful).  And the first time Mama visited him, she began to recite the text of the story and he grasped her finger, recognizing her voice.

For two years, Guess How Much I Love You, about the love of a father nutbrown hare for his little nutbrown hare, was the last story we read to them, almost always with Mama doing the reading.  Mama often changed the gender of both the parent and the child back and forth to accommodate our family.  But they slowly started to pay less attention to the story and, hurt, Mama quit reading it.

Tonight, we were looking at baby pictures and talking about their babyhood and I mentioned the book ritual of long ago.  The kids were excited, especially Sis because of the bunnies (do you think that's how the bunny thing got started??), and so we dug up a copy of the story in an anthology and Mama read.

She read it twice.

And it was as tender and touching as seven years ago.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Twist and Shout!

"Twist me and turn me,
and show me an elf.
I look in the water
and see--myself!"

Sis bridged to Brownies tonight!  My co-leaders and I spent three hours this afternoon setting everything up at a local hall--the actual bridge complete with tablecloth "water" and mirror, chairs, computer projection, and table for snacks.  All while the town was flooding around us.  Seriously, main streets closed and buses home were delayed . . . all while we blissfully hung balloons and arranged tablecloths!

But the streets dried and the sixteen Daisies turned out to exchange their blue Daisy tunics with rainbow petals for their brown Brownie vests, with official flag, CT council insignia, rainbow bridging patch, and membership insignia.  We saw a great slideshow of their last two years together--horseback riding, poetry at the assisted-living center, historical-house tour, Audubon tour, grocery store tour, firehouse tour, Garbage Museum tour, Mother's Day tea, Nutcracker party, Gingerbread party, Bounce U party, beach party, pool party, pumpkin picking and hayride, yoga, art lesson, game-playing (and that's not even all!)--we've had a great time!

Then they heard the story of the Brownie Elf and each walked across the bridge and saw themselves in the mirror.  A family member waited on the other side to switch them from their Daisy tunics to their Brownie vests while we all clapped.  I got to twist and turn Sis and then stood as Mama put on her tunic.   Bud gamefully sat in the audience (reading a Pokemon handbook)!  Once they were all done, we had them turn their Brownie membership pins upside down until they completed three good deeds.

And then we all had brownies--my plain chocolate ones as well as blondies and cheesecake brownies.  Everyone seemed to have a great time, especially those of us who remembered our own bridging years ago, before there were even Daisies, back when you bridged from Brownies to Junior Girl Scouts.  But there was the same elf story and the same bridge and twisting and turning (the only difference was the pledge, which included "mankind" back then; it's "help people at all times" or something--I never remember, even if I prefer its inclusive language.)

But no beanie hats!

Congrats to our new Brownie, the third (maybe even fourth, if my grandmother, Bammie had been a scout as a child, before she was Gommie's troop's leader--which makes me a third-generation leader!)-generation Brownie in the family!

I'm Lovin' It

Okay, despite surgery/infection in August, I'm loving having Mama home all these weeks.  I mean, how many couples get to spend their days together for weeks on end before retirement?  Sure, there's been lots of crap--and I'm not sure I'd willingly have chosen our August so that we could spend time together.  But it's a really nice side effect.  The best one, really.

It just means I'm not blogging much these days because we're doing other things, even if it's just movies at home with take-out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Change?

I thought it was just the stress, but my PT suggested something very different.  "How old are you again?" she asked  inquisitively.  (And we know how that question never precedes happy medical information!  And I've gotten it from my eye doctor and ENT in the last year.)

"No," I said. "Noooooo!"

'Cos I'll be 42 in less than 3 months.

And I was told I might hit menopause early because I only have one ovary (I have only heard this once, from my surgeon.  Wait, now I see it discussed anecdotally here and scientifically here).

So I just checked the Mayo Clinic for perimenopause:

(TMI warning!)

  • a change in cycle by more than 7 days (I've lost 4 in the last 12 months; today, I'm more than 10 days late.  And I'm always exactly on time.);
  • a change in, shall we call it, intensity? of the period (length, strength, etc);
  • sleep trouble;
  • mood changes (I'm irritable and prone to tears more than usual, but I chalked that up to August);
  • other issues (I'm just not going there here).
The only thing--the stereotypical symptom--I don't have is hot flashes.  Well, beyond my usual intolerance of summer, which was worse this year with all the humidity.  Mercy, is heat sensitivity a symptom?

Though, any of those could also be related to my back issues and the stress we had this summer.  Right?  Right?

Blog readers, BEWARE!  We might be entering new territory.  Thankfully, I have an appointment with my new gyn in about 2 1/2 weeks (and hopefully she'll tell me I'm overreacting.  Not that I'm worried or upset really; just maybe surprised).  

Outta There

Good news:  my beloved Aunt Sis is out of the hospital!  She's moved, temporarily (I think) to a nursing facility for physical therapy.  Wishing her quick and easy healing!


It's a small loss but poignant nonetheless:  the kids' beloved little red wagon was damaged and we had to throw it out.  Sure, insurance will cover a replacement, but the new models are different than our bulky, red plastic with fold down seats and juice box holders, plus even a canopy and trailer!  We had such good times in that wagon--we'd walk around the neighborhood most days when they were toddlers, getting Cheerios in every crevice.   As an older kid, Sis delivered her Girl Scout cookies from it.  I couldn't bear to see it tossed haphazardly in with all the junk . . . even though I'll always have wonderful memories.


On a related note, HUGE thanks to Miss BA, who came over in a pinch to help with the heavy lifting, and to Miss B and Miss S who waited in the wings.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Fall Start

If August was for illness, injury, and accidents, then this fall is a time for healing and clean-ups.  And the dumpster arrived today!  The garage door has been dismantled and placed in it; tomorrow, the inventory people arrive to help us with the damaged goods, sorting between the dumpster and a soon-to-arrive POD.   The contractors will start repairing the back and front walls once the stuff is gone.

In about a month, a team of tree specialists will come fix our 70' silver maple, which is healthy but a bit too big to be nestled amid three houses.  They're going to take off about 15' and cable the four large branches together.  The cabling will last about 20 years, the pruning around 10.  It'll make us feel better about weathering the storms which are increasingly blowing through CT safely.

And then, during all this, our washing machine started making awful noises, like a jet engine taking off.  Thankfully, it's on maintenance, because we're looking at a new drum and other repairs.  And if they can't fix it, they'll replace it!  It still runs enough to keep us clean, but we've switched to paper towels and napkins instead of cloth towels and napkins for now!

I'm keeping an eye on Mama, and myself, so we don't overdo it.  In fact, we've rested so much today that we've taken in almost three movies!  Tangled.  Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  Bend it Like Beckham.  (Okay, that implies that we haven't moved around at all; we did that in between).  Yep, we've got free movie channels and are enjoying them immensely.

We also cooked at home a lot today, delicious, healthy whole food:  a cherry kefir smoothie, our knock-off of Bloodroot's marinated tofu salad, and Mama's own version of a kale-mushroom saute I've made, but served with a fried egg.

This day of recovery ended with a night at school to celebrate reading--in pajamas!  The kids wore dinosaurs and sheep pjs, respectively, along with Perry the Playtpus slippers and carried Tango and Amy the Bunny.  They heard several stories sitting on the carpet with their classmates.

A great day and a good start to fall!


Cherry Kefir Smoothie
2 cups plain low-fat kefir
2 cups frozen sweet cherries
2-4 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
water to thin, as needed

Blend ingredients together and serve.


Marinated Tofu Salad
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup tamari (we had soy sauce)
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil (we had regular sesame oil)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (we had rice vinegar)
squeeze of half a lemon

extra firm tofu, sliced thinly
lettuce or Napa cabbage shredded

Marinate tofu in some of the dressing until chilled.  Arrange tofu slices over bed of lettuce or cabbage and dress with remaining marinade.

adapted from Bloodroot


Mushroom-Kale Stir Fry

portobello mushrooms, in chunks
onion, chopped
1 bunch kale, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
soy sauce

Saute kale in a bit of water and garlic.  In another skillet, saute mushrooms and onions until soft.  Combine and continue to heat until tender, adding soy sauce.  Serve with a fried egg.

adapted from my own adapted version of Heather Bruggeman's Potato-Kale-Portobello dish

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fill in the Blanks

A recent spate of driveway art (Can you guess who was whom?  We took some hilarious pics with us in them!) :

Jedi Alien says, "Protect you, I can!"

Guess Who?!  (The blue bit is the cottontail and the pink is an egg being carried.)

Pirate, with cutlass, parrot, and treasure

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thanks, Gommie and Pop

It's always hard to say goodbye, especially after a 2-week visit evolves into almost 6 and our lives merge together more like daily life than the hyper-spastic-ness of vacation.  Certainly, it was a normal month and a half, with numerous hospital visits and medical crises, but Gommie and Pop made it as normal and as easy as possible for both the kids and us--untold numbers of rides, meals, dishes, loads of laundry, errands, and the like.  Plus as much fun as they could squeeze in.  I know the kids are going to miss them; Mama and I are going to miss them, too.  It's been a great visit.  I don't even know how to thank you, again, Mom and Dad (at least not better than this).  Except to say this:  if Mama and I get to be grandparents some day, I hope we can be like you.  And when Sis or Bud need us--and when you do, too--we'll be there like you have been for us.  We love you!

Summer Fun: Gommie and Pop Camp

With Gommie and Pop heading back to Texas tomorrow, our summer has truly come to an end.  It's been, on one hand, a great five weeks, especially for the kids.  Because here is some of what they've done:
  • Fishing in ponds and rivers--the kids have their own poles now and are learning how to cast
  • Kite-flying at the beach
  • Swimming--they'll go one last time for a swim at the hotel pool today when we pull them out of school early!
  • Sleepover at the hotel!
  • Aquarium
  • Audubon trail walk and bird-watching with binoculars
  • Nemo 3-D
  • Lots of yummy meals, in restaurants and at home--chicken and dumplings, ham, special pancakes, Chinese, grilling pork chops, hamburgers on the grill, bacon-onion-pickle-cheese open faced broiled sandwiches, beef beef and more beef
  • Ice cream--I think they went to at least 3 or 4 different creameries
  • Celebrated Pop's birthday
  • Arcade games
  • Putt-Putt golf
  • Bowling
  • Batting practice
  • Scooters and bike riding
  • Girl Scout swim party
  • Gymnastics, piano, and kung fu lessons
  • Lunch at school and the bookfair (later today)
  • Basketball
  • Studying dragonflies
  • Played American Girl Doll (and ordered some accessories)
And I don't think we took a single picture!

(Gommie and Pop managed to have "camp" on their own, too, with hiking the Appalachian Trail in CT some and then a jaunt up to Burlington and also Rutland, VT with a swazu to Lake Champlain and Fort Ticonderoga!  They said next time they'll get a cabin in VT for the month and just come to CT on weekends!  Maybe we'll go to them in VT . . . .)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In the Kitchen with Gommie

In just over a month, Gommie has managed to add a few new meals to our kids' repertoire:  round steak with rice and gravy, rump roast, King Ranch Chicken, and even chili!  That means beef, a casserole, and something with tomatoes!  This is huge.  (Okay, sure, I'm a bit ambivalent about beef, but it's ok once in awhile for them.) And in their spirit of adventurousness, they also tried and loved cheese tortellinis (added to a chicken soup with veggies)!  In her last few days here (I think they're hoping to head home on Friday since we survived, and even thrived, while they were up in VT), Gommie has talked about trying zucchini bread and Aunt Banana's tomato-less vegetable "Garden-Style" lasagna.  Even if they don't take to those, Gommie's cooking has been a boon.

Rump Roast

3-4 lb. rump roast
salt and pepper
1 cup water

            Preheat oven to 500°F.  Salt and pepper roast.  Sear uncovered in oven for 10-15 minutes.  Add 1 cup water, cover and reduce oven to 350°F.  Cook for approximately 2 hours.
            Make gravy and serve with rice.
Gommie Hungry


Round Steak
1 round steak, tenderized
1 onion, sliced
½ cup flour
beef bouillon granules + water
¼ cup oil
salt and pepper

            Cut steak in serving-size pieces.  Season and coat with flour.  Brown in oil over medium heat until brown on both sides.  Remove and drain oil leaving 3 tablespoons and drippings.  Add 3 tablespoons flour to oil and make a roux.  Add water slowly.  Add onion and seasoning.  Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Gommie Hungry


King Ranch Chicken
1 chicken, cooked and cut in pieces (or, bake 3 breasts in oven at 350°F for 30 minutes)
2 cup grated cheese
1 dozen corn tortillas, torn into fourths (Gommie used corn chips)
1 onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of mushroom/celery
1 cup chicken broth (or bouillion cube and water)
½ can Rotel tomatoes/chilies

            Spray 9 x 13 pan with Pam.  Layer tortillas, chicken, onions, sauce, and cheese.  Bake 350°F for 30 minutes.

Gommie Hungry


"Chili Jambalaya" for the Kids
This chili combo is based on a dish served at my elementary school cafeteria, with chili over rice and lettuce with cheese.  I added the Fritos, a la Frito Chili Pie.  But this is not served in the bag!  And while it was my recipe, it was Gommie's idea to try it now.  Of course, Fritos were a large part of its success.

1 lb. ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 teaspoons Penzey's chili con carne seasoning mix
1/4-1/2 cup diced tomatoes
shredded cheddar cheese

Brown the ground meat, draining fat if necessary. Saute onions. Add chili seasoning and tomatoes to meat and onions. Add water if necessary (I like my chili soupy, so the Fritos can absorb some). Simmer. Serve over bed of white rice with a layer of iceberg or romaine lettuce, Fritos, and topped with lots of cheese.

Mommy Hungry


Zucchini Surprise Bread
4 eggs beaten
1/2 cup oil
1 clove garlic, minced
dash pepper
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Lawry's seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons parsley
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup bisquick
3 cups zucchini, sliced.

Mix in 9 x 13" pan.  Bake 30 minutes at 350F, until brown.

Gommie Hungry

Something Windy This Way Came

What a wind we have had tonight, gusting up to 60+mph at times!  Trees danced . . . and dropped.  Even Gommie, who has survived near hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, was impressed with the way the trees shook and dropped branches.  We saw one lane closed to a tree on our return trip from PT and then were re-routed because a tree fell at the top of our street.  But no trees down on us or our power lines.  Knock on  wood.  Be nice if a tree had hit the garage, since insurance is giving us just enough, maybe, to rebuild the walls.  Could've been worse . . . .Hope all my fellow Nutmeggers are safe and sound tonight.

Sending Love (and Flowers)

My beloved aunt is back in the hospital, after spending most of last summer and fall there.  We don't have too many details, though I can piece together that she was in the ICU but is not anymore.  We're sending love, prayers, and and those flowers down to Texas.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oh, Wait, It Got Better

For Mama's surgeons...

Tex-Mex Chocolate Sheet Cake
One of Mama's doctors, besides being "family," was also from Texas and not far from where I grew up!  We spent one whole hospital visit reminiscing about food we missed, including this cake.  And so I promised to make her some when Mama went in for her follow-up.
1 stick margarine or butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2-1oz. squares unsweetened chocolate or 6 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk (to sour regular milk, place 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar in 1/2 cups measure, fill with milk)
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine margarine, oil, chocolate and water in a saucepan and heat until chocolate is melted. Combine flour, baking soda, sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla in a large bowl, then blend with first mixture. Pour batter into a greased 12 x 18 sheet cake pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until cake is done (top springs back when touched lightly). Leave cake in pan and frost with icing while cake is still warm.
1 stick margarine or butter
2-1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate (or 6 tablespoons cocoa plus 2 tablespoons
of margarine or butter)
6 tablespoons milk
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chopped pecans
Combine margarine, chocolate, and milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar, a little at a time (this is important). Stir in vanilla and pecans. Beat to a spreading consistency. Spread warm icing on warm cake.
Gommie Hungry

Doesn't Get Better Than This

Mine is the missing one!

Golden Sourdough Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup Sourdough Starter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I substituted dry buttermilk powder and water, adding the powder to the flour and the water to the starter.  You can also use regular milk.)
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine Sourdough Starter and buttermilk; stir into crumb mixture with a fork until dough forms a ball.
  • Turn onto a well-floured surface; knead 10-12 times. Roll to 1/2-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. biscuit cutter. Place 2 in. apart on a greased baking sheet.
  • Bake at 425° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. Yield: 1 dozen.
  • Taste of Home

Friday, September 14, 2012

I'm Still Here

Haven't blogged much this week.  Every time I lie down at the computer (yep, I blog from bed), I take a nap!  It's the new meds to handle my back pain.  Wonderful things, but rather sleep-inducing.  Still, I've had friends over, run some errands, gotten halfway through Final Gifts (about hospice and "Nearing Death Awareness") and watched the new "Glee" (good enough, considering the hurdles of a split show).  This weekend is quiet, or at least that's the plan, and it's a three-day, for Rosh Hashanah.  I imagine we'll have movies/tv, DS, board games, and baking, plus more hospice training for me and kung fu for Bud, as well as swimming and ice cream with Gommie and Pop (who we think will be heading home within a week).  And maybe rain and 49F!  In other words, a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Memoriam

My own photograph, taken (I believe) from the Staten Island Ferry, possibly fall 1995.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Our Bi-Annual Tradition

Our birthday and New Year's tradition . . . (Note:  While Mama and I answered these in July, I just got the kids' answers today--Pokemon is a recent phenomenon and wouldn't have made the list on their birthdays!  Two months ago, favorites were Ninjago, Legos, "Phineas and Ferb", Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc, much like at Christmas.  Funny how similar the lists are, though, right?  Twin thing?)

Book: Runny Babbit
TV show:  "Pokemon"
Movie:  Pokemon:  Mew Two Strikes Back
Song:  Pokemon theme and Poke rap
Color:  pink
Number:  7
Food:  chocolate
Flavor:  chocolate
Animal: bunny
Day of the Week:  Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Ice Cream:  chocolate
Candy:  Tootsie Rolls
Restaurant:  Chinese food
Toy/Thing:   Pokemon figures
Thing to do:  play Pokemon and DS
Place to go:  swimming or the aquarium
Saying/Words:  "murph"
Happy thoughts every night:  bunnies, Pokemon, Pikachu
What she wants to be when she grows up:  vet

Book:  Hero Factory

TV show:  "Pokemon"

Movie:  Pokemon:  Mew Two Strikes Back
Song:  Pokemon theme and Poke rap
Color:  blue
Number:   7
Food:   spaghetti
Flavor:  strawberry
Animal:  penguin
Day of the Week:  Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Ice Cream:  strawberry
Candy:  Skittles
Restaurant:  sushi
Toy/Thing:   Pokemon figures
Thing to do:  iPad apps
Place to go:   Antarctica
What he wants to be when he grows up:  an artist


Book: Winnie the Pooh and The Emperor of All Maladies 
TV show: 2012 London Olympics
Movie:  Brave

Song:  "Ordinary Miracle"
Musician: Indigo Girls
Color:  forest green
Number:  13
Food:  Vietnamese banh mi
Flavor: sea salt 
Animal: panda-cat-manatee-koala-dragons
Day of the Week:  Saturday
Ice Cream:  Grapenut
Candy: gummi bears
Restaurant:  Wood's Seafood, Plymouth, MA or anywhere I can crack lobsters with Bud
Toy/Thing:  iPad
Thing to do:  Play DS with the kids or pet the cats
Place to go:  Almost anywhere overnight
Saying/Words:  What's your goal?
Happy thoughts every night: N/A
What she wants to be when she grows up: joyful

Book:  anything by Sylvia Boorstein; 97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman; 
TV show:  "Glee," "Smash," "Taste of History," 
Movie:  Brave
Song:  "Born this Way"
CD:  Brave soundtrack; songs from "Glee"
Color:  purple; rainbow
Number:  12
Food:  smoothies
Flavor:  chocolate
Animal:  sea otters
Day of the Week:  Saturday
Ice Cream:  strawberry soda ice cream
Candy:  dark chocolate
Restaurant:  Jamaican, Middle Eastern, Ethiopian, Indian
Toy/Thing:  juggling balls
Thing to do:  be with family, bake, blog, 
Place to go:  bookstore, together; weekend outings anywhere with family
Saying/Words:  "Keep calm and carry on"
Happy thoughts every night: my family
What I want to be when she grows up: I don't know, which is why I ask little kids--for ideas (cribbed from Paula Poundstone!)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A New Endeavor

I started a new endeavor today:  hospice volunteer.

Eventually, I'll be visiting patients enrolled in hospice (meaning physicians have determined they might have less than 6 months left to live), keeping them company or helping with small tasks like looking through photos or writing letters.

A friend suggested that I might enjoy and be good at it.  And so I looked into it and went to my first training this morning.  Today was mostly HIPAA (which reminds me not to betray any PHI, or personal health information!) and OSHA awareness training, but I liked the people and the environment.  And I'm really looking forward to learning more so I can help out.

You might recall, I've explored issues of death and dying here (and here and here) several times, as well as my pastoral care training, non-violent communication workshops, prayer shawl ministry work, meditation (and here and here) and mindfulness (esp. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction--and here-- and other practices for health), course on prayer (and here), and my recent interest in reading about death, religion (and here and here) and spirituality (and here and here), and the like (and one time that I didn't post on, a sermon on sacred dying and ancient Greek concepts).  I think it's all coming together with hospice.  And they even want crocheted lapghans for the patients!

Something Else

What can I say?  Today, Mama's mom accidentally drove her car (not a Totoya) through our garage, with Mama and Sis as passengers.  Everyone is okay.  Mama and Ma think the car malfunctioned because it lurched forward in drive, wouldn't be stopped easily, they struggled to get it in reverse, and then couldn't stop it without the hand brake and pulling the key from the ignition.  Mama even removed Sis from the car before it stopped because she feared it rolling into the street.  Crazy strange and scary.  Everyone is okay.  Scared and stressed, but physically okay.  The stuff in the garage, not so much.  Because the car went through the garage door and the back wall.  The kids were very upset to see their damaged bikes and toys.  Of course, we've talked about how it's just stuff and we're so happy and lucky everyone is okay.  But with firefighters coming to check for danger--what, with gasoline and power lines around--and a building inspector checking that the load-bearing walls were still okay and all the calls to insurance companies, it was chaotic and stressful.  But the day is over and we are all okay.  And that's what matters.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Life with a Screen

When I was laid up in the last two years, I always posted about what I was doing for "life in a bed."  Well, now it's Mama's turn.  And when she's not eating interesting take-out (so far, hibachi, Jamaican, Italian deli, and Shake Shack) or playing games (mainly on her iPad, which I don't even know the names of), she's watching tv and movies (and was limited in her choices by the hospital's tv, mainly choosing TLC or Discovery, hence "American Guns!"), often with me at night.  In the last few weeks, we've seen (streaming Netflix or Amazon Prime or DVR'd off basic cable; **asterisks indicate recommendations):

  • **"Doctor Who" with Christopher Eccleston--We are completely unfamiliar with any of this series but kept coming across it; we're enjoying it.
  • **Between the Folds--a fascinating documentary on origami, starting with traditional artistic forms and moving into more technical/engineered forms, "choreographed" or kinesthetic/motion-oriented forms, abstract single-fold forms, "anarchist" crumbled not folded forms, and engineering/scientific applications and forms like with air bags and collapsible telescope lenses in space. 
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Game of Shadows--I think we liked this one better than the first.  Totally different from the BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Word Wars documentary on Scrabble--kinda bittersweet documentary of four men who live lives rather restricted by their Scrabble obsessions.
  • Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox--like the soap, totally turned off by documentary and not because of the wacky religious views of Dr. Bronner but because of the righteousness of the proselytizing son and the lack of distance/objectivity of the narrative--it's like a bad public access infomercial.
  • **"Taste of History"--working our way through 3 seasons of colonial cooking by Chef Walter Staib.
  • "Auction Kings"--aka WT-version of "Antique Roadshow"
  • "Dirty Jobs Down Under" (Australia)--ugh, snakes and poisonous frogs.  And some ugly condescension to Aborigines.
  • "Stephen Fry in America"--not as good as it could have been, at least not the New England episode
  • "Moonshiners"--reality tv on moonshiners and cops in rural VA.  Wow, not much has changed.
  • "Damages"--she's watching this on her own.  Just to look at Glenn Close.
  • "One Car Too Far"--she's watching this alone, too
  • "Bering Sea Gold:  Under the Ice" and "Bering Sea Gold"--ditto.
  • "Fast n Loud"--don't even know what this was . . . 
  • "American Guns"--something about refurbishing old guns--and she likes how they got dents out of old wood.
  • "Survivor Man"--mmh, hmm.
  • "Encounters at the End of the World" by Werner Herzog--actually just quit watching it, weren't that engaged or interested.
  • **Thor--Okay, we liked it.  The Norse mythological influences, the fantastic special effects, Queen Amidala.  I'd watch the sequel.
  • "Pokemon"--so she could talk to the kids.  And because she loves it.
  • "Ninjago"--another one to keep up with the kids.
  • **Black Swan--Queen Amidala again.  Frightening, amazing, enthralling, gross, artistic.
  • Captain America--I liked the period feel, the story, and seeing LOTR's "Elrond" as evil Hydra Nazi Red Skull.  Didn't like the ending moving it to the present.
  • Transformers 3--Yeah, we're not watching everything in order, just what we can get online easily.  Mama had to fill me in on the backstory, which she knew from childhood.  I liked it, especially that they blew up Chicago instead of NYC!  I was even sad when the old Scottish? transformer died.  They became kinda humanoid.
  • **"Poirot"--the modern PBS series--we like it.
  • **Several 1970s-1980s Agatha Christie movies, including Evil Under the Sun--love Maggie Smith!!
  • Iron Man 2--just like with Transformers, we hadn't seen the first one of this.  We're actually watching it now.  Funny to see Sherlock Holmes as a Super Hero.  And Gwyneth Paltrow as an art historian/curator, I think (well, she was talking art in that last scene--but the Boy Scouts?  Ugh, Iron Man), is so cliche.  Can't tell you why we like the Marvel Comics/action movies now.  Power?  Violence?  Clarity?  We wish we could get the new Batman or Avengers.    Oops, we just got bored and changed films . . . I wonder what's next.
Update:  Next was "Ice Road Truckers:  World's Most Dangerous Roads" in the Himalayas, with a female truck driver!  And then the BBC's crime-solving duo, "Rosemary & Thyme."  And tonight X-Men: First Class!

Fall is Coming

Proof, from our dogwood:

The First Thanksgivings

A special dish of origami stars filled with happy thoughts
Today, I'm starting to give thanks to so many who have helped and supported us these last few weeks (real cards eventually!):

  • to Miss JL, for cookies
  • to Miss KK for chocolate chip bread
  • to Miss KJ, for lemon bars and cookies and a ride to PT
  • to Miss JD, for banana bread
  • to Miss SA, for beautiful flowers
  • to Miss BB, for the lovely handmade otter bracelet for good luck
  • to Mama Teacher, for blueberry snack cakes, a lovely dish of happy-thought stars, and a compassionate ear
  • to Mommy Goose for prayers and emails and distracting stories
  • to Miss MQ, for beautiful flowers and stuffed-animal cat (and thanks for not sending a bunny without a penguin!!!)
  • to Miss AS, for prayers and constant offerings of help
  • to Rev. M, for hospital visit and checking in
  • to Lambeth, for his international calls that bring such delight
  • to both of my therapists, of mind and body, who keep me in good shape
  • to Mama's office for the beautiful flowers and 20 bags of groceries!
  • to everyone who has emailed, called, prayed, and sent cards, too numerous to list
More thanks to family coming soon . . . 

Blue and silver beads reminiscent of the sea with an otter charm (just like Hermione, the otter is my patronus!)


Very excited for my cousin R (and her mom, cousin S) and her husband, who welcomed first-born babe, cousin S!  :)  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Happy at Home

We had a good day.  No new symptoms.  No ER trips.  Two successful doctors' visits--me to a new local physiatrist, Mama to her GP for a rash check--and meds to help us out and an encouraging check0in with my therapist.  Plus, Sis started her new gymnastics class and loved it and Bud started with a new piano teacher (he's cautiously optimistic).  And Gommie and Pop helped with it all.  Our gratitude is unlimited.

She's Home

Mama came home around midnight, but Blogger was uncooperative and kept failing on me.   The doctors think she had a reaction to ibuprofen not an infection, so they sent her home with more meds!  She's very splotchy, but we're glad she's home.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Waiting Up

Mama Hungry has a spreading rash and the docs called her into the ER because they're worried it's an infection of some kind.  Looks like she might be admitted for IV antibiotics or steroids.  Poor Mama.  Pop is with her because my back wasn't strong enough to go (but going to PT tonight helped).  Gommie is with me and the kids.  They're all asleep and I'm watching "Sex and the City" instead of the convention--I needed a good distraction.

Right Now

Spotted the first changing leaves....beautiful red outside the window.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


First Star Wars, then Harry Potter, also Ninjago and Phineas and Ferb.  

Now the kids are enthralled by Pokémon (similar to the others in being a merchandising powerhouse!).  They come by it honestly enough--Goo was obsessed as a kiddo when I first met him 18 years ago, playing the card game especially (we even took him to GenCon in Milwaukee one year where he placed second in a tournament) and Mama shared him in his interest, preferring the tv show to the card game.  

Ok, if you are new to  Pokémon , they are "pocket monsters" who populate a fictional world where young  Pokémon  trainers catch (in red and white Poké balls), train, and then battle (but not to the death) in order to gain badges and rank.  The  Pokémon  evolve, gaining in strength, powers, and often size.  They are often plays on real animals, plants, or minerals, with quirky names--Snorlax is a lazy, sleeping cat and Oddish is a weird-looking radish--and they can only "talk" using variations on their own names (so Pikachu can say "pi," "pika," "chu," "pika-pi," and sometimes "cha.").  There are collectible cards with various  Pokémon  on them and a complex card game based on building a deck and battling.  There is also a tv show that follows Pokemon trainer Ash, his main  Pokémon  Pikachu ("pika" is a kind of mouse and this one is electrical!), and his friends, plus their nemesis, Team Rocket.  The whole thing comes from Japan, where it remains extremely popular; I think its popularity has waned here somewhat.  

And now Goo and Mama are passing their interest along to the kids with the show, cards, and toys.  And the kids love it!  They sing the songs, collect the cards, watch the show, play the DS game, and are really enjoying drawing the different Pokémon.  They've both made books of their favorites, complete with references to the evolved forms.  Of course, there are now hundreds more than when Mama and Goo were interested (I was always amused but not as enthusiastic), so we're all learning.  It's been a great distraction, especially since Mama introduced them to it when she got back from surgery and then the kids' became more involved (and distracted) when she was back in the hospital.

It's Raining Again

My back has gone out again.  Like the last two times.  I was sitting at the breakfast table this morning, filling out the calendar for September.  Pop.  I ignored it, thinking it was just my body adjusting, but when I went to get up. . . I pretty much couldn't.  Somehow made it upstairs, where I am in bed . . . again.  With my previous experiences, I think I know what to do and how to cope with the pain.  And I can tell it could be worse.  It only hurts when I move.  :|

I'm sad, though, knowing the burden this places on those around me, especially my folks and the kids.  I feel guilty because I know I have been pushing it the last two weeks and could've taken better care of myself, but I thought it was going well.    I'm grateful at the same time, for the help everyone will give.  And worried about the stress this places on Mama while she heals.

But, part of my meditation practice, the weather practice, from Toni Bernhard's How to Be Sick, suggests recognizing that pain ebbs and flows and can't be predicted.  And so I'll continue my mindfulness and meditation today.  It's more important than ever.


Saturday, September 1, 2012


Gommie and Pop are hiking the Appalachian Trail today!

Ma, Gong, and Goo are coming for a visit.

Happy September 1!