Thursday, November 28, 2013

What Love Is

Danced in the kitchen with my husband tonight, while thinking and smooching about how much we love that we've loved eachother for 14 years. Since innocence. He was my first love, and I'm so thankful that I loved first the man I'll love last. In the most "Sweet Valley High" and "Clueless" way possible.

Followed up by this, with a couple twirls and Prom reminscences., And then thankfulness.

I love my family, so much. All the new ones and old ones and close ones and not so close ones, in whichever way those may be, whether by distance or by time or just by how things go. And I love you all and I am blessed. Not just by some higher-up, but by the lucky happenstance of the combination of wonderful people who are in my life.

Finish with these two totally disparate representations of excellence in the world of creativity.

Today, I am thankful for stuffing, whiskey, white wine, Balderdash, and Family. So good, so loved.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Menu!

We've gotten started on the cooking for Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad are housesitting a couple doors down, so between the three couples, we've got three kitchens. And we will SO be using them. Just at the cottage alone, we're making:

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Nutmeg Bechamel Sauce
Sweet and Spicy Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon, 5 Cracked Peppers and Olive Oil
Lynds's Vegetarian Stuffing with Cranberries
Ross's Grandmother's Apple Sausage Dressing
Fresh Baked Honey Dinner Rolls
Cinnamon Raising Bread Pudding with Hard Sauce

And then you add in the rest of the kitchens:

A 22 pound Roasted Crispy Turkey with Fresh Sage
Lynds's Grandmother's Old-Fashioned Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Pumpkin Pie
Salad with the Best Salad Dressing Ever
Probably Apple Pie
Tommy's Mom's Homemade Pho
Wine, Wine and more Wine.

I can't wait. Thanksgiving here is the best fun tradition - giant meal, good music, plenty of drinks, and then ridiculous and multiple rounds of board games. Balderdash, Apples to Apples, Cranium, and maybe even a shot at Cards Against Humanity. I'll post lots of pictures the day after Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Best Salad Dressing Ever

I used to think, back before I went to college, that salad was a side dish. That wimpy, watery iceberg lettuce and dried out carrots, miniature croutons and shredded American cheese, mealy tomato cubes and neon-orange French dressing were as good as salad got.

I was so wrong. See, there's this place in Berkeley called Cafe Intermezzo. Or there was that place, anyways. And they served the best most amazing giant salads ever. Bigger than your head, with mounds of almost fluffy red and green leaf lettuce, the thinnest of sliced cucumbers, brilliantly purple red cabbage, bite-sized cherry tomatos, crunchy crouton discs, half an avocado just plopped on there, kidney and garbanzo beans, bright orange carrot slices, and if you wanted them, sprouts (I never did). Served with a hunk of just-made honey whole-wheat sunflower bread, the "Veggie Delight" was breathtaking before the dressing was added.

Photo by Micah L

But then came the Poppy Seed dressing. A little tangy, a little sweet, a lot something I could never quite figure out. It was addicting...dip your bread in it, let the croutons soak some up, always be sure to toss your salad (haha) around a lot to get all the dressing on there. It turned a great salad into something worthy of being on a "top ten meals of your life" list.

Every time I was nearby, I popped into Cafe Intermezzo and ordered a Veggie Delight with Poppy Seed Dressing. Even when I wasn't nearby, I'd more-than-occasionally head over to pick up a salad to go, driving 30 minutes out of my way sometimes and never feeling like it wasn't worth it to have this amazing salad dressing. I'm not kidding, it's that good. None of that grocery store garbage compares. I don't even really LIKE other poppy seed dressings.
Photo by Henry S

And then, Intermezzo burned down. A little over a year and a half ago, my favorite restaurant burned down, and with it went the recipe for the best salad dressing ever. Ever since then, I've been trying to figure it out, experimenting with piles of ingredients and tweaking my recipe here and there. And finally, I think I've got it! Try this now. You won't regret it, I promise. In fact, you can come find me and yell at me if you don't like it.

Poppy Seed Dressing

(yes, I know the measurments are funny. My kid stole all my measuring cups except for the 1/5 cup & the 1/2 cup. Sorry.)

Ingredients (makes enough for 3 big-a** salads)

~1 tsp of grated yellow onion (I use a microplane)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
~1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/5 cup red wine vinegar
1/5 cup white sugar
1 tbsp poppy seeds
a blob of mustard


Add all ingredients into a jar or container with a tight lid. Shake it up. Pour over lettuce and other salad-y things. You'll be happy you did. I am, and now I get to have this deliciousness whenever I want. 

I'm thankful today for early Christmas gifts, for my sweet and goofy students who made me giant cards of well wishes while I was gone, for the even sweeter but also more serious student who cleaned my room and reorganized my papers for me, for new headbands, and for comfy shoes.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to Find Your Passion, Part 2

Disclaimer: If you're reading this with a lot of grammatical mistakes and a sort of speech/ stream of consciousness vibe/ flagrant abuse of ellipses... then that means Lyn didn't edit this too much, we have very different writing styles. If you're reading this and it's grammatically correct... then that means that she edited it... and deleted this whole disclaimer.

Oh, and I haven't read her answers to the questions brought up by this article yet so this should be interesting.

Step 1: Answer the Question: What do you love?

I love creating things...painting obviously...otherwise I think the name of this blog would be different... but also woodworking, drawing, cooking...and wildly obscure metaphors to explain concepts (ask me about my football based Congestive Heart Failure explanation sometime). There's a lot of pride in a finished piece that you're happy with.

I also love teaching people things/ being the guy with the answers. Seeing someone "get it," whether it's a difficult new concept, or an activity that they've never tried, is a pretty awesome feeling. Explaining a medical condition and the treatment to a patient so they truly understood and felt more confident about letting me working on them, talking politics or sociology with someone in a way that they understand it's relation to current events, science (what little I know)...that sort of stuff. Teaching probably wouldn't be a bad choice for me if it wasn't for being surrounded by loud, obnoxious, Know-it-all kids. (I remember myself in high school)

I love the adrenalin rush of a win in a stressful situation. Like an live-fire ambush or room clearing exercise drill in the Marine Corps or an acute medical call on the ambulance where you're always one step ahead and watching the patient improve with the treatment choices you made.

Step 2: Answer the Question: What do you loathe?

I loathe busy work... might explain my decision not to re-enlist. If there is not logical, productive reason to be doing something other than "because I said so," don't make me do it. I can totally accept "I don't have time to explain it to you right now, so get it done and I'll explain it all to you later," or even better, "there's absolutely no good reason to be doing this but I want you to look busy in case my bosses walk in." (Emmett, if you read this someday "because I said so" is a totally acceptable reason for me to give to you!)

I loathe people being mean or disrespectful just because of a misplaced sense of authority...public service, municipal, local, and federal is all service to the people, not the other way around. Your badge, stars, bars, stripes, degrees, title, or office don't give you the right to belittle, ignore, or disregard somebody's wishes. You don't have to honor them but you do have to recognize and consider them.

I loathe working retail.  From corporate to customers to pay, with the occasional exception of coworkers there is almost no redeeming quality to working retail. I'm thinking no one is getting barista for any corporate outfits as their dream job.

I loathe inconsiderate people who are oblivious of their surroundings. People who stop in the middle of aisles, people who let their kids run amok, people who feel that they are the most important person in the world and everyone else need to submit to their will. (see: the majority of customers I encountered working retail).

Step 3: Discover the Seven Seeds of Your Soul

1. Even if you didn’t get paid a cent for it, would you still do this? I'd do (and right now I am doing) art without getting paid. I probably wouldn't volunteer teach and I definitely wouldn't go back to being a Marine or a Paramedic without getting paid (it was barely worth the little pay I got.)

2. Would doing this inspire you every day? I like getting the new ideas for artwork and figuring out the riddle of getting it done... so yeah, that's inspiring. Teaching would be pretty great with the right batch of kids or maybe the right school... but the way that the education system is going there are really no guarantees. The Military and Emergency Medicine pretty much sent me the other way... unless misanthropy can be inspired?

3. Does doing this come as naturally to you as breathing? I guess organizing ideas into images and structures is pretty natural to me... I had an idea for a new series of paintings tonight and immediately after the idea hit me I had picture layouts and compositions figured out. The words "I wonder what that would look like" seldom come out of my mouth because I've already imagined what it would look like. (I'm usually disappointed about the actors they chose for characters in books I've read).

4. Do you feel you’ve been given a special gift to do this? Like Olsher said... this is sometimes a hard thing to admit. When I was a Paramedic and sometimes as a Marine, people would say, "I could never do that"...sometimes they meant the academic side of learning medicine but mostly they meant the occasional blood, frequent exposure to bodily fluids, common invasive procedures, and constant jackasses. I would always tell them they could do it, because I've seen people do some amazing things under stress. It's desire that they didn't have. But I've known people who really wanted to do some of the things I have done with art and weren't able to. At every other job on the list there have been people were doing it better than I was...sometimes because of natural ability and sometimes because of yeah, while I know I'm no great artist, I do think that I've got a skill that some don't have.

5. Does time seem to fly by when you’re engaged in this activity? Art: yes. Marine: seldom. Paramedic: sometimes. Retail: only in comparison to scooping out my own eyeballs with a rusty spoon.

6. Can you possibly make money doing this? Art: Hopefully. Marine: yes but at physical cost. Paramedic: yes but at mental cost. Retail: yes but the cost would be ten years with a possible chance of parole in five.

There are plenty of things that I love and hate that I could expound upon in these lists... but in the interest of brevity... and the fact that Lyn keeps asking, "how's it going in there?"... I'll end it here. I'm happy with my primary job of taking care of Emmett (which covers the love and some of the hate questions) but I'm also very glad to be doing art regularly again and be in this project with my amazing wife.

PS - ...Was that good babe?

Finding Your Passion (not the dirty kind...this isn't that kind of blog)

We got back from Chicago late last night, and all I wanna say about it right now is that I fucking love my family. The best. Ever. I'll probably fill you in on the visit at some point, but not today.

Today, I want to write about this article, called "How to Identify the One Thing You Were Born To Do," which is a terrible title, but not necessarily a terrible thing to try to figure out . Ross showed it to me today, and it's been really interesting to talk to him about it. See, we're just about to do an actual launch of the business. I'm in the process of registering our business name, and we've got holds on a couple of website domains so that we can try to really make this happen. Is it jumping the gun? Maybe...but as Ross and I have worked on building this up (me doing the writing and the networking, and him doing the art and creating ideas), we've gotten more and more attached to making Paint By Number Parents work as a real business. He is loving painting every day, and I'm remembering that I've been a writer (though never really professionally) for a long time. Plus there are piles of other reasons we want to make this happen: we work well together; he's going to be a stay-at-home dad for a while still; we need some more income but we don't want E to be in full time childcare; with a new baby on the way at Kelle's house, Ross is going to have his hands full taking care of kiddos so school may take longer than expected. Plus the whole thing is fun, but I think I mentioned that already.

Anyways, Ross showed me this article today and it got us both thinking about how this project kind of actually fits who we are and what we love. Or, as Steve Olsher puts it, Paint By Number Parents just may be our "what." Figuring out your passion can apparently be done in three simple steps, which is awesome, and so I'm not only going to go through them myself, but I'm gonna make Ross do it on here too. It's about time his voice got added in as more than a critic of contemporary music.

We start, of course, with step 1: Answer the Question: What do you love?

Focus on the activities and interactions that lift your soul. Avoid listing skills you’re good at simply because you’ve practiced them over time. Now, dig even deeper. Remember a time years ago when you laughed hysterically? What triggered the laughter? And as an adult, what gives you goose bumps? Maybe it’s the moment when you come up with a really good idea and realize you’ve found the solution you’ve been looking for. Tie the goose bumps moment to descriptions that encapsulate the activity in noun or adjective form — such as singing, teaching or healing. When recalling a special moment, try not to be too literal; look for the subtext. For example, imagine you have a fond memory of an evening spent bowling with your grandmother. Instead of writing “bowling with Grammy” on your list, broaden it to “investing time with a beloved family member.”
This one is pretty easy, at least to start. I love teaching because I love explaining things...if you've ever hung out with me after I've had more than one glass of white wine, you know this. I just can't help myself - the words are out of my mouth before my brain has a chance to tell me that no one's interested in the love affairs of Louis XIV. I love writing, and telling stories. I love reading. So. Much. And cooking. I really like cooking, especially with Ross, making things with much too much butter. I love my family, and playing board games with them after dinner. I love wine - the flavors, the varieties, the fanciness, the opportunity to make fun of the fanciness. I love gossip, which means I love news, and politics and soap operas. I love cuddling, and capers (the sneaky kind, not the salty kind). I love terribly good music (If Neil Diamond and MC Hammer teamed up together to cover Debbie Gibson songs, I just might die in an explosion of glitter and snarky bliss.)

Next, step 2: Answer the Question: What do you loathe?

If you’re clear about which activities you despise, you can establish a strong foundation for moving your life forward by starting to let them go. Whatever it is that pushes your buttons (in a bad way), write them down. Even if you worry that others might see these things as petty, include them. The key is to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. Now, reflect on why you deplore an activity. Tie these moments to descriptions that encapsulate the activity in noun or adjective form — for example, cleaning, watching TV, eating unhealthy food, being around miserable people, shopping.
Oooooh, fun game. Ok, I hate: people who are in the way (seriously, you don't have to stop your shopping cart in the middle of the aisle, make small talk with the clerk at the DMV, walk three people wide on the sidewalk, or drive slowly); defeatism; technology that doesn't work; being out of touch with the people I love; spiders; intolerance, or lack of compassion; when people say "nucular" instead of "nuclear"; Garrison Keillor's smug voice and the fact that he has a weekly program that people listen to; blaming the victim;  Men's Rights Activitsts; when people don't see their privilege; running (seriously, why would you make people do this?!); the NRA (and all other instances of promotion of violence as an answer to any problem, including other violence); actually, that last one should probably just say "violence of any kind" because I'm a big ol' hippie; not being taken seriously when I'm trying to be serious, or having my actions/complaints dismissed as unimportant, or not being able to do something about "it," whatever the "it" may be.

And finally, step 3: Discover the Seven Seeds of Your Soul

Get your lists of Things I Love Doing and Things I Hate Doing. Start with the top item on your list of Things I Love Doing and ask yourself each of the six questions below as it relates to the activity. Each answer should be a definitive yes or no.
1. Even if you didn’t get paid a cent for it, would you still do this?
2. Would doing this inspire you every day?
3. Does doing this come as naturally to you as breathing?
4. Do you feel you’ve been given a special gift to do this?
5. Does time seem to fly by when you’re engaged in this activity?
6. Can you possibly make money doing this?
Ok, so I can answer "Yes" to all these questions for: Teaching, writing, and cooking. Next!
When you arrive at an item with six yes answers, circle it and then ask yourself this final question: Does performing this activity involve anything on my list of Things I Hate Doing?
Hmmmm...actually, teaching may just be the only one of those things that doesn't fit...but I can't know for sure, because I've never tried to write or cook professionally, and if you don't know that doing something as a job is different than doing something for fun, you have never tried to follow your dreams. Also, I love teaching. And I teach at an amazing school, which in part means that I can do more than one thing, since teaching hours are so conducive to life outside of work, if you're doing it right! So with that, I'm gonna hand this off to Ross, who has just finished making me a dee-yicious salad for dinner. Next post will be from him!

Today, I'm thankful for a grocery store that's nearby, for salad, for people who believe that "it takes a village to raise a child," for "Parks and Recreation," and for sake.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Stuffed Cabbage, If You Can

A couple of years ago, my mom asked my Grammie for a recipe. Cooking wasn't Gram's best thing, but she had a knack for those home-cooked comfort foods. The stick to your ribs, good old fashioned, midwestern style food that try as you might, you can never quite replicate, probably because you're not using enough butter.

So anyways, Mom was feeling nostalgic for Grammie's stuffed cabbage (also, Costco had a deal on cabbage), and she emailed, asking for her recipe. This bit of brilliance is what she got back:

the spice I used was the same spice you use for swedish meatballs    allspice     and the cabbage leaves were par boiled so you could drop  in your meat mixture kind of wrap it up and cook it slowly in in tomatoes     I used plain canned tomatoes but you can use stewed tomatoes also finely chopped onions     but not to many  one half of a small onion would do it in the meat mixture   you can put the all      spice in the meat mixture s well as the tpmatoes   season to taste with the allspice      sounds like spomething good to make     maybe I will do it also     made vegetable soup last night with top sirloin beef      browned the beef and simmered the heck out of it for 3 or so hours    almost every veggie you can think of except peas 
Of course, Mom sent this on to Kelle and me right away, because how can you not love it? I think she tried to decipher it, but it didn't quite work out, so she also wrote back, asking for clarification. You know, things like "So... Eggs in the meat mixture?" and  "Do you remember how much rice to beef?" and "Is the rice already cooked?" which, naturally, just got her more joyful confusion:

rice is allready cooked      meat is not      no eggs         not quite half   rice to beef       or less        you can allways serve extra rice on the side with the tomatoe gravy     let me know how it turns out

And this kind of thing is exactly what made her the brilliant matriarch she was. Funny, but without meaning to be; helpful, in the most unhelpful way possible; and loving, with full force and intention.

Grammie died last night around midnight, surrounded by her daughters and with her husband by her side. She leaves behind a legacy, and not just one of love and family, but one of laughter. There is nothing she loved more than making us laugh, except for making us food. Yogurt most especially. I'll miss her terribly, but I feel so blessed to know that she was my grandmother. As my dad would say, it's all Grammie's fault that we're around...and thank God for that.

I'm grateful today for so many things...for my cousins, who all called each other the instant we knew Gram had died. For my husband, who spent the day packing my bags for me so I wouldn't have to, and was good enough to remember my "Marge and Jack 50th Anniversary" tshirt. For my Great Aunt Dorothy, Sally's Grandma, my Grandma and Grandpa Schlax, and my Great Grandma Ohlberg, who all left me beautiful jewelry that are like talismans to me at times like this. For Alliya and Sally and Tiffany, who've all held up our NorCal branch of the family over the past few days with lots of calls and texts and love and food and offers of rides and other needed things, but mostly just for the reminders that they're really here for us when they say they are. For air travel...because as much as I hate airlines and the crappy way they treat their customers, it is allowing us to go home to be with family, and there's nothing in the world I'm more thankful for than that. My family is the best family. If you want in, you're totally welcome. 

PS - I just got a text from my sister with the most amazing thing ever in it. A voicemail from Gram, on Kelle's birthday. See, Grammie and Bapa always were the best at birthday phone calls. No one could beat them - there were jokes they'd practiced in advance, coordinated squabbles, uncoordinated squabbles, singing, insults, and the best love ever. And Kelle managed to save one from years now I'll be able to hear my lovely Gram's love and smile (because you can't hear this without hearing a smile) for always. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Time for Tears

This circle of life thing is awfully hard. Birth and death, beginnings and ends, celebrations and sorrows.

My beloved, beautiful, strong and fabulous Grammie is dying, maybe today.

It's also Emmett's 2nd birthday.

Conference-called with the cousins to decide whether to fly back home to Chicago while wrapping last minute birthday presents.

Learned that Bapa had decided he just wanted his love to be comfortable from now on while pulling cupcake pans out of the cabinet.

We got the call to be able to talk to Gram one last time while Emmett was opening his presents. I couldn't hear her, because she's apparently too weak to talk, but I told her all about our plans to celebrate the kiddo's birthday with cupcakes and trains and french fries. He said a cheerful "nankoo gwammie yuv yoo gwammie" while I handed my sister the phone so she could say goodbye.

Emmett listens to the Beatles Birthday song, and dances away, while my mother plays Frank Sinatra to my Gram to help her feel calm, safe, and ready.

Just after the kiddo spilled sprinkles all over his face, and consequently the floor, my dad called to say he'd likely be heading to Chicago shortly.

It's been all tears and all smiles, and not much in between, except for love. Love and appreciation for the amazing family I'm a part of, the family my Grammie created.

My two kindred spirits, in love with each other from the moment they met, celebrating life at the same time, in such aweful and different ways. And yes, I meant to spell it that way. I'm in awe, completely.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Science Experiment - Think You Know the Result?

You may know this, or you may not, but my stunning amazing little sister is going to be having a baby in April!!! I'm crazy excited - I get to hold and smell and love on a new little one so soon, and Kelle is going to be an amazing mom, and it's all just so much to be ridiculously happy about that some days I think I may explode.
Glowing, happy, gorgeous!

So a couple of days ago, after we went to the Tilden Steam Trains, we dropped the kiddo off at home for a nap and headed out to Park St. for a much needed pedicure. Seriously, my toes were sporting some green polish and remnants of daisies from the last time I visited my family in SoCal, which was over the summer. Totally not sandal-worthy. Not that there's any reason to be wearing sandals right now. It would be a bad idea to wear sandals, actually, because it's been chilly here, so really, I could have just taken off the nail polish and no one would have ever known, because no one's seeing my toes right now except for Ross, and he for sure doesn't give a damn if they're polished or not.

But we went anyways, because our pedicure spot is awesome and it comes with a massage chair. Plus we got Thai food beforehand. I'd been craving dim sum, but Kelle vetoed that, and there's no way I'm going to contradict a hungry pregnant woman, so Thai it was! And really, how can you be unhappy with a meal that includes a Thai ice tea. It's just not possible.

While we were pedicuring, we talked to Sophie, the owner, about the baby-on-the-way, and about how we both think it's a girl. Which got us to talking about all the old wives tales regarding predicting a baby's gender. Which of course led to a caper, because when Kel and I spend any length of time together, something very silly is going to happen. And it sure did. We found websites. With lots and lots of silly ways to predict your baby's gender. And it was all downhill from there.

At first, it was only about cataloging the easy ones - What does she think the baby will be (mother's intuition is one of the more reliable predictors - cool, right?) She thinks girl, and so does everyone else, except her man!

Is she carrying high or low? (we didn't know what this one meant, but lots of people say she's carrying high, so it must mean something!) Beach ball or football? (Apparently girls make a mom's belly wider than boys do)  Looks pretty footbally to us!
Also, pretty sneechy

 Feeling pretty or feeling unattractive? (Girls "steal your beauty," the jerks) I think she's extra stunning as a pregnant lady! Is the dad gaining weight? (He wouldn't fess up, and Kel's smart, so we left this as the other "maybe?") Is she craving sweet things or salty things? (Definitely sweet...she cried a few weeks ago because Tommy brought home lemonade instead of limeade.) Girls apparently make you want sweets.

But why stop there? There's so much more ridiculous stuff to consider! Like: How does she grab a key when it's presented to her? (Fat part=boy, skinny part=girl, because, of course).
I surprised her with this one in the supermarket. It's not that startling of a thing, but she jumped a mile into the air. I think it runs in the family.

Is she extra moody? (Women are happier while pregnant with a baby boy because "they have a little penis inside them.") I'm not gonna put in a vote on this one, because I'm not that dumb, and Tommy wouldn't either (good man)...but Kel said she thinks she's been moody, so I'll go with it.

Is there a "V" or branch shape on her eyeball? (This was almost impossible to get a picture of because I kept tearing up when I looked at her eyes. Sorry if it does the same to you. You can just pretend you're crying because you watched that awesome video I posted about last week.)
We decided yes, there was...which apparently means girl. Again, how are these things related? 

What happens when we hold a needle or a gold ring over her belly? Does it move in a circle, or a straight line?
Or does she just make a sassy face?
Ok, it was circle. But of course Ross had to explain the physics behind why, because he likes to ruin our capers. He was all "the rotation of the Earth will cause things to spin blah blah blah" and we were all "but this is way more sciencey than adding her age and the year together to find something out (which we had just done with the Chinese gender test) so just let us do this experiment" and then he was like "ok, whatever, but if you get criticized for your methodology don't say I didn't warn you" and we were like "yeah, I don't think that's gonna be what people criticize us for."

Next: Are her legs large? (Compared to what?) We thought no, and didn't take that one seriously enough to investigate any further. Is her pee a dull color? (Also, compared to what? Like the time I had to do a lab test involving peeing all day and the technician asked me if I needed a big cup or a little one...I was like, I don't know, what do you usually give people? And she was like "I give people what they need - do you pee a lot or a little?" And I was like "compared to what?" and then got all huffy and just gave me one of the cups...I don't know if it was a big one or a little one, so I still don't know if I pee a lot or a little. Good tangent. Moving on.) 

If you are currently thinking "Lynds, shut up about the pee already," you should just stop reading this now and read about something else cool from today, like Batkid or Rob Ford's interrogation or mustaches. Because the next bit involves lots of pee.

Apparently, if you mix a pregnant woman's urine with things, it will tell you the secret gender of your unborn baby. And since we were this far into the whole thing anyways, and Kelle is too impatient to just wait until the day after Thanksgiving when her ultrasound is scheduled for (and by "Kel is too impatient" I mean I wanna know now if I'm having a niece or nephew!), we went ahead and did those tests too!

Baking soda test - no fizz at all, which means girl!

Drano test - a little reaction there, which meant boy (aw).

Cabbage test - it stayed purple - girl again!

does anyone need half a red cabbage? We have extra....

And finally, baking powder. In retrospect, I should have read the internet more closely, because it turns out this isn't actually a real test. It was just a gross science experiment that ended up with a pee explosion and told us nothing! Boo.

Is it weird that I feel like I should apologize for my dirty table?

Now, with all that work, we could have just taken this online quiz from, which supposedly combines all these things (except the pee tests) into one and gives you a percentage. At the end of the night we did, and she scored 72% girl, which just about matches up with what we discovered. But doing it this way was more fun. Also more gross. But so are babies. Fun and gross (see the poo sandwich incident from yesterday if you want more proof). So there.

The final tally - 11 points for girl, 2 for boy, 2 unknowns, and 1 explosion

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Poo Sandwich

My family is awesome. Also, they are impossible sometimes. Today, I was sent this video, with no explanation whatsoever:

A transcript (in case you don't speak goofball fluently):
My Sister: What was that?
E: Emmett sammich more?
My Sister: Emmett sandwich more?
Ross: Would you like another sandwich, Emmett?
E: Yes, Auntie. Preese Auntie, sammich

...don't worry, it gets better from here...

Ross: We can make a sandwich for you. How about I make you a sandwich?
E: Emmett
My Sister: Emmett sandwich? What kinda sandwich?
E: A poo samnmich?
My Sister: A Whaaa?
E: A poo sammich?
My Sister: A poor sandwich?
E: A poo samminch?
My Sister: A POO sandwich.
Ross: No! No, I'm not making that in my kitchen.
My Sister: You want a poo sandwich?
Ross: I've been told to go eat shit before, but never by my kid.
E: Yes, Auntie, Yes Daddy, thank you neenee, thank you neenee

So, naturally, I had a few questions. I started with my sister:

Totally useless. But funny.

I moved on to Ross after that:

Also useless.

And now, since I really really wanna know what it's all about, and they think it's hilarious to make poop jokes, I still have no idea why my kid so desperately wanted a poo sandwich.  Also, I don't know who neenee is. If you're neenee, my kiddo is still waiting on that sandwich, FYI.

I'm thankful today for my cousins, my aunts, modern medicine, scantron machines, and Vine, because I discovered this guy, Logan Paul, on it today through Gawker's "I can't stop watching" series:

which then led me to this guy, Jerrome Jerre

which reminded me of BatDad, who is the best thing on Vine ever:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


14 Hour workday today. Sick Grandma, sicker uncle, lots of debate about whether or not to go home to Chicago to see them, maybe say goodbye. Didn't get to see my kiddo, except in pictures. Or do yoga. Or eat dinner (except for cookies, but they don't count). But I'm posting, cause I promised myself I'd follow through on this. More exciting things coming up, like a fun science experiment, new art from Ross, a restaurant review, maybe even one of my favorite lessons in blog form. Not tonight, though. Tonight I'm going to wash my face, brush my teeth, and curl up in bed with an episode of Parks and Rec, and maybe my husband (although Ron Swanson will be on the screen, so I could just imagine he's there...)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

List #4 - What I Love About Ross

This is my third attempt at a blog post tonight. Post 1 was about me and Emmett walking around town and checking stuff out. But the stuff we checked out was: several dead leaves, a bus stop, some rocks in a neighbor's yard, five different sticks, two mason's stamps in the sidewalk, and a closed library. Not much story in that story. I did see a cool tree, and I took a picture and posted it on Instagram, but all that stuff, even with descriptions, doesn't make a good blog post. Next, I thought I'd try to answer all of James Lipton's "Inside the Actor's Studio" questions. "Quick and easy," I thought. Wrong. Hard, and slow (inappropriate!). So, after two fails, I walked around the house, and stumbled past this old message board of ours, with a list on it disgustingly titled "Things I <3 About You."

I wrote the list ages ago, when we were still living in the Lake Merritt apartment. This old whiteboard/corkboard combo that hung on a nail on the back of our apartment door, and for a while, all that was on it were notes like "mail check to mom" or "library books due 4/10" or "don't forget to bring extra pants." I don't know why we would need extra pants, but maybe we were going wading in a river or visiting baby hippos or something with equal mess potential. Regardless, we did not want to forget.

Then one day I decided that, instead of boring reminders about important things like pants (seriously, they're essential), I would fill the board with a running list of things that I loved about Ross. I added to it slowly, whenever a thought struck me, and now, 3 years later, we still have this old whiteboard, with my list, hanging out on the floor of our laundry room in our new place. It was on display for ages, and I'm sure almost everyone we know has seen it already, so this blog seems like just the place to give it a permanent home, in case I accidentally erase anything on it while walking past. So now, without any further ado, here is my list, with added commentary.

1. His deep, warm, belly-shaking laugh. He doesn't let it out really very often. He's not a fan of comedies, which is a shame, because his laugh is contagious. Loud and full throated, his deep voice resonates wherever he is. I just know that he was one of those kids who used to get shushed by his teacher all the time because his voice carries. If he really likes a joke (or has startled me in an extra funny way), his eyes crinkle up in the cutest way. I mean, have you seen how handsome he was when he was 19?

2. The way he smells, especially when I bury my face in his neck. Just something about it. He smells like home and man and usually some sawdust too. Like Ron Swanson, he enjoys woodworking. Did you see the excellent table he built?

3. He gives me little sweet kisses whenever I want them. Sappy, I know. But I'm a sucker for forehead kisses, so it's good that he does this.

4. He smells so good. Ok, this is starting to feel like TMI...but he really does. If you want to come over and smell him, I could try to talk him into cooperating. But it's not likely he will.

5. He makes the cutest noises when he's falling asleep. I really didn't think this blog post through. Falling asleep noises? I mean, I love them, and him, but this is "teenage girl diary" territory. You're all gonna vomit from the overly sweet sappiness that's going on here. Why did no one point this out to me before?

oh, crap...

6. Orgasms :) Yes, that smiley face is on the original. Is this ok to share? Probably not. Dammit. But we're married, and you're all adults, so it should be fine, right? Yeah, I'm not really convincing myself, but I'm so far into this post, and I've already scrapped 2 others. I make bad decisions when I pour myself a whiskey before writing. Please don't stop reading just because I referenced orgasms. I promise not to do it again.

7. He supports me through tough times and my own weaknesses without judgment and with lots of love. He actually likes some of my weaknesses. Like how easily startled I am. And how indecisive and impulsive I can be. He's laughing his ass off at me right now as I try to decide if this is the worst blog post ever and I should start a 4th, or if I should just soldier through and be done. Not helpful, Ross!

But! Because he's an awesome husband, he also offered to go buy me more whiskey so I would feel invincible and not mortified by how nauseatingly sweet this post is.

8. When I am feeling down or sad, all I want is to come home to him, because one of two things happens...I talk to him about it and maybe cry a little, and then I feel better; or I see him and hug him and kiss him, and feel so lucky to love him, that I forget all about being sad, and then I feel better. Ok, I think I might vomit now too. (sidenote: am I allowed to make that joke? I think I am).

9. I don't need a reason. I do what I want! Yeah! So there! I am woman, hear me roar (and cringe).

10. I always miss him when we're apart. Unless I'm mad at him. But even then, I usually miss him. And not only because I'm a softy romantic fairy-tale lover, but because I can't find my things when he's not around. I'm hopeless at keeping track of keys, shoes,'s really ridiculous. I've lost things that were in my hand at the time.

11. He's happy when I come home. Imagine a dog, waiting patiently at the door, wagging it's tail the moment you enter your house. Yeah, it's nothing like that. Just a genuine smile, a hug and a kiss, and a desperate need to talk to someone who can have conversations about more than train-dinosaur-cows-lettuce. Seriously, I get more news, and questions, about the outside world from him in 15 minutes than I do during my 2 hours of NPR and 3 hours of teaching history during my day.

12. I'm so excited to be married to you. Ok, this one, totally true. I really really like this marriage thing. Ross is a great husband - better at being a husband than he was boyfriend or fiance (not that you were bad at those things babe!), and that makes me really happy.

13. He loves me and takes care of me when I'm very very drunk on my 30th birthday and cna'y write sraight, or in Emglish, apernntly. THe end of LIST. I vaguely remember writing this one. But I'm still around, and so is he, so it must be true. Also, I can't guarantee that's what #13 says. It's pretty tricky to read. But that might be the whiskey...let me know if I'm wrong, if you can decipher this.

I'm still not convinced I should hit publish on this one...but just to be safe, I'll finish up with my usual small things. I'm thankful for the 1400 Bar and Grill on Webster St because they love love love my kiddo, for the bargain bin at Lucky's because I got the kiddo some cool (not really) sunglasses with Thomas the Tank Engine on them for $1, my "Yoga Workout" station on Pandora (not that I've done much yoga recently, but it's great background music for grading), parenthesis, and greek pizza leftovers.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Today's gonna be a much more lighthearted day here. After all the emotions that yesterday's post brought up for me and some others, today should be filled with cuteness. A note about comments: I don't know why some of them just disappear when you hit "publish." I've looked and looked for an answer, and blogger is very unhelpful. If you've managed to solve this on your blog, let me know how. Otherwise, I think I'm going to set up Disqus on this thing tomorrow, so that the wonderful words my friends are writing actually get here!

Now on to the adorable!!!

In Berkeley, there's this huge park with lots of open space and hills and little wonders tucked into all sorts of nooks and crannies. One day I'll write about The Little Farm and The Tilden Merry-Go-Round, but they're both closed right now and today we went to ride the Steam Trains, so that's what you're getting!
Ticket Booth

Train Station

The Redwood Valley Railway, or "da Twains," as they're called at my house, is about a 20 minute drive away from Alameda on a traffic-free day. Emmett likes the drive because we go through two big tunnels each way. And that's good, because today is the second day in a row that we've driven out there. Yesterday we got caught in traffic and didn't make it up the hill to the Trains until 5:00, and since it gets dark early now, and they close at dusk, we missed the last ride of the day by about 10 minutes, I think. So we had to turn around. Not the happiest ride home, but once we hit the Caldecott Tunnel, the kiddo was being his usual goofball self again.

We went up there with my sister Kelle today. She'd never been before (probably because she doesn't have a toddler yet!), so it was fun to show her around. The gates had just opened today when we arrived, but there were already several other families there. Lots of grandparents - maybe because school was out today but most businesses were open?

Yes, those are my giant knees. Too tired to edit out my mom jeans.

He's so excited he can hardly stand it

Anyways, we bought a 5-ride ticket for $12, then walked to the front of the train to greet the Conductor, also known around here as DaDuctor. (Sidenote - I know, just KNOW, that I have at least two single-ride tickets in my wallet. But I can never find them when I'm there, only when I'm looking for something else entirely.) The DaDuctors are really nice older gentlemen who seem to love trains and making kids happy. They're cheerful, knowledgeable, and wear adorable railroad hats. Today, the conductor we met gestured for Emmett to reach into the engine, pull a rope, and make the bell ring, then shouted "All Aboard." Or maybe he just smiled and let Kelle take pictures of us, but in my head (and I'm sure in Emmett's, this was a serious and wonderfully cliched train moment).

Emmett led us to one of the traincars at the end, a caboose-looking thing with a roof, and we piled in. A conductor came by to punch our ticket, and we were off! The ride itself is really nice - about 12 minutes, with lots of adorable things to look at along the way, and when it's clear, a great view of the Bay Area.

I didn't even Tilt-Shift this! It's that adorable, all on it's own!

We rode twice, and in between, poked around the grounds a bit. Down the hill is a true miniature trainyard, with a great view of the Steamtrain as it chugs out of the station. On Sundays, you can sometimes get rides on the mini trains too.

Hi People!

Up top, they have a small set of souvenirs (Tshirts, postcards, etc, mostly under $15 and cute) and a A train garage? A wheelhouse? Is a wheelhouse even a thing? Isn't it like an arsenal, but full of skills instead of weapons? Or is that a skill set? I'm just confused now. Ok, so it's a building where they do repair work on trains. The trains, and their engineers, work behind giant glass panes, and the kids can watch them tinker and repair.
Kids Tees, $9!

All in all, we spent a great little hour there. It's cheap, it's adorable, it has potential for pretend play when the kiddo is older, and it's not too sparkly or cartoony or ADD inducing. Just a nice thing to do that makes my kiddo beyond happy.

I am thankful today for all the outpouring of support I received after my last post. Everyone who responded, whether on the blog or by text, or email, or over Facebook, thank you sincerely. I feel so encouraged to keep writing, and so happy to be who and where I am, with the friends I've got!!! 

I'm also thankful for my husbands military service. It's Veterans Day today, and I want to show my appreciation for his sacrifice, and that of so many others, who fight (and/or fly, or play music, or file paperwork) for our freedoms. I hate war, and I hate that we fight at all, but the men and women who serve in our military are not the ones who choose war. They only choose to lay their lives on the line for us, and to get not nearly enough in return for their devotion. Also, had he not been a dashing young Marine, he and I never would have met. And so I picked out a steak for him at the market today, as a thank you for everything he's done, and is doing. (And by "I picked out" I mean I wandered back and forth in front of the meat section looking lost until Kelle grabbed my arm and guided me to the butcher counter, and then picked out the steak while I ran off in search of Drano and a red cabbage).
Adorable 19 year old Ross - thanks babe!
Lastly but not leastly, I'm thankful for Tom Yam soup, blue nailpolish, and drinking juice out of a wine glass (feels fancy!)