Friday, November 16, 2018

Issues: Pilates

The next time my pilates teacher asks us, "does anyone have any requests?" would it be inappropriate to say, "different music?"?   Asking for a friend (that friend being my brain).

I attend two different yoga classes each week. One is more actual yoga, the other is a yoga/pilates fusion class.  And I'm realizing that the pilates class is really hard and kind of un-fun.  Either I'm just not a skilled pilates-r or the class is designed to hurt me. The repetitious contortions I'm made to suffer last far too long and by the end I'm basically dying. It hurts so bad, not good. The other yoga class is a good hurt. I'm happy to hurt that way.  But this one just makes me want to collapse and crawl, defeated, to the wall.  And it's confounded in an extreme manner by the music the instructor chooses to play.  One day it was a whole ALBUM of 4 Non Blondes. Now, most music from the 90's makes me die a little inside, but listening to this (and it wasn't quiet) just aggravated my already precarious physical state and, though yoga/pilates is supposed to help me focus and recenter and all that, I became more and more agitated and distracted and all I could think about was propelling myself through my roll-over and kicking the music into oblivion. 



Image result for pilates roll over gif

Holy crap, that's huge! ha ha ha. But you get a clear picture. Also, when I went on my google hunt for that, I discovered that this was the most difficult exercise of the "advanced mat" exercises in pilates. What! Now I don't feel so lame for sucking.  


Anyway, listening to the 4 Non Blondes song was bad, but then when it ended it started back up again and I thought, NO! and almost shed a tear. The instructor paused to get on her phone and fiddled with it, saying, "I can't ever figure out how to take the repeat off."   Whew, I thought.  It will be over soon. We'll get another song. She succeeded but then another 4NB song came on and it sounded exactly the same. It was different, but the same, and as I twisted and lifted and said small repeated prayers for my spine, I pondered that I might actually be in hell.

Switch to a different day, same pain, this time to an album of John Mayer whose music is grating on my soul.  I was really distracted listening to it and I thought about him a lot, particularly while listening to his "hits" of old.  The high school song, the your body is a wonderland song. Comparing how I felt about it now to then, when the 90's made it so we just didn't know any better.   This kind of reflection combined with un-fun physical work was not the kind of focus I wanted to have and I don't know what to do next time.  What kind of music will she have? I'm wondering if it might be a deal-breaker for me.  And I'm a little scared of what will be waiting for me.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Issues: Avocados

I've decided to air my grievances and do a blog series of all the things I have big issues with lately. Also I use that term not to necessarily mean things I believe hold injustice but things that cause me GRIEF.  < -- this is what happens when I start questioning the definitions of words and look up everything. "Do i even know what that means?"  A recent example of this is when someone asked the group what it meant to be complacent.  I had thought it meant sort of idle or lazy.  WRONG.  I looked it up and was like, what the fudge?!  For your own information you may not need, here's the definition, according to Internet:

com·pla·cen·cy
/kəmˈplāsənsē/
noun: complacence

a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one's achievements. 
"the figures are better, but there are no grounds for complacency." 
synonyms: smugness, self-satisfaction, self-congratulation, self-regard

Anyway. It's moments like these when I feel like I know nothing at all.  But moving on, here's an issue I have, and it's not really with avocados themselves but the way people so flippantly misuse them. 

1. Often, when I go to a restaurant (and I use that term loosely), it's likely to be a cafeteria-style restaurant, which is in and of itself a grand issue for another day.  But the issue occurs when I get to choose my toppings for whatever food I'm ordering.  One of the toppings is avocados, but really it should be "avocados,"  as what happens is the nice, non-Mexican leafy green salad I ordered is set before me with avocado mush, aka GUACAMOLE without any seasoning. THIS IS DIFFERENT.  I can't tell you how incredibly irked I am when this happens and it's happened so many times that I now ask before I order and reject it when I'm given the disappointing news.  I feel so deceived, so beguiled.  Because what I'm picturing each and every time I say "with avocado" is slices. SLICES.  That's what I want.  Like a human being. Sigh.

But as long as I'm grieving about the avocado, and it's painful because of my intense love for the fruit, here's another: 

2. In addition to bananas, I feel like I've mentioned the deceptive and brief nature of its ripeness window.   But the avocado frustrates me even more for some reason. Probably because avocados are not cheap and once they're passed, they're really unpalatable, and there's really just no use for them. But it's true that one day they are so green and hard, you are sure you have weeks until they'll be ready. Weeks.  But you do not.   Yesterday I was at Trader Joe's giving the avocados another round (this time the larger, loose ones, not the smaller bunch in a net bag).  As I was rooting around the very firm avocados, a staff member who was male who looked to be in his 20's and a woman, maybe in her late 50's, were discussing their ripeness.  The woman said, 

"hard as rocks, aren't they," to which the man agreed.

Whereupon I interjected with, "for now! But turn your back for one second and they'll turn on you!"  Like a crazy person, coming out of nowhere, ranting about a premonition of a doomed near future. The staff member woefully said he'd forgotten to put his in the fridge, something I've never thought to do, and had paid the price.  So we discussed the proper care of avocados and I aired these grievances with them:
"I feel like the ripeness window for an avocado is like, between one and three AM."  This got some laughs, and I continued:

"I wake up and I'm like, "awww..."  shoulders slumped, downtrodden. I walked away with the woman still laughing and I smiled.

I'm telling you this story to give you an example of one of my current issues but also because it's a good opportunity to repeat a joke that got a good reaction.  I was telling this to Sean yesterday and he laughed and said, "haha, you said that to me a while go..."  just to remind me.  I laughed and said, "I did?? Lame! Well, now i've used it on strangers and got a good result. The experiment is complete."   And because of that, i had to share it with the blogosphere because it's a new audience and because I am morally opposed to wasting good jokes.  Reuse, reduce, recycle.  (ok, reduce doesn't make any sense. If anything it should be, Reuse, INCREASE SUBSTANTIALLY, recycle.)  Churn out the jokes and use them to their last dying breath. 

So, these are the issues I have involving avocados.  I got two of them yesterday and am watching them like a crazed hawk.  Like one caring for a newborn baby who requires constant care and attention, I'm this close to just taking them with me everywhere I go. With a salt packet. Like you would with babies. At least, definitely whenever I eat out somewhere.




























Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Certain Kind of Love

This summer, as I was doing some hiking,  I listened to a story about a married couple, a man and woman, who were scientists and lived in Africa to study animals there.  They slept in a van and lived isolated but for each other, for months at a time, observing and studying.   The kept only a few possessions in their cramped quarters. For entertainment they would read the completely works of Shakespeare to one another. When they finished, they'd start over.  They'd dance to music in their heads or to the cacophony of sounds coming from the creatures around them. They loved what they did, and they loved each other, for over 30 years. 

At one point they encountered an angry buffalo.  It was nighttime and they were alone.  They describe the events as they remembered them where the buffalo first attacked Dereck, throwing him violently into the air and then attacked Beverly, impaling her with its horn.  It entered at her armpit, through her chest and neck and throat, broke 21 bones in her cheek. Her eye orbit collapsed and her collarbone was shattered.  At one point she woke up to find herself a) shocked to be alive and b) being carried along as the buffalo ran.

Dereck, having suffered broken ribs and a cracked pelvis, looked up and saw Beverly being dragged freely into the dark.  He managed to shorten the distance between them and kicked the buffalo on a spot where it already had a wound, which reopened.  He said, "if that hadn't happened, she would have been dragged off into the bush and we would have heard hyenas later on."

He put his finger under her nose to see if she was still breathing, something that in her hazy state of consciousness, Beverly was aware of.  She remembered thinking, "My gosh, Dereck thinks I'm dead."   The buffalo returned for a second go, at which point Dereck jumped over his wife and ran at the buffalo, got knocked down once more, and then the buffalo finally ran off. 

Going against first aid wisdom, he picked up his wife and carried her, not wanting to leave her in the dark.  They both walk-stumbled until they came to a wooden deck where she said she couldn't go on any further and remained there for the next 11 hours. He began to administer first aid.  He says, "The biggest thing was I had to stop the bleeding. So ultimately, I wrapped a bandage around my fist and inserted it into her chest. I changed the bandage every 20 minutes but basically left it there for about 6 hours. I needed to get that bleeding to stop. She lost about 5 liters of blood. Then, at 2:32 she died, and I had to bring her back from that. And then at 4:40 she died again.  But the journey through that was much more than an exercise in first aid, but also keeping everybody calm. When I had my hand inside her chest, I realized that her lung had collapsed.  And her collarbone was smashed. But even then, I had no idea how deep the horn had gone and that it had gone into her skull.”

When asked if she remembered dying, Beverly said, “I don’t recall anything like a long tunnel or anything like that. Before that moment, I had gotten to a point where I realized the amount of blood that I was losing and my body was getting weaker. I said to Dereck, ‘please don’t overdose me with painkillers.’  He said, ‘why?’  and I said, ‘I want to be fully conscious. I want to be fully conscious because I think this might be the last time… and when that time comes, I want to be able to say goodbye.’”  Help finally arrived and they both lived to tell the tale some years later.
The whole story was rather touching and impressive since this is an example of a kind of alternate life I can see myself living (or tell myself I can see myself living).  Living somewhere wild, incorporating myself into the land, doing important work with someone I love.   This couple never had children, unregretfully, and that's a life i could have imagined (and did) for myself as well. For whatever reason, I don't sit and look at my life and say "I couldn't imagine it any other way."  There are a lot of ways I can imagine it going, actually.  As I listened, I realized that it may be that my life is far from wild, and wildly adventurous. I admire this couple and desperately wish I was doing something similar, even though I have serious doubts about whether I could actually hack that kind of rough lifestyle. But in spite of all this,  there is at least one thing that I identified with perfectly.   His simple description of events struck me with a feeling as familiar to me as my own body, and one that finally gave words to a heretofore indescribable certain kind of love and partnership, and I said, eureka, that is exactly what it feels like for me: Being married to Sean is like having his fist thrust into my chest cavity, for however long it takes. And it is the best, most comforting and fundamentally life-sustaining thing I know.  

Happy fifteen! FIFTEEN, whaaat. 


Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Things I Eat 2018

I was sitting in my cozy corner chair, reading in the lamplight an old blog book I printed out from 2009 and came upon a "things I eat" post.  Oh hey guess what- I don't have to tell you, i can show you. 

Turns out it's super interesting, now that much time has passed, to compare all the things I eat over the years.  The last time I documented this was in spring of 2016 so it seems a good time for an update on my food consumption. Let's begin.

Breakfast

Breakfast is by far king--i'm sorry, queen-- of the meals.  It's my favorite. I love it so. It's important and sets the tone for the whole day.  These days I get up early, at least what's early to me and my body with its anti-early circadian rhythms.  Julian is an early bird so I have to get a move on if we're going to have anything decent for break-y.    Here's what we'll have:

1. Cereal, maybe once or twice a week. And actually I rarely eat cereal, it's mostly just Julian.  Isn't that funny? I used to eat it all the time and now it's hardly ever and even then it's only just Cheerios, or the Trader Joe's equivalent.  That's it. That's the only kind of cereal in our house. These days I just can't justify getting all that added-sugar cereal. It always makes me feel gross and I can't in good conscience send Julian off for the day having had food I don't consider very substantive.  But the O's are ok.  He eats them with bananas and honey. 


2. Eggs, of course.  Scrambled-- I've since learned how the professionals make them: Cooking, stirring constantly over very low heat.  This takes time so, again, I have to hustle. But it makes them very creamy and slightly wet, which I like.    Also, poached (obv), atop the toast, or fried, inside the toast. 

3. Still loving the oatmeal.  Love it forever.  These days I eat it with applesauce, like I did two years ago, but also with some sliced or slivered almonds and a dash of cinnamon. Possibly some cut up apples. Whatever's lying around.

4. Yogurt, but strictly plain Greek Gods full fat yogurt, pictured here:

  Image result for greek gods plain yogurtAlong with the rest of the world, I have learned that the refined sugar is what will destroy me, and I need the good fat to keep me filled and fueled.   Full fat yogurt is so delicious, I don't think I can ever go back. I am such a nazi these days in that I restrict Julian's yogurt intake only to Chobani which has added sugar but not as much as other brands.  I could get him types that have even less sugar but they taste pretty unappealing for a squirt. He loves these though and eats one a day I'd say.  I ate a lot more yogurt in the summer compared to now, probably because of the berries which are my favorite fruits to top with.  For example, I will eat a couple scoops of yogurt with berries, almonds, and a healthy drizzling of honey. I love honey and eat quite a lot of it but I discovered the revelation that is honey-soaked fruit my mind was blown. Sooo delicious.  Topped with a few mint leaves from my single-herb herb garden and it's pretty tasty.  

5. My goodness. Breakfast is going to be a tome, alone.  I still love the smoothies.  Bananas (which i've since learned to freeze), some kind of greens, a fruit, kefir, maybe some chia seeds, and ice.  If I have some melon around that's a major bonus because it gives the smoothie such a nice consistency. Melon pulp in everything!  I say. 

6. the honey lemon tea is still going strong. Daily. I will never quit.  It's a staple for me forever. Another good use for the mint leaves, too.

7. Pancakes, of course.   I love them so much, I miss them a little when I think about them.  Topped with Trader Joe's applesauce (that comes in the little cups), a far superior applesauce flavor to any other I've tried.  I stock up.  Sean went to TJ's today and the check-out girl asked him how long it'd take him to go through all that applesauce and he replied, "you'd be surprised."    But as for the pancakes, I discovered a recipe similar to the buttermilk but this one is even BETTER.  Here it is, because I have it memorized, because I make it regularly and have to pre-make little pouches for those early mornings. Also I have altered it a little, naturally.

Jen's Cornmeal Pancakes of Your Dreams
1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
1/4 c. almond meal
1/8 c. oat flour
1/8 c. something else, like more white whole wheat flour (for the gluten needs) or maybe some flaxseed for some extra fiber. But it all comes out to 1 cup of flour.

1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon or more

1 T sugar
2 T cornmeal

1 egg
2 T avocado oil
1 cup of sour milk (half of a lemon + milk. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes to curdle) 

Mix all the dry, mix the wet in a separate bowl and then gently fold with a spatula into the dry. Don't overmix! DON'T DO IT.
I've learned some tricks about pancakes and one important one is letting it sit and effervesce for a while--get that baking soda/powder working and making bubbles.  I cook these pancakes in butter and they are THE BEST.  The cornmeal and cinnamon are the key ingredients here. Also, topped only with applesauce for me, still.  Julian requires syrup. Sean requires both.  
8. German pancakes for Julian, his fave. But only on the weekends bc they take too long and I'm only human. These days I make them in the muffin tin and out come the cutest individual-sized poofy pancake cups you've ever seen. Filled with syrup or applesauce. He is so spoiled to get such a variety of warm breakfasts but frankly, it's how I was raised and again, it's what I do best and again, most important meal(!!!)

LUNCH


Lunch is still about the same.  Apples and cheese, or maybe some hummus and carrots, whatever scraps are leftover from making the boy's lunch.  Actually since I eat so much earlier than i used to, I need a bit more in the midday so these days I'll eat a salad from TJ's.  Cobb for Sean and Asian for me. We both get so excited when it's salad time.  Our life is one big adventure. 

DINNER


Guess what? Since the last food post, Sean has turned into quite the chef that we always knew he was.  He has read up, studied, watched videos, whatever, and these days is largely in charge of dinner and has really developed some serious culinary skills. It is the GREATEST and even though I know I used to make dinners of some sort way back when, I honestly can't remember and basically have zero skills. Not cooking dinner has made me hate doing it even more, if that's possible, and i have forgotten everything I've ever learned.  But Sean, oh the Sean.  He sears the most perfect salmon you've ever tasted. I don't know how he does it but it has this crunchy crust and I die every time. Simple flavors, but perfected technique. We have a professional chef friend and Sean picks up tips when he can and this is what he says--pick a food and practice cooking it in different ways until you find the way you like best. Salmon is a weekly treat and I look forward to it.


 Otherwise it's grilled chicken or pork chops, occasionally the steak,  with roasted vegetables of some kind--asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes. He's actually been working for months and takes pictures of pretty dinners he makes.  I will make this into another post because he's built up a pretty impressive repertoire.  Carrot purees and potato cakes and pan sauces.  He got some All-Clad frying pans for Christmas and I've honestly never seen a person more in love.  The other day I insisted on doing dishes even though he never minds doing it even though he just cooked the dinner (double ugh)  and he said "Well, ok, but I'll clean the pans."  I tried to fight him until he said, "No, really. Please? I enjoy it."  And he really does. Kills me.  He takes care of them like children.  And hey, if he wants to bathe the kids, fine by me! (-- mom thing to say)

Also I don't know how long it's been since we've had meatloaf.


Additionally, we still have soups, tacos, fajitas.  And that's about all I can think of right now.

DESSERT

I rarely have ice cream anymore.
I don't really know why.  And I can't handle hot chocolate either. :( My body has turned against it, or it's turned against my body?  I'm just getting too old for some things and though I still totally eat chocolate, for some reason I can't have it hot.  This is why I have converted to tea which I drink an exorbitant amount of, especially in the winter.  It's lovely.

Cookies, yes.  Gotta have oatmeal in them and then I can handle it pretty well.  Also I only like them when they're hot, right out of the oven, so I basically gorge myself and then I'm done.  It's the best.  Same goes for muffins--Oh, muffins! One more breakfast thing.  I have this amazing muffin recipe that only uses only oat flour and maple syrup for the sugar.  These days I pretty much only bake using syrup or honey and it's a life changer. 

Souffle.  I can make these but Sean always does, just for the record.  We have a giant souffle dish for guests and ramekins just for us.  It is so good. Similar to the individual hot lava cakes which I also love but these are a bit more airy and cloud-like.

Pie.  I love pie and have made that custard so many times lately.  I made cream puffs for a thing the other night and assembled the cutest little things using custard + lemon curd (and mint leaves, of course), and one with a single banana slice with custard and then hot fudge drizzled on top.  I also made some more pumpkin pudding, topped with caramel and crushed pecans.  They were so fancy and I was very proud of myself, since Sean is usually the beautiful food-maker. 

I made a chocolate pie the other day which i've been wanting to do. It was insanely simple and I'm excited about it. Chocolate, butter, sugar, salt, and eggs. That's it. Except the recipe didn't call for salt and I reprimanded the contributor severely.  To Sean: "The moment I read a recipe like this doesn't have salt I'm like, what?! Well, you don't know ANYTHING! Why am I following anything YOU say??" Serious salt snob over here.  He agreed.   Anyway,  I cut the sugar by more than half and added more chocolate because it's never enough.  I'm going to make even more adjustments in the future but i already have another idea of using orange chocolate with orange peel distributed throughout. Doesn't that sound so good? And Christmasy?

Chocolate-covered whatever from TJ's.  These days it's raisins and ginger, my new fave. I LOVE GINGER.  I eat ginger chews candy and these chocolate covered ginger balls are so dang good.  Get some today.  Sean and Julian love the dark chocolate peanut butter cups but I can only handle one of these every few weeks.  Have I expressed the utter joy it is to have a TJ's 20 minutes away? God bless us, everyone.


DRINK

Water, tea.  We've also discovered le croix and other flavored sparkling water the past couple of years and I love it.  Sometimes I'll add mashed up berries, raw sugar, cubed ice and, of course, MINT LEAVES.  Ha ha! Love that mint.  So versatile.  But that's a fun summer drink.  Otherwise, it's all water all the time.  Milk with cookies only.

And that's it! That's the end of this fascinatingly boring blog post on the things I eat!   Amazing, all the thoughts and feelings I have on the matter.  And interesting how much our eating habits have changed.  Chef Sean has definitely changed our dinners in a big, better way.  I'm so spoiled to have someone in my life who likes to cook. And Julian has become less picky over the years. Or we've just cracked down on him.  But I'm loving the food I eat these days.  It's a good time to be alive.  

Monday, September 24, 2018

Meticulation

I don't even know how we got to it.  Oh, yes I do. We were eating a bowl of watermelon. Sean had cut up this massive half-watermelon into these perfectly even cubes, and I remarked on it.

JEN: Look at that, such perfect cubes.

SEAN: Yeah, well, cutting things into evenly-sized pieces is important for cooking them evenly.
 

JEN: Yeah. Me, it's *HACK* *CUT* *LAZY SLICE* and they're all skiwampus.   It's a credit to your...hmm.. meticulousness.
 

SEAN: Meticulousness.
JEN: We can do better than that.
And we spent the next several minutes trying to come up with a better word for a noun version of "meticulous."  I went first:


JEN: Meticulation. Meticulicity
 

SEAN: Meticulineity

Trying a different route, I said,


"Ok, let's think of other adjectives that end in 'ous.'  Industrious.  Illustrious.   Illustration. Meticulation.  But see, illustration does not pertain to illustrious."

SEAN: Right. That would be illustrative. 

JEN: Oh, meticulative! I like that!  
 

SEAN: But wait, that's just another adjective.
 

JEN: Oh right, I forgot what we were doing. 
*time passes*
Here's one: Adventurous... adventure.  Meticulature.  I like that one. Or, chivalrous.  Chivalry. 

SEAN: Meticul...y. 

JEN: I feel like it needs more.  Meticularity. This makes sense with 'hilarious' as well. Hilarity.


SEAN: What about words that just end in 'us,'  instead of 'ous, or ious.'  Discus.  Mucus.


JEN, thinking: nope...they're all nouns. Abacus.  Proboscis. Does that end in an 'i'?

SEAN:  laughs and repeats "proboscis."

JEN: what?

SEAN: Proboscis is not a word I think about much.

JEN: I do, I think about it all the time, ever since I learned I was saying it completely wrong.  


*Looks it up on phone*

JEN: Here it is. Wait, how did I say it? Pro-BOS-cuss? That's how I said it, right? I used to say it, 'ProBIScuss'  I had no idea there wasn't even an 'i' there. It shattered my world.


*Hits the pronunciation thing on the google search and the girl's all, "Pro-BOSS-iss"*

JEN: WHAT? Oh, OK, I've been saying it wrong STILL!  Forget it! Apparently it's 'pro-boss-is!' I don't know anything!

*clicks on it two more times.*


PRONUNCIATION GIRL: Pro-boss-iss.  Pro-boss-iss. 

*Shaking my head*

JEN: Well anyway, what did we decide? I liked meticulation. 

SEAN: Meticulineity.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Competitive Puzzling

I did a puzzle in two days this weekend.  No big deal. Actually it isn't because it was a 300 piece-r which is my favorite kind.   1,000-piece puzzles are for the birds. These days I won't go higher than 500.  And, as with everything else in life, I came to a point where I realized that puzzling would be a lot more fun if it were a race.

I love speed games. I always have. Everything is better if we make it a race.  Julian, however, hates them. Sean, does too I think, but he tolerates them enough to play.  But they straight up stress the kid out and he can't handle. It's something we're working on but it's also something I'm just having to accept.  Often when I play speed games, if I'm feeling sluggish, halfway through I'll kick it up a notch and am actually able to go faster.  I might get lazy or am just starting off slow but then when I notice, I propel myself, and I improve. It makes me feel good, like if I set my mind to something... etc.

I enjoyed this puzzle. Lots of little details. Nothing annoying like a stretching expanse of too much sky. And solo puzzling can be fun.  There's nobody around for me to tell my puzzling tales to so I just talk to the puzzle.  "Oh-ho, someone has a mailbox, who could it BE?  Blue house, it's YOU!"    By the end I was antsy to finish and I kicked it into high gear where I held the box in one hand and shuffled and fit the pieces with the other.  And then that funny thing happened where you start finding the pieces and fit them subconsciously.  Where your brain knows it's going to fit before you do and you startle yourself.   At this point I was sailing through it and I really wondered if there's speed puzzling out there. You know, like speed chess. Which, for the record, I do not understand.

Sooo...any contenders? A 300-piece puzzle would take some time but with the motivation of competition, I bet we could make it just as exciting as any competitive sport out there.  Perhaps I should petition the olympics committee to make a new event? {thinking emoji}  On your mark, get set... PUZZ!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Calvian


The other night I was enjoying some good Calvin and Hobbes when Julian burst into the house and was instructed to go up and take a bath.  The following took place:

JULIAN: I don't wanna take a bath!

JEN: Go take a bath. I can smell you. Git!

Jen reads funny Calvin and Hobbes strip. Whilst laughing, says to Sean:  Oh man, i want to read this strip to you, just like Calvin reads them to us and forces us to listen.

SEAN: You mean...Julian?

JEN: hahaha! Yes, Julian! Hahaha...

SEAN: I was like, you do mean your son, don't you..?

JEN: See? They are the same. Indistinguishable

In the middle of reading, Julian comes halfway down the stairs, naked, and exclaims:

Guess what I just did in the toilet!

JEN: Get upstairs!

SEAN: Nobody wants to hear!

JEN: I think I'm having a transcendental experience.

Jen finishes reading the strip and she and Sean both laugh heartily.

Friday, September 07, 2018

High School Reunion

This summer I attended my 20th high school reunion, a statement that boggles the mind. Whaaat? Twenty years? How? When? Who? How?   It's crazy, just crazy.

But it's true, I graduated in 1998, got married in 2003, had a kid in 2009, and here we are today.  One of the weird things about moving back to my hometown after a decade+ of being away is sudddenly seeing people I recognize from another life I lived, long ago.  Moving out of state right after getting married is probably one of the best things I've done. I learned how to be an adult ('ish) and had to develop skills I needed since I was in a brand new and extremely foreign land and knew no one.  That decade shaped so much of who I am and I'll be forever grateful. 

But I'm unaccustomed to seeing people from my past and when I do it's a little bit jarring.  Mostly it's people I had little interaction with and I wonder what I could possibly say to them.  "Hey! I think we had a math class together. How ya been?"    So it's been weird, and interesting.

It's such a crazy thing to see people from the past, though. People you haven't thought about in years.  In a way, I have kind of this intense fondness for anyone from my childhood, even if we didn't know each other well.  There's a sort of shared trauma quality about it, particularly the jr. high- high school years. And that creates a bond that can never be broken, because it's kind of like, you were there.  You know.  These people hold a part of your childhood, I feel.  But then you add those weird old feelings that seem to surface for some odd reason of how you used to feel about a person, the memories you have of them, how that person seemed to make you feel, etc.   And you have to decide how much weight you want that to have. I mean, it's been twenty years. We've all done a lot of life livin'.  But still.

I decided to go with my best pal Brooke and see all the people.  We went, we talked, we reminisced.  I also brought Sean who actually wanted to go because he's never been to anything like this and later remarked it was the most unusual experience.  I told him I could use him as a way to talk to people and be like, "Hey, Sean, this is ____.  The memory I have of this person is ______" and then just share it, whatever it is.  For example, one girl was there who I hadn't seen since 2nd grade but we were pals then and I think she came to my 8th birthday party. When I saw her we greeted one another and I said, "isn't this weird? The kind of random memories we have of each other? Like right now the thing that's popping in my head is.. didn't you have like this cool sweater or backpack that you could stick things to?"  And she said, "Yes! My mom gave me this sweater and it came with a pouch of felt little objects that you could velcro onto it!"  "Yes! That thing was AMAZING. Everyone was so jealous."  Ha ha ha! It's so weird!  Like all of a sudden I'm 8 again and that never really went away (something I've long suspected). We didn't catch up on each other's lives because we hadn't kept in touch since then but it feels good to share these weird connections with people who knew you way back when.  We had a moment, and it's a part of me and maybe a part of you too. It's a kind of reminder or reminiscence of who you were, who you are.

I also ran into a friend who i was buddies with at that same age and then she moved away. She moved back at around high school time when we picked right back up being friends.  Then we lost touch after graduation and i hadn't talked to her until this reunion and we picked right back up AGAIN.  So crazy! She is just as funny as I remember and, just like now, that was a quality i always looked for in my friends even at the tender ages.

We all concluded that, in spite of the years and life lived, kids had, divorces, etc, no one's really changed that much.  We're all the same person and I suspect, forever will be.  This is comforting, and it made for such a fun nostalgic night being back in a high school I went to for only a year (it was brand new).  Here are a few pics:





Amy, Jen, and Brooke. 



Brooke, Amy, Jen.  (from the yearbook)


the greatest



Mary on the left. 




Mary's sandals cannot be ignored

Several of the same peeps:


I found a picture of an elementary school Christmas program and sent this to Mary:

 




Mary & Jen (or Jennifer as I was probably more commonly called)


We walked around the school trying to dig up memories from so long ago, having been there for so short a time. "Was that always like that?? i swear i don't remember that."   But Brooke was right, it was the PERFECT place for a photo shoot. I'm considering using it for our next Christmas card.  Or maybe I'll just have this photo be my Christmas card bc it's sooo good

favorite

I wanted to run through the halls of my high school, so I did. 


Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Typical Evening

The other night Sean and I were in the midst of another epic Rummikub stand-off.  What usually happens is we both vocally cheer for each other while I silently cheer for myself. Then after whoever wins, we encourage/rub it in the face of the loser by helping him/her with their remaining tiles to see if they're at all playable. Moving around the tiles, reconfiguring.  It's a game I enjoy and one I make Sean play with me when I need a game, stat.    Enter Julian, who is not a fan of most games, and in the evening hours, can usually be found eating a bowl of ice cream and reading from Calvin & Hobbes or a Star Wars Lego book.   Thus it was the other night when the following took place, as recorded immediately on my phone:

Julian, overhearing mine and Sean's game of Rummikub:

"Dad's telling you what's coming. He's foreshadowing."

Jen gives Sean a proud, "get a load of this guy" look and thumb gesture to Julian.

SEAN: That's a pretty great word. I think I learned that word in the 8th grade.

JULIAN: Mom taught it to me.   

(Jen nods with pride, and then--)

Pretty soon I'll know the F word.

JEN: Wha--?!

SEAN: I think foreshadowing is the F word.

Which is funny because Julian has been trying to get it out of us for months even though one time he both heard AND read it because I was watching what I thought was a safe BBC production on the Bronte sisters and had the subtitles on (because, British, sometimes, amiright) and he repeated it right away:  "F--- off?"  I thought that was it, but somehow it didn't stick (?) But sometimes Sean will give him fake ones and it kills me. "Fiddlesticks, it's fiddlesticks."

Anyway, immediately after this, Julian pulled down his pants and, using his bum cheeks to talk, said in a funny voice, "hello, my name is Jack, what's yours?"

And that's just an example of a typical night at our house.


Monday, August 27, 2018

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

This summer, Julian consumed approximately 5,437 Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches.  "Can I have an ice cream sandwich" will forever echo in my ears and brain.  But who can blame him. I remember summers where we'd consume twin popsicles by the giant bagful and even eat frozen pie after frozen pie from the Schwann's man. It honestly never occurred to me that they should probably be heated up first.  But with the Fat Boys (which Julian has deemed offensive), the only condition is that if he gets one, he has to pay a bite-tax to me.  I get to take a corner because they are delish. 

When considering what to do for his birthday cake, the usual took place: I had a brilliant idea, suggested it to Sean, suggested we make it one night, immediately became exhausted, and watched Sean do most of it. Come on, we make a great team.

I learned something though: chocolate shortbread?! Are you kidding me? It's amazing. There is so much good cocoa in there.  And butter, so much glorious butter.  Geez louise I could only eat a little bit before I had to flee.

It was relatively easy to make (from what I could tell) and didn't take long.  But the best part of it all, maybe even better than eating it, was watching Sean work at break-neck speed to assemble everything before the ice cream melted. He was dashing around like a skilled mad man and it delighted me so to witness. It is just my favorite. So while he worked, I snapped pics. I should probably try to put these together in some kind of gif or something but, meh. Old school suffices for me. Just scroll really fast:
 













A delicious work of art.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

NINE

And just like that, Julian turns nine freakin' years old.  

I believe there comes a time in our year where we suddenly become the age that's next. You know what I mean?  Become, instead of simply turned it, turned nine, for instance.  And it doesn't necessarily happen on the day of our birth.   For example, I was watching Julian take a bath a couple of weeks ago. He was taking showers for a while and reverted back to the bath. He's fully capable of doing the job himself but he's always trying to rope me into staying and talking which I can understand because I do the exact same thing to Sean. (we get bored.)  So I decided to stay, and chatting animatedly, he was telling me some grand story about ______________ (I was listening).  And I saw his long reed-like body and listened to his subtly maturing voice and laughed at the words he chose to use, and all of a sudden it hit me:  Oh. You're nine now. This is nine.  Just like that. And it happened in the bathtub. 

I'm going to put up a bunch of pictures of the boy, and I do mean a bunch. But before I do,
I was hiking one day, listening to a podcast of an interview with the writer John Banville. I haven't read anything he's written but I looove listening to writers talk about writing. Here's his wiki page if you're interested in learning more. Also here's the link to the interview. But he's this sort of codgy old Irish guy who perhaps said it best:


"Children just pretend to be children to save the embarrassment of adults.  We know everything by the time we're nine...The rest is just refinement, the rest is detail.  But we know it all by then, but we pretend we don't, so that our parents won't be embarrassed." 

This summer has been the summer of the legos.  And as you can imagine, it's been glorious.  First was lego camp, then we went to Legoland in CA which was pret-ty great, and just so many hours spent building.  Julian has a lot of intellectual energy, I'd say, and legos channel that nicely.  Honestly, is there a better toy? He's downstairs right now, in fact, building as I type.  For my birthday I got a lego set of my own of a modern house that came with a mom and a boy. We named her Betty and the son is Junior. Julian will spend hours coming up with "lego adventures" for us to have where Junior gets kidnapped or trapped or placed in mortal peril of some kind every time and we have to go save him with the help of well-intentioned neighbor, Mr. Bones and his shoddy vehicular constructs that keep falling apart.  I don't know why I, I mean Betty keeps letting Junior come with us them on these excursions. Anyway, they are hilarious and the details he concocts are a marvel. We always end up giggling about something or other.

 


Jabba's barge?
No wait, maybe this is Jabba's barge.


So much time spent examining.
One morning I heard a bellow and then, "Whew, I almost fell into my own Lego bin."   Now that's a fun visual.

Also, from the other room while he was lego'ing, "Mommy?"  (Writing that out looks SO weird. Like, nobody calls me "Mommy," are you insane? But he does, he does call me that. And I love it. But still i'm like, who?)


"Yeah?"

"Did you know that love can survive a coma?"

"Oh? Tell me about it."

"Well, I don't know anyone but I read it in Readers Digest and I know that it can happen."

"I believe it." 

Soo funny.  Often we will all of us sit at dinner and be reading something. And that is how our family time is spent.



"Julian, help Dad push the TV cart."
T'was also the summer of the boy-tank.





To escape the disgusto-smoke air, we drove 100 miles straight up and broke out through the haze at Mirror Lake in the Uintas. Here is Sean teaching Julian a handy trick to keep away the mountain lions, a scene I happily came upon after peeing in the woods, in case you wanted to know.


Campfire of the season. Julian and I both brought books and this is how we spent the mealtime while Sean cooked the dogs, of course. But not pictured are the made-up games Julian had for us to play afterward which included trying to throw tiny rocks onto a slightly bigger rock in the river and hit the target. The game was if we fail, we pay him $1. Ha ha, good try.   Also there was a sort of "find the secret stick whilst playing tag" game.   He hid a stick that Sean and I had to race to find while tagging each other.  And a version of kick-the-can with an old rusty can he found. I tell you, ignored only child = the best games ever.  He is the greatest.




I love these pictures so much.
Do you have moments when you discover what's "cool" according to what your kid is learning at school? But it takes a minute because it's this totally arbitrary nonsense, something you'd never think was cool but somehow is? That's what this pose was.


Another cool pose, but more easily identifiable, for obvious reasons.
                                                                    


Food truuuuuuucks!


Sean quote:  "They've taken a perfectly good bench wall and ruined it by putting a bench in front of it."








This is Julian looking carefully for another Ray Bradbury book for me in a book shop in  Carlsbad, CA. Are ya kiddin' me? {heart}

My oldest brother is dad to the oldest grandchild in our family who's 26. I remember my brother saying once that he realized, perhaps a little too late, that kids are who they are by the time they're about ten or so and if he could he might go back and do things a little differently, make special use of that time. It's something I think about. I do feel that the days of malleability are slipping through my fingers. The clay is hardening, if you will. (p.s. I worked on this blog post for quite some time before seeing I had originally typed "claw is hardening."  What kind of metaphor would that be, Jen?? Made me laugh.)   





On our drive to California we passed Las Vegas and the most amazing thing happened.  Behold:


JEN: Look, there it is, Julian: Sin City.

JULIAN: Huh.  I wonder if that's offensive to citizens there? Or maybe they're called "sinizens?" 

JEN: *MUCH LAUGHTER.* {cry face cry face} 

Baby's first pun!  Seriously, he is so clever. I am dying over it.




JULIAN: Hey, is it possible to give advice to Walmart?
SEAN: No, they're legendary on that. They do what they like.




 Julian has a lot of gal pals and this particular one I love. She is my buddy too.  We took her on an outing and this funny dialogue took place where she almost blew my attempts at keeping Julian pure in terms of how boys and girls are viewed. It's my attempt to subtly bring him up feministically and, though things can threaten to thwart my attempts, we're still going strong.  For example:

JULIAN: I like your nails. I get mine painted sometimes.

GALPAL:  You do? [giggle]  What color?

JULIAN: sparkles.  


GALPAL: [giggle, giggle]

JEN: [giggle]  That's right, sparkles are the best. *Looks down at sparkly toes.*

Dang, it was a moment of him recognizing that maybe it wasn't a boy thing too and that he wasn't all too sure he wanted to say more.  "...sparkles..." Dang. 

A couple of weeks ago we were at the library and I found the American Girl books.  I loooved these as a tween but back in my day there were only like four girls.  I thought they were so great and would always keep my eagle eye out for one I hadn't read, any time I visited a library, and it was like gold when I found one.  So, a fan of the originals, I selected Molly Saves the Day (Molly is the girl from WWII times, if you'll recall).   The stories are so great, the little illustrations throughout are so well done and fun.  We read it and I was happy to see it was just as good as I'd thought when i was 10.  Julian enjoyed it too and asked if we could get some more and I had to stay cool a little bit-- "sure, yeah."  while secretly cheering gleefully.   


So in this same car ride it somehow came up and Julian mentioned we'd been reading them.

GAL PAL:  [giggle] You like American Girl?

JEN, interjecting: I mean, why not, right? They're great stories and really well written. Stories about girls can be for boys too.  

Honestly it's an effort to combat all these societal notions instilled in these kids at such a tender age. But it's a battle I'm happy to fight and i pump my fist to the heavens every single day.  A few days later we checked out Meet Molly and Meet Samantha (from the Victorian era) and I figuratively did another fist pump while acting like it's a completely normal thing for books with female protagonists to be for boys, because it is. It is normal. 



Greatest piano practice quote everrrr:
"I never wanted to learn piano! I'll probably grow up to be a famous
musician and that's not what I want to do with my life!" {cry, sob, cry}
Dyyyiiinnggguh. At least he has no lack for confidence.





Oh man, the piano lessons. How proud of this kid am I? If there was ever any question about whether or not you should make your kid learn an instru---YES. THE ANSWER IS YES. ALWAYS YES.  It's been amaaaazing and everything I could ever learn about parenting and life in general is demonstrated through sitting next to a kid during piano practice.  It is a universe all of its own. So many things we learn. Patience, emotion management, perseverance, goal-making, progress-checking, confidence, and then the good ol' drilling, drilling, drilling. Then the brief but euphoric feeling of satisfaction when you finally get it right.  We have had so many amazing conversations and gone through so many battles together and come out on the other side.  He's on duets now and I sit with him and we work and it's the best thing I've ever done with my life. The other day someone asked him how he liked his piano teacher, who is great. He said, "She's good, I like her a lot. But my mom is really the one who teaches me."   *CHEER CHEER HOLDING UP TROPHY.*

"I hope I have a kid like me."  
"Oh yeah? What is it about you that you like, that you'd want your kid to have?"
"I'd want everything I have in me."







 As mentioned, I'm hearing aaaall sorts of things that I say repeated back to all of us and really, I couldn't be more pleased. I mean of course this has always happened but for some reason it feels different now, like oh, you've voluntarily adopted this into your vocabulary.  I am always commending Julian on his vocab and word choice and perhaps there's a good reason why.  A few words I've noticed he says on the reg:

1. Enorme.  Meaning large, in French.  Sean scoffed a little until I told him it's a real word, not just an abbreviation. Now he sees how cultured he is.

2. Forev.  "I haven't done that in forev!"


3. Delish.  It's just weird because it sounds just like me. I feel like I'm listening to me talk. Again, extremely proud.  But so weird.


There have been a bunch but those are the ones I managed to write down. 

 

 





Dear Julian, I love so much about the things you choose to be.   I love your progress at self-mastery. You've come oceans, my friend.  I love how if you spill on your shirt, your solution is to simply turn it around and wear it backward.  New shirt!  I love how we are best friends and spend hours hugging and expressing our love every day.  I love adventuring with you, whatever it is.  

At Ruby's on the pier. 

 Happy 9th, best friend.