Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Na-Na

I haven't ever mentioned it here, not really. But obviously if I'm working full-time -- even from my house -- I'm not watching my children full-time. We have a childcare provider here Mon-Friday.

Well, actually, we have three. Because we found a wonderful, amazing nanny who isn't interested in being with one family all week. (Who can blame her?) So she comes 2.5 days/week. Her name is Juanita and she is kind of the love of my life. (Through various twists and turns and for what it's worth, we also have Juanita's mom here 2 days a week, who is basically Mom Of Amazing, and yet a third nanny for one-half of one day each week who is awesome. Because this is what happens if you don't do the daycare thing. Every day we're shuff-a-lin'.)

What happens when Mama is in charge of her child:
Eve finds Mama's "wips." Click for larger.

But this is about Juanita.

Juanita has been watching Eve since Eve was 8 months old. Eve loves Juanita with all her heart, probably more than she loves me because Juanita actually knows what she is doing with children, whereas I do not, as evidenced by the story I am trying to tell.*

Plus, Juanita is younger, prettier, wears better makeup AND is more tattooed, bejeweled, and manicured than I am. These are the sorts of things that two-year-olds notice and find interesting. Two-year-olds are not so interested in Mama's "yoga pants" and "not makeup." (Although points to me for having a gall-bladder scar, which Eve adores. "MORE BOO BOO!")

Towns thinks "Na-Na ROCKS!"

Juanita -- aka "Na-Na" -- just had a birthday. For two days prior to (what I wanted to be) the momentous occasion, I worked on Eve.

We got Na-Na a present, we made Na-Na a card.

We talked about "Happy Birthday" a LOT, facilitated by the Birthday episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, which (as it happens) Eve also loves more than me.*

So on the actual morning of Juanita's birthday, with only 20 minutes left before her arrival, we practiced. Like a million times.

Me: What are we going to say when we see Na-Na?


Me, as though my child has recited the Gettysburg Address: THAT'S RIGHT! VERY GOOD! YOU'RE SO SMART! HIGH FIVE!

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

When Juanita arrived, rather than squeal with delight and rush to give her a hug, which Eve does every other morning upon Na-Na's arrival, Eve ran to the sofa and climbed on it. And sat there, as though What? No big deal? I'm sitting on the sofa. 

Me: Eve? Who is it? Is Na-Na here?


I asked Eve if we had a present for Na-Na. I asked her if we had a card for Na-Na. I asked her if we had a special thing we were going to say to Na-Na.


Me: What do we say to Na-Na!? What do we say? We say Haaaa....? HAAA....? 


Eve responded by behaving as though I were completely crazy and she had never seen or heard of any of the things I was alluding to, and as though Juanita was a complete stranger not worthy of eye contact.


It took several minutes of coaxing, then ignoring, then coaxing again before Juanita and I persuaded Eve to get off the sofa and participate in their normal "good morning" routine of hellos and hugs and kisses.

And so, after Eve was back to her everyday self, I decided to try again.

Me: Eve? Remember? We talked about this? We have something to say to Na-Na today! What do we say? WHAT DO WE SAY TO NA-NA!?!?!

This time Eve acknowledged me. She looked at me as though she were wracking her brain to try to figure out what in God's name I wanted from her. And then it happened.

In a split second her eyes widened and she smiled her adorable toothy grin. She knew she had figured it out. She'd finally putting together what she was supposed to say to get Mama to shut up.

Eve turned to Na-Na.

And in a loud, clear voice, she exclaimed: GOOOOOOO NINERS!!!!

*In no way do I ACTUALLY think my daughter loves her nanny or the television more than her Mama. Though maybe fish sticks. Hmm. No, really, I kid. If I were truly concerned about those things, I wouldn't write them so nonchalantly. I didn't even want to make this footnote, but I am trying to head off anonymous lectures at the pass. You know. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Made A Craft I Saw On Pinterest And It Worked And I Took Pictures And Now I'm Fucking Martha Stewart

FIRST and foremost, if you haven't discovered Pinterest yet, you are missing out on my current favorite website and diversion. (Question: What is the difference between diversion and obsession? Answer: Shutup.)

In case you don't know, Pinterest is basically a shared inspiration board -- all visual and full of amazing, fantastic ideas and crafts and recipes and fashions and finds and DIY ideas you'd never come up with on your own but will be amazed by. Seriously. I haven't been so enthralled with a website since maybe Twitter -- and Twitter took longer to win me over.

I even went to the local Pinterest meet-up a few weeks ago, just because I wanted to be around the people who made the site possible.

The Pinterest t-shirt is a little big on Eve.


While most of the things I see on the site fall into the "aspirational" category -- home decor I could never make work, fashions for women three feet taller and 100 pounds lighter than I am, hairdos I would end up in the hospital trying to do myself -- there are MANY great ideas I swear I will employ.

One such amazing, clever, and easy(ish) craft ideas I found was a tutorial for a Colored Rice Table. A table! To occupy toddlers! That's not sand or water-filled!  (Very important because Eve has entered a stage where she would spend all day playing in the sink if we'd let her.)

Not only does a rice table make sense, but the photo from the Shared & Remembered blog was so gorgeous, I had to try it:

So this Saturday morning, we saddled up the family wagon, headed to WALMART (YES, YOU HEARD ME) and bought a ginormous bag of rice, a plastic bin with a lid, and what I thought was food coloring.

And then we took it all home and got to work.


Direct from the Share & Remembered blog, which you should go visit for more amazing ideas like these:
I measured out the rice (4 cups) and put it in a Ziploc bag with about 2T of food coloring or liquid water colors (works great!) and 3 T of rubbing alcohol. The kids helped me mix the rice in the bags to spread the color. We put them on pans to dry in the sun. 

Don't you love when craft instructions are one sentence long?  Well, actually, if you're anything like me, the answer is no. Because you don't really have any idea what you're doing and more instruction and explanation is always welcome.

Thus, here are my notes:
  1. If you buy a 20-lb bag of rice, you don't also need two smaller-but-still-giant bags of rice as well. The 20-lb bag will be plenty.
  2. The thing that WalMart sells that's in the food decorating aisle with all the crafty stuff? That looks like it's food coloring but is called "Icing Color" and is in cute little jars? It's not food coloring exactly. It's a really, REALLY, REALLY concentrated colored substance that is like a jelly. If you're not careful, it will stain your hand. (But not your counters or child.)
  3. I don't have any idea why you use alcohol instead of water, but probably because water will seep into rice immediately and alcohol...doesn't? And maybe dries faster? I don't know, Craft Physics.
  4. Given that I had this weird jelly substance, I wasn't sure if you were supposed to mix it with the alcohol before adding it to the Ziploc bag full of rice, or if you just throw everything into the bag and hope for the best. But I decided it made sense to add the alcohol to the jelly in a small bowl and mix it around -- making the jelly a little more liquid-y and easier to mix with the rice.
  5. If you end up using these color-jellies instead of normal food coloring (they worked fine and had lots of color options and were cheap, at $1.68/jar), you do NOT need 2T. In fact, you need like, barely half a TBS, depending on how deep a color you're trying to get. Play around with it. The good thing is that if the color is too concentrated, you can just add more rice to the bag while you're still mixing it/before it dries. If the color is too faint, just add more. 
  6. I had about 1/4 of the bag of rice left even after using 5 colors with more than 4C in each, so I decided to line the bottom of the bin with it. I figured once all the colors were mixed up, having white in there would look nice, and what's the harm in having more fun stuff to play with?
Here were the results! So pretty! (Click for larger! They don't suck!)

 Mixing is totally fun!

Note: ground is NOT wet because it was raining. Ground is wet because Eve turned on the hose because she will do anything to play in water. We need a new diversion!

 The vibrancy of the color is due entirely to my having no idea how much "Icing Color" to use.
It kind of worked in my favor!

 So pretty! Just needs to dry a little before toddler hands get into it!

You can't tell, but I have this long bin on top of another plastic bin turned upside-down. 

After drying: 

Better than a sandbox in every way! Eve loved the table and cried when she had to come inside to eat dinner. "MORE RICE PLAY!" she said. 

As far as I'm concerned, that's a rave review. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ten Years Ago Today

On the morning of October 13, 2001, I left my sister's apartment in Boston. I gassed up my black Cabrio convertible and headed west.

Ten years ago today, I started my cross-country road trip -- the one that followed the end of my marriage and kickstarted the rest of my life.

I couldn't, didn't, foresee where I'd be a decade later. Here, on October 13, sitting in a darkened home office in my house in Napa, barely able to keep my eyes open long enough to cobble two sentences together. My husband is downstairs watching ESPN and doing dishes. Both of my kids are asleep. I have just closed my work email for the night.

I am utterly exhausted, but that's okay. Because I'm bone tired from living -- really living -- a life I couldn't even picture ten years ago.

I'm really happy to be here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


So here's the thing.

I'm going to lose the weight I want to this time. I have no doubt in my mind. None.

Ugh, but there are lots of parts I hate. HATE. HATE.

Some people say getting started is the hardest part and I think that's a big, fat lie. Getting started is easy. Getting started is saying WOOHOO! and being all eager and bright-eyed and delusional about how long and hard this whole journey* is going to be. You don't think of it as a journey in the beginning. You just think, "Tomorrow I won't eat so many damn carbs and then I will be a size 6!"

It's after the first day,
the first three days,
the first three weeks
that it gets really hard.

Oh, before I forget! Here's the video from Week 4 which I forgot to post here.
I get stuck in my dress and I'm not even kidding. Also there's something about plus-size shopping.

Because that's when you're saddled with reality. And reality is: it's a millionteen times more difficult and time-consuming to lose weight than it is to put it on.

Suddenly you realize you really ARE on a fucking journey, not just a "let's try this out for a little while" escapade.

I will tell you right now: I have been on this journey for five weeks. I am doing fine. Food-wise I have been on-plan every day except ONE. And that was for a dinner party where I actually made Argentinian tamales with corn pudding and you'd better believe I ate them because that is the single most ambitious thing I've done in the kitchen in recent memory, save for when I tried to clean up "flour" while my toddler was playing with water in the sink.

Do not do that. Paste. Everywhere.

Anyway. Drink-wise I have had some cocktails here and there. (As such, I have learned that I can have a drink or two and not gain weight, but I won't lose any, either. MEH.) (But no surprise.)

I have not quite lost 20 pounds. Close, but no.

And that is wonderful, yes, except. UGH. I still weigh more than I did when I GOT pregnant with Towns.

I don't mean to set unrealistic goals. I haven't. The real issue is that I gained weight so quickly with pregnancy (and after it) that my milestones are all messed up.

  • I need to lose 30 pounds before I am the weight I was when I got pregnant.
    Sigh. That wasn't so long ago.
  • I need to lose 40 pounds before I am just about the weight I got to when Medifast was working for me and I was about to head to BlogHer '10.
    This means being able to wear all the clothes I bought around then.
  • I need to lose 45 pounds before I FINALLY ACTUALLY FINALLY ACTUALLY weigh less than I did when I arrived in San Francisco. Ten years ago.
    This was my first target when I started Medifast the last time.
  • I need to lose 50 (fucking) pounds before I weigh under 200.
    My actual first, big, scary, necessary target goal.
Fifty is a lot of pounds. 

Oh, I'll do it. It just means I'll be cranky in the meantime. By which I mean NOW, when I'm almost 20 pounds down and still not fitting into anything.


In lieu of a video this week, here is what my progress looks like so far. (Thanks to my iPhone App called "Track Your Weight" and I can't link to it because I can't figure out how.)

For now, we're going to ignore that bright red "Obese" line along the bottom, light years away from my actual weight, that sort of makes it look like I've flatlined.

Next up? Telling you about my trip to the gym and meeting with a trainer where they hook you up to a machine that reads your body cells and then gives you a printout that looks like a receipt that tells you more about your actual body fat and water and muscle than you ever wanted to know. Kind of like the Wii except without the sad trombone music.