About Me

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Concord, California, United States
I am a sometimes-writer, everyday mama, creative failure and experimental cook. I am interested in living a beautiful life, spending time with my family and making things that I can feel proud of. When I'm by myself I'm usually outside. Don't bother calling because chances are that I didn't bring my cell phone because I couldn't find it. If you see me walking, it's because I lost my keys and if you see me with only one child... I'm probably in big trouble.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Calling in the armed forces

I woke up with a bite.

The exterminator that Lila's teacher recommended will be here before noon.

If we can't beat this, I am going to have to leave. I guess that I'll need to take my children and pets and run. I can't live this way. I can't constantly fear. I am on the verge of losing it.

In other news, my super-technology breaking power is in full effect and I can make my cell phone go crazy without even touching it. It plays angry birds and calls my friends all on its own. It even goes to web pages or opens texts and begins writing in letters. Jay thinks it's the craziest thing that he's ever seen. He wasn't to video tape it.


***@***@***@***@***UPDATE***@***@***@***

The exterminator has come and gone.

For the first time since we discovered our bed bug infestation I feel hopeful. He said that the entire section of center city where we were living is completely bed bug infested. He also said that he will solve this problem by using three different chemicals and coming back for a follow up visit. The first chemical will kill anything living now. The next chemical will last for 12 days and kill anything that hatches and the third chemical has a lasting effect of six months. He will also come back for a follow up and do it all again.

He'll be here at 2 and I have to have the girls out of the house until 7. They get out of school at 3:15. I was thinking of taking them to New Jersey to eat at their favorite restaurant for dinner. I'll have all of the pets with me, and I'll have to leave Sidney in the car. But we'll be there with her most of the time. By the time we get back to Philadelphia we should be worry free.

No bed bug shall be left standing.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Phileo, A Completely Human and Totally UnBedBug Related Thought!

I've noticed Frozen Yogurt Bars popping up all over the city. FroYo and Cupcake Bakeries are on every Philadelphia corner.

I pulled the girls out of school about an hour early today. We had flu shots scheduled for both of them. This is the first flu shot that my children have ever had. I've been vehemently against them. But where Jay almost DIED last winter and sat in the hospital with limited movement of his legs for an entire week and continues to have a damaged spine and numbness due to the swine flu... I considered it a universal lesson in cost vs. benefit of vaccinations.

So, back to the subject. I took the girls for these shots. Bunny (who would now like to be called Kaitlyn) so Kaitlyn only needed one shot. Just the flu shot. Unfortunately, Lila was due for two other shots and needed to get three. My poor little bean.

As a parental food/guilt bribe, I decided to take the girls to the Phileo that they've been dying to try. It's a child magnet with shockingly bright decor (it sort of reminded me of Maoz, if Maoz did lap tops and free wifi) and sweets displayed. I've never been to a place like this. They basically have these giant cups that you can put as much or as little yogurt in. It's self serve and the yogurt machines are built into a long, green wall and are followed by what seemed like an endless and impressive array of topping choices. Lila chose the cappuccino frozen yogurt topped with coconut flakes and chocolate. Bunny Kaitlyn got the cake batter frozen yogurt with sprinkles and chocolate chips. They loved it. It was pretty cheap too. We got two decent sized yogurts for 4 bucks and change.

It was almost enough to chase the blues away.

And for the fat-free lovers of the world, most of it was fat free and everything else was low fat.

Personally, I think that fat makes everything more delicious and I like my yogurt with a nice layer of cream... but that's just me. I realize that other people care

Armed and Dangerous

I had a really terrible day yesterday.

I was convinced that I'd been bitten again, which may or may not be my imagination. I spent most of the day crying, not sure how to get through this, incredibly depressed, hopeless, scared and miserable. I considered running away and I considered going to a mental hospital.

This morning I stripped the mattresses of their bedding. Got everything in the wash. put the cats in the basement and the dog in the bathroom and proceeded to spray and sprinkle bug killers all over our bedrooms.

I called the exterminator to find out if I was doing everything correctly and she said that we should be fine. She also said that we should consider holding off on furniture until we know that we are bed bug free. Jay doesn't want to do this. Our girls have had their lives turned upside down and we'd both like to create some sort of normal home for them again. Thoughts like this are the thoughts that make me need professional help. I can't believe that we've been stripped of all of our belongings. I can't believe that my children have such an unstable life because of these bugs.

I just don't know how I can make it through this.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Feeling Terrorized

Okay, so our apartment company (PMC) contacted us today to tell us that they had our apartment inspected and that there are definitely bed bugs there.

I was sort of holding a smidgen of hope that it was spiders or something, anything less terrible.

We are going to get rid of all of our furniture. We are not going to try to salvage anything. This is especially sad because we have beautiful furniture and we can't afford to replace it with anything beautiful now. I actually feel terrorized. I wonder if that sounds dramatic, but there is no scarier feeling than knowing that you aren't safe while you sleep. I can't even tell you how many tears I've shed over this. I feel dirty. I feel unsafe. I feel like everything I own has been robbed from me.

I feel so sorry for everyone living in that building.

It's not as simple as just cleaning your furniture and getting on with life because they can hide in the smallest cracks. And if you have one... you'll soon have an infestation. I. CAN'T!

We opened an insurance claim. I am SO GLAD that we have renters insurance.

Why is this happening to us?

Tuesday- Little light in a Big mess

I'm not going to the contaminated apartment today. I got a lot done there yesterday and was happy to finish my grocery shopping at the Reading Terminal Market (if you can swoon for a grocery, I do swoon and sing for this one), come home, make a nice dinner, work on homework with the girls and read a book before bed time. I also took Bunny to get her ears pierced but she backed out just after they put the little purple dots on her ears. I bought her magnetic earrings instead. She was really disappointed in herself and we had a long talk about not doing things until you feel ready to do them. I think that she's feeling pressure because the other girls in her class have their ears done already.

I wish that I never had to go back to the apartment again.

Did I mention yesterday that they said that we'd have to pay for these ridiculous bulk trash fees if we wanted to get rid of our contaminated things? I was like, "This building did this to us. It's costing thousands of dollars. My children no longer have ANY toys or books. We don't have a BED. I am not paying you one penny to solve this problem." And then I started crying and was like, "you know.... I'm never like this... but I'm so angry..." If anything, they should be glad that we're taking care of it and not just abandoning everything that we don't want and letting them take it out.

So, we decided to take everything to a sanitation facility to be destroyed or thrown in a big pile of crap... or whatever happens to your stuff when you do that. It will be the last thing that we do on our moving day (Saturday).

Surprisingly, even while living with just a folding card table, a few folding chairs and some mattresses on the floor... I am somehow happier than I was in my apartment. I really like it here. I know that I've complained about the neighborhood, and it is a little bit sketchy. It gets worse as you go south, and because of all the one way streets in this city you have to go south of where we live and then wind around to come back up to our house. My neighbors are all really friendly. There are lots of kids. It's quiet (way quieter than living in Center City).

Better still, cooking in my kitchen was a dream. The appliances are so beautiful and such good quality.

As soon as this moving nightmare is over, I think that we'll be really happy here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday-At War

Two restful nights sleep. No bloodsuckers visiting our beds to insert their little needles into our skin and suck us dry.

We have been cleaning everything that we take out of our old apartment with heat and bleach. And that's just our clothing and dishes! Any furniture that leaves will be cleaned with bleach and pesticides. I'm pretty sure that I'll get cancer as a direct result of this experience. That said, I'm particularly cheery, considering.

I got a fantastic sleep last night. I was exhausted and went to bed at 8 pm with the girls. I woke up at 6:30 feeling totally refreshed and ready to fight the war. I am armed with a spray bottle of bleach, some rubber gloves and a can of killer pesticide. I am so freaked out that I bring other clothes to wear after I've cleaned. I carry them into the apartment inside of a dark trash bag that remains closed the entire time I'm there. I clean, shower, put on my clothes and leave. I also wipe my shoes off with a bleachy towel before going.

Jay, in contrast, woke up a hot mess! He called out of work and is in bed asleep. Last night he stayed up recleaning our clean clothes. He drank an awful lot of beer. Alcohol, sleep deprivation, work stress and a wife that is screaming at you all of the time for things that you had nothing to do with... does a sick man make. He dropped me at the apartment this morning to get some work done. Then he dropped Lila at school and ran Bunny over to CHOP for a follow-up x-ray.

When he came to pick me up he dissembled a bed and found 0 bedbugs. We STILL haven't seen one... which is fantastic. It means that our infestation is likely very small. We are throwing out our bed and just sleeping on our new mattress and box spring for awhile. I think that I"ll throw out our night stands as well. We're going to clean everything that can be taken apart. Trust me, nothing will leave our apartment until it's been coated in something cancer causing that is fatal to all insects.

I am serious.

This is a war.

I am a winner.

Here's a good youtube clip I found about bedbugs.




On a bright note, Bunny's arm is healing well. I feel so sorry for her because I promised that we'd get her ears pierced but we haven't been able to do it. I really don't want to pierce in a mall kiosk with a gun, but piercing salons can't pierce anyone under the age of 16 in Philadelphia and our pediatrician doesn't do it. She's so upset about this that I think I might just have to swallow my idealistic dreams of good health and take her over to the mall.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday- baby steps to freedom

Jay worked yesterday while the girls and I did what we could get the hell out of our Chestnut St. apartment.

We went to the exterminator and bought things that we'll need to prevent this from ever happening again (including a powder that I can squirt into things like the electrical sockets).

Then, we did laundry. We went out and got mattress covers for our new mattresses and pillows at our new house. We did more laundry. And when we were done with the laundry we went to a laundry matt and used their super, crazy, hot dryer to make sure that every little one of those fuckers is dead.

In our house we have a folding table, four folding chairs (none of which were ever in our apartment) and new mattresses. That's it. That's all we'll have for a week. and in that week, everything that we own will either be thrown away or exterminated.

Wish us luck.

I am so thankful that we're moving. I COULD NOT live in that apartment for another minute. We still haven't seen any of the bugs. I haven't even seen evidence of them outside of the bites and the little bit of blood on our sheets. That said, I think that our infestation is really small. They are probably just getting to our apartment from another apartment.

While we were leaving yesterday we saw an exterminator coming in. I was like, "What are you here for?" And he sheepishly said, "I don't know. I think ants, maybe."

Ants, my ass.

And I'll tell you, that "luxury" building of condos that we paid through our noses for two years to live in... has sucked the life and so many thousands of dollars out of me.

I feel so bad for all of the residents.



Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday- My Life In Hell

Outside of the death of one of my children (and maybe even my husband) we have had the worst thing in the world happen to us. We, with the company of a shocking number of our Philadelphia neighbors, have been infested by bedbugs.

According to all of the six exterminators who I have spoken with in the past 48 hours, bed bugs in Philadelphia are an epidemic. They are in five star hotels. They are in apartment buildings. They are in clothing stores. They are in people's homes. They travel through the electrical wires and can survive for months and sometimes up to two years without feeding.

Two mornings ago Bunny and Lila woke up with welts. Because I've heard so much about bed bugs in the media lately, I immediately stripped their beds. I didn't find any evidence of bedbugs. Like, I didn't find any bugs. I didn't find any of the little black dots of stains that they leave behind. I felt pretty confident that we probably didn't have the bugs. Then, after a bit of research and a close inspection of the sheets, I found the small blood spots that bed bugs are notorious for leaving.

I called the pediatrician and she said that she didn't think that the bites sound like bed bug bites. She said that they sound like flea bites. I actually felt relieved to think that we might not have bedbugs. Jay: I never thought I'd see the day when having fleas would be a good thing. After careful examination of our pets I determined that we probably don't have fleas. I found no evidence of fleas, no fleas and don't see much scratching going on.

That night I slept in with the girls. I went from bed to bed thinking that if anyone was going to get eaten that it would be me because I'm bigger and easier to get. I was right. I woke up in the morning with my shoulders and back and even my ears bitten. I doubt that I would have even been able to fall asleep, but I was so exhausted from crying and feeling hopeless and had used to much strength trying not to panic...trying not to run away... and trying to hold it together a little bit for the girls.

Jay has been working 12+ hour days. Even today he's at work. And his work is hard these days. So, he comes home and deals with Hell and goes to work and is stressed out beyond stressed out. It's terrible timing because I am absolutely, without a doubt, not strong enough to deal with this on my own.

For anyone who knows me... parasites are one of my worst fears. Bed bugs, lice, fleas... they make me feel so overwhelmed that I'm going to pass out. I can't deal with, accept, live with, understand, grasp or handle that there are INSECTS FEEDING ON US in the night.

When the exterminator came I didn't have a lot of faith in him. 1.) he left when he couldn't find a parking space and then he returned only when I found him one that was free and stood in it until he got here. 2.) He was 2 hours late. 3.) He didn't take the sheets off of our beds or look for any evidence of bedbugs before charging me $810. He was like, "yeh. you've got them. But it doesn't look bad. Don't worry about it. We'll just take care of it." And then he told me not to worry about keeping my mattresses... that I should keep them. And when I told him that I wasn't going to keep them because I read that sometimes the bugs live inside the mattresses, he told me not to drag it through the building. I had no faith in this man.

I found another exterminator in South Philly. I'm going to call back at 9. Over the phone one of the guys told me that it's $600 per room to exterminate. We'll do our new house... and treat our old apartment ourselves. Then, we're just going to IKEA and buying new mattresses and box springs, pillows and so on. I'm going to salvage most of our clothing... but we're throwing most other things out. I think that our dining room table and hutch are both okay. We'll exterminate the bed frames. We're going to save our kitchen things, like plates and pots and pans. We're saving the girls armoirs and night stands, but exterminating them. We're getting rid of our couch (just in case) and the dresser/desk in our bedroom. We're getting rid of all our toys, books, bookshelves, toy boxes, suitcases... and any place that bed bugs could be sleeping/breeding during the day.

I believe that this infestation is small here. An apartment above ours was exterminated last week. They say that it wasn't for bedbugs, but they also haven't said what it was for. They don't have a pet and we don't have mice here. I'll bet that it was bedbugs and they don't want to say so.

Did you know that many people don't even know that they're being bitten. You have to be allergic to the bites to really know. The girls both swelled up. Bunny has welts on her legs that are the size in circumference of golf balls. Jay hasn't felt anything, which means that they haven't made it to our bed or that he isn't feeling it happen.

Just so you know, I don't know how I'm going to get through this. Our condo association designates days when we can and can't move. So, we can't move until next Saturday. That said, we've already got the keys for our new place and we're going to take new mattresses there today with a few things and sleep there, on the floor, with no other furniture for a week. I can't put my children to bed for another night not knowing what's going to happen... and using myself as bait is so emotionally and physically terrible that I don't think I can do it for another night. Also, they'll eventually stop feeding on me and move onto the girls again. Just because it wasn't last night or the night before doesn't mean that it won't be tonight. I. Just. Can't.

Also, we don't even have the money to pay for the extermination and replacement of all of our possessions.

I just want to run away. It all feels totally overwhelming.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Circle of Hope church

Bunny's recent woes (which are pretty much wee's now), have brought it to my attention that she has some real self-esteem issues. She's expressed to me that she's shy because she believes that if she tells people about the things that she likes that they'll ultimately reject her. She also feels less valuable than other people. For a child who lives in a loving house and has always been cared for, nurtured and supported... I just don't understand.

I'm doing a couple of things. I am first, taking her to a holistic doctor to speak about pediatric depression. I emphasize the holistic part because there's no chance in Hell it's unlikely that I'd medicate Bunny.

One thing that Bunny has always wanted to do but that we've never honored is to attend a church regularly. She prays every day and speaks about God as a believer... which is sort of amazing considering that her father is an Atheist and her mother is a Me. She even feels sorry for us and lectures us about God. When she broke her arm the hospital paperwork-people asked if we have a preferred religion that we'd like for them to document in her file. When I said that we don't practice a religion Bunny corrected me and told him that she "believes in God."

Even though I don't know where I stand and Jay thinks that it's all a pack of lies and that we're teaching our child something false... I've decided to take Bunny to church. I think that she deserves something that is hers. She should be able to follow an interest that she has... even if it is different than what Jay and I believe. Further, there's nothing bad that can come out of going to church. I love communities and I received a recommendation about a church in Philadelphia that is warm, safe and seems good for people like me (read: people who aren't necessarily Christian but who aren't really anything else either... but for whatever reason need a church to go to).

The church is called Circle of Hope. I was speaking with one of the mom's at ICS about it. She said that several children at the school attend school there and recommended that we go to the 5 o'clock meeting on Sunday. There's a lot that happens for children at that meeting and she thought it would be a good way to get a feel for if this is a good fit for us.

I am so scared.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday- Disasters in Cooking, Big Time Fail

I like to think of myself as something of a skilled bakestress. Seriously, I can get my rise on, yo.

I offered to make big, soft pretzels for all of the children in Lila's kindergarten class as a special treat. Her teacher told me that there are a few people with celiac and she'd tell their mom's to send a special snack for them that day because they can't eat the pretzels. I, ready for the challenge, said that I would venture into the land of gluten free baking and de-wheat my kitchen aid mixer so that I could toss together some delicious treats for all to enjoy.

I mean, how hard could it be?

I found this simple recipe and followed it to the tee. There were a few things that I questioned... but I have dabbled enough in gluten-free cooking to know that sometimes the baking process is different for non-wheat foods.

So, my first real indication that there was something terribly wrong was the after I mixed the dough and kneaded it a bit... my hands smelled a lot like henna. When the smell of your hands reminds you of slathering your head with mud to turn your hair red when you were 15... it's problematic.

Next, when it was time to boil the pretzels in their baking-soda bath, I put only one in. I got the water to a nice rolling boil and gently moved the pretzel into the boiling water, face down. Within 15 seconds most of the pretzel had dissolved. The baking soda bath quickly turned into a frothy, boiling cauldron of henna-scented gruel.

I decided to just bake the remaining pretzels and see what happened.

What happened was that I created the most disgusting, repulsive, non-edible baked good that has ever existed. Even the smell of them baking was putrid. They were just... AWFUL.

Thank god that we have a completely allergen free bakery called Sweet Freedom near-bye. I popped in and picked up two magic bars and two blueberry oat bars for this afternoon. At least it's something special! Of course, the whole point was to bring in the exact same thing for the kids with celiac as I was bringing for everyone else... so that there'd be no difference. My heart aches because I have failed in this.

On a personal note, I have my test for celiac and appointment to talk to a dr. about my nutrition on Tuesday. I feel like when my diet is naturally gluten free, I feel great. But even when I try to use gluten substitutes, I am just as sick as I'd be if I at a sandwich made from whole wheat bread.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New House In South Philly

We got the keys to our new house today!

The house itself has grown on me. I love the old floors and the exposed brick walls. Also, I am spectacularly excited to have a back yard again. An urban backyard is like a golden nugget, to be cherished and protected forever. I'm hoping the there's enough light to build a little vegetable garden with the girls next spring.

Also, the kitchen in this house is so nice!!!! I mean, our apartment has a kitchen aseembled with dental floss and popsicle stickskitchen that is... fine. It has the things that "nice" kitchens require, (or, at least in the world according to HGTV) like stainless steel and granite countertops. But the appliances are so cheap and the cabinets are crap and the granite is paper-thin. Our new kitchen was done really nicely and I'm excited to cook in it.

Jay and I still don't agree on where we should put our dining room table, being that the house doesn't have a proper dining room. It's one of those things that we'll have to see before we can make a real decision.

I still have reservations about the neighborhood... but I'm trying to embrace it. I am trying to stay positive and hope for the best.

We can't move in until October 2nd... but that gives me some time to paint before we move in.

Pictures soon!



UPDATE!!!!!! I went by the house with the girls after school today and took a few pictures! There will be more to come after we paint and move in!

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday- Fundraiser Talk

I joined a fundraiser committee at ICS and went to my first meeting last night.

I have to admit, I did feel a bit like a fish out of water. All of my fundraising experience happened at Deer Path for pre-school and I always sat on the creative side of the fundraising table. That, paired with the fact that I have never actually attended this event and didn't necessarily walk in with an understanding of what it even was... left me with my mouth agape. It took me most of the meeting to actually be able to envision what it will be like.

That said, I think that it will be pretty fun.

It's a 3 hour fundraising event that benefits the school's travel program (something that is so important). The 7th graders at the school will be able to go to Ecuador in April. The funds raised at this event will benefit this trip directly while working to create a sustainable travel program for future children (like my children)!

My part of the evening is to organize a salsa-tasting contest. People can bring 2-3 cups of their own salsa and other guests will vote for a favorite! We don't want people to have to register for this, but for this reason it will be difficult to predict how many salsas will be there. I'd like to make this part of the night really fun and colorful. I was thinking about getting 5 or 6 of something like this and using it to display the salsa. Then, next to each one there could be a bowl of local-homemade chips. I also thought that I could get really beautiful, brightly colored fabrics for the table on fabric row. I need a cute way to keep track of votes. I was thinking of having raffle tickets custom made for this. I found this site that does it affordably.

There a lot to think about.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday- crazy idea

The Crisis:

I don't know what to do with the rest of my life and with the departure of my children, Monday-Friday from 8 to 3, I'm deliriously bored. By 9:30 this morning my house was as clean as it could be (with respect to the moving chaos), my children's pj's were out for tonight and their outfits for tomorrow were chosen and set aside. Lunches and snacks for the following day were prepped by noon and I found myself counting the minutes until I could pick them up from school.

In this time of tedious minute counting I find myself thinking about what I can do with my life. I have thought about lots of different things and it seems like I've got some solid ideas. That said, I've been really wishy washy. I try on an idea and I try to imagine myself really engaged in it.

Here's a new one:

I've always wanted to open a bakery. The best job that I ever had was in a bakery and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to bake. Unfortunately, I don't know anything ANYTHING about business. And I'm pretty sure that if I did know something about business, I'd be pretty awful at it. Oh, and the other problem is that I don't have any money. But lets say that I could get the money... I still would run a business directly into the ground by giving everything away.


I've been entertaining the concept of a bakery/cafe called "granola" that caters to different types of granola and serves different kinds of granola dishes... just like an ice cream parlor does. Not just granola, but different types of milks/yogurts and fruits to pair with granolas. I could even make homemade yogurt. It's pretty straightforward and could have a pretty straightforward menu. Granola is something that's always pretty popular. It's healthy. I love to bake it. It's easy to make creative granolas and I have lots of recipe ideas.

Just a thought.

Monday, Ouch

I've been particularly clumsy lately. I mean, let's face it, doing things like tripping up the stairs, dropping plates and glasses, losing my balance in a parking lot, hitting myself in the face with cabinet doors and running over my toes with a closet door have been my curse since I could walk and hold things. It's likely a combination problem. My poor coordination paired with terrible depth perception make me a candidate for scraped knees and a bruised forehead (the cabinet thing... which I did twice yesterday.)

Last night, while slicing my fanciest Parmesan, I nearly cut my index finger in half. The slice is down at the tip, on the outside and nearly goes half way through.

I went to the ER. Really, is there anything more depressing than a city Emergency Room? There were people in WAY worse shape than I was. There were children who looked like they'd been waiting for five years to see someone... screaming at the top of their lungs while their beat down, worn out, frazzled mom's and dad's surrendered to the seemingly-eternal waiting room line.

I.

Just.

Couldn't.

So, I headed home, in pain, stopping off quickly at the Rite Aid to grab some first aid supplies. I think that I made the right choice. It hurts... but I don't think stitches will be necessary. Jay will likely need to do the dishes and baths for a few days (mwah hahahhahahhahahahha) but otherwise I'm okay.

Bunny cried on her way into school again. My poor little birdie. It's heartbreaking.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday-granola day

I love lazy, cooking Sundays!

I made a loaf of bread, a gigantic batch of granola, and am thinking about making a banana bread too. This is a day for the kind of weekend dinner that you start at 2 and have on the table at 5:30.

I used this bread recipe. It is WONDERFUL! I have long since abandoned my bread maker, which was a hand-me-down. Maybe I'll revisit the contraption soon. Also, I use this general granola recipe and just dress it up a bunch with dates, raisins, seeds, nuts and chocolate chips. For this batch I bought a pound of trail mix from the bulk containers at Whole Foods. This is a cute little article on granola that I read at the beloved Whole Foods site.

In our packing challenge, Jay is tackling the dissembling of our children's trundles. We're putting the little twin mattresses down in the family room for a few days until we can bring them over to our new place. The girls think it's great and have been cuddled up watching movies. I'm trying to stay markedly unfreaked out about the mess of brown boxes and stacked pieces of furniture that our lives are becoming. We pick up our new keys on Wednesday and I'm painting on Saturday night.

Here are some pictures of my adventures in Sunday food (plus one of the girls!!)
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday

I should really be packing. Instead, I'm blogging while waiting for my pretzel dough to rise.

I've noticed that the content of this blog consists mostly of day-to-day mama life and food stuff. Recently I've become aware of just how important food is to me. Good quality is such a big deal and I just never, ever, ever, ever want to be in a situation where I am eating something that I don't feel good about again.

Today, at around 11, Jay suggested that we start walking down to the Magic Garden (we were scheduled for a noon tour). We decided to grab a quick bite to eat on South Street before our tour. South street has pretty much every kind of food that a person could want to eat. There's everything from fast food to fancy-date-night places. I thought that we'd just go to the Whole Foods salad bar or stop in at a pizzeria, but instead we happened upon this placed called the Loving Hut. I think that it would cost a family of four about $20 to eat at a place like McDonalds. For $20, we were able to get giant plates of organic vegan food. We got a quinoa salad, a humongous and incredible sushi roll and a monster sized plate of chow mien noodles. This food was so delicious, so nutritious and so cheap, that it occurred to me that we really don't ever have to eat crap so long as we're living in this city.

Last night we ate at the White Dog cafe, which is another organic restaurant. It was on the fancy and pricey side, but so yummy.

On my internal list of Philly-pros-and-cons, I add good, healthy, affordable and fancy food to the list of pros.

Our tour of the Magic Gardens was cut short because my girls Lila had no patience for the experience. I mean, she didn't have a tantrum or anything crazy, but she was miserable and wanted to leave. In her defense, she's newly five years old, it was all about fascinating history... but her interest in that was minimal and she is suffering from some miserable allergies. Jay, Bun and I were all hanging on every word of the tour guide, because the artist Isaiah Zagar is a completely awe-inspiring. I truly hope that I bump into him around town some time. He's just about finished his work on a huge warehouse and though it's closed to the public they're holding a fund-raiser there soon. I'm going to try to find information on it because I'd love to go to something like that. I have a feeling that it would be packed with interesting people and good conversation.

After we left the street tour, we returned to the gardens to wander around and take some pictures.

Here are a few photos from the day! Jay was with us, but he was the photographer. Isn't that the worst? You take all of the pictures and there's no photo evidence of your presence there!


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Friday, September 17, 2010

Another Difficult Morning... prelude to a peaceful weekend

Poor Bun, her days are getting easier but her mornings are still difficult. This morning she was particularly tearful and she stood at the gate begging not to go into school.

I wish that I knew what was wrong. I wish that I could give her just a teaspoon of Lila's confidence (god knows that there's enough to spare.) I worry that Lila is sometimes forgotten. It's always been this way. She's so confident and self-serving that she's often not given as much attention as Bunny is. This morning, I can't remember if I even said good-bye to Lila before she walked into school. I was so preoccupied with Bunny's tears and insecurity, that I forget to congratulate and support Lila. I'm a crappy mom.

I am regularly awed by how different my children are from each other.

We have some fun plans for the weekend, which I hope will make life a little better for the girls. Jay and I are going out for dinner at the White Dog Cafe tonight and trying out our new babysitter from sitter city. Then, tomorrow at noon we have reservations to tour the Magic Gardens in Philadelphia... which is a potential birthday party site for Bunny. We purchased our tickets via groupon. Groupon is the best thing that has happened to my day-to-day life in years. On Sunday we're making granola to share with Bunny's class and staying in. I will contact Lila's teacher next week about doing something for her class too. I don't know that I could possibly make enough granola for two classrooms of kids in one day without breaking the bank. We're going to have a restful day in preparation for the week of school and later nights (committee meeting and back to school night).

Since I'm totally content with my weight and done losing, I've been slowly adding a lot of food back to my diet. For the most part I'm keeping it gluten free, but where I was really avoiding carbohydrates, I'm including them in my meals more often now. Also, I've noticed that I'm hungrier than I normally am, which I attribute to the seasons. Today, I went to put on my skinny jeans from the GAP that were pretty skinny when I got them a few months ago and fit fine a week or so ago. They are so big that I can barely keep them up. I got on the scale and wasn't that surprised to see that I've lost a few more pounds. I guess it makes sense because I've been walking so much. I thought that the extra calories and carbohydrates would balance with the extra exercise so that I could perfectly maintain my weight... but I guess not. My thought is that if I'm not trying to lose weight, am eating what I want and being healthy, but still losing a bit... my body probably just hasn't' reached it's natural place yet. It's interesting.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pediatric Depression

I was speaking with my friend S yesterday about Bunny's new troubles. She asked if I had ever considered that Bunny may be suffering from seasonal depression. And you know what? I hadn't. It had never occurred to me that Bunny could be depressed.

S told me that she's dealt with seasonal depression for her entire life and that much of what Bunny is experiencing sounds very familiar.
I've noticed that Bunny is deeply sad and has tremendous anxiety, but she seems to be grasping for causes. She's doesn't quite understand why she's so sad... she just is. She'll try to blame it on various things, like her teacher shouting in class. But when her issue is resolved, she's still very sad and moves on to blame it on something else. Lately, she's been placing the blame on missing me too much during her school day. This just doesn't make sense to me because she's been going to school since she was two and a half years old. She's never had a problem.

I looked up pediatric depression and read a bit. When Bunny came home I asked her if she feels like she's sad in her heart but doesn't know why, but feels as though she can't change it. And she told me that she tries to feel better and tries to have a good attitude, but that she can't stop feeling sad and scared (which I read as anxiety.)

I'm taking her to our holistic doctor to talk about this. I know that she'll know what to do and won't be quick to medicate her. Maybe it's something as simple as a vitamin D or B-12 deficiency. Or, maybe it's nothing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Couch Tater

One of my favorite things to do is to cuddle up with my husband on a cool fall night with a glass of wine and watch our fall shows. Particularly now, when my days are full of packing and worrying... mindless tv acts like an old friend who helps me to hibernate inside myself for a few hours before bedtime.

At this time of year I look forward to:


Mad Men
Dexter
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
The X Factor (becuase what is life without a televised singing competition?)
America's Next Top Model
Glee
and
Gossip Girl


Another thing to love...

...about my children.

They believe that the lint catcher in our dryer actually collects the dirt that you wash out of your clothes, and they often fights over who gets to "pick out the filth."


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Madmenned Myself


Tell me that the likeness isn't incredible!


eatcher veggies

I do my food shopping at two different places, which is a complete pain in the butt when you live in a city. Both places are walkable, and I have one of those little, personal grocery carts that all urban mamas secretly keep folded up in their coats closets.

I buy organic.

I used to buy organic when we could afford it.

Then, I would pick and choose which organic things to buy.

For lots of various, personal and pertinent reasons, I buy organic. There will be no High Fructose Corn Syrup creepin' into my cart. HELL NO.

So, I love my local Whole Foods and would like to buy all of my groceries there, but realistically that's impossible. It would mean stretching the $400 budget I have for a grocery trip to an $800 budget. Craziness. Instead, I buy organic, local meat and produce from the Reading Terminal Market (AKA the foodies paradise) and my dairy and general aisle/personal products from the Whole Foods Market.

Recently I've noticed that when I go through my check-out at Whole Foods they ask if I'd like to donate money to The Great American Salad Bar Project. This is such an important cause, particularly for places like Philadelphia where so many children depend on the Free Meal programs to eat both breakfast and lunch every day. The Great American Salad Bar Project is raising money to help put salad bars stocked with fresh veggies in one school near the participating Whole Foods. I was happy to see that within the top three participating Whole Foods Markets, two of them were Philly based... and one was the Whole Foods store that I use for my groceries.

If you have an extra dollar and you're looking for a good cause, check out The Great American Salad Bar Product and donate online. In doing so, you are potentially giving healthy options to children who may not have any- particularly in Philadelphia.




Monday, September 13, 2010

The Nest Has Been Evacuated

Eventually we will have moved and will be unpacked and I'll need to figure out what I'm doing with my life. I'm only an hour into this "two-kids-in-school" thing and I'm already feelings like I've forgotten something. It's only 10 am. What am I going to do until 3? Luckily I have packing to do and birthday party invitations to decorate. I just told Jay that I'm going to stop sending him with lunches. Instead, I'll just make full meals and then bring them to him and eat with him at work... every day. (not really.)

Maybe I should start watching SOAP OPERAS! Do they exist anymore?

So, Lila insisted on giving her teacher flowers for the first day. It was such a sweet gesture that I had to forgive the kiss-buttedness of it and let her do it.

Lila went to the school with no reservations or anxiety, which was refreshing because Bunny is having SO MUCH anxiety about her school year.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weekend

After a very long, exhausting and emotionally taxing week (which is a post for another day)Jay and I retreated to my life-long friend Julia's house for the afternoon and night yesterday.

You know that you're in trouble when New Jersey seems like a rustic retreat into nature! But it's a problem that I own. When I visit Julia, I have to admit that I think her part of southern New Jersey is one of the prettiest places on the east coast. (this, combined with my claim that Lady Gaga creates valuable "art" may make me certifiable! ...whatever.)

We brought up a dozen assorted cupcakes from the Philadelphia Cupcake Company and they were a HUGE and BEAUTIFUL and DELICIOUS hit. My husband recommends the peanut butter cupcakes, but I saw the biggest, scrumptious reaction from the peanut butter and jelly cupcakes. Admittedly, I didn't have one, but I could honestly admire their beauty. Fancy stuff there.

Previously, we had plans to visit F&VR in Northern NJ on Sunday, but after a troubling and draining week neither Jay or I was up for it. I think that we both needed a Sunday at home to prepare for Lila's first day of kindergarten and Bunny's return to a difficult first grade start.

That said, we had a wonderful time in New Jersey. It truly was a play date for all. B and L played with the Dichi-girls wonderfully and Jay and M also play well together. When we were driving out there I had that weighty feeling of knowing that I wasn't in the "right frame of mind" for a night out... meaning that I was too caught up in the miseries of my present life to concentrate on being good conversation and company. But once we were there I really forgot my troubles. I guess that when you've known someone for so long you can really let your hair down and not be fun, feeling safe that your boring and sad mood won't be reason to judge you.

Some friendships just get better with time.

And it's magical to see your children become friends with the people who have seen you through the best of times. Really... magic.

When we got home all I wanted to do was make a huge pan of chunky vegetable red sauce, grind half a cup of Parmesan cheese, mush up and roll out a few meatballs, steam some spinach and boil a batch of linguine (all the while nursing a lovely glass of red wine.)




Saturday, September 11, 2010

One of those days...



WARNING: this blog post is annoyingly full of complaints.


I forgot favorite things Friday and it was only my second week of trying to write it. Truthfully, I wasn't feeling particularly upbeat yesterday (though I did spent a nice chunk of time feeling great about the Whole Foods grocery store. But that's talk for a different paragraph.) I've just never been good at those bloggy "Favorites Friday," or "Wordless Wednesday..." type of things.

My week sort of hit me hard in the belly yesterday. Bunny has been having a tough time in school because she's a sensitive little bean and L had her five year well visit in Thursday. She got three shots (which she took like a brave little warrior). Shots have always been hard on Lila. Finally, last night she just burst into tears and said, "Mama. I just can't take myself. I am so confusing (Lila thinks that "confused" means "uncomfortable" and it's so cute that I can't bring myself to correct her) I am so cranky and I just feel like you don't love me." I was like, "that's the shots talkin' Lila." And then I internally beat myself up for not being able to make everything okay for my children all of the time. For a parent, I don't think that there is anything as helpless as not being able to help your child. Yesterday I was helpless all over the place.

Also, I got to the grocery store to do my shopping and realized that I had forgotten my wallet at home (I made this discovery while I was at the register with my OWN cart full of food). The cashier felt so sorry for me that he bought Bunny and Lila each a little chocolate to eat while we ran home for the money. I thought that was nice. Most people would be really irritated. Everything about Whole Foods is good (everything but the prices.)

I was running late to pick Bunny up from school and when I got the car I realized that the car key had fallen off of my key ring... somewhere.

A large glass of water sitting next to my bed fell on my phone and we didn't realize it for hours. So, my phone is out. It's actually sitting in a bag of rice, which my husband assures me will get the moisture out. And my phone may someday work again. Sadly, I may need to upgrade to the new iphone... which I totally hate. The thing about me is that I should NEVER own a phone made out of glass. I drop my phone at least twice a day. I also have two little children who like to use my phone and drop it.

Usually we have dinner out every other Friday. Last night Jay was working and I was feeling exhausted. Bunny has had an emotionally taxing week and she didn't want to go out, so we ordered Chinese Food. Because I didn't have a phone, I had to order it online. Then, I told the concierge to just let me know when it got here. I decided to wait in the lobby after about 20 minutes. Just when the food was showing up Lila had a terrible accident and peed all over herself and the floor and her socks and undies and dress. She was on her way, hurrying to the bathroom when it happened. Sometimes Lila waits till the last minute.

Something else happened... I'm forgetting now.

I'm off to make blueberry pancakes for the girls! May the following five days be better than the previous five days.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

For Everything She's Criticized For...

Who can argue that this isn't great art?

I know that she's dramatic and that her goal is often one of pretense and immature shock value. That said, so was mine when I was 23 years old. I forgive her. I get it. I see so much value in her.

...and I totally think that this is the bees knees.


Forwards

In general, I loathe chain email forwards. I dislike them so much that I usually just delete them without even opening them up.

Maybe I should rethink this strategy.

My mom sent this today and I like it enough to want to share it! There's a lot of "God talk" that doesn't necessarily reflect my feelings or values, but there's also a lot of good advice!

Enjoy!

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lila, the observer from mars.

This scene takes place in modern-day Philadelphia. Mother and 5 year old daughter are in the Wine and Spirits store picking up a bottle of Cabernet savignon to go with their Italian red sauce.

A worker near-bye has an entire cart filled with wine bottles. She is wheeling the bottles from aisle to aisle and arranging them beautifully.

The daughter only notices the cart, not the arranging. She has JUST learned that "human" is another word for "person."

With some inherent alarm the daughter notices this worker and explains,

"MAMA!!! THAT HUMAN IS BUYING TOO MUCH ALCOHOL. THAT HUMAN SHOULDN'T DRINK SO MUCH ALCOHOL!!!!!!"

It's as if she were a space alien, observing earthlings from her skeptical and judgemental 5 year old body.



gluten free

I have an appointment to go and talk to someone about my nutrition and suspected gluten intolerance. The more I read about celiac and gluten sensitivity, the more convinced I am that this is my issue.

Last December, after my doctor suggested that I cut out a lot of the carbs I was eating, I felt better than ever! I still ate fruits and veggies but completely did away with all grains in my diet. I immediately felt much, much, much better than I ever had. I could eat until I was full and not feel sick, bloated and crampy after the meal. Generally, even when I do not overeat I am sick afterward. Also, even though I was eating plenty of natural sugar the weight fell off of my body.

Through my life, I've always eaten a carb-heavy diet. It's what I love. Originally, I attributed my better digestion to some sort of sugar-carb addiction that I had broken. Now, I'm certain that it's because I have an actual problem with gluten or some related issue.

When I began eating grains again in small portions, I would have a sandwich in a whole grain wrap or a salad with quinoa and barley. I might have one of these things one time in three days, so I wasn't going crazy or over-doing it. I noticed that I immediately started getting eczema. I mentioned this to my mom, who said that I was allergic to barley as a baby. It gave me rashes and eczema. I also noticed that when I ate these foods I'd feel so sick. I could eat rice or eat things that I've made with gluten free flour and not suffer from it. It makes so much sense.

It will be really interesting to have a few tests and see if this is an actual problem of mine.

It's funny, you never actually know that there's something wrong with you until you feel great. This reminds me of how amazing I felt after I began taking my thyroid medication. I remember thinking, "I had no idea how tired I was until I had energy again." For my whole life I just assumed that everyone finished a meal and felt sick and bloated no matter how much they ate. It wasn't until I stopped eating grains that I realized that I could enjoy food and not feel like I was about to explode.