Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Cookies and Kittens and Other Cute Stuff

Hi all. We’ve been busy around here the past week or so.

First before I do anything else, here is Agnes’ grave marker! It was installed in time for us to visit on Memorial Day. It is so pretty. We are very happy with it.

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Octopus and shark cookies, with interested facial features.

Octopus and shark cookies, with interested facial features.

Okay. Since I made those cute lamb cookies for the Holy Ghost parish Easter dinner, I’ve been waiting for an excuse to make more cute cutout cookies. Finally this week I found an excuse: the celebration of Stephen’s baptism day! He was baptized on May 28, 2011 when he was just barely three weeks old. We want to celebrate these sacramental anniversaries in our family, so we took the opportunity to throw a little party, complete with cute animal cutout cookies. I wanted to do octopuses and sharks because those cutters appealed to me this time. If you are interested, the set of cutters I bought is this one from Wilton. It has any animal you could ever want. Any. Animal. The cookie recipe I use now for these cutouts is the “Glazed Butter Cookie” recipe from The New Best Recipe Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. I haven’t talked about those guys for a while, but I want you all to know that they are still a big part of my life. Especially now that I can’t live without these cookies. I like this recipe because the dough is easy to work with, you don’t have to chill it for hours before you roll it out for cutting, plus the directions say to roll the dough between two sheets of parchment which is pure genius. Nothing sticks to anything and the dough rolls out perfectly even with very few tears. That’s “tears” rhymes with “pears” not rhymes with “beers,” though this recipe certainly cuts down on that kind of “tears” as well.

Nap time

Nap time

Also this past weekend we went to visit my Aunt and the new kittens one of her cats recently birthed. There were four kittens in the litter and we wanted to adopt one of them! It was a fun trip. Stephen enjoyed playing with all four kittens, who were all energetic and very adorable. We decided relatively quickly that we wanted to take the fluffy one, the only kitten that has long fur. We had been discussing potential kitten names for a while so it was pretty easy to decide on a name. At this point in the story I would like to stop the narrative in order to fill you in on a bit of history. As you know, we already have a cat named Sashimi. We adopted Sashimi a few years ago when we lived in Billings, MT, and we thought it was funny to name him after the Japanese raw-fish appetizer “sashimi.” Ha ha. Aren’t we funny and so witty. Anyway so. We wanted to continue the ethnic food theme with our new cat as well. We tossed around some ideas like Pakora, which is a chickpea flour fritter from the East Indian culinary tradition. We considered Cannoli. Taquito. Nori. Ramen. As you can imagine it gets ridiculous very quickly. Frijoles Refritos, “Frito” for short. Combo Plate #2. Gravlax. Wonton. I refer you back a few lines [ha ha aren’t we funny and so witty]. We named the fluffy kitten Pakora and vowed to bring her home with us.

Oh, but all the other kittens are so cute and look at that one, he really gets along well with Pakora and my Aunt says he’s even more snuggly and I really wanted to get another snuggly kitty. But then, if we get another kitten, what should we name it? Gravlax? Jeremy said no way. I quote directly from Jeremy’s mouth: “That is the worst name for a cat ever.”

Gravlax (left) and Pakora (right)

Gravlax (left) and Pakora (right)

Guess what we ended up naming the kitten? Gravlax! I’m so happy we did because every time anyone says the name Gravlax everyone in the room kind of titters. It’s hilarious. Also, it’s very much in keeping with Sashimi’s name, since Gravlax is a fermented fish that is also eaten raw. I think the name is awesome. Pakora and Gravlax. It rolls off the tongue so well. And they really do get along well with each other. Sashimi did take a few days to get used to the idea of two new kittens, but I think they have already worked out their differences. They have all played together a few times, and they can all eat in the same room without a throw-down occurring.

stephen and iconsFinally, we hung up our icons in our new house. It took awhile to get around to it, but I’m so happy we finally did it. It looks great! There is plenty of room to continue adding icons as our collection grows. So long as add to it symmetrically! We plan to have icons for each of our children’s patron saints, as many as that may be, plus whatever else we decide to add. I’m excited for the possibilities.Gravlax likes Mary!

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Escapades in our New Home

This week dawned bright and early Monday morning. The half-light was stealing beneath the shade, gradually softening the darkness in our room, accompanied by the dulcet tones of the cat throwing up under our bed while we were in it.

So that kind of sets the scene.

We also had the great joy and pleasure to witness water dripping in our kitchen. Not in a friendly and expected location, no. Water from inside the wall was dripping through the window frame and plopping onto the sill. Water that we can only presume has somehow broken free of the confining tile tub surround. So…does this mean no more showers until we get it fixed? I couldn’t say. We are thinking of hanging an extra plastic curtain on the inside wall of the surround to see if that stops the water, but there are actually a number of locations where a crack may have breeched the seal. We knew the bathroom tile was something we would have to do sooner rather than later, but we were not planning to do it this soon. Plus…the available evidence suggests leaking has been a longtime issue, so I’m afraid to think about what the condition of the interior walls may be. I’m sure whatever the case, their condition is going to be expensive.

100_2102100_2103100_2104But there have been lots of fun escapades, too! We went to an early-season yard sale over the weekend and bought a little plastic kids’ bowling set. We took it up to our finished attic that is currently empty since we haven’t decided what to do with it yet. Well, I guess we decided it should be a bowling alley!

We have also been unpacking boxes at a ferocious rate. I told a friend on the phone that we are “almost done” unpacking, except for four or five boxes of knick-knacks, five or six maybe seven boxes of books, oh and all those flat picture boxes that have who-knows-what in them. Yeah, almost done, indeed! Well, we sure are close to being all unpacked considering where we started not even two weeks ago! Our house looks more like a home every day. Our furniture looks really good in this house, almost as if we collected each chair and lamp with the mystical foreknowledge that we would end up in this very house. The wood tone of our bookcases matches the woodwork of the house. Our flower-print rugs coordinate with the existing color schemes. Our big brown sofa that I wanted to slipcover actually looks perfect in the cozy living room, just the way it is. Amazing.

Today Stephen and I had some fun in the neighborhood, too. We went to a local antique store to pick up some housewares that I decided I would rather not buy new. The store was wonderful, had a bit of everything, and I can definitely see myself popping over there any time I need a couple more wine glasses, or a large serving bowl, or some picture frames, or long-handled teaspoons, or a cool tablecloth, or a old-fashioned door handle, or, or, or…

Today I purchased a number of small glass jars and bottles to use for storing spices. Some additional forks, spoons, knives because we only have four of each. Some vintage linen cloth napkins. Four ceramic soup bowls since the only “soup” bowls we have are Christmas-y and melamine. You can’t put that stuff in the microwave. I already thought of some more items I would like to find at an antique store. I recently read a book about “being green” by recycling and reusing antique stuff. It creates waste to buy a new tablecloth, so it is “green” to buy a vintage tablecloth. I can see the truth in that, and I can honestly say I never thought about that aspect of antique/second-hand items. I’ve always just gravitated towards that market because it’s more interesting to me, but now I will do it more intentionally!

Finally, our escapades frequently take us to the local branch of the library, which is within easy walking distance. Even for Stephen! He knows the way, and he always assumes we’re going to the library if we go outside or go for a walk elsewhere around the neighborhood. He is such a cute little bibliophile. His current favorite library book is Wooby and Peep. I like it too. The illustrations are very interesting, and the animal characters are likable. The neighborhood animals appear to be nosy, looking over the fence, and they often have funny comments about the action. There is some subtle humor adults can appreciate, and broader comedy for the kids. I recommend it.

Hopefully our escapades continue more in this fun direction and less in the cat-puke direction. I would appreciate that. Kthxby

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7 Quick Takes: September 20

Hi y’all. Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary.

1. I read Jen’s quick takes before coming here to write my own, and her take about Delena’s take about Myers-Briggs Theme songs is really interesting. Right now I’m listening to Jen’s chosen theme song for her personality type, INTP

It’s pretty interesting. My personality type is ISFJ, according to the super quick test I found online. I wonder what my theme song would be? I will strenuously consider this and report back when I figure it out.

2. So a couple days ago I wrote about Stephen refusing to eat, and taking pictures helped him forget his tantrum and eat his meal. It has worked a couple times since then, but I think the novelty is wearing thin.

stephen soup stephen sandwich

3. Last night Jeremy and I changed the sheets on our bed. Sashimi the Cat helped.

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4. I made a dish from the Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine again tonight, but this time it was one of her “30 Minute Meals” and I followed the recipe exactly. Maybe I’m not the first one to discover this, but for real, her idea of “30 minute” meals is totally wonky. I knew this as soon as I looked at the recipe, and I know I’ve thought this before on the other occasions I’ve contemplated making a dish from that section of the magazine. This one was Spaghetti with Cauliflower and Tuna. Early this afternoon I took almost an hour prepping some of the veggies: cutting up the cauliflower, separating the parsley leaves and stems, and dicing the pepper. Then when I got started this evening, it took about 45 minutes active cooking time. Granted the recipe says things like, “two shallots, finely chopped. Four garlic cloves, finely minced.” But still, the only way you could do this recipe in 30 minutes was if you cook it on a 30 minute Food Network program and have a sous chef prep all the veg before the show starts.

5. Also, that recipe above requires a “6 to 8 oz can of sustainable tuna.” What, will the recipe fail if you use unethically-farmed tuna cans in your dish?

6. Has anyone ever done a HomePath mortgage or HomePath Renovation Mortgage to get a house? Jeremy and I are looking into it because you can get a house for as little as 3% down, and the renovation mortgage allows you to borrow what you need to update a house as part of the whole mortgage package. There are a ton of houses “with potential” around the area, and we agree except we lack the capital to invest in a property that needs attention. And we like the low down payment!

7. We took the kids out on a short trip again today. Agnes really extremely hates riding in the car. She starts crying as soon as we put her in the car seat, and keeps going and going the whole time we’re driving. She does get tired and she has to take breaks, but when she feels rested she starts “screaming” again. She flails her arms, her hair gets really sweating, she kicks her feet, bubbles form at her mouth, she squeezes her eyes shut and turns pink. The pulse-oximeter beeps and beeps. It’s actually quite comical. It’s fortunate she makes very little sound when she cries because that would take the situation from comical to tragic and someone-please-for-the-love-of-god-make-the-baby-stop-crying! territory.

Go to Jen’s page for more quick takes. Thanks for reading!

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7 Quick Takes: August 9

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary. It’s Friday! Go over there for more quick taking.

1. This week I updated my About page. It’s better than it was before, but it’s not nearly as interesting as Jen’s. One of my dreams for my blog is to craft a truly exciting, amusing, informative About page. I know. Dream big.

2. This week I’ve been fielding a lot of phone calls about Agnes. I never realized this before–and this is my advice to you–if you really want to feel popular you should have a special needs child. People can’t get enough of you! Everyone wants to talk to you on the phone, and join their program, and sign up for their services. It’s great. Anyway, I talked to a case manager RN with my insurance company, and one of the things she asked me was how do I cope with stress. It was a lead up to the “never shake a baby” speech. So she asks me this question, and I’m like, “…..” And she says, “You know, exercising, cleaning, deep breaths, listening to music, how you cope with stress.” And I’m like, “….uh…” Because all I’m thinking is a)I cry. b)drink wine. c)despair. d)eat crappy food. None of which I felt comfortable sharing with Sharon, RN from the health insurance company. So I told her that I cry which seemed safe enough, and I told her that I write a blog. On reflection later that evening I also realized that I cope by reading stupid magazines, reading blogs (Grace’s, Mary’s, Jen’s, Emily’s, Ree’s to name my favorites), and snuggling with my kitty.

3. Speaking of the kitty, it seriously a drag that we can’t have the cat in our bedroom at night anymore. We used to sleep with the cat and it was so cuddly. But now there’s an infant in the room and the cat might jump into the bassinet and smother Agnes with his majestic fur. I don’t think he would do it, but I can’t be sure because I have caught him jumping into the bassinet during the day when Agnes isn’t in there. It’s a risk that I’m not willing to take. But…mah kitty…[sniff].

4. Speaking of smothering, I can not believe how humid it is here in Northeast Ohio. I did grow up here, but I’ve been living in the arid West since 2008 so I’ve forgotten. Holy Mother of God it is disgusting. I feel like shaving my head and passing out in front of a box fan.

5. Speaking of smothering, have you seen this? I think these memes are the best. Click the picture to see some other great examples.

6. I just watched the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love this week and I adored it. I love Steve Carell in his more dramatic roles. I loved him in Dan in Real Life as well. Crazy, Stupid, Love had a great cast and lots of great moments between Carell’s character and Ryan Gosling’s character. But I especially loved at the end where Carell’s character is talking to his wife from whom he separated at the beginning of the film, and she says, “We’ve had one heck of a year.” And he says, “Oh yeah, how so?” I can so relate to that. And as a side note, I’ve seen all this hype about Ryan Gosling online and in women’s interest magazines and all along I’ve been thinking what’s the big deal? Now having seen this movie I can kind of get it.

7. Have you ever noticed this? Maybe I’m crazy…but…there is a resemblance.

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Seven Quick Takes: July 26

Once again I am joining Jennifer and all the fine bloggers at Conversion Diary for a Quick Takes Friday. I do it when I feel like it, okay. Don’t judge me for my sporadic linking-up.

1. I’m down to two pumping sessions! Tomorrow maybe I’ll do two again, then one on Sunday. If I’m motivated I might do one final time on Monday morning, but Agnes is coming home Monday so I probably can’t be bothered to pump after Monday morning!

2. We’re trying to get the house ready for a fragile newborn. I resurrected my trusty old housecleaning schedule and adapted it for our current house. The important thing will be to keep the carpets vacuumed and the surfaces as dust-free as possible. Agnes has some respiratory trouble. I hope we can make it clean enough for her to do okay at home! Hello, daily vacuuming! Also I need to get my life back in control. The cleaning schedule will help me stay on track and actually maybe accomplish some things around the house in the midst of caring for a toddler and a needy newborn with lots of doctors’ appointments.

3. The cats really like the changing station I set up in the guest room. I’ll probably have to kick them off the mat when it’s time to change Agnes’ diaper.

Cats (l to r): Iggi, Sashimi.

Cats (l to r): Iggi, Sashimi.

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4. My husband delivers pizzas. He gets an employee discount. Apparently as his family, I get the employee discount as well. This could be trouble. In related news, dinner tonight was delicious.

5. Yesterday I wore a pretty new skirt, put on makeup, and even styled my hair before we went to visit Agnes at the NICU. I guess my effort really paid off because one of the nurses made a special trip to Agnes’ cubby just to tell me that I looked “lovely.” That’s why we ladies do it, folks. So the NICU nurses can enjoy our put-together style. No seriously, I feel a lot better these days now that I am taking some time with my personal appearance. And since Agnes is doing so well, I’m not afraid to wear mascara, and I feel much perkier when I don’t look like I just rolled out of bed and threw on a t-shirt.

6. I had my six week postpartum appointment with my OB on Wednesday, even though I was only five and a half weeks postpartum. He’s on vacation next week. I really like several of the OBs at that practice, but it seems like every OB has one question on the brain when meeting with postpartum women: What are you doing for birth control? I always tell them we do fertility awareness, natural family planning. So far I haven’t had any trouble from docs when I give this response, though I suppose I will probably get resistance as I get older. I wish they would give me a little trouble because I would love to explain the process to them and show them that it really works!

7. I really love coffee. I also have nothing else to say for my seventh quick take. So…coffee. It’s the best. I’m a cream and sugar kind of gal. I don’t like flavored creamer because it gets too sweet by the time you add enough to make the coffee creamy. And coffee has got to be strong!

 

Head over to conversion diary for some more fun quick takes! Thanks for reading!

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Epic Road Trip: Hustle East and actually we’re home

Okay. So after we left Billings, MT we really booked the heck across the country. We drove from Billings to Richardton, ND where we spent one night at Assumption Abbey. Assumption is a men’s Benedictine community whose main industry is hospitality. They have a large guest house that used to be the dormitory for the school that closed back in the ’60’s. They rent rooms to groups and families at a very reasonable rate, plus then you can go to the liturgies which are always a breath of fresh air after you’ve been busy at life. We had a nice little stay with the monks.

Then we hustled to St. Joseph, MN just outside of St. Cloud. We spent one night there catching up with a couple friends we haven’t seen in a long time. It was great to hang out and chat with them.

Then we tried to leave St. Cloud, which was really difficult because all the on/off ramps to the interstate were closed for road construction. We ended up following a lengthy detour and getting on the interstate in Clearwater, a detour that added 30 or 40 minutes to our trip. But we were fortunate to buzz through Minneapolis when we did because as soon as we left apparently they got a Happy May Day snowstorm and the highways were closed because of all the snow fall. Ah, Minnesota.

We drove to Milwaukee and had a little time to visit with some more friends who live in a really cute neighborhood about three blocks from the shore of Lake Michigan. We were able to take a walk to the lake and stand on a hill, gazing at the vast ruffling waters. Then when we got tired of leaning against the bitter gusting wind, we went back to our friends’ house. It was a great little visit.

Then yesterday we drove from Milwaukee to Toledo, OH where we have some relatives. We were able to fairly breeze through Chicago, which was unexpected and very pleasant. We bought an I-Pass thingy for the Illinois tollways which made it super easy to get through the city. The I-Pass works everywhere EZ-Pass is accepted, which means it will work on the Ohio Turnpike. We will be using the turnpike a lot to get between my parents’ house and all my relatives in Toledo. Plus we have friends in Chicago and Pittsburgh, so we can use it to visit them, too. It was a good purchase. Anyway, we spent last night with some of my wonderful relatives, and we made the final short journey home this morning.

Maybe you are sensing that we’ve been pretty much either driving or sleeping this past week. Actually, I’m glad we did the trip this way, because we never had to drive an unreasonable length of time in one day. We got a few hours of decompression time in the evenings with our friends, then we were off the next morning, bright and early. Stephen did just marvelous in the car the whole trip. I think if we had had longer driving days it would not have gone so smoothly. As it was, he was able to mostly entertain himself with toys and playing silly games with whoever was in the front passenger seat. He took some naps and ate some snacks and looked out the window. I would do this again, but I will say I am very glad to have reached our final destination.

It doesn’t feel final for me yet. I still kind of think we’ll have to be up and on the way again in the morning. As soon as I can get a domestic routine going the better. I need to start cooking and doing some housework and I’ll settle in fine. Our U-boxes are being delivered on Tuesday and we’ll really get to start moving in. It will be an adventure to move back in with my parents and we’ll have to get used to living together. I think it will go okay; the animals are going to have the hardest time living together! They’ve been growling and scrabbling at each other a fair amount, trying to suss out a pecking order. Hopefully they get it worked out soon. They’ve come pretty far already since my cat arrived two weeks ago, but things are still a little testy. I’m hoping we can smuggle our cat into our bedroom tonight so we can sleep with our kitty again. I really missed our kitty Sashimi!

Now that we’ve made it home, I should be able to post every day again. Stay tuned for my riveting updates on moving in to my parents’ house and trying to apply for Medicaid with only approximately 8 weeks to go on the pregnancy. And I will be keeping you posted on the status of our little one. My first appointment with my new doc is Monday. Please keep praying! Especially for her to stay in her hot tub as long as possible so I have time to get on Medicaid!

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Moving Out

Today we were super busy packing up the last few odds and ends that we can pack before the last minute. I did a ton of laundry. We ate with plastic forks. Jeremy used a multi-tool to open a can of tuna fish for lunch because we packed the real can opener already. It was pretty crazy. We just got back from a little date: dinner and a movie. We saw Oz the Great and Powerful. It was pretty good. Tomorrow Jeremy is taking Sashimi the Cat to the airport for his trip to Ohio. Our friends who will help move us out are arriving at 9:30am. We are deep cleaning the apartment tomorrow afternoon. Some gracious friends are letting us spend the night tomorrow at their house so we don’t have to worry about camping out in a spotless, furniture-less apartment with a toddler who will be missing all his stuff. Sunday we’ll come back to finish up the last few things, meet the U-haul truck that will take away our U-boxes, and then we’ll turn in our keys.

Monday morning I have a last-minute doctor’s appointment. God willing, we will be on the road as soon as that is finished. Apparently every location along our planned route is snowy and disgusting. Yay. Anyway, it will be a great relief to finally be on the road. I can’t wait to visit all our friends.

I don’t know what I’ll be able to do on the blog over the next couple days, but as they say in the movie While You Were Sleeping, “I’ll see you when I see you.” I love that line.

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Seven Quick Takes Friday: April 12

Quick Takes are being hosted by Grace over at Camp Patton this week since Jennifer just had a baby!

100_15761. Today while Jeremy was out riding his motorcycle around town, he found a crazy house. This house looks like it’s straight out of Star Wars or something. I said, “I expected Luke Skywalker to walk out at any moment. You know, before he was a Jedi. When he was just a sand farmer.” Jeremy said, “I think he was a moisture farmer.” Whatever, this house looks like a space station. It doesn’t look anything like the other houses in the neighborhood or even in the whole city.

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2. Stephen is obsessed with motorcycles. Pretty much the highlight of his day is when he gets to see Jeremy ride out on his bike. Stephen makes a “bzzzz” sound with his lips and waves his finger around in a circle any time someone says the word “motorcycle,” or if he’s just thinking of motorcycles, or if he hears a sound that is like a motorcycle. His favorite thing to do is read Jeremy’s motorcycle owners handbook and look at the pictures and say “bzzzz” and wave his finger around. Sometimes when he wakes up in the morning, the first thing I hear over the monitor is “bzzzz. Da-Da. Da-Da. bzzzzz.” It’s pretty much the cutest, and it almost makes me not mind that I’m hearing this little gem before 6 in the morning.

3. Speaking of motorcycles, we took a sock monkey with us as Stephen’s toy in the car this evening, and Jeremy and Stephen thought it would be fun for the monkey to ride the motorcycle. “bzzzz. bzzzzz.” (waves his finger).100_1567

4. There are lilac bushes right by my apartment building! I had no idea those bushes were lilac since we didn’t move here until after the flowers were done and then it was winter. But this week the flowers came in, and they are just now starting to get really fragrant. I love lilacs. They’re one of my favorite flowers along with daffodils and sunflowers.

5. I heard from my friend in St. Cloud. Apparently she was just very very busy and didn’t have a chance to write back before now. I hope she’s not too embarrassed that I called her out on my blog… At least she’s still fairly anonymous to all y’all.

6. We spent a good portion of the afternoon cleaning the apartment a bit. We figure it won’t be so hard to clean after we move out if we do a little pre-cleaning now. We did the bathrooms and started to wash the insides of the windows. We also plan to dust and wipe the kitchen surfaces and vacuum a couple more times before we get down and dirty right at the end. We’ll do a nice, thorough clean after we get all our stuff moved out. One of our friends here generously offered to come over and help us, and she’s a professional! So it shouldn’t be too painful.

7. Jeremy took Sashimi the Cat for a “fit to fly” physical this morning to prepare for his cross-country plane flight to Ohio next weekend. The vet said Sashimi is actually probably a Ragdoll breed cat, not the Chocolate-Point Himalayan we had thought before. He has the exact coloring of the “Mitted” Point Ragdoll. And his temperament, coat quality, and personality are all in line with a Ragdoll’s specifications. That’s pretty exciting for me. Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve always liked the sound of a Ragdoll cat and wished I could have one. And here, these past couple years we’ve actually had one! Sashimi is actually on the small side for Ragdoll, weighing only 10 or 11 pounds. Also I think he might be bulimic, which is not generally common for Ragdolls (or any breed). He throws up after eating all. the. time. I had to clean up four puke piles today. That is more than usual and I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe it’s a flare-up of his bulimia. It comes in spurts. Heh. Heh heh. I think you know what I mean.

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Happy Birthday! Surprise Party!

I was so proud of myself this week. I managed to plan a surprise birthday party for Jeremy’s 40th birthday, and I didn’t give anything away, and he didn’t suspect anything was up, and he was surprised. I’ve been working on it for a week, emailing our friends and shopping for party supplies, and cooking extra food all on the sly. Shazam.

100_1530At least Jeremy already knew I was baking a super-fabulous cake, so I didn’t have to be sneaky about that. I ended up making a coconut cake from a recipe in The New Best Recipe (that book again. I’m not linking it again). Jeremy wanted chocolate frosting, so I took the coconut frosting in the recipe and added two squares of unsweetened bakers chocolate. Then I toasted some coconut and sprinkled it all over the cake. So pretty. So delicious. O my gosh o so delicious it was so good and so delicious and coconut chocolate it was amazing.

100_1553Let me just lick up the drool. Sorry. I didn’t actually run into any major problems when I was baking this cake. I think the cakes did fall in the oven because I opened the oven to rotate the pans and they weren’t quite baked as far as they should have been at that point. They firmed up well after that, but the damage was done. They still tasted great, but they looked a little flat. And because they were a bit on the thin side, it was really difficult to split the layers to make a four-layer finished cake. The first cake I tried to split almost fell apart; thank God for frosting repair. So I just put the second cake on un-split. A little unconventional, but still acceptable.

100_1534As for the rest of the party, I didn’t try to go too fancy on the set up. I just had some friends come over and congregate on the lawn outside our building. Then at the appointed time, I had Jeremy “go outside to take a look at this” and the group said, “Surprise!” He was surprised. Then everyone came up and we had dinner. I was agonizing how I would explain to Jeremy why I was preparing two pounds worth of chicken taco meat, but it turned out I never had to lie. He took the car to the shop and to the carwash this afternoon so I had plenty of time to cook the chicken in the microwave, chop it up, and hide it in the oven where it kept warm for the rest of the afternoon. During that crucial time frame, I also stuck the secret pop two liters in the freezer to get them a head start, then hid them in the cooler we keep under the kitchen sink, chilling with a bag of ice cubes and a couple sacks of frozen veggies.

One of our friends suggested we do a pinata, so she graciously brought one along. The kids had a lot of fun beating the heck out of it.

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100_1535For Jeremy’s birthday gift, I got him a six pack of exotic Italian beer I remembered that he liked, but we never buy it normally. Actually, the gift was supposed to be from Stephen but I forgot this handy fact on the trip where I took my opportunity to buy the gift. How did Stephen know Jeremy likes Peroni? Huh. And the other funny thing is, one of the families I invited to the party also got him the same kind of beer. I guess it must be good stuff. I tasted it, and it is very nice. Too bad I can’t really help him finish his Peroni before we move…

So Jeremy was technically the star of the show, but Sashimi the Cat was actually the true guest of honor. All the little girls in the families we invited were obsessed with the cat. He is super cute with long, luxurious fur, and he does tolerate being petted by strangers and picked up, and he walks around with big blue cat eyes saying “Meow.” I can totally understand why they were obsessed. It was pretty funny. And it gave us adults some opportunity to just chat with each other, so I guess it was win-win, except maybe the cat didn’t win, but I don’t think he cares.

All in all, we all had fun, and Jeremy will definitely remember his 40th birthday fondly!

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Snapshots

Just a few snapshots tonight of what we’ve been up to the past day or two.

We made smoothies with our awesome dumpster blender.

We made smoothies with our awesome dumpster blender.

Stephen wasn't sure that he liked it. But he tried it.

Stephen wasn’t sure that he liked it. But he tried it.

"Meow. I'm cute. And awesome."

“Meow. I’m cute. And awesome.”

Look. Look at this bacon.

Look. Look at this bacon.

We bought these for our road trip. Yes, we've been eating them already. How can we resist?

We bought these for our road trip. Yes, we’ve been eating them already. How can we resist?

Our moving boxes.

Our moving boxes.

I actually need to talk about the boxes. We stashed our moving boxes on the balcony to keep them out of the way and we knew they would be safe and dry out there because we live in New Mexico. I can count on two fingers the number of times, in the last six months, that it’s rained for longer than five minutes, and one of those times was today. Go figure. So Jeremy draped some garbage bags over the boxes so they wouldn’t get wet. Then a few minutes later, it stopped raining.

Jeremy wrote up a new to-do list. We have to finish the list this week. OMG.

Jeremy wrote up a new to-do list. We have to finish the list this week. OMG.

Some awesome new toys we can bust out for Stephen on our road trip.

Some awesome new toys we can bust out for Stephen on our road trip.

And that just about covers the photo-worthy moments of the past couple days. At least that covers the moments where I had the camera handy and was able to take a decent picture. So, I guess it doesn’t cover very many moments…but…whatever. This is my blog and I can do what I want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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