Monday, December 31, 2007

Dead Reckoning

Linda at All & Sundry has again shared her end-of-the-year meme. My 2006 answers are here.

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before? I traveled by airplane alone, I visited California, and I saw redwoods.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? 2007's resolutions were the same as 2006's, because I didn't do a very good job with them. Here they are:

          >> Spend more quality time with MB -- We probably spent more evenings hanging out together this year than ever, and it was nice.
          >> Play with Mr. Kitters more often -- Slight improvements, but probably still need to keep working on it.
          >> Keep the apartment more neat / clean -- I definitely succeeded at this one. There were still a few times that I my schedule got hectic and the place got cluttered, but for the most part, not bad at all.
          >> floss -- As usual, I did pretty well for the first few months of 2007 and then let it slide.
          >> exercise -- Like flossing, I stuck with this one for a while, then failed spectacularly, as my VelociYoga sideproject page will attest.
          >> waste less food -- I feel like we did pretty well with this, at least until the ridiculous influx of holiday leftovers.
          >> set up one day a week to spend with Little Sis -- We never managed to get back into our swimming once a week habit, and definitely didn't see each other once a week, but I did try to make sure we spent time together at least once a month.
          >> work hard at my job -- definitely did pretty well with this one
          >> keep in better touch with friends -- not much progress as far as out-of-town people, I'm sad to say
          >> be better about spending / saving habits -- I'm not sure how we did on this one. I've definitely gotten better at not spending money constantly on little frivolous things, but overall we didn't save up as much as we'd planned to.
          >> clean up spare room -- I got it completely and ridiculously clean twice this year (most recently, here), but now it's pretty cluttered again, with Christmas decoration boxes all over the place
          >> get wedding pictures printed and into scrapbook -- like last year, my answer to this one is HA!
          >> print digital pics and get into albums -- once again, DOUBLE HA!

I think this year, I'm going to simplify things. I figure my resolutions will be more realistic and hopefully more attainable if I'm honest with myself about my levels of motivation. Thus, I resolve to try my best to:

          >> Exercise at least once a week in January and February. If that goes well, I'll increase it to twice a week in March and April, and then if that goes well, we'll maybe see about three times a week in May and June.
          >> Same thing for flossing.
          >> Try to be a little greener in 2008. I'm not making any big sweeping life-changing promises, but I will try to do small, effective things to reduce my negative impact on the environment.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Oh, yes. Five of the message board ladies and two of my cousins had babies this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes

5. What countries did you visit? None

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007? Focus

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? I don't think the dates are really going to stick, but here are some events I'll remember:  visiting San Francisco, going camping with friends, a nice weekend in Chicago

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I guess I would have to say continuing to try hard to do my best at work.

9. What was your biggest failure? Lack of motivation and follow-through

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Mr. Kitters gave me a nasty, nasty bite in June.

11. What was the best thing you bought? This one's probably a tie between my laptop and our new CR-V

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? I'm going to give this one to MB, who continued to be the best husband ever.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? This one will have to go to Kitters, whose redirected aggression became a huge problem over the summer. But he also gets celebration, because he's doing 200% better now.

14. Where did most of your money go? travel, new computers, and the new car

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? going to California, buying the new car

16. What song will always remind you of 2007? Hard to say

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer? Happier, slightly fatter, and probably a bit poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? accomplishing goals

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? sitting around doing nothing

20. How did you spend Christmas? we spent it with family and friends

21. Did you fall in love in 2007? you could say that

22. What was your favorite TV program? probably a tie between Ghost Hunters and Top Chef

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Nope

24. What was the best book you read? It's very hard to choose, so I'm going to say it's a close tie between the Trickster books and the Dark Materials trilogy

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Regina Spektor

26. What did you want and get? new car, yay!

27. What did you want and not get? skinny

28. What was your favorite film of this year? I'm going to go with Waitress, though there were a lot of contenders.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 26 this year. MB and I visited a cave, and I had a low-key but fun combined birthday party with Danger in April.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I'm pretty satisfied, overall.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? It started out casual / thrift store and moved steadily toward "whatever still fits and doesn't look terrible."

32. What kept you sane? MB, friends, family, hobbies

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? No one's really coming to mind this year.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? I kind of stayed away from political issues this year. I'm sure that's awful of me, but it makes my life a whole lot happier when I avoid the news.

35. Who did you miss? my sister when she spent the summer away, faraway friends

36. Who was the best new person you met? some cool new coworkers came on the scene this year

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007. Be true to yourself, be honest, and be compassionate.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

         This is how it works
         You're young until you're not
         You love until you don't
         You try until you can't
         You laugh until you cry
         You cry until you laugh
         And everyone must breathe
         Until their dying breath

         No, this is how it works
         You peer inside yourself
         You take the things you like
         And try to love the things you took
         And then you take that love you made
         And stick it into some
         Someone else's heart
         Pumping someone else's blood
         And walking arm in arm
         You hope it don't get harmed
         But even if it does
         You'll just do it all again

              "On the Radio," Regina Spektor

Happy New Year, everyone! Best wishes for what lies ahead!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Crafty McCrafterson

I've been a crafty fool lately, but I couldn't share photos of some of the stuff I was working on until after Christmas, since it was for giftage. First, though, an update on the eternal stitchery project, since several people have inquired about it lately:

Not to brag, but I've sort of been kicking ass and making counted cross-stitch my folksy little bitch. I thought I would hate doing the background work, but it's actually pretty enjoyable, at least when I'm not using one of the umpteen shades of brown. I do get rather sick of the brown.

The highlighted / colored-in areas on the chart are what I've done:

I've managed to keep the project a secret from my dad so far, and since he's never online and doesn't know this blog exists, it's safe to talk about it. I definitely did the right thing when I decided not to put any pressure on myself to finish it by a certain deadline. There's no way I could've finished it for Christmas. Next Christmas, maybe.

I did finish a project that I started quite a long time ago. I started working at the craft store in October 2004, right when knitting was getting really, really trendy. The craft store had a ridiculous supply of really awesome yarn, and I got my mom to teach me how to knit and made a few scarves. I took my sister out to the store and let her pick any yarn she wanted and told her I'd knit her a scarf. I knitted (knit?) almost all of it, and then got my current job, lost track of the project, and forgot how to knit and purl. I'd been meaning to get the scarf back out and finish it for a long time, but never got around to it until about a week ago. I dug it out and took it over to the house for a refresher knit / purl lesson, and even though my brain was half-baffled, my hands remembered how to do it almost right away. I really wanted to give it to Sis before she leaves for Ireland on January 6th, and I did! I finished up the last foot of the scarf on the 23rd, and got the tassels done on the 26th.

I don't care who you are...that's a nice scarf.
(Mostly because the fluffiness of the yarn hides all the mistakes.)

The scarf really looks best when it's on someone, though, and so MB volunteered to model it:

"Don't you want a handsome man in the photo?"

I gave the scarf to Sis today, and she loved it. Now when I get to missing her, I'll be able to think of my fuzzy hand-knitted scarf keeping her warm on her Irish adventure.

She also got this for Christmas:

It was supposed to be one of those fleece blankets held together by cutting strips around the edges and tying knots, but Mom stitched the two pieces together on her serger so none of the surface area of the blanket would be wasted in tying the knots. After Mom sewed the edges, I fake-quilted it by threading and tying knots of yarn through both layers at semi-regular intervals to keep the layers from shifting and sliding around. Like the scarf, the dragon blanket was a pretty big hit.

We didn't receive anything particularly crafty for Christmas, but we still scored a pretty respectable loot pile:

How about you? Did you score any sweet loot or complete any long overdue projects this holiday season?

Reading:  The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Playing:  a mix of my favorite Led Zeppelin songs

lolkitters of the week

Photo Friday

Monday, December 24, 2007

Truth in advertising

Grandma's Skillet Cookies Recipe

Combine in a saucepan:
          1 stick butter
          1 cup sugar
          1 egg, beaten
          1 cup chopped dates

Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.


          2 cups Rice Krispies
          1/2 cup nuts
          1 tsp vanilla

Make into balls and roll in coconut.

Actual Skillet Cookies Experience

Combine in a saucepan:
          1 stick butter
          1 cup sugar
          1 egg, beaten
          1 cup chopped dates

Bring to a boil, stirring somewhat frantically as sugar begins sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stare at pan for an eternity, waiting for the boil. Worry about sticky sugar in good saucepan, husband's reaction to it. Boil finally happens. Boil for 5 minutes.

          2 cups Rice Krispies
          1/2 cup nuts
          1 tsp vanilla

Stir up in shiny new mixing bowl. Contemplate whether or not there will be enough cookies. Decide to maybe make a second batch once first batch is done.

Make into balls and roll in coconut. Attempt to roll into balls. Burn fingers on hot sticky mix. Stuff in refrigerator to cool.

In the meantime, scrub sugar out of saucepan. Keep scrubbing. Get a hand cramp. Almost done. Oh, thank God it came out after all.

Retrieve cookie mix. Still hot, but not blistering.

Make into balls and roll in coconut. resist urge to hop up and down while chanting "hot! hot! hot!" Roll in coconut. Watch as 95% of coconut falls off. Smush coconut into surface of hot date ball. Watch as 85% of coconut falls off. Decide you don't care. Repeat. Gain new respect for grandmother, who made these cookies every Christmas until she passed away.

Grow concerned as mixture cools and becomes more likely to stick to you than to itself. Abandon coconut and quickly roll non-coconut-coated balls for family members who don't like it anyway. (And thank goodness for them, because there's no way coconut would stick now.)

Decide there's no way you're doing all of this again today.

Makes approximately two dozen.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It's Christmas time in the city

Against all reason, my sister and I went out today to finish up our Christmas shopping. Surprisingly, it really wasn't all that bad. I've seen the mall and Target busier on normal Saturdays than either were today. JC Penney was the real hero of the day, I have to admit. Since Sis is spending next semester studying abroad in Ireland, I thought it would be nice to get our picture made together as a surprise for Mom before Sis leaves. With a ridiculously fab coupon from the internet, the whole photo thing was less than $20. We had an 11:40 appointment, but we got there around 11 and there were tumbleweeds rolling through the studio, so we actually got photographed, ordered, paid, and were on our way before 11:40 rolled around. The girl shot three poses, and even though only one of them turned out really well, it was okay since we liked it the best anyway. The photos are due back on January 4, two days before Sis leaves for Ireland, so we're going to keep it a secret and surprise Mom on the trip to the airport. I hope I didn't spoil the surprise...we both wore jeans and plain black longsleeved shirts, and when Mom asked us if we dressed alike on purpose or by accident, I wasn't quick enough to come up with a fib, and just told her "you'll see."

Besides the photos, JCP yielded two new pairs of jeans on sale for $22 each, which I definitely needed after witnessing the tragic and still-traumatizing demise of my favorite pair of jeans (and one of only three pairs that fit) last night. Also, I got Mom this pretty necklace for Christmas:

We ended up finding just about everything we went to the mall to find, and survived the sporting goods store, Target, Cold Stone Creamery, Barnes & Noble, and CVS relatively intact.

Even though presents aren't the point of the season, I still love seeing our little tree with packages piled all around it. All the gifts are wrapped, the stockings are stuffed, and the apartment is almost clean enough for Sunday night's Thanksmas party.

I should probably come up with a cute and clever way to tie this all up neatly, but I'm too tired, so here's a photo of one of my favorite portions of our Christmas decorations, and more fucking cookies. Man, I am sick of baking cookies.

Goodnight and hooray and yum!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I stole this meme from Random Mommy (and added a 24th question to make it more Advent-calendary). Please feel free to use it, and let me know if you do so I can see your answers!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? wrapping paper

2. Real tree or artificial? artificial

3. When do you put up the tree? the weekend after Thanksgiving

4. When do you take the tree down? I try to drag it out as long as possible without being absurd, but it's usually down by the first weekend after New Year's Day.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, but only in moderation.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? When I was about 7, one of my aunts made me a Barbie house for my Heart family. She took four boxes and cut the flaps off, then turned them sideways and made them into rooms. She papered the walls with wrapping paper, cut tiny pictures of clocks and art out of craft catalogs for decoration, and put Contact paper that looked like wood on the floors. She made furniture for all the rooms out of small boxes. She made a couch, an armchair, a TV, and a coffee table for the living room, and stitched cushions for the couch and armchair. She made twin beds and dressers for the kids' room, and a bed with three working drawers for the parents' room. She made pillows and blankets for the beds. She bought a Barbie kitchen set, complete with a fridge full of food, which I loved to organize. It was really and truly amazing. I finally had to get rid of the rooms a few years ago. I wanted to put them in storage, but as my Barbie family had expanded, the tops of the boxes had become "upstairs" rooms, and they sagged and wore out. I saved all the furniture, though, in case I ever have a little girl.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? I have the set that my mom used to put up when I was a kid, which she got from one of her great aunts. I didn't put it out this year, because there wasn't a clear safe surface available.

8. Hardest person to buy for? Maybe my sister...though this year it wasn't too bad.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Usually MB, though this year I felt somewhat challenged.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? It's always somewhat of a bummer to receive something that is totally not me / not my style, especially when it's something like perfume or a bath item that I'll never use. I always try to remind myself that it really is the thought that counts, and that just being included in someone's Christmas celebration is a kindness. I do have a rather large collection of unused bath stuff, though.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? mail

12. Favorite Christmas movie? the version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with Yukon Cornelius and the Bumble

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I always promise myself I'll start in the summer, but I usually don't get anything until November, and I'm almost always still finishing up a few days before.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't recall ever giving a Christmas gift to someone else as a Christmas gift, but I have given away quite a few Christmas gifts, either to friends or just to Goodwill.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? A tie between the tuna noodle casserole my mom used to make and the homemade candy and cookies at my family's Christmas Eve get-together.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear all the way! They remind me of stars.

17. Favorite Christmas song? I don't really have just one favorite, though I'm partial to "The Little Drummer Boy."

18. Travel for Christmas or stay home? Since MB's family has generously moved their celebration to the Saturday before Christmas, we now travel to visit them and then come back here to see my family on Christmas Eve.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Of course! Can't everyone?

20. Angel or star on top of the tree? Star! I actually have the star that used to be on top of my parents' tree. When my mom decided to retire it, I saved it. I've been keeping it safe since I was in high school. Two years ago, it somehow didn't make it into the box with the rest of my ornaments, so last year I thought it was lost and was extremely sad. But I found it again, and it's back on top of the tree where it belongs this year.

21. Open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? My mom's side of the family does a name exchange, and we open those gifts after dinner at my aunt's house on Christmas Eve. We usually head back to my parents' house around 9:30 to exchange gifts with them and my sister. MB and I save our gifts to each other for Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? People who let materialism and stress get in the way of the true spirit of the season

23. What do you love most about Christmas? I love the atmosphere and the togetherness. The older I get, the more it's just about spending time with the people I care about.

24. What's one gift you're really hoping for this year? the Dark Materials trilogy

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Making a list, checking it twice

It's been all Christmas prep all the time around here for the last few days:

Baking Day #1

ornament factory

Secret Santa loot!

feline supervision

We're almost done shopping, and have one day of baking, one round of cooking, and a lot of cleaning to do before the festivities start. We'll have Christmas at MB's grandparents' on Saturday night, Thanksmas with the friendmily here on Sunday night, my family's Christmas and midnight Mass with my dad on Monday, and then open our own gifts and stockings on Tuesday. I have to say, I'm sort of loving the idea of Christmas as a four-day extravaganza.

How about you do you plan to celebrate?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Photo Friday

lolkitters of the week

This week's lolkitters photo shoot resulted in a tie:

(MB's favorite)

(my favorite)

(bonus cuteness)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Unintentional silence

I must be experiencing hold-over NaBloPoMo guilt or something, because I can't go more than a day or two without posting before I start to feel like a terrible slacker. This isn't a bad thing when I have a few ideas for short entries available, but on nights like last night, when I sit staring blankly at the screen with nothing to say and a half-panicked thought running through my head (Have I taken any cute cat pictures this week? Seen any funny You Tube videos? No? Shit!)...well, those nights I kind of have to ignore the guilt and slink off to bed.

Then I wake up in the morning and realize I'd better post something (anything!) before I surface again on Sunday with six days of nothing driving what few readers I have to wordier pastures.

So! What have you all been up to this week? We're getting to that stage around here where nearly everything is about Christmas or avoiding Christmas. On Tuesday we went to my work Christmas party. Only about half the staff ended up going, and had I known ahead of time, we probably wouldn't have signed up to go. But in the end it was a lot more fun than I expected, the food was pretty fabulous, and MB was handed an almost-full bottle of wine to take home at the close of the evening, so I'm glad we went after all. Once we got home, we indulged in our newest obsession and watched two episodes from season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My friend Tam sent us season 1 for Christmas, and we finished it last weekend. Having had our self-control destroyed by witty banter, campy special effects, and the hotness that is Willow, we went out shopping for gifts for MB's family on Monday and ended up going to three different stores in search of a copy of season 2. We finally found it at Barnes & Noble, where a sale + my members' discount + a 10% off coupon allayed most of my guilt.

Yesterday I came home sick from work for the second time pretty much ever, with one of those dull nagging headaches that just won't stop. I slept for about five hours, and MB was a complete champ. He stopped off at the store for bread and milk on the way home, cooked dinner, and woke me up in time to watch ANTM even though he hates it. My hero!

Today is a day off, so I have a list of errands about a mile long to attend to, all before MB gets off work at 3:00 and we drive down to visit his parents for an early Christmas sort of thing and dinner for his birthday (Happy Birthday!). And the house is a bit of a disaster, again. I feel like Mr. Incredible...didn't I just clean up this mess? To make the morning extra special, I was stupid nice enough to let the cat drink out of my cereal bowl when I was done, and the poor thing has been horking up little puddles of milk ever since. I finally shut him in the bathroom out of concern for the carpets and a need to finish this entry without having to stop every five minutes to trail him around the apartment with a handful of paper towels. Unlike the hairball-prone cats of my childhood, Kitters almost never barfs, so when he does he always seems sort of horrified. I'm pretty horrified when I puke, too, so I have to say that I sympathize.

Now that I've talked about mundane errands AND cat puke (Hey, where are you going?), I should probably continue to ignore the almost 500 posts in my feed reader so I can tidy up the house and get started on this ridiculous to-do list.

Tell me, if by some miracle you're still reading, what do you still have to do to get ready for Christmas?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Machine wash cold, tumble dry low

Earlier, I was shuffling a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, and asked MB to fetch the hamper of whites from the bedroom. He disappeared into the bedroom, came out holding the hamper, and then ducked right back out of sight, presumably to add his shirt to the basket.

Then he brought the hamper to me, and said, "You wanted whites, right?" When I said yes, he set the hamper down, revealing that he'd added the cat to the load of clothes. I guess I can't fault his sorting abilities.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Idea of North

What's your daemon? Go take the quiz and find out!

Also, Golden Compass reviews are up at the book blog.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A PSA for booklovers

I was going to start this post with "Would you like to earn free book money?" but then I realized ( A ) it would sound like a bad infomercial and ( B ) that's pretty much the most rhetorical question ever.

So, here's how to get that free money for books.

First, get a Borders Rewards card. It's a membership thing, but you don't have to pay dues, and it doesn't give you a discount. Don't worry, though...the discount part comes later.

Now, just for getting the Rewards account, you'll be signed up to get coupons via email. The lowest value coupon I've ever had was 20% off one item, and I get those at least once a month. Around the holidays, they send out 30% and even 40% ones on a semi-regular basis.

To get the free money, sign up at to take online surveys. Yes, the surveys can be slightly annoying, but you get to tell them how many you want to receive per month, and I believe there's an interest survey at the beginning. You'll only make a bit of money at a time (usually 50 cents a survey, but I've seen them go up to $7.50), but it adds up. I only started doing the surveys every time I got one around the beginning of the year (and I only get 1 - 2 surveys per week), and I cashed out my first $15 reward in November and still have $19 in my account.

The rewards can be used at lots of places, but the reason I signed up--and the reason I'm writing this entry--is to get Borders Bucks. It looks like you can only get $15 in a given month, but $15 of books is still pretty sweet. I used my $15 in Borders Bucks and a 25% off coupon and got the Dark is Rising box set for just under $8, which was a steal.

I'll admit that at times the surveys can be irritating. My main complaint is that the majority of the surveys I get offer $5 and then tell me about halfway through that I don't fit the demographic they're looking for. Even partial surveys give you 50 cents, though, so I figure if I keep plugging away I could earn another box set in no time. So what are you waiting for? Go get free books!

Reading:  The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

Playing:  Maybe This Christmas, Too?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.

I kidsit on a semi-regular basis for a little boy who is the son of my advisor from college. Between my busy schedule and theirs, I usually only see him once a month, and sometimes less than that. He is a sweet, intelligent, imaginative, and wonderfully curious child who I sometimes wish I could ask to have a little chat with my ovaries so that my kids turn out as cool as him. I'm only slightly biased, of course, having been nearly his only kidsitter since he was about 18 months old. He's five now, only just; his birthday was on November 17th.

The Kid and his parents and MB and I were all at the same holiday party on Monday night, and his mom mentioned in passing to someone else that she and the Kid's dad both had separate meetings to go to the following evening, and that their plans for the Kid had fallen through. Because I'm one of those people who always has to be helpful, no matter what (I'm working on it), I offered to shuffle my Tuesday night plans around a little and watch the Kid. When I got home, I had a brainwave. The restaurant where I was supposed to meet some coworkers around 6 is about 100 yards away from a movie theater, so I checked to see what movies were playing around 6:30 or so. I figured this would provide a fun activity for me and the Kid, and would spare me the drive out to his house in the country. I emailed his mom, and she asked the Kid what he thought, and he reportedly said, "YES I WANT TO GO TO A MOVIE WITH VELOCIBADGERGIRL!" Hee!

We agreed that the Kid's dad would drop him off at the theater at 6:30, we'd share popcorn and a drink that wasn't soda and watch Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, and then the Kid's mom would meet us after the movie. I'm not too proud to say that I was really excited about our big date. I got to the theater right on time, and purchased our tickets after the Kid's dad called to let me know they were running just a little late. They arrived shortly after, and you guys? HE WAS WEARING A TIE. A very small striped tie, and a blue dress shirt. When I exclaimed with glee over this, his dad said, "Well, it is a date!" Then, mock-stern, he told the Kid, "Now remember, buddy, when the lights go out, it's hands off." Brandishing my left hand, I said, "Yeah, I'm a married woman!"

The Kid and I purchased our popcorn and drinks (bottled water for me, Hi-C fruit punch for him) and then headed for theater #4. The Kid announced that he could find the theater for us. Four, after all, was the number he used to be, though not the number he is now. We were exactly on time (the opening credits were rolling as we took our seats), and I think the manager was wondering if anyone was coming to the movie after all (we were the only ones to purchase tickets). The manager, a cute boy in a suit who couldn't have been much older than 20, did that quiet, breathing-out laugh that people do when a child is doing something really cute but they don't want the child to know they're laughing as we approached--the Kid tiny and blond and be-tied and announcing, "This is four! I'm not four anymore, I'm five!"

The movie wasn't the best film I've ever seen. It wasn't even the best children's movie I've seen lately, but I really did enjoy it. There's something about sharing even mundane activities with a child that can make those activities vastly more entertaining or amusing or interesting than they would be if you did them by yourself, I think. I sat there and I let the Kid's wonder wash over me, and instead of thinking snarky thoughts over whether or not Dustin Hoffman was doing a decent job or dissecting the plot or wondering about what time it was, I just opened myself up to the movie and let myself be entertained. There were even a few scenes that made me exclaim with joy, I have to admit. No disrespect to MB, but this was a great date. The Kid and I sat in our chairs and just enjoyed the movie, shoveling popcorn into our mouths and laughing at the silly parts, and occasionally discussing the finer points of the storyline.

After the show, we sat in the lobby for a few minutes waiting for his mom. There were two teenage employees nearby, but other than that, the theater seemed deserted. A few years ago, I would've been too self-conscious to act goofy around those teenage boys, but this time, the Kid and I talked about Star Wars and I imitated a TIE fighter (complete with elaborate hand gestures and pyew! pyew! shooting sound effects) and we talked about how I would not wish to fight a bad guy with four arms and four lightsabers, though we established that I might be able to outrun him if he only had two legs. When his mom arrived, the Kid was eager to act out his favorite scene from the movie, and then it was time for us to head home, with a promise that we'd try to get together again sometime before Christmas to play.

Driving home, I found myself remembering how hard it was for me to get into character and play pretend with the Kid when I first started sitting for him. I had been a ridiculously imaginative child, but hadn't really done much pretending since I was about 13 or so, and it wasn't easy at first. That has changed, thanks to him. In a way, I think we learned to imagine together, and I'm grateful to think of how easy it will be for me to play my parts with my own kids, when the time comes. It's true that sometimes being around kids can make adults feel old. But sometimes, being around them can remind us what it's like to be young and filled with wonder, and that is truly a gift, if we can just remember to hold out our hands and accept it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hello, Jesus. I'm a cat.

I had a fun post planned about the rockin' date I had last night, but my body had other plans. I think I have a tiny fever, and I sorta feel like ass, so here's a cat video that made me laugh like a loon in my office yesterday:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Coming soon to an Applebee's near you...

Due to infant-induced sleep-deprivation, my friend Tam didn't get a guest post written in time for the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but she sent one along later, and it's too lovely not to post. Besides, her son the Gruffler turns two months old today, so it seemed appropriate.

For anyone who is new here and / or did not read the preceding sentence, all that follows is NOT ABOUT ME. I do have a ridiculously plump rack, but I do NOT yet have a child to blame, and cannot claim the blue-eyed heartbreaker you will meet below. Also, I am not British and Tam is, so that'll be another clue. (P.S. If reading about breastfeeding and boobies makes you squirm, you should probably just go do something else and come back tomorrow. You have been warned.)

I’ve always had a fairly amicable relationship with my breasts. They were a late, surprise arrival, as I was completely flat-chested until the summer before I went off to university. Then, miraculously, they arrived over the space of a few sunny months, ensuring that I started my undergraduate career as a perky and delighted 32C.

For several happy years, they were a source of endless free drinks. I’d take them out in a tank top, without a bra, and somehow, I don’t remember ever having to order a drink myself. The freshman fifteen all seemed to land squarely on my bust. At some point, I developed some morals, and my boobs developed to the point that I had to truss them into a cantilevered sports bra with the kind of underpinnings that you usually see holding up Gothic cathedrals, but they still passed the pencil test.

Now? Now, they are still a source of free drinks, but alas, not for me. And I know that I should probably spend this post rhapsodising about the natural, bonding beauty of breastfeeding, but people, it is weird. I only got an inkling of how weird it would be when few weeks into pregnancy, my nipples completely and dramatically changed colour, which was rather like having your eyes change from brown from blue overnight.

When the Gruffler was born, I’d written dutifully in my birth plan (‘Natural! No pain meds! And please don’t cut me up!’) that I intended to breastfeed. Of course I did. The truckloads of natural birth propaganda which I’d been absorbing for nine months were very keen on breastfeeding as a magical and bonding experience. Clearly, once I was done meditating through the surges and breathing my infant into the world, I would be nursing him. What all my reading omitted to mention was just how bizarre the whole thing would be. I can’t remember very well the moment they put the Gruffler, froggy and wet and flailing in wild distress on my bloody chest, because I was too dazed from shock and severe blood-loss. I do remember when they brought him back, and announced cheerily ‘You’ll want to be putting him on the breast, then!’ I looked down at his crumpled, unfathomable face, and thought ‘I do?’

My poor brother, aged twenty-one, who came to see me the afternoon after I gave birth, got to witness my first efforts as the midwife tried to help me wrangle the tiny Gruffler, all curled up like a pretzel, onto a vast breast which was about three times the size of his head. I couldn’t sit up, so this endeavour took place with me lying down, boobs all over the place. My brother coped with this sudden exposure of his sister’s knockers by observing the whole process with scientific disinterest. After much coaxing, as the Gruffler managed to get his tiny petal mouth around one nipple and suckle for scarcely ten seconds before falling asleep again, he said ‘Human infants are utterly rubbish, aren’t they?’

Despite this accurate pronouncement, the Gruffler and I struggled on. A few days after the birth, my milk officially ‘came in’, bringing with it a new set of stripey stretchmarks. The propaganda also omitted to mention that you might find yourself kneeling over a tiny, sleeping infant with both sides gushing like dual sprinklers all over the bed, while your husband flails around desperately for towels. The Gruffler does his best, but often he resembles a fresher struggling manfully with a beer bong. When he does pull away, gasping for air, milk sprays in all directions while my horrified husband ducks for cover. Wet nipple exposed to the air, I make a mental note to find everyone who ever wrote anything about the importance of ‘discreet breastfeeding’ and kick them to death.

The mess is vast, and extraordinary, and unending. I sleep on piles of towels, and get used to soaking through several layers of clothing. At five weeks, the Gruffler begins to projectile-vomit my milk back at me on a daily basis. He can cover a distance of some four feet, after which he looks rather sheepish, and then starts smacking his lips busily in anticipation of a refill. The doctor announces that he is a ‘Happy Spitter’, and that this is a laundry problem rather than a medical problem. At this point, we lose the cat, and find her attempting to tunnel her way out from under one of our laundry piles a few days later.

My husband is terribly supportive, despite making divorce threats on the morning that I brought him ‘Mystery Coffee’ with ‘Mystery Milk’ in it. He got even more supportive after I left him with the Gruffler and a few bottles of expressed milk for a night. The Gruffler likes to feed every two hours, all night long. When I suggested in a state of sleep-deprived despair that perhaps we should try formula, my husband blanched in horror. Did I realize how awful it was trying to warm a bottle at 4 am while the Gruffler wailed at the tardy service, he demanded. Did I really want to be getting up and making formula bottles in the middle of the night? Hmm? And what about the baby’s immunities? What about his IQ?

Then he made a quick escape. I expect he went to make offerings to the Creator for not giving men bosoms.

I am the daughter of a La Leche mother who believes that my postgraduate degrees are the direct result of her breast-feeding endeavours. Hum, quoth I. I’m not entirely convinced that Oxbridge and the Ivies are wholly populated by the breast-fed. But the Gruffler is two months old, now, and I am still at it. At seven weeks, my over-achieving bust calmed down miraculously, and stopped soaking through three layers of clothing on a regular basis. Also? I have discovered that paperback novels are preferable to hardback, because when you fumble and drop your book on your infant’s head, they’re less likely to suffer concussion.

It is still extraordinarily odd to sit in a cafe, and find myself undoing my top and taking out my breast. It is even funnier to notice the men who would probably have happily ogled my cleavage in my undergraduate days diligently averting their eyes away from the corner where I sit as if I were a nun who’d somehow lost her habit in a freak accident. There are certainly no free drinks on offer. It occurs to me that I could have gone my whole life thinking of my breasts as wonderfully ornamental - and occasionally happily recreational - without being able to announce, as I did the other day, that I have a Fast Let-down and an Oversupply. In dairy terms (I am a dairy farmer’s daughter), I am a good milker. The Gruffler’s rolls and dimples get more splendid every day. I grew that, I told myself in wonder when he was born, and I’m still growing him. Hurray for boobies.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ugly Sweaters = prizes!

Regrettable Sweaters was originally set up as a prize opportunity for NaBloPoMo folks, but NaBlo has come and gone, and not one single ugly Christmas sweater has made it to my inbox. In an attempt to ignore the heartbreak for one more month, I'm changing the rules. Anyone can submit, and anyone can win. Read on...

There are a lot of ugly sweaters ( jumpers / jerseys ) in this world, but it seems that Christmas sweaters as a genre are disproportionately unattractive.

Do you have a terrible holiday sweater or sweatshirt hiding in your closet? Do you have a jolly jumper that would put you on Stacy and Clinton's naughty list? Is your under-bed storage hiding something truly cringe-worthy or just plain horrifying? Do you wish that the rest of us could share your pain?

Submit photos to velocibadgergirl (at) gmail dot com, and come back in January for the official unveiling of all the Regrettable Sweaters people see fit to share.

Submission Guidelines
Send your regrettable photos to velocibadgergirl (at) gmail dot com. Include your name and / or blog identity, blog URL, story of the sweater (how it came to cast its tacky pall across your holiday season), and add a caption if you wish. Please don't steal other people's work (from Flickr, etc.) without giving credit to your source.

Also, what do you think of my new holiday bling? I asked MB for a festive banner and I think he really delivered. Historically, Christmas is not MB's favorite holiday, but it is mine, and I have to say...he's being exceptionally good-natured and accepting of it this year. (Thanks, lover! You're the best!)

Christmas parties down:  2

Christmas parties to go:  4

Reading:  The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Playing:  the soundtrack from O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Saturday, December 01, 2007


The other day, my dear friend the Untamed Shrew and I were Google chatting, and she had this to say:  Ooo, can I warn you about your present? Ummmm it looks hugely wasteful. It looks like I spent a lot of money specifically for this kind of thing. I did not. I got the main part on eBay for $1, plus $5.98 shipping. I just want you to be reassured when you open it that I didn't go for the wastefulness that it looks like; that is, it wasn't intentional or premeditated. It was just such a freaking good deal, and the format was secondary.

Having just sent the book Julie & Julia to a friend with a note specifying that I'd bought it on super sale at Barnes & Noble so she wouldn't feel guilty or obliged to send a gift in return, I totally understood where the Untamed Shrew was coming from.

When I got home from work today, there was a package on the porch, from the Untamed Shrew. Inside, I found this ridiculously cool fish envelope:

The envelope held a sock that I left behind when I stayed with the Untamed Shrew back in May. After laughing my ass off for a good while, I checked out the rest of the gift.

There was a small box with a tag attached that said, "To Ant Velocibadgergirl from Bones. Thanks for the treats." When I visited, I brought treats from the happy hippie pet store for darling Bones, who was on puppy bed rest after knee surgery. Apparently he liked them quite a lot.

Here's the reaction Mr. Kitters had to me accepting a gift from a dog:

She also sent a piece of SoapWood and three SoapRocks. They smell delicious:

And then, I opened the big pretty box:

This is what 75 sample packets of Burt's Bees Milk & Honey lotion look like when the Untamed Shrew has subjected them to her madcap genius and enclosed them in 75 unique, handmade envelopes:

And I think I fully understand the term 'verklempt' for the first time:

I really should figure out a way to display these. Frame them in a shallow shadowbox, maybe? Seriously, though...I don't know what I did to deserve friends like the Untamed Shrew, but I'm damn glad I did it.

Reading:  The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Playing:  Maybe This Christmas Too?

"I still cannot believe you accepted a gift from a dog. I am disgusted."