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Archive for December, 2007

The Long Winter

I can see it coming — it’s going to be a LONG winter. It’s barely winter now, and already K’s had a double ear infection and the lovely bronchiolitis that seems to have reached out and touched many. No one was more surprised than me when at the routine follow-up to see if her ears had cleared, her wonderful CRNP — who has cared for my kids for 8.5 years — said “nope not clear yet. And that chest infection needs some help…here are some uber-antibiotics, oral steroids, and an inhaler.”

!!!

OK, not cancer but still…not what you want to hear 8 days before Christmas, especially the Christmas that you’re supposed to make the tri-annual 10 hour pilgrimage to Indiana. So we start our medicine regime and alert the families that K is sick that we might not be able to travel that far. At the follow-up to the follow-up on Thursday, the chest infection is a little better but not enough better (she is still slightly wheezy and her chest is pretty rattly) so we swap the inhaler for a nebulizer. We email our families that on the advice of the Dr. we definitely aren’t traveling. I aimed for just enough detail to convey seriousness without panicking anyone…HA. Most interesting to me is that my mother and my MIL had totally opposite reactions to that email — my mother reacted as if K were dying and huge drama ensued (I’d describe, but at some point I might share the existence of this blog with family beyond my brother and SIL who have been in the know for awhile – and then you’d really see some trouble…) MIL emailed back that great-grandma was SO disappointed that we decided not to come and we should just send the kids with them and they’d return them by New Years.

So here we are, home and just the four of us for Christmas for the first time ever! K seems a lot better already (Murphy’s Law, of course) and we’re all looking forward to Santa visiting us here instead of Indiana, Florida, New Jersey or New York. Being Italian though I am having a hard time adjusting to holiday cooking that wouldn’t feed casts of thousands. I’m telling myself to think of these meals as I would a special birthday dinner…we’ll see if that works.

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Ho Ho Ho

We had our 4th annual Progressive Dinner last night. Amy had cocktails and appetizers – the hit of that course was Pear and Cranberry cocktails. I had the salad course this year which was easy-peasy (fuji apple salad with cider emulsion – quite yummy and very different.) Chris had the main course, which was a HUGE Asian feast – fresh sushi (both nigiri and maki), steamed and fried homemade hong kong and shanghai style dumplings (which I helped make – fun!), authentic fried rice, pickled cucumbers (funny DH moment…”don’t we just call those…pickles?”), stir fried broccoli, cabbage, sesame noodles…YUM YUM YUM. His mom is Japanese so he’s had years and years to perfect and experiment – it’s SO good. I swear he made enough food for 20 people – we’re having a group lunch today to finish up the leftovers. Debbie brought us home with a pear tart and individual triple-chocolate tortes with molten chocolate centers. WOW.

Before the dinner, I picked up my Christmas present — $1800 worth of new air flow sensors, brakes, and a timing belt. 😦 We also got the Christmas tree and raked and bagged 28 bags of leaves.

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There Are No Easy Answers

A friend of mine asked me:

…as a fellow parent who was brought up in a church and has their own belief system, I’d love to hear sometime what you’re teaching the girls and how.

I’m probably not the best person to ask – I’m kind of schizophrenic on the topic of God. I tend to believe in God but I’m not sure if that’s just a relic from my childhood or not – regardless, it’s a powerful “leftover” if that’s all it is. I am not at all confused about the fact that I have a ton of issues with organized religion – especially Catholicism. DH has become a full-on evangelical Athiest, which complicates matters for me… So, I try to teach my kids to judge people on what they do, not what God they believe in (or don’t believe in).

Beans and I had an interesting conversation about religion in the car the other day on the way to pick DH up from work – Silent Night played on the radio and she commented that they aren’t allowed to sing it at school because it is religious…so that led to a discussion of what religious songs are, whether Hannukah songs are inherently religious or not, how any Christmas songs could be secular whether not not they mention Jesus/God/Lord/Him…, what Gods other religions believe in, and what happens when religious intolerance takes hold…which led us to 9-11/twin towers/pentagon/shanksville, where we were when that happened (mommy’s office windows shook when the plane hit the pentagon, uncle mikey saw the towers fall, another close friend fought in afghanistan…), US immigration policy (but HOW do the bad guys get into our country? how do we know which people are bad? How do we keep them out but let the good people in?), the wars we fought, and are still fighting in the name of terrorism…and culminating in my favorite…”Mommy, did it [GWOT] work?”

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Google Me This…

I am overseeing a project at work that requires me to learn about USCIS services and fees. Lucky for me I have a Total Star leading this project for me — and as such, she has already done a ton of research and is able to tell me what to read to quickly get up to speed, important tidbits, etc. In one of our “what have we learned this week” sessions she told me about CIS Processing Centers that perform what is known as “Slit and Peek” — their responsibility is to slit open envelopes, see what type of application and check is enclosed, and determine where it is to be sent for further processing. She couldn’t remember which services centers are the slip and peek centers, nor where she had read it…so I Googled “CIS Slit and Peek.” Don’t ask me why I thought I’d get legit results from doing this…

Let’s just say I got a list of links that, had I clicked on them, would have gotten me fired. 😀

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Harvest Pumpkin Bread: Take 2

When last we baked, Dear Reader, I had mucked about with a pumpkin bread recipe and came up with a healthier version. Last night I tweaked further and…success! I knocked out another cup of sugar (we’re down to a total of 1 cup total — so 1/2 cup in each loaf). Then I replaced 1 cup of flour with oat flour (whole oats whizzed in the Cuisinart to a fine powder) and switched to cake flour for the remaining 2 cups for a more tender crumb. I can’t say I noticed much difference in texture but it may be more important next time when I replace another cup of flour with whole wheat flour…I didn’t have any on hand yesterday. I also added 1/2 c golden raisins, but they are optional. It also seemed spicier this time around – if you don’t like strong flavors you might want to knock back a bit. The kids still loved it, as did DH and for him, there’s no such thing as “too sweet.”

For those keeping track, the latest version is:

Harvest Pumpkin Bread

1 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 large eggs
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups cake flour
1 cup oat flour (whiz oats in Cuisinart until powdered)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 9×5×3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and applesauce in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs, vanilla and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Fold in raisins (if using.)

Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 80 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

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