Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Birthday party every day!!!"

Having his birthday party on a day other than his actual birthday has proven somewhat confusing for Brandon. For example:

Brandon (eating day-after-Thanksgiving leftovers): "I love purples! I love turkey! Best birthday party ever!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

things to be thankful for

They actually had everything I needed at the commissary yesterday...for the first time in 4 Thanksgivings, they had all varieties of fresh herbs (they usually only have basil and maybe some oregano around Thanksgiving - WTF?), they had half & half, they had Pillsbury pie crusts, they even had buttermilk. I usually have to drive all over the island going to 3 Commissaries and at least 2 civilian grocery stores, and I don't this year. I almost don't even know what to do with myself for the next two days. I just have to go to the natural foods store to get a vanilla bean, and I'm all set. It's almost imcomprehensible.

On another note, if our transfer hadn't been moved to April, we'd be packing out next week. Incredible. I'm very, very grateful for the extra five months because there's just NO WAY we could've been ready by next week. Really dodged a bullet on that one.

Monday, November 24, 2008

now THERE is a cake for a 3-year-old boy!



Today was the last day of the Wilton I course I've been taking. Since I just made an enormous cake, and since the day after Brandon's birthday is Thanksgiving (when I make four different desserts) I did a little 6-incher for my final project. This is the one we'll be eating on Brandon's actual birthday, I hope it doesn't get smushed before then.

(Blue roses kind of make me cringe inside, because they don't exist in nature, but I told Brandon I would do them in any color at all that he wanted, and he chose blue. Sky blue. So, blue it was!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the Amazing Spongebob cake


I had to keep on leaving the cake to put Jack back to sleep, so I recorded this in five separate sections. Turns out, though, that the video files that Gawker makes can't be imported into iMovie, for whatever reason, so I had to upload them to OneTrueMedia to string them together. Grrrr.

I could have very easily left out the section where I tried to cover the cake in fondant, but I included it because it was part of the process, after all. It kept on tearing, so I went to plan B - little frosting stars. I didn't want to do the little tiny ones because that would have taken forever, but I figured that bigger ones might actually look like a pineapple - little did I know that the larger star tip (1M) doesn't make actual stars, per se - they turn out kind of petal-y. It ended up looking kind of like a papier mache pinata. And the gumpaste leaves were out of proportion - way too small for the cake - and kept on breaking and falling over. And the top layer was separating from the bottom layer and a crack opened up in the icing - oh well, it made it easier to separate the two halves when it came time to cut them.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. And it was delicious, by the way. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

sometimes I wish Dora would just explore in silence

Sometimes when I watch shows like Dora the Explorer, I have to remind myself that it's intended for a very, very young audience. Then I can't help but wonder whether it's telling stories and teaching lessons at a level that preschoolers can fully understand (I certainly remember a lot of things going over my head when I was a little kid), or if it's just talking down at them.

It sure is fun to hear Brandon try to say the Spanish words, though.

Friday, November 21, 2008

super awesome

I just downloaded this program and it is just waaaaay too much fun. I think this is going to be a major player in my arsenal of awesomeness.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

tick...tick...tick...

I'm watching the days tick away in the countdown in my sidebar, and I can't believe it. Every day is one day closer to moving, to living in another country for three years. Moving sucks enough as it is, but how are the children going to handle it? How are we going to handle it, just logistically, with the children? How are we going to get the carseats there? (We do NOT have two pieces of checked luggage to spare, seeing as how we will be living out of our suitcases for God knows how long.) How do we decide which toys to pack in the suitcases, and what happens when one of the boys asks for one of the toys that we didn't bring, that we won't see for two months? Where are we going to live? How will we get through the day without the Disney Channel and especially Noggin? And how am I going to find Burt's Bees shampoo and conditioner in Japan?

I feel woefully unprepared for any move, let alone a trans-Pacific move. Day-to-day housekeeping is hard enough to squeeze into my day; purging my closets and cataloging my belongings is pretty much out of the question...but it must be done.

I am not knitting Christmas presents this year. There is just no way.

Brandon's birthday party is a week from today. Then comes Thanksgiving, then we get ready for Christmas. Then it really has to be down to the business of getting ready to move. There's just so much to be done. You have no idea how much unnecessary and redundant crap we have. And it all has to be sorted through. Oy.

On an unrelated note, Jack is so eager to stand up and walk, that he keeps on pulling himself up and letting go. Of course he falls down. Yesterday he busted his face on the coffee table. He looks like Rocky, and the coffee table has been temporarily removed. He seems to have inherited his brother's knack for getting facial injuries at the worst possible times. Looks like it's going to be another week or two before we take the pictures for the Christmas card. (Don't worry, he's fine. Just a little swollen over his eye. He's looking much better today than yesterday.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

"pumpkin" pie

There was an article in Yoga Journal recently, about tweaking traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier. They talked about how if you use fresh pumpkin instead of canned, you won't have to use as much sugar - not only because it is naturally sweeter, but also because you don't have to cover up the metallic taste. Well, that ruined it for me, because the next time I was feeding Jack canned pumpkin (mixed with applesauce), I tried some and I could definitely taste the metal. Darn it. Once I notice the metallic taste, it's all over. It was the same thing with cranberry sauce.

So I started keeping an eye out for pie pumpkins, but I haven't been able to find any. And I've read in a couple of places that if you can't find a pie pumpkin, you're better off using a butternut squash than a jack-o-lantern pumpkin (not that I can find any of those anymore, either). One website even said that commercially canned pumpkin is actually a variety of butternut squash, but I don't know about that.

Well anyway, it seemed like a reasonable idea, so I decided to try it. I bought a big ol' butternut squash, cooked it, pureed it, and baked it into a pie. It certainly did take less sugar to make it sufficiently sweet - only 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar, whereas I usually use a full cup when I cook with canned pumpkin. The color of the finished pie was kind of beige-ish as opposed to dark orange, but it did look like a pumpkin pie. It smelled like a pumpkin pie, and I suppose it did taste like a pumpkin pie as well. It wasn't as if you could tell that it wasn't made with real pumpkin, but it did taste a little bland - there was a depth of flavor missing. It's a light and clean taste, but it just doesn't taste all that pumpkin-y. It's kind of like the difference between a Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbucks and one from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf - one tastes like pumpkin pie spice, and one has real pumpkin flavor. (FYI, the Pumkin Pie Blizzard at DQ is the most pumpkin-y thing I've tasted in a long time.)

The verdict: is butternut squash an acceptable substitute for pumpkin in a pinch? Yes. Are they interchangeable? No.

I'm going to keep on looking for pie pumpkins...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ohhhhhhhhhh...who lives in a pineapple under the sea...

Here are the gumpaste pieces for the Spongebob Pineapple cake.

One of the long leaves (drying on the blue vase in back) already had its tip break off, and it's not even dry yet. Well, there goes my extra piece, I'd better not have any more breaks! Next up: the flowers around the base of the pineapple; I'm making those by piping out royal icing. Hopefully I'll get to it today.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

my latest photoshop project



That's supposed to be Brandon sitting on the bubble. As usual, I saved money on awesome birthday party invitations, and had fun doing it, by using Photoshop Elements and my Shutterfly discount plan (30% off of prints - I got 5x7's this year).

His cake is going to be Spongebob's pineapple house, in 3-D. I hope it comes out, um, not sucky.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

three things Brandon has said in the past two days

  1. Reading a book called "Who Lives in the Pond", I told him that the plants in the picture are called "cattails". After saying "cat-tail" several times, he pointed at the tadpole (which he usually pronounces "ta-poo") and said, "cat poo".
  2. Pointing to a picture of a child playing crash cymbals, "cymbals, crap." (He meant to say "crash".)
  3. Lying in bed with him at bedtime, he looks at my nose. "Boogies!"
    Me: "Oh, thank you for pointing that out."
    Brandon: "More boogies! ... Really really big boogies!"
You wait and wait for them to be able to talk, and when they do...it's totally worth the wait, let me tell you.

ETA: Jackson is standing in the crib, chewing on the railing while I change Brandon's diaper.
Brandon: "Eat crap!"
Me: "What??"
Brandon: "Eat crap!"
Me: "Ohhhh, eat crib? The baby is eating the crib?"
Brandon: "Yeah!!!"

Friday, November 7, 2008

this is my last politcal post for a long time, I promise. I'm getting weary of it all.

If you look at the demographics from the exit polls, voting on California's Prop 8 was almost equally split in every racial group except one - black people. 70% of blacks voted in favor of amending the state constitution in order to take away gays' right to marry.

I already wondered, in my twitter feed, whether this election marked a turning point, wherein one minority group passed the torch to another as the "most oppressed" in America. David Allen Grier did a sketch about this on Chocolate News last night, but he stopped just short of being really meaningful by leaving out the group who the torch actually was passed to - gays. And in a truly ironic twist of fate, it was was African Americans who handed the torch over with their own hands.

truly, hell is other people

It has been brought to my attention that I may be going to hell because I voted for the Antichrist. Well now. I'm sorry to disappoint the people who believe this, but I was already going to hell.
  • I have gay friends.
  • I use birth control.
  • I lived with my husband for six months before we were married
  • I gossip sometimes.
  • I have been rude and disrespectful to my parents.
  • I say "Jesus Christ!" waaaaaaay more often than I should.
  • I spent two and a half years going to yoga class instead of Church on Sunday mornings. Not only that, but there was a shrine to Ganesh in the corner of the room and we actually chanted at the beginning of class. And I want to start going again! Somebody save me from myself!
  • I read The DaVinci Code, and saw the movie, too.
  • I believe that Jesus had knowledge of Eastern religions, if it is 100% true that he actually said 100% of the things that The Bible says he did.
  • I do not believe that Jesus actually said 100% of the things that The Bible says he did.
  • The worst offense of all, I am Catholic. *gasp* At least I can go to confession and wipe my slate clean, right?
And of course, I voted for the Antichrist.

Can I just ask, honestly, in a spirit of really wanting to understand this, why so many people think that Barack Obama is the antichrist? It seems really, well, racist to me. If it were a white man who was so popular, who had so many people behind him, who was respected and admired the world over - he would be called a great man. But because it's a black man, he must be the antichrist? Hey, your bigotry is showing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

if you want to read about something other than the election today...

...here's a little bit about something completely unrelated that I'm outraged about.

I realized, though a serendipitous magazine article and some google research, that I am probably magnesium deficient. But how could this be? I'm still taking my prenatal vitamin, and surely that has all of the vitamins and minerals I need to be healthy, right?

Wrong. I looked at the label of my prenatal vitamins, and not a single milligram of magnesium. Magnesium deficiencies are linked to preterm birth and SIDS (not to mention depression, anxiety, heart problems, skeletal defects and a spate of other problems)...and they don't put magnesium in a nutritional supplement that is specifically designed for pregnant and lactating women? WTF??????

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I bought some sparkling apple-pomegranate juice, in case of celebration

You know what irritates me? (What doesn't?) Around the time of day that they're usually calling the election, I will be giving my kids their baths and putting them to sleep. It literally takes at least 2 hours to get through the whole process on a normal day. Brian is in Hilo for the week, which makes the whole thing a complete crapshoot - will Jackson fall asleep and stay asleep long enough for me to give Brandon his bath? Or will I have to let him sit with me on the bathroom floor? (And by "sit with me" I mean that he will be pulling up on the edge of the tub and trying to climb in.) Either way, I certainly won't be watching CNN. Rats. Stupid time difference.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

vote-y vote vote vote vote

(The title of this entry is to be sung to the tune of "Jumpy jump jump" or "Skippy skip skip" from Yo Gabba Gabba.)

I voted yesterday afternoon. It was a family event. I choose a booth at the end so that I could pull Jackson's stroller alongside and he could peek up at me from under the curtain. Brandon went in the booth with Brian.

It was my third presidential election, each one in a different state. (2000 - New York [absentee ballot]; 2004 - Louisiana; 2008 - Hawaii) I am really hoping that my candidate actually wins this time. Then the picture I took of my children in front of the "Vote Early Here" sign will mean something someday. My sons will be able to say: I was there when my parents voted in 2008. I was there when the world changed.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to say that if McCain wins, and that scary, scary woman is a heartbeat away from running the country, I'm gettin' the heck out of Dodge. HAHAHA, it's funny because I'm leaving the country regardless! I kind of don't have a choice. (See the left sidebar for a countdown.) And then someday, my boys can have their status as "real" Americans challenged because they lived in a foreign, non-Christian country for a while when they were young. Ah, well, at least there will be good sushi.