Friday, October 30, 2009

complete this sentence

"Thanksgiving Dinner just wouldn't be Thanksgiving Dinner without __________________."

So, yeah, I already have my menu pretty well planned out, but I want to make sure I'm not missing anything. We have a friend coming over, and he's bringing his Japanese girlfriend with him - he wants her to experience a "real American Thanksgiving". It's flattering, and ever so slightly terrifying. I want it to be perfect.

So...what one dish is absolutely essential at Thanksgiving? Lurkers, it's time to de-lurk. I need as many answers as I can get. :)

"his tooth fell down"

Brandon was up and walking around at 2AM last night. I got him back into his bed and asked him why he was up, but I couldn't really understand what he was trying to tell me. I asked him again this morning, and I'm pretty sure that this is what happened: he had a dream that he was in the kitchen, feeding Jackson. In his dream, Jackie fell down and knocked out a tooth. Brandon woke up, and was thinking about it, and got worried about Jackson so he went to the kitchen to make sure that he was okay.

Now ever since we've moved here, Brandon has had a tendency to be moody. He likes to play alone in his room, and he DOES NOT want Jack to be in there, ever. They fight over toys and get on each others' nerves. But in the end, this is the kind of kid that Brandon is: he had a scary dream - not about monsters, or getting lost, or Daddy never coming home - but about his baby brother getting hurt. And when he had this dream, he didn't cry in his bed, or come to me for comfort - he went looking for his brother to make sure he wasn't alone and hurting. He loves his brother more than anything, enough to get out of bed in the scary dark.

I have a good kid.

Monday, October 26, 2009

blurbs

  • Jack may have strabismus. He may have pseudostrabismus. It's hard to tell which it is, but his right eye looks like it's turning inward some of the time. We'll find out when we go to the opthamologist on Thursday whether he's actually cross-eyed, or if it just looks that way because of the shape of the bridge of his nose. (FYI - while researching this usually Asian trait [pseudostrabismus], I came across a blurb stating that there is Asian DNA floating around the Lithuanian gene pool due to Mongolian invasions. So since the Mongols invaded Lithuania, and the Moors invaded Sicily, my children are truly world-wide mutts.)
  • I have a call in to the developmental screening people at the elementary school, re: Brandon's stutter.
  • The first few days on Yasmin were hell, I felt SO MUCH worse. I'm starting to feel better now. Time will tell if it does the trick for the PMDD. But I can tell you right now, it makes my skin really dry.
  • It is rainy, and windy, and COLD. Like 60 degrees. To a family who spent the last 4 years in Hawaii, 60 degrees and raining is almost unbearably cold. Winter is going to be rough for us this year, LOL.
  • This is going to be the first year since...well, EVER...that I don't have a Halloween costume. I wanted to do Ratatouille - wear a chef coat and put a Remy toy on my head, holding my hair - but the Nex Depot only had chef coats in L, XL, and XXL. Boo. I wanted to do this one last year, too, but I ordered a chef coat from a website that never shipped it and eventually canceled the order like 6 weeks later. Maybe it's just not meant to be. (I ended up throwing together a Foofa costume last year.) Since my kids are being Batman and Robin, I might have to bust out a quick Catwoman costume...I have cat ears somewhere...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

guest list dilemma

It's time to order supplies for Brandon's birthday party, and I don't know how much to order. Because I have no idea how many people we're inviting.

Here's the thing: part of me wants to invite everyone in Brandon's class, because I don't want anyone to be left out. The other part of me counted the names on the sign-in sheet the other day and protests this plan because there are 18 kids in his class. And there are at least 5 other kids who AREN'T in his class, who we want to invite. And after all, there's going to be a "party" at school for everyone whose birthday is in November. (Although we're not allowed to bring homemade goodies for that. Grrrrr.) But how do we decide who to invite? I mean, when I ask who he wants to invite to his birthday party, there's 2 or 3 names that always come up. But when I ask about other kids - "Are you friends with x? Are you friends with y?" - he always says "yes". I don't know what these kids talk about when they're in school. I don't want anybody to feel bad because they weren't invited to the Monster Truck Party.

To complicate things, the party is the day after Thanksgiving. I don't know how many people go home for the holiday, but I can't help but feel that this might have an effect on attendence rates.

So what would you do? Invite everybody? Or just the ones who Brandon chooses? Is he old enough to choose his own guest list like that, if it means leaving people out?

FTR, the cake I'm planning, according to the charts at Wilton.com, will serve 70+ people, although I doubt that - those charts are based on teeny slices. So there will be enough cake no matter what. But pizza for 23 kids and their parents is an awful lot of pizza...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

it's the most wonderful time of the year

Well, ladies and gentlemen, today I sat down and planned out my Thanksgiving menu, and started on the incredibly complicated process of figuring out exactly how I'm going to manage cooking a FULL Thanksgiving feast as well as preparing for Brandon's birthday party. (Brandon's birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year, and due to a series of odd circumstances, his party is most likely going to be the next day, rather than the weekend before as I originally wanted.)

I'm trying a couple of new recipes this year, as well as roasting the turkey (we normally fry, but can't this year because we don't have a yard!), and putting together both Brandon's enormous Gravedigger cake, and a smaller one for the family to eat on his actual birthday. I tried to figure out the order in which to do it all on a piece of paper like I usually do, but it quickly got too complicated. So I wrote out (a summarized version of) each step of each recipe on individual index cards, which are now in order, in a pile about 2 inches high. I am sure I will be tweaking the order for the next several weeks.

I also just did one of my favorite things to do when preparing for a big cooking event: I made my Master Ingredient List. I go through every recipe I'm going to make, and write down every ingredient, along with the amounts required. Then I go back and add them all up. I divide this list into 3 or 4 weeks worth of shopping lists. It's an excellent way to make absolutely certain that you have enough of everything.

Adding an admittedly-too-large birthday cake into the mix really bumps up the amount of certain ingredients that you need. For instance, I'm carving Gravedigger out of 1 1/2 9x13 sheet cakes (and a cake baked in the bottom 2 inches of a loaf pan), with the 1/2 of a sheet cake that will be left over used for the small family cake. Unless my figuring is way off, that's 4 boxes of cake mix. Since I do the "add a box of pudding and an extra egg" variation to make it firmer, that's 2 large boxes of pudding (or 4 small) and 16 eggs. SIXTEEN. And two cups of canola oil. That's just for the cake. Not to mention the 2 cups of crisco, 4 sticks of butter and 4 pounds of powdered sugar for the double batch of buttercream. And the pound of chocolate and 2 cups of heavy cream for the ganache filling - and to tell you the truth, I'm not 100% certain that will be enough.

Again, that's just for the cake. (Which of course I will be baking in advance - as soon as the turkey moves from the freezer to the fridge, the cakes will be taking its place! But like I said, I spread the shopping out over a whole month, so I have to include the cake ingredients in the master list.)

So without further ado, here are some highlights from this year's Master Ingredient List:

  • 10 1/2 cups of chicken broth (I make Emeril's green bean casserole, which involves making the mushroom soup from scratch. You end up with a lot of extra soup, and it is DIVINE.)
  • about 5 tbsp of salt (recipes from Bon Appetit call for coarse kosher salt, ones from Clean Eating call for sea salt - I'll probably just use sea salt for all of it since I have some nice Maui sea salt in my pantry)
  • 3 1/4 cups of half & half
  • 10 sticks of butter
  • 5 1/2 cups of sugar (much less than usual, since I'm not making the cakes from scratch this year)
  • 5 envelopes of gelatin
  • 7 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 35 eggs
Yes, that's 10 sticks of butter, almost 8 cups of cream, 5 cups of whole milk and over 3 cups of half & half. That's a lot of butterfat. Paula Deen would be proud, I'm sure.

one last rant, then I'm done for this month...I hope

  • I already tweeted about this last night, but if there's anyone out there reading this who's desperate to find some relief from their child's sleep problems - ask yourself this: how bad is it, really? How old are they? How many times a night do they actually wake up? Are they able to put themselves back to sleep most of the time? If your child has sleep apnea, or some other genuine sleep issue, you have my sympathy. Let's band together in solidarity to tell the people who feel oh so sorry for themselves because their 6-month-old is "still" waking up once or twice a night, to SHUT THE F*&$ UP. Welcome to the real world, and count your blessings.
  • Also on the "things that would bother me if somebody said it to me right now, even though nobody has (yet)" train of thought...if there is anyone out there right now who thinks that "Lucky" by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat applies to your life, even though you have never been away from your boyfriend for more than 24 hours - please come see me so I can smack the shit out of you. I hereby claim this song for Navy Wives everywhere. Particularly ones whose husbands are deployed on ships, and who live on an island. Lyrical applicability, people.
  • One last thing: back injuries are God's way of saying, "I don't think I was testing you enough. Try to handle THIS, mofo!!!!!"
Well like I said, hopefully that's it for this month. Apparently I have PMDD, because my doctor gave me meds for it. Didn't bother to ask me a SINGLE diagnostic question, but...I guess he can't be expected to diagnose something he's never even heard of. Thank goodness I have sufficient medical training to diagnose myself. (SARCASM) But anyway, maybe I won't even have any irrational rants next month. Fingers crossed, right?

Friday, October 16, 2009

I love my gov't insurance...when I can use it with civilian doctors

I went to my doctor today because I threw out my back on Sunday morning. I knew that he wasn't going to be able to do anything for me, and I was 100% right. The best he could do was offer muscle relaxers, but since I am still nursing...nope. Motrin, motrin and more motrin.

While I was there, I asked about the PMDD, and...well, here's the comment card I just submitted online:

"I came to my PCM with suspicion that I had a certain medical condition (PMDD). He had never heard of it. He looked it up on the computer and, after asking me NOT ONE SINGLE QUESTION to determine whether or not I actually had it, he proceeded to prescribe me a medication which is SIMILAR to one that is FDA approved for PMDD, but not THE SAME. He said, "It's the same thing," and I took his word for it. But it only took a quick internet search to see that it is NOT. (Yasmin as opposed to Yaz - different dosage of estrogen.) Don't get me wrong, he's a really nice guy, I just don't feel that my concerns were treated with the seriousness they deserved. He did, however, send me over to immunizations to get a flu shot. When I asked if he thought it was really necessary, he said, "Oh yes, especially this year." I am baffled by this comment, since the seasonal flu vaccine that is currently available doesn't protect against H1N1, even I know that.

After waiting 30+ minutes in immunizations, I went to the pharmacy to pick up my Yasmin. I was told it wasn't ready yet, and after waiting for another 25+ minutes somebody finally actually *looked* for it and found that it had been ready, on a shelf, the whole time. Nobody said "sorry for the wait" or anything to that effect. They just put the bag on the counter, and that was it.

By the time I got home, Central Appointments was closed for the weekend, so I have to wait until next week to *TRY* to get an appointment with a different doctor. (The Tricare Online appointment-booking system? Absolutely worthless.)

I spent over 2 hours at the clinic today and all I have to show for it is a flu vaccine I hadn't intended to get, and a medication that isn't an FDA-approved treatment for the condition that I'm still not even sure that I have. Not a very impressive first experience at your facility."

ETA: Yes, I know that Yasmin has been shown, in studies, to help alleviate PMDD, but it's not FDA approved for that purpose, and I don't like going off-label. Also, given my history with side effects from bc pills, I'd feel a lot more comfortable with the lower dose of Yaz. More on this story as it unfolds...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Republican-baiting...because it's just so EASY!!!

I've been thinking about what it would look like if I were to make a pie chart of how my waking hours are spent. A huge chunk would be "trying to put Jack to sleep." Another would be "being patient while Brandon stutters", and a third would be "checking Facebook for news from Brian." Also making appearances would be "Tweeting about things that annoy me" and "humming Elmo songs under my breath". A small sliver, tiny yet still definitely visible, would be "arguing with Republicans on Facebook." It happens about once a month - when my (self-diagnosed, as-yet-unconfirmed) PMDD is acting up. Because my main symptom is a complete lack of patience - and if I fly off the handle when my kid gets water all over the bathroom counter, then you can be SURE that I won't stand for people saying stupid shit about...well, anything.

Here's an example from the other day. Names have been omitted to protect the ridiculously ignorant.

*********

VF: You Republican assholes miss the point, as usual. Of course Obama deserves the Nobel Prize. He's a beacon of hope after all the horrors of Bush.

KP
HEY F, HES RUINING THE COUNTRY BIG GUY MCAIN PALIN 12
Sat at 8:36am

MG
false
stupid hippie
Sat at 8:47am

Kerry KN (me)
You know, whether he deserves it or not...whether you agree with him or not...he's still THE PRESIDENT. Remember when saying something bad about the President meant that you were "un-American" and "on the side of the terrorists"?? How much you wanna bet it's the same people who said that 4 years ago, who are disrespecting the President now?
Sat at 8:52am

KP
hes a democrat hes dumb and hes a hippie and doesnt care for everyone hes a selfish bastard
Sat at 8:53am

Kerry KN (me)
What an intelligent response!
Sat at 8:54am

MG
yea because your response was a work of genious
i honestly think i have become a lot dumber having read that bull shit ignorant paragraph
Sat at 8:55am

CF
yeah FUCK PEACE AND PROSPERITY.Iraq & Afghanistan foreva
Sat at 9:00am

CJ
OUCH... I'm gonna go hunker down and watch me some Fox News here in the bible belt after that post, Uncle V!
Sat at 9:03am

KP
F, who is this kerry
Sat at 9:06am

PP
yikes! u are arguing about a Peace Prize....genious indeed!
Sat at 9:09am

Kerry KN (me)
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. All I said was that the President, by virtue of BEING THE PRESIDENT, should command a certain amount of respect. Why, exactly, does that offend everyone so much?
Sat at 9:10am

KP
because democrats ruin the country
Sat at 9:13am

AP
V - the only problem I have is that Obama hasn't had the chance to DO much yet. This award seems mostly based on promises! When Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, he had decades of actions to back up his words. I hope Obama can come through with even a fraction of his promises, but I think the award may have been a bit premature.
Sat at 10:12am

CD
I'm with ya Kerry. Everyone doesn't have to jump down her throat, jeez.
Sat at 10:19am

SL
... wow, some typical repub comments above. ignorance is bliss (if you're a repub, that is). at any rate, idiots don't decide who gets the nobel prize (after all, they got to run the country for the past 8 years) - no one deserves it more than obama.
Sat at 11:47am

AP2
Who is KP and does his keyboard not have a "shift" key or punctuation marks? The democrats aren't ruining anything. The country was already ruined and the democrats are trying to FIX it. If you think you can do better go run for office or something but don't be so effing rude on facebook.
Sat at 11:48am

KP
chaney palin 12'
Sat at 11:55am

SL
... might be helpful to your audience if you learned how to spell cheney correctly.
Sat at 12:03pm

AP2
Well, maybe that's how his parents spell it.. because that seems to be his only source of political opinions. Oh, how I miss Cold Spring Harbor. Go read a book.
Sat at 12:17pm

KP
heyheyhey my own personal views im a proud repub palin would have been the sickest vp in history
Sat at 12:22pm

SL
... 'sick' being the operative word.
Sat at 12:31pm

************

It was nice to have some other people jump in and get into the nitty gritty of it; I removed myself from the conversation after a certain point, as a matter of principle. I think that once you've shown the person to be an ignorant jackass who can't even formulate a cogent though...well, it's best to just let their ignorance hang in the air.

Notice, also, how I never expressed a political opinion, AT ALL. For all these people know, I could *gasp* be a Republican myself. All I said was that the President deserves a certain level of respect. Because even if you don't like him or agree with him, he's still the President.

When I asked why my statement offended them so much, they could easily have mentioned the fact that I implied that they were hypocrites, and dumb ones at that. Did they? No. "Because democrats ruin the country". That's why suggesting that they show some respect for THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA offends them. Because he's a Democrat.

They made my point for me. They didn't take offense to my having called them stupid hypocrites - because it's true.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

complaining time...in bullet form

- I have a ridiculous cough. It's absolutely dreadful. Bordering on debilitating.
- I'm not getting enough sleep.
- My bad (left) knee and bad (right) hip are acting up...I don't know which side of my body to favor. And my back HURTS.
- I find it difficult to drum up the energy to make dinner every night. It doesn't help that my kids don't eat my cooking.
- I'm writing this on a new iPhone app I'm trying out. It doesn't do bullets.
- I'm pretty sure I have PMDD. My demon-from-the-bowels-of-hell time of the month is creeping up on me. I think that last baby knocked something loose, because I never even had any PMS to speak of before, let alone the cyclical multiple personality bs I've been dealing with lately. I thought cutting out caffeine would help...doesn't seem like it so far.
- Have I mentioned that my husband's on a ship and I'm alone with the kids?
- I really, really, really want to sleep in tomorrow. Obviously not gonna happen.
- Jack seems to be taking after big brother with the sleep apnea. Figures. They're opposites in so many ways, except for the reflux and the tongue tie and the sleep apnea - you know, the medical issues that make *everyone's* lives more difficult, but especially their own.
- I don't think I can do italics in this app, either. Oh, I'm really starting to "soar like an irate eagle" now...
- The only toddler-sized ballet slippers available in black from my favorite dance catalog - which are billed as "unisex" - have a floral-print lining. Yes, my boy has started going to ballet class, I DARE you to say something mean when I'm around to hear it. (Incidentally, when I mentioned this on Facebook, the only person who made a gay joke happens to be a Fox News staffer. This seems oddly appropriate to me for reasons I can't quite articulate.)
- The ITT office on base (Information, Tickets and Tours) has fliers with directions to different places - driving directions on one side, train directions on the other. While studying the fairly complicated directions to Ikea, I realized -they tell you how to get there, but not how to get back. Reversing the directions doesn't do me much good when I have no idea how to get back to the highway, and won't have anyone with me to help.
- Said driving directions (which are copied from the Ikea website) say to get off the highway and "head for the Ikea tower". So is that a right turn, or left? Really f'ing helpful, thanks.
-Driving to Ikea, thanks to tolls, costs 3 times as much as taking the train. But if you bring your car, you can actually BUY stuff. And it doesn't take 2 hours to get there. And you don't have to wrangle 2 kids on two trains and a shuttle bus. But it costs about $14 - each way.
- We finally got around to watching the 2nd & 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean movies a couple of weeks ago. They were so dumb that they ruined the 1st one for me, too. Bummer.
- Even I find this amount of complaining off-putting. So here's a happy thought: kittens playing in a field of daisies. That is all.