Friday, May 1, 2009

Exotic Language

My darling adorable gifted talented perfect boy, Dexy, will be 18 months old this month.

He has been "talking" for months, but his random sounds are now resembling actual words more and more. He can say a few things clearly:

"What's that?"
"Federal bailout" (We watch the news a lot in the morning. He calls Diane Sawyer "Granny.") (Just kidding, Mom.)

He has another list of words, ones I understand but no one else does. In his little baby voice, they sound like exotic locations accessible only by yak-herding Sherpas.

"Tu to!" (Cartoon: it means he wants to watch Pixar shorts on the Macbook.)
"Ga-Ma!" (Grandma, who he adores because she is so firm and strict.) (Ha! Ha!)
"Ju-jo-jo!" (Princess; these syllables vaguely resemble her nickname.)
"Ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma!" (Snack.)
"Ooooooh." (I think I have something in my diaper requiring immediate attention.)
"Sah na bo. Deeee!" (I love Beyonce.)

Dexy is growing up. While there are many parts of babyhood I look forward to leaving behind, I love the sound of his little voice, earnestly communicating what he thinks is important. Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, sister, snacks, cartoons, and sounds like a happy life to me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dedication: Leigh

I would like to dedicate today's post to my friend, Leigh. Leigh moved to my town in Texas when we were 10. Not only was she a much-needed female addition to our class at school (in our GATE* class, there were only 6 girls and 1,274 boys), she was a Mormon! I was the only Mormon girl in my grade, so the addition of another girl was an event to be celebrated.

And Leigh was cool. She had a big family with a funny mom & dad, obnoxious brothers, and an enchantingly goofy sister. She said what she thought and didn't care if anyone else thought she was cool. That was the coolest thing about her.

Leigh was a great friend to me for one magical school year. But, in the summer between 5th and 6th grade, Leigh's dad was transferred again, and she left. She spent time in Korea and Chicago.

I saw Leigh when she came to town to visit her grandmother, but that wasn't often. I lost track of Leigh until 2005, when she happened to be in town on Christmas the year I had Princess. Seeing her was magical, she looked absolutely beautiful and that big, friendly smile hadn't changed at all.

Leigh and I now keep in touch via Facebook, and I was thrilled to see that she has started writing a blog. It's called "The Domestic Flunky," and, for those of you who haven't noticed it in my reader, give it a go. She is amazing.

You will thank me.


*GATE stands for Gifted And Talented Education. Our school was sort of piloting the GATE program for our district.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You Can Do It?

It seems that I hear this phrase often: "If I can do it, anyone can!" Or, "If I did this, you can do it!" This expression has always, always bothered me, but it wasn't until recently that I really thought about why.

Let's analyze this phrase:

If I Can Do It, ANYONE CAN!!

Really? So what you're saying, tiny blond woman who already looked good in a bikini, there is no one else on this planet who has more difficult time losing weight? No one else on earth has experienced the significance of your personal struggle with weight, so your two-weeks' worth of speed and plant estrogen is all it should take for anyone? Interesting.

Even Marie Osmond, bless her stretch pants, says it in her Nutri-System ads. Now, I love Marie, but if her message is that a celebrity with more time and resources at hand than most of us will ever command has even more of a struggle than we do, my love is somewhat tempered.

I confess this has begun to really offend me. I know you couldn't tell, since I hide my feelings so well.

I wish we could all accept the amazing and infinite variety that is humanity and stop trying to make everything a competition.

I know it's just a saying, but it's one I'm trying to avoid.

Now, for those of you who want my bread recipe, I'll be happy to share. It's so easy. In fact, if I can do it...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Who Is Daisy?

I've alluded in a few of my recent posts to my love/hate relationship with reality programming, specifically the shows aired on VH-1 (Slogan: "We Still Play More Videos Than MTV"). These shows have, at different times, fascintated me, repelled me, disgusted me, amused me, and made me think, sometimes all at once. In a comment on one post discussing the premiere of "Daisy of Love," one adorable reader left this comment:

"Who is Daisy?" (Hi, Mom!)

To answer this question, I must delve into the history of Celebreality, the reality-show genre specific to VH-1. (Okay, maybe it's not an issue of "must," but "I want to." I'm a nerd who will take literally any opportunity to do research.)

VH-1 got in to the reality show "game" by taking over another network's show, "The Surreal Life." This show was essentially "Big Brother" with the cast made up of former A- and B- list celebrities and current C- and D- list celebrities. Cast members have included such '80's faves as Cory Feldman and Bronson Pinchot; beloved sitcom stars like Christopher Knight (Peter Brady) and Dave Coulier (Joey from "Full House"); musicians Vince Neill, "Pepa," CC DeVille, and various New Kids On the Block; perennial celebrity Charo, porn star Ron Jeremy, reality-tv "stars" Adrienne Curry (America's Next Top Model) and Omorosa (The Apprentice); and perennial "The Soup" punchline Janice Dickinson.

The premise of "The Surreal Life" initially was to observe celebrities interacting with each other. It became more of an exercise in humiliation the year Verne Troyer (Mini-Me) got so drunk he rode his Rascal-type scooter naked and urinated in the corner of the room. Though Verne claims the incident was his wake-up call that led to his current sobriety, it is hard to find any other silver lining in that cloud.

I only mention "The Surreal Life" because it was the progenitor of one of the most prolific Celebreality family trees. There were two spinoffs from "The Surreal Life" that traced the relationships of couples that "hooked up" on the show: "My Fair Brady," a horrible, horrible exercise in passive-aggressiveness which taught all women why your husband/fiancee DOESN'T appreciate you giving him pictures of you being intimate with another woman for Valentine's Day; and "Strange Love," the aptly named chronicle of Brigitte Nielsen's affair with Public Enemy hype man Flava Flav.

To the shock of every right-thinking audience member, "Strange Love" ended with Flav and Brigitte calling it quits, but remaining "the best of friends." (Possibly the fact that Brigitte was dating someone else had something to do with it.) Flav, bereft, went on to his very successful spinoff, "Flavor Of Love," which aired for three seasons.

Enter Deb. I began watching the first season of "Flavor of Love," fascinated by Flav's sensitivity and understanding of women. He began each season by announcing that he couldn't be expected to remember the actual names of the women present, so he would assign each a nickname to be determined by him after 15-20 seconds of "conversation." So, the cast members have included New York, Hoopz, Goldie, Pumkin, Delishus, Buckey, Buckwild, Toastee, Serious, Crazy, Thing 1, Thing 2, Bootz, and Sapphyri (her real name).

By the end of season 1, I desperately wanted Flav to be happy. When Hottie decided to microwave the chicken to feed Flav's mother, I yelled at the TV, "Send her home, Flav! The girl can't fry a chicken!" Then I had to lay back with a moist towel on my head and call for peeled grapes.

Happily, Flav proposed to Liz, the mother of his youngest child, on the season 3 reunion. I hope he has found true happiness.

Do not despair! After seeing the show, comedienne and etiquette expert Mo'Nique decided to educate these women with "Flavor Of Love: Charm School." This show filled me with such delight, I can't even express it. Both seasons were magic.

New York, who had been rejected by Flav on season 1 and 2, got her own shows as well: I Love New York, I Love New York 2, New York Goes to Hollywood, and the upcoming New York Has Fleas. (No, it's really something about her getting a day job, but I think the flea idea is better.)

Two of New York's cast-offs, brothers Real and Chance, got their own show, Real Chance of Love.

And now, we come to where Daisy enters the picture: Rock of Love.

Apparently, after seeing the success that was Flavor of Love, Bret Michaels (front man of "Poison" and Pamela Anderson-Lee-Rock-Solomon castoff) decided he should find love the same way. Rock of Love led to three seasons: Rock of Love, Rock of Love 2: Burning Sensations, and Rock of Love 3: Antibiotic Ointment. No, the third season was really called Rock of Love: Bus and featured all of the girls on tour with Bret. Sensibly, after this season Bret chose the woman most agree will bring the most stability into his life: a Penthouse Pet who wants a singing career. What were we all to do? Now that Bret has found deep and lasting happiness, how are we, his adoring and incredulous public, to get deeper understanding of interpersonal relationships and dynamite waxing tips?

Enter Daisy. Daisy was the runner-up on "Rock of Love: 2," which apparently entitles her to her own show. Don't let the photo above fool you; Daisy is a total class act who actually can walk a straight line, when motivated. She spent the premiere of her show in a two-piece bathing suit with a skirt, effectively showing the men present that she was a strong, sophisticated, liberated woman with visible tattoos and a dynamite spray-tan. When presented with The Triplets, a group of Swedish brothers who apparently all wanted to date Daisy at once, she classily expressed her opinion of such an arrangement thusly:


You can't teach class like that.

So, I am really looking forward to this season's guily pleasure, "Daisy Of Love."

Just to round out the family tree, "I Love Money," now in its second season, features contestants from all of the above shows competing for $250,000 (but trade in any dignity they had before), "For the Love of Ray-J" just finished its first season, and I wish Ray-J and Cocktail all the happiness in the world. Rock of Love Girls: Charm School is about to enter its second season with Ricki Lake replacing Sharon Osborne as hostess.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a cold towel waiting. This much intellectual effort is exhausting.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I Like Mondays

Good morning! It's the start of another week, and here are my five things to like this Monday, April 27, 2009:

1. Although acess to my blog is cut off at work, I can still access my dashboard and make new posts! So I won't be able to read your comments, or read and comment on yours, until I get home this afternoon, but I can still post during my break!

2. Neither of my children ran any fever all weekend. I am hopeful this means they are getting over this; they certainly were full of pep and vigor this morning. This also means they can go back to day care today, which means I won't have any more money docked from my paycheck this week, hopefully! (They both have ear infections, and I've exceeded my allotted sick days, so every day I'm out costs a day's pay.)

3. The premier of "Daisy Of Love" totally lived down to my expectations last night, except for one thing: I actually kind of liked Daisy. I wonder if we'll see that much of her tummy in every episode? I hope she finds love this season. Or, at least, someone who keeps her out of general society for a few weeks. And Tough Love? Best episode ever. VH-1, keep them coming. Either your shows are getting better, or I'm getting dumber. Or both.

4. My Amish Friendship Bread was the best. bread. EVER! My little bubbling bag of goo made some very tasty treats, and in 9 days I'll have more to share. I had a very busy weekend, and the fact that I managed to bake bread in the middle of everything makes me feel like Supermom. Or, it would, if I didn't have a week's worth of clean laundry to fold sitting on my couch and a carpet that would make my mom go blind if she saw it...

5. Summer is only a few weeks away. Sven and I did our taxes and we can travel a bit, so we're deciding now where to go! It's so much fun to think about different places we can go. Of course, I always want to go back to Branson, but Sven wants to go somewhere "new" this year. We shall see...I'm betting I still get at least a weekend in my home-away-from-home.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Deb's Bread Adventures

(Or: They Can't Do This One On Iron Chef)

At my place of employment, we have a loose confederation of employees who participate in "Fun Friday." On "Fun Friday," we each bring a component of a meal and then share the meal together. As is usual in such arrangements, the sign-up sheet for desserts usually fills up first, because you can just get it at the grocery store/donut shop/backseat on the way to work Friday morning. (I say "backseat" because Sven's backseat currently contains approximately 1,234,456,677 M&M's, which could certainly count as a dessert, provided one had the diligence of 1840's California gold miners and a fairly laissez-faire attitude towards lint-festooned candy.)

One week, a very memorable homemade dessert was brought, labelled "Amish Friendship Bread." I took a piece, and was delighted to discover a rich, sweet bread that really was like nothing I'd tasted before. From that point on, it began appearing in our break rooms and lounges, labelled with a staff member's name to indicate who made it. I was intrigued.

I mentioned to one of our paraprofessionals, Samantha, that I would like to learn the recipe. Samantha said something about having a "starter," and asked if I would like one. I stammered an acceptance, too proud to admit I had no idea what she was talking about.

The next day, I was presented with a Ziploc bag full of bubbling goo. It smelled like the bottling room at the winery where I worked at one time. I held the bag of goo in a manner similar to the one I use to handle Dexy's particularly artistic diapers, and asked, "What is this?"

"It's the starter," Samantha explained. "Here are the instructions." It turns out that the starter must be squeezed, mushed, fed, and burped for ten days, again reminding me of various aspects of parenting. At the end of 10 days, you have enough goo to add to your batter, plus four more starters. You are supposed to give three away and keep one, which is, I suppose where the "friendship" part comes in. (You must be friendly with someone to accept a bag of goo that makes your classroom smell like a fraternity house.)

Honestly, just between us, I had no intention of actually making the bread. I took it home and read the instructions with trepidation. They looked like this:

Day 1: Mush the bag.
Day 2: Mush the bag.
Day 3: Mush the bag.
Day 4: Mush the bag.
Day 5: Mush the bag.
Day 6: Add to the bag 1/2 c. each of milk, sugar, and flour
Day 7: Mush the bag.
Day 8 Mush the bag.
Day 9: Mush the bag
Day 10: Follow the recipe below.

I got the bag on day 2, so I kept it around, thinking it couldn't be too hard; all I had to do was manhandle the bag a bit for a few days, dump some stuff in, then follow a simple recipe. So I plunged in to try it.

I'm not domestically gifted. I'll be the first to tell you that Sven does the cooking in our house. I have a few recipes that I do very well, and the rest will be so inedible that I hesitate to mention specific examples for fear of litigation. I fully expected the bread experiment to end in failure, since I've never made a yeast-based bread that worked. (My bread machine bread even failed 75% of the time.)

To make an already long post a bit less so, I just tasted my finished, cooled bread. I didn't realize until I was ready to pour the batter that I don't have any loaf pans, so I have two very unequal Corningware casserole-shaped loaves. I sent Sven to the store twice and still missed an ingredient. I also added my own ingredients to the recipe, thinking that it would enhance a faint flavor I had tasted in others' versions of the bread.

My bread was awesome. I'm serious. I limited myself to one piece and came up to blog, but I could have eaten the whole small casserole-sized loaf by myself.

The bread has a cinnamon-and-sugar crust, and has cinnamon in the recipe, but I always tasted a bit of a citrus undertone in the bread I had sampled, so I put in the zest of one orange (I zested! I never zested before!) and dried cranberries instead of raisins. It is very, very tasty. I'm very proud of myself.

Of course, now I have four bags of goo on my kitchen counter. According to the chain-mail-style recipe, I must give three of the bags away to keep the starter going; apparently "only the Amish" know the secret of the starter, so I can't let it die. My fear now is that I won't be able to find someone to take the goo, so I'll be making eight loaves next time, then something like 32 (I don't do math after midnight) then hundreds. My house will be the "stinky one" where you can get good bread.

I know I won't let it get that far. But, if you're one of the people who reads my blog and knows me in real life, let me know if you want some goo. Because now, or later, I'll have some for you, and then you'll be in this cycle of endless deliciousness.

Just like me.