Dec 23, 2009

Happy holidays, 2009.

For those of you whose address I couldn't track down...

Very last-minute cards, because a friend once told me only a HORRIBLE MOTHER would neglect to send out cards with pictures of the kids...

Dec 17, 2009

What to eat?

I don't eat much meat. When I indulge, I try to do it properly. Organic, free-range, grass-fed, antibiotic-free cows have provided memorable steaks and burgers. Ditto for pigs, particularly when I went through a phase of striving to cook The Perfect Pork Chop. Poached salmon has always been on my go-to list for dinner parties, and a juicy, perfectly roasted chicken usually replaces a turkey on Thanksgiving, or whenever I'm in a fowl mood.

I was vegetarian for two or three years back in the early 90s, and even went vegan for a while. I don't recall why; maybe because it was trendy. I remember I finally gave up because it seemed inconvenient for others, and wasn't something about which I was particularly passionate. I spent several months in Costa Rica and Guatemala, part of the time with host families; avoiding meat was almost as impossible as avoiding dysentery. Once I got home, I kind of forgot about the whole thing (sort of the way I "forgot" about my plans for a gluten-free diet a few months ago).

Lately I've been talking to friends who are vegetarian and vegan, grilling them (hah!) about how they chose their path. The variety of explanations has been surprising, but there is an undeniable common thread: the killing of the animals. At first, I thought claims of cruelty in slaughterhouses must be greatly exaggerated, and to a degree, I believe they are. But I've been doing my homework, and even the gold standard of livestock slaughtering, Dr. Temple Grandin's "humane facilities design," is more than I can take without my stomach turning and my heart breaking. A friend told me her husband wouldn't eat anything that he himself wouldn't kill, and I haven't been able to get that idea out of my head. The simplicity, pragmatism and honesty of that philosophy appeal to me because I see a road map for real compassion in deciding what I, personally, am willing to eat. Could I slaughter a cow? Nope. Kill a pig? No way. Catch a fish and gut it? Perhaps, if I were starving. Chop the head off a chicken? Probably, if I really, really had a taste for chicken. The bottom line is that it's up to me; there is no right or wrong, one-fits-all answer.

Chicken and eggs it is for now — organic and cage-free, of course. Next up: dairy. This could take some time, because it is difficult for me to put into words my love of cheese.

Two for the price of... two.

Grace had a date over last Friday night. I know what you're thinking — she's too young to start dating and I'm a monster for permitting this, but I figure she might as well get it out of her system now. By the time those hormones start raging, she'll be totally disillusioned by the dating scene and I won't have to worry about icky boys and their intentions. Although she may still be with Logan then; he's her longest running and most intense crush so far.

Imagine the cute kids they'd have...

They built this together, in perfect agreement of what should go where. I love how Grace is all criss-cross apple sauce, while Logan is clearly thinking, "Look what I have created!"

Dec 13, 2009

Dirty laundry.

When I picked up Grace from pre-school on Friday, she looked at me with surprise and yelled, "Mommy, you showered!" I wanted to say, "Pipe down, you little pisher, I'll have you know I've showered three days in a row!" Instead I just feigned confusion, the way I do when she announces, "My mommy toots all the time!"

Dec 4, 2009

Big girl bed.

Grace slept longer than usual in a crib because I was waiting to settle somewhere before getting her a real bed. She was a good sport about it, but I'm pretty sure she couldn't completely stretch out, and we all know how important stretching is. Anyway, now she's in a queen, and I finally bought her some girly bedding. She's already decided the top sheet is pointless (I agree); we're going with warm jammies and lots of quilts.

She does NOT want to sleep alone in this giant bed. Fortunately, she has many friends to snuggle.

This is a friggin' miracle, because it's not staged. Grace called Brady up on the bed, and Brady obliged. Grace actually likes Brady now, and would love to spend the night with her, but Brady works the night shift as the asylum's security detail, and must position herself between the front door and the bedrooms. I honestly never thought these two would get along, but putting Gigi in charge of feeding Brady, and doling out treats, has created a sort of food-based bond that only dog people can understand, yet still know in their hearts, "My dog really, really loves me." Damn straight.

Dec 3, 2009

Done deal.

Monday marked the last chapter — the epilogue, reallly — in our seven-month real estate drama. We closed November 10. The idiot neighbors didn't even realize we'd sold the house, and could therefore do nothing to make trouble. But there was the nagging issue of four finials, drapery rod finials, that I was obligated to deliver to the new owners, but put off because I HAVE A LIFE THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE SHOPPING FOR FRIGGIN' FINIALS. The finials having landed, I feel as if I can talk about the outcome without jinxing the deal. (I loved this room, left.)

We paid for half of the neighbors' driveway, relandscaped our own front yard and forked over thousands of dollars to a lawyer who didn't display nearly the tenacity I expected. I thought we were paying him to save us money; instead, it took seven months for us to agree to extortion, which we could have done quickly and easily without counsel. The whole delay, including mortgage payments we weren't anticipating, cost about $24,000. I could use that right now, or at least my half. (Gigi loved her private yard, left, especially the blueberry bushes.)

Grace is now in her fourth house in as many years, and this lease is up at the end of this month. I'm not sure what will happen after that, which doesn't bode well for our quest for stability and security. This house is cozy and sweet, with great outdoor space, but it costs more than I can afford now that we're living off what's left of the equity from that other place. So the job search continues, but a huge weight has been lifted, for the moment, anyway. Every time I think of being rid of what was supposed to be The Dream Home, and finally having all of my belongings in one place, I giggle a little inside.

One down, three to go.