Saturday, March 31, 2007

Put Another Nickel In...

A few months ago, I had a very strange sensation.

I am no longer alone in my body.

As time has gone on, it's been clear that this little person is not me, and doesn't have the same thoughts, opinions, or likes as her mother. She moves when she wants, she wakes when she wants, she sleeps when she wants, and reacts to stimuli on her own.

I've wondered, what will she be like? What kind of personality will she have? Will she be like me? Her father? Her aunt, uncle, grandparents? Will she be like my mom? Who is this little one?

Despite her early food inclinations, her tastes seem to be quite similar to my own, although a bit heavier on the ice cream, chocolate milk and brownie side, but she also loves Thai food (especially Panang coconut curry with chicken), craves hummus and kofte, and likes her coffee black, no sugar.

Like her mother used to be, she is a night owl. I am hoping that once my body is no longer swollen to gigantic proportions, I will be able to sleep for longer periods at a time without waking due to either having to pee like a racehorse, having a stomach that is demanding food right now, Missie, or with aching hips, knee and lower back. Right now I am happy to make it past 7 AM on the weekends, which is rare for the girl who used to have to fight to wake up before 10, and couldn't possibly fall asleep before midnight (which now has changed with this pregnancy--now I am lucky to make it to 10 PM without drooling on the couch.)

But the real question for me is music. What will she like?

As a music teacher, and especially as a sub, I am exposed to a lot of styles of music every day. I like all styles of music, including rap (if it's clean--no gangsta for me, and I do admit to having an eensy weensy crush on LL Cool J. He's just plain hot. At least that crush I can explain--very few people understand my crush on Lyle Lovett.) There's not a lot of music that I can't appreciate, although if you play Ricky Skaggs in my presence, I may run from the room screaming and take it out on you later. (His voice is nails on a chalkboard to my ears.) But, I regularly listen to classical, jazz, funk, pop, folk, and even a little ska. Our CD collection is quite varied, although some of the CD's are not my favorites. Dr. B is an avid punk fan, of which I am not very tolerant, because he enjoys the 15-second super-fast punk song that has 4 words, of which 3 are of the 4-letter variety. However, I do enjoy the Sex Pistols, the Ramones (Dr. B's ringtone is "I Wanna Be Sedated"), the Dead Kennedys, and the Dead Milkmen ("...we'll dress like Minnie Pearl, just you and me, Punk Rock Girl").

Yesterday I was subbing at a school and the local high school's social dance class came to perform for the children as their final exam. Dr. B and I love to dance, and I was grooving in my chair and missing the days of a strong knee and a normal center of gravity. They did the rhumba, the swing, the cha-cha, and then moved on to teaching some line dances to the kids, including the electric slide and the macarena. Then they started the tango.]

And so did Zizou.

Who knew I'd be giving birth to a young Morticia Adams?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Doggie Diva

Trying to sleep last night was an exercise in frustration. It was warm, which normally would be great, but I don't have any maternity jammies that are cool yet (and haven't dug through the summer clothes to find tank tops I don't care about stretching out), so the yoga pants and long sleeved T I was wearing made me sweat, even without blankets. The phantom pains increased, not only with the aching joints I've been dealing with for months, but also a little spot on the front of my pelvis and another just below my left boob. According to Dr. B's former undergrad worker (who's now a Physical Therapy grad student) this is diverted pain from when the baby kicks or punches an internal organ. I guess you can't feel your pancreas, so the pain travels to the end of the nerve and presents itself in an odd spot, like the fourth rib from the bottom on the left side.

But the worst part was Lucy. Or, should I say "Lucia Callas"?

Lucy is a howler. Most of the time she is a very quiet dog, rarely barking, and behaves herself pretty well. But when a siren goes by, she busts out into song. A throaty, rich, LOUD song. "Ahh-ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

And last night in our area, there were lots of sirens.

So, from approximately 10:30 until Midnight, I was treated to a performance of Tosca. In my bedroom.


I tried everything. I yelled at her. I pleaded with her. I begged her. I kissed her nose. I stroked her back. I scratched her butt (this normally puts her into a sort of Zen trance, but last night? No dice.) I tickled her snout. I invited her to join me in the big bed.

Nothing worked. She just kept howling.

I shut the window (nearly shutting her nose in it in the process) hoping by reducing the siren noise, she'd lose the compulsion to sing. Nope. Now it was just louder in the bedroom.

Finally, I just rolled over and said a little prayer.

Dear God, please don't let anyone call the cops...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Gimme a Margarita Glass Full of Cheesecake, Please.

Spring is springing, and I am craving.

Sweets. Lots of sweets. Especially creamy ones, like ice cream, cheesecake, and chocolate malt milk.

"It's calcium, for the baby," I say.

Yeah, right.

This winter, I brought this dessert to a friend's dinner party. I made a half recipe, because it seemed rather huge, and it still served 8 easily. It was rich and light at the same time, sweet but not too sweet, and decadently divine. So good, different, refreshing and so easy. (Note: this is now expired. If you want the recipe, please email me and I'll send you a copy.)

If I could avoid all the legal mumbo-jumbo, I'd just print it here, but I don't want to get sued by Michael Chiarello and Food Network, so I'll just leave it as a link. I'm not allowed to post the picture either, so do take a gander. It'll get your mouth watering.


Freeform Cheesecake

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Here you go, Al Gore.

The big buzz in the news lately is Al Gore's discussions with Congress on Global Warming. His movie, An Inconvenient Truth, brought to light a lot of issues that have been researched and proven ad nauseum in the last 20 years or so.

And yes, they have been proven. Even Bushie himself admitted it. The earth is heating up and there are dire consequences and we have to do something about it.

Many Americans feel that this is kind of an insurmountable task. Too much to deal with. We don't know how to do it--we're of a culture of all or nothings. If we're going to do something, we're going to do it to the MAX! And we're going to be the BEST! And the most efficient and the highest paid and the most advanced and we're going to lead the world!!!

Or else, we'll just ignore it and pretend it's not happening, put it off for "later", make excuses about how we need that big gas-guzzling SUV (you know, for all that off-roading we do in the Target parking lot) or else save it for when we can do it best.

After all, eventually we'll figure out a way to completely reverse the whole global warming thing and clean up the entire environment with technology creating tons of jobs and solve all the world's problems. We're American. It's what we do. Right?

Well, no. At least, I don't buy that. Or I'm not patient enough to wait until then.

So, in our house, we're trying to do our part. Even if it's just a little bit. Because every little bit helps. You do what you can, when you can, because it will make a difference to someone, even if it's not a lot. You don't have to go full-granola super-hippie to change something. You can wear your leather jacket to the food co-op, while carrying your designer purse, and buy something organic and not feel guilty about not doing enough. Do something, it will help.

So here's some of the stuff we've incorporated into our lives. We're not perfect. We still use some Ziploc bags (though I try to rinse and reuse whenever I can), and I sometimes forget to take the center of the toilet paper tube down to the recycling bin. But we're trying. Here's a few things that are working for us. Take from it what you will.

*Driving a Hybrid. Yep. We got lucky. Found one used. We get between 42 and 55 miles to the gallon, depending on how we drive and if it's cold out. (Running the heater really drops the mileage, so when we can, we turn it and the fan off.)

*We share a car.
Dr. B often walks or buses to work, and I pick him up sometimes. We live close to his work, which helps.

*When weather permits, we walk to local stores and restaurants, patronizing our local economy and saving gas. (It didn't permit in February. It was too cold.)

*We recycle. Glass, plastic, paper. This is state law in WI, and has been since like 1978. They pick up every other week. We don't even have to sort it!

*We compost. Got lucky again--the previous tenants had put in a composter. We keep a tupperware under the sink for coffee grounds and filters, fruit and vegetable peels, eggshells, etc. (No meat.) We've found that it really doesn't get smelly, despite what you might think. Maybe because it's not aerated by all the other stuff in the trash, I don't know. When it's full, we dump it in. The little buggies work on it, and we shovel out beautiful potting soil. Bonus: our garbage never, ever smells. And there's very little of it.

*We don't buy or use paper napkins or towels.
We have a big stash of cloth napkins, and I throw them in the laundry with towels. We'll each use ours until it's dirty, and we have our own napkin rings in a basket to keep them in, so we don't share germs. (Which we share anyway, because we're married, but at least I don't have to wipe my piggies on his mess.) I got a mega-pack of cheap thin washcloths at Shopko, and we use these for spills, etc., that you'd use paper towels for. They also get thrown in with towels. I have been amazed at how much waste this simple change has reduced--and not to mention the cost! Haven't gotten to cloth hankies over Puffs yet--a bit too squeamish for that.

*I got a mop with a head you can wash, and a floor sweeper (like a swiffer) with a cloth head you can wash. Ditto for dust cloths.
Why pay repeatedly for boxes of throw-aways that will fill up the landfill, and cost a lot (money-wise and ecologically) when you can throw it in the machine and it works again? And don't get me started on those toilet cleaners and shower systems. A can of Comet ($0.89) and a little elbow grease do amazing things--and won't clog our landfill in 3 years when you get tired of paying 8 bucks for refills.

*We use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Saves energy, big time, and you hardly ever have to change them. They last years. The light they emit is virtually indistinguishable from regular incandescents, and you can find them on sale for about a buck each. Well worth it. They are recyclable, and you can read about it here.

*We have a programmable thermostat
, set at 68 only when we need it (5:30-7 AM, 4-9:30 PM.) The rest of the time it's at 62, because we're usually not here or sleeping. We use lots of blankets on our bed, and have a space heater in the bedroom for really cold nights. Our landlords put the thermostat in, but we love it and will install one wherever we go.

*Dr. B uses a stop valve that he installed on the shower. When he's soaping up or shaving, he stops the water, and restarts it when he rinses. I don't do this. I get too cold. I tried, really. But at least he does!

*We don't run water while washing our face or dishes. We fill the sink, and use that. You'd be amazed how much goes down the drain when you're picking at your blackheads or soaping up a dirty pan. I clean the sinks often, so the germ thing is negligable.

*We don't buy anti-bacterial products.
Dr. B was a geologist before becoming a nanotechnologist/chemist/photovoltaicist (I made that word up!), and he's very passionate about this one. Anti-bacterial products leach into the groundwater, making SuperBugs that are resistant to everything. We use plain old Ivory bar soap, and don't use Colgate Total toothpaste (did you know it has Triclosan in it? That's putting pesticides directly into your mouth!!! YUCK!) Note: I teach middle school band, and substitute all over the district. I have kids spitting/coughing/sneezing on me constantly, and am not sick very often. Your body can fight amazing things with just the help of soap and water. Let it.

*We try to buy local food whenever possible.
It doesn't have to travel as far, using less gas and packaging. Plus, it tastes better and has more vitamins. Who wants lettuce that has traveled further in its life than you have?

*Packaging: if we can buy something with less, we do. Simple as that. Bar soap, wrapped in paper (degrades quickly by itself) vs. liquid soap in a bottle that had to be created, shipped, stored and eventually will have to be shipped again and energy used to recycle it. Pretty easy decision, but not one you always think about.

*We try to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.
Try. Don't always remember, and often don't have enough so we end up coming out with a mix. But sometimes we do remember, so that counts!

So, are we perfect? No. Of course not. We still do stuff that's not great for the environment. But these things are helping, if even just a little. Dr. B commented today, after putting out the garbage and recycling, "you know, we really don't produce very much waste anymore." The little things are adding up. Imagine if everyone in the US did just a few more little things--how much of an impact could we make?

So here's my question for you: what else are you doing that we haven't tried/thought of/heard of? I'd love some more ideas! Doing good makes me feel good--and I like feeling good.

I am an American, after all.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

4.945 kilos of Maximilien!

4.945 kilos of Maximilien!
Originally uploaded by PutYourFlareOn.
My awesome friend Flare, and her husband Julien, just became parents.

I am so proud of them, and amazed by their journey.

This is their new son, Maximilien. Half French, Half American (of which half is Korean), he is 10.9 pounds of miracle.

Félicitations au famille!

PS: he was born C-section, as the doc advised it due to his enormous size. In this photo, he is not even half a day old. Unbelievable! Qu'il est beau!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Little Italy in Willy, Mad-town

Saturday was typical in our household: Dr. B went to work, I amused myself doing very little at home. Dressed in jeans and a hoodie, with my hair drying naturally (and hanging in my eyes), I watched stupid movies on TV and avoided cleaning the house.

For variety, I had a can of Spaghetti-O's with meatballs for lunch. (Note: they've added more meatballs now, so you don't have to work to get one ball in every spoonful anymore. Good call!)

Dr. B finally called at 7, and said research wasn't panning out the way he wanted and he was sorry he was 2 hours late coming home, as usual. He offered to take me out to dinner to make up for it.

So, I put on my "Hot Mom" dress (a black, faux-wrap maternity dress found on a clearance rack at Target a few months ago for 6 bucks), tights, boots, and silver jewelry, styled my hair and got ready to paint the town.

And I waited for him to call to say he was ready.

And waited.

By the time he called me to pick him up, and we had started out, it was closer to 8:30. He was crabby, I was indecisive, and we drove around for a good half hour looking for something "mediterranean" and "cheap". We're not big chain-restaurant fans, and are lucky that in Madison there are lots of local places to choose from, though they are spread all over the "76 square miles surrounded by reality" (Madison's moniker). Our favorite pizza place, Greenbush Tavern, was packed, so we headed down Willy Street (Williamson), then Atwood, and then turned around and headed back. As we drove, Dr. B was lamenting the fact that there were no little Mom-n-Pop restos a few blocks from home here in the US; in France we were able to walk a few minutes and have a great meal, but here we had to hunt and drive and search to find anything. "There are only like 10 places in the world where that's the norm, honey," I said. "Well, I want to live in one of those ten places!!!" he answered.

We kept driving. We were nearing our neighborhood again, when Dr. B said, "Let's try that other pizza place on Willy. I'm too tired to keep looking." Three blocks from home was a new Italian place that looked a little divey from the outside, but it was 9 PM and we were desperate. We pulled in.

La Rocca's Pizzeria is housed in an old appliance store (known as the Jesus appliance store because of a former mural depicting a cross rising out of a washing machine.) The décor is not Madison-über-trendy, but it's clear they made an attempt, and it's clean and well-cared for. We took a seat, and opened the menu.

The main dishes looked delish, but with our limited fundage and the late hour, we decided to go for a pizza. We ordered a large La Rocca, with cheese, sausage, ham, mushroom, black olives, bacon, and quattro formaggi. Dr. B went for a Pabst (he likes it. I'm not sure why.) Water for me, due to my evening heartburn. (Ahhh, pregnancy.)

As we waited, we enjoyed the music (Sirius adult coffee-house style, though a little too loud) and talked about our days. Well, his day. Mine wasn't very interesting, though I was able to report that Lucy had played with the cute pit bull puppy on our block named Brownie, and that the package was acquired on our walk. Dr. B discussed his research with me, and we watched the activity in the open kitchen. I wasn't quite sure, but I thought that the owners were not speaking English. This was a good sign. The older man that seemed to be in charge kept coming out to sit at tables with customers as they left--chatting and laughing with them like old friends.

Our pizza came, and it looked fantastic. Crust was not thin, not too thick, and there were lots of toppings, but sliced small or thin so as not to overwhelm. It was delicious! Not greasy (despite the artery-clogging toppings), flavorful but not too much, wonderful, wheaty crust that you didn't leave behind when you got to the edge. A large was great plenty--I found that 2 slices (plus a little bit of another) was enough for me, and Dr. B had more (but he didn't have any lunch, save for a banana.) The rest came home with us. "Good for American-style Italian," said Dr. B, as we walked to the car. "Your parents would love it," I agreed. "Your mom especially. (Note: Dr. B's mom is a quarter Sicilian.) I really liked that place. It just felt right." (The only real complaint we had was that the waitress clearly wanted to go home, and kept giving us impatient and annoyed looks that we were still sitting there talking of all things, when it was 5 minutes to ten, which was closing time. But, she was young, and was likely impatient to get out to see her friends at the bar, so we packed up a few minutes early. I wasn't feeling particularly snarky, or I would have told her to go ahead and leave, that I would clean up.)

We got home, and Lucy demanded a walk from him, so I fired up Mac and did some looking. Turns out I was right. Vito and Caterina, the owners of La Rocca's, were both born in Sicily. They met here in the US (Rockford, IL, which has a lot of Italian immigrants), returned to Italy with their family for a time (where they opened a Chicago-style pizza place), but came back and decided to open a restaurant in Madison. Vito's hobby is pizza, and he's developed his recipe to suit American tastes. Caterina serves more traditional fare, including things that "somebody's aunt would make you in Sicily." Dr. B commented that he had wondered about it; the menu wasn't pasta pasta pasta and more pasta, which made him curious as to whether this might just be real Italian, not the Americanized version. "Real Italians like meat," he said. "That Bruciole looked awesome!"

They run their place like a Mom-n-Pop restaurant. (And I think it was probably their son who was back there helping cook, so it really is a Mom-n-Pop.) Just what we were looking for.

We'll be back. And when it's warmer, we'll walk over.

Next time, I'm getting the Bruciole and a homemade cannoli. Just like someone's aunt would make.

(PS: they deliver.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I guess Karma really exists.

After dropping off our car on Tuesday for repair, I went shopping (albeit no-money shopping), and hoped for a call to sub. It never came.

But, using JCP gift cards, Old Navy Bucks Back, and a refund check from a return, I found some great stuff, including a pair of absolutely perfect black maternity pants for 6 bucks, an adorable top in Dr. B's favorite colors that's really soft and comfy, looks cute on me and matches a bunch of stuff I already have, and a pair of PJ pants for him, and I only spent 5 dollars of my "real" money.

Then, I hit the motherlode.

I was walking through Marshall's, and I found these.

In my size.

For only 20 bucks.

Yeah, I think that was a big "Thank You" from God for the hit-and-run report.


***Update: I still love these, but I have been cursed with really-freakin'-stinky feet, and chucks only last about a year for me before they become lethal weapons. No amount of washing, cotton socks, foot powders, soaking, or borax can even put a dent in the vicious odors that arise from my delicate tootsies.

(I hope Zizou gets Dr. B's feet. Minus the toe hair and athlete's foot, of course.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Shape of Things to Come

Me and Zizou, at 26 weeks and 6 days (very near the end of trimester 2). This photo was taken with Dr. B's camera phone, as our camera was stolen out of our bag when we flew back from France.

This is the shirt that makes me look the most pregnant--often, when wearing other shirts, with a jacket or a sweater and scarf, people don't know I'm pregnant until I knock them over on my way to the bathroom, which happens about every 9 minutes. This is not unusual for me (I was known as "Rhode Island" in college due to the miniscule size of my bladder), but the really not being able to hold it if I want to is a new thing.

She is currently laying across my belly, with her feet under my right arm. Her head would be pointed at you in this photo. Her position gives her ample opportunity to punch me in the bladder, which she likes to do just when I'm not expecting it. She also likes to do the boogaloo right about the time when I am settling into bed for the evening. So far, she either doesn't speak English, or she is ignoring me when I tell her, "Mommy loves you but please KNOCK IT OFF RIGHT NOW OR I'M GOING TO PEE MY PANTS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GROCERY STORE!!!"

And the combination of the hormones and the lack of sunlight is turning my blonde hair a rather dark blonde shade, but that will be remedied, eventually. Though I'm not usually a dye-er, I think I'll deserve a highlight come mid-June. And maybe a pedicure, too. (Right now, I can't see my feet anyway, so who cares?)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Vent* (updated)

We are having the stupidest weather.

Freezing rain, snow, more rain, more snow.

This morning, it took me 45 minutes to drive 7 miles. It was slicker than snot on a doorknob. I spun my wheels at every intersection, and prayed that the rest of the people out there wouldn't be bozos and try to drive too fast, like the hit-and-run guy on Sunday night who plowed into our car. (And no, it wasn't the snowplough--he also totaled a jeep that was parked near us, before he sideswiped us trying to get away before anyone saw him. And no, we didn't catch him either. Dangit.)

Then, I sat for 3 1/2 hours watching American Idol and getting paid for it. I kid you not. At least it wasn't High School Musical again. (Substitute teaching can be so mentally stimulating.)

Dr. B drove with his boss out to Spring Green this morning, which is about an hour outside of town. Understandably, I was a ball of nerves until I got the voicemail saying he had made it OK, and the second saying he had made it back to town.

Then I had to go to Target and buy all that crap you have to have to not smell and have a clean house and stuff. And I had to pay for it. Even though it's payday, I still had a little panic attack. I'm pretty sure I'm suffering from PTSD.

I need to go grocery shopping, but my knee is sore because I slipped in some snow some kid had tracked in the other day at school, so I gave up and decided just to vent all this here and make you deal with my crabbiness. We'll have leftover rice and maybe a dried out turkey burger for supper. And it will be cruddy, but I don't care.

I really, really need my last prenatal yoga class this afternoon.

***Updated: on the way home from yoga, I wasn't relaxed. I just couldn't get there. My knee was still sore, and I couldn't let go during savasana (relaxation). I was still a bundle, albeit a smaller one, of nerves. Then I stopped to fill the tank at the gas station. As I was putting my debit card away, I heard a thunk!, looked up and saw a mini-van that had hit a parked car. She pulled away, and didn't even stop to check or leave her name.

I got her license #, car make, model and color, and a vague description of her. Called it in, and the police came. Got a nice thank you from the car owner. (She didn't do lots of damage, but still. It's just the point.)

I guess that's Karma.

We may never find out who did it to our car, but paying it forward really boosted my mood! Woo hoo!!!


We love this house.

The porch, the hardwoods, the walk-in closets, the 1910's charm.

The Martha Stewart color scheme, and the beautiful staircase.

The view of the soccer field (complete with the sound of children laughing and playing), and the warm sunlight that fills the bedrooms in the morning.

The short walk to the best croissants in town, a superb breakfast, the biggest weekly farmers' market in the country, a fantastic food co-op, local hardware store, pharmacy, pet store, awesome restaurants and cool, trendy but not too trendy pubs, beauty salons, yoga studios, the lake, vintage clothing boutiques, antique stores, and even the famous Bernie's Rock Shop (not that we buy many rocks, but it's fun to look in the window).

We don't love the heating bill.

So, unfortunately, we have to look for something else for next year. We didn't expect a baby to come into the picture right now, and thought we'd have two incomes. It's just not worth it for me to sub and pay for daycare, so if I am not working (and this would be likely unless I manage to get into the district), and unless we win that lottery we never, ever play, we won't be able to pay for this place. And it's killing us.

We're consoling ourselves with the thought of being more energy-efficient and having a little extra cash instead of being broke, in debt, and depraved deprived like we have been. But, we'll likely be trading all of the charm for a suburban white-walled carpeted apartment within a 10 minute drive of a big box supermarket.

We can't afford to live the life of the typical Madison urban liberal neo-hippie granola upwardly-mobile academics. How do those people do it?

So, anyone want to help haul boxes come August? We'll let you watch our free cable TV.

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