Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!!

A friend of mine recently sent me an email with a link to the coolest Halloween card ever, and I just have to share. It was so well done that it needs to be appreciated by more people!

This year, our Halloween looks like it's going to be a lot more fun than usual, which is nice because these are tough times and we need a break every so often. Last year we had fun taking Ethan to the Halloween parade at the Farmer's Market and then having "grown-up" time that night-- we went to a Halloween house party and then headed downtown for some dancing at Bacchus. This year, we're going to take Ethan down to the Farmer's Market parade only if it isn't raining (boo!) and then he'll spend Saturday night with my sister and niece over at Grandma's house. Because of their kindness (many thanks!), Joel & I will be able to head out to San Francisco to a Halloween party; it'll be the first time we've been in the City for Halloween. I am so looking forward to it! Not only will it be grown-up time, but it will be costume dress up and dancing and San Francisco-- my three favorite things ever-- all rolled up into one.

On Sunday, we're going to have my niece Leila and a couple of her friends over for a low-key Halloween party. They'll carve pumpkins, toast pumpkin seeds, eat gross-looking food like barbecued worms (slivered hot dogs) and gremlins (chocolate + Fiber One = deliciousness), then get all costumed up and go trick-or-treating.

Our costumes this year are the following: Joel is going as the clown doctor from Childrens Hospital...

(he has the same face make-up as John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer... I guess laughter isn't always the best medicine!)

Ethan is going to be a zombie Diego...


And I'm going to do my version of a scary nurse, along the lines of this... kinda.

Anyway, I can't wait! Halloween ROCKS!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Still No Word...

Nothing yet about the job. I'm starting to get nervous, considering it has been almost two weeks since my interview. Then again, Joel made a good point-- it took almost a year for them to call me for that very interview, after I took the test and did well enough to be ranked "1" (whatever *that* means). So I guess I should be patient... as hard as that is.

In the meantime, I'm working on getting through the week, coordinating my costume for our first Halloween in San Francisco EVER, and spending time with family and friends. All things I love, of course; dress up, hang out, and have fun. Tonight I got to see a dear friend after a long absence, and it was wonderful. Quite the balm for my tired soul! And she raved over Ethan, which I truly appreciate because it makes me see him in such a different, more loving and accepting light. I need that reminder every so often that he is amazing and wonderful and precious, because it can get too easy to see him colored by temper tantrums and frustrations and all of those things that toddlers go through while trying to learn the maddening rules of this crazy life. Anyway, I'm glad she came by to coo over his sweet face and adorable expressions and absolutely beautiful babblings and nonsense words; it made me want to cuddle him up and hold him until he fell asleep, hours later. Thank you, T! You remind me of the mom I want to be. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Way Too Early. Way.

For some reason, my son has been waking up at around 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. for the past few days, and then can't get back to sleep. Trust me, I've tried everything. Diaper change, waiting it out, letting him self-soothe, even rocking him to sleep and-- I'm a little embarrassed to say-- today I caved and gave him some milk. Unfortunately, nothing I did helped, and no matter how long I waited, he never went back to sleep. I know this because he kept up a high-volume commentary on how wide awake he was, and how much he wanted one of us to come in there and get him out of his crib. And I think you know which one of us ended up doing it, too.

I think it's time we strap down his heavier furniture and set up his room so that he can spend time in there by himself in the mornings. Not only would this make it easier on days like these, but it would also let me start putting him in his regular toddler bed for naps, instead of always using his crib. He's ready to at least nap there, I think; I just don't feel comfortable leaving him in there alone while his dresser and bookshelf are still free-standing. He's a climber and an adventurous boy, and I don't want to hear a huge thunk one day and find out that he's pulled one of those bad boys right down on top of himself. Guess it's time to whip out my big girl tools and do it myself, though, because it has been on the honey-do list for a few months now with no results. Fix-It Girl to the rescue!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Waiting Game.

No word yet on the job status. I've checked my voice mail and email hourly since my interview ended last Monday, and still haven't heard back about whether or not I was selected for the position. The waiting is excruciating! Here's hoping the long wait is because they were so busy holding up my amazing example and comparing all the other applicants, only to find the rest, sadly enough, lacking that special something that I have. And I have it in spades! (Whatever "it" is.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oh's Yes, It's Good... Cereally.

My new favorite cereal... crunchy, sweet, addictive deliciousness. YUM!! As a child, I loved Honeycombs. They were perfect in milk, but also a great dry snack. As I got older, I became a fan of Frosted Mini-Wheats, with their "healthy but disguised by a layer of sugar" motif, and then moved on to the Save Mart brand of generic honey nut cheerios as I got cheaper. Actually, I really do like them better than the name brand. And there's just something about cereal in a bag that screams "suck it, big business!" to me. After meeting Joel, I discovered the subtle beauty of Cinnamon Life. It will always hold a special place in my heart, with its delicate cinnamon flavor married to the crispy crunch of the squares. The only problem with it is that the crunchiness doesn't last long in milk.

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Not so for the Honey Graham Oh!s pictured above, which stay firm enough that they still emit a distinctive crunch even ten minutes after swimming around in a bowl of milk. Not that they usually last that long when I'm the one eating. I only know they do because my son happens to be the slowest eater in the universe, and often rejects his cereal because it gets soggy by the time he's taken four or five bites. But with the Honey Graham Oh's, he can still get that nice firm texture even after he's ignored the bowl for a good five or ten minutes. That is, if mommy hasn't helped him finish it before then.

honey graham ohs

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When Pajamas Attack

So I realized the other night just why they recommend close-fitting pajamas for young children. I woke up at around 1:30 a.m. to Ethan's cries in the other room, and headed in to do a status-check. Okay, it wasn't right away; I tried to wait it out for a few minutes first and see if he fell back asleep. However, he kept it up and in fact got louder, so I figured that it was probably a wet diaper or something and hauled my tired self out of bed. I went in and he was sitting up in his crib, crying actual tears. I picked him up, took him over to the changing table, replaced his soaked diaper with a fresh one, and then brought him back to the crib. I rocked him for a minute or so and was about to put him back in bed when he finally started talking. He said "stuck, stuck" and wiggled his left arm back and forth where it was resting against my back (he usually wraps his arm around me while I rock him).

I helped him move his arm in front of me and then noticed something strange. His pajama shirt seemed to be pulled up or twisted, so that his stomach was exposed. Hmm, that's not normal... but then this pajama shirt is a bit loose, so maybe it just got pulled up. Well, he repeated "stuck" a few times and thrashed his arm around until I realized that the shirt wasn't just pulled askew-- it was wrapped so tightly around his shoulder that he could hardly move his arm. We sat down on the chair so that I could see more clearly what was going on, and that's when I figured out what happened. He had somehow stuck his left arm down the front of his shirt through the collar opening, then lifted his arm up and out, effectively pulling the shirt into a sort of tourniquet around his shoulder.

I can't believe I didn't notice that right away! And there I was, being tired and lazy and not even wanting to check on him. Would it have cut off circulation to his arm, if left there long enough? Thank god we'll never know! Either way, it convinced me of two things: (1) no more loose-fitting pajamas, and (2) check on children when they cry. Sure, it might only be an attempt to get attention and avoid having to go to sleep, but then it just might be a cry for help. And I'd far rather get up and change a diaper or say "it's time to sleep" and toss them back in bed, than not get up and find out too late that it was something I should've paid attention to right away. By the way, we're putting that shirt out of commission as a nightshirt, and moving it to the closet for daytime use only. And no more twisting in your PJs, Ethan!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hair Affair

Knowing that I had an important interview approaching, I threw caution to the wind and scheduled a haircut on Saturday. Because it is one of the only salons I've ever been back to more than once, and because it is under $20 for a cut, I went to Modern Cuts in Roseburg Square (Modesto). And my stylist was awesome! She is young, but very good at listening to the client and giving you what you need, even if it's not necessarily what you think you need. I came in with a vague idea of what I wanted, showed her a few photos of what I'd had before at various times, and then she took over. She said that I would look great in an a-line cut, and then started working her magic. At the end, I looked like this:


... and couldn't be happier! It makes me feel so fashionable and classy and stylish. I'm confident that I can hold my own on the streets of San Francisco... except for the whole lacking-a-wardrobe-that-matches thing.

Now I just have to go back and ask Jessica how she did it. Replicating that look in front of my bathroom sink hasn't been the easiest thing in the world, even with the new (and functional, finally!) flat iron I bought to help achieve results. But trust and believe, friends; I will master it. Oh, yes, I will.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dental Disaster: Epic Proportions

And so it continues. The fourth set of crowns has now been rejected, after they were put in and my sister took one look in the dentist's office before exclaiming, "Absolutely not! They look like she bought them at a Halloween store!" And it was true. They were so short as to be laughable, and the bottom of each front tooth actually angled up towards the center, making a sort of inverted "v" in the middle of my smile. On my tiny, teeny, short little front teeth. JEEZ LOUISE!!! What the heck, is one of the dental deities pissed off at me, or what? Will this ever end? What do I do if I go back another time, and it's still horrible? I feel like giving up on these damn things and going to another doctor, but I already owe $1660 on these-- which means I no longer have enough on my Care Credit account to even *go* to another dentist!


I am seriously so disappointed. Not much else to say, except that I pray that I can get that job; at least then I'd have insurance, and thus another option for getting my teeth fixed before Christmas.

Toothy Endeavors

Later this morning, I have my umpteenth visit with the dentists at Standiford Family Dental. Way back in July, my adventures in toothlessness began... and they have yet to end. This is I believe the fourth time I've gone back for my permanent crowns, and I have serious doubts that they will be up to par. Again. Every time, there is something seriously wrong with the crowns. The first set were so oddly angled that they stuck out of my closed mouth and rested visibly on my lips, a la the most stereotypical set of buck teeth you can imagine. The second set were laying atop each other, tilted at a strange angle, one tooth was super-thick, they arched like a Mickey D's sign, and they left me with gaps all around the teeth. The third set, which I just went in to get fitted a couple of weeks ago, were so short that they were smaller than the teeth on either side. AND they also gave me gaps in between my teeth and on each side, which seems to be a theme with this office.

What the heck, people?! How many times do I have to go back before they get it right? How long am I going to be stuck going here? Well, I have one answer: This is the last time. If they don't look good today, I'm going to go back to my old dentist, the one I can't really afford, and get it done right. At this point, I don't care how much it costs. If I have to, I'll go to small claims court, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Dental Board of California Consumer Affairs Dept., and anyone else I have to in order to get this taken care of right. Who knew good dentists would be so hard to find?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grocery Reality.

We spend too much on food. I freely admit it. I love food, and I love to shop for it, and I love to cook it. (Did I mention I often enjoy eating it, as well?) I love to prepare food for parties, and make cute and tasty little appetizers or finger food for people to enjoy... but I also need to face the facts that we are currently in the midst of an economic crisis the likes of which could put us under if we're not careful. I've been searching for ways to cut back on costs, and I think that the main cuts will have to take place in a couple of areas: Entertainment, and Groceries. Since I'm the one in our house who's responsible for the food, I'm going to be the one who has to exercise discipline in this instance.


Luckily, I found an awesome blog-post about doing just what I want to do-- cut down food costs, while keeping my family eating healthy-- on The Frugal Kitchen blog, posted all the way back in 2007. It describes a month-long Basic Frugal Meal Plan that will feed a family of ten. TEN!! For less money than I spend each month on a family of three, plus random friends who pop in every week, this woman is able to satisfy the stomachs of ten people. This is really inspiring me to get my act together in regards to our diet and the spending related to it. After my interview Monday afternoon, I'll work on our own meal plan and budget, and post it when I'm done. I plan on adjusting her meal plan to our preferences (like, less eggs/bread and more seafood), but here's the gist of it:

(B)= breakfast (S)= supper

1st Sunday: (B) oatmeal (S) baked chicken and rice, frozen vegetables, dinner rolls
2nd Sunday: (B) oatmeal (S) burgers, oven fries, frozen vegetables
3rd Sunday: (B) oatmeal (S) baked chicken and rice, frozen vegetables, dinner rolls
4th Sunday: (B) oatmeal (S) baked fish, rice, frozen vegetables, dinner rolls

every Monday: (B) scrambled eggs (S) vegetable soup, breadsticks
every Tuesday: (B) fried eggs (S) skillet meal *, bread and butter
every Wednesday: (B) oatmeal (S) beans and rice, tortillas
every Thursday: (B) fried eggs (S) vegetable soup, breadsticks
every Friday: (B) pancakes (S) skillet meal *, bread and butter
every Saturday: (B) fried eggs (S) beans and rice, tortillas

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grocery Heaven?

Just found this printable grocery list template-- The World's Best Grocery List, apparently-- at, and decided that I LOVE IT! I'm printing it out to use today, and already like the way it's organized. Instead of scribbling my lists on the backs of scrap paper, I can actually plan out my shopping trip and get it done more efficiently. With a toddler along for every grocery store trip, that means way less headaches for me (and for him!), and a much happier day for everyone involved. I'll report back later to let you know how it went... and if it lives up to its name!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's in the Eyes...

CIMG3825 (Medium)

Where did he get those eyes? They are such a beautiful shape, and so different from anyone in my family. His daddy says that he had similar eyes when he was young, and that he used to wish they were more like everyone else around him instead. I just adore the way his eyelid curves out from the inner corner of his eye, and arcs into an almond shape, accented by long dark lashes. And then, when he smiles... his whole face becomes curved in joy and delight, and I can't help but smile in response.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hmm: The Artist Thinks


Ethan has really gotten into drawing lately. Usually on paper, but really any surface will do. He especially likes the little dry-erase markers, which I found actually do erase from the countertop (nice!) but not from skin or clothing (bummer). Yesterday he was drawing and started doing the funniest thing; I'm not sure where he saw it, or if he just came up with it on his own. He would draw a line or two and then pause, hold up his finger to his mouth as if pondering the way his drawing looked, and say "hmmmm..."


It was so funny! It was just like he was thinking to himself, "I'm not sure if this jagged blue line really goes next to this straight black line; perhaps a bit more emphasis on the left side of the page would really define my vision and allow the viewer to fully embrace the image I'm depicting." Then he would go back to his art, not just scribbling but in a very purposeful way laying down lines and zigzags and all of the right marks just where they belong-- punctuated every so often, of course, by a gentle "Hmmm...."


Monday, October 11, 2010


Joel got hired! I'm pretty sure I already said this, but he actually starts work on Monday (tomorrow) up in Sacramento. He'll be staying there Monday through Wednesday, which will be tough for all of us... but it's worth it. He'll be making a base pay plus commission for doing things like graphic design, ad sales, and computer tech support for a man who is starting a new business magazine. I just want everything to work out for him, for once; it's time he got some positive feedback from the universe!

This is a true Renaissance man, a jack-of-all-trades, a versatile worker who can master just about anything he sets his mind to, seemingly without much effort. He is mechanically adept, technologically savvy, musically inclined, and a creative problem-solver. He is very much into the logistics of how things work and work together and come apart, but he is also an artist and photographer and sees the world with a very unique vision. His greatest strength is the way he can dedicate himself to a project, focus all of his energy, education, and hands-on learning to mastering it, and then put his own spin on it-- usually improving a process or the entire project.

I'm proud of him for taking this chance and hope that it allows him to see that hard work and innovation actually DO pay off. Maybe this time, our goals are going to a little easier to reach...


Friday, October 8, 2010

Tuscan Whole Milk


photo by auggy, on

I found this collection of product reviews for Tuscan whole milk a long time ago, and laughed so hard I cried. It's just too funny to keep to myself, so here you go. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the read. Some of the comments go beyond funny to sheer comic genius; these people should be writing books, or at least comedy shows. For example, here are a few tidbits from some of the reviews:

"One should not be intimidated by Tuscan Whole Milk. Nor should one prejudge, despite the fact that Tuscan is non-vintage and comes in such large containers. Do not be fooled: this is not a jug milk..."

"I bought this milk a few days ago; it arrived today, and when I opened it, it was a literal explosion of rainbows and kittens. No cows could have made this milk. No, I suspect unicorns."

"It made sense to me to try and replace my dog's blood with Tuscan Whole Milk. I assumed it would give him superpowers. It did not..."

I could read these things for hours!!! The main page for the product is here, in case you wanted to see the actual milk container.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recipe: Onion Pie

CIMG3793 (Medium)

It's like a quiche, but somehow "onion pie" just sounds so much more homey and Southern. I got the recipe from, and adjusted it to what we like and the ingredients we had in the kitchen. Served it as a side dish at dinner, but I can see bringing it to a potluck or brunch. Yum!


* 1 1/2 cups Panko crumbs (Italian seasoned or onion-garlic)
* 6 tablespoons butter, softened
* 2 cups chopped onions
* 1/2 cup slivered or diced ham
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 3/4 cup milk
* 2 eggs
* 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
* 1/2 cup provolone
* 1 pinch paprika
* 1 1/2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil (topping)
* 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (topping)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a mixing bowl, combine Panko and 4 tablespoons butter in a bowl until well blended. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of 8 inch pie plate to form a shell. Refrigerate until needed.
3. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute onions slowly until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add minced garlic and saute an additional 2-3 minutes. Arrange onions and garlic in the cracker crust.
4. Beat eggs, whole milk, chives, and salt in a bowl until blended. Add ham. Pour the mixture over the onions. Sprinkle with cheese and paprika. Top with basil and Parmesan.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sprinkle It, Just a Little Bit

CIMG3457 (Medium)

Ethan loves water. And he loves hoses, and faucets, and sprinklers. And he especially loves turning those on and off, repeatedly, whenever he goes outside. He runs straight for the faucet, and BOOM! Water everywhere. And I mean, everywhere.

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Even when he gets soaked to the skin, he just goes back for more. Now there's a kid who knows how to enjoy life!

CIMG3458 (Medium)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In Memoriam

How do you remember someone who was here so short a time? The same way you remember anyone else you've loved... with your whole heart, forever.

Do not judge a song by its duration
Nor by the number of its notes
Judge it by the richness of its contents
Sometimes those unfinished are among the most poignant…
Do not judge a song by its duration
Nor by the number of its notes
Judge it by the way it touches and lifts the soul
Sometimes those unfinished are among the most beautiful…
And when something has enriched your life
And when its melody lingers on in your heart.
Is it unfinished?
Or is it endless?

- Author Unknown

Like Mother, Like Son?

It is so strange to have a child that looks basically nothing like me, from our eye color to our hair color to the quirky little facial characteristics that distinguish us from other people...

melethan_9-27-10 (Medium)

He still resembles Joel, especially Joel as a child, when he had blond hair and pretty much the same face Ethan has (except hazel-green eyes instead of blue). The one thing Ethan does have of mine is my fair skin-- but he also gets golden tan in the sun, just like his daddy. What the heck, people? Don't I get one that looks like me at all?

All joking aside, this is one handsome kid... if I do say so myself. I can't wait to see what he looks like as he grows older and begins to look like the man he'll become. I certainly changed quite a bit growing up, so I'm really curious to see how maturing changes him, too. If you don't quite believe me, check out this blast from the past. Do you see me in it?


I'm the one on the right. My older sister Jennifer is above me, and my twin sister Stefanie is on the left. Oh, the times, how they change...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Job possibilities...

Just as we are getting into the roughest spot we've been in for a long time, I finally got some good news: I was invited to participate in TWO upcoming job interviews! Not only that, but Joel was just offered a job working for a magazine out of Sacramento, and the cool part is that he can telecommute (work from home) most of the time. Could it be that our luck is finally starting to turn around?

My two job options include working for a college in Stockton as the coordinator of a program assisting youth transitioning out of foster care, and working with the City of Modesto as a human resources analyst. Although I know that most of my career seems to have been spent leading me to the first job, I am actually leaning strongly towards the HR position. I feel like it is simply time to leave the field of social services for awhile, and explore different fields. Social service programs can be so draining, because I tend to "take home" the tragic stories of the people I'm supposed to be working with instead of leaving it at the office.


(See more comics from Toothpaste for Dinner)

The HR analyst job would allow me to use my skills in organizing, writing, planning and scheduling events, and working with people without all of the baggage that comes from working in a field dedicated to helping those in crisis. I am going to work really hard at preparing myself for this interview, and make it happen. That job is going to be mine, period! The interview is on the 18th, so hopefully I should have some news in just a few weeks. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 1, 2010

One Moment More

Going through this highly emotional time alongside my sister has really brought up some of my own issues. During the week that we were out at Burning Man this year, I was very sick for the first few days. As each day turned to the next, I felt worse and worse-- cramping, major muscle pains, back aches and stomach cramps so strong that I would stop walking and just bend in half to deal with the pain. I felt nauseated, fatigued, achy, and just plain terrible. The pain continued to get worse until Wednesday, when it hit its peak. I was having feverish sweating, shivering and sick and curled up in the fetal position for half the day... and then, that evening, I went to the bathroom and realized that I was miscarrying. I estimate it was probably about 8-9 weeks along. But how could this have happened?? I was on birth control (the Pill), but wasn't taking it very carefully or exactly at the same time every day. Still, I had no idea that I could be pregnant... until I wasn't anymore.

Perhaps my body knew more than me, though, because a few days before we left for Burning Man I had what I thought at the time was just a stress-dream/nightmare about leaving our son behind with his aunt. I dreamed that our child passed away, and we decided to take his body with us in a coffin to be cremated at Burning Man. What a terrible dream! But what made it somehow less terrible was when I realized, that next Wednesday, that I had lost a child, and that I had brought that child with me to Burning Man. It just wasn't Ethan; it was the pregnancy that ended, for who knows what reason, while I was out there. It made me feel as if someone from another plane was trying to prepare me for the future loss; I just didn't understand that at the time.

I may write more about this experience later, but for now I just wanted to share a little bit, and also link to a song that has really been speaking to me this week. It seems to capture what it feels like to want just a little more time with someone, just a touch or a glance or the sound of a voice... anything to connect with them one more time.

Mindy Smith - "One Moment More"