Thursday, September 27, 2012

randome: the fall 2012 eddition

some random trivia about my life right this moment . . . 

Cloudy with a chance of acorns.
I was quite nervous about facing my first winter one year ago, and here I am, having survived to tell the tale. I even love Maine after experiencing a full round of seasons. AND, last winter was pretty much the mildest winter in Maine's history, so I know that I can't exactly say I really know what winter is yet. Furthermore, people won't stop talking about the acorn production. What? You mean that's not the hottest topic of your dinner party conversations? Yeah, new to me too. But apparently, tons of acorns means the squirrels are preparing for something big. Some see this as a sign that this winter is going to be a doozy. Sofia and I try to run around outside and we're falling all over the place because we can barely find flat ground to walk on, it's a big blanket of acorns. Furthermore, they are starting to fall down from the sky like hail, big huge plops in spurts of 3 to 5 acorns at a time. I'm regularly ducking and covering my daughter's head to protect her from full scale attack. Them squirrels is busy! Could the correlation be true? I'm frightened. 

Riddle me this.
Sofia has started making up riddles. That fact alone cracks me up. Here's her most recent one [we're going to have to work on her grammar, obviously . . . ] 
"What's something that growed? Of course! The trees growed!"
The "of course" is my favorite part. 

A is for apple.
Our most recent iconic New England-y experience is apple picking. We went twice in one week. Honestly, we can't go through too many apples at once, we're not huge fans of applesauce in this house. So really, we make this whole trip and should probably only grab a couple apples, but when they're so beautifully hanging from those trees, it's hard to control yourself. Did you know that my great-great-grandparents had grapefruit orchards? I think I need to get back to my roots and have an orchard of my own. But in the mean time, visiting apple orchards is more about the photo opps, and the toy tractors, and coming away with little wooden coins that certify that Sofia is an official apple picker. I did want to do a little something more with the apples than eat them plain though, so I made my mom's old school apple bread recipe. I do not bake people. And when I brought the bread to my book group, you could tell, they barely touched it. But I brought those left overs to my bible study and they pretty thoroughly gobbled it up and my confidence soared. Nothing like the encouragement of the Body. That's what Church is for, right? The food! 

taste test
workin' hard in the orchard . . . on her gymnastics skills
T is for tractor

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

anything once: going to the dachshund races

I read about the dachshund races early this summer. I wanted to go immediately, but the timing just wasn't right - until last Sunday. 

There is a place called Old World in Huntington Beach, about two miles from where I live. Oddly enough, I'm fairly certain that this was my first time there. I'm not sure how to describe it. It was basically a little taste of Germany in Southern California with a touch of Mexico, and all set in the 90s. There was beer, lederhosen, and dachshunds galore.


Let's get straight to the actual experience:

1. I don't drink beer because I don't like the smell or the taste; however, that would probably have livened things up.
2. We (me, Mikkele, and her boyfriend/my new friend Teej) had to pay to get in. The guy selling tickets said it would be $15 for the three of us, but I had seen an ad that said it was $3 per person so I told Mikkele to mention it. She mentioned it, and he said the total was $6. That is either super shady, super poor math, or, as Teej hypothesized, the guy only spoke German and wanted to get rid of us.
3. It was very hot and there was little shade to be found.
4. The dachshund race lanes were surrounded by picnic tables. It was impossible to see anything! We tried three different angles and eventually settled on standing at the finish line where we could see the very last second of the race. That was amusing for two races, but certainly not a thrill. Based off of the time lapsed between the start of the race and the appearance of weiner dog snouts, I can posit that those were some speedy pups. Wooo.

Photo by Mikkele
5. They advertised $1 ice cream scoops. There was no ice cream anywhere. 

In conclusion, this was a first that was way cooler in my head than it was in real life, and I highly doubt I'll become a regular at Old World. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

anything once: being rescued after getting a cavity filled

Last December, Emily posted about getting her first cavity fillings. Last week, I had my first. I wish I could say it went as well as Emily, but I couldn't get to either Emily's friend Stefanie or our beloved Mark Nadler, being that I live hours and hours away from both of them. And I really can't blame anything on my dentist either, I think she and her staff did a fine job. And thankfully, she had office staff that were much more compassionate than Emily experienced and described in this post earlier this week. Nevertheless, it was rough. But I am a blessedmama who had some sweet angels come to my rescue.

I made it several decades without a cavity. For some reason, I had it in my mind that only kids got cavities, or that only adults who'd gotten cavities as kids got more cavities. Somehow I convinced myself I was free and clear. I focussed my dental hygiene on the health of my gums, which is usually what gets me in trouble. So when I sat down in the chair and started to hear that my gums looked fantastic, I was stunned and so very proud of myself. I couldn't wait to get home and brag. But then the dentist closed out the session with, "Oh, yep, looks like you might have a little cavity, so I'll see you in a few days to fill that in," like it was part of her farewell, she practically ended with a "Lates!" and walked away, me sitting there befuddled and confused.  

I tried to play it cool. My husband had been to the same dentist and also had a filling just a matter of days prior and he was super chill about it all, so I decided there was nothing to get worked up about. I just focussed on not forgetting the appointment. I showed up and still didn't even understand what it meant to "get a filling." (in fact, I had to have my husband explain it to me at the end of the day, well after the procedure) I just planned to go with the flow. 

So she's friendly, quick, professional. She numbs me, which I didn't realize was a precursor to big needles, so I only averted my eyes after it was too late to get nervous. [goes to show you, I should read my own blog more carefully and take better notes about all Emily has to say!] She proceeds to give me the shot, which felt really painful. So much for the numbing. We wait. She tests me out with little pokey things, I totally feel the poke. We wait more. She sticks me with another dose of scary needle. We wait some more. I still feel poking. Long story slightly less long, it took four shots before I was numb. By the fourth shot, I feel this crazy wave come over me. It takes me right back to my epidural for my c-section, which was more painful than the contractions I was trying to get relief from. I picked up my book and started reading, I started praying, I just did anything I could to get my mind off this horrid feeling washing over me. The fact that I was finally numb and scary tools started roaming around in my mouth was the least of my worries. Though, that is a terribly vulnerable position to be in, which I'd never thought about, but I tried to stop thinking about it. She did her do well and kindly and we were done. 

But by the time I walked out to the desk to pay, I couldn't hold back tears anymore. My head was swimming and pounding at the same time, all my muscles were clenching up, and I just couldn't stop thinking about the trauma of Sofia's delivery. The office manager saw me trying and failing to keep a normal face, and she said the epidural did the exact same thing to her. With her compassionate license, and the tissue she fetched for me, the flood gates opened up and I just openly wept. I wasn't actually sad, apparently my body is just very sensitive to pain and does not like to have that feeling shut down. 

I walked back home from the dentist's office, texting Manny as I went that I might be needing a little more help that morning than we'd anticipated, and the face-contorting tears just keep coming. 

Enter angel #1. It was a fairly quiet street pretty early in the morning, but I was so embarrassed when a car passed me, because I just couldn't hide my sobbing. I saw him through the window and somehow just knew, "that guy is going to try to take care of me." But he drove on by, so I thought I was wrong. But no, he pulled over, parked, and walked back my way. And my very sweet neighbor, Daron, whom I'd never met prior to that moment, walked with me down the block, offering me kindness and sympathy. He was so sweet, and the best I could do was choke out some thank you's and "I'm really fine, I'll be ok." He was a good Samaritan in real life. A+ for effort, Daron, thank you!  

I hobbled on home, and walked in the door. Enter angel #2. My Sofia came running up to me with a huge smile, "Mommy's back!" How can that not put a smile on my face? But as soon as she got a few feet away, she aptly observed, "Mommy very sad. Mommy not happy. Mommy needs hug." She ran right up to me and gave me the sweetest hug in all the world in all of time. I cuddled her and absorbed her love and warmth, but still just couldn't stop crying. 

Enter angel #3. So Manny rose to the occasion, and although he'd already missed some work for me to get to the appointment, he called in to let them know he'd be a bit later, and he sent me up to bed. I was able to rest a bit and finally pull it together enough to come down, albeit still a bit zombie eyed, but well enough to let him finally get out the door. 

Needless to say, I've been flossing like nobody's business ever since. And I am terrified of ever having another cavity, so I really hope this was an "anything once" I won't have to repeat. But I am so grateful for my angels coming to my aid on my day of need. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

the top five reasons i want an iphone

I have been phoneless for over three weeks now. Luckily I have a patient husband who is willing to relay messages to me (although last night he added something like "oogityoogityboogah" at the end of a text to a friend and he claimed it was from me), and I'm practically one with my computer throughout the day. So I'm not dying or a hermit or anything, which is why "want" is in the title here and not "need." I'm being realistic, folks. No one needs an iPhone. However, this morning was rough, and I blame my lack of cell phone. 

Here are the top five reasons I want an iPhone, most of which are brought to you by my crappy last two hours:

5. Eiley had her first California doctor's appointment today. This doctor is part of a pediatrics group, and it turns out they have two offices on one street. I went to the wrong one, which was an urgent care location only open in the middle of the night so I couldn't even ask for directions. I felt harried as I tried to decide which way to go on the same street, praying that the second office was nearby so I wouldn't be too late for our appointment. If I had an iPhone, I could have Googled and GPSed and not stressed.

4. Apparently, in my rush to strap Eiley back into her seat and peel out to find the correct office, I dropped her immunization record in that parking lot. People, I was so proud of myself for having that on hand, so when I arrived at her appointment and it was missing, I was crushed. I'm sure I looked insane, tossing everything around in our car, shouting "FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!" If I had an iPhone, I could have pulled up my email and had the record on hand that way.

3. The doctor's forms asked for Jeff's Social Security Number, which I don't have memorized. If I'd had a phone I could have texted him about it. This one was not a big deal.

2. During the appointment, I was asked about Eiley's eating habits. She eats sporadically and usually from our plates, so I didn't know all the answers about how often and exactly how much she eats, and this stressed me out a little bit on top of already feeling everything from the rest of the morning. Then she got a shot and apparently she moved a tiny bit and got a scratch on her leg and she cried a lot, and this compounded the stress. And then they asked for my prior doctor's fax number so they could get her records, and this happened:

"I lost that immunization record with my prior doctor's fax number on it. I've given you his name and street address though." - Me
"Yes, but we need the fax number." - Nurse
"Do you have the internet here?" - Me, increasingly annoyed
"Yes, but we need the fax number." - Nurse
"Okay, would you like me to go home, Google the doctor, and then call you with the fax number?" - Me, super super rude
"We have to have the fax number." - Nurse

Guys, I'm talking end of Beaches, beginning of beloved pet's funeral tears here. At this point, I was medium frustrated that she wouldn't just take three seconds to look up a fax number, but I was mega mad at myself for resorting to using mean-spirited sarcasm on her. I apologized profusely through sobs, and the doctor herself came out and looked the fax number up on her iPhone (which she showed me and said, in a tone normally reserved for her clients, "See this? It's like a little mini computer!"). Clearly my number 2 reason for wanting my own little mini computer is to prevent anything resembling that scene from unfolding ever again. Embarrassing.

1. Instagram. Obvs.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cooking with Zoe: Simple Math

The students are back, classes have resumed, and I've pulled out a light jacket a time or two this week (more for inside the house than out, but still . . . ). Summer is coming to a close. 

That also means it's time to see how well my garden did. The Maine weeds proved a bit too voracious for this mother-of-a-toddler to combat this year, but I did manage to preserve the life of a few of my seedlings. I was able to harvest some beans, though not quite enough that I can think of much to do with them other than just eat them raw. Ideas?  I saw a few herbs through to fruition, including some dill, which I'd never seen flowering like this before:

I used the dill this week to make some tzaziki for some chicken kebabs. It was ok, I need a better tzaziki recipe. I think kokkari in San Francisco ruined me on tzaziki, theirs was so good that no other can ever live up to it. C'est la vie. 

I was also able to harvest a little bit of basil. And I seem to be having a nice crop of tomatoes coming along. Sofia and I planted these as seeds, nurtured them in our "nursery" (Sofia's craft table by a nice window), and transplanted them with the assistance of Grandma and Grandpa Reyes. We are very proud of them. Only two have been ripe enough to eat so far, but even if the rest get consumed by japanese beetles, we will feel like the summer was a grand success. I used one tomato to add to some scrambled eggs this morning. Sofia wasn't so into that idea, but Manny and I enjoyed it. For the other tomato, I put two and two together and came up with this combination:



The tomato was delectable, the basil was a bit too peppery for this use, but it was still fun eating an entire dish that came from our garden. 

Summer 2012 = success.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

anything once: writing the most cumbersome blog title ever.

See below.

anything once: watching a movie which has its soundtrack removed and replaced by a live symphony

On Saturday evening, Jeff and I went with a group of friends to watch the first Pirates film at Verizon Amphitheater. Pretty cool, right? Well, it gets cooler: The soundtrack was removed and the Pacific Symphony played the music live in sync with the film. Mind. Blown. Just so you can get it right if you have the chance to do this too, here is a guide to recreate my evening.

Seven Steps to an Amazing Summer Night: 

1. Acquire a friend who works for the symphony and can score you and a bunch of friends free tickets. Bonus points if said friend happens to also be a nice guy with mostly great taste in books, an awesome wife, and the second cutest pup of ever.
2. Make sure the event is held at a huge outdoor amphitheater. The night becomes extra amazing when shared with 12,000 others. If possible, go when there's an almost full moon. It really adds to the ambiance.

3. Show up right as the lights go off so you don't even have to wait a minute for the fun to begin.
4. Watch the movie, obviously, but be sure to glance down at the symphony once in a while. I specifically enjoyed watching the conductor and the choir. It blew my mind when the symphony was spot on during moments where the music needed to be precise and specific. And the choir was just neat - I didn't realize how much choral work went into that score.
5. Sit directly behind a special teenager who is wildly passionate about Pirates. His enthusiasm will be infectious, and you may even find it endearing when he dramatically checks to make sure his armpits don't stink right in the middle of all the swashbuckling.
6. Bring wine, cheese, crackers, chocolate, a fuzzy blanket, and a good lookin' man.
Wearing a themey shirt is optional.
7. Share your spirits with the strangers around you. It'll make their night and improve yours.

In conclusion, this is a first I definitely want to repeat. I'm hoping they do Harry Potter next year.

Many thanks to Will and Kristi for making the evening possible, and thanks to Dannae for the pictures!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Movie Review Monday: Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson creates some of the most quirky, original films out today. I love most of them - I can't say all because occasionally he goes a bit too far out there for my little mind to fully appreciate it (and by "occasionally" I mean "several scenes in Life Aquatic and the entirety of Hotel Chevalier"). This film was no exception. It was quirky, original, and went a little too far at one point. 


1. The soundtrack was so good. I am still considering purchasing part of it. The soundtrack was so good, in fact, that Jeff and I remained seated through the entirety of the credits simply because the song was riveting.

2. The stars of the film were children. I would love to get a glimpse into the casting of these children. The lead actor and actress were compelling. Their speech patterns, maturity, and evident innocence were fascinating. And my bff imdb says this is the first film for both.

Photo borrowed from
3. The film took place on a fictional New England island in the 60s. So. Hip. I felt like the set was plucked from the dreams of a trendy hipster blogger, all vintage dresses, saddle shoes, records, typewriters, knee high socks, cats, suitcases, and all in browns, muted lime, ballet pink, and shag carpet orange.

4. This was Frances McDormand's first Anderson film. Judging by her acceptance performance at the Tony's two years ago (when she rocked the old jersey cotton maxi dress and a jean jacket), she lives her life like she's in an Anderson film - she's odd, dry, and doesn't care about social norms. Hopefully we'll see her in more of his work in the future. I'm a fan.

5. Most of Wes Anderson's films feature caricatures more than round characters. Sure, they have issues, but everything is so deadpan that it's hard to wade through to a real, believable person. That seemed different in this film. Bill Murray got angry when his daughter was missing and emanated loneliness when interacting with his wife. Ed Norton was at times an obnoxious stickler for rules, and at other times showed genuine care and concern for his lost Khaki Scout. Frances McDormand displayed anger, regret, passion, love for her daughter. These characters just seemed more human than other Anderson characters. And I happen to like humans.

Photo borrowed from
6. There was an awkward scene in the middle of the movie. I was uncomfortable. Very.

7. Bruce Willis. I wouldn't say I'm a fan, not really. But I'm starting to notice that I have liked everything I've seen him in. Including this. I guess I'm a reluctant fan.

In conclusion, two claws up.