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I should be tired.  I have done a lot today.  A lot of work, a lot of exercising, a lot of socializing, a lot of sports practice schlepping, a lot of cleaning, a lot of chatting, a lot of cuddling.

Work still gets an A.  Sometimes I wonder what happened.  Why am I so happy, when people talk about work environments that are supposedly similar to mine in this manner?   I know I’m not in the cut-throat city, but still.  I’m just not seeing it.  And tonight, when I walked down my hallway at 5:30 to talk to a more senior associate about holiday-gift-giving etiquette, I walked past many, many empty offices.

I know, I know.  “Give it time,” or “just you wait and see.”

zuska = optimist.

I believe that my optimism makes good things happen.  It creates a better situation.  All the time.  It’s even, in the past, caused planes to take off when flights would have otherwise been canceled.  I promise.

Tonight, we all did chores.  E took out the recycling, J dusted in the living room, Beloved scrubbed the kitchen floor, I did the bathroom and 2 loads of laundry and straightened and moved furniture to get ready for Friday.

The house is taking shape.

Tomorrow I buy wine, Beloved buys beer.  I then come home (after the girls’ performance and taking the girls out to dinner) and scrub down the kitchen counters and the hardwood floors.  Then we sleep.  On Friday, Beloved vacuums the furniture and makes salsa; I work all day and then stop at the store on my way home to get paper plates and plastic cups; I wipe down the bathroom; throw the bathroom rug in the washer (how does it get dirty so fast?  it gets dirty SO FAST that I know that washing it today will do NOTHING toward it being clean on Friday.  NOTHING); take apart the kitchen table and move it to another room, vacuum the girls’ rug and the living room rug; do a final sweep of the wood floors; set up drinks and snacks; set up all the extra chairs; and otherwise freak out.

Then on Saturday, the girls have basketball games at 10 and 11.  This is okay.  Because basketball is played at the highschool.  The high school is like, 6 blocks from our house.  We do not need a zipcar.  Hell, E doesn’t even need us to walk with her.  And the games are at 10!!  And 11!!  Not 9.  Not 8.  It is downright civilized.

Then I have to make a key lime something or other ….

Anyone have any recipes????

Because that night, we’re going to an early Hannakuh party.

Sunday, I wanted to go out for mine and Beloved’s birthdays (Tuesday and Wednesday).  But I don’t have a babysitter.  😦  Woe is me.   While my kids are able to have spurts of time home alone, I’m not too keen on leaving them home in the evening while hubby and I go out on a date.  That’s a bit much.  Too much.

I really need to go to bed, or I won’t make it to Sunday.

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I guess I haven’t blogged about the fact that I’m having potentially 30 people at our house on Friday night.

Wow.

It’s a large gathering of parents in E’s grade. We are creating a support/information-sharing network for parents of middle schoolers. I somehow ended up on the planning committee for it, and although someone else (someone with a house) was going to host, they found themselves double-scheduled. I think the group will be infinitely important, useful and positive. An amazing community-builder, that will help our kids to understand how a community contributes to their development and their lives. I didn’t want it to evaporate just because no one could host.

So I decided that I could move my table out of my kitchen – like I did when I studied for the bar exam – and fill the open space we have with borrowed folding chairs, if that is what is necessary.

Look at what this requires:

I will take the kitchen table and move it into the girls’ room.

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(This photo was taken from the kitchen area – see the ugly linoleum?)

I will then make the green chair and the ubiquitous “green thing” flush with the bookshelves:

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(See, I already have some folding chairs, borrowed from mom and dad). I will put our kitchen chairs, and the comfy chair from the girls’ room, in the living room, making a circle with the couches.

And then, if need be, the entire entry/dining area can be filled with up to 3 rows of folding chairs. Or it can just be an extension of the circle.

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And then maybe … just maybe … I’ll be able to fit everyone.

Obviously, this endeavor also requires a lot of cleaning. I was going to hire someone. But I feel like it’s just too hard to do so for this small space. We have so many space-saving techniques employed, and I think it’s a lot to ask someone to work around those. So I need to find a way to fit it in around our week. Our week that not only includes full time working, daily school and Wednesday evening basketball practice, but also two bookgroups, a potluck dinner, and homework projects. Oh yeah, and my swearing in ceremony. Oh, and it’s our town’s “welcome to the holiday season” celebration, which means the girls have to perform on Thursday night.

So I made a chart:

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The girls have very little to do, which of course is only fair. I have the most to do, which is of course the way of the world. I am, after all, the person who agreed to do this. Beloved never would have done such a thing.

Not on the chart is my trip to the liquor store, where I must buy wine and beer for potentially 30 people. Huh? Also … snacks?

I just remembered I had asked Beloved to make his outstanding guacamole and papaya salsas for snacks. Isn’t this a sweet way to remind him?

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We got in super-late last night.  We left late on purpose – hoping to miss traffic.  We did indeed miss traffic, but found ourselves driving through pea soup fog.  It was pretty intense.

I had gotten up at 5, and was at work by 7 … so come 9 p.m. when we got on the highway, I just … fell asleep.  I was sleeping so fast, and so hard, I didn’t know what was going on when we stopped for gas an hour later.  I couldn’t believe we were already at THAT rest stop.  Huh?  J didn’t even wake up when we stopped, she was so sound asleep.  E was listening to a book on her iPod, and was still up and had to pee.

Once we left the rest stop, the attack of the fog began.  But I still couldn’t stay awake.  Every time I woke up, I found myself in this very surreal world, with glowing lights on all sides – hardly any cars visible.  It was scary.  And weird.  If I wasn’t 1/2 asleep the whole time, it probably would have been fine, but it was scary.  So I kept checking in with Beloved, “Are we okay?” or “are you okay?”  He said yes, and I would just (involuntarily) drift off again.  Just to repeat the whole interaction 20 minutes later.

Turns out I pissed him off.  He felt like I was saying “you’re not driving well — why?”

So I got to fall asleep for good at 12:15 a.m. in the midst of an argument over how my concern did NOT constitute needling.

We woke up refreshed, though, and now all is well.  My brother came this morning with his ADORABLE baby (which still doesn’t do a damned thing to my ovaries … they’re more than happy with the plan to be cut out and mutilated or whatever else happens to ensure that no more babies come into my womb).

Beloved and I are now doing our cooking tasks … I made cranberry sauce, and he’s making stuffing, and I’m getting ready to peel some potatoes.  We are cooking for 20 people, which is not something we’re used to.

The house I want to rent: the landlord had some hang-up, and it’s yanked from the market for now.  The real estate agent seems to think we can talk her into the cat.  The yanking from the market only helps us, since the more time we have to amass the gigantic* move-in costs, the better.

* My friend at work has started using the word “ginormous” despite the fact that she’s my age.  It occurred to me that the word greatly resembles the word that my sister and I used to use for our “down there” anatomy.  “Gyna.”  I told my friend, “the word suddenly sounds a bit perverted to me.” And she said, “you know what?  I know exactly what you mean, I’m not using it anymore.”  Am I the only one (well, as well as my friend) who has made this connection?

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Deliciously Weird

Over the weekend, when my parents were in town, Beloved was showing me some recipes he was considering for the week to come.  A blissfully short week.  A pork “stroganoff” for one night, a soup for another, and then a salad for another night.  But the salad?  It had an egg on top.  And I thought “how weird” but I didn’t dare criticize, because I had just snapped the poor dear’s head off in front of my parents, and while he MAY have deserved to be called on the thing that irritated me, he didn’t deserve for it to be in a bitchy tone in front of the in-laws.  So I didn’t make much of a fuss about the egg.

 

On the salad.

 

Last night was salad night.  He prepped the spinach and made the (delicious) dressing and pan-cooked the sweet potatoes and grated the parm.  Everything looked and smelled great.  Then he started asking us if we wanted our yolks runny or cooked.  The girls vacillated, and landed on “runny” and I was trying hard not to gag on the grossness of it while insisting upon a cooked yolk (I’m not a fan of the runny … not since I was a picky child). 

 

But the warm egg and the fresh spinach and the now-slightly-soft ribbons of parrm and the deliciously warm sweet potato … wow!  It was FANTASTIC!!  I mean, unbelievable.  It was the perfect winter salad.  Light and healthy, yet warm.  Perfect for Beloved on a work day, because it was quick and easy. 

 

I had seconds.  So did the kids.

With runny yolks all around.

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And I suppose he is right.

But when did we see Wicked? Early October, right?

ONE MONTH LATER

J is in the shower.

E is in her room, huddled with a black witch’s hat on and the soundtrack insert in her hand.

“Defying Gravity” is coming from both mouths, at high volume, in very different parts of the song.

What have we done?

E is begging to go see it in New York.

It’s like she’s 2.

“Again! Again!”

(which for her, at 10 months, was “Ah Dah! Ah Dah!”)

I wish my kids would stop singing.

Beloved tells me there are people who wish their kids would stop playing video games, and others who wish their kids didn’t watch so much t.v., and others who wish their kids would stop drinking and running away from home.

That perhaps my kids constantly singing songs from soundtracks isn’t so bad.

But … I think they’re (or at least E) bordering on obsessed.

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Today, I was productive. I did unbelievable (for me) amounts of work. Wanna know what I did?

  • Cleaned out my medicine cabinet. It’s now 60% empty.
  • Purged summer clothes from the girls’ drawers (pulled the winter clothes from storage yesterday, while J had a friend over – a friend who could take the items which have since been out grown, so it worked out well. They were also both eager participants in the process, which also helped. E appreciated having the whole thing taken care of while she was out of town).
  • Did 9 loads of laundry. Which was exhausting.
  • Scrubbed the bathroom with bleach. We usually use natural cleaners, and I often assign the sink and the toilet and the sweeping to the girls. But every now and then (in my mind, in my plans – once a month; in reality – twice a year), I do it myself with the powerful cleaners. Today was that day. I last did it the DAY before the bar exam. Maybe two days before. Which is only 4 months … even a little less. Maybe I’m getting better.)
  • Cleaned out the coat closet floor. This entailed much throwing away. Much space-finding for bags (I’m addicted) which have not been used in some time. It was hard.
  • Sorted through our “extras” – which for us is hats, gloves and scarves. I got rid of singles, of those things which were too stained to salvage, of gloves that no longer fit the growing hands in the family. I washed the fleece which seems to be a cat-fur magnet. After they were washed, I went over the more stubborn items with a lint brush. This took at least 2 hours (the lint brush stage). I am so determined that our things WILL NOT have cat fur on them. WILL NOT.
  • Cleaned out under the bathroom sink. It was gross. I filled an entire garbage bag with almost-empty shampoo bottles that I felt, while a student, were too precious to throw away – that I may need them during those days where the loan money had run out and so had the shampoo.  It’s nice to feel that I can now confidently say that when next we run out of shampoo, I can buy some.
  • Took J shopping at the Gap, and bought her jeans that fit; even without the sea levels rising (she’s a 10 Slim, for the most part) and a super-cute dress. I bought Beloved some socks. I bought me black gloves to go with my work-coat, and a grey hat. I bought me funky blue and green striped gloves and a matching scarf to go with my not-work-coat. I bought E nothing. She was in NY.
  • Took J out to lunch at a new place in town. We had a good time.
  • Before the store and lunch, I dragged J to Starbucks with me. I got her a hot cocoa so she didn’t feel like I was a selfish bitch of a mom (I also tricked her BFF and her yesterday into thinking that I was the nicest mom in the world for taking them for hot cocoa after a frigid soccer game, when in reality — it all comes down to my addictions). I later felt a bit conspicuous, walking through the Gap with my Starbucks cup, and my 9 year old child following behind me with her own 9 year old sized Starbucks cup. Hmmm.

I think I will next read Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, because I am a MILF.

But in the meantime, the family is going to eat brownies – in acknowledgment of E’s excellent progress report 3 weeks ago (oops, we lost track of time) and watch Star Trek … after I vacuum.

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Date Night

The sushi was, in fact, fantastic.  Very creative and yummy.  Especially their “creative roll” which they termed the volcano.  It had scallops in it, and some sort of sauce dumped on top, and it was amazing.

We ate at 9 p.m., after seeing two movies.  Not one.  Two.

We saw:

1)  Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead; and

2)  Michael Clayton.

Turns out we both liked Michael Clayton better. Interesting that while reading the Times reviews, I see that the reviewer of Michael Clayton speaks of how the director (Tony Gilroy) must have seen several movies directed by Sidney Lumet before digging in to Clayton, Gilroy’s directorial debut.  Lumet directed Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

I didn’t feel a similarity between the films.

Other than enough for us to say, “I wonder if our second movie should have been something lighter?” Because we had no lightness.  We had no humor.

But they were great movies (even the one that wasn’t our favorite), and we had lots to talk about with both later.

I highly recommend both films.  I think I recommend Michael Clayton more.

I do think, however, that you should see Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, because Marisa Tomei was topless a lot, and her boobs are really freaking amazing for someone her age.  Perhaps this is nothing other than a sad commentary on my own boobs.  But when I brought it up later, Beloved said there’s no way she’s HIS age (45, for about another minute), she must be my age (34, for about another minute) or younger (based on the boobs).  I said no … she could not be MY age, because I was approximately 17 when My Cousin Vinnie came out, and she was NOT 17 when she did that movie.  (We were assuming that it had come out in the late 80s – we were wrong.  It was 1992.  So I was 20.)

Turns out, she’s 8 years older than me, 3 younger than him.  To the day.  She shares my birthday.  His is the next day.

She looks amazing, in my opinion.

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The Vegetarian Child

J decided to be a vegetarian.

This is the second time.

Last time, it lasted about a week.  Or less.

This time, she seems more committed.

I really have no right to complain, because Beloved is not only managing the situation, but doing extensive research and finding ways not only to ensure that she gets adequate nutrition, but also to empower her to make decisions (and prepare food) that give her what her body needs.

But yet, when he asked me yesterday for a dinner suggestion for today, and I said, “oh, I love those chicken roll ups you make!”  (which are chicken breasts all pounded in to thinness, and then lined with proscuittio, spinach, and some delicious cheese, and rolled up and stuck with a toothpick.  I think they also have a sauce on them.  They’re delicious.)  He said, “and what for the vegetarian?”

Damn.

Do I never get to have my chicken roll ups again?

When the kids were small, and pickier eaters, I refused – REFUSED – to be the mom who made separate meals for everyone in the family.  You know, allowing the kid to have plain noodles with butter and cheese while the rest of us  ate steak and veggies.  My kids weren’t really allowed to refuse certain foods.  They had to try new things.  I think I was fair enough – I wouldn’t make a huge plate of spicy food.  I would put one new thing on the dish along with a fail safe.

but this isn’t just picky eating.  This is a different kind of decision.

This past week, Beloved made a stew – it had sweet potatoes and spinach in it, and he separately sauteed some keilbasa for E, himself, and me, and then browned some tofu for J.  Those were mixed into our individual bowls.

Another night, he made platos mexicanos –  homemade chili verde (pork slow cooked in a tomatillo sauce), but before he put the meat into the sauce, he pulled out some of the sauce, and mixed it into some baked tofu.  The rest of her meal (spanish rice, refried beans, and a funky cole slaw with limed sour cream and cilantro) was exactly like ours.

[Did I mention that he’s AMAZING.]

So, we aren’t talking about 100% separate meals.  Her food was completely integrated into ours.

But we don’t know how to do that with chicken roll ups.

I declared my willingness to have up to 3 nights/week be vegetarian (despite my love of nearly-raw meat) – that if I have advanced notice, I can plan to eat roast beef at lunch.

We shall see how this goes.  I don’t know if I look forward to the day that she sees our delicious pork tenderloins and says, “uhhhh, can I have some?”  Or if I can come to terms with this.

I am proud of her making a decision and sticking to it.

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