Thursday, August 28, 2014

Monthly Musings, August 2014

The offending ducks. One of them flipped a gang sign right before this picture was taken, I swear.
• The rubber ducky situation around here is starting to make me twitchy. Originally, he had two--snowman duck and yellow duck. Camo (aka: green) duck got added a couple of weeks ago after a sleep over with friends. Tonight, surfer duck showed up at bath time and I swear I've never seen him before. #gaslight #somethingsafoot

• Grooming is an epic struggle and if you ask me, I'm not entirely sure it's worth the drama. If I come near The Bud with soap, a comb, or a set of nail clippers, he looks at me like I'm wearing a leather mask and carrying a chainsaw. And really, at this point in his life I'm only doing this stuff to keep DFS from my doorstep, anyway. It's not like he's prepping for job interviews or anything...#rationalizations
• Happiness is finding one, last ice cream sandwich in the box, and not having to share it with anybody.

• As a new mom, I took bathtime very seriously. I had it all: the infant tub, the tearless soap, the washcloth puppets, the colored soaps, the tiny basketball hoop with the suction cups that are supposed to affix to the shower wall, but never actually do. But did he play with any of that stuff? Nope. He wanted the potato masher, his toothbrush, mommy's cell phone (caught that one in the nick of time), and the takeaway plastic cups with local bar names on them that we collected when we were cute and fun, and capable of staying up past 10 pm. #whocares

• Google is spamming me with emails about improving my erectile dysfunction, and I'll admit, it's hard not to be a tiny bit defensive about it. #missingappendage

• The other night I realized the words 'while' and 'whole' are only one letter apart, but they sound totally different. It's neither noteworthy nor interesting, but it blew my mind. I've gotta take a class or something. 

• I just tucked The Bud in for the night, kissed him, told him I loved him and to sleep well. My sincerity might've been suspect though, considering I was yelling the words at him at the time. #bedtime #mommydearest 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Buckwheat Spice Pancakes

W doesn't read my blog unless I beg, or he can be assured the post is short. Today, I'm giving him both, and making it worth his read by talking about two things near and dear to his heart: food, and quality time with our son. Expect some interjections from the peanut gallery (him) here and there.
About weekly, The Buddy wakes up in the morning requesting to make 'cakes with Daddy. It's the cutest thing ever to watch or listen to, and on top of the cuteness, I get the benefit of the spicy scruptiousness of the pancakes, all without having to lift a finger. I love these boys and I love these 'cakes.
Hope you enjoy them!
2/3 c buckwheat flour
1/3 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon (W: "use more. It's better.")
1 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
*Ground ginger
2 eggs
1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1 cup milk
1 over ripe banana
*A dash to taste. Both spices are optional, but definitely delicious additions.
Mix all dry ingredients together. Then add milk, oil, and eggs. Blend until incorporated. Smash and add the banana. We prefer thinner pancakes, so W adds water by the tablespoon to bring the batter to the desired consistency.
The boys have a few tried and true secrets to success you might want to note. Like, 1) don't use too high of heat. Medium or a bit lower is best, 2) test the griddle with a dab of water. When it sizzles, it's ready, and 3) add a dab of butter to the griddle before cooking each 'cake. (W: "it takes 'em to another level.")
The perfect 'cake at our house is topped with peanut butter, unsweetened applesauce, and a drizzle of maple syrup, but you can be creative with the toppings, too.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Everything We Thought We Knew About Them Is Wrong

The Buddy and I watched “How to Train Your Dragon,” for the first time this past weekend. I know, I know…this movie is 4 years old, and there’s already a sequel, but I wasn’t a parent in 2010 and it’s only been about 6 months since The Bud has had the capacity to sit through a feature film, and…why am I trying to defend myself to you? The point is we both LOVED it. The Bud has asked to watch the “Twain Dragon show” every day since and I finally agreed last night. I even sat down to watch with him again, which I don’t typically do after I’ve already seen one of his shows. That’s how much I liked it.

The premise is this: On the island of Berk, Vikings live under constant threat of dragon raids. They’ve spent generations learning dragon ways so they could resist and defeat them, and there’s no higher mark of honor than to have killed a dragon in the public square. Hiccup, resident klutz and the most un-Viking of Vikings, is also the unfortunate son of Stoik, the village hero and head honcho. They don’t understand each other and rarely see eye-to-eye on anything, except that they both wish Hiccup could be a brawny dragon-killer, like every other male (and several females) in town. Hiccup gets an opportunity to win the villagers’ and his father’s respect by accidentally killing a rare dragon during a night raid. This gives him enough street cred for his father to agree to let him go to dragon-killing school, while unbeknownst to the entire village, Hiccup hasn’t killed the dragon. Instead he takes the opportunity to study the wounded creature, who he names Toothless, gaining his trust and discovering that dragon and human have more in common than he’d been taught to believe. An unlikely friendship is formed. (I should write for IMDB, seriously…)

One night, after school is over, Hiccup goes to the library to review a…dragon killing handbook, for lack of a better description. In it is outlined everything the Vikings have managed to learn about dragons—the different types, their anatomy and physiology, their strengths and weaknesses, their motivations, etc. By now, Hiccup and Toothless are friends and have learned a lot about each other and you can see how his personal relationship with this specific dragon makes reading this book an eye-opening and uncomfortable experience for him. While reading a general description of dragons, he comes across the phrase, “A dragon will always go for the kill.” That sentence was the basis for the Viking School’s “kill, or be killed” mantra. Hiccup has a flashback to his new friend; to the moment when Toothless lay vulnerable in the woods—bound, injured, and unable to defend himself against whatever Hiccup chose to do to him. Hiccup’s empathy for the defenseless creature won’t let him kill him. Instead, he cuts him free. While Hiccup is freeing him, Toothless’ face registers surprise and cunning, seeing his opportunity to kill the idiot human cutting the ropes that tie him. Once free, he lashes out at Hiccup, pinning him to a rock. Their eyes meet, and they finally see each other. They both realize that neither human nor dragon instinct is to kill, but simply to defend against attack. In the other’s eyes, they see no harm, so they can safely put down their defenses and walk away. Back in the school library, Hiccup says, “We’re wrong. Everything we thought we knew about them is wrong.”

I won’t tell you how it all works out, just in case you haven’t seen it and want to, but Hiccup’s revelation in the library really resonated with me, especially in light of what’s been happening in my city this week. I live in St. Louis, and right now, we’re in the national spot light for events that have unfolded over the last 6 days.

On August 9, in the village of Ferguson, Michael Brown, an 18 year old African American male, was shot multiple times by a police officer during an altercation and died on the scene. In the aftermath of the incident, protesters were incited to riot, setting fire to businesses, destroying property, and looting. It’s all we hear about on the radio, it’s all we see on the news and in print media, and it’s pretty much all anybody is talking about around the water cooler.

Reports of how it all happened are conflicting—some say Brown was walking in the middle of the street with a friend, when a twitchy cop insulted him and demanded that he get the f@** on the sidewalk, and grabbed him by the throat. Brown objected to the offense, the cop shot him once, and Brown ran away. The officer gave chase and though Brown stopped and put his hands up, the officer opened fire, shooting him multiple times. Others say Brown was up to no good and was belligerent with the cop when he tried to detain him. He tried to push the officer back into his vehicle and was shot once. He then ran away. When the officer gave chase, Brown reached for the officer’s weapon (clearly intent on harm), and was killed in the struggle over the side arm. The officer acted in self-defense, or the gun was passively discharged in the scuffle—an accidental death from an unfortunate series of bad choices on the part of Brown.

No one disputes that Brown was unarmed. No one disputes that after the shooting, his body was left in the middle of the street for hours, while local law enforcement secured the scene and attempted to control the crowd that gathered. No one disputes the racial tensions in the area, or the bad blood between local law enforcement and the city’s poorer, black contingent. No one disputes that this story is a familiar one, with the majority of Blacks, if not directly affected, “knowing a guy who knows a guy,” who had the very same thing happen to them. No one disputes that most of the damage done over these last 6 days in Ferguson (hell, over the last 300 years in our country) has been done to innocent people. It'll be a while before the real story comes out, and even then, it may never be the whole truth, but where we are now is what counts. On both sides of the fence, basic human dignity has been violated, and people are done.

Since Saturday, I’ve seen things that break my heart. A mother grieving the tragic loss of her son, because a mother's love doesn't ask whether or not a child deserved what he had coming to him. The Quik Trip at Ground Zero burning to the ground, the owners guilty of nothing more than running a business where something tragic happened. Looters slipping through broken windows with items they did not buy, stolen from people who did nothing to deserve the violation. Tear gas being fired into crowds of protestors whose intentions were not to incite riots or to impede traffic, but to speak loudly enough, finally, finally to be heard. Every day, I’ve read posts on social media from friends, family, and concerned citizens, full of sadness, confusion, and fear for our future. Crowds of peaceful protestors and people praying that the madness would stop, questions be answered, and justice served. People keep asking, “What went wrong?” Whose fault is it? What insidious system is to blame and how can we shut it down so this doesn’t happen again?

I say, none of that matters. All that matters is that people are involved. We must start seeing each other as more the same than we are different; each person at his core a divine creation, worthy of dignity, respect and a voice. With our strained racial history, that won’t happen until we're willing to undo everything we thought we knew about the others that we fear. It won’t change until we can look into our enemies’ eyes and see ourselves—that we’re more alike than we are different—to consider that everything you thought you knew about them might be wrong.

For that to happen, we must break through the barriers of fear, distrust, anger, and the bad decisions that are fueled by those feelings, and appeal to each other’s humanity. When a person’s God-given dignity is violated, don’t say, “Why are you mad at me? It wasn’t my fault.” Don’t say, “Well, you/he obviously deserved it and here’s why.” Don’t say, “You’re expressing your feelings about it the wrong way.”

Just say, I’m so very sorry. Tell me how that makes you feel. What can I do to help?

Let’s see what happens when we do that, can we?
I’ve started to see some encouraging reports from Ferguson of people reaching out to each other and successfully bridging the gaps between them and it makes my heart glad. I, for one, can use some more of that type of news! If you have an anecdote, a news article link, etc to share that shows the people of St. Louis putting their best sides forward, please leave it in the comments below. I need some hopeful late-night reading.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review--People I Want to Punch in the Throat, by Jen Mann

Hey, kids! I recently wrote a post, lamenting how little reading I get to do anymore and a fun, new solution I've found to my problem. I'm excited to share with you my first-ever review of a pre-release book I recently read from  Hope you like it!

My first read from NetGalley was People I Want to Punch in the Throat, by Jen Mann, and the title alone was worth a look. I'm so glad I picked it up. The book is so funny! It's a compilation of short stories and essays from her blog of the same name. I got a bird's eye view of the life and times of a reluctant suburban housewife/mother/PTA president/real estate agent, who is having some trouble navigating it all. The book touches on a lot--online dating before it was cool, the landmines of interracial coupling, the mommy wars, and holiday parties hosted by coworkers (they are, in a word, weird)--and all of it the snarky view from behind the curtain. Jen, The Hubs, and their kids, Gomer and Adolpha (I'm kind of afraid those really are their names) are just the type of family that I want to live next door to someday, if for no other reason than to make me feel just a tiny bit better about my household.

Jen said all the things I'm just starting to think about this whole parenting-thing and I hope that I can make old yoga pants and store-bought cookies look as graceless and real as she does, someday. At this stage of the mommy game, I need laughter in hard, fast doses. This book delivers.

Releasing from Random House Publishing Group--Ballantine, September 9, 2014

Books, You Guys...


I love to read, always have. Reading opened up new worlds for me as a child. I used to sit alone in my room, laughing, gasping, and crying out loud over the characters' lives in the books I was reading. My mom would check on me, totally confused (freaked out?), when she would hear me emoting from a room away, about nothing that she could put her finger on. If you asked me what book I was reading, I always had at least one that I was excited to talk about.

Then, I became a mom. Now, My List of Reasons I Don't Read is longer than the list of books I've actually read this year...

1. There aren't enough hours in a day to make room for sitting down for an hour of uninterrupted reading. I can't sit in one place for 5 minutes without wiping a nose/bottom, building a train track, riding a beep-beep, making a snack, or answering "Mommy, what are you doing?" for the eleventy-thousandth time.

2. At night, after all of the kid-wrangling is done, I'm tired, so I fall asleep 10 minutes into any book I might pick up, which makes it hard to comprehend a plot, let alone enjoy it. And remembering titles or authors' names? Fuggedaboutit.

3. Since my time is so scarce, I've lost all tolerance for a bad read. Before, when I was reading 10 books or more a year, a couple of turds in there wouldn't phase me. One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, you say? If you only eat three a year, it does! Stinkers piss me clean off these days.  (and the puns just keep on comin...) I've said it before and I'll say it again: Ain't nobody got time for that, son! If I'm going to commit to a 6 to 10 hour time suck over 2 to 4 weeks of my life (low estimates), I want an engraved guarantee that the book I choose will be good! You can imagine how well this is going for me. It's become a vicious, whining cycle of no reading.

4. And finally, a caveat to #3. It's expensive. If you've read my blog before, you already know that I don't buy a whole lot of books. I got to the library, which should be free, but since I'm an airhead now, that's rarely the case for me. Besides, time is money. The act of going to the places where books are to get them takes a certain amount of sweat equity that, frankly, I'm unwilling to invest. I'm just sayin'... 

Thank you for listening, I feel much better. Now that you've been bored by so patiently heard my tale of woe, lemme tell you about the solution I found to my problem! This site is so cool! I discovered it on another blog that I follow and checked it out for myself. What I found was this:
Do you love to discover new books? Do you review and recommend books online, in print, for your bookstore, library patrons, blog readers, or classroom? Then you are what we call a "professional reader," and NetGalley is for you. Registration is FREE, and allows you to request or be invited to read titles, often advance reading copies, on your favorite device.

Yes, yes, and YES! I'm a professional reader! Sign me up! In layman's terms, I created a profile that outlined the type of reader I am, what genres of books I typically enjoy, and my online presence--basically, I told them who and where I would tell about the books they let me read. Now that my profile is complete, I browse titles of galleys  pending release that are recommended to me or that I search out myself, request the ones that look interesting to me, and wait for approval from NetGalley to download the title(s) to my Kindle. After I read a title, I review it on the NetGalley site (and my own social media, as I choose), and mark it as read.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Seriously, this is solving most of my current reading problems.

Hard to find uninterrupted time when I'm not exhausted? There is no time limit to finishing a title I choose, nor am I obligated to do so. I have a smart phone, so my Kindle app is not just on the main device, but also on my phone. I can read a chapter while I sit at the bank, at the DMV, or even pop it up while I'm having lunch at work.

Smell a stinker? Stop reading it, immediately! If I start reading a book that's not doing it for me, I feel no obligation to finish it when I didn't lose any money, time, or effort to find it.

Tired of spending money on books or library late fees for books you rarely finish? This is completely FREE! I can read pre-released books all year and, technically, not spend a dime. The only danger I forsee is that I'll fall in love with a title here and there and decide it must become part of my home library. And by that, I mean hard copy. Kindle and other readers are great and progressive, but nothing beats the smell of ink on paper for me. Love me some books. YIPPEEE!!!

Check back here from time to time for reviews on the fun titles I'm reading.  I'm working on a review right now, and have two, unread titles waiting for me on my digital "shelf." Now I make no promises on the number of regular postings I might make (Remember me? The chick with no time?), but now that I have convenient access to what's new on the literary front, I cannot WAIT to exceed my own expectations.

If you're a social media guru and reader on a time crunch, check out for yourself. You might like it. 

Happy reading!