Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Currency: Cookies

We're back from the distant lands of Portland/Vancouver and all the holiday hubbub.  While it was a wonderful time away on many fronts, being back here at home is sort of a relief--especially in regards to sweets.   It became apparent to me after observing my family and attending a few gatherings that Christmas cookies & sweets really are the "Currency of Christmas".  (Tisk, tisk that you would ever enter another's home without bearing some currency.)

Apparently in normal households, multiple kinds of these baked goods are made and then placed in tins or on festive paper plates.  These are given to people who you like enough to want to give them something but not enough to make it non-perishable and of course cookies/sweets are mandatory at ALL holiday gatherings.   There are many different kinds of sweets--some awesomely good, some "who-actually-eats-these?" not--but always more than you ever could (ever should) eat so invariably these cookies/sweets get rolled onto another plate or tin that is then given to someone else or taken to another gathering.  And the cycle continues.

Some cookie receivers feel obligated to eat the sweets just because they are around and then disgustedly let it be known that they gained 3 pounds after weighing themselves at the gym.  (Right, Dad?)  But sometimes these "gifts" expire without garnering true appreciation in some one's belly and it really is a shame when you stop to think about the effort that went into it.  But at a certain point you hit a sugar wall and hide them under the pile of Christmas cards and letters you received (the other official currency of Christmas).  The left over cookies become something one must "wait out" until they can in good conscience throw them away.

In a moment of clarity during my holiday glucose haze, I wondered why does this happen?  There is such an abundance of treats already this time of year that it's compounded by all this compulsory baking.  Why do people do this?  Is it obligation or guilt or desiring to squeeze one more thing in during a very stressful time period?  Or is it some insatiable nostalgia bent that says, 'If I just baked the perfect cookie, this Christmas will turn out to be everything I'd ever dreamed of and more?'  Those who say they just do it for the 'love' baking, I don't believe it.

However full disclosure, yes, I'm guilty of contributing to this phenomenon but to a lesser extent.  I personally make only one type of cookie called pizzelles which are a traditional Italian waffle cone-like cookie with anise (black licorice) flavoring.  It's an acquired taste but truly Italian.  I make a small batch and send a few tins to my husband's family on the East Coast and keep some for ourselves.  And that's it.  They are actually good in any season and, from what I hear, can survive over a year in an air tight container.  So a cookie for all seasons.

But what I found the most amusing this year when the cookie/sweet population was at it's peak, was that my husband decided that he was going off sugar...in December. This meant that any candy/cookie-like item that entered this house was my responsibility.  And it meant that our journey south would be ripe with temptation. And it meant that he would eventually break this vow and feel bad about it.  See all the trouble these things cause...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday night out

Last night was our one holiday party so we made it count.  Good times for dinner at Japonessa (preparations & flavors are amazing) and then partying at EMP.  I really wanted to bust loose some of my B- moves on the dance floor but the DJ wouldn't let any song play for longer than 30 seconds before the next song mixed in.  I couldn't find my groove.  Muy mal.

Here is Sidney seeing us off for the evening.  I love the hand in mouth pose.

This is us later at the party in a photo booth.  I think I look like a muppet or something.

Friday, December 16, 2011

In other poop news: the cat

Poop is the big topic around the house these days.  And why should it stop with our daughter when there is another creature who is notable for his waste.  Our cat, Oliver, has been having the driest poops I've ever seen.  It's like they crumble into dust.  There is no moisture whatsoever contained in them.  Given that his preferred water source is the toilet, despite having a nice, new metal water dish, I just shake my head and leave the toilet seat up.  But that should give you an idea that we're not dealing with a rational animal.  Anyway his poop is weird and he needed a well-pet check up so I took him in to the vet earlier this week.

He's 11 years old and back in the day he was known to be FEISTY at the vet.  Like don't go near this animal, you will lose a digit.  Oliver has mellowed in his old age and I do wonder if the energy it takes to fend off an amorous toddler on a daily basis zaps what he'd normally reserve for a vet visit.  He was "chill" initially and even during the vet's physical exam.  She felt his gut and said he was constipated.  She also said sometimes older animals have problems with their anal glands which do something (she explained but I forgot) toward the end of the digestive journey.  Sometimes these glands get clogged and have to be "expressed" or "massaged" or "dealt with" to keep things flowing.

As soon as the vet said "anal glands" and "massaged", I though, 'F-no, I am not dealing with that.  There is enough disgusting bodily fluid and excrement around here...'  I knew about this condition due to some posts my girl Dooce wrote about her dog and they were not fun.  Luckily, the vet staff said they would handle it but for an additional fee.  Whatever--it's well worth it.  They took him away and were going to do this very joyous procedure in another room where I assume there was a sink and they could secure his claws of fury.  Sidney and I waited in the exam room.  A few minutes go by and then loud, unhappy meows bellow down the hall.  Oh man.  But it had to be done.  Then the vet came back in the room after 5-10 minutes and said they now felt he really needed an enema too.

"And you guys are going to do it, right?" I asked.
"Oh yes, right now," she said.
"Well, he's already angry at the world..." I said.

Poor cat.

We were told to come back an hour later after they had done the procedure and cleaned him up.  Evidently he "produced" quite a bit and he was in the most foul mood imaginable.  They warned me not to uncage him near Sidney that evening.  So we gave him a lot of space once we got home but not too long after he was back to normal.

Now he seems like a happier cat these past few days.  They suggested we try to give him some wet food with pumpkin, which helps digestion.  Problem is, this cat is pickier than his mistress and his toddler-sister.  I have 5 different brands of fancy, gluten free, organic cat food with one of the ingredients being pumpkin.  I'm on the 3rd one to see if he'll even take a bite of it.  He doesn't know how lucky he is...the little toilet taster.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Potty Party aka Poop Triumph

(Also seen on Sidneyspage.blogspot.com)

Ken deserves all the credit for the story I'm about to relay.  I was skeptical and discouraging.  

Back in March, Sidney first showed interest in using a potty.  Her casual interest held for a few months and then stopped during the summer.  Ken staged a few pant-less (aka "diaper-less") Saturdays here and there with a few accidents to show for it but no real interest and no real success with getting her to have enough body awareness and muscle control to put it all together.

[Time passes, apathy for potty training (on my part) grows.  Poops get stinkier but I'm not willing to give up the convenience of diapers yet.]

Then just yesterday, Ken decided to try again.  It was pant-less Saturday with Ken keeping a very close eye on her and not letting her on furniture, rugs & beds.  In the morning, they were down in the garage getting something and she began to cry.  When Ken turned around, he found she had peed.  He cleaned her up and consoled her and said if she felt the urge to pee again to tell him and they would just go to the bathroom.  Later she stood looking out of the window and she almost started to cry like that again but stopped.  Ken told her they should go to the bathroom and sit on the potty.  She did and BOOM she peed in the potty.  Good times.

After a diapered nap, she was running pant-less around the house again.  Ken and Sidney were playing in her room with her stuffed animals.  All of a sudden, she walked out of the room and into the dark bathroom and sat on the potty and peed.  No prompting and on her own inspiration.  Excellent work.

We got her dressed and took off to go eat and then to look at Christmas lights.  Upon return, Ken started to get her ready for bed.  She mentioned she wanted to poop so he took her to sit on the potty.  Every time this had happened before, it's been a false alarm.  It's just a ruse to get us to read lots of books to her.  But Ken stayed with her for several minutes, playing with stuffed animals and talking.  Then she made the "poop face" and looked a little concerned, Ken said it was okay if she needed to poop.  She looked down and said, "What is that?"  At this point, I enter the bathroom.  And "that" was one of most gigantic poops I've seen come out of child or adult.  So she pooped on the potty for the first time!  Unbelievable.  We started trying to call grandparents.  We told my dad.  He was thrilled (I think).  It's too late for the East Coast and Mom & Cindy were out so we had to wait until the next day to share the news with the grandmas.

Both Ken and I stand amazed.  It's utterly ridiculous to get so excited but it feels like a major triumph and concrete evidence that she will someday become self-reliant and independent.  It's so cliche, right?  Parents get very, very excited about this milestone.  I even Facebooked it tonight after she had pooped for the second night in a row.  I'm sure people without kids are rolling their eyes at me.  I know pre-mom Kali would have rolled her eyes.  But that was before I had changed hundreds of diapers.  That was before I had touched all manner of human bodily fluids.  So yes, this is a big deal.

It does NOT mean however, that she is now "potty-trained"--it simply means that we are on the road to pantyville.  Giddy up.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Santa...Coming to town?

There is a lot that goes into Christmas as a parent.  It takes mental preparation and dedication to gear up for all of it.  There's the decorating, shopping, parties/events, holiday cards, baking, cooking and explaining what it all means.  

We've punted on the last two Christmases of our daughter's life.  For the first one, she was only three months old and we were just coming out of the sleep deprivation haze.  I didn't have any energy to decorate or get Christmas crazy.  Lucky for us, we spent Christmas in the Portland area and my mother had an especially lovely tree and decorated house.  For the second one, we made the genius decision to move two days after Christmas.  (Take a look at our faces in this post--that about sums it up.)  So there was NO way I was staging Christmas decorations in the middle of that.  But my mother again had a lovely decorated tree & house.  So for a few days we forgot about the chaos that awaited us in Seattle. This year, it's time to get in the swing of things...  

Sidney is taking in all the "Christmafied" environs this year when we go out and about. So I broke out 1/8 of my Christmas decorations and put them around the house.  I only used 1/8th because the majority are *indoor* Christmas tree ornaments.  In our new house, we have a lovely noble fir just growing in the middle of our backyard.  I figured, instead of cutting down a tree and paying $75 for something we will throw out in a month, we should just decorate the outside tree.  So we did.


Christmas means a lot of things but it tends to come down into two major camps: religious (Jesus) or secular (Santa).  Could two concepts be more different?  Up until now we haven't had to worry about what to tell Sidney about Jesus and Santa.  Being a nonreligious household, we don't feel really qualified to explain the Jesus part.  Perhaps we will get a short kids book on it just so she understands the significance.  Or maybe one of her former Catholic school-attending grandmothers can explain it.  To us, the spirit of Christmas season is giving, reflection, celebration and wintertime.  I still hope to install some aspect of active charity or community work but the best we can pull off right now is giving some money to the food banks. (I'm totally open to ideas if anyone has them, btw.)

But the concept of Santa is a tricky one.  Ken and I have mused about our own experiences growing up with the myth of Santa.  At first, it's wonderful and magical, and why wouldn't it be: there's a guy with flying reindeer and a sleigh who brings you presents and knows just what you want.  But eventually, someone tells you or you figure it out and have that crushing realization that Santa doesn't exist.  You then see it was a ruse by all the grown-ups you knew.  Santa might only be the first of many disappointments but it can certainly be the hardest.  I remember at five or six years old figuring it out but I wanted so badly to be wrong.  I used logic to wear my mother down until she finally admitted it.
"How is it possible for Santa to go to very single house in the world?"
"How does he know where everyone lives?"
"How does he have time to do all of it?"
"How does he get into people's houses who don't have chimneys/fireplaces?"
"I looked at our fireplace and he can't fit through it."
I was relentless with my questions and the exhaustion from dealing with my new little brother (and of course me) put her at a distinct disadvantage.  It was a valiant effort on her part to explain things and keep it going but she was ultimately no match for my singularly-focused barrage.  I get it though: from an adult perspective, it's all in good fun and you just try to continue the fantasy for the next generation.

So far, I've sheepishly addressed the concept of Santa and we've been reading the Night Before Christmas.  I'm sure we'll go to sit on his knee this year (I have a Groupon for the Alderwood Mall Santa pics).  I asked her tonight what she'd ask Santa for and she wants a "black candy cane."  Specific and eye-brow raising.  I believe she saw one of these flavored candy canes at the store so it's not too "Nightmare Before Christmas".  Not that she's even seen that movie.  Yet.

We'll see if she's okay with Santa--sort of as a dry run--because my uncle will be making an appearance as Santa on Christmas Eve.  He also did this when my cousin, brother and I were little kids.  Santa will likely give her just a few small gifts.  As discussed yesterday with a fellow mom, if Santa gets all the credit for the big, expensive gift, it's like this stranger she hardly knows gets all the glory.  We can't have that.  To Be Continued...