Won Tons To Soothe Your Poor, Winter-Hardened Soul

You know you want these.

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For my won ton soup recipe, check out my post at Bay Area Parent!

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Learning To Function With One Hand

(Apologies in advance if there are any typos in this post. I’m typing with one hand. )

Confession: I am not a good sick/injured person. I don’t like being cooped up in the house. And I really don’t like not having the use of my right arm.

I had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in early August and while I know its not forever, cabin fever has definitely set in. Right now, my movements are very restricted: The only approved way of moving my shoulder is to be standing, bend at the waist, and let my arm slowly hang away from my body. That’s it. And now you know how I get dressed every day: Put sleeve on bad arm, bend, pull it up, pull over my head, insert good hand, and SLOWLY adjust said shirt.

Bras?  The only ones I can wear are strapless or bandeau tops. Although my favorite so far is the tank top with a shelf bra. So. Much. Easier.

My sling is gigantic. It even has its own pillow to keep my arm away from my body. I also can’t drive for another week, and when I do, it can only be for short trips and I have to use my left hand for everything. (Translation: I’ve been cooped up in my house for nearly six weeks! And most of that time was spent alone. HELP ME.)

So … life has been very small recently. And slow.

Milestones: His First Play

My son was in his first play. His entire day care class — the 2-year-olds — were sheep and sang two songs. But only two words came out of his mouth: Daddy and Mommy. I’m not complaining. He was an adorable sheep.

Apologies in advance for the occasional camera shakiness. I had Allie balanced on my lap. You’ll also get to hear Hubbs laugh. A lot. It might by my second-favorite thing about the video.

One thing about Sean: He has a mind of his own. And all of us — Hubbs, me, and his teachers — were almost positive that as soon as he spotted us in the crowd, that would be it. He’d come and sit with us, play be damned. I’m so glad he stayed up there the entire time.

Enjoy the cute!

Santa Claus Is Coming … To Torture Your Kids

I’ve got it all figured out: When they’re older and misbehaving, I’m totally going to threaten the kids with having to go see Santa and sit on his lap as punishment.

Its brilliant, because the old elf has to be evil or running a sweatshop or something because otherwise he wouldn’t elicit these reactions:

This from the kid who loves EVERYONE. The elf is evil!

This was Allie’s first experience with Santa. She took one look at his beard and lost it. (Apparently my extreme dislike of beards has been genetically handed down to both kids.)

But what the above picture doesn’t show is Sean losing his freaking mind. We couldn’t get him into the first picture because he wouldn’t let go of Hubbs. Check that: We couldn’t PRY him off Hubbs. He was like Spider Man, holding on with all arms and legs.

And screaming.

At the same time, Allie was arching her back and flinging her torso forward, trying to scoot herself off the jolly man’s lap. So in the interest of actually getting a picture with both kids in it, we took a family picture.

Note the instant calm radiating from Allie. No Santa = no tears! Sean? Not so much.

As soon as I picked her up, Allie stopped crying. She didn’t even mind being near Santa — as long as I was holding her. (Also note: In the picture, both Hubbs and I have the kids sitting on the knee farthest from the fat man.)

Sean had his eyes squeezed shut and  didn’t stop crying until we were out of the building, down the hall, outside, and I had handed him a sippy cup. This obviously means that there is no juice at the North Pole.

Because Santa is evil.

Also, if you appreciate crying Santa pictures, The Poop has a yearly contest. And it is faboo.

Financial Reality Bites

In 1 month, my daughter will turn 1.

Look how tiny she was! It seemed like she didn't open her eyes for a week.

First of all, it’s hard to believe that she’s almost 1 already. My mind boggles. Second, this means I have to plan and execute a family party.

This makes me twitch. It really does. I understand now, why my mother was always so stressed out about our birthday parties as kids. I totally get it now Mom, and I am so, SO sorry I requested anything. EVER. You should have just ordered pizza and called it a night.

My family does the dinner thing. Which as an adult is fine. But when you plan a dinner party for kids? Good lord. The last one was dinner at a restaurant. I totally get why they did it: No cleanup, nothing to haul back and forth, NO DISHES. But the kids? I think I got through 2 courses of the Chinese banquet before I was constantly outside, running around, changing diapers, and taming meltdowns. Meanwhile, waiters are running around with vats of magma-hot soup, sizzling rice dishes, and pots of hot tea.

Needless to say, it was not a relaxing experience for me. (But what IS after you have kids?)

Since my house is entirely too small to house everyone inside for a winter birthday party, we will be traveling to San Jose for Allie’s 1st, to my grandma’s house. Also known as the house with the ridiculously soft orange carpet.

To make my life easier — like I did for the boy’s birthday, I looked into catering/take-out options. Since Allie loves pasta, I wanted to get take-out from a place I’ll call … Pasta Primadonna.

Now Pasta Primadonna is a chain restaurant with a separate catering wing. You cannot simply order party platters through your closest restaurant. Oh no. You have to call the catering section. This should have tipped me off right away.

Each party platter only serves 8 people. The party will have a maximum of 36 people. I wanted to order chicken parmigana and baked rigatoni. Simple, yes?

To my knowlege, pasta isn't made with unicorn horns and flaked 24k gold ...

Each platter of rigatoni and chicken parmigana? $65. EACH. That’s $8.125 per serving. For noodles and tomato sauce with mozzarella. I know people have to make a living, but holy bejeezus … $8+ for noodles and sauce?!

After my heart resumed beating, I tried crunching numbers.

The absolute lowest number I could work it to, which made me feel even more like Ebeneezer Scrooge, was $260 for 2 rigatoni trays and 2 chicken pargmigana trays (and to have them cut each 5 oz breast in half to make it go further.) On top of that, I’d need to make a salad, another veggie, and some bread.

I can’t do it.  I can’t spend THAT much money on pasta and sauce. On a meal that will be gone in an instant, never to be seen again. If it were prime rib, it would be different. But we’re talking about pasta and sauce.

“I can buy a box of pasta for $1 at the store,” I thought to myself.

Do you know what this means? It means I’m making her birthday dinner.

Damn it.

I have, however, worked out a plan to make it slightly less painful and stressful:

  1. I will be making lasagna rolls. This means 1 noodle = 1 serving. It also means that 1 box of noodles = 12 servings — well, 10 if you don’t use the broken ones. It also means that if you put a lasagna roll on a sheet of wax paper and pop it in your freezer on a sheet tray lined with wax paper, you can make it ahead.
  2. My grandmother has 2 ovens. Bless her heart. This means everything goes in at the same time and no worrying about getting x in by a certain time so it cooks.
  3. Disposable. Foil. Trays.
  4. Bagged lettuce + pre-cut veggies = salad.
  5. Meatballs + marinara = extra meat.
  6. Did I mention DISPOSABLE FOIL TRAYS?!
  7. Store-bought French and garlic bread.
  8. I’ll also make Parmesan roasted broccoli. Because it is tasty and fast.
  9. Cupcakes instead of cake, since my family prefers ice cream. (I bought a full sheet cake for Sean’s party last year and they didn’t even eat 25% of it and declined leftovers.)  AND I’ll order it from a San Jose bakery so I don’t have to transport it.
  10. Paper plates, plastic utensils and cups, and paper napkins.

I’ll let you know how it turns out!

The Lady (Bug) Of The Year

So I finished Allie’s Halloween costume. As originally reported, I had attempted to make a hat with antennae coming out of the top. It would have worked brilliantly — had the hat fit. Note to self: Flannel doesn’t stretch enough for a hat, no matter how accurate your tracing skills for a pattern.

I was able to salvage the antennae. I deleted the photos — I was mad — but essentially you:

  1. Cut two strips 4x as wide as you need out of black flannel.
  2. Place 1 piece of stitch witchery on one end, length-wise.
  3. Place 1 piece of stitch witchery on the other end, again, length-wise.
  4. Fold the ends (with stitch witchery) toward the center. You should end up folding 2x on each side until they come together.
  5. Sew the edges together with black thread, and use a thimble to push the needle through.

This makes for a stiff antennae. (snark-snark)

Next, make the ends: Cut out 4 circles from the leftover red fleece. Take 2 pieces and sew them together, leaving 1/4 unsewn. Slip the end of 1 antennae into each circle and sew closed. Now you have 2 completed antennae.

In the end, I got lazy. Or smart.

I found a pre-made headband with a bow at Target — a 4-pack for $2.99. I used the black one, and wrapped the antennae around the black headband piece and sewed it shut. This way, I can slide the antennae around on the headband as needed. It also means that after Halloween, I can cut off the antennae — if I want — and reuse the headband.

Now for the finished product!

Close-up of her headband.

And the entire outfit!

The kid loves to pose.

We ended up buying Sean’s costume. He picked out a dinosaur. And wore it for exactly 3o seconds before demanding that we take it off. The neighbors gave him candy anyway.

Shy Guy

(Like my “rawr!” hands in the background?)

Happy Halloween everyone!

Thanksgiving, Lazy Style

Two days before Thanksgiving I went to the doctor for my weekly appointment. Although my blood pressure had gone down (a good thing), she wanted me to stay on modified bed rest. And then she asked me about my turkey day plans.

I hadn’t made any, because my family does dinner at my grandmother’s house in San Jose every year. Its the one time each year that my aunts from Hawaii come to town. My dad has six brothers and sisters, and I’ve got a boatload of cousins. Its kind of a big thing. But with me being 9 months pregnant and on bed rest … a 2-hour round trip wasn’t sounding relaxing or restful.

My doctor agreed. In fact, her response to my family’s tradition/plan was: You know, Whole Foods makes a FABULOUS turkey dinner. Translation: You’re an idiot and you’re not going.

My family totally understood, and one aunt promised to swing by the house on Black Friday to drop off leftovers. But that still left the actual turkey day itself: What were we going to do?

Enter Trader Joe’s. Damn, but I love that store. Did you know that the clerks will let you test the cookies before you buy them? And that at the sample counter, they keep a stash of cookies for little kids to try? Or that they don’t care if your kid eats a banana while you shop? (Some of the checkers know us and will either offer to toss the peel or give us a plastic bag to put the remainder in before they even start unloading the cart.)

But did you know that they do a riff on turkey dinners? That they sell a 1/2 turkey that you just throw in the oven for an hour? That they sell frozen mashed potatoes that actually have a GOOD texture when you microwave them to life? That although their brussels sprouts au gratin looks like a hot mess, it is actually DELICIOUS beyond belief? Or that their carton of ready-made turkey gravy is one of the best I’ve had? And even though I’m not a stuffing person, their sausage and sage stuffing? Good stuff. It even had cranberries in it.

The sides spent about 4 minutes each in the microwave before serving. The turkey spent an hour in the oven before I got to carve it. The portions were perfect — enough that the Hubbs and I could gorge in Turkey Day fashion yet still have just enough left over for soup. And although we didn’t cut into the pumpkin cheesecake until last night? That sucker was TASTY.

All that food and the only things we actually had to wash were the oven pan, our plates, silverware, and the mug with the gravy in it. Everything else went in the recycling bin.

All in all? It was a quiet and tasty turkey day. And although I missed seeing the rest of my family, it was really nice to just relax at home all day.