Thursday, August 11, 2011

Walking Through Doors

When we were in China in September of 2002 adopting Ava, those first few days were admittedly grueling.  We were the happiest we had even been, the Muffin Man and me. We had the child of our dreams after surviving years of infertility and then my cancer.  Meeting Ava truly was a dream come true for us, an emotional high like we had never experienced.  For Ava, not so much. She grieved for someone, whom we never met.  She cried, she screamed, she refused to sleep, she needed to be constantly overstimulated to ignore and deal with the massive and unwelcome change in her life.

A few days of that and the Muffin Man and I were exhausted to say the least.  Of course, I had prepared for this moment in our lives by educating myself on several Chinese history eras.  I had taken Mandarin. This might be another reason why the change was so hard for us.  Had I to do it over again, I might have put down Mao's little red book and picked up something more along the lines of attachment bonding in institutionalized children.  Lessons learned.

While we were in China dear travel mates showed up at our room at one point.  They were experienced parents and were convinced they could calm our baby.  They tried, and Ava screamed harder rejecting their attempt to cuddle her, as she rejected us.  As they left our room walking out our hotel room Mr. dear travel mate said to me, "This too shall pass and she will be skipping off to kindergarten before you know it."

I'll never forget the sight of him walking out that door, leaving us to again attempt to calm our beloved baby.  I couldn't imagine he would be right.  The thought of kindergarten seemed about as close as the possibility of us boarding a rocket ship.  

But he was right.  Now that baby walked through our front door and is starting 4th grade.  Her baby sister, is now the kindergartener.  And, for the first time in 9 years the house is quiet from 7:45am to 3pm.

  As they skipped out the front door and over to the bus stop, I was reminded of those sage words in China.  "Before you know it she will be in Kindergarten." 

Liv saw the bus, squealed with delight and immediately hopped on. She gave a short wave and that was it.  It was like that tiny body got swallowed up by a huge yellow sponge.  There was no fear walking through that door.  You have to admire that in a kid.

And there it is.  One of life's biggest milestones met, wearing a backpack as big as she is while wearing a pink dress.  

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Where Eggplant Is Hidden

After the "You have the bum gene mutation that makes you more susceptible to cancer" discussion at  the oncologist's office earlier this summer, I made the decision to eat better. Admittedly this started as a need to control something, anything really, when feeling so darn out of control walking out of 5 doctors offices in June alone.  

Now I'm pretty much convinced that following the anti-sugar, no white flour, no white potato, no white rice, no wheat diet is the way to go.  Anything, that is of the vegetable and fruit persuasion = me living far and beyond my wildest dreams.  Possibly living long enough to irritate my children while bossing them around giving unsolicited advice regarding grandchildren. 

Maybe I have become extremely motivated due to my admitted fear of hearing "You have cancer" again, but this diet change isn't that hard.  I make sure I am never hungry, in my opinion this is the only way to follow any specific diet...if you are hungry you will fail.  I am eating eggs, small amounts of chicken, plain yogurt, cottage cheese and almonds for protein.

Sadly, I am no accomplished short order cook.  The kids have had to sort of shall we say, adapt to the new environmental changes happening in the pantry.  There have been some lively discussions about the difference between a democracy and a benevolent dictatorship.  Our house being the latter. 

Enter Eggplant For Lunch

Today I found a recipe for Baba Ganoush.  Just saying it out loud makes me happy.  How could anyone not like something called Baba Ganoush?  Plus, I had 2 eggplants from my CSA farm share that needed to be eaten. 


  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup tahini  ( made my own, sesame seeds and olive oil in cuisanart)
  • 1/2 teaspoon teriyaki sauce
  • 1 clove crushed garlic


  1. Wash both eggplants, and pierce them with a knife. Place eggplants on a cookie sheet, put them in a 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. After eggplants are baked and cooled, peel the skin off. Put eggplant in a mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, olive oil, and plain yogurt. Mix ingredients until smooth. Stir in tahini according to taste. When all ingredients are added, transfer the dip to a serving bowl. Stir in teryiaki sauce and garlic. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

I tasted it and it's delicious.  Now the tougher customers were called.

Since they appeared at the table dressed as warrior princesses, I told them times are tough, wars are being fought and they needed to pull on their big girl warrior panties and eat while they could.  And, I bribed them with 1/2 a turkey on wheat as well. 

 Usually my toughest critic, this one at least posed with the Baba Ganoush. Then told me she wouldn't eat it.   I countered with "Seriously, there is no peanut butter today.  Eat or go play."  She ate. 

She is now a converted Mediterranean warrior princess.   And I am no longer staring at two eggplants wondering what the heck to do with them.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tales From The Stage

Ava is my natural performer.  She sings like a lark, doesn't seem to feel self conscious in front of people, and has been practicing all summer on and off for her audition for the school play this fall.  Try explaining the irony and possible inappropriateness of a Chinese born adoptee singing Maybe from the Annie Musical as an audition piece for a grade school musical to a nine year old.  The sad thing is she can rock that tune, jury is out as to whether she'll be singing that one at the September tryouts.
Liv has no interest at all in becoming Sandra Bernhardt.  She would probably rather have her toenails pulled out than sing a solo in front of an audience. She would also try nothing new, eat nothing new, or experience nothing outside of her small comfort zone if I didn't gently push her baby bird butt out of the nest once in a while.  

 So, when the opportunity came about last week to participate in a small singing and dancing camp I brow beat strongly suggested Liv participate along with Ava.  In her world, since she had to be part of a small group of younger siblings who were dressed as couch potatoes, this only added insult to injury.  For the record, all the other 5 year olds thought my couch potato costumes were awesome.  Liv rolled her eyes at me like I was suggesting she drink ginger ale at a fraternity party to make it look like she might be drinking a gin and tonic.   

This is quite frankly as close as she got to a smile on stage.  But, I give the kid credit, she did it.  After the show she told me she was wishing her group would have gotten to take part in two songs rather than one.   Perhaps it wasn't communist style prison torture after all?   

I decided not to share the comments with her I overheard from another family in the audience who loudly  pointed Liv out while saying that she was so cute, but why did she look so serious?  I was standing next to the mother who made the comment.  She obviously thought one of the blond haired blue eyed smiling children belonged to me? 

Oh the theater, it's full of drama. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

New Etsy Order

These little cuties are going out in this afternoon's mail. 

 Their new home is experiencing a wedding. 
 I think the bride's maids will be experiencing new wristlets. 
 Just big enough for a cell phone, lipstick, id, and some money or credit cards...or both!  Just small enough for a bride's maid to get her hiney onto the dance floor next Saturday night.  Does anybody electric slide anymore?  Am I dating myself by asking that question?  Don't answer that. 

Custom order done.  Now to think about some new items to pop in the ETSY store.  It is sad and lonely over there, all empty.  Kidlets go back to school next week. This leaves time for creating.  Or that is the plan anyway.  (She says with fingers crossed.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Summer time and the ball park.  Buy me some peanuts and popcorn.  We spent a fabulous evening downtown at Victory Field this week.  The girls were beyond excited to eat cheese covered pretzels for dinner and see their cousin pitch for the visiting team.  Not necessarily in that order, ok fine, in that order.

Right, how many 5 year olds can say that their very first baseball game was spent watching their first cousin who is actually a major league pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, but happens to be doing a short stint re-hab'ing an arm on the farm team this summer as the starting pitcher?  Well, Olivia can.   
Does she look more interested in the spoon dipped into the lemon squeezee sitting next to my friend Leanne, who was an unending source of ballpark peanuts?  That would be an optical illusion.  Apparently she gets the sugar frenzeed obsession from her sister.  Really, they were studying the finer points of baseball.  Really.
Here's our guy.  Kevin Slowey.  Yes, he was pretty cool about tolerating the crazy lady yelling at him while he was warming up, "Hey, Kevin It's Auntie Perrin."  I'm sure that scored him cool points in the dugout. 
And then it was down to business. 

Not to be all star struck and all, but gees, seeing a kid with YOUR last name printed on the back of his shirt commanding the mound, well it was the bees knees. 
These guys come out and rake the dirt at intermission.  Facinating.  I like the way their shirts match.  
I snuck down from our upper deck section during the 5th inning.  With my camera.  If anyone would have asked me where I really belonged I was prepared to tell them all about the fact that I was related to the pitcher.  And, then I was prepared to probably receive free popcorn or have someone ask for my autograph.  No one questioned my lower level better seat existence.  Go figure.  The thrill was gone in 1 inning and I went back upstairs to check on these guys.  
Ava and our dear friend and neighbor, B.  Sometimes they act like they don't like each other.  But they do.  But not in a weird way, they are only 9 1/2 and 10.  When they were three, B wanted to marry Ava.  He was going to take her to McDonalds for the reception. Can you imagine quarter pounders for everyone before dancing?  If B ever marries Ava, he and I will have to talk about proper wedding receptions.  

More with the MY last name on HIS shirt.  That'll never get old. 

One last shot of the ballpark.  The Indians won, in case you weren't streaming it on your the Muffin Man who was on a business trip, in Baltimore missing the whole darn thing in live action.  I was rooting for the visitors, for obvious reasons.  I was sort of like the little guy in the School House Rock video, "Hooray, I'm for the other team."  This is probably why I'm so popular wherever I go. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Joy in A Sprinkler Park

Maybe it is because I have once again had a health related rock you to the core thump on the head about how precious life really is, but I am thoroughly enjoying each and every minute with the girls this summer.  Nothing else matters to me, I'm healthy and will consider the oddest and extreme surgery options to keep myself that way.  I've become fixated on the girls' imaginary weddings sometime in the future, as in I will be present at those events.  I have cake ideas for high school graduation parties.  I look at their little friends as they visit the house and wonder what major they will choose in college.  To me, these are fascinating details.

I guess you could says I'm in an odd place, completely healthy and yet seeing doctors and surgeons by the arm load, paying buckets of money for tests that I question are even necessary, but these same doctors seem to revel in the results.  I've completely changed my diet to cancer and tumor prevention. There is no cheesecake this summer.  I am shockingly happy to do it.   I'm now viewing surgery options to remain healthy in degrees of severity, laproscopy, no big deal, recovery time only 1 week.  Mastectomies with 6-9 months of follow up before it is all complete, we can leave that at "bigger deal".  Eight weeks ago, any surgery would have been out of the question.  Now, everything is on the table. But all of this is out there, in the future, not for today.

Today, I am giddy at the prospect of a day at the free sprinkler park toting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the girls, and a luke warm salad for me.  The girls play carefree in the water and climb a spider web of rope.  I am reminded that this is how their lives should be.  This is how OUR lives should be. 

The girls are old enough not to need me hovering at the park.  They run off and know how far they can go.  It leaves me time with a camera in hand, and time to think. I'm left keeping an eye on their movement from activity to activity.  I'm left sitting alone a few feet from other families.  I have to endure their verbose and too loud conversations.  They all seem so boring to me, they appear not to have a care in the world unless you count how many veggies little Ethan will eat.  These other mother's seem completely foreign, it is if I'm now an alien observing a suburban free water park and it's normal human inhabitants. 

As I tune out the other families,  I can see the girls as other people often see them.  They are absolutely gorgeous in every way.  They are beautiful in that they share sandwiches without fighting,  They are amazingly strong, climbing all that rope.  They let simple water spouting up from the ground entertain them for hours.  They adore the fact that they have matching pink crocs.

I love all these things about them.  They are the world to me.  And for right now, we have the sprinkler park
And this is why it's shaping up to be a great summer. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jewelry Wraps

I was recently contacted by a jewelry company director who will be attending her national conference this month.  She asked if I could make jewelry rolls for all of her reps as gifts. She wanted something where they could travel with to hold all that luscious silver jewelry.   One quick trip to my home studio and colors were selected. 

They fold over and lay flat in a suitcase.  I suppose you could even carry it as a clutch if you wanted to.  There are two zipper compartments, a snapped ring keeper, and a velcro closed pocket.  

Now what rock star jewelry sales lady will get this one?  The outside is a more understated polka dot theme in the same colors, don't worry.  
Each one has a little silver charm sewn in.  They have an inspirational saying.  I suppose it could be used to hang the jewelry wrap from a hanger if traveling.  Genius.  That was her idea.
Once these are delivered, very soon, it will be back to summer time slacking off;  watching my girls run around a myriad of pools.  We are very adept at inserting ourselves into the lives of personal friends who have swanky pool memberships.  It's an art form.  Trust me.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ahh, the Beach

Annual trip to the beach this year was just as amazing as always.  Now that we are back, I find myself driving down the road saying "Why do we live here? Shouldn't we live closer to the ocean?"  The Muffin Man's largest client is located in Florida, he keeps dangling the "we could have a boat" carrot. Probably a very smallish, well used boat, but a boat. 

As luck would have it, I would also call this vacation a vacation and not a temporary re-location as all parents of small children will know exactly what I am talking about.  Re-locations are wonderful in their own right, but this year I sat on the beach and read a book.  Seriously, a book.  A real book while my children occupied themselves with sand and salt water.  It's been about 10 years since I actually read a book at the ocean.  Heaven. 

The kid spent hours and hours looking fabulous shells.  She caught sand dollars, small fish and built sand mountain after sand mountain.  She could literally spend all week searching and searching for the perfect shell.  She doesn't get this from me.  I'm too impatient, and perhaps my center of gravity is too high, I couldn't be caught spending that much time stooped over white shells.  But I love to watch her do it. 
The colored beach umbrellas say happy day. 

This year bed times were looser.  No one seems to melt down with the fervor of years past, no one naps anymore.  And, everyone just seems to sleep in if they are out at the beach until 9pm.  Heaven. 
There is lots of concentration needed to mix the perfect bucket of sand and salt water.
While Mom is ignoring everyone else, reading a book Grandpa is there to supervise raft floating.  
In addition to the other changes at the beach this year, Liv is now a fish.  A fearless fish.  
They don't like each other too much.  

Watch out kindergarten class, she's coming your way. 
This picture sort of says it all.  Captiva Island, FL is a bit of a dream.