Friday, March 30, 2007

Twinkies, A Bad House and A Squishy Middle

Yes, Loyal Readers. This is a picture of the beloved American Treat, The Twinkie. Jack had his first Twinkie today and loved it. I don't know what came over me but he saw them in the grocery store, tarted up with marketing from Happy Feet, a movie he had just seen, and wanted to try them. So, I figured, what harm could it do? I bought a little two pack and gave him one after dinner. He swooned. Let's face it. What kid doesn't swoon over the Twinkie? What adult? Be truthful, now. Even though you may not have had one in years, you can still remember exactly how they tasted and would love one RIGHT NOW.

Yep. I knew it.

Jack went to school today so I actually got to leave the house. I worked out, had a hair cut and then went to look at a house that just came on the market in a neighborhood I love. The house looked quite promising, though it was bigger than we want to buy. I was excited to see it because houses in this neighborhood never come on the market and because it looked nice on the outside.

There were no pictures of the inside shown on the listing and I figured it was because the listing was really new and they weren't posted yet. Turns out I was wrong. There were no pictures of the inside posted because the inside is GHASTLY. And, not that pictures would show this but the house SMELLS BAD.

Long story short, time stopped in the mid-eighties in this house. Everywhere there was deep pile carpet in faded jewel tones. In most rooms, there was that tacky stripe of a different colored carpet going around the room, about one foot from the walls. The best carpet in the house was a deep red shag in a panelled bedroom. The kitchen was carpeted, I think. The bathrooms I know were carpeted.

The master bedroom had a modest attached master bath but in addition, there was a baby blue laminate counter running along the wall opposite the bathroom door that had baby blue circa 1977 cabinets underneath and a sink. Like half a bathroom right in the middle of the bedroom. The owners were no longer living there, judging by the complete lack of any furniture but they appeared to have left most of their clothing and all of there 1,000,000 books. The realtor and I speculated that they sold all their furniture on e-bay and joined a nudist colony that didn't allow books.

The best decorating touch in the place - and believe me, there were many memorable ones - was the use of a wallpaper border in the master bedroom. Except that it wasn't on the wall. It was on the ceiling. Now, that, I have not seen before.

The whole thing was very sad because the property is beautiful and the street is great. But even at half the price they are asking, it wouldn't be worth the money.

And besides, we haven't even had anyone LOOK at our house, so it isn't as if we are going anywhere anytime soon anyway.

Still, I like to keep up with what is on the market just in case.

In other news, I made a killer Vegan Paella tonight complete with a roasted tomato sauce and a garlic/tofu aioli. The many steps to make this menu took hours but it was worth it. I think it is one of my favorite meals of all time.

And speaking of favorite meals and eating and eating and eating, I have developed a little, well not so little, donut around my middle that I can feel when I sit down or bend down or get on the nifty little rowing machine at the Y. I would like to think that aging has contributed to this shift in soft tissue on my formerly firmer body, but it is more likely that eating has been the strongest factor. Oh, yeah, and a lack of ab exercises.

I am going to turn over a new leaf tomorrow and do some sort of ab workout at least four times a week. There I said it. And, I know my Loyal Readers will hold me to it. Perhaps one of those Perfect Abs in Thirty Days things. Just for the record, I am not doing this solely for vanity - though if tent dresses were in, I might not bother with it. I do realize that no matter what I do I will never have a six pack, unless it is purchased at the local liquor store. I just don't want to feel my gut hanging out there every minute of every day.

We will see how I do. Perhaps I will measure my waist tonight and then again weekly for the next six and see how my progress goes.

I'd like to be able to say that your BloomingtonGirl has better more noble things to worry about other than her squishy middle, but I would be lying. At least today, I would be. Perhaps tomorrow a real problem will come along and knock my gut-worry out of first place, but I kind of hope not. After all, if my gut is my worst problem, isn't my life pretty great?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Toxic Waste, Risotto and Free Ham

This is a picture of my wonderful Mortar & Pestle, which when in use, usually contains interesting whole spices being ground for an exotic and tasty recipe. So what are the colorful spheres in the vessel? TRIX. Yep. Trix are for Kids, TRIX. These little morsels are also known as Toxic Waste in our home. Jack LOVES them more than any other cereal and so every once and awhile, I buy a box (usually at his urging in the store) and he gets to have it as a special treat for an occasional snack or for dessert. Never EVER for breakfast. (I make this clear lest you worry that perhaps you should call social services.) This photograph was taken earlier this evening just prior to Jack having to take a liquid medication that he loathes. I was just about to grind up the Toxic Waste pellets into a coarse powder, mix them with sherbet, add the bad tasting drug and give it to the pampered (some would say completely spoiled) Jack. It still took him a full 20 minutes to dramatically sip the concoction. Honestly, I don't know where he gets his bent for theatrics.

Late yesterday afternoon, after Jack's 102 fever had been taken down with Motrin, he had a craving for "Mrs. So&So's risotto". Jack spends a fair amount of time playing with the her kids and when he at their house, he enjoys having Mrs. So&So make him dinner. She makes great risotto.

"Mommy, will you call Mrs. So&So and ask her to make us dinner tonight? I just love her food and she will make it because I am sick, won't she?"

"I am not going to ask Mrs. So&So to make us dinner, but I will call her and ask her for the recipe for her risotto and I will make it for you." (Don't you wish you were Jack?)

"I am sorry to have to tell you this, Mommy, but it won't be as good as Mrs. So&So's. But, I know! Maybe when you call her and ask her for the recipe she will say, Don't make dinner! I'll make you some risotto."

Loyal Readers, I can't believe my six year old is that cunning. He did speculate correctly and when I called my friend, she did say, I have everything here so why don't I make it for you? But, I insisted that she shouldn't and I got the list of stuff I needed to make it. Jack was well enough to go to the grocery store with me and well enough to ask repeatedly if I was buying the right kind of this and that, the same brand as Mrs. So&So said to buy.

I did buy exactly what she suggested and followed her instructions. But in the end, Jack was right. Not only wasn't it as good as Mrs. So&So's, it didn't taste at all like the risotto she makes. It was good but not very.

But, I completely got the risotto bug as a result. I loved the stirring and the whole process and I am now determined to hone my risotto skills. I will keep my loyal readers posted as I perfect my method and gain weight from trying all my dishes. Not to mention the puffy face I shall have as a result of water retention from all the starch consumption.

Speaking of water retention, I spoke to my mother today who was pleased to inform me that she got a free ham with purchase at the Price Chopper in Utica.

"If you bought over $50 in groceries, you got a free ham. Your Aunt Helen spent over $50 and got a ham. My bill came to $46.56 but they gave me the ham anyway. It was a nice spiral cut butt."

I wonder how many free hams they are giving out. I wonder how much the hams weigh. I wonder if you got your pick of shoulder or butt. I wonder how much giving away free hams is increasing the Price Chopper sales for the week. I wonder why I am spending any time wondering about this.

I don't, however, wonder what my mother will be serving for Easter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Row Row Row

This is a picture of your BloomingtonGirl's latest favorite workout machine, the Concept2 Rowing Machine (fit man not included).

The Y recently got one and I have been trying it out. The other day I rowed for 30 minutes and it wasn't bad. So, being who I am, I went on line to learn exactly what muscle groups were exercised by this machine. I was crushed but not surprised to find out that the abs appear to be completely neglected, according to the diagrams on the website. Alas, I shall have to supplement my rowing with ab work, which I hate to do and don't do and so I have a gut. There. I said it. A gut. Or if you are my dad, you have a hernia. He has this impressive stick-out hard man gut and he blames it on a hernia. Every time Chris and I see a man with a big fat gut, we say, "Wow, get a load of the hernia on that guy!"

I also noticed that you can buy one of these rowing machines on line if you like and I just want to say that if my husband ever asks you what I might like for Mother's Day or my birthday, you might want to check with me and see if I still want one of these. Okay? My back up choice is probably a steam cleaner. As far as romance goes, I am a low maintenance babe.

In other news, Jack was home sick again today with a pretty good fever that spiked at about noon to 103. A friend dropped off some chewable Motrin tablets for him - for some reason I was without that miraculous drug in the house - and abracadabra!!!- about 45 minutes later, he was almost normal. I think that I shall write in to NPR for their "This I Believe" series and do a little essay entitled "I Believe in the Power of Motrin". I could just say Ibuprofen so as to not appear to endorse one brand over another. The rule is that your kid should be kept home for at least 24 hours after a fever has ended so technically he can't go to school tomorrow. I might have to break that rule if he is really well in the morning. Does that make me bad?

Most of today was a quiet day, spent taking care of my little prince and doing the usual cleaning and laundry. I did manage to fit in a beauty treatment of sorts; I scraped the calluses and dry skin off of my feet with one of those razor thingies and finished with a rich moisturizing treatment and a pair of comfy socks. One does not live on housework alone, you know. The inclusion of glamorous spa-type treatments performed at home is an important element in a fulfilling life. Tomorrow, if I am still house bound with little Jack, I plan to work on my cuticles and apply new polish in a lovely spring color. If time allows, I shall use the hair-ripper-outer device to rip out the hair from my thighs. I am not in the mood to spend money on a wax and this works just as well. Spring is here and I want to be ready to don my springy apparel with confidence.

Off to finish I Feel Bad About My Neck, which I am enjoying quite a bit. One of my loyal readers wrote me and wanted to know what happened to Voyage of the Narwhal. Nothing happened to it. It is in the queue on my nightstand along with The Glass Castle and The Worshipful Lucia (one of the wonderful Lucia books by E.F. Benson.) Waiting there as well is The Female Brain, which I started and abandoned, probably for Clarissa.

Chris just came down from checking on Jack and he has a fever once again. Looks like I will be home with the little guy tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Poor Little Jack

On top of two ear infections and an impressive cold, Jack has developed a little flu bug with a fever of 102. The doctor has prescribed another antibiotic and a course of steroids to see if we can clear his ears (the poor kid's most frequent word these days is "What?") and put him on a prescription decongestant. So, in total, his medications are as follows:

AM: Nasonex steroid nose spray to reduce what are suspected to be swollen adenoids
Pulmacort turbohaler - another steroid targeted to his deep lung to prevent pneumonia, which he has been prone to in the past
Bad tasting liquid prescription decongestant
Pretty bad tasting oral steroid
Not so great tasting liquid antibiotic
(You can imagine the challenge of getting him to swallow the last three)

PM: All of the above minus the Nasonex and plus a Singulair allergy chewable tablet, which, thank goodness, tastes good.

I cannot believe that I have a kid on so much medication. And prescribed by a doctor who would like to reduce the medications that Jack is on. Jack was doing so well for awhile but this latest cold (and now this fever thing) has really knocked the poor kid out.

Jack took maybe one antibiotic in his first three years on the planet. The kid NEVER had an ear infection until the past year. Since then, he has had several which haven't cleared up with one course of antibiotic. Could it be Indiana? Hmmmmm. The air here isn't supposed to be so great for people with allergies and respiratory issues.

Your BloomingtonGirl is a bit under the weather, but just a bit. I had enough energy to give myself a facial today while Jack slept, run the robot vacuum cleaner around a couple of rooms, do some laundry and eat two bowls of Lucky Charms. We do not usually have cereals such as Lucky Charms in the house but when we do, I always have a bowl (or two). I LOVE them and they bring me RIGHT back to 220 Bellinger Ave, Herkimer, NY. Add a glass of Hawaiian Punch and I would think I was 8 again. Think what you like about my love of Lucky Charms. Everyone has a weakness and this is one of my several thousand.

Off to read I Feel Bad About My Neck by Norah Ephron. It is wonderful, though I don't feel all that bad about my neck. I feel way worse about my ass. But, as dissatisfactions go, these are good ones to have. They are trivial, are they not?

Monday, March 26, 2007

BloomingGirl's Curiosities

It is late, Loyal Readers but I had to post a couple of things that caught my attention today. First up is a Che Guevera Humidor that was featured in an upscale (to say the least) catalog we received in the mail today.

The copy reads:

Smokin': Revolutionary Style

Colorful, hip and cubano friendly, this handmade lacquer humidor with the iconic portrait of Che Guevara boasts the genius artistry that is the hall mark of Elie Bleu-s Parisian atelier. A humidor to remember the revolutionary Che Guevara. Four different colors, handmade of tinted Sycamore. 10" x 10" x 5 1/2". Multi. $2900.

I wonder what the revolutionary himself would think of having his face put on an object that those for whom he fought couldn't begin to afford. When they wrote "iconic" did they really mean ironic?

Next up is a topic that came up over dinner tonight with out of town guests from Smithfield, Virginia, home of the Smithfield Ham company. The company made the "largest ham biscuit in the world" a few years back.

It was 8 feet in diameter, required a forklift to lift the biscuit part and was filled with 500 pounds of Smithfield ham. I don't even know what to say about such a thing. No wonder some people hate Americans. Millions of people don't have enough food to eat and we are making 2 ton sandwiches for display.

It's a weird world, no getting around it.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Our First Tractor Pull

Today, Jack and I witnessed our very first tractor pull.

I know my Loyal Readers will need a moment to recover from their horror at the thought of their delicate BloomingtonGirl attending a tractor pull. You may begin to wonder what is next? Monster Cars? Jello Wrestling? Running for County Fair Queen?

Well, worry not, Loyal Readers. This tractor pull, as you can see in the photo, was not an authentic Billy-Bob tractor pull. No, it was conducted by an Entomologist from Purdue University as part of a lecture/program he gave today for kids at Bloomington's own outstanding science museum, The Wonderlab.

Madagascar cockroaches were hitched up to little toy tractors and put on a race track. Three roaches representing IU, Purdue and Notre Dame competed. The IU roach won by an antennae. It was a thrilling contest of strength and speed. Well, not that much speed, truth-be-told. The Madagascar Cockroach is known for its strength rather than its speed. Its faster cousin, The American Cockroach is the speedster. In fact, the American Cockroach is one of the fastest animals alive, if you adjust for its size. If you were an American Cockroach, you would be able to run 100 miles per hour. Just a little factoid I picked up at the scintillating bug lecture.

Another delightful creature that Jack got to pet and hold today was a giant African Millipede. I could have held it myself, but I didn't want to deprive any kids of their turn to hold this creature.

In other news, Chris and I went out for dinner tonight at one of our favorite Bloomington restaurants, Samira. It is an Afghani place and the food is ALWAYS outstanding. Jack stayed behind with Kyla, one of his beautiful sorority sister babysitters from IU. He talked her into taking him to her apartment so he could play with her new puppy. Her seven equally lovely housemates were there and they all doted on the delighted little Jack. I fear that he will grow up expecting a harem of devoted women to be anticipating his every need and laughing at his every little joke. Don't get me wrong. It isn't that I don't think that my son deserves such treatment. It is just that I fear that it will be hard for him to find.

Well, I am off to read Voyage of the Narwhal, though I wasn't encouraged by the first little part of it that I got through. It hasn't grabbed me yet. But to be fair, Clarissa is a tough act to follow.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pink-Eye & Foolish for Poolish

So, this morning, I wake up with a crusty eye and when I look in the mirror, I notice that it is a bit pink. As the day progressed, it felt like there was dust in my eye and in the later afternoon and (now) evening, it is beginning to itch. I put some pink-eye drops in it and I hope that will do the trick. What childhood malady is next for this middle-aged mom? Lice? Stay tuned.

Today was a stay-at-home day for this stay-at-home mom. I dropped Jack off at school and came directly home instead of going to the Y for my almost daily morning work-out. I felt like going back to bed, but that seemed too decadent. Instead, I decided to make bread and split-pea soup and clean up the house in case someone wanted to look at it this weekend. (Which they won't because the market is VERY slow right now, but at least the house really is nice and clean. And, that makes your Bloomingtongirl happy.) I continue to be surprised at how much I like the domestic life. Several of my friends are even more surprised than I. I never thought I would be content without a career but I am happier doing this than anything I have ever done. Who knew?

Today, I made the same bread that made the other day, but I let the Poolish sit for two and a half hours rather than the thirty minutes I allowed the first time I made it. Poolish is the French name for what we call a "sponge" here in the good old US of A. Letting it ferment for a longer period of time is supposed to develop more flavor but today's bread was not nearly as flavorful as the other day's. It was still good, but a bit disappointing. A friend to whom I gave a loaf described it as having a "subtle" taste. I responded that I thought that "subtle" was a handy word for BLAND. I always know that what I have prepared for dinner is under flavored when my husband describes it as "subtle". I shall make another batch of bread tomorrow, paying special attention to how I make and handle the Poolish so as to maximize flavor. I am keenly interested in this Poolish thing. Foolish for Poolish, one could say.

This is a picture of Poolish. It isn't mine, I have to admit...I stole this from someone else's website. But my Poolish looks very much like this one. Tomorrow I shall photograph all steps of my Poolish and dough making because I know that BloomingtonGirl readers want to know ALL.

I have nothing else remotely interesting on which to opine this evening, my friends. I am going to go and scrub my face and brush my fangs and go to bed and read. First, I shall finish the author's postscript from Clarissa and then I shall start a new book. The Voyage of the Narwhal has been recommended to me by the very same sage who recommended Clarissa. I might start that even though I don't like the work Narwhal. I don't know why, but it just sounds wrong.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

170 Minutes of Dental Work

Greetings from a Dental Chair, Loyal Readers, where I am having my 170 minutes of Dental Work. (That is how long the receptionist told me to allow for this appointment.) I have just been injected with enough Novocaine to numb a small horse as you can see from my sagging lip. Because Novocaine has epinephrine in it, I always get a huge rush when I get it. My hands get shaky and my legs tingle and I want to shout "Wheee!!!" Once my heart stops racing and the numbness sets in, the dentist will come in and start drilling away. Yippee.

Below are The Dentist (right) and the Dental Assistant (left) pictured with your Bloomingtongirl, who is all decked out in her glamorous safety goggles, sufficiently numbed up for the work to begin. The work, by the way, will be done on a back tooth that is cracking under the weight of a GIANT filling. Today, I will have that tooth prepared for a partial crown. As many of you may have suspected, I have always wanted to wear a crown.

This next photo is of your poor Bloomingtongirl having an impression of her tooth taken for the lab. I took this after over an hour of drilling, thus the less than enthusiastic look. Truth be told, this is the second shot of the pose. When I viewed the first shot, I noticed that there was a huge string of drool cascading down my chin onto my chest. Of course, it wasn't because of vanity that I did the re-take. I just wanted to spare the gentle sensibilities of my readers. Note the friendly Dental Hygienist in the background. They didn't let on, but I am sure that she and the Dentist thought I was a strange one, taking pictures and writing through the procedure.

Soon after the shot above was taken, I developed a severe reaction to the Novocaine which resulted in extreme and unattractive swelling. As you can see in the photo below, my entire head appears to be distorted.

Fortunately, the swelling stopped and I was able to be released about a half hour later with warnings not to chew on ice or popcorn kernels with my temporary crown. I am not one of those crazy people who chew on ice or popcorn kernels, so the warning was wasted on me. Who does these things?

The rest of my afternoon passed uneventfully other than the brief period of bliss I experienced when I had a Peach Banana Smoothie. My Loyal Readers will be happy to know that I am ship-shape at the time of this writing, with just a touch of soreness in my jaw muscles.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Good evening, Loyal Readers. As you can see from this photo, your BloomingtonGirl has been busy in the kitchen today. This is a Multi-Grain Hearty Bread (or something like that) from the CookSmart cookbook, recommended to me years ago by my good friend, Amy. I had never baked anything out of it until today. And...SUCCESS!! If only I could provide a link to the smell of this freshly baked bread on this site. I am happy to report that it tastes as good as it looks.

For some reason, I am on a bread baking kick this week. Yesterday, I made whole wheat focaccia. I don't think it came out as it was supposed to and I suspect it is because it did not rise much on the second rising. But, it was really delicious. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I ate about half of it for lunch today. So much for self control.

In other news, Jack developed quite a little cold and two ear infections so he has been home from school yesterday and today. I am delighted to report that contrary to my expectations that I would be at my wits end after two straight weeks with him, I have had a great time with him. Tomorrow, though, he goes back to school and I go back to working out. It will be just in time, too, or I would have to buy a whole new fat wardrobe.

Oh! Look at the time. It is 10:29 and I must go to bed. Clarissa calls. I am almost finished and am eager to do so.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saturday & A Little Meg & Kate Update (Written Saturday Night)

Good evening, Loyal Readers. Your BloomingtonGirl writes to you from her TempurPedic bed, snug under the covers, relaxing after a pleasant day.

Chris is working this weekend, so Jack and I are on our own, as we have been all week. This morning, Jack and I had a delicious breakfast, practiced piano, went to the Y, where Jack played in the childcare room while I worked off (in advance) the cocktails and snacks I would consume later at my friend Jenny's house. And, now that it is much later and I have, as planned, consumed cocktails and snacks at my friend Jenny's house, I can say that my consumption calories most certainly exceeded my previously expended calories. Alas, life is like that sometimes.

And, now some serious musing:

This is a picture from several months ago of Jack and Betsy in the bathtub. Someday, Betsy will be completely grossed out that she bathed with her uncle, but for now, it is really sweet. This picture has little to do with what follows, other than it is a picture of two little tykes in our happy family.

And, this is a picture of Meg taken last summer. While it isn't the very best picture I have of her, it shows how happy she is. And, that does relate to what follows.

Yesterday, Jack and I met Meg and her husband Abram and their daughter Betsy in at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis. We had a wonderful time. Meg and Abram have really made their marriage work despite getting married so young and having a baby right away. They are committed to each other, respectful of each other and have a great time together. Both are loving and effective parents to Betsy, who is completely adorable and smart and healthy and well adjusted socially. Meg is going to school part-time to get a nursing degree, working part-time at the Y in child care (where she can bring Betsy with her) and is keeping a nice house and cooking for her family. Her energy level is impressive and she is happier than I have ever seen her. Abram is working for the city of Kokomo (where they live) in a job that he really likes and on the side, he is setting up his own business doing guitar repair and building custom guitars. I had such concerns about them getting married and having a baby so young, but clearly, my fears were not realized. I am delighted to have been wrong.

This is a picture of Kate and Jack taken last fall in New York. Jack loves his sisters and they adore him. Aren't we so lucky?

Kate is working as a paralegal for a big deal law firm in NYC and has become appropriately disillusioned about the practice of law. She has decided not to go to law school at this point and is probably going to go back into science. Kate lives in Manhattan with her boyfriend of many years, Phil. As most of my loyal readers know, I adore him and I completely respect the relationship they have. I was always of the mind that Kate and Meg should get married when they were older and "make it on their own" first. But, in Meg's case, I can see that for her, getting married very young is working very well for her; indeed it was probably the best thing for her. And, in Kate's case, if she were to choose to marry Phil at age 23, I would give her my blessing.

One of the unexpected gifts of being a parent - I specifically am referring to being a step-parent to Kate and Meg - is that I have had the experience of thinking I know what is right for them only to find out (fighting it all the way) that I was completely wrong or that there were other paths they could choose that were just as good for them. (Don't get me wrong. I have been right LOTS of times.) But, the process of having to change my mind and admit that I was wrong - even if it is just to myself - has enabled me to be (very comfortably) less certain about lots of things. (What I mean is that I realize that I can't know what is right for someone else and that I don't have to be right or worry about what someone else should or shouldn't do.)

This is as rambling a post as I have written in some time and I apologize. But, I am touching on a theme that I will put aside to develop more fully because it has been such a powerful letting-go tool in my life.

And, I didn't even realize it until right now. Who knew that Kate and Meg could teach me so much without even trying?

Thursday, March 15, 2007



Phew. No more shouting.

I am cozy in bed while Chris watches the IU game in the living room at a volume that suggests to me that he might be starting to go a bit deaf. So far IU is ahead and as long as that lasts, he will probably continue to watch it. I would get up and watch it too, but I have to finish writing to you and I need to read some Clarissa. I am almost finished with it and I want to see if my guess about the ending is correct. Of course, I won't give even a hint about the ending of the book in any of my posts, so as not to spoil it for my Loyal Readers, who surely have either already started Clarissa or will very soon, based on their BloomingtonGirl's good opinion of the novel.

In other news, I slaved in the kitchen today to make a Vegan Moussaka. It was quite good and I served it with a side dish of red chard sauteed with a garlic/sea salt/olive oil paste and topped with sliced Kalamata olives. It was really salty so I loved it and Chris didn't.

Time for Clarissa.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Varieties of Spring Break Outings

Jack's official spring break is this week, even though we "celebrated it" last week by taking him out of school to go to Puerto Rico. This week, he is home with me while Chris is working.

Many of Jack's friends are out of town as are just about all of his babysitters, since IU has the same break as all the other schools in town. I knew it wouldn't be good for either Jack or me to simply stay home every day alone together, so my goal was to plan little outings.

As of Wednesday, I am happy to report that we have had a little outing every day. Here is my summary to date.

On Monday, our outings were modest. We visited our beloved BloomingFoods and did the Big Shop in order to restock our bare cupboards after our trip. After that, we stopped at the Neiman Marcus of Bloomington - also known as Target - to pick up something we needed, but I cannot for the life of me remember what the heck it was. While there, however, Jack ogled the Lego aisle and decided what kits he wanted to save up for.

On Tuesday, Jack and I spent an enjoyable day at the Indianapolis Zoo to which we had not ventured before. We have been spoiled by the St. Louis Zoo but I have to say that the Indy Zoo was very nice, indeed. It was a lovely day and we ran into some good friends and saw the Dolphin show with them. It reminded me a bit of SeaWorld (which I actually loathe) but it wasn't as big and flashy, so it was tolerable. I was planning to write a little essay on the lunch cafe but time has not allowed for it yet this week. Stay tuned for that because I think it is going to be good, if I do say so myself.

Today, we were a bit at a loss for an outing. Jack had developed what looked to be a raging case of pink eye complete with an impressive amount of chartreuse exudate. Until treated for 24 hours with eye-drops, his contagion would prevent us from having a play date or going to the library or (the wonderful) Wonderlab. Around noon, we both were getting a little cranky, so I suggested that we have a delicious lunch of some of Jack's favorite foods. I made some pesto, one of Jack's favorite dishes. He used to LOVE it back in the day, but ever since he was diagnosed with peanut and other tree nut allergies three and a half years ago, we of course have not served it. But, recently, although he tested Positive with a capital P to Peanuts again, he tested negative to those tree nuts to which he had been allergic, so we started introducing Pesto again. With no ill effects.

Until today, that is.

Soon after Jack started eating the pesto at lunch, he began to complain of a pain in his throat and said he was going to throw-up. At first I thought he was just being his usual very dramatic self, wailing and gnashing his teeth over a minor discomfort. (You should see the theatrics when this poor little guy gets a teeny weeny splinter.) But it rapidly became evident that he was having an allergic reaction and lets just say it put the fear of God into this atheist's heart. Long story short, I got him into the car and drove to the ER, made-for-TV-movie style, laying on the horn in intersections, going 65 in a 30 mile zone, going through red lights (with caution, of course) while assuring my six-year old with the swelling lips in the backseat that he was going to be fine even though Mommy was driving like there was man behind us training an automatic weapon on us. Since Jack wasn't having any clear respiratory distress and could still talk, I didn't give him his epi-pen. (Looking back, perhaps this was stupid and I am going to rethink this approach should Jack have an allergic reaction again - as it probably will. I just am reluctant to jam the larger-than-life needle into his skinny little thigh unless I absolutely have to.)

Much to my relief, he vomited on the way to the ER (super mom was prepared with an emesis basin of sorts - my mother's old Revere ware mixing bowl, which, I happen to like very much. I usually don't have my kid puke into it, but it was easy to grab as we were leaving the house.) At the ER, I pulled up my car, got Jack out and left the vomit filled bowl next to the wheel on the ground. I was reasonably sure that nobody would steel my heirloom bowl, given its contents and I am happy to report that I was right.

Long story short, after three hours of waves of hives, steroids, a nebulizer, Benadryl and (thank goodness) SpongeBob on the TV, we were released. By that time, Jack had gone from being a very sick little guy to being an energetic kid with a new lease on life and a strong desire to go immediately to Target to make good on his mother's promise to get him that Lego Aqua-Raider kit he had been coveting for weeks.

And so we did and the rest of the day passed in a manner much more enjoyable.

Stay tuned for a report of what I hope will be less eventful outings for the remaining two days of this week.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Culebra, Small World & Parenting Woes

(Written Wed. evening)

I write to you, Loyal Readers, with a song in my heart and a little burn on my shoulders. Today, we spent the day on Playa Flamenco on the tiny island of Culebra, about an hour ferry ride from the main island of Puerto Rico. Apparently this beach is consistently ranked as on of the world’s loveliest - probably one of the ten thousand top fifty beaches - but from this photo, perhaps you can see why the praises of this gorgeous spot are sung with so much enthusiasm.

Here is a picture of Jack playing in the surf, fully recovered from his impressive seasickness on the ferry ride over. The ride back, I am happy to report, was without incident.

Here is a picture of your BloomingtonGirl’s tootsies soaking up the sun on the beach. I took a brief break from reading the best novel I have ever read - Clarissa, in case you haven’t guessed- to snap that photo for your viewing pleasure. In case you are wondering, I am now on page 1283. I tore the book into two pieces about page 1050 so that I would not have to lug the entire tome on vacation. I was a bit sorry to ruin what has become my favorite novel of all time, but I shall put the hardcover Clarissa on my Christmas list.

On the ferry ride over, I espied the man pictured here. Look closely, Loyal Readers, and you will see that his shirt is emblazoned with the name of my beloved hometown! I had to ask him for a picture because this is exactly the kind of thing my dad loves. It turns out that he is from Utica and spends quite a bit of time in Puerto Rico. He knew a family on my childhood street. Small world, eh?

Overall, this vacation has been good, with things particularly picking up today. We had our doubts about Jack being able to take the drive to the ferry, the ferry ride and the (tiny) hardships of being on a little adventure in a very little town with questionable amenities. But, he surprised us with his good behavior. Because, I hate to say it, the downside of this trip until today has been the difficult-spoiled-only-child behavior of our difficult-spoiled (for all practical purposes because his sisters are so much older) only-child. I hope that today’s pleasant turn for the better in that department lasts the rest of the week. It is challenging to discipline a kid on vacation. I find that my only comfort in this is to remember what a back-talking brat I was to my mother. I turned out okay after all, so there is hope for Jack perhaps.

I always thought I would be a better parent than I turned out to be - so lofty was I in my parenting beliefs. I suppose that the humbling fall from arrogance that happened to me as a mother happens to many people, particularly those who have their kids late enough in life to be able to spend many childless adult years harshly judging the parenting shortcomings of their siblings and friends. Ha! The joke has been on me. I find that parenting is hard because it is always calling me to rise above my own childishness to be a mature and calm role model to my six year-old. And, it has become clear to me that I have failed to do that consistently. How has it become clear? Because I hear Jack parroting slightly sarcastic, or exasperated things that he learned straight from me when I am angry at him. Not a nice thing to observe about myself, believe you me. But, I know that I am not the only one out there. I am working on it, but it is slow going for a hot head such as myself.

Tomorrow, we are going to say at the resort, work out, lounge, read, swim and have a Mojito or two (sorry Katie!). On Friday, we are planning to do a walking tour of Old San Juan. Saturday, alas, we return to Indiana.

Adios for now.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Hola Loyal Readers! Tonight's featured picture is of an unknown man close to me at poolside relaxing and reading his Sports Illustrated. I thought it was interesting that a man with this less than athletic bod would choose a sports magazine as his relaxing read. Upon further reflexion, though, my guess is that most of the readership of that magazine is built similarly to the man featured here. I hope that people don't think similar thoughts about your less than model figured BloomingtonGirl when she is reading her latest Vogue poolside.

Enough of that topic. More important to report is this: Your BloomingtonGirl has lost her fight against the overwhelming urge to completely relax and has surrendered herself to the embrace of this island resort and its luxuries. Pivotal to my ability as a naturally anxious person to relax has been my embrace of my new favorite cocktail, the Mojito. The Mojito, as many of my Readers may know, is a delightfully delicious and refreshing concoction made from fresh lime juice, club soda, sugar, rum and slightly ground fresh mint leaves. It is shaken and served over ice. The first is delicious and the second, sublime. I highly recommend this libation and I shall begin my quest to make the perfect Mojito when I return to the mainland. YUM!

I have never been particularly interested in going to Puerto Rico. Not averse, mind you, it just wasn’t on my list of places to go. But, I can see now, what the allure of the island is. It is relatively easy to get to and one does not have to go through the nusiance of customs. And, it has absolutely gorgeous scenery and genuinely nice people.

The Westin where we are staying is a bit large for our taste and has, in our pretty critical opinion, food that is below what should be the standard for such an expensive resort. Plus, it rubs me the wrong way when a place charges a fortune for a basic room and yet does not include something as basic as internet service. I refuse to pay for the convenience of access in my room so I blog to you from the lobby where access is free. We have the room for free and that makes it acceptable. I would be pretty disappointed if we had paid full freight for it. But, all that having been said, the place offers nice accomodations and a great couple of pools and a decent kids' camp. And, the weather has been perfect. So, in spite of the Westin's shortcomings, we are enjoying ourselves.

Well, I must go upstairs and pack for our little excursion tomorrow to a small island off the east coast of PR, which small island is said to have the loveliest beach in all Puerto Rico (some say the Carribean). Indeed, the pictures give me hope to believe it.

More later from Puerto Rico. (Forgive any spelling errors - for some reason my spell check doesn't work here and I am too tired to do it on my own.)

Monday, March 05, 2007

En Espanol....

Loyal readers, I am in Puerto Rico where everything comes up in Spanish on the Blogger website!

I will blog about our trip at length later in the week. For now, you will have to be content with a brief check--in from your BloomingtonGirl, who is retaining water from the consumption of the copious amounts of salt in the local diet. Well, to be more accurate, I am retaining the local diet. Never mind. I am sure you didn't tune in to read about your poor BloomingtonGirl's bloating and pesky weight gain made all the more obvious by sauntering about the resort in a bathing suit.

This is a picture of one of the pools at the resort at which we are staying. We got the entire six-day stay for free by using the American Express points I have accumulated from years of business travel (years ago) and from the compulsive purchasing of boots (recent past). That makes the trip sweeter. Free is always better than not.

More later. I have to go and tuck our little Jack in.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Pedicured Zoo Animal Feet

Loyal Readers, here they are! My pedicured zoo animal feet. I am taking a liberty by using the descriptor "pedicured" because technically, they are not pedicured. If they were, they would have been exfoliated and moisturized and de-cuticled and all that. What I have done is sort of taken care of my cuticles by attempting to push them back with a specially slanted stick and painted the nails with polish. Four coats, to be precise. A base coat, two color coats and a top coat for shine and durability. The color, I know, is a bit controversial. You either love it or hate it. I love it and that is what is important. The grey fuzzy things are leg warmers that I put on to keep my tooties warm while my nails dry.

Last night, when I was sitting on the bed, typing happily away on this very lap top while the first color coat was drying, my husband put his foot next to mine and commented that our feet were shaped very differently. I observed that he was indeed correct and said (in my often too frank manner) that his feet were weirdly shaped and that his toes were freakishly long. His response was that his feet were just fine and that my toes were - and I quote - stumpy. (!)

You can imagine that there was no exciting romantic activity after that exchange.

I will leave it up to my Loyal Readers to decided whether my toes are indeed stumpy or simply petite, as I like to think of them.

In other news, I frantically cleaned the house today and got stuff ready for our trip. It is a drag to be getting the house ready for showing and to be leaving for vacation at the same time. The upside, though, is that when we come back, we will be coming back to a perfectly clean and orderly home and that, my Loyal Readers, will be a treat.

Well, off to read about the poor Clarissa and her trials and tribulations.

I'll bet that she didn't have such a fetching shade of toenail polish on her little feet....

Thursday, March 01, 2007

No Title Comes to Mind

Loyal Readers and neglected friends (those whose phone calls I haven't returned lately), this is a photo of the style of house I long to live in. It is lately top of mind because we put our house back on the market as of today. Chris and I are deeply ambivalent about it but we are doing it anyway because we think it is prudent and right to live smaller than we are living. Our house is just too big and the amount of land is more than we need. If we were on a wooded lot with very little landscaping maintenance (or, more to the point WEEDING) needed, we would probably stay put. However, we are not on a wooded lot, but rather three acres of yard and that sort of tilts the balance. I am not confident that the place will sell and I will have mixed feelings if it does. I have no idea where we are going to live because there are no houses on the market that interest me at all. ( I would say "us" instead of me, but I am the one doing all the hunting, so there.) There are precious few modern houses and those that are around are decidedly not for sale. I have been thinking of going up to houses that I like and leaving them cookies and brownies with a note expressing interest in their home. Based on the reactions I usually get to my HoosierMama brownies and Oatmeal Jacksons, I bet I would at least get a response back. You never know.

In other news, I painted my sad little toenails tonight a very fetching dark, almost black maroon. My feet look SO much better now. I bought a pair of new sandals today for our upcoming vacation and thought they deserved to be filled by something better than zoo animal feet. It is amazing how pedicured feet can make one feel so much more attractive. An illusion, no doubt, but a pleasant one just the same. My sparkling toes are drying as I write this. To be sure, they are a bit chilly and would rather be under the covers, but as Mme. Searles my completely anorexic high school French teacher used to say, "Pour etre belle, il faut suffrir." I hope I got that right. She sure looked like she was suffering. (But she was a really nice lady and a great teacher.)

In other other news, we had a horrific and long thunderstorm last night which was a bit bizarre given the time of year. It kept us up for awhile. Tonight, the wind is whipping like crazy. I hope we don't get another storm because I can use a good night's sleep.

That's all for tonight because I must attend to my lady, Clarissa. What a story, Loyal Readers! Whoever has picked up this book on my recommendation, raise your hand!