Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy (GASP) Thanksgiving (COUGH) To All! (GASP)

Update on Husband: Things still look good. Although we didn't end up getting his blood results before Thanksgiving hit, he still went to church yesterday. I didn't even wake him up, figuring he was going to stay home until he knew for sure if he still had an immune system, but when I came back to my room after rousting the kids out of bed and feeding them breakfast, there he was all dressed in his Sunday best and combing his hair. It was very nice to sit next to him in the chapel.


It was a lovely week, all around. Despite all of my kids, who were hacking and coughing and having sore throats, Thanksgiving and post-Thanksgiving Friday were wonderful. We had family over on Thursday (yummy, juicy turkey), and on Friday we went to my parents' house to see the family members who couldn't make it Thursday. I got to hold my new little niece, who is beautiful and delightful and so, so intelligent (like her parents and her siblings. And her favorite aunt, of course.)

Pictures, you ask? I promised pictures? Remind me not to do that again. I jinxed the camera and the battery died. The battery charger hasn't arrived yet, so all I have are a few test shots of the kitchen island, which I will post since I don't have anything else. I will post them when the battery charger arrives, of course, because the camera won't turn on otherwise. (Do I do the same thing to cameras that I do to watches? Is it me??)

Friday night, we forgot to take the asthma inhaler with us. We didn't remember that we'd forgotten until it was too late to turn around. By dinner time, poor Sophia was gasping and her back hurt from the tension of trying to breathe. We put her into the bathroom and turned on the hot shower to steam things up while my sister ran to 7-11 to get her a cup of coffee. Sophia sat in the steamy bathroom and sipped old, bitter coffee for a while before we left to take her home. Being LDS, we don't drink coffee, of course, and this worried the other children tremendously. Husband explained that the coffee was being used medicinally in this case, just like there is alcohol in cough syrup ("There's alcohol in cough syrup??" exclaimed Elannah. "Good or bad alcohol?" Um, well, alcohol is just alcohol, dear. It's all in how you use it, although there are certainly alcohols you wouldn't want to drink recreationally or medicinally. Which reminds me of a story of our tour guide in Italy...).

Anyway, halfway home, Sophia was fine again. She got to quit drinking the coffee, which she said tasted awful, and it was Joseph who ended up needing the nebulizer when we arrived back at our house. He was okay after taking the breathing medicine, and I slathered Vic's Vapo-Rub all over the soles of his feet to calm his cough. We didn't end up missing dessert after all because my mother sent us home with one of her home-made pumpkin pies.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving Day Turkey Brining Ruminations

Update on Husband: For two weeks in a row, Husband's blood numbers have increased, which is a very good thing. He just had his blood drawn yesterday and we should hear the results today. If the levels are up again, he has decided he will start attending church on Sundays once again. I am very excited about that, although I had lots of practice getting all the kids ready and going by myself when he was a bishop. It will be very nice to sit next to him.


You know how life gets all busy and crazy and you have a million things to remember to do, so you're happy to simply remember at least some of them, but that prevents you from thinking very deeply because living on the surface is just about all you have the energy and time for?

I feel almost frantic these days, and it isn't one of those feelings I enjoy. I mentioned that before in this blog. I like to have time to sit and ponder things a bit, and I don't like being so busy with a to-do list that I can never catch up.

The good news is this: I have made great inroads to completing the arrangement of Silent Night for piano, cello, two violins, and a flute. I went over to my parents' house on Monday morning, and my dad gave me a crash course in Finale, a music writing software program. He also let me borrow his laptop that has Finale on it so I could come home and carefully and slowly insert notes for each instrument and hear how things sound all together.

Today, I brine the turkey. Fortunately, once it's in the brine bath I don't have to do anything -- just let it sit and soak up salt and water. It's nice when things get done and you don't even have to be there to keep them going. I won't cook an un-brined turkey anymore. Once I found out how juicy and flavorful turkey breast tastes after 24 hours in a salt bath with vegetables and seasonings, I was spoiled. I use a big cooler, an entire box of Kosher salt, some raw carrots, onion wedges, celery leaves, pepper, and other seasonings. It works wonders. You can't do the table presentation of a marvelously golden-brown turkey surrounded by stuffing and garnishes, but wonderfully golden-brown turkey usually means the breast meat is dry. I'll take taste over presentation when it comes to turkey. You're going to have a lot of it (I bought a 20 pound turkey this year), so it had better be fit for eating day after day.

This year, there will be pictures of Thanksgiving and family. I finally have the batteries (no battery charger, yet, but the batteries I got are fully charged) for the camera, so I can take pictures of everything.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I am troubled. I don't have my food storage completed and this is very troubling to me. I think it's very, very important that every one of us have a full year's supply of food, and I don't have it done. It's keeping me up at night.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Invasion of the "Huns"

I really like living in a small town. One big advantage is that a traffic jam consists of seven cars. It's also nice that you can reach any destination in my town within 10 minutes. Our town is not so small that you could possibly know everyone, but I often see familiar cars driving around, even if I do not know their owners.

One odd habit of small town dwellers, however, is that so many people call you "hun." For you non-native English speakers, "hun" is short for "honey," which is a term of endearment between spouses or parents and children. In the movies, it's the middle aged waitress in the dingy diner who calls you Hun in a raspy smoker's voice while she smacks her gum and gets her order pad out.

"What can I getcha, Hun?"

I don't mind middle aged waitresses calling me Hun. That's fine. They've earned it. But the other day, I was at the drive-through line for a burger and the order taker, who looked like she was no older than 18, kept calling me Hun. And she repeated it at the end of every sentence, as if she had a record to break for the number of times she said it.

"Can I take your order, Hun?"
"What kind of soda did you want, Hun?"
"Ice, Hun?"
"Ketchup or fry sauce, Hun?"
That'll be $5.20, Hun."
"Here's your change, Hun."
"Your food will be right out, Hun."
"Here you go, Hun."

I figure the middle age waitresses must start somewhere with the habit, but I never realized that they started out as young order takers in fast food restaurants. And the way this girl said it was like it was foreign to her, as if she were just starting the habit and continuing through force of will. Maybe someone told her that's what you say in a small town restaurant or the customers get miffed.

It happens at the grocery store, too. There, the Hun-ners are closer to my age, and they seem comfortable with the word, not finding it necessary to end every sentence with it. It still throws me off a bit, but I can accept it.

I'll accept it from the skinny young girl at the fast food restaurant, too, because those burgers are to die for.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Yo! I Ate Your Plums. Cold. But Good. Thanks. And Sorry.

Update on Husband: This week's blood results are in! Neutrophils are down to 1.1 (when they fall below 1.0, we have to worry), platelets are slightly up, and hemoglobin is the same. While Husband has enjoyed going back to work this week, it wears him out. Every day after he gets home he crashes for a nap. Still, he's enjoying teaching again, and the kids in his class seem to really like his book. He's been reading a little bit out loud to them every day.


On Sunday night, my brother, Aaron, came over for dinner. After dinner, the kids pulled out a book of poetry and began reading it out loud, which is usually enough of a reason for Sophia to start laughing so hard she gets wheezy and needs to take her asthma medicine. This night was no exception.

Either I'm really, really uneducated when it comes to what makes good poetry or I'm extremely picky. To me, poetry is probably one of the hardest things to get right. When it's really good, it is a thing of sheer beauty. But when it's bad...

And poetry is so often bad.

For instance, the girls read one poem that sounded like it had been written on a post-it note and stuck to a fridge somewhere:

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

~William Carlos Williams

Now, most of you reading that poem would probably sigh in delight and think about the wonderful image it paints. After all, it came from a book entitled The Best Poems Ever: a collection of poetry's greatest voices, edited by Edric S. Mesmer.

Even I can see that the poem looks and sounds lovely in its printed form. I, however, first heard it read out loud by a sarcastic 15 year old and I couldn't help thinking that I could have written that post-it (although I would not be likely to eat cold plums. I have sensitive teeth, you see.)That's how much of a Philistine I am. To make matters worse, I've corrupted most of my children, apparently.

Sian actually happens to be a poet, and she is shaping up to be a very good one. She's not only a natural poet, she works hard at it. As soon as she posts her latest, I will provide a link to it here.

I decided to try and come up with a poem, but since I have no faith in my abilities, the poem would, of necessity, be pretty awful. I already have the title: Amateur Mushroom Hunter. I'll post it when I finish it. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Or something like that.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Another of My Endless Theories

Update on Husband: I noticed a couple days ago that my blog was mentioned in the Neighborhood News of my former ward as the place to get updates on Husband's condition. Therefore, I welcome any friends who may be checking up on how things are going. Yes, you are in the right spot. I use a pseudonym for myself, Husband, and the kids, but you're in the right place.

Summary: Things are going quite well, thank you. Husband is going back to work tomorrow. His class will be back on track. He's feeling pretty good, if still tired (low hemoglobin), and he's been fixing things up in the yard and the house. Today he made sure the kitchen was so tidy I couldn't help but be inspired to make cookies and other baked goodies. Smart man.


Here's my theory, developed long, long ago, on the real reason people hate talking to salesmen:

They are afraid they'll get sold something they don't really want.

Admit it! Deep inside, you're afraid you'll somehow buy something you didn't want; that, somehow, some mysterious hypnotism will overcome you and the next thing you know, you're waking up with a roomful of encyclopedias and a checking account that's $2000 lighter. Or, even more frightening, that you've recently converted to a different religion.

I know people say it's because pushy salesmen are so annoying, or religious fanatics knocking at their door right during dinner or TV time is just the height of bad manners, but a little investigation will prove that it's really about fear.

The reason I even set about forming this theory was because I had to explain why so many people slammed the door in my face when I was a missionary, though I was ever so polite and non-confrontational. Yes, I know that having someone come to your door or approach you in the street to talk about religion is the quintessential no-no, but I knew it was much more than mere botheration that caused so much anger.

Once I figured it out (and I may have only figured it out for us passive-aggressive types), I am much less worried about talking in a friendly manner to people at my door. Whether they are trying to sell me something or share their beliefs, I am willing to hear them out, and I'm not worried that I'll somehow end up with the encyclopedias or the vacuum or joining a different church because I was overcome with charm or charisma. (I am still wary with people over the phone, however. They like to talk fast and sell immediately, and I have no interest in buying something I haven't had a chance to look over, thank you very much.)

Through experience, I also know when to politely stop a sales rep with a firm "no, thank you." And I just don't answer the door when the Kirby Vacuum people come around. They never leave once they get in the door. Never. In fact, I believe we must have brought one with us when we moved here. Sometimes there's a strange knocking sound from one of the boxes in the garage...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Memories of My Killer Brain

Update on Husband: Good news yesterday! Husband's white blood cell count doubled, which puts him well into the "I have an immune system" Club range. Although his platelets fell again for the third week in a row (which even his doctor admitted was weird), he can go to work with just a little less worry. He has decided to station a table with three large hand sanitizer pumps outside his classroom door and require anyone who leaves to sanitize upon entering. This might cut down on absences in his class, as well, if the kids aren't getting as sick. Today he went to work to begin preparations for next week, when his class comes back on track.


I spent a very short time, during my pregnancy with Sian, being addicted to soap operas. I got over it when I realized that a) the plots never moved along, and b) those characters were all deeply insane. What person in their right mind would hang out at a hospital all day, plotting and scheming fantastically unwise plans for revenge that never, EVER work out quite the way they expect?

I know, of course, that all those characters are completely fictitious, so you don't need to worry that I had a break with reality or anything. Nevertheless, I am addicted to a soap opera again. This time, it's the South Korean soap, Cinderella's Sister, and it doesn't even faze me that I have to read subtitles. (I'm used to that with my fascination for Bollywood films.)

Also, Lyn said something in a comment on my last post that reminded me of another time when my brain has tried to kill me. I already told you about the time during pregnancy when I would find myself walking into the kitchen to get a spoon to eat dirt from the backyard (and which horrible craving was solved by taking an iron supplement). At times, when I was severely sleep deprived, I would be driving around running errands. If I had a book in the passenger seat for those inevitable waits in doctor's offices, the DMV, or if I grabbed lunch out, I would have to fight a very enticing urge to just pick up the book and start reading. My brain didn't even care to make me wait until I was at a red light! I had to constantly remind myself that reading while driving was a huge no-no. Over and over I would have to stop myself from reaching over and grabbing the book. To fight the terrible desire to read myself to death, I had to turn on the radio and sing very loudly, concentrating on the words. When I started getting more sleep, the urge went away.

Funny things, these bodies.

It's been hard to get posts written lately. Busy, busy, busy. Halloween was fun, sort of. The kids were each given $10 to spend on costumes with the promise that they could keep whatever they didn't spend. Suddenly, they were a lot more frugal about what they wanted to buy. All of them managed to come up with something to wear except Little Gary, who refused any costume or makeup help and declared that he was "just Gary!" I kind of dressed up for the first time in years, myself. I was Cleopatra with an Egyptian headdress and the whole heavy eyeliner thing, but I couldn't find a tunic I was willing to spend gobs of money on, so I was Cleo only from the neck up. Next year, I'll make myself a costume and be Cleo from head to toe.

I voted today. A very earnest man from the Democrat Party called me and reminded me to vote (not that I'd forgotten or anything), but I had to confess that I had no intentions of voting for any Democrats, though I am also skeptical of most Republicans, as well. He thanked me for being nice to him, though.

I promise more pictures soon. I'm just waiting for the battery and battery charger to arrive in the mail, and then my camera will be ready to be tested and played with.