Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lucky

We had a fabulous time at our neighbor's annual Halloween bash. As per the earlier blog post, I invested a limited amount of funds and a lot of time, love, and hot glue into four costumes that really looked fantastic. Not a single person at the party wasn't in costume, which made the whole night that much more festive.

That's everyone.
Paolo and I got this close to Joe!
While I've been pretty good about taking a break from Facebook, I seem to relapse during the weekends. Maybe it's because the past few weekends have been pretty fantastic and I just have to share. Last week's PSU/NU football game (the one that was Free! Free! Free!) rocked and this weekend's Halloween party was equally rocking. Sorry for the inconsistency, for anyone that has noticed. But as I started pulling together the family's costumes, I just couldn't help but send photos to my Facebook wall.  I also sent a photo to a friend via text and after a few exchanges, she wrote, "Seriously, your kids don't know how lucky they are to have such a creative mom!"

And the nutty thing is, she's right. They don't know. I'm not trying to high-five myself on my creativity -- I'm just acknowledging the fact that my kids have not yet had to wing it on their own, without my ideas or my elbow grease. They've had a combined 19 years of over-the-top (but never expensive) birthday parties and Halloween costumes that were the result of my never-stop-marketing-brain, my stone-cold devotion to anything Martha Stewart does and my tireless attention to details. Let's face it: I'm a pain in the ass when it comes to this stuff. Nothing is ever phoned in. There are no short cuts. If I could buy it at the store, wouldn't it be even better if I made it from scratch at home instead? Carlo generally retreats to the  bedroom or under the closest rock for the 4- to 6-weeks I spend planning the month of birthday parties. And there is barely any recovery time between the last birthday party and Halloween. No rest for the wicked here.

I've admitted to being my own worst enemy with this stuff.  I've also tried to back off a bit in the past year or so. While seeing the joy on my kids' faces when a well-planned birthday party comes together is just wonderful, the 4- to 6-weeks of sleepless nights and agonizing Hell I go through (and put Carlo through) prior to the big day usually isn't worth it. At about age 37, I learned that kids are happy to just have pizza and cake with their friends. They also like the gifts.  If I can provide pizza, cake and friends with gifts, it's all good.

I had young parents when I was still interested in Halloween. In fact, they were so young then, that they were STILL young when I wasn't interested in Halloween (Note: My mom was 37 when I graduated from high school (not intended as a math lesson, but I'm 39 now)).  While I was interested in Halloween, my divorced Mom was working non-lucrative jobs and dating. Our Halloween preparation usually involved driving into town to either the Rea & Derrick on Market or Grand Way on Fourth to pick up one of those gross, boxed costumes -- the plastic smock and face mask combo. I can still smell that chemically mix of plastic and toxins upon opening the box it came in. I clearly remember being Shirley (of Laverne & Shirley fame) one year. 

I wasn't the only one wearing those dumb-ass plastic train-wrecks. There were tons of other kids in those kind of costumes.  Hell, I wasn't even the only Shirley Feeney that year. The Disney Store and Costume Center and Halloween City didn't exist back then: you just had to go asshole-to-elbow with every other mom in town at Rea & Derrick and Grand Way just a few days before Halloween to get your bland, stinky costume. 

Smaller in number, but still present, were the handful of kids whose mom's or grandma's had sewing machines and knew how to use them. They had the costumes to be envied. Authentic looking Raggedy Anns and Holly Hobbies,  old school Luke Skywalkers and Six Million Dollar Men: they were all the offspring of moms who could sew and made time to make costumes.  

Now that I think about it, I may have been a plastic smask (smock-mask) Raggedy Ann one year, too.

When I was just about the age when Halloween might have been considered too 'babyish,'  but I still desperately wanted to take a break from secretly playing with my Barbies and go beg for candy, my Dad serendipitously came up with one of the coolest costumes I've ever had (up until I started making my own a few years ago for our neighbor's annual party!). I was at his house for the weekend and it must have been the city's sanctioned night for trick or treating, but we had no plan. No plans with friends or family. It was just a Saturday night. Love Boat would be on eventually and then I'd go to bed. 

I can't remember how the conversation got started, but my Dad decided he could whip up a costume and he'd take me out trick or treating. I was skeptical. There was no going shopping for supplies. It was past 5 pm and the sanctioned hours had either started or were about to start. We had to move fast. 

Dad converted me into one of the most convincing scarecrows in the history of all scarecrows. After putting me in a thermal shirt and one of his giant flannel shirts, he shoved either a 2x4 or an old broom stick through the sleeves of the flannel shirt so that I had 'fake' scarecrow arms (my real arms were at my sides, and I think I had enough movement under the shirt to carry my plastic pumpkin bucket for candy retrieval). I recall wearing large denim overalls - not sure where they came from, but he got them. With make-up and a straw hat, I was good to go. And we went. I was one bad ass Scarecrow ... long before we even knew what bad ass meant. I was one bad ass Scarecrow that couldn't get into the doors of people's homes without turning sideways:  the costume was great, but it wasn't easy to get around in and to any child about 4-1/2 feet tall and within a 3 foot radius, I was dangerous.

That was a good Halloween and quite possibly one of a handful of events in my young years where getting creative in the 11th hour was modeled for me. And now, I model it for my kids all the time (although I plan ahead - I hate the 11th hour). I also have the advantage of having the internet as a resource, Halloween costume shops on every corner of this beautiful city I live in and the fact that my kids aren't with me only on the weekends -- I get them every day of their lives. 

My kids -- and my husband -- loved the costumes. We were all beating each other down to admire ourselves in the full-length mirror on the foyer closet door before we headed next door for the party. They all liked the authenticity of their looks and knew I worked hard to get them there. 

But I still don't think they know how lucky they are. And I have to say that I am kind of glad that my kids don't know how lucky they are. 

My kids have had the amazing advantage of having both biological parents living in the same house with them. They have two parents that are always considering their plans and happiness and well-being at all times. They have one parent that lies awake at night obsessing about whether it'll all be good enough so they'll grow up happy, intelligent, compassionate people who want to take the time to make Halloween costumes and bake cakes from scratch and enroll their kids in pricey Ice Hockey and Figure Skating lessons. Yeah, they have no idea how lucky they are and while I do occasionally feel unappreciated in this traditional role of Mom and Wife that I signed up for a few years ago, I will say that I'm overjoyed that they don't know how lucky they are. 

Maybe when they are parents of their own, they'll get it. Hopefully, they'll get it and want to make their kids even luckier than they were. I'm sure at least one of them will try to tell me what a hard life they had. Jerks.

And on that note, here's how we fared for our Halloween party.

We were all monsters of some sort.
All her real hair!







Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bread

I've only recently started making bread. Yesterday, I made a Hearty Beef & Barley Stew for tonight and thought that serving it with freshly made bread would be fab. I was right.

I'm glad I started early enough in the day, because this Martha Stewart Olive Oil Bread recipe is so time-consuming! Plus, I didn't have enough yeast, so I had to walk over to our neighborhood market to buy more  (I walked when it was grey and drizzling a bit. I was listening to Bowie's "Let's Dance" -- it was a great trip!). The neighborhood market only had 'instant' yeast, but after some online research and a panicked call to my friend Jim (Me, to Jim's voicemail: Jim. It's me. I have a yeast problem. (Pause). I'm making bread!), I took my chances and used the instant stuff*.

So, you throw flour, yeast, olive oil and water into a KitchenAid mixing bowl,  mix it with a wooden spoon and then let it rise for 1 hr, 15 min.

My recipe doesn't call for the addition of rosemary, but knowing that I was going to serve it with the stew -- and while talking to my friend Jim about the finer points of yeast -- I decided to throw some in since rosemary was still abundant in our herb garden. 

First rise

Next, you mix the sticky dough in your KitchenAid with the hook attachment, knead it by hand for a few minutes, and then put it in a large, lightly oiled bowl to double in size (about an hour). After that, you fold it and let it stand for 15 minutes. Then, you transfer to a pizza peel covered in corn meal, let it stand for 30 minutes and then slide it into the oven, onto a pizza stone, and bake at 450F for about 35 minutes.

On the pizza peel

Sliding the dough off the peel and into the oven (onto a pizza stone) is pretty easy if you use the corn meal generously.  I checked the bread twice -- once at 15 min and once at 30 min, and since it wasn't burning (I checked the bottom, too), I allowed it to cook for an additional 5 minutes so I wasn't unpleasantly surprised to find raw dough half-way thru the bread. 

Done!
I am a rosemary junkie: the addition of rosemary to this wonderful bread is ideal.  I can hardly wait to have rosemary toast and poached eggs for breakfast tomorrow morning!

Here is what our dinner looked like...


Carlo is stuck at school for Film Night. He called as we sat down, so this was his 'serving' for the evening while we all caught up. He picked a bad night to miss dinner. :(


What a successful day of cape-making and bread-baking!



*Instant yeast, it seems, is different from Active Dry Yeast in that it doesn't have to be proofed. You just get to throw it in with all the other ingredients and it does it's thing.


Halloween 2011

Halloween is typically a little stressful at this house. We never figure out costumes until the last minute. We always forget the brilliant 'family' costume idea one of us had from the previous year. Someone always chickens out of my standing recommendation that we transform ourselves into different members of KISS.  

And I still can't convince Carlo to be the Big Edie to my Little Edie, even though his debut in drag two years ago (he was Norman Bates, as "Mother," to my Janet Leigh, post-shower stabbing that year) was fantastic (although lumpy). 

This past weekend, we had a few quiet moments -- ALL FOUR OF US, IN ONE ROOM, AT THE SAME TIME -- and started brainstorming 'themed' costumes. We were trying to be classic killers from Halloween movies but just couldn't sell Maggie on being Regan from The Exorcist. Here's where we landed:

Carlo will be Frankenstein's Monster. I really splurged when getting his costume at the Salvation Army: his suit coat, mock t-neck shirt and short & wide pants rang in at a whooping $11.00.  I bought some spirit gum as well, and hope to adhere some of Paolo's plastic bolts from old toys to Carlo's neck.  Green and black face paint from Halloween's past still exist, so I'll have Carlo in fine shape for our party on Saturday.

I'm going to be Carrie White of the 70's cult-classic, "Carrie."  I remember it being shown on "Dialing For Dollars" on WNEP-16 when I was a kid and it scared the shit out of me. Especially that hand at the end...

 



















My dress -- a shocking near-replica of the prom gown Sissy Spacek wore in the film  -- cost a mere $2.06. 

My dirty pillows will be hanging out all over the place. 

Margaret White: "I can see your dirty pillows. Everyone will." 
Carrie White: "Breasts, Mama. They're called breasts, and every woman has them.)

The dress is a 100% silk nightie, I guess, from The Company Store. Someone probably paid a decent amount for it back in the day, and I almost feel guilty about covering it in fake blood. I did treat myself to a $12.99 red wig from the Halloween place, but I can't feel too bad about that since we'll surely reuse that wig for some future costume.  All that remains for Carrie White is to make a corsage out of some dollar store flowers and find someone who will loan me a rhinestone tiara.  I have a little aluminum bucket in the storage shed that I'll carry with me (it's what the pig's blood lived in before it was dumped on Carrie) and I'm hoping that kind strangers will fill it with Take 5 miniatures. Or tampons. Whatever they have on hand.

Magna-Doodle is going to be the Bride of Frankenstein. I ended up spending about $6.50 on her dress and robe at SalVal, but again, I got really lucky with the simplicity and authenticity of both pieces. I think the robe is actually from either a spa or a hospital! It's very square and flow-y: perfect for the costume.  The trick with Maggie's ensemble will be her hair, which (Thanks, Internet!) I am going to attempt to create with a chopstick, a skein of acrylic yarn, a shit-ton of bobby pins and a bunch of white hairspray.  Black lipstick, some neck scars and a healthy dose of eyeliner and she's good to go.




Paolo settled on being Count Dracula -- and I accepted it because he already had a cape from his Batman costume two or three years ago. I thought I'd spruce it up by putting a red lining in it and once I got to that place, I realized the existing cape was too small. Back to the drawing board! Today, without a car -- and while simultaneously making bread! -- I started a new and improved cape.

Using some old black material from the Batman capes (Yes. I said capes, plural. Paolo had a Batman-themed birthday party three years ago, and part of the goody bags for his 6 or 7 little friends included a cape.) and what was left of the red velour from Maggie's 7th "High School Musical"-themed birthday party (I created a 'stage' in our backyard using cheap red velour), I got to work on a bigger and better cape. 


 
I started by pinning the fabric together, wrong-side out, and using some chalk to roughly outline the shape of the cape.
Then I cut it out. Roughly.
The miracle of this entire process is that I got the bobbin thingy in Maggie's sewing machine loaded and ... looped? I don't know. But I had the needle threaded and the bobbin loaded -- so I sewed it, and turned it right-side out so it looked like this:




Using an example from a friend, I made a 'cape neck' pattern out of that foamy stuff from the kid section in craft stores and then sewed a neck piece, which I will likely attach to the cape with velcro.

 This is what it looked like after I sewed it up.


 And this is what Paolo looks like in the not-quite-yet-finished cape!  He loved it!




I also made him an amulet, altho it isn't quite finished.


I started with a lid from a jelly jar.



Using leftover spray primer and glitter paint from some other project, I prepped the jelly jar lid.


Then I hot-glued some glass rocks (the kind you use in flower arrangements) to the jelly jar lid. I'll attach it (somehow!) to a red grosgrain ribbon and put that around his neck.



I'm super-excited to see how it all comes together on Saturday. And I love that we didn't spend that much money (a total of about $45, for FOUR costumes, with some pieces that can be reused next year). It was an expenditure of creativity, time and love. And hot glue.

Did I mention I also made homemade bread while doing all of this???















Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shit Stew

I just about drowned in a vat of Shit Stew today. It was hot and smelly and no matter how hard I moved my arms nor kicked my legs, my escape seemed unlikely.  Death by Shit Stew. 

While in the Stew du Jour, I finished mopping my horrifying kitchen floor.  And what I mean  is that both my kitchen floor and my kitchen are equally horrifying. It doesn't matter how much Murphy's Oil I use or how many crumbs I wipe off the counters -- that kitchen never looks clean. Beyond the backbreaking labor, I really hate this one household chore more than others because it never looks much better than it did before I mopped. So, while pushing the rock up the hill -- aka mopping the kitchen -- my mind churned and burned in an endless sea of negativity.

Half way through the kitchen, I mopped out a piece of Boo Berry cereal from under the front of the refrigerator: I evidently missed it during the half-assed job of sweeping that preceded the mopping. I noticed that the refrigerator was askew and remembered that last night, Paolo 'secretly' told Carlo that a box of Boo Berry dropped behind the fridge while he (Paolo) was scaling the counter to get the cereal. He and Maggie needed help, but didn't want to upset me because they thought the cereal may have spilled from the box during the fall: another mess that will piss off Mommy. Carlo moved the fridge but didn't return it to it's exact location in line with the base cabinet.

The piece of cereal triggered my thoughts about Paolo and what an amazing little man he is turning out to be. Since the start of school this year, our relationship has become very tender, mostly because of our homework sessions, which in addition to daily 2nd grade math and spelling include 20 minutes of reading and maintaining a journal: we write notes and draw pictures to each other every day. My journal entries usually cover what I accomplished during the day, my feelings and each Friday, I like to reveal our weekend plans to him. Most of my illustrations, no matter what the journal entry is about, include a picture of the cat perched under a word bubble that spell out the cat's plans for a future, wrongly placed poop.  It's still funny to Paolo. 

Thinking about Paolo, and then about Maggie, made me smile. They are amazing kids. They know how to push my buttons, for sure, but they are beautiful, smart, compassionate, funny people. Every smile I give them is genuine: they deserve nothing less. 

Once I was thinking about my kids, I found myself backing my way out of the butler's pantry and into the dining room: my crappy task was just about done and I was surprisingly closer to escaping the Shit Stew. I thought about my friend, Margaret. She followed me to the garage today and gave me a ride back home after we dropped our kids to school. We were in the car together for all of 12 minutes, but she listened to me moan and groan about being upset with Carlo and about feeling invisible at home. She heard me when I said I felt guilty about not earning an income and topped that guilt off with anger toward the family for not helping me around the house so I can carve out time to actually earn an income.  

She laughed at my angst -- because she is all too familiar with occasionally feeling like a poorly paid servant. She offered me some perspective, because she is that person who can respectfully remind you that even though your feelings are valid, maybe there is a side or angle you need to consider to reach a real solution (beyond bitching). She reminded me that everything might seem better tomorrow -- if I could possibly snag 7-hours (in a row!) of sleep tonight.

I am very thankful for Margaret and several of my "Mom" and "Grandma" friends, those ladies that I see almost daily on the playground as we drop off and collect our kids at school.  On occasion, we find time to grab coffee or a cocktail without the kids and share whatever news we have to offer the group. It's free group therapy. We ended up meeting yesterday morning at a local cafe and I noticed a few of the patrons who were trying to work moved away from our riotous laughter. (BTW: If you want to 'office' in a quiet place, go to a god damn office or a library. Not a cafe.).   It had been a long time since we had all gotten together and the 75-minutes we shared laughing with - and sometimes at --  each other were wonderful.  I left them feeling energized. They did too, I guess, because it looks like we're all going to try to meet on Friday night for our favorite type of beverage -- the boozey kind.

I am not always successful about focusing on the good stuff that deserves my attention. I want to be better at letting go of the negatives and focusing on what is good and what is working.  I need to forgive myself for my contribution to the Shit Stew in which I occasionally take an unsuccessful dip. I need to call on the support that is all around me and be reminded of what is good, if I can't remember it myself. I need to be thankful for what I have accomplished and not beat myself up for what didn't get done. I need to --even if it feels forced -- allow one happy thought that will lead to more happy thoughts. I need to put less stock in a random piece of Monster Cereal that I sweep out from under major appliances.

The kitchen floor is dry. It doesn't look any cleaner,  but I know that the sticky spot where Paolo spilled orange juice and the stinky spot where Paolo spilled the canned cat food are no longer sticky or stinky (until he comes home within the next hour and the vicious cycle repeats).  I've put the freshly washed kitchen rug down and returned the garbage and recycling cans and cat bowls to their places. The Hearty Beef & Barley Broth (not to be confused with the Shit Stew) I worked on this morning is simmering and the house smells homey. Serving that with fresh baked bread tomorrow night will be a wonderful way to celebrate the start of a long weekend.
.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Detox

It's Monday afternoon and I'm in bed with my boys, Paolo and Raoul. Paolo because he was sick and couldn't go to school and Raoul, because he's a cat and just likes being in my bed. Paolo has been reading his "Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" book for the past 10 minutes, a good sign that he is on the mend. Raoul just repositioned himself.

Spending the day at home wasn't that big of a surprise to me -- Paolo got sick last evening, right before dinnertime -- so I went to bed without any intention of having a productive day. It's 1:50 pm and I'm still in my robe. Paolo has stopped throwing up and has managed to keep some toast and Cheerio's in his system: he's rallying. We 'On Demanded' The Flintstones movie and we're about to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Maggie should be home from school within the next hour.

I spent a little time online today, but not much. Enough to help a client finalize a newsletter that needs to go out in a blast in the next day or so. And at some point, I got a little bored, and I checked Facebook.

I recently decided to spend a lot less time on Facebook and with the exception of posting a bunch of photos from the NU v PSU game on Saturday night, and some time spent on Sunday tracking friends of mine as they swam, biked and ran 70.3 miles across Austin, I’ve been pretty good. I've made fewer posts. I've used my phone to check ... everything ... a lot less. I've stopped the maniacal scrolling to see what I might have missed 2 hours prior.  I'm becoming blissfully less knowledgeable about the minutiae of others lives.

But as I said, I got a little bored, so I thought I'd do a quick Facebook 'drive by' and see what was going on. Instead of the drive by though, I found an unmetered space, parked the car and started to scroll. And now I'm grossed out. What amused me so much a little more than three years ago when I joined the social networking community has left me angry. Angry and lacking compassion for a surprising amount of the 352 friends I currently have on my Facebook page.

The chronic bitching and whining about stuff can be annoying. But, I'll admit we all have days where indulging in a written meltdown of 435 characters or less just feels good. And if it is written creatively, sometimes it's fun to see how life levels the playing field for all of us at some point. The jerk at the grocery store smashed the box of raspberries you paid $5.99 for? That stinks, you should bitch a bit. Your bestie unknowingly stepped in a giant pile of dog poop before climbing into the car you just had detailed? Yeah -- that really stinks. You should bitch. Kid presented you with a bagel covered in Crisco, not cream cheese, and you didn't realize it until you had a wad of bagel and Crisco in your mouth? Yeah, that actually happened to me, and I deserved to bitch. I still do.

That said, I could do without the amazing details regarding the severity of the recent bout of diarrhea or how much weight you've seemed to puke away with the bug you caught from your kid. I could do without the party-oriented political postings -- even when they're my party.  The VagueBookers bother me too  -- so vocal about their pain and sadness, without giving anyone the benefit of saying what that pain and sadness stems from, even after people inquire. Again, the neediness of that kind of post makes me gag a little. The "Dear Macaroni and Cheese That I ate for Lunch" posts are SO 2010. Please stop.

But most of all, I'm exhausted with the passive aggressive posts.  The thinly veiled and often outright blatant attacks against other people who may or may not be on the Facebook Poster’s friend list.  I know you know what I mean. 
  • Cliché McStupid thinks that some people should think about what they say before they say it. 
  • Ima Whiner wants to thank her sister for ruining her wedding and her life. 
  • I hope that the people that have caused me insufferable pain get kicked in the ass by my God who is surely focusing on my pain and coming up with a good way to get back at all those who wronged me. Because that's what God does. He's looking out for me, not you.
  • Despite doing everything right, I know Grammy can never love me as I am. I'm happier without her love, even though I'm spending my time ... and your time ... venting about it in a public forum instead of confronting her and/or spending some valuable time and money in therapy, which could most likely benefit me in a myriad of ways.
But even more than the passive aggressive posts, I'm growing ... enraged... at the morons who elect to respond to those passive aggressive posts. Are they completely unaware of the term, "enabler?"  It's the Enablers (E) that allow the Passive Aggressives (PA) to thrive. Typical E responses go something like this:
  • Yes, people should think before they speak. I'm sure whatever it was that they said was wrong and you didn't deserve it.
  • Your sister has always been a skank-ass bitch. You will always be better than her. Her kids are fat, two. (Note: I deliberately used the wrong form of 'too'. I'm making a statement about the quality of intelligence of the E-types)
  • [Insert any random -- and likely inaccurate -- Biblical quote/reference here](Note: The conveniently religious love to quote their interpretation of the Bible when someone starts speaking about a vengeful God.)
  • You are awesome the way you are! If your Grammy can't see it, her loss! Everything about you is awesome! 
The Call and Response of the PA's and the E's used to be ... entertaining. For the voyeurs, those who could take it in without participating, it was a secret, dirty glimpse into a mental volley of a select group of people with little- to-no functioning gray matter.  Part of the connection, beyond the limited intelligence, is that the E's rarely ask the PA's any kind of questions that might give them information with which to form a thoughtful response. That's why the PA's love the E's: their dog-like devotion is unconditional. The PA's can revise and edit their side of the story and the E's will never question who said what first. 

Occasionally, a non-E will get involved in a thread connected to a PA post. The non-E might do something stupid like ... disagree with one of the E's brainless comments or even worse, might say something like, "I know your Grammy loves you a lot and she's hurting now, too. Please talk to her...". Hell hath no fury like a group of torch-wielding E's that have been presented with potentially factual, or realistic or even just...lucid... information when they're enjoying a few laps in the hot pool of manipulation.

Lately, my eyes roll around in my head so violently when I come across these threads that I'm concerned I'm going to give myself some kind of brain damage. 

I'm putting myself on a Facebook detox program. I'm tired of knowing shit I shouldn't have to know. I'm tired of having the PA and E's rubbing their selfish, skewed view of their 'situations' in my face. I'm tired. Yeah, that's it. I'm tired. 

I hope that my new 'free' time will allow me to find that reserve of compassion. I know I had some once. I must have packed it away somewhere ... maybe it's in one of the big Rubbermaid bins in the basement, near the Christmas ornaments.  I'm damn sure it isn't in my news feed.

The three most important people in the world to me don't have Facebook accounts. It's time to focus. It's time to write (vs. making random observations or witty one-liners). It's time to give time to those that deserve it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Irritated

I'm irritated. And I don't know why. 

It could be because I started a new blog entry about four days ago, interestingly enough titled "Committed," a piece about a renewed commitment to blogging, and I haven't finished it yet. It could be because the kids have not let Carlo and I alone for 30 seconds tonight and I'm about 'this close' to giving up on ever having a conversation with him again. It might be that no matter how many times I've asked him to turn it down, I can still hear Paolo's CD player from his room (and I'm not in the mood for KISS' "Destroyer").  It could also be that I didn't run today. I didn't exercise at all this week, for that matter.

TV isn't holding my attention. Raoul won't sit with me. I'm too angry to knit.  The chance of me finishing that blog entry is slight.  We should have had more than an assortment of Monster Cereal for dinner. There is only one beer left in the house.

All I'd really like to do is start baking Christmas cookies.  I'll bitch and moan once I start that process -- it takes a lot of time and my back is usually screaming in agonizing pain by the time I'm on variety number six, but truth be told, my cookie tray (usually a mix of 8 to 10 varieties) is amazing. Everyone has their favorite -- my husband loves the cranberry-pistachio biscotti, Paolo is partial to the Hershey Peanut Blossoms (the peanut butter cookie with a giant Kiss in the center), Maggie loves my thin mints (which are a hard, laborious cookie to make) and I think my gingerbread men are the bomb. As are my rosemary-citrus cookies. And those are at a strong tie with my Mexican tea cakes.  

I need to bake.