Monday, November 30, 2009

No Mo' Blo Mo

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes again

Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need of some stranger's hand
In a desperate land

Well, blogfans, it's been real. Thirty posts in thirty days. I am SO happy tomorrow is December.

Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays

I kind of think that dark, rainy, cold Mondays should be recognized as God trying to tell us to have a nap. And really, who are we to mess with the word of God?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Let the chaos begin

The house is in a state of evolution from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Sometimes, I swear I'm the only nut who decorates for Thanksgiving. I can't help it, I enjoy the fall decor, the pumpkins, the cornucopias, the spicy sweet smelling candles in oranges and burgundy.

But it's time to switch gears, and head into the Christmas season. Which aside from the normal tree hunting (which happens tomorrow!), and outdoor lights (which I have no part of), I also feel the need to clear out the china hutch, and replace the Waterford china with Christmas china. As if that wasn't enough, I also replace our everyday dishes with Christmas dishes. This, naturally, means that all Christmas dishes must be run on a quick rinse cycle through the dishwasher, all china needs to be wiped down and packed up. All in all, it's a very involved process that the Hubbin' rolls his eyes at.

As it stands right now, there are Christmas decorations in boxes from one end of the house to the other. Decorations silently pleading to be put away before sticky toddler hands break them.

So far, the going is rough. I'm still not quite recovered from famiglia, and I'm certainly not recovered from black friday shopping (which, have I mentioned lately was a total bust? I'm so peeved). Though I have high hopes for finishing up my shopping during cyber Monday and the Bizarre Bazaar.

It's not even December, yet? Why do I have this overwhelming panic that things won't get done in time? Why?

12 Pains of Christmas (An Ode to my Husband)

The first thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
Is finding a Christmas Tree

The second thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
Rigging up the lights
and finding a Christmas Tree

The third thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
Rigging up the lights
and finding a Christmas Tree

The fourth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
Sending Christmas cards
Rigging up the lights
and finding a Christmas Tree

The fifth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
Five months of bills
Sending Christmas cards
Rigging up the lights
and finding a Christmas Tree

The sixth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
Facing my inlaws
Five months of bills!
Oh, I hate those Christmas cards!
Rigging up these lights
and finding a Christmas Tree

The seventh thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
The Salvation Army
Facing my inlaws
Five months of bills!
Sending Christmas Cards
Oh geez
I'm tryin'ta rig up these lights!
and finding a Christmas Tree

The eighth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
And whaddya mean "YOUR inlaws"?!
Five months of bills
Ack, these cards!
Honey, get me a beer, heh?
What, we have no extension cords?!?!
and finding a Christmas Tree

The ninth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
Finding parking spaces
Facing my inlaws
Five months of bills
Writing out those Christmas cards
Now why the hell are they blinking?!
and finding a Christmas Tree

The tenth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
"Batteries not included"
No parking spaces
Get a job, ya bum!
Facing my inlaws
Five months of bills
Yo-ho sending Christmas cards
Oh geez, look at this
One light goes out, they ALL go out!
and finding a Christmas tree

The eleventh thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
Stale TV specials
"Batteries not included"
No parking spaces
She's a witch, I hate her
Five months of bills
Oh, I don't even KNOW half these people
Whose got the toilet paper huh?
Get the flashlight, I blew a fuse!
and finding a Christmas Tree

The twelfth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me
Singing Christmas carols
Stale TV specials
"Batteries not included"
No parking?!?!
Gotta make 'em dinner
Five months of bills
That's it! I'm not sending them this year!
Shut up, you!
FINE! You're so smart, YOU rig up the lights!
and finding a Christmas Tree

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I know, I know

I missed another day. I'm really sucking at this whole BloMo thing. I shall refrain from crass comment and play on words about BloMo and what it can do to me. But you catch my drift. I promise you all, there will be 30 posts by the end of November.

I spent an insane amount of time shopping yesterday, and it was largely unsuccessful. So unsuccessful, in fact, that I can't even blog about it because I am so bitter and resentful.

Tomorrow, the decorations come out, truly a sight to behold.

But for now, I'm enjoying a visit from wonderful family and friends; all are completely stuffed with delicious food and drink. Let the Season begin

Thursday, November 26, 2009


May your stuffing be tasty; May your turkey be plump
May your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious and your pies take the prize
And may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off of your thighs

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cooking with Saki

It's turkey time!

To be honest, though, I don't really care about turkey. Thanksgiving is all about the side dishes! We have several people coming in from out of town to celebrate with us, which we are all very excited about. I enjoy spending time with our company, so I try to prepare several dishes that can be made ahead of time and then popped into the oven at the last minute to heat up. A family favorite is potato pie. Sounds weird, I know. ut it's one of those dishes that people are hesitant to try, and then end up scarfing it down and asking for the recipe. So here you go, interwebs. Grab your favorite celebratory pilgrim hat and head to the store because you will need

5lbs white potatoes
2.5 sticks of butter
1 cup half and half or whole milk
1/2lb ham, prosciutto or capicola, shredded (or ripped into tiny pieces)
1/2lb mozzarella cheese, grated
6 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Before you begin, assess the situation. That's a lot of food. Are you planning on feeding a lot of people? Yes? Fantastic.

Peel and rinse the potatoes, cutting them into quarters. Place them in a big stock pot and cover with cold water. Boil until fork tender, then drain.

In a large mixing bowl, whip potatoes and butter, salt and pepper. Gradually add the milk (or half and half, if you're a true glutton) until it reaches the consistency you like your mashed potatoes to be. Taste them and make sure it's delicious.

Cover the delicious mashed potatoes with saran wrap and stick it in your fridge until it's cold throughout. This takes a long time. Resist the urge to eat the potatoes. I know they're good, but think of your guests.

Once it's cold, uncover and crack your eggs into the bowl. Mix it all up until well blended. This step is important, so don't flake out.

Butter an 11x15" glass pan, and spread half of the potatoes into it. Sprinkle half the cheese, then sprinkle all of your prosciutto on top of that. Go ahead and put the rest of the cheese on it. Pat it all down, and spread the rest of the potatoes on top.

Bake at 350 until it is puffed up and golden brown, usually about 45 mins around here. Let it sit at least 15 mins before serving

Tuesday Tuesday

Can't trust that day.

I lost Tuesday, you guys. I thought yesterday was Monday, and now today is Wednesday. WTF?

But since today is Wednesday, it means I have to hurry up and finish cleaning and start cooking for Thanksgiving.

Here at the Costa Casa we celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday. Thursday just doesn't really work out for us, as we're all avid black friday shoppers, and one can't exhaust oneself before the shopping starts. So Thursday, we'll be having chinese buffet Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mommy Wars

Being a mother is both the hardest and the easiest thing I have ever done. I love it. I love all parts of it.

For me, it is the easiest because I follow my gut instinct - I call it the Mommy Instinct. I follow the lead and listen to the needs of my children and respond the best I can. The hardest is the self doubt, particularly when it is coupled with unsolicited and unwanted "advice" from people who want to help*. But the real struggle is to know the difference - Am I doubting myself, or is this someone else's doubt that I have internalized?

I breastfed both my babies, and I am still nursing my youngest, who is almost 15 months. I nursed my oldest until she was not quite two and a half. I wanted her weaning to be led by her, but unfortunately, circumstance did not allow; I was pregnant with Lucas, and had no milk left. It was frustrating for her, and excruciating for me, both physically and emotionally not being able to give her what she needed and wanted.

Very few people oppose nursing an infant. Actually, most people are thrilled when they find out that you exclusively nurse a very small baby. By very small, I mean under three months of age. "That's wonderful!" they exclaim. "It's such a great benefit to baby and mother!" Indeed, it is.

But as the child grows older, six months, eight months, a year, *gasp* a year and a half and on, the question and the reaction shift radically. "Are you still nursing?" they ask, as if it was something that should have been over with months ago. I am proud of the fact that I am still nursing, and usually bluntly point out that both the AAP and the WHO both recommend breastfeeding up at least age two.

My mother made had no qualms about bringing up weaning Cecilia once her first tooth popped through at 5 months. From there, it only got progressively worse, finally reaching an apex when she turned one. I was sort of shocked to hear her so adamant about weaning, when she was one of my biggest supporters, giving advice and encouragement in the early days when I cried with engorged breasts full of milk, and a newborn baby who was unable to latch. We, of course, worked things out, as mothers and daughters are known to do. Though I have a feeling she silently steeps about Lucas still nursing, but it's not really even on my radar anymore.

But nursing is something that has been proven beneficial by medical science. The rest of it all is grey area.

Both of my kids also shared a bed with my husband and I. I didn't intend for it to be that way. We brought Cecilia home from the hospital, all six and a half pounds of her, and everything was set up. She had a beautiful nursery of her own, she had a beautiful antique bassinet that had been refinished that was sitting in my bedroom, patiently waiting for an occupant. But I quickly learned that things like cribs and bassinets are merely for decorative purposes. My newborn wanted nothing to do with them. She wanted to be close. So close, infact, that she spent the first three months of her life sleeping on my chest like a koala.

I thought I would be too afraid to co-sleep. Too worried I'd roll over onto her, too worried that I'd somehow spoil my infant (which, by the way, is impossible...just in case you were wondering), too worried that I was doing something wrong. But when it came down to it, and I had my baby in my arms, I knew exactly what I was doing, and it was exactly the right thing for us.

I have often equated the first three months of an infants life to being like the fourth trimester of pregnancy. You literally do not put the baby down. I learned to do amazing things with a baby tied onto my chest. Being attached to their mother is the only thing a new baby has known from the time of conception. The baby equates Mommy with warmth, comfort and nourishment. And from that perspective, sticking the baby in a room down the hall really doesn't make much sense.

But again, society as a whole seems to frown on co-sleeping.
"How does the baby sleep?"**
- Great! We're both very well rested!
"Is s/he still in the bassinet, or moved to their new room?"
- Uh, neither actually, the baby sleeps in bed with me.
". . ."
- . . .
"Aren't you afraid tha--"
- No.
"But what if --"
- It won't
"But I heard that--"
- Yeah, no.

Cecilia transitioned to her own room just before Lucas was born. He was taking over her old room, and she was moving into the new, bigger room. We picked our her furniture with her, painted her walls, hung her new stuff up, and to be honest, we probably couldn't have convinced her to sleep anywhere else. She still comes into our bed occasionally if she sick, or had a bad dream, or sometimes just to snuggle. But for the most part, it was a seamless transition.

Lucas isn't quite the barnacle his sister was. Though he spends a portion of the night in bed with us, he sleeps in his own room the whole night through once or twice a week. He generally sleeps better in his room, when he's in the mood to do it. He has a regular body temperature something like the inner core of the Earth, so he gets hot, and stuffy and uncomfortable when we share a bed. He generally starts out in his room, then comes into mine when he gets lonely.

And I'm okay with that. We have followed his cues, and the whole arrangement just works. Happy baby = Happy mommy = happy household.

I do need to confess, though: My favorite weekend mornings are when I wake up with the three people I love most in this world all snuggled in bed with me. It's fantastic, and makes my heart swell.

* Read: Intrude

** Once, just once, I'd really like to "Oh, you know, we hang him upside down by his feet under the basement steps. He didn't really like it at first, but he hardly cries now."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thank you, Comcast

Ha, bet you never thought you'd hear me say nice things about Comcast sans sarcasm!

After a long phone chat with comcast, the Hubbin' has my internets up and running again. I won't pretend to know how he solved the problem...something about IP, wireless N &G, LMNOP, yaddayadda blardy...but all I know is that I have internets again (horray!) and my dropping of the MacBook had nothing to do with any of my problems (double horray!)

I = Officially off the hook.


I have this really awful habit of dropping my laptop.

I don't mean "drop" as in 'Oops, it slid off my lap and onto the couch.'

I mean "drop" as in "Oops I knocked it off of that 5' tall armoir." or "Oh no, there it goes down the steps."

Luckily for me, my husband had the forsight to buy AppleCare with my laptop, and they don't seem to care thar every few months I show up with a cracked case. They just take it and give me a new one the next day. All in all. it's a pretty sweet deal.

Yesterday, though, after falling off my bed for the 1,345,801 time since I've had it, the internets stop working (*gasp* Not the internets! Anything but that!) So, I didn't get in my daily BloMo post, which was probably just as well, since I had nothing to talk about anyway. So now I owe you two days of double posts. Try to contain your enthusiasm. No, really, Blogfans, you're causing a scene.

Not to cut this short, but I'm using the Hubbin's fancypants Macbook Pro, and he gets nervous when I'm using it. I can't imagine why.

Until tomorrow. . .

Friday, November 20, 2009

I don't care, whatever you guys are in the mood for

I love hanging out with friends, but I dread mealtimes when we're out. Not that I don't love sharing a meal with friends, but it inevitably turns into:

"Where do you want to go?"
- "Oh, anywhere is fine."
"Yeah, I could go for anything really."
- "So, where should we go?"
"I don't know, what are you in the mood for?"
- "Well, I'm pretty easy to please, I like everything."
"Great! Me too! So, where should we go?"

Round and round it goes, and it always ends in this stalemate of hungry people who can't make up their collective minds on where to dine for under $10. It's almost enough to make you want to stab yourself in the eyes with a plastic spork*.

Thankfully, I have come across this handy little flow chart that with undoubtedly take the awkwardness out of meal selection whilst in a group. Have a look:

*One should always use great caution when dealing with sporks. It's said that spooning leads to sporking. And sporking leads to sippy cups.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We don't need no education

I know it's not on my Honey-Do list, but it's my blog, and I'm going to write about what I want to write about, dammit.

I was reading CNN this evening and stumbled across this article.

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Angry students staged a sit-in Thursday in an attempt to block university officials from leaving the UCLA campus after the California Board of Regents voted to raise undergraduate tuition 32 percent over the next two years.

Oh. My. God. A 32% increase! That is ludicrous. No wonder they were protesting.

The cost of higher education in this country is absolutely astounding. The average tuition for a private four year college in the US in 2009 is over $26,000. This is not including books, fees, room or board. This is solely the class tuition. The average room and board will run you around $8500, give or take. Just to live on campus, and attend class full time, you're looking at almost $35,000 per year to receive a bachelors degree. (Then I suppose you'll need books. And frivolous things like clothing and shampoo.) If you attend for four years, this makes the total cost almost $140,000. You could buy a house for that. In some places, you could buy two*.

The Hubbin' and I both graduated with student loans to pay for our education. Our combined total at the time of consolidation was a little over 30k. Not too shabby, considering he went to an engineering college, and I was a professional student. But we both had family help, and I had a trust fund, so that significantly offset the cost for us. Still, our payments to the loan company, at a 4% locked rate, are still just shy of $300 per month. I can not even fathom how high they'd be if we had 140k financed. How do you live? How do you afford the basics - food, shelter, transportation to get to the job that you financed your life away to get? I went to school for writing, and teaching, by proxy. The average yearly salary for a new teacher is significantly less than the average cost of college for one year. How does that make sense?

Teachers are taking paycuts, supplies and materials are lacking, but at the same time, enrollment is up, the money from the hefty tuition is coming in. If it's not going to the teachers, and it's not going to the students via supplies and materials, where is all this money going?

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

*If you find those places, let me know, okay?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cooking with Saki

Hi everybody!

I have been on a long and buttery quest for the perfect sugar cookie. I want something crisp, yet tender. And tasty. I have tried countless recipes over the years, with poor results. Some have turned out like little cakes, puffy, not very flavorful, and definitely not suited for cut out cookies. Other have come out of the oven perfect, only to morph into sugar cookie briquettes as they cool. I was left with no choice but to use them to mortar in holes in my chimney.

But early this week, I discovered that my wonderful friend Lindsay had been holding out on me! She had the perfect recipe all along! Naturally, I'm going to share it with you, because all the world should have sugar cookies this delicious.

Go raid the kitchen, because you will need:

1 cup of butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Cream together butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add egg yolk and extracts. Scrape the bowl, and then slowly add the flour until the mixture comes together in a smooth dough. Lay out a sheet of waxed paper, and lightly flour it. Work the dough into a ball with your (well floured) hands and put it on the waxed paper. Dust again with flour, and place another sheet of waxed paper on top. Roll to 1/4" thickness. Transfer the whole thing, paper and all, to a cookie sheet and stick it in your fridge for an hour. Now go away. Don't mess with it. Resist the urges to poke it, or sneak cookie dough samples from it. After at least an hour, take it out of the fridge, and cut into whatever shapes you want. Put them on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes. Ours took all 12 minutes, but keep an eye on them. They will look under done when you take them out, but I promise you, they're not. Be sure to rescue them from the inferno before the edges brown. Let them cool for a good 5 minutes, or you'll burn your tongue eating the entire batch of cookies yourself.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Honey-Do List

Somehow, today got away from me.

I started out really on the ball, but sometime after 5pm the rest of my day just disappeared. And now it's 11:07pm, and I'm in bed, hastily pecking out this blog post for that farking BloMo. Just as well, as I'm running out of blog fodder anyway. But, as a teaser to you, and a reminder to me, look forward to the days to come, because we'll be talking about:

Consumerism / Retail Therapy
The best sugar cookies EVAR
and of course,
Craft time with Martha Saki

Monday, November 16, 2009

Visions of Sugar Plums

Santa is the man of the hour here at the Costa Casa. A quick reminder that "Santa is watching" is usually enough to snap the kids out of a tantrum. It's a beautiful thing.

Cecilia is getting very excited that Santa brings presents to everyone. She diligently circles toys for her and Lucas on the Toy Menus, and the other day, she circled a coffeepot in the Bed, Bath and Beyond menu for me.

High atop her wish list is some new (and improved!) version of Candyland called Candyland Sweet Celebrations Game. She is bursting at the seams with excitement over sitting on Santa's lap so she can tell him about this wonderful new game.

Today, she informed me what Santa will be bringing other members of our family. They all must be on the nice list this year, because according to Cecilia, Santa will be bringing them:

Fuddy: A big pogo stick
Yaya: Fake eyelashes
Mima: New curtains
Daddy: A hat
Mommy: A hat like Daddy's
Lucas: A "magnet doodle"
Aunt Lauren: Tea
Rizzo: Cookies

At least she didn't say coal :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Don't quote me on this..

And if you ever confront me about it, I will adamantly deny it.

I'm starting to like living in Virginia. And I'm starting to really like our little house. A friend of mine used to have the motto "Bloom where you're planted." And i always liked it in a bloom-where-you're-planted-unless-you're-planted-in-northern-virginia kind of way. But lately, I find myself coming around to the point of liking it here.

- The climate here is fantastic. If I ever move, I'm putting the climate in a box and taking it with me. The summers are hot and muggy, great for gardening and dips in the pool. The fall, which is short, unfortunately, has warm days and crisp nights. Winter is also short, it doesn't get "cold" here for very long - long enough for a good snow or two, and then it warms back up to a reasonable temperature. Spring comes early, allowing me to get all of my planting and gardening done by the first week of April. It's wonderful.

- There's a lot to do here. DC is just a metro ride away, and pretty much everything in DC is free. There is something going on in this area every single weekend, and lots of little events scattered throughout the week.

- There are tons of employment options. If my husband ever decides to be a corporate sellout and wants to make twice his salary (*cough* *cough* *nudge*) he'll have no problem finding local work with lots of room for growth.

- This area is eclectic. I used to really hate this part. Very few people are actually "from" this area. They are mostly transplants from all over the country, all around the world, really. I used to think it detracted from the hometown feel that I craved, but I think I was detracting from the hometown feel. I've come to realize that it's pretty awesome. I can walk down the road and go to an Afghani restaurant, or I can walk in the other direction and get authentic Portuguese food.

- The shopping is outrageous. We have every single store I can think of within a few miles. The local mall opens at midnight on Black Friday, so you can shop off your turkey hangover at 300 of your favorite stores. I love bargains.

- Statistically, where I live is safer than the small town I grew up in. I have that inherent fear of the unknown, which makes me overly cautious, and at times downright paranoid, but bottom line is this is a safe place for children to grow up.

- I have made wonderful friends here. It's hard to make friends when you're an adult - you're just not in a friend making environment the way you are in college or high school. But the friends I've made here are exceptional people, and I love them dearly. They've been there for me when I needed them the most, and have been unbelievably supportive of everything in my life. I really don't think I could have survived the last 4 years without them.

- My house is cozy. It's mine. I can do whatever I want to it. I can paint all my ceilings hot pink if i wanted to, and no crappy HOA or Condo Association or Landlord will tell me no. Not that I would ever do that, but I like to keep my options open. All of the sweat and money we've poured into our house just makes it more our home. It's familiar now. I know the sounds it makes, it finally smells like us, and not the crappy Gittens (although on really, really, really hot days, you can still smell them if you stand outside under the soffit. EW.), my kitchen is lovely, and my bathroom is soon-to-be-lovely. I enjoy my flowers and gardens. We are comfortable here.

- And finally, absence makes the heart grow fonder. All of our family is in NJ. It's tough, especially with the kids being so small, and there's always a tug-o-war over who gets us on the holidays, but I'm really starting to cherish the distance. When we see each other, it's special, it's something to look forward to, and it's an enjoyable time. We're far enough apart that everyone can spread their respective wings, but close enough to each other than we can be together within a few hours if need be.

And so, almost five years after we were planted here, we're finally starting to ground our roots.

Really, it's not that bad. I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here, but the trees are actually quite lovely...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Be Yourself

Today you are you
That is truer than true.
There is no one alive
Who is Youer
Than You.

Friday, November 13, 2009

To Write Love On Her Arms

You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you're part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.

We live in a difficult world, a broken world. My friend Byron is very smart - he says that life is hard for most people most of the time. We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know that you're not alone in the places you feel stuck.

We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know that pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real.

You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption. We're seeing it happen. We're seeing lives change as people get the help they need. People sitting across from a counselor for the first time. People stepping into treatment. In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline. We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take. We want to say here that it's worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it's possible to change.

Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.

The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.

The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.

The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.

The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.

The vision is better endings. The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships. The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love. The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise. The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.

The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.

The vision is the possibility that we're more loved than we'll ever know.

The vision is hope, and hope is real.

You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pearls Before Swine

In keeping with the things that we don't discuss in mixed company, let's talk about the great vaccination debate.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following schedule for children:

The first vaccine, Hepatitis B is to be administered at birth. The rest of the vaccines begin around eight weeks of age. Kind of insane, right?

Unless you're us. We have decided not to follow the recommended chart, and instead follow our instincts about the vaccination schedule.

There are many reasons that parents choose not to have their children immunized - Themerosol; the suspected autism link to some vaccines; the comfort of herd immunity; some believe that natural immunity is far superior to lab created immunity; some feel the risks of the vaccine outweigh the risks of the illness it is vaccinating against.

For us, it's a small combination of all of those. I intend to have my children vaccinated fully (well, as "fully" as I'm willing to go) probably by the time they start school. Both children had their first immunizations around six months of age. They both received DTaP, HiB and Polio vaccinations, and that is where it has stopped for both. The decision caused such a ruckus that we were fired from our pediatricians practice, and told we were a "threat" to their healthy children.

But then this whole H1N1 nonsense began. The media was all over it, and soon it was all anyone could talk about. My sister and the Hubbin's cousin both managed to get The Swine and recover fully.

However, what truly scared me about this pandemic (and I truly use that word loosely) was the fact that healthy children were dying of it. The seasonal flu kills people every year. It also kills children every year. But this particular strain of flu seems to be preying on healthy children. And it just so happens I have two healthy children.

Our (new and much loved) pediatrician broached the subject at Lucas' one year appointment the beginning of September. He, of course, did not have the vaccine yet, but he had a list going of parents that were potentially interested. I wasn't 100% certain that I wasn't interested, so I cautiously put my name on their list.

And then last night they called. One of my favorite things about our current pediatrician is that a doctor personally calls you, you never get stuck with a temp hired to make 700 vaccine phone calls. So after talking to the doctor for a solid 20 minutes, he gently pointed out that he had 600 people to call regarding this vaccine. I made an appointment for the kids for noon today, and decided we could continue the conversation then, figuring that if we don't end up with the vaccine, nothing would be lost but an hour or two of our time.

I called everyone who I thought might have any input regarding my decision last night. I carefully outlined a list of questions, and went in armed with a print out from the CDC with points I wanted to discuss highlighted.

My defining concern was: Are children dying because they waited too long to go to the hospital for care, or are children dying because there is nothing they can do to help that child?

The answer, in a clear as mud way, was they just don't know. In some, the virus progresses as a normal flu, and in some, it progresses at lightening speed, rendering doctors helpless, even in the finest of hospitals.

Since my children are my life, I took a deep breath and wrapped my firstborn tightly in my arms, holding her hands in mine as the administered the first dose of the H1N1 vaccination. She cried "That hurts me, Mommy! That hurts my leg!" and I cried with her. Luckily, the nursing staff realized I was a basket case, and they helped calm Cecilia so that I could hold Lucas for his turn. They are snuggled together on my bed, watching Ni Hao, Kai-Lan (yeah, I don't know, either).

Watching them drift in and out of catnaps, curled together, I truly hope beyond hope that I have made the right decision.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Root

Let's talk about the things that nobody ever talks about in mixed company, shall we? November is getting a bit bland, and truth be told, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with topics for my own personal NaNoBloMo. So, let's talk about debt. I'm going to bare our financial soul to you, oh interwebs.

I sat down today to pay bills, a chore which no one is fond of. We are a fairly average American family, we spend very little on travel, and even less on entertainment. We don't go out to the movies, we rarely go out to dinner, and yet, somehow, it seems that money is always an issue.

We do live comfortably; we own a home, we both drive newer cars, our kids don't want for much. However, when writing out checks, it's amazing that this upcoming Fridays paycheck is already mostly spent. We broke it down to the bare bones, to see exactly where our money is going, and I, dear BlogFans, am going to open the closet door and show you that skeleton.

The mortgage, which is the biggest money hoarder of them all is sitting at a cool 3k, with taxes, insurance and escrow included. For those of you have been to my house, or at least seen my house, you know that three grand is an exceptional amount of money to pay, given the size and condition of the home. NoVA strikes again! Aside from the mortgage, this month we also have:

The Hubbin's Car Loan: $276
My Car Loan: $306
Student Loans: $290
Sewer (paid quarterly): $101
Car Insurance (paid bi-annually): $635
Cell Phone Plan: $85
Gas: $37
Electric: $85
Cable/Internets/Land Line: $170
Water (paid quarterly): $65
Gymnastics for Cecilia: $85
Savings: $150

Granted, this month was a brutal one, because we not only have insurance due, but also two other quarterly bills, so it's reasonably higher than usual. However, without having spent a cent on food, gas for the cars, or miscellaneous expenses like new coats for the kids, or clothing, or entertainment, we have already written away $5,285 in expenses for this month. This, of course, comes out of a paycheck that has already had state and federal taxes, retirement, social security, and health insurance taken out of it.

This game is expensive.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Speaking of Fall...

Lucas took an epic fall this weekend. He's 14 months, and refuses to walk. He can walk, if he had a desire to, but to be honest, homeslice is scared of falling. We have 542 toys to encourage walking, and he'll pull himself up on one, but the second he realizes that it moves, his legs shake so hard that his knees knock.

We were outside this weekend, a few kids from the block were over playing with Cecilia outside while we raked and did general fall yard clean up. Lucas was miffed because he was too small for the bounce house, too small for the car, and no one wanted to play blocks with him. He was crawling around, looking for something to do, when he missed a step on the patio, and did a faceplant onto the concrete.

His lips hurt real bad.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fall Behind

It's been a huge rush of organization here at the Costa Casa. I have a deep rooted hatred for clutter. I despise it. My husband, on the other hand, is a hoarder and packrat. He can't help it, it's in his genes. It makes for difficult situations at our house, as I find things we no longer use and set them aside to recycle, freecycle, or donate.

We have two main problem areas - One is the utility room. It's a roughly 12x12 unfinished room in our house. It's where we keep our deep freezer and miscellaneous tools, etc. Since it is filled almost entirely with stuff that isn't mine, I generally close the door and keep my mouth shut. But when it gets so chaotic that I can't make a clear path from the door to the freezer, it's time for intervention. We spent two days this weekend decluttering, donating, sweeping, and organizing. It looks lovely.

Today I moved on to cabinets upstairs. I could hear the dismay in his voice as I called him at work*
Saki: I found this old Apple laptop. it's in like twelve pieces and all the wires are snipped. We get get rid of this, right?
The Hubbin', clearing his throat: Are you uh, organizing?
Saki: Yes. So. Trash?
The Hubbin': Well. I mean....
Saki: If you have a legitimate reason to keep it, we can keep it
The Hubbin': Well, i'd like to keep it.
Saki: What are you going to do with it?
The Hubbin': Fine. Get rid of it

I'm now in the process of moving on to the hall closet, which is the second of our major problem areas. It's a closet that homes all of the homeless stuff in our house. And our coats. Too much stuff in too little space. To give you an idea of the sheer volume of brick-a-brack in this closet, see exhibit A and B:

Oh. My. God. I can't believe I actually posted pictures of that mess on the internet. See the lengths that I go to for you, blogfans? Don't say I never did anything for you.

*My husband loves when I call him at work, and usually responds with great enthusiasm**

** This is a lie.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


I have been very happy with my home, but homes really are no more than the people who live in them. - Nancy Reagan

Saturday, November 07, 2009

'Tis the Season

Even though Thanksgiving is almost three weeks away, stores are already pulling out all the stops, and sending holiday fliers in the mail, and tucking them into my Washington Post. We got a pretty hefty catalogue from Target the other day, filled with nothing but toys, toys, toys.

This is the first year that Cecilia is really understanding Santa Claus, so I handed her the catalogue and a marker and told her to circle things that she might like to ask Santa for this year. She sat at the kitchen table, intent in her work while I made dinner. As dinner was ready to be set on the table, the conversation went as such:

Saki: Sissy, put your stuff away, dinner is ready. You can finish after you eat.
Cecilia: Just a second Mommy, I'm still circling my Toy Menu.
Saki: Your what?
Cecilia, holding up the catalogue: My Toy Menu.

Friday, November 06, 2009


November is National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo for short. The goal is to crank out 50,000 words (175 pages) between November 1st and midnight on November 30th. It's a race against yourself, valuing quantity over quality to get over your writers block, and get the creativity flowing. NaNo'ers spend hours, daily pecking out their novels.

Since I have two small children, I have exactly 48 free seconds every day* and therefore have decided against participating in NaNoWriMo. However, since I'm with my NaNo'ing friends in spirit, I've made November my own personal NaBloWriMo. (National Blog Writing Month, obviously.) And I hereby vow to make a blog post every day in the month of November**

So prepare yourselves, internets, you'll be hearing a lot from me this month.

* I'm currently writing this post from the shower, where I'm washing not only myself, but the lunch dishes.

** I know I've already missed a day. I will make up for it with two posts one day soon. Stop being so nitpicky, BlogFans.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Cooking with Saki

Welcome back, guys! I know I've been neglecting my blog, you're probably pretty hungry out there in the land of the internets. So today, we're going to make a delicious fall recipe! Cranberry-Orange Crunch Muffins. This is an oldie-but-goodie I got from a friend way back when, who would probably die if she knew I was posting it for you, dear blogfans. So, let's keep this our little secret, okay? Put your uggs on, we're going to the store to get:

1.5 cups fresh cranberries, cut in half and rinsed
2TBL flour
2.5 cups flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 TBL orange zest
1 cup milk

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 almonds
2 TBL flour
2 TBL butter

Rinse your halved berries and pat dry. Toss with 2 TBL flour and set aside. Mix milk and orange zest and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs. Mix all dry ingredients well, and slowly add to butter mixture, alternating with milk/zest. Mix well, and pour into lined muffin tins.

Place all topping ingredients into a food processor/mini chopper until well combined and crumbly. Sprinkle on top of muffins.

Bake at 350F for 35-45 mins.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Rock the Vote

Vote Early!

Vote Often!

Vote Democrat*!

*Or at the very least, don't vote Republican.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

There are 3 things I've learned to never discuss with people in public: Religion, Politics, and The Great Pumpkin

Tonight, being the night after Halloween, is the night when The Great Pumpkin comes. You collect your Halloween candy, put it in your trick-or-treat bucket, and leave it by the door. The Great Pumpkin will come and collect the candy, to give to the children who don't have any. He will leave a toy for you in its place.

"You don't believe the story of the Great Pumpkin? I thought little girls always believed everything that was told to them. I thought little girls were innocent and trusting" - Linus