Chopped Cauliflower, Olive Oil, light sprinkle of chili spices, salt and bake at 500 for 15 minutes. Shake at the halfway point. Your kids will love this. Adjust the spice accordingly.
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1½ cups ice cold water
- 1 (3.4-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 (12-ounce) box Nabisco Nilla Wafers (no substitutions!) (PS: I think this recipe needs more wafers than the 12 oz box. Next time I make this, I will use half of a box more than what the recipe calls)
- 4 cups sliced ripe bananas
- In a small bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight, before continuing. It is very important to allow the proper amount of time for the pudding mixture to set.In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain. To assemble the dessert, select a large, wide bowl (preferably glass) with a 4-5-quart capacity. Arrange one-third of the wafers to cover the bottom of the bowl, overlapping if necessary, then one-third of the bananas and one-third of the pudding. Repeat the layering twice more, garnishing with additional wafers or wafer crumbs on the top layer of the pudding. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours – or up to 8 hours – before serving.
Pancake Bacon Dipper
1 box Bisquick pancake batter; 12 slices center cut bacon; lite syrup Cook bacon+set aside. Mix batter according to pkg . Pour into squeeze bottle with big enough hole for batter to pour from. (ketchup bottle). Cut tip bigger. Heat griddle to 300 ºF. Squirt batter in long oval shape little longer+wider bacon+place slice cooked bacon in center. Lightly press bacon into batter. Squeeze more batter over bacon. Serve syrup in 4 oz mason jars.
Remove crusts from bread. With a rolling pin or large soup can, completely flatten bread. Spread 1 tablespoon of peanut butter/sunbutter and 1 tablespoon of Jam on each slice of bread. Roll each slice into a tight spiral. Cut each spiral into 4 pieces.
Chunky Apple Muffins
½ c raw sugar
3 T canola oil
1 large egg plus 2 large egg whites
½ c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c organic all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp each: baking soda, ground cinnamon
1 medium Granny Smith apple or 1 Fuji apple, cored, cut into 1/3” dice
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat sugar and oil in bowl of electric mixer until smooth. Add egg, egg whites, buttermilk, and vanilla; beat until smooth.
Add 1 c of flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well. Toss together apples and remaining ½ c flour in medium bowl. Stir apples into batter by hand.
Spoon batter into paper lined or greased muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
Bake until golden brown and make sure wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 22 minutes.
Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan; serve warm or at room temperature.
Sweet Greek Yogurt Dip
Use my basic recipe and then stir-in any of the add-ins that sound yummy to you.
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use 2% and it must be Greek)
3 tsp honey or maple syrup (to taste)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Add ins: 3 tbsp creamy peanut or almond butter, nutella, 1 tbsp cocoa powder or hot chocolate mix, chocolate chips, mashed raspberries, mashed strawberries, a tbsp of jam, graham crumbs, cinnamon.
In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt, sweetener, vanilla and salt. Stir until combined and smooth. Stir in any add-ins you like – to taste. Mix well. Serve with cut up fruit, graham crackers, pretzels, or cookies.
Let your children top their snack with raspberries, nuts, blueberries, whipped cream and more.
1 c finely chopped onions
2 c chopped broccoli (about ½ inch pieces)
2 tsp chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried, optional
1 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
Sea salt and white pepper to taste
8 egg whites
¼ c grated pecorino or mozzarella cheese
1. In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions for 5 minutes, until tender. Add the broccoli, garlic, and basil and sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is crisp-tender but still vivid green.
2. Combine the salt, pepper, and egg whites and whisk until frothy. Pour the froth over the broccoli, tilting the skillet so the egg whites flow evenly throughout the broccoli.
3. Cook on low for 3-4 minutes, until egg whites are opaque and close to firm.
4. Sprinkle grated cheese over egg mixture and place skillet under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until cheese has melted and begins to brown. Halve the frittata and serve.
By Melissa Mensavage
Photo Credit: Arvell Dorsey
We are nearing the end of the winter season, from a calendar perspective. In 17 days it will officially be Spring. However, on tap for this week is another three inches of snow in the Chicagoland area, in addition the lovely frigid temps of less than 15 degrees.
I love living in Chicago, its my home and well, because we typically see all four seasons. Some years, one may last longer than normal, or start earlier or later than expected. So when I hear about snow storms or extreme heat, I am not phased. I mean I live in Chicago. Anything goes here.
However, this current winter season has just lingered a bit too long. And its seems even longer with two young boys. My house feels like it’s the size of a box of matches. We are crawling all over each other. We are all tired of being cooped up.
When cabin fever hits, along with it comes short tempers, irritability, laziness, too much screen time. It dosent make for any fun in my house. So this past weekend, I purchased a group pass to our community’s recreational center’s indoor jungle gym. The best $20 I’ve spent in a long time. Of course, as I was sitting there yesterday morning watching the boys run all around crazy and screaming and having a good time for themselves, I thought, ‘WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS SOONER??’ … hindsight. It kills me.
Its hard to write this months post because I most certainly have the winter blues. Not a serious case where I would need to seek help, but surely the ‘I am SO breaking up with you Old Man Winter!’. Not much goes on here during these boring months and I find cheap entertainment for the boys. (see above)
As I surf Pinterest and other websites that are advertising Spring, I am so ready to start doing these activities. Man, I’ll even settle for temps above 40. We can at least get outside and ride our bikes or play with our trucks, let the fresh air inhabit our lungs and minds. Now that is a great feeling!
By Lisa Regula Meyer
The last couple of weeks haven’t brought lots of interesting news around our house. If I’m being honest, it’s been simply more of the same with a friend having a biopsy for possible cancer later this week (can I say “Screw you, cancer”), another friend going through health complications (on top of everything else) with her child, a student who’s going through an extremely rough patch and in need of desperate help, and there’s ongoing health concerns with my father-in-law that are a mystery, but he’s finally having them addressed. In the midst of all this stress that isn’t mine directly but that I have to navigate around, I have found myself focusing on silver linings, bright sides, and the simple pleasures (to throw together a mash up of happy cliches). It’s helpful for me, and gives me the strength to be what other people need from me at that moment.
Health- Yeah, I may have a slight cold but that’s nothing compared to what others have to deal with, obviously. This winter has been pretty mild for our house, frankly, with no major flu or other illnesses hitting our house. In fact, with the help of a faculty and staff wellness program at work my health has been improving and I’ve been losing some of the weight I packed on while dealing with the crap of the past couple of years. This is one blessing that I could pack up as easily as other blessings and share with those who need.
Family- They might be annoying at times and a source of stress at others, but they’re mine and they’ve been there through so much for me. It’s awkward, and they’re hard relationships to maintain but we do it. We recently had a visit from my mother-in-law and her new husband, and it actually went far better than I had expected. She and I can’t hold a conversation to save our lives and have almost nothing in common. Heck, I can’t even get her to talk about our difficulties. But we had a good visit, playing board games after brunch, and having fun as a family. My brother-in-law even showed up, and both he and his wife came out for dinner.
Friends- They are my rock, and have helped me through so much. The least I can do for them is to reciprocate when they need it, and as much as I wish they weren’t going through the issues they currently are, I’m glad to have the chance to return the help that they have given me over the years. One friend nearly made me cry by asking if I would help her and her husband by carrying their child if her health issues end up being worse than we all want them to be. Even though I hadn’t been thinking of myself doing another surrogacy, the possibility of helping a friend in this way has me a bit excited, I have to admit; she would make an amazing mom.
Job- Even though I’m currently one of those adjunct faculty members that are getting an increasing amount of national attention, I enjoy my job. I love it, really. I know this adjunct thing is temporary, and have solid applications out to a number of tenure track jobs and a campus interview in a week. No, I don’t have all the resources that I need, but I’m finding creative ways to fill the gaps that benefit my students and my research. I’m learning skills to be a better educator with less, and with the help of another colleague, I’m writing my courses to be intentionally more inclusive and present more of the history of biology than just old white guys by talking about researchers like Rachel Carson, Rosalind Franklin, Wangari Maathai, and Tyrone Hayes. And I have great fun with side projects like this blog, Fireside Science, and Ear to the Ground.
Home- My husband and my son, the home that we’ve made together, and our life are amazing. I can’t imagine any other place to be or who to be there with. Yes, it’s tough; yes, it has challenges, but at the end of the day this is the life I chose, and this is the life I would choose over and over again. I have what I need, and I have enough to share what I have.
I just wish that more people in my life could say the same right now, and I’ll keep doing what I can until they’re there.
DAY FOUR OF THE SNOWSTORM!
From what I’ve gleaned off of Facebook, people are ignoring the alerts to stay indoors and they are leaving their houses. In the snow and ice. To go places.
I really don’t get it.
I must have been born without the cabin fever gene because I am starting to panic that in the next few days, we are going to be able to venture out of our houses. And all the reasonable excuses to stay at home will disappear.
Here is what I have at my house: EVERYTHING I need.
Here is what the outside world offers me: Hmmm….still thinking.
The other day, my mom told me that she wants to give my sister money so Karen and Craig can go to France. She asked me if that would be weird for me if she did that.
And then we both laughed merrily. Because I would give Karen a couple of thousands of dollars just so I don’t have to go to France. My feeling about Karen traveling is that every time she goes somewhere, the pressure is off of me to go somewhere. It’s a win/win. Well, except for Robin, who probably didn’t bank on marrying someone who travels only to Clusterfuckistan, which is in my own head.
Poor Robin. When Robin and I met, I was a kickass traveler. I had lived in Israel, I had been to Europe, I had been to Mexico; I cut a rather swashbuckling figure to him, I imagine ( I just called downstairs to ask him if when we met I cut a swashbuckling figure to him. He started laughing so hard, he is now choking on a mucous wad and sounds like he might barf). I will take that as a “yes”.
I used to get excited when I made plane reservations. Now I keep making them and re-making them until the confirmation code letters spell out something that I can make into a good harbinger. If the confirmation code has an “X” in it, well, forget it. That means I will die because it stands for the “ex” Me.
It is not easy being me. The ex Me or the current Me.
My uncle Harvey, who is a non-stop world traveler, taught me a trick. Well, not so much a trick as a window into the genetic neuroses of our family. Whenever he is flying, he says to his friend Arnie (who often travels with him), “Happy landings on a chocolate bar.” And they fly, travel and return safely.
Please don’t try that for yourself, however, because then you all will use up its magic powers. And my uncle Harvey will…well, you get the picture. And you don’t want that on your head.
Harvey’s son, Adam, is the reason airline companies exist. Adam is an insatiable traveler. I really cannot believe we came from the same DNA. His blood must have come from the part of the family who rose from their hovel in the Ukraine to fight the Cossacks with their last breath. And then booked a flight to LA.
My blood came from the same hovel, but clearly through the family chihuahua who piddled on the down blankets while hidden under a floorbood in the kitchen and prepared for certain death by the Czar.
Adam said to me, “You know how you panic when you have to fly somewhere and be somewhere new? That’s how I feel when I don’t have somewhere to go.”
I don’t even think he’s actually Jewish.
Although without the Uncle Harveys and Cousin Adams and the Sylvia Browns in our bloodline, we would never have made it to America. If the family’s future had rested in me, we’d still be in the shtetl, stretching out that last crumb of black bread. On the upside, however, we could have probably walked over to Sochi this week. Something Adam and Harvey and Sylvia cannot do from America. Just saying.
I like to be home. And nap. And eat. And be grumpy. I am probably about 90% ursine and 10% human. Especially when I haven’t waxed in a while.
So, I will squeeze the final perfect hours of this ice storm exactly where I want to be. Home. I’m off to the kitchen now to get some–
Wait. Fuck. We’re out of wine. FUCK. Fuck.
Help. I’m stuck in my house in an ice storm. Get me out of here!
By Ann Brown, Parenting Consultant
I’m watching the Olympics as I write this article. And I cannot help but think about the parents of the athletes, and the sacrifices they made for their children.
I wonder about the role the parents played in encouraging their future champion to rise to Olympic heights. I mean, do you think that Gracie Gold’s mom had to force her to go to skating practice in the early mornings? Or that Sage Kotsenberg’s parents made him spend afternoons on his snowboard when all he wanted to do was study for his algebra test?
The idea intrigues me because I never pushed my kids to do anything. Well, as far as I can recall, I never did. Hold on, let me go ask them.
They aren’t taking my call. Hunh.
I was a product of the sixties; my parents were, as well. We marched in anti-war protests together, we walked picket lines together, and together we yelled bad words at one of our presidents when he entered the Century City Hotel in Los Angeles many decades ago. Raising kids in the sixties – at least, in our circles – was strongly rooted in “do your own thing”, “subvert the dominant paradigm”, and – in our family’s case – “ you can’t go barefoot to Grandma’s funeral”. Because there were some rules.
My parents did, however, force my sister and me to do the following:
1. Take piano lessons. Until we didn’t want to anymore.
2. Go to Sunday School. Until we didn’t want to anymore.
We also had to do the dishes every night, and clean the house on Saturdays. But I don’t remember fighting them on that so I can’t really speak to whether or not we were forced. Doing the dishes with my sister was kinda awesome. We brought our transistor radio into the kitchen and sang along with the Beatles. I really think my ability to sing vocal harmonies has its foundation in those early years when my sister was Lennon and I was McCartney in our little kitchen on Crewe Street.
Could I have been an Olympic pianist, or dishwasher, if my parents had pushed me to persevere and excel?
Years ago, there was a family in my class that came to me when their first child was almost two years old. The little boy walked into my classroom wearing a NASA jumpsuit.
“He is going to be an astronaut,” the mother explained to me.
I smiled my benign smile. The smile you give to parents when they have no idea what lies ahead of them in parenting. Bless your hopeful, naive, clueless hearts, my smile silently said.
“No, I mean it, “ she said, “We have been teaching him about space since he was a baby. His crib is a rocket ship. His whole life revolves around going into outer space.”
During the year they were in my class, the little boy showed up every single week in some sort of NASA outfit, reciting some sort of astronaut-ish facts and eating space food. Okay, that last part isn’t true, but it totally could have been. When I gently prodded the parents about their goal for their child, I was shut down.
“The only way it’s going to happen,” the dad told me, “is if we make it happen for him until he can do it himself.”
Call me a slacker parent (because I pretty much am one) but it seems to me that if a child is going to excel in something to the level of NASA or the Olympics, it probably will be carried by the sheer will of the child. I just don’t think that Sean White’s mom and dad had to drag her son kicking and screaming up to the ski slopes. I suspect it was getting him off the mountain that took all their parenting strength.
Supporting your child in his/her pursuits is very different from forcing your goals down their throats. And the earlier we push, the longer it will take for them to discover their true passions for themselves.
One of my kids was strongly into Dungeons and Dragons when he was young. Me, I had no interest in it; in fact, I vaguely thought it was creepy. But my kid devoured the game and begged me to take him to the creepy tournaments (where, at the age of seven, he was the only person there under thirty years old). And when I didn’t take him to the tournaments – when I faked being busy or flat-out refused – he used his allowance and took a cab, organized his own tournaments at our house (with children; I drew the line at having adult D&D players in my home. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…) or practiced on his own.
Yes, this is a very dorky story but you get my point. When a child is motivated by passion for something, you can’t stop them from forging ahead. Now it would be pretty awesome if the thing my son pursued was piano – or skiing, or service to the poor, or poetry – but it was not my destiny to choose his destiny. And as it is, he turned out quite fine. And he has not played D&D for over twenty years. As far as I know.
I think it’s worthwhile to give our kids lots and lots of experiences in many things. And I think that it is our job to encourage, support and – if necessary – hold the line at the things that reflect our values and vision. But is it our job to create champions of our children? Is it our right?
I’m definitely on the “soft kitty, nice kitty” side of the Tiger Mom spectrum. And yes, my kids are not Olympians. They did not have roomfuls of awards and ribbons when they were growing up. In fact, they mostly had disgusting, stinky sox and empty, decaying Capri Sun pouches in their rooms. One of my kids went to soccer ONCE, at age five, and declared never to return. The other kid stopped violin lessons in sixth grade. I was cool. I figured it was their lives and their decisions. I also had a headache most of the years they were young. I never got enough sleep, so I was pretty happy to just let them do their thing and leave me to the couch with a cold compress on my forehead. But that’s an issue between my kids and their future shrinks.
I did force them, however, to always write “thank you” notes for their birthday presents, and to work at the homeless shelter on Christmas, and to rinse the dishes before loading them into the dishwasher, and to do their own laundry, and to become Bar Mitzvahs, and to never, ever cross a picket line. Because those are things I believe in.
As far as I know, that little boy in my class never made it to NASA. I’m not even sure he made it through high school. Wherever he is, I hope he’s happy and fulfilled from his own dreams. And I hope his parents have realized that his life is not their life. We name our kids, we protect them, we inspire them and we support them, but we don’t hold the puppet strings.
On the other hand, maybe if I had named my kids Bode and Sage, I’d be in Sochi right now.
By Lisa Regula Meyer
I normally think of myself as a decent writer- not great, but not horrible, either- but no matter how I try to rearrange the words, this just keeps coming out horribly. I can’t get the right words to make it anything except depressing and stale and no good. I try telling myself that the problem is the message, not the messenger, but who knows? Maybe there really is just no good way to tell this story.
Last week, my first surro-kiddo had a brain tumor removed from her left hemisphere. Her dads called me that morning, so that I didn’t find out about it on Facebook (where we communicate most often) or from a third party, and I really appreciate that. Their voices were shaky and trembling as they described what little they knew, and when surgery was going to be (later that day, just a few hours after we spoke, in fact). I was a gestational surrogate for Miss A, so she’s not genetically connected to me, but I still felt like I had been run over by a Mack truck. It was the lunar new year; if this is how the year of the horse began, what could the rest of the year possibly look like?
I don’t do well with situations that have no social script, and this has no social script what so ever. A five year old with a brain tumor that’s likely malignant- that happens in those tear-jerker human interest stories on the evening news, not in my life, right? Not to someone I know and love. Definitely not to someone to whom I gave birth. How does one deal with that scenario? What do you say? How do you feel? I had (and continue to have) no clue about what was right or expected or “normal” in this situation.
So I sent flowers.
And a teddy bear.
And hopes that one or more of these tokens would carry my love and sympathies to friends whom needed them dearly. Because what else could I do?
Then social media came to the rescue. An out-pouring of love fit for the little princess that she is. Warmth and well-wishes, hopeful thoughts and promises of prayers from all over the Twitter-sphere and Facebook-landia. While few people could be with them in the hospital, but we could all be there in spirit, cheering on Miss A and her daddies when they needed it. And they could keep all of us who cared about them updated as to her progress, accomplishments of the day, and overall emotions at that point in time.
That’s really the miracle of digital communities, isn’t it? The ability to reach out quickly and to large groups of people. Share the burden of pain, and the exhilaration of our success. And at a time like this, there’s plenty of burden and pain to be shared by this little girl and her “tribe” in the digital world.
As of January 1, the state of Illinois passed a ‘hands free’ law while driving. As we all know that means no talking on the phone while driving, surely no texting, email or surfing the net.
When Max was a toddler and I had just gotten my first smart phone, a pink Blackberry Pearl, I was in love. I loved the idea of the internet at my fingertips, the texting instant thoughts to my sister and snapping a photo to capture those fleeting moments. However, I didn’t have any rules of when I was allowed to use these awesome features.
One day driving home from work, I was dabbling on my phone and not paying attention and was SO close to hitting someone. Max was in the back seat, babbling about something, while I was white knuckled on the steering wheel hearing my tires screech on the pavement and screaming, ‘oh shit!’. After the realization settled in that I did not hit the car in front of me, I had to sit there for a moment and collect myself. A few beeps from the person behind me and we were on the go again.
I didn’t pick up the phone in the car again for a good month.
I did eventually pick it up while in the car, however I’ve gotten into this habit of only at stop lights. Instead of just waiting patiently I am on my phone, surfing Facebook, Instagram, eBay, etc.
Here’s the thing … I find I am on the phone in the house or the library or the restaurant. I am CONSTANTLY on my phone. It could be considered an addiction. Why is this so important? Why cant I just put it down and talk to my boys?
I recently purchased the book, Hands Free Mama by Rachel May Stafford. (nevermind the fact that I am trying to read a page a night and that is quite the challenge as I typically fall asleep. she also has a blog of the same title, however I am refraining from looking at that as I will get overwhelmed by the amount of data and information on the site and then do nothing.) Simply, the book and the blog are about living hands free – no phones, no computers, no to-do lists, etc – for the sole purpose of enjoying life and your family.
I’ve been doing about one of two or three days of intentionally putting the phone down. I need to make it a practice. I want to be free of this addiction. I don’t want to measure my life based on Facebook posts or trying to incorporate countless activities that all these ‘perfect’ moms are doing with their kids.
Being hands free, I will not be missing out on brotherly love between Max and Theo, watching my boys grow and learn and share special moments with them nor will I be giving them memories of their childhood of Mom always being on her phone. Instead I will be engaging with my boys, engaging with my life, engaging with nature and family. How exciting does that sound?
So many possibilities are out there being hands free. I cant wait!
(though I will make proper time for meal planning, blog writing and bill paying … though most likely after the boys go to bed.)
by Meika Rouda
I have never heard of a straight single man adopting a baby but that is exactly the situation my friend found herself in when she replied to a post for a nanny position. In all the seminars, chat groups, adoption books I have read, I really haven’t heard of men adopting alone. Women, yes but men? This guy is 55, handsome and wealthy and works out of his mansion in San Francisco. Apparently he recently broke up with a woman whom he had been with for many years that didn’t want children. Although he had always wanted a child, he had not started down the adoption road until he received a call from a woman who used to work for him saying she had a friend who had a teenage daughter that was pregnant and was he interested in adopting the baby? That is how he came to be a father.
The little girl is beautiful and he blogs about her everyday, snapping a photo and writing up a little post. But that is about all he does with the baby. He has a nanny there 24 hours a day 7 days a week. One for the day time shift of 8AM-8PM and one for the night time shift of 8PM-8AM. My friend has worked for him several times and said she has never seen him hold the baby (except for her blog photo) or feed the baby. He has never come to her comfort when she wakes up in the middle of the night crying, that is something the nanny does. Or change a diaper. He has no idea of the joy you feel holding a newborn child and feeding her a bottle while she looks up at you, amazed. The little girl is now 5 months old and is happy and thriving but she is missing out on having a parent. This man is totally dependent his crew of nannys. I wonder how much searching this guy did before he signed up to adopt, if he really could grasp what it means to be a parent and how vital bonding is. While the girl has lots of caregivers, she has no parent. Is this wrong? The man seems to love his daughter but he is totally disconnected from her. He just wants to buy her presents and enjoy her when she is happy and cooing. This little girl will probably always grow up with several nanny’s and maybe it is a guy thing but I know plenty of men who comfort their crying babies and change diapers, my husband being one of them.
My hope is that this fellow will come around, that someone will tell him that he needs to step it up sometimes and be the primary caregiver, even if he has a nanny there. This little girl needs to know he is there for her, that he can take care of her, that he is the constant in her life. That is what being a parent is about, not just buying gifts and posing for portraits.
By Halina Newberry Grant
My 5 1/2 month old used to be an expert sleeper-up until about 3 1/2 months. Life circumstances threw us all off schedule and out of our routine, and now we are repairing the damage. Most parents confront sleep training some time in the first year of their baby’s life, and if they don’t, I don’t want to hear about it. Bully for them.
First you have to choose your method, and while doing so, you must weigh the advice and suggestions from friends and relatives, and then go with your gut based on what you know about someone who’s only been alive a few months and who is changing every day and going through growth spurts and sleep regression and teething, to name a few possible obstacles.
Once you’ve chosen your method, you must ignore the doubt and panic that sets in, suggesting you chose wrong. You must also, constantly, tune out the well-meaning advice of others who think you’re doing it wrong, and who find creative ways to tell you that. You must memorize the relevant chapters of the book you’re using, so that at 4 in the morning you remember what to do when she roots to nurse and you’re counting backwards trying to determine if enough hours have passed since the last time you dropped strap, and you’ve left your notes in the other room and you forgot to look at the clock on the way in. You must bury your self doubt beneath weeks of no sleep and loneliness and despair at seeing your sweet beloved cry because she’s even more tired and confused than are you.
The emotional, mental, physical and spiritual work is relentless, and the only reason you trudge through is because there is the hope and promise and evidence that this will work, and that you will, after some time, get a solid and restorative chunk of sleep. You also trudge through because if you’re like me, you’ve never cared so much about a job, and never put so much of yourself, your time, your heart, your patience, your creativity, your stamina, your care, your earnestness into anything else you’ve tried. And, moving forward, I will know which other jobs are worth any amount of this sacrifice, because I will weigh their worth in lost hours of sleep.
By Ann Brown
I was listening to NPR recently, to learn a few facts that I could insert into conversation should I ever be court-ordered to go outside my house and socialize with people.
I am always on the lookout for conversation topics, as – despite my propencity for long, drawn out essays on myself and my feelings and my personal history and my odd skin conditions me me me me me – I often find myself at a loss for words in real life situations. After “Hi, nice to see you”, I start praying for a small deus ex machina to end the scene. An earthquake, a knife fight, a dinner bell being rung, whatev. Honestly, I don’t really get what people actually talk about in real life. To me, in social situations, it’s pretty much just reciting my funny stories and then waiting for an earthquake.
I don’t go to a lot of parties.
But I like to be prepared in case I am forced to attend one. Which is why I listen to NPR as much as I can to keep at the ready a topical or amusing or politically provocative conversation starter.
This week, I got much more than that.
Baby Bao Bao – the panda at the National Zoo – is now ready to meet the public. This in of iteself was troublesome news to me as I began to wonder what I would say if I had the opportunity to chat with BB. I don’t know a lot about pandas but I don’t think my story about when I sang Jewish folk songs at the State Maximum Security Prison in Tracy, California – a story that is riveting in liberal Jewish circles – would be a hit with Bao Bao. Plus, Bao Bao is just a baby and my story includes some rough shit.
But after listening to the whole Panda story on NPR, I am totally ready to meet any Panda. Anywhere. Anytime. Because I learned from that story that I am a panda. Ich bin eine Panda.
Pandas eat fourteen hours a day. Yeah, well that one is a no-brainer. Check.
Pandas do not hibernate but they appear sleepy. Ask anyone. I always appear sleepy. I yawn constantly. I even once swallowed a fruit fly because I was yawning when I opened the top of the compost bucket.
Pandas don’t kill for food and they don’t eat meat. Well, I can say that so far, I have not killed for food, although I was pretty darn angry that time a large family dressed in their after-church clothes came into New Seasons Market one Sunday morning and bought the last of the Kung Pao tofu. I didn’t not kill them. But I gave the little girl a very witheringly cold look that, I am pretty sure, conveyed my displeasure. And I don’t eat meat. Unless you count chicken and brisket as meat. Oh, and turkey burgers. But I am enormously conflicted about it. As I suspect some closeted Chinese Chicken Salad eating Pandas are, as well. We should start a support group.
Pandas do not like other pandas. Their interaction with eachother is primarily unfriendly. Check. Ask pretty much anyone who has ever tried to get me on the phone. And the nice people at the dog park totally see me pretend to not to see them waving to me as I hurry Phila down the path away from them. I know they think I am stuck up because I don’t go over there and hang out with them. I heard there was a party last summer and everyone from the dog park was invited. I know this because they invited Robin. And Phila.
The female Panda goes into estrus and accepts sexual intercourse ONCE a year. I was going to ask Robin to comment on this one but I’m afraid if I bring up the subject of sex, he will get all horny and want to have some with me. And we already had sex in 2014.
But wait. There’s more!
After her once-a-year estrus, the female Panda appears to be pregnant. It is impossible to know if she really is until a baby is – or is not – born. Although I am no longer asked when my baby is due – I have finally reached that sweet stage of life where my old age clearly precludes anyone thinking I might be pregnant – I have to say that, in terms of comfort and movability, nothing beats the maternity jeans I bought in 1981 at Mervyn’s. Thank God I bought seven pairs back then.
And finally, this:
Pandas cost a lot. You have to spend a lot of money to have them, but they make a lot of money, too. Very true for me, too. What I spend on depilatories and Emergen-C alone exceeds the GNP of some small countries. But, I also make a lot of– oh wait. No I don’t. Shit.
Ich nisht bin eine Panda, I guess.
Oh well. Hopefully, it will still make a semi-interesting bit of socializing smalltalk. You know, how after listening to NPR I realized I am not a Panda. Sweet. I’ve got my conversation topic taken care of for this year. AND I’ve had sex.
See you in 2015.