Wednesday, November 27, 2013


The cranberry sauce is made, and the pumpkin pie is cooling. The bourbon-chocolate-pecan pie is ready to be put in the oven. The apples are just waiting to be peeled and sliced for applesauce. Various items are just waiting to be assembled, or rolled, or placed in the correct pan and cooked.

Lis is up stairs in her crib, talking instead of napping. She had a huge day at the Children's Museum and she be exhausted and dead to the world, but no, she's not and by the way, I don't need to sleep at night anymore either, mama, thank you. The night terrors are back, and ugh. But despite the no napping and no sleeping, she's happy and healthy, and yells MAMA and flings her hands around my neck, then pats my back.

So, there's food on my table and love in my house, and yeah, we're all pretty thankful here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Yes, Yes, Turkey Before Trees, WE ALL KNOW

My MIL is building a house. Have I mentioned that? Because she is, and she is living with a friend until her house is finished, and she is a woman who likes her own space, especially around the holidays, because she decorates the hell out of everything. Except--right now she has no house of her own, and so she has taken out her decorating frustrations on my house. My house is now fully decked out of Thanksgiving/Christmas, since she likes to put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, so that the house is all pretty for the big event. It's full on holiday season in my house, folks.

This meant, of course, that I just HAD to go to Target and buy shatterproof ornaments because never shall the toddler meet the ornaments that came of my grandmother's tree. No. Not happening. So, I suspect there will be tree decorating in the near future (this weekend) when Vor's sister and her fiancee come into town. I also suspect a certain amount of BAAAALL (ball = ornament) throwing by said toddler.

Thanksgiving is at our house this year (see: MIL has no house), so on the menu:

Turkey--Vor puts some kind of herb butter rub on it and then COMPLETELY WRAPS THE TURKEY IN BACON. I can't even. It's like a dream come true.

Sweet potato casserole--my MIL makes this stuff with some kind of pecan brown sugar topping and droooool.

Green bean casserole--again, made by MIL, with crunchy onions on top. Probably my favorite Thanksgiving dish.

Cranberry sauce--I've never made it before, but I am making it this year, so I have the cranberries and oranges waiting for me in the kitchen.

Stuffing: I've always made a pretty standard stuffing, so this year, I am taking a stab at Smitten Kitchen's stuffing, and bonus, I am adjusting it to make it in the crockpot, because there's no room in the oven.

Other vegetable and salad: My SIL and her fiancee are making this part, but I've no idea what they're planning.

I've got frozen rolls waiting in the freezer, and I think I would like to make a fun breakfast of cranberry orange cinnamon buns, also compliments of Smitten Kitchen, though I will be making a few adjustments.

Really, my Thanksgiving specialty is pies, so I make three: (1) apple; (2) pumpkin; and (3) chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Yeah, you read that right. You get drunk on the pie and fall into the sea of chocolate and then grab a pecan as a life raft. Plus, I know pumpkin pie is a love/hate thing, and honestly, I've always been on the hate side, because it's bitter and not really that tasty. But, with the help of Cooks Illustrated, I've come up with a pumpkin pie that is delicious and even I, the pumpkin pie hater, will eat it and happily. The secret is maple syrup and yams. The apple pie always gets eaten the fastest, so this year, I am thinking about making the apple pie as a slab pie, again, ala Smitten Kitchen.

This just happened, and I think I'm just going to end that this completely unrelated note:

You're welcome.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Craniosynostosis: Before and After

Consider this part the finis, with pictures! (for other parts, see the craniosynostosis label or go to this post, which has links to all the parts, I swear, I will go back and link them all together someday)


The last one is her waiting to go into surgery. You can see, in all of them, the indents on the side of the head, the obviously too long head, the way the forehead bugles out like a bubble. Her head was kind of shaped like a bullet, and pointy at the back, and it was getting worse week by week.


Round head, indents no longer noticeable, forehead not bulging.

One of my biggest fears in this whole thing (other than death or brain damage, obviously) was that Lis would not look like Lis anymore. Well, that obviously didn't happen; she is very obviously the toddler version of the baby self.

However, it would not be honest to say it didn't affect her looks at all. It did--and probably for the better. Her condition would only have worsened, and her skull would have been seriously deformed. Let's not even talk about the risk of seizures, blindness, and brain damage. From the bridge of the nose down, it still looks exactly like Lis. Her eyes and her forehead are different. Obviously, the forehead doesn't bulge anymore, so there's that. But her eye position is also different--they had to move the eye sockets. She is still very recognizable, very much herself, but it is significant enough for me to notice when I look through pictures. 

So, to any parents who find this with the same fear that I had--that your child won't look like himself or herself--I say, yes. Yes to all of it. Yes, they might look a bit different, and yes you will always recognize them. Yes, they will be the same, and yes, they will be different.

Yes, you're doing the right thing. Yes, I did it too.

Done and done.

Each Night I Fall Alseep

I’ve had a headache since last Wednesday. I have had a headache for more than a week now. Nothing seems to make it go away, except sleep, but sleep seems to be rare here.

I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea, but I checked out World War Z from the library, and I made the fatal mistake of reading it before going to sleep. Therefore, I dreamt about zombies and running all over castles and schools to hide. It actually wasn’t a scary dream, probably because it isn’t a very scary or gory book. It was just an exhausting dream, because I was running everywhere in it. I woke up exhausted, and here I am absolutely dragging.

Vor was out of town for the weekend, and I was a solo parent. I always have a harder time sleeping without him there next to me. I also have a harder time sleeping, because it’s me to protect and listen for Lis. When Vor’s there, I can sleep through her small sighs and shifts that we hear over the monitor; without him, I pretty much never fall asleep. For some reason, I woke up at 1:15 am, and proceeding to have a two hour anxiety fest. My brain would not shut down, and it came up with all kinds of creative scenarios wherein I lost everyone and everything I hold dear. No amount of singing songs to myself, reciting childhood prayers, trying to day dream counter scenarios, or just steady breathing and counting would make them stop or put me back to sleep. When I finally asleep from exhaustion around 4 am, I slept uneasily, halfway dreaming of being surrounded by silky black curtains of which that I could not punch way out.

We have close friends—the friends who introduced us to each other, albeit unwittingly. We were pregnant at the same time, but they lost the baby when she was seven months pregnant. The baby, a little girl, was going to be only two months younger than Lis. They miscarried again just under a year later. They found out they were pregnant when they came to visit us in September, and there was much rejoicing—and then they found out there were two—twins! Today, they discovered that one of twins has a terminal genetic disorder. They don’t know if the healthy twin will be able to survive if and when she starts to miscarry the other baby.

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads / and one by one I count them / as they slumber in their beds.

I showed Lis a little snippet of White Christmas. She loved the big dance numbers, but I was surprised at how much the scene where Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby meet over liverwurst and sing to each other. She just swayed back and forth to the song, holding her lambie next to her face, and my breath caught, seeing every blessing I have ever had or wanted right there in front of me.

If you’re worried, and you can’t sleep / just count your blessings instead of sheep / and you’ll fall asleep, counting your blessings.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Project Playroom: The Narnia Closet

We spent every weeknight and all our free time during the October weekends (during naps and after Lis went to bed) building the Narnia closet door. Here’s the closet:

My initial thought when we decided to do something fun with the playroom closet was to just put in a hidden bookshelf door. Vor began browsing pictures of hidden doors in playrooms, and kept coming across a ubiquitous one of a straight up Narnia style wardrobe, leading to a secret room. It was a really impressive wardrobe, complete with false back wall that would swing open. For about two seconds we toyed with the idea that we would put one in, but put it onto the playroom door, basically making the playroom a secret. We tossed that out because the playroom is the only place in the basement with a window, and we want the light. It’s also pointless to create a secret room if you’re going to cut out half the wall, like we are considering.

It turns out that, for a pretty penny, you can just buy a bookcase/door. It also turns out that it is more of a pain in the ass to build a bookcase/door than I realized. Lucky for me, I married an engineer (turned lawyer) who also used to build furniture with his dad.
Vor decided that the best way to combine the Narnia idea and the bookshelf (hello storage, since we are losing closet storage) was use the cube bookshelves you can build yourself from Target, plus a cabinet with door from the same brand, reinforce the closet door, and attach it all to the already hinged closet door. Holes are cut in order to create a passage way through the cabinet doors, and we will install a fake wall door on the back side of the closet.

I’m not sure this is making sense, so let’s go to the pictures.
The build it yourself cabinet, with the bookshelf cubes on top perfectly covers the door and the door opening--forgot to take pictures, so here they are at Target.

So we bought a plank that pretty much matches the door (we have a smaller one to cover the top bit), and we are cutting holes in both where we want the “secret passage” as well as a few holes where some of the cubes are, so that we can reach in and turn on the light for here (these will be hidden by the bins that go in the cubes). Once the cutting was done, we attached the plank to the door (the door has a hollow core, but there is a 1X2 frame that runs along all the edges, so that’s where we attached the reinforcing plank). Since the door had a hollow core, we had a hole problem that we fixed with insulation foam. Then we attached the cabinet and the cubes to the reinforced door, and the door went back up on the hinges:

Then we hid the open cube spaces (with fabric bins) and the door knob (with a random pillow, who knows what will end up there):

And we turned Lis loose on the door:

When she opened the door, there was this loud, delighted gasp that I desperately wish I could caught on video. She LOVES it.

Lis will only be two in January, so we are just putting a curtain on the inside of the closet for the false wall until she gets the hang of going through the closet passage way. We were worried that at first, if there was a false wall, she either would not go through or would go in and get stuck in the closet. We will put the false wall on later.

We are still debating the best way to cover the insulation foam. We have tossed around white duct tape, paint, the vinyl “tile” you see in older kitchens, carpet or heavy canvas fabric, and so on.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Merry Lis Poppins (Pictures will self destruct)

This is how we roll. Happy very late Halloween.

Other pics self destructed due to Vor's face being included as Bert the chimney sweep.

So Lonely Baby

Sometimes, you procrastinate a thing long enough that it becomes insurmountable, a terrible task to undertake, a terrible burden to bear, when really it’s the stupidest thing ever, like sending off an email or making a phone call, or I dunno, keeping up on your stupid blog. That thing where you vent, where your thoughts have an outlet, where you actually have made online connections that matter to you.

On my way home from work, I make two phone calls: One to Vor, to let him know I have retrieved the package (aka Lis) and one to my parents, just to chat. Sometimes I will call my sister or my SIL.  A few days ago, no one answered, I realized that other than those people, I have no one to call. I don’t have a closest friend anymore. I do have a best friend, but she lives thousands of miles away, and we don’t talk every single minute. I have my co-workers, who I am very friendly with and close to, but I am still stinging from my one co-worker leaving to go hike the Appalachian Trail. We were really close, and our spouses were close, and I just miss her. I really like the other women here, but I miss her. My closest friend from law school is here, but we’ve kind of drifted—she’s in big law working 80 hour weeks, getting paid insane money, and I’m in public interest law, getting paid insanely little money. She has no kids, and while she and her husband would like to have a kid soon, he will be a stay at home dad. I have a kid who runs everywhere and touches stuff and their house is not kid friendly. Plus, they have two cats and I hate hate hate cats and Vor is really allergic to them. I don’t think they like our dog, who is admittedly really annoying sometimes.

What I’m saying is that I’m lonely, and sometimes, blogging makes me feel even more lonely.

It’s not like I can just go join a parent’s group. They meet during the workweek. My friends who work and have kids have the same limited time problems that we do, and honestly we all do like to spend our free times soaking up our spouses and kids. My stay at home friends have already formed tight little circles, and there’s this…vibe? from them that they think I’m judging their choice to stay home (I’m not) and that they are judging my choice/need to work (unlikely, but they do make comments sometimes, that I think they only mean to apply to themselves, but they come out wrong if applied to me).

Poor me, etc., etc., moving on.

October got really crazy—we had my SIL and her three kids come into town for a long weekend, then I had four full days hearing the following week, and then—surprise!—my best friend pretty much just showed up on my doorstep and spent the weekend with us, and we had approximately a metric ton of information to catch up on with each other. Then, we had my company’s big fundraiser, which takes the rest of the week to wrap up, and we got family photos done the next weekend, then I had speaking engagements the whole next week, and we pretty much just dropped onto the couch this past weekend, exhausted and grateful to have our house to ourselves.

Then Vor’s sister had to be all awesome and have her volleyball that she coaches win everything in their division, so they are going to the NCAA tournament, and that means Vor is deserting me this weekend, flying out to see his sister (hopefully) coach her team to a round of victories. Which leads me back to the no close friends problem, because I will be all alone, and so what do I do? Invite my MIL over to help me decorate the house in Christmas stuff. Not have a play date, not have coffee, not anything else. Don’t get me wrong, it needs to be done and I love my MIL, but still.

Fortunately, I have gained back a slice of time, thanks to the MILPs. I was really struggling at dinner time, due to a whirling dervish style toddler who is constantly on the verge of imminent self destruction and poor meal planning. I’m a good cook, but I learned to cook when I was single and had time to make complicated recipes, so my bank of “Oh yes, I know that by heart and can whip it up” recipes takes far too much time. So, I begged for ideas, and they came through, and there are now 2 frozen casserole in my freezer and three frozen quiches, along with precut ingredients that I can toss into stir fry or soup, whatever suits my fancy. That REALLY came in handy this week, when I found myself home at 2:30 in the afternoon with a migraine, unable to stand up. When Vor came home, I mumbled something about putting a frozen dish into the oven, and voila! Dinner.

I spend that extra time marveling at my daughter. She’s developed a sense of humor, and she is actually pretty funny. When she smiles, she crinkles her eyes and her nose up. Her hair is red in the sunlight but looks blonde inside. I have no explanation. She is unbelievably tall, towering over the other kids in her classroom, even the ones that were born several months before her. She is also ridiculously coordinated, and can out maneuver kids even a year older than herself. Other than that, she is pretty a “normal” kids with the average amount of words, etc. This week, she suddenly added “thank you,” “shoe,” “book,” “oval,” “circle,” and “help” to her vocab, so that was nice. Oh, and she says “Simba” quite clearly, and obviously, loves lions. All lions are Simba. Really, we don’t let her watch much TV, she just really latched onto the songs from Lion King. She loves to play dress up with my jewelry, and she has a tool kit that she carries around to help Vor. She helps him reassemble tables, put together bookshelves, and we have a broken door knob that we let her work on. It’s pretty awesome. She has an incredible obsession with drawing—every day with the crayons, EVERY DAY. Thank God they are washable, because last week, my entire hardwood floor was covered with crayon, and I’m not sure how she accomplished it without me really noticing. She’s a bit sneaky, in a cute way.

She’s so awesome that two thoughts constantly struggle with each other in my mind: “She’s so awesome that no second child could compete with her,” and “She’s so awesome that I bet a second one would be just as fun.” Factor in my current contemplations about loneliness, and there are days where I think having a sibling for her might be good for her. It’s just that it wouldn’t be good for me, at all. So, that continues to be tabled, at least until the idea of being pregnant doesn’t make me immediately cry with terror.

Time to go dig out the Christmas decorations.