Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fun with Fujazz: Thanks to Mr. Loaner Son.

The Loaner Son has a father. His father has ties to an actual “Stewartville.” Somewhere in the world there are most likely many Stewartvilles all inhabited by Stewarts. While we have one right here inside our house, we are now being contacted by others from outside our house. Join our club, they scream at the top of their lungs.Yesterday, we received a long-sleeve T-shirt in the mail from the Loaner Son’s father. As you can imagine, this brought hours and hours and hours of fun into our household. This is very good news for us, since we are on House Budget Poor Us Initiative Boom 2009. In order to make something that really, really, really sucks, like planning for the future when we just want to have fun, we give the situation a grand name … and then it’s not so bad. We are easy to fool.

Our friends were going out to dinner last night. The Stewarts had to stay in and make a homemade pizza. Now, we make a mean pizza—no problem there—but we were still lamed out at having to stay at home. When it’s by force, it sucks. Did I already write that it really sucks? I did. Ok, to be clear: budgeting sucks. And to counter that suckism situation, I should also be clear to point out that it is necessary. Planning for the future and all that jazz. I’d like to go see a jazz show, maybe down at Ona’s Music Room on 20th Street … but I’m not referring to the fun kind of jazz that brings immediate gratification and colors spinning behind your eyelids and a melody so hip and now and then and every day of the week to your ears—I’m referring to retirement jazz and baby jazz and a new car some day jazz. That jazz. It’s future jazz. It’s fujazz.

So while planning for fujazz, there must be budget cuts. The 2009 Stewartville recession has hit. No cat shall suffer while underneath our roof. They must be fed and have proper treaties at all times. Cat teasers must be replaced as feathers are eaten and bells fall off and are stored lovingly under the couch and under random bookcases. Since we cannot cut out feeding or spoiling the cats, we must cut out spoiling the Stewarts. We must make our own entertainment instead of relying on others, like those wonderful people making magic downtown at Ona’s Music Room or like our friends who want to go out and eat social dinners where we talk and laugh and tell story after story after story about our other friends, instead of all this—we must rely on our own wits. Just me, Mr. Husband, Oliver Baggins Pants, and Bonita Banana. We can do it. The Stewartville T-shirt helped. All of us, except The Senator who refused to lower himself to such comedy standards, had fun trying on the T-Shirt. Oh, how we laughed. Oh, the joy the Stewartville T-shirt brought to our little household.

This was a night that we’ll talk about for years and years and years as we reminisce over the joy and laughter that was witnessed inside our four walls and a holy columnthat cold evening at the end of January. The pizza was gobbled up within ten minutes as we watched X-Play and stole sideways glances at the waiting T-Shirt fun that was to be had. We chewed quickly, knowing that as soon as dinner was over, the T-Shirt wild abandon would begin. Oh, how we polished off that pizza without taking any extra breaths. No slacking on the way to super T-shirt fun. Not us! The cats danced at our feet in high expectation, not really knowing but guessing what was about to happen. It was better than Christmas—that feeling you get when you're a five-years-old and understand the concept of Santa and strangers bringing awesomeness wrapped in shiny packages into your home in the middle of a dark night. It was just like that. No, no, it was BETTER.

So, as you can see, we both tried on the T-Shirt and posed and made ourselves into Stewartville T-Shirt fashion models. For if ever there were a Stewart standard for wearing a Stewartville T-Shirt, the two of us, the two Stewarts onWerewolf Lane certainly captured the norm. Even Bonita got into the fun. She begged and begged and begged as you can imagine any cat would do upon seeing the revelry before her being played out in her parents, and we let her. We helped her lovingly into the T-Shirt and she cried great big meows of happiness and understood right at that moment—it’s good to be a Stewart in Stewartville.

God save the budget.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Listening for the secret, searching for the sound.

Valentime’s Day is one of those days where Super Husband gets to really shine. We call it Valentime’s Day after seeing the Valentine’s Day episode of 30 Rock last year where Rachel Dratch plays a hooker or something like that, a woman in the industry, and she falls down at the end of episode, screeching about Valentime’s Day. It so cracked us up that that is what it is. (I love an opportunity to use a double that.) So on Valentime’s Day, I get my hopes up. Way up. Pie in the sky up—hoping for the gift of all gifts. Hoping for the sparkle. Bring on romance and hold me tight.

Mr.Husband will forever have a hard time beating our first Valentime’s Day together. In February 2006, we’d been “dating” with the official label and everything for about three weeks. Both of us had not really had a Valentime’s Day in years and years and years. We were both secretly super excited. While I did a good job surprising Mr. Husband-then-boyfriend at work with a box of chocolate goodies and Godiva dipped pretzels, he took my breath away and kept me on pins and needles the entire day.

The weekend before Valentime’s Day, we’d taken our first road trip to Nashville to visit Mr. Husband-then-boyfriend’s grandparents: Harry and Jean. We made artwork in the car on the way there while listening to one Grateful Dead show after another. He was such a good wooer. While in Nashville, Mr. Husband-then-boyfriend took me to visit Yazoo Brewery, which is located in the old Marathon Motorworks building where Mr. Husband-then-boyfriend used to work for a small software shop. He sat me down at a table and ordered a sampling of six of Yazoo’s finest beers and told me that I was to drink them all. I did. I sampled and sampled those six tiny glasses until I was giggling and teetering off my chair. Later that weekend, it snowed lightly in Nashville. Tiny snowflakes drifted down among the streetlights and I swore that Mr. Husband-then-boyfriend made it snow.

I didn’t expect much when the actual day, February 14th, arrived. I hoped for flowers. I’m crazy for flowers—I love to watch them die and lose one petal after another as they droop down from their height of life. What I found instead of flowers was a tiny glass bottle hanging from a string on my Beetle door handle in my apartment parking lot. Wow. I looked around, expecting to see him. I was flabbergasted. That word is completely perfect for my feeling right then. There. Flabbergasted. I opened up a folded piece of red linen paper to find a series of three lines of numbers and dashes. What? This is no poetry with which I am familiar. I have stepped over to the genius side of life where everything pops and everything cracks with newness and thinking adventure. I think I floated to work. I couldn’t wait to speak to him.

Before speaking to Mr. Husband-then-boyfriend, I contacted a Boston genius, Dowling, and asked him what the series of numbers meant. He wrote back quickly, informing me that I was looking at a book cipher. He said that I needed to look for a special book that we shared in common or that a key would be provided. A book cipher. No shit. I was looking for something to unravel the numbers for correlation to a position of a word in a list and then the position of a letter in that word. Wow. Mr. Husband-then-boyfriend informed me around noon that a key would soon be on its way. I waited. I was in knots and had trouble working that day. I don’t think my boss knew I was dating yet, so I couldn’t share the hunt or excitement. That was tough.

Around 3:00, I received an email with a digital painting that contained twenty-seven words that referenced our trip to Nashville. Words that brought magical colors to my head as I swam in the memory of the road trip. Words like Hawthorne, the author whose story I read out loud in the car, Langston, the street Mr. Husband-then-boyfriend lived on in Nashville, and Centennial, the park that we walked through during our stay. It took me a while, but I finally discovered the meaning of the cipher … it was a website URL: He wrote a story for me. He wrote the story of our first kiss and posted it to the world. I was so his girlfriend. God save the geeks. I was totally geek-struck.

This year is our fourth Valentime’s Day that we’ll spend together. We’re heading back up to Nashville to visit Yazoo for the weekend. I hope Mr. Husband makes it snow again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Oliver Baggins Pants

On May 6th, 2007, Mr. Husband surprised me during the Birthannukah closing ceremony with a trip to the new Greater Birmingham Humane Society. There, we picked out my new kitty. There was only one kitten available, and Mr. Husband said it was a good omen that the only kitten that day looked very similar to Oliver, Mr. Husband’s cat that waited for us at home. There were several reasons that led us to take that May morning trip in 2007, primarily that Oliver Pants, our current cat, had become so lonely that he walked around the apartment at night moaning, howling, and crying for something more to be added to his life. Mr. Pants, or The Senator, as we refer to him in common speech, wanted all of our time to be spent looking at him, petting him, and shaking a cat teaser around the living room for his sole entertainment. He had become high maintenance. He needed something more in his life. Clearly, we were not enough.

When I met Mr. Husband, I was thrilled that he had a cat. T-H-R-I-L-L-E-D. Almost all the men I had dated or been out on a date with in the five years prior to meeting Mr. Husband were allergic to cats. They all despised cats and didn’t understand why any logical thinking human being would want a cat. I believe that all of those men are certainly still single. Ignorant, sniffling, cat-hating morons. It should be noted that these men also were not dog people. They were not people-people either. Not fit for long-term canoodling, but I digress. Suffice it to say that meeting Mr. Husband
who had a cat at home hiding under his bed was a breath of fresh air. Years ago, I developed a scale of needs for finding the optimal husband. You need a scale to keep you on track and root out the super-fun-crazy-wild-for-the-moment men who are not husband-worthy. Among six necessary traits, “must like cats” was one of the essential criterions. On our second first date, Mr. Husband told me the story about Oliver Baggins Pants and I was overwhelmed with his kind compassion. The good man radar was off the charts that night. I think I let him hold my hand.

Oliver, it seems, was part of a rogue traveling cat band that lived or, more likely, ran in Mr. Husband’s apartment complex in Nashville. He began feeding the long-haired black cat that looked at him with pleading trust in his eyes. Feeding led to a night
inside one evening. A night inside one evening led to … well, I’ll let you imagine what that led to. Soon, the two bachelors who needed very little from the world besides Hamburger Helper and tuna became a household of man and cat and no one else. They were happy. Mr. Husband left the window open for Oliver, his little orphan, when he went to work and Oliver waited patiently for Mr. Husband’s return from work each evening. The two of them spent their entire evenings and weekends curled up together watching Star Trek (I’m sure of it) and talking in cat-to-man language about their hopes and dreams.

A year after this cat-fills-man’s-empty-life arrangement, Mr. Husband hears a knock on the door. Expecting Mormons or some kid selling cookies, Mr. Husband opens the door to see his downstairs neighbor standing there trying desperately to look into his apartment. She asks, “Is that cat in the window your cat?” Mr. Husband’s heart retreats quickly to his feet and he begins to panic. It turns out, the cat in the window, our Oliver Baggins Pants, is actually named “Stash” and was part of the girl-downstairs-neighbor’s group of wild wandering cats. She quickly explained that she didn’t want him back, but only wanted to know that he was ok. She was glad “Stash” had found a home. Good thing, too. I suspect that Mr. Husband would have taken the girl-downstairs-neighbor to court over the paternity and right to parent our dear Oliver. It didn’t come to that, and Mr. Husband and Oliver moved to Birmingham in 2005, looking for me.

Upon moving in with Mr. Husband during our third month of dating (we were on the dating fast track), I learned to make The Senator my own.
I built him many different structures out of boxes and tissue paper, calling the creations part of Bear City. I devoted all my Saturday and Sunday mornings to entertaining The Senator lest I be evicted from Bear City. Oliver became my cat, too, but he never snuggled with me. Mr. Husband often explained that I was the loudest
thing Oliver ever met. Oliver is a scaredy-cat and he runs from me to this day. I must be something of an ogre in his eyes. Despite my killing-myself-to-make-him-love-me attempts, Oliver remained steadfast and stuck like glue to Mr. Husband. I was alone on my side of the bed. I keep myself warm at night with the knowledge that Oliver turns to me when he needs to be fed, have his poop scooped or if he gets a bag stuck on his head. I am the queen of bag and poop removal.

Mr. Husband and The Senator devised a plan to cure my side-of-the-bed loneliness. Enter, Bonita Banana …

Saturday, January 24, 2009

So you say it's your birthday.

We celebrate a lot of birthday dinners in our group of friends. It seems like every time we turn around, there’s another birthday dinner. The thing is, the birthday dinner is starting to drain all of us. We’re all either in the midst of baby 101 or trying get into the first class. We’re suffering under budget restraints. We’re all in a kind of family-baby recession, but who is the lucky winner who gets to have a birthday where we do not get together to celebrate? Who becomes the friend known as the friend we do not think it important enough to celebrate. Tough call. Impossible call. Do we cut the ever-generous Arab in January? Monty Python warns us, "never be rude to an Arab." Do we cut Topazi during football season? But no one wants to miss out on Mrs. Topazi's big sandwich that she makes each year for Topazi's birthday. Do we cut Mr. Husband who shares a birthday with Bhavesh? You can't cut two for the price of one. Not fair. Do we cut me at the beginning of May? Not it!

No one wants to be cut. The birthday gathering is an old tradition, if you consider six years to be a long enough time to label as old.
Since 2003 we’ve been gathering for birthdays. Originally, Topazi would call Boat Drink night at Bahama Breeze, which is now closed on Hwy 280. His long emails filled with wit and always at least one reference to poop began what is now our cross to bear—I mean, tradition. The emails would go out to everyone in our division at work and always included others throughout the larger company. It was a big group. What remains, six years later, is a core group that misses its vital member Moser, but still tries to wiggle through without him. Everyone has other groups besides this birthday group. Like we have the Patel faction and Yuri and Clay in Huntsville. The Topazi’s have their Brian and Sarah faction and the Rays. Mindy has her work faction, and so on. Yet, this group continues to meet with each other and with others for every dang birthday. Let us celebrate getting really, really, really old together.

There have been super awesome birthday gatherings like Debbie’s surprise birthday in New Orleans for her 30th birthday over four years ago. Like Topazi’s surprise birthday that he didn’t understand at Macaroni the year he started his own tradition of mooning everyone at the party.
Like Nader’s bowling party birthday where everyone brought cigars and helped kill the Arab just a little bit more by encouraging a bad habit (that feels so good). There was the year in 2004 where everyone forgot my birthday since I was at the Medieval Conference in Kalamazoo during the birthday week. And then there was the year after that when everyone paid penance and had to attend an art festival with me downtown. At least the punishment helped improve their deeper appreciation of art. Okay, there was free beer … but they had to look at the art and fill their heads with the aesthetic of not-beer for part of that time while drinking beer.

After six years, you’d think that everyone gets it. It’s like a mathematical equation that is a universal and a constant: birthday + friends’ knowledge = gathering. Yet, this year, everyone was sufficiently surprised. Moser at the end of April, Me in early May, Debbie at the end of May, Mr. Husband in August, Hind in early October, Topazi at the end of October, Mindy in December, and Nader in January. It’s like a drummer drumming—the way we have to keep up with the birthdays, all of us often planning way ahead of time. While we used to have these big, giant birthdays that often involved travel or wild nights of drinking all night, as we’ve mellowed, the picture has changed. We have evolved with three weddings, one divorce, two babies, and one on the way. Birthdays are now a nice gathering in someone’s home or at a restaurant, but they are still a surprise after all these years.

On Wednesday night, we surprised Nader at the birthday kick-off extravaganza for 2009. Even though he saw Mindy and Brodie as he walked into Kobe on Hwy 280, he still didn’t get it. Even as I walked up to his Hibachi table and announced that we were there for him, he still didn’t get it. Mr. Nader blinked and took it in.
Genuine surprise lit up his face. I was flabbergasted. How can you not know after all these years? Even if Hind had surprised Nader with a birthday trip to Las Vegas on the actual day of birthday—we will still celebrate. We cannot be stopped. Hind did a fantastic job keeping her husband confused. And he was surprised. We are so birthday, we don’t even know it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Magical Mystery Meat.

It’s a three-day weekend, which means lots of pajamas. We’ve spent a large part of the weekend in our home doing lazy things like writing, reading, watching movies, and cooking. Mr. Husband returned to the kitchen to claim his apron, but, yet, we continue to forget the apron every time. He even has his own apron that he got for Birthannukah last year along with his new grill. His apron has “The Terminator” written on it with a big flame. We love all things Terminator. Mr. Husband likes to think he’s part metal when it comes to cooking. Let the machine save dinner. Look out frying pan! Here comes the Jeffinator! Bring him his spatula! Maybe that’s what’s going wrong: no apron.

Mr. Husband is making a valiant effort in the kitchen. He is attacking the meal preparation with vigor and a noble right to rule the kitchen when it’s his night to cook. He is enthusiastic and supported by me in all things. I am his cheerleader always. I’ve found that the very idea of cooking with beer provides 23% more excitement in the kitchen for Mr. Husband. So when he suggested on Saturday that we cook the roast in beer, I agreed wholeheartedly. Great plan! We had one bottle of Harp in the fridge. We put that remaining little bottle to work. We didn’t follow a recipe—we typically do not in our house. We made it up as we went along. Beer, garlic, pepper, salt and a crock pot. That’s all you need. It will be amazing. It has to be.

See, we bought the roast earlier in the week when we visited Bruno’s, our grocery store within walking distance, where the Bruno’s folks had a sample table set up in the meat department. I love Bruno’s. While the prices might not lead to the best bargains in town, they frequently have food samples and wine samples. Yes. They feed me wine. It is the one time all week when suddenly it is ok to drink wine from a plastic cup. Be gone, ye Riedels, give me my splash of grocery store wine. It goes to my head immediately. Suddenly, every dang sample the Bruno’s folks put under our noses finds its way into our grocery cart. This past week, they served pot roast on tortilla chips. Mr. Husband was at once wild for the idea. The two of us quickly realized that this may be a dish perfect for Mr. Husband’s newly learned skill. The kitchen ninja came out of hiding and plugged in the crock pot.

As a rule, I’m not a fan of crock pot cooking. I think it’s lazy. Where’s the effort? Also, I simply may not understand the crock pot and its potential. It very well may be me. It’s not you, crock pot … it’s me. We’ve used the crock pot twice, and both times it wasn’t impressive enough for me to pledge allegiance to the crock pot. The meal was lackluster and was devoid of super flavor. Super flavor is what we get when we use the All-Clad pans. In my opinion, there is no contest. In a death match between the Smart Pot crock pot and the All-Clad braiser pan, the braiser pan pins the crock pot in three seconds flat. The crock pot doesn’t even have a chance to get its plug in the wall. She’s down and begging for mercy and apologizing for cooking all the flavor out of her meat. Anyhow, the crock pot choice was made when we picked out the roast and considered our lazy cat-pajama-video-game-book Saturday ahead of us. While not a hero, the crock pot was the sensible choice.

Mr. Husband prepped the roast by browning both sides on the stove (in a All-Clad frying pan). He did a damn fine job, too. He peppered her up and coaxed her to turn color and be a good roast for us. Then he placed the roast into the crock pot and covered her with Harp beer. Next, he added garlic (hand-chopped by me), some olive oil, and a cup of water. Onions and potatoes completed the meal. The lid was carefully placed upon the crock pot and then we repaired to our own corners for the next five and a half hours. Cook, dear roast, cook.

Around 6:00, the two of us eagerly extracted the happily cooked little roast from the crock pot. We noticed that the beer had gotten very hoppy. We could smell the cooked beer. Interesting. It wasn’t a good smell, but it also wasn’t a necessarily bad smell. We were fence-sitting that one. Mr. Husband attacked the roast with a Henckel and sliced her up into pieces fit for a taco shell. The taco shells were Mr. Husband’s brain explosion. It’ll be like the tortilla chips at Bruno’s. Anything to take us back to that magical night in the meat aisle.

And how was the roast? The roast was a wonderful attempt. She tried, we think. She simply had no flavor. Nothing. Not even the garlic made an appearance on our pallet. Pepper ran and hid while the onion must have gotten drunk. Mr. Husband’s second attempt in two weeks failed to have any flavor at all. Nada. No deal. He shook his head in defeat and I offered comment after comment about the beauty of the roast. She was lovely to look at, but she lacked personality.

Is the beer to blame? Or was the crock pot to blame? Or is Mr. Husband doing something behind my back that strips his meals of flavor? No. I will not believe that. And so we will try again. I am bound and determined to see my Mr. Husband satisfied with his culinary accomplishments. The next round will see full flavor delivered. It must. He’s such a good man to try so hard. He deserves a flavor-filled meal that springs from his hands.

Right now, I’m eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that Mr. Husband just whipped up for lunch. The man makes a mean pb&J. No person or crock pot can take that away from him.

Friday, January 16, 2009

All I’d want is you to be my sweet honey bee.

It’s Friday night. We are so glad to be done with the work week. Not because we dislike work, we dig work always and are way too into our jobs for normalcy standards, but because this weekend Mr. Husband declared a no-cellphones-no-friends weekend. Sure, it’s 7:30 on Friday night and that rule has already been broken by two families: the McDermotts and the Craigs from Huntsville. Not much we can do there. The Craigs we see like never, so the rule had to be bent. The McDermotts are super smart, cool, and feed us champagne. Easy to break the rule there. But for tonight and for tomorrow all day—it is just me and the big guy. Feed me my husband love. We’ll call it Love Fest 2009.

We met some folks for dinner tonight after a team meeting at work. Our friend Josh commented that it didn’t seem like we’d been married over a year. We’re still too goofy. How is it that we can work so closely and still be giddy over each other. Yes, this is the kind of stuff that makes our friend Dale puke. My apologies to Dale and his esophagus. Everyone says it will change once we have kids. We’re trying to enact that rule now, but it’s still not happening. We are trying really hard to be annoyed with each other. But we only end up falling over in laughter. Tonight, we drove the New Beetle home from the pizza parlor after beers, both of us singing at the top of our lungs to the Juno soundtrack. “All I Want is You” is one of our favorites. Heck, we love them all. They’re folksy and lyric-heavy and story-built. The songs are fun for a couple to ride around town singing at the top of their lungs as they smile from their inner hearts that are bursting with love and friendship and happiness. It’s a sickness. We know.

We had a busy as busy week. Wednesday night was a dinner gathering for some people that we never really get to hang out with—newbies for us. That was fun. Lots of wine was emptied into the decanter. We ate off the fine china—it’s not just for holidays. And if a plate breaks, we’ll buy another. So what. Live it up with fine china. That’s the way we roll on a hump day. Our home was a constant open door, which is why Mr. Husband called super-love-weekend. I’m ok with that. Bring it. Let’s see what he’s got.

I’ve got cupcakes. So we made cupcakes with Loaner Son last night. He was thrilled with the three eggs and the cake box and the cupcake cups. He was amazed at how cool I am. I love that. Look at me in wonder and amazement. See me with a spatula and know that I make cake happen. I am the cake bringer. Cake is. Cake here. Cake now. Always cake. Why is it that we’re all so damn easy for cake? Mr. Husband and I raced into the house tonight after parking the New Beetle in the garage—we raced to find the last strawberry cake cupcake on the kitchen table. Finders keepers! I forgot. I got all tied up with the mail, which is typically the most exciting thing in my day—I love mystery. Mail is such. I love it probably too much. I get that excited feeling in my chest when I see the mailbox and know it’s probably full. But we do all our bills online. The mailbox is actually rather boring. I still get excited. Can’t help it. Mailbox. Yes!

Anyhow, so we raced into the house with me getting sidetracked by the mail. He won the last cupcake, which was iced in yellow with a big pink heart on it. He had it halfway in his mouth before I protested. We held each other as we both took bites out of the last cupcake. Me wrapped in Mr. Husband’s arms as we both laughed wildly with icing on our breath. Me making a strange nom nom nom sound as I bit into the side of the half-left cupcake that he let me taste. We laughed. We were giddy again with our cupcake. I almost choked on a bit of that cupcake I was laughing so hard. Love is so good. It’s cake. Mr. Husband is my perfect piece of cake. I eat his cake. I try not to choke on his cake. Shut up. Don't go there.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Bizarro World Switcheroo.

What kind of bizarro world are we living in? The bizarro world I refer to is the crazy-upside-down-how-can-this-be world where my wonderful-but-self-admittedly-sometimes-dull Mr. Husband is more exciting than me. How in the world can this be? Aha! Through the eyes of a two-year-old who will be three-years-old in two and a half months—it is not me with the zest, it is Mr. Husband with the care. Our Loaner Son, Brodie, does not want for me to help in any way. He only wants “Deff.” To be honest, my always wanting to teach is totally lame. I admit that now.

Let’s examine the differences between “Hedder” and “Deff”

Likes video games.
Loves video games.
Loves to watch Shrek 563 times a week.
Talks in that soft, gentle kid-friendly voice when explaining concepts like loading the dishwasher or washing one’s hands.
Makes lots of sounds with his mouth that enhance any standard activity.
Is incredibly attentive and always in high spirits.
Is at home with child boy who understands him.

Likes books.
Loves books.
Prefers listening to Opera to watching Shrek again.
Believes children should be spoken to and reasoned with like an adult so that they understand that issues, like drawing circles are serious issues that deserve proper care.
Makes lots of sounds that are not with her mouth. Accidental sounds, we’ll say.
Is easily distracted and disappointed when her activity ideas are not received with super enthusiasm that cannot be contained.
Is perplexed by child boy who is confused by her.

Here we find the facts. Mr. Husband is 800x more exciting to a two-year-old than I am. Who knew? I keep coming up with these great ideas for art: crayon drawing depicting ourselves in a challenging moment, creating aprons with puffy paint, making cookies from scratch with silly colors, and deep discussions about why Van Gogh might not have been appreciated in his own time. Why our young Loaner Son cannot appreciate my attempts at excitement baffles me. Here Mr. Husband moves in with a silly word and he’s the star of the show.

I make chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and tater tots. I cut up cheese to make a smiley face on his plate. And, yet, I’m not the exciting one. Mr. Husband swoops in with his chewing with the mouth open and burping and I’m the school marm at the table, asking Loaner Son to eat his carrots.
I was so excited about the aprons and paint. I forced my co-worker Meghan to visit Hobby Lobby with me at lunch yesterday. I felt like I was on the brink of a great, big, jumping, amazing eureka moment. I thought I had it. Surely, Loaner Son will thrill at the thought of painting aprons. Surely, I was sorely mistaken.

First of all, perhaps little boys do not like aprons. Fail. Perhaps it is not ingrained in them—not in his physical make-up to adore the apron and want to paint it with bright colors as a representation of his soul and life thoughts up until now (all two-years-and-ten-months-of-it-with-change). Secondly, little Loaner Son could not get his tiny little hand around the squeeze tube of puffy paint. Fail. I didn’t consider that. I felt like I was doing it for him in order to get color to happen. That wasn’t the idea! Fail. Thirdly, I didn’t imagine that little Loaner Son would be much more concerned with putting the caps back on the puffy paint bottles instead of making a great, big, giant mess with which I could help. Fail. I realize now that I am, officially, unable to think like a two-year-old going on three.

Mr. Husband makes milkshakes. Mr. Husband always has something “cool” to explain in little kid language. Mr. Husband becomes Mr. Comical Comic Man who knows how to relate to a little boy. I am the color brown.

Panic? You betcha. I’m working on popping one of these little creatures out of me within the next year. And I’m the one who is typically invited to the table to add sparkling commentary and comic relief. Ask my friends! This is a bizarro switcheroo. And so I come down to earth and realize that I’m not a hit with all kinds. Dogs like me. Cats love me. People my own age want to friend me. But little boys, they don’t understand me. And I don’t understand them. Perhaps a little boy doesn’t want to be pushed to his ultimate artistic and thought potential. What do I do now? The only suggestion I have in my pocket is that we might want to write an essay about it together. Fail.

I let Mr. Husband take over. I sit and wait on cue. But I do not give up. Tomorrow night: cupcakes. My parents owned a bakery in Hunstville, so I can bake and decorate. I can do that! Little Loaner Son will wear that apron he half painted, and I’ll have some kind of activity to feel like I’m teaching. Maybe this feeling explains my
initial calling to teach English at the college level? I’m friggin’ useless unless I feel like I’m teaching.

Mr. Husband just wants to have a good time. Bizarro world. Totally. And I’m totally lucky to have “Deff” who knows how to hang out with a two-year-old. He doesn’t fail.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mr. Husband's One Hot Taco.

We are in month six of baby preparation mode. While there is no baby on the horizon yet, we plan feverishly for the first sign of baby. We plan. Actually, I plan and Mr. Husband watches and plays along like a good teammate. He is forever on the sidelines “just waiting for [his] name to be called.” When called to the plate, Mr. Husband steps up with gusto and believes in his mission. He is a good man, but anyone reading this already knows that and, in fact, probably secretly hates Mr. Husband for his oh-so-ever-goodness-at-all-times-that-she-had-to-write-a-blog-about-it. There are many things that we are doing to prepare for babyville to hit our doorstep. One of those things started a long time ago in the little itty-bitty apartment: Mr. Husband learns to cook.

The tradition continues.

It is important that when we have children, Mr. Husband be able to participate. I remember when I was little and my mother decided to go to nursing school. My father was presented with three kids that he didn’t really know, and he had to cook for them. While my father is a great cook now and in charge of the kitchen, he used to be terrible. I grew up having many meals where all three kids cried through dinner with dad threatening us to eat his mystery concoction or else. It was terrible and probably veered on food abuse. My father was fond of substituting and making it up. Beans and ketchup thrown together to make chili. Using yogurt instead of milk in mashed potatoes. Burning everything and insisting it’s good. Yuck.

My Mr. Husband will not be surprised. He will be ready with spatula in one hand, wooden spoon in the other, and apron tied snugly around his waist.
Fortunately, Mr. Husband and I have the Loaner Son to practice with. Mr. Husband can make a mean milk shake already. But we also need to practice when Loaner Son is not around. Thursday night in our home was Mr. Husband Taco Night. I sent him an email on Thursday, trying to identify everything he needs to know. I even included details on where he would find the materials he needs. (Mr. Husband cannot find anything. Ever. Poor man, may I never die. He’ll never find his underwear again.) He followed instructions and cooked up a super husband storm. Me? I sat and relaxed with a glass of wine, reading the mail.

Email from Thursday afternoon, in preparation of Mr. Husband Cooks Again:
Go, Jeff! You're making dinner tonight! How exciting is this? I might have to blog about it--that's how exciting it is. In fact, I’m sure I will, so be sure to look your best.

Here's what you will do:

The taco meat is thawing in the fridge. Get that out and place onto the stove as soon as we get home (before you change your pants). Open it up to let air in ... go change pants.

Cut up onion to sauté with the ground beef. You might need to zap the beef in the microwave on the auto-defrost. Put in glass bowl (bottom shelf, on the right) to put in microwave.

Get beer. Frozen glass in fridge for Super Husband Beer.

You can use the new garlic press to press some garlic cloves to add garlic to the ground beef. (Garlic is in plastic bag in top left drawer in fridge. Press is in utensil drawer.)

Add seasonings like pepper and other fun spices. Be creative.

Start your rice before sautéing the ground beef. Saffron rice is in pantry on third shelf. It should bite you, it's so easy to find. Use the green pot to cook the rice. It's the best.

Get your soft taco shells ready. Dampen two paper towels with water and put the shells between the paper towels and then warm in the oven on 250 for a few minutes.

Grate some cheddar into a bowl.

Get some sour cream into a little kitty cat bowl.

Do we want some lettuce cut up?

To sauté your beef, use the All-Clad 10" frying pan. Sauté the beef in butter. Yum. Get the pan warm, add butter until it melts, then add the onion and garlic to season the pan and butter. Then add your beef and stir it around until it is cooked. Hint: cooked beef is not pink!

You can do it! Go Jeff!


Were the tacos good that night? That’s debatable. Mr. Husband probably should not have veered from the instructions and gotten creative as my father used to do. His brain explosion during cooking led to his genius idea to add beer to the ground beef while cooking. Good idea, really. But drain it afterwards! The tacos were droopy and soggy. Oops. Looks like taco night deserves a re-run. I loved the tacos. Mr. Husband complained and was disappointed in his work. I ate them all up. Next time, though, I’ll be more specific with spice and not use the phrase “be creative.” He was not creative with spice. Next time: Mr. Husband Brings the Spice.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My country for real highlights.

So, wonderful Mr. Husband agrees that the time has come. He has agreed without much pleading from me. He is skeptical and still believes it may not be necessary, but Mr. Husband is logical and can be reasoned with. Mr. Husband also wants a happy wife. As with any new house diet, there are certain luxuries that must be sacrificed for the good of the stupid house. One of those luxuries that we sacrificed is my hair. No, no, we did not cut my hair or shave my head (as easily referenced by the surplus of photos that vomit onto this blogspace weekly), but we sacrificed my getting my hair did.

The time has come to put this travesty to an end.

For the past two years, the highlights in my hair have cost about $13 every three months. That’s right. About four dollars and thirty-three cents to see my head turn into a brassy rain of yellow that has continuously, steadily, and ever-too-progressively filled my head with what are supposed to be highlights that surely make strangers wince. Well, if the highlights do not make strangers wince, they, at least, make me wince.
I cringe when I pass by a mirror and, accidentally or without really trying, glance into the mirror and, in my peripheral horror, see this shiny shock of bright-brazen-what-should-be-blond that does not mix, match, or appear to flow on my head. It stops me in my tracks. Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep this super-awesome house in mind, which affords me the super-human power to shrug it off and say to myself, “who cares?”

And I have been able to do that for two years. Well, really for one year. For the first year of thirteen-dollar highlights, Mr. Husband lovingly applied the color to my hairs while wearing plastic gloves and us making jokes about his being a hair scientist. That lasted until the wedding. He did a terrific job. I received compliments from the ladies at the hair salon and I do not believe the comments were tongue-in-cheek or sarcastic. This highlighting of the hair by Mr. Husband was a great sacrifice on his part—one that helped endear me to this incredible man who would take the time to stop playing video games or saving the world with his gigantic brainpower to care for my silly hair. It’s not like I was going to die without the highlights. But I wanted them. He did the math when I told him a salon will charge $120 for the highlights every three months. He did the math and then met me in the bathroom with plastic gloves and a highlighting kit from Target.

He even did my highlights before the wedding, according to the advisement from the girl who was doing my updo. That’s care, man.

Since the wedding, Mr. Husband has been off the hook. I figured that I can do the highlights myself within half the time. Awesome. I’m concerned about efficiency when it comes to how this permanent stuff looks on my head. I’ll admit it. I can slap it on in fifteen minutes. I know, I know … you want to scream, “No! You lie!” But you’d only be encouraging me. Don’t do that.

When Harold came to visit in October,
he went out with me and Mindy. Harold, Mr. Twin Brother is always honest. Mr. Twin Brother is not Mr. Husband. He is not married to me. He can be more honest and discerning. He can be critical. While Mr. Husband also has complete freedom to criticize, it’s possible he fears a wife-total-meltdown. His fears are not completely ridiculous. Anyhow, Harold turns to me at dinner at Icon II and he says, “Listen, Sis, it’s time to start paying someone to do your hair … professionally.” I suppose he added the “professionally” in case I decided to start paying Mr. Husband an extra five bucks for taking on the the task of an eighteen-dollar highlighting job. Mr. Twin Brother was harsh. Mr. Twin Brother is right.

Whenever encouraging Mr. Husband toward a certain wifely-goal, it is always good to use math (since he can do it, and does it very well). I presented a true-life case scenario to him. I told him that a friend of ours whom he knows, who shall remain nameless, pays $180 every ten weeks to get her hair did. Let’s say her name, hypothetically, is Mindy-Melinda. Let’s say that MM pays $180 every ten weeks with a $20 tip. That’s $200 in less than three months. I told Mr. Husband that my “girl” (my salon) will charge about $65 for one color. That’s all I need. One color. And I’ll do it every three months. I’ll ride the root train for the extra two weeks to make it twelve weeks. That’s a friggin’ steal. And I’ll not buy shoes for one of those three months. That's a savings of approximately $135, if you figure a $10 tip on the $65 job.

Mr. Husband listened. Mr. Husband agrees that we’re through the worst of the house diet. Good Mr. Husband. You will appreciate the new hair. I promise. It’s coming in early February. (Of course, it’s going to cost a little extra at first to fix the mess I’ve made … but it will all be worth it in the end.)