It's a miracle!

As I've mentioned a few about a hundred thousand times, my husband is not big on home repair tasks ("it'll just get that way again."). When we bought our house in 1998, we made note of the fact that the ceiling fan in our bedroom was ugly. It was dark grey and just didn't seem to match anything. My beloved assured me he'd replace it that summer. Because the fan contained a light fixture, it was the main source of light in our bedroom. It had four separate sockets for light bulbs. One socket died last year. Then recently the second one called it quits. This left us with two low-watt bulbs in our bedroom. I don't need it to be lit up like Kohl's in there, but I need to have a reasonable expectation that I have, in fact, selected two black - and not navy - socks to wear to work. Matching earrings are also a plus.

So, I went to Home Depot and selected a new one. Then I set the box in the bedroom, patted it a few times, and spoke loudly of how I couldn't wait to be able to enjoy the soft breezes generated by my new ceiling fan. I also may have implied, if ever so vaguely, that I might make it "worth his while" to install it sooner than later.

This morning the kid and I went to church and left the man of the house to work on the installation. When we got home, he had managed to remove the old one but had not yet installed the new one. Sensing that my other half might start uttering some colorful language as he got further into the project, I grabbed my daughter and loaded her into the car for a trip to a local orchard . . . which was closed. Apples everywhere and I could not buy them. So, we went with Plan B, which was to drive to a different orchard that was farther away. We were only able to get Cortland and Red Delicious, but we had no complaints. We munched some apples on the way home. I am hoping that this big pile of apples will result into a couple less teeth for the kid. Her top teeth are loose but she refuses to pull them. So, here's hoping one of them ends up in an apple.

When we got home, the new ceiling fan had been installed. And it works!

Now that I know my other half is capable of completing a handyman task that involves electricity, I have some hope of being able to say good-bye to the monstrosity in our dining room:

In other news, I hauled my arse to Weight Watchers on Saturday.  I hadn't been in a couple weeks three months. I had been loosely counting points over the summer, but wasn't taking it too seriously. However, in my ever-changing attempts to motivate myself, I am trying something new. I have issued myself a challenge, and I'm happy to report that I have accepted it. I have set up an incentive program. 10 pounds lost = pedicure (I know I've said in the past that I'm not so sure I want one, but I figure I may as well give it a try), 20 pounds lost = massage, and 30 pounds lost = a new tattoo. So, we'll see.  I'll keep you posted. Maybe.
The most stylish kid the orchard has ever seen

Playing catch-up.

I did not have access to Blogger for a few weeks, so I have some catching up to do.  So here goes:
  • We had an awesome visit from my Dad.  During his stay, we celebrated our birthdays: Kerri turned 8, I turned 47, and Dad turned 72 years old.  We can't look at another birthday cake! 
  • Dad made lots and lots of chimichurri.  The entire middle shelf of my fridge is full of jars.  Anyone want some?
  • Pookie loved seeing his "grandpa".  He was on his lap constantly, or playing ball with him.  He is really missing my Dad, almost as much as we are.
  • We think a trip to Florida is in order - it's been way too long!  We are waiting on Tammie to tell us her schedule in order to decide whether we are travelling this year or next. 
  • Life is good.  Really, really good.
  • Kerri's ex asked for her hand in marriage.  Yesterday he told Kerri he loved her.  Kerri told her ex that she hated him.  Hubby growled, and I think it's funny.  Yes, we are the new Kerri Boo Boo family.
  • My next hematologist appointment is on October 2nd.  Hoping to get a diagnosis, or a referral to a specialist at some point soon, because I have already had four blood tests in the past few months and still no answers. 
  • I almost fired my cleaning fairy company, due to an incompetent office worker with a complete disregard for customer service.  Luckily, my favourite cleaning fairy made it all better and the fairy office manager convinced me to give them another chance.  And then she offered me a job in the office!  I wonder if the job comes with wings....
And that dear friends, is Life with Kerri.

In No Particular Order-

Random items from September's calender of chores and events-

*A couple weeks ago, my husband accompanied me on a particularly far away wedding cake delivery, after which we headed out for a dinner date. I had been hearing a lot of buzz about a new Thai restaurant so we checked it out.

This is an authentic Thai place, not an Americanized version, first confirmed by the Asian owners and carved watermelons at the door and then by the food...
...which was so fresh, with sharp flavors. Lots of mint and cilantro. This was the presentation of my trout dish. What is really great about Thai food is that it is healthy and costs about half what a good meal in any other restaurant costs. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner.

*Before the rainy season starts, there is a mad dash to finish projects that need to be done. Child labor is utilized at every opportunity. Those are roofing shingles on Sam's back. Shingles are h e a v y.

The final stage of the extreme home addition is on that To Do list- building a covered porch at the entrance door. Work on that commenced this last weekend with roof supporting posts erected. This is why I birthed boys. Five times. Boys like to do this stuff.

But some of those boys were missing tonight so I was employed to help with the roof beam raising.

Hey, dear? How do you know that I am a heavy enough counter weight on this thing and won't be catapulted into the back yard? Wait. Don't answer that...

*I finally chose a color for the new mudroom doors. It's called Gray Horse and I like it.

*It's a blessing to have friends who work private events at high end, big city restaurants. This beautiful and expensive floral arrangement would have ended up in a dumpster (what rich people do with their money) except that Sarah brought it to me! It makes me smile ( and my photo doesn't do its beauty justice.)

*We have a lot of forest fires in the area- not too close but there is still a constant, heavy smoke haze in the air. It obscures our mountain view, makes us asthmatics cough and sniffle and gives us some stunning red sunsets.

 I'm not good at low light photos but I couldn't resist this moon over the smoky mountain one evening while driving home.

How was your September?

A big bucket of sexy, that's what I am

Several years ago, I fell up the stairs in my house. It was a fairly dramatic fall and I sustained an injury to the big toe on my left foot. When it didn't get better after a few weeks, I went to a doctor. He told me it was fine and that I could do physical therapy at home by picking up coins with my toes (while I watched television). I translated his advice to: "You should go away now."  So, I didn't pursue any further action.

In case you are keeping a tally:

Medical-type person (encountered after moving to current city)
How I feel about them
Doctor who didn’t care about my toe
Mild dislike
First dermatologist who cared more about selling cosmetic surgery than helping with legitimate medical issue
Second dermatologist who’s totally old-school but nice as can be
First OB-GYN, who refused to give me an ultrasound in my first trimester when I told him something was wrong
Full-on hatred
Like a lot, except that one time when he dilated my pupils
Second OB-GYN, who done me wrong in every possible way
Hatred to the point where I gave serious consideration to mowing her down with my van when I saw her walking across the Best Buy parking lot that one time.
Orthopedist who put my broken thumb back together
Adore.  Also, he is kind of cute.
Like, but don’t adore because, well, hanging out with him is not that fun.
Third (and current) OB-GYN
Moderate dislike.  He’s better than the first two, but there’s a certain smugness about him that chaps my ass.

I have a new doctor to add to my list, which is my podiatrist (and I dig him so far). I saw him for the first time yesterday. I feel like an old lady just by virtue of the fact that I now *have* a podiatrist. The title conjures images of corns and bunions and whatnot.  Anyway, I made the appointment because my foot hurts.  After the initial injury, I didn't think about my foot constantly. In fact, in the years that followed, I couldn't always remember which foot I'd injured until I had some need to crouch down or otherwise bend my feet - and then I remembered.  Now, however, my foot has made it clear that I need to pay attention to it like it's my full-time job. It hurts when I walk and when I go to yoga. Sometimes, when I am sitting at my desk at work, pain shoots through my toe for no reason at all. I finally decided it was time to see if anything could be done.

So, off I went. The new guy took x-rays and then reviewed them with me. Here is the scoop: my original injury left me with a jacked-up joint (I tried looking up the name of the actual joint but let me just say that it's the joint that connects my big toe to the rest of my foot - and leave it at that). I have a bone spur that is jabbing me every time I flex the foot. Oh, and here's the sexy part . . . arthritis.  I have arthritis in my foot. Ah, aging - it's the gift that keeps on giving, my friends.

The doctor laid out a few options, starting with the most conservative - an oral anti-inflammatory.  The next step up is to give me a cortisone injection. The final frontier is surgery - he would slice open my foot, saw off the bone fragment, and then sew me back up again.

I thought he was going to push me to start with the oral stuff first ("that's what she said!") but he asked how I wanted to proceed.  Since this is an old injury, I don't think anything I put in my mouth is going to make a difference. "I want the shot," I said.

So, I got the shot. He told me straight out that it would hurt, and it hurt like a sonofabitch. For some reason I thought of that scene from "The 40-Year-Old-Virgin" where Steve Carrell gets his chest waxed and screams, "KELLY CLARKSON!" every time they pull off a wax strip. Seriously, my vision blurred for a second when that needle hit.

So now I guess I just wait and see.  It sounds like I will probably need the surgery eventually, but I plan to hold out as long as I can.

There you have it - the latest in my march towards old-ladydom.  

Tomato Garden Notes

Here it is, the last part of September, and I'm still waiting for my tomatoes.
We've harvested all the corn, most of the beans and cucumbers, had a good crop of basil and enough monster cabbages to feed every cole slaw lover in the valley. We're eating fresh tomatoes every day but I've only had a few small boxes of ripe tomatoes altogether.

But there are lots of green ones still on the vines. I'm thrilled with these large clusters of San Marzanos but I'm worried they won't be able to ripen before the first frost. Our weather lately has been gorgeous- in the 70's every day with blue skies and slight breezes. We've had a number of lovely dinners outside under the twinkle lights and early sunsets. But nights are getting so cold, too cold to ripen tomatoes.

I planted eight different varieties of tomatoes including the old reliables like Early Girl and Roma, but also some new-to-me kinds that I found at our local Saturday Market.  The Carmellos and Donas were described as tomatoes found in Italian and French farmer's markets. All the tomatoes are short season tomatoes, 58-70 days, for a better chance on getting red, ripe fruit before frost. This is the one thing I have learned in the eighteen or so years of trying to grow tomatoes in the Great Northwest. Forget about those meaty Better Boys and Beefsteak tomatoes that I grew in Michigan. Those varieties don't ripen on the slopes of Mt. Hood.

In the box, the tomatoes on the left are the tried and true Early Girls. The tomatoes on the right are the new varieties. The two large, pear shaped tomatoes and the green ones on the vine are the one risky plant I bought called Giant Italian Paste tomatoes. They are a 100 day tomato and I didn't count on eating any ripe ones. Surprisingly though, those two red tomatoes beat out the Donas to ripen which are a 65 day tomato. They are huge, meaty and will be great for sauce. There are not so many on the plant but I can definitely imagine that planted in a place with nice hot summers (like Italy) they probably produce abundant amounts of giant paste tomatoes for great pasta sauces. I'm glad I planted it and would plant one or two again next year.

This tomato is called a Heinz. It is diminutive but the plants have produced profusely. They are a firm, meaty tomato that have the characteristics of a roma but those romas are not ripening very well so I think next year I should plant more Heinz and less roma.

I have made numerous tomato sandwiches with the Heinz. Maybe that's why I haven't made much sauce. I'm eating too many tomato sandwiches. Is it possible to eat too many fresh summer tomato sandwiches?

No. I don't think so. As long I can get fresh mozzarella and there is sourdough bread and basil leaves, the tomato sandwiches must continue as long as possible, as many as possible.
And of course, as long as the juicy, ripe summer tomatoes last. Which won't be much longer so let's make some more sandwiches while we can! And also Tomato Tarts and some roasted tomato pasta sauce.   Hurry! before summer is over!

Wait. What?

The Sleepless Night

We had our annual fundraiser for the rescue on Saturday. It was a loooong day.  However, it all pays off in the end. Our volunteers band together and do a kick-ass job (we work on it for about six months prior) and as a result, the rescue is able to pay its veterinary bills and buy leashes and collars and whatnot.

I worked at the fundraiser all day and then drove home (two-hour drive). I had my heart set on taking a nice long bath. By the time I got everything unpacked, it was around 9:00.  I set up my daughter's portable DVD player in the bathroom (yes, decadent, right?) and watched a documentary while I soaked my old-lady bones and sipped a wee bit of merlot. I went to bed at around 11:45. Then, at some point, I got up and let the dogs outside (how did I know they wanted to go outside? My foster dog jogged into my bedroom and peed on the floor, so that was my main clue).  A few minutes later, I let them back in and then climbed back into bed.

At 2 a.m., my husband returned home from playing cards at a friend's house. He woke me up. "Hey, did you know Gideon was outside?"  So, depending on what time it was when I let the dogs outside, I'd either left my boy outside for a few minutes or two hours. I felt about two inches tall and was ready to report myself to the ASPCA. Anyway, I am not sure if it was the guilt of leaving my dog outside or what my deal was, but I could not fall back to sleep. I stayed in bed for almost two hours, flipping this way and that. Have you ever been too exhausted to sleep?  It's an odd phenomenon, but that's how I felt. Plus, I was having beaucoup pain in my hips. Finally, I decided to get up and do something constructive. I popped two Tylenol PM and then listened to some music on Spotify while I worked on counting cash from the fundraiser. I figured I'd wait for the Tylenol to kick in and then go back to bed. It never really did. Glassy-eyed and desperate, I slid under the sheets once again and repeated the toss-n-turn routine from around 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Clearly defeated, I gave up and got out of bed for good. I had to teach religious education at church at 10, so I had to declare the battle for sleep . . . over.

I teach the youngest age group at church - Pre-K through 1st grade. I am terrible with kids but I try not to let on to the kids that I know that they know that I'm terrible with kids. I just try my best to muddle through. I've learned that if I have them warm up with a physical activity, there is a higher chance that they will sit still for the story time. I played Simon Says with them.  I stood up at the front while six adorable kids faced me. My brain told me to say, "Simon says 'take a nap!'" but what my mouth said was, "Simon says, 'do some jumping jacks!'"  The kids were pretty merciful with me in general, though. No one cried, which is always a plus.

My daughter wanted me to take her somewhere after church on Sunday. P took her to lunch at Noodles while I worked on a bank deposit for the rescue and watched a saved episode of "Project Runway" (I was glad to see Ven go home - what a tool). I was too tired to do anything too ambitious so I offered to take her to the mall for a pretzel. She accepted the offer.

On the way to the mall, I heard this from the back seat: "Mom, I have a really important question for you."

I turned down the music. I have heard this introductory statement from her before and it is usually followed by a question about her adoption. I always do my best to answer those. I waited and listened.

"Mom, how are people made?" I sat quietly for a moment. Then I did the sensible thing - pretended I did not hear the question.  I hoped she'd change the subject and tell me whether she wanted a regular pretzel or a cinnamon one.  No such luck.

"I mean, how are HUMAN BEINGS made? How are they made?"

Shit. Think fast, Claudia. Think fast.  No sleep. Brain not working. 

"Welllll," I started.  "All human beings start as a tiny little embryo in a woman's uterus. Then the embryo grows into a fetus and then a baby. Then, nine months later, the baby is ready to be born."

Please please please don't ask me how the embryo gets in there. 

"Mom, can I get an ICEE with my pretzel?"


I went to bed at 9 p.m. on the dot last night.

Weekend in Quebec

 Corey after one gin and tonic.
 Corey after two gin and tonics.
 My cousin Luis's grill.
Cousin Luis, his son Pablo, and my Dad (Grandpa Oscar).
After a wonderful two week visit with my Dad, we spent the last day together with family in Quebec.  Our cousins all reunited to see Dad, and Luis cooked up a storm.  It was a beautiful Fall day, and we loved seeing everyone and catching up. 
Life with Kerri had a wonderful family reunion.

The greatest gift of all...

The gifts and cards were great - thank you to everyone for your kindness and generosity! 

And the fact that Kerri could read them herself and pronounce each word clearly and understandably was awesome. 

But the greatest gift of all was that we got to share her birthday with Grandpa Oscar and Nana.

Photos courtesy of Jessica Wild Photography.

Life with Kerri was given the best gift "eber" the day Rao Wan Zhen was placed in our arms.

Kerri's 8th birthday party.

Kerri's 8th birthday party was a huge hit with the kids!  It was held at a cooking school, and the kids all learned how to make pizza and fruit salad, and then ate what they made.  They also decorated cupcakes to take home.  It was a lot of fun!

Thank you to Loblaws Cooking School, and Jessica Wild Photography!

Life with Kerri celebrated our daughter's birthday with her friends.