Letter to My 20 Year Old Self

Dear Heather,
This is Heather speaking. Boy, do we need to talk. Seriously girlfriend. Listen and listen good.
First of all, you still haven't figured out what Michael Jackson is singing in P.Y.T. It still sounds like 'I wanna, I wanna Pea-nut.'
On to more pressing issues (but not much more). You have issues with guys. I have no idea what your deal is. Get some self esteem. No, really. That guy who broke up with you last year? Yeah, the one you thought you were going to marry? Get over it. If you married him you would surely be divorced by now. Let it go. Sitting in the tub for hours while the water has gone cold and listening to Sarah McLaughlin is not healthy. He's not losing any sleep over you - and he's going to mess around with one of your good friends in about a year. By the way, you've already met your future husband. Maybe you should pay a little more attention to him!
That football player you're going to meet at the Funky Planet up in Canada? Lose his number. I'm not kidding. He's bad news and in the next year you will learn that he already has a girlfriend, and is also messing around with at least six other girls. You'll consider starting a support group.
While we're on the subject, you know that 33 year old you're dating? Stop it. It's creepy. What kind of 33 year old wants to date a 20 year old? One that's having an early mid-life crisis, that's who! Yeah, it's SO romantic now, but in two years he'll have stalked you not only in Bellingham, but all the way across the pond in the UK, then back to Seattle. Plus he'll be broke as a joke and getting you to pay for stuff. This is not a good situation. Cut your losses and run.
Speaking of cutting your losses - an English degree...really? You've just declared. It's not too late - get a degree people won't laugh at. You're not going to be a brilliant published author. And you're going to pass on the teaching degree in a few years. Why not pick a sensible major now? Like business or pre-law. Boring, yes, but you'll thank me in ten years.
Oh, and you're still credit card free. Stay that way! Or get one and don't use it. I know that it's tempting and you really want that new Express wardrobe, but don't go down that road. Educate yourself on credit and finance!
What else? Oh yes, you know how you hate your body? Listen, enjoy it now because it's not getting any better from here on out. Especially since you'll be drinking like a fiend in England and will put on at least 20 pounds. And while we're on the subject of alcohol, take heed: Gatorade is not a good mixer for vodka, never drink anything that has 151 as an ingredient, whiskey makes you angry and aggressive and on your 21st birthday - don't let your co-workers feed you 8 shots of tequila in one hour. Your mom will thank you for not having to peel you off the bathroom floor at your birthday dinner.
Let's just say you're going to make a quite a few mistakes in the next few years. But, you'll survive. Sometimes it feels like the end of the world but take comfort - things get better and age gives you lots of perspective.
Me xoxo
P.S. Don't ever get dogs. They are evil and eat all your sugar cookies.


In Times Like These...

Let's face it. Things kind of suck right now. I'm possibly staring down the barrel of unemployment, I can hardly turn on the news and SOME CHICK IN CALIFORNIA WHO ALREADY HAD SIX KIDS HAD IN VITRO AND HAD 8 MORE. The world is crazy.

So, some days I need to blow off some steam. Here are a few of my favorite sites that get me laughing out loud. You know, they say it's the best medicine. Laughter that is. I love cliches.

Passive Aggressive Notes - makes me feel like I'm back in college.
Totally Looks Like - high-larious and also very creative at times.
Go Fug Yourself - because it's fun to laugh at celebrities.
The Onion - an oldie but a goodie. For those of use who AREN'T SARCASTIC AT ALL.

Anybody else have any sites they turn to when they need a little chuckle - or uproarious laughter?

Birthday Bonanza!

We had G's birthday party last weekend. Twenty or so people in our TINY (I mean tiny) house. It was snug. Poor dude only napped about an hour so we were teetering on the verge of a meltdown all day. Thankfully, there were lots of distractions.
One year old birthday parties are tricky. I mean, honestly, who are they really for? The kid doesn't care. So I tried to keep it as low key as possible. Early dinner, presents, cake, done. I tried to keep it as simple and inexpensive as possible, and I think I succeeded, less insisting on making the cake from scratch (but it was worth it!). Here's the menu and the links to the recipes:

Pulled pork on onion buns with coleslaw
Baked beans (from a can - seriously, why make them from scratch when the canned are so good?)
Potato Salad (family recipe, below)
Fruit Plate - thanks to my sis in law who brought a lovely plate full of melon and berries - yum!
Carrot Cake - this cake was super moist and delicious. I doubled the recipe and did two layers.

Here is the potato salad recipe. I will try to guess at the measurements - I don't think we've ever written it down.

Carter Family Potato Salad

10 boiled (till fork tender) and peeled russet potatoes, diced
10 hard boiled eggs, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup chopped pickles
1 cup mayonnaise (my mom uses Miracle Whip - I refuse!)
1/4 cup yellow mustard
splash pickle juice
celery salt, pepper and salt to taste
paprika to garnish

In bottom of very large bowl, mix mayonnaise, mustard, pickle juice, and seasonings. Add potatoes, eggs, celery and pickles. Toss. Refrigerate a few hours before serving. Put a little paprika on top to make it pretty.

That's it. Simple and wonderful. A word of advice - mix your beans and potato salad. I have no idea why, but it's SO good.

Next year, I promise to do the out of hand birthday party, complete with the bouncy house, ball pit and magician...who am I kidding? I hyperventilate in Chuck-E-Cheese. We'll have to play it by ear.


Reflections on Year One

My baby G turned one today. I am stunned at how quickly this first year has whizzed by. I'll admit, some days seemed inordinately long (see previous post and yes, he is sleeping again - whew!) but the weeks and months have flown.

One year ago I was lying in a hospital bed, completely doped up on morphine (I think), wearing god-awful things on my legs to make sure my circulation was good and I didn't get clots and holding my sweet little boy. Honestly, I was terrified. I had read every book I could get my hands on, and I felt so unprepared. My labor was disappointing - I felt like an utter failure for my inability to deliver naturally (by naturally I mean vaginally, not without drugs - I'm not that crazy!). They crammed me in the smallest room on the ward and I felt like everyone was crawling over me constantly. The nurses woke us up every hour or two to poke and prod.

G had a rough first week. He kept spiking a temperature - we found out later he was just dehydrated. My milk didn't come in for almost a week. Then when it did - boy did it! Poor little guy choked every time he nursed.

Eventually (and it took a while), little dude and I got into a routine. Then I had to go back to work. That was heartbreaking. I cried at the drop of a pin for week leading up to it, and for the week after I returned. But, like everything, you learn to adjust and now I think we're doing a pretty good job.

So, I like lists. Here's some of what I've learned in year one:

1. That a person can survive on very little sleep (though it is not pleasant).
2. I can go without a shower for longer than I ever thought possible.
3. That breast feeding does not 'make the baby weight melt away'.
4. That I get more excited about poop than is probably normal.
5. I can sing out loud in front of others and not be embarrassed.
6. Never leave a wee wee uncovered during diaper changing. NEVER.
7. Even if you say you will treat your pets the same after baby arrives, you won't. Trust me on this.
8. I always cry when G gets shots. I can't help it.
9. That being a mommy makes me want my mommy a lot more.
10. And this is completely cliche, but there is no love like the fierce love of a mother for her child. It is innate, primal and all consuming.

I have a lot of friends who are becoming mommies for the first time this year and also adding to their families. I am so excited for them and I can't believe what a bunch of breeders we've become. It's awesome!

So G, here's to you. You've made me a better person - I forgive easier, I love harder and I am even getting better at cleaning. I love you my little man!


I Think its Contagious.

I have been following Andrea's sleep trials and tribulations for the last little while, feeling terrible for her and hoping and praying my little G would continue to sleep fairly well. Well, my friends (pardon the McCainism), my days as the mama of a good sleeper seem to have come to an abrupt end.
Granted, G has been sick off and on for the last month. But you'd think maybe that would make him more tired, thus sleep more. NO. This is not the case.
I used to put him down with just slight resistance at about 7-7:30 at night. Then he'd wake up probably about 11 pm and then again at about 3:00 am. I would shuffle into his darkened room, take a quick sniff for a potentially poopy diaper, and then quickly nurse him back to sleep.
But to my great chagrin, for the last week, G has been waking up at 3:30 or 4 am and refusing to go back to sleep. I try to nurse him, he arches his back and does the limp noodle. I rock him (standing up only) and he will doze off but will bounce up like a spring as soon as I lay him in his crib. I leave him in his crib to cry it out (yes, I've resorted to this) and he screams until I go rescue him. And this child can scream for a LONG TIME. Till he's hoarse. I tried to bring him into bed with me this morning in a desperate attempt to get a little more sleep and not only angered the person who shares the bed with me, but also G, who threw himself around and screeched angrily. So we got up. At 4 am.
The only thing I can manage at such a ridiculous hour is to let the child watch Jack's Music Show. I have no idea what to try next. Ideas? I'm starting to resemble a zombie and let's just say my demeanor is suffering due to lack of sleep (read:crabby beyotch).


P.B. & Hysteria?

I was listening to the radio yesterday on the way to work and a columnist named Joel Stein from the L.A. Times was being interviewed and one of his columns came up called 'Peanut Allergies - A Yuppie Invention.'

I found some of the ideas he brought up quite interesting (peanut allergies more prevalent in affluent populations and there has been an 18% increase in food allergies between 1997 and 2007). Even more interesting were angry comments posted after the column - and if you google 'Joel Stein' and 'Peanut Allergy', there are all kinds of blogs and even a counter column in the LA times blasting him for his opinion on the subject.

While I think he was probably insensitive and would most likely have a different opinion if I discovered my son had a food allergy, I do think he raises some valid points. And it definitely made me wonder if as a society, do we LOOK for things to worry about? That we are so fortunate in the quality and choice of our food that we become hyper finicky (no gluten! no refined sugar!). We are very lucky to have such bounty that we are allowed to be so choosy. Have a look at this article - peanut butter saving lives? Something to think about...


I'm Not Wearing Bifocals - Yet.

Do you remember how old 30 used to seem? I'm pretty sure for a few years I even convinced myself I would NEVER be 30. That theory is now shot.

I was chatting with some friends the other day and we were recounting the first time we felt old - not just 'oh, it's my birthday, I'm so old', but an actual event that reminded us we are no longer kids.

For me, it happened probably two years ago. I was with one of my girlfriends whom I've known since we were twelve. I was living in Bellingham at the time and had come down to visit her in Seattle. We'd gone out for dinner and decided that we would go home and make cocktails and watch movies.

We were close to University Village (which is right next to the University of Washington) so we decided to hit the liquor store there. It was a Friday night and pretty busy (unsurprisingly). We got our supplies to make some cosmos and checked out. Out in the parking lot next to our car, we noticed a couple of guys loading something like 30 cases of beer into the back of a truck.

Being friendly (and amused), one of us, and I'm not sure who, said 'Whoa, looks like some party!'

It became silent. I mean, they literally said nothing. They quickly loaded the rest of their booze, jumped in the truck and all but peeled out of the parking lot.

We stood there, somewhat stunned for a few seconds. Then we doubled over into uncontrollable fits of laughter.

We were creepy older women! When did that happen? Did they think we wanted an invite to their soiree? It was a hilarious yet bittersweet realization - we were no longer in that peer group.

When did you first feel old? Or have you been lucky enough to avoid it thus far?


Coconutty Deliciousness

I made this coconut cake yesterday for a baby shower. It was goooorgeous. And it tasted heavenly too!

A few bits of advice:
Watch the cake baking time. My oven is not very true to temp and the cakes could have possibly stood to have baked a little less.
Don't skip the parchment. I can't tell you how much easier the cakes are to get out of the pan!
To vary the cake a bit, skip the almond extract and add some key lime juice to the frosting.

Coconut Cake (from the Barefoot Contessa)

You'll need:
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Make it:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).

To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.

Diggin' the Duggars

I've obviously had a little going on, because I never got around to mentioning that the Duggar's had their 18th child on December 18th. Yes, her name starts with a J (Jordyn-Grace). Notably, she was born via C-Section. I would think that the 18th child would literally just walk out.
So I'm wondering if Michelle and Jim Bob are expecting yet again. It's inevitable, right? I can't even imagine being pregnant for about 14 years (17 pregnancies - 1 set of twins). Ugh. UGH!
Anyhow, I was on their site and they have a whole section of recipes. If you are very into canned condensed soup (mushroom, chicken, etc) I highly recommend it.
I also learned what Bragg's Liquid Amino is - it sounded like something you'd put in the laundry. But I guess it's like soy sauce...who knew?
So, I am impatiently awaiting the announcement of Duggar child 19. Until then, eat up that tater tot casserole.