2 Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail

Ok, so WOW, that was one slow lamb, right?

Awa ... how cute is this little lamb?  He shakes his tail slowly :)
Awa … how cute is this little lamb? He shakes his tail slowly ūüôā

Well, I sort of fell down the rabbit hole of wanting to add text to my pictures I’m about to post, which led to asking my very best friend about the free online picture editing programs she had told me about, which led to me finding out that my browser was too old for the program, (what?! I have a 3 yr old macbook for pete’s sake!) which led to me updating my OS to Mavericks, which took 6+ hours & 2 chat-sessions with Apple, and resulted in my iPhoto needing to also be updated, my internet being messed up, and … ok, are you asleep yet?

Sorry. ¬†I just wanted some sympathy. ¬†Can’t a girl just make a damn post anymore? ¬†My plan was to put up my Easter Post¬†yesterday … But you get what you get, (which will be momentarily.)

I’m not perfect, but you still love me ūüôā And, maybe this cute little baby lamb will make you smile.

Zucchini Bread

I’m looking around to make sure we’re alone & my mom isn’t anywhere within earshot … Somehow or another that woman always knows what I’m up to. ¬†She used to claim she had eyes in the back of her head. ¬†Ok, I think we’re alone … You’re not wearing a wire, are you? Cuz I’m going to do something that she has forbid me to do: ¬†I’m going to share one of her recipes & DO NOT TELL HER I TOLD YOU.

I promise, I will deny it, I will say I don’t know you & that I heard you used to reside in Danvers State Insane Asylum after you were caught walking naked down the highway claiming you were Emeril Lagasse’s lover … ¬†and I’m a pretty decent liar.

My mom is very protective of her recipes & I get that, but I’m also a pretty good judge of things, and I know which ones I absolutely CANNOT share, (like her famous potato casserole & the addictive cheese ball – both of which always ensure I am invited to lots of parties & pot-lucks,) but this one – well, this one is kinda standard, and I suppose you could find a similar one on the web somewhere, (though I’ve never bothered to look.) ¬†Plus, I’m still feeling in the holiday spirit of giving.

A Family Favorite (see my photo note at the bottom of this post!)
Zucchini Bread: A Family Favorite (see my photo disclaimer at the bottom of this post!)

Zucchini Bread. ¬†The beloved bread of Christmastime – the one little loaf that will make you want to be my friend forevermore. ¬†Now, I suppose it makes sense that if YOU could make the zucchini bread yourself, you wouldn’t have much use for me, but did you know that I’m a ton of fun & I pour really healthy glasses of wine when you come over to my house, and I’m the world’s best secret keeper? ¬†Well, besides this bread secret, I am.

Why now, you ask? ¬†After all of these years of me coveting this precious recipe all to myself, why am I finally unlocking the recipe box and laying it out there for the entire world wide web to find? ¬†Well, more than one friend of mine has made the comment that mine is the best. ¬†And, I hate to brag, but yeah, it is. ¬†I’ve tasted other breads and they’re dry and flavorless. ¬†That makes people grumpy. ¬†And I can’t have people going around all grumpy during the holidays because their zucchini bread doesn’t taste as good as mine, so here you go. ¬†And you’re welcome ūüôā

Zucchini Bread
(makes 6 small loaves)

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups grated zucchini (do not peel)
3 cups of flour (unbleached)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts (chopped)

Method:
In a big mixing bowl (I use my badass standing mixer for this) combine eggs, oil, sugar & zucchini. ¬†In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder & baking soda & gradually add it to the zucchini mixture. ¬†Mix thoroughly & then add the vanilla & the nuts. ¬†Bake in greased 3×6 loaf pans at 350 degrees for about 35-45 minutes (I check after 35 & then always end up baking them 5-10 mins longer.) ¬†If you use the larger loaf pans, bake for an hour (but check after 45 minutes if you’re neurotic like me.) ¬†And I have also made zucchini muffins in the large muffin pan (makes a dozen) and those take about 25-30 minutes.

These make great gifts for neighbors & friends! But The Husband & The Boy like to eat slices fresh from the oven with a little butter or cream cheese … YUM! ¬†And I mean, they are healthy – they have zucchini in them, so how can they be anything BUT healthy?

Now, for my photography disclaimer: I take all¬†most of the pictures myself, and as you can clearly tell, I’m no pro. ¬†I’m a multi-tasking mom with a mixer & a hungry family. ¬†Most of my food photos are taken with my iPhone, right before I sit down to devour my meal. ¬†This one happened to be taken with my Cannon Rebel because it was sitting out waiting for Christmas to arrive. ¬†My food photos are inferior, ¬†just look at my bestie’s gorgeous website, The Kitchen Snob & you will see why I feel like the ugly step-sister. ¬†She spends countless hours with in her semi-professional studio, gently massaging crumbs off of cookies & perfectly placing them so that your mouth will water when you browse her site. ¬†Ok, enough whining — I”m going to go heat up a slice of zucchini bread & have my coffee now.

A Broken Heart

A friend of mine lost her unborn baby. She was more than 3 months along & was just starting to show. What do you say … “I’m sorry” feels so hollow. Anything else feels inappropriate. How do I know that? Because I’ve been¬†there.

I lost a baby when I was only 8 1/2 weeks along, and it broke my heart. I had known for a few weeks that I was pregnant, and in that time, The Husband & I dreamt of all the possibilities for our unborn child. I felt it was a girl. No, I knew in my heart of hearts, she was a girl. We thought of all the wonderful ways our lives would change, who she might become, and how much she would be loved … how much she was already loved. ¬†How can a bond form so quickly with someone you’ve never even met? ¬†That’s what happens when you become a mother. ¬†At least for me.

My heart broke when we didn’t hear her heartbeat on the monitor in my doctor’s office. ¬†The sick feeling of having your world turn upside down, to have all of your dreams shatter in an instant. ¬†I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. ¬†I ¬†had to remember to breathe. ¬†And no one could help me, not even The Husband. ¬†I felt so alone and so empty … and I felt like a failure. ¬†What did I do wrong? ¬†Why did this happen to me? ¬†It didn’t make sense. ¬†It wasn’t fair. ¬†It still isn’t fair.

http://www.annejulie-art.com/gallery-whism.html
http://www.annejulie-art.com/gallery-whism.html

Time does heal wounds, but it doesn’t make them disappear. ¬†The first few weeks were hell, but I couldn’t indulge in my heartbreak 24 hours a day – I had a baby who was here, alive, who needed me to be strong for him. ¬†I couldn’t let him see my sadness. ¬†But at night and when I was alone, I would lay in bed and cry. ¬†The pain of loss consumed me. ¬†The heartbreak was constant & it was all I thought about; all the what-if’s … all the dreams I had had for her that would never be realized.

People tried to be kind, they tried to comfort me with comments like “it wasn’t meant to be” or “at least you have one beautiful child already” … those words left me angry. ¬†I knew everyone meant well, but those words did nothing to help lift me out of the pit of despair that I had fallen into. ¬†The Husband was shaken to his core – he had never seen me so heartbroken, and there was nothing he could do to help me. ¬†I know for men, the feeling of helplessness is one of the most uncomfortable feelings. ¬†Watching your wife cry so hard that she vomits must have been pretty scary for him. ¬†I didn’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone besides The Husband & The Boy. ¬† I just wanted to lay in bed and cry.

And this went on for weeks and weeks … and I got to a point where¬†I just couldn’t do it anymore, it was consuming me. ¬†I had to put my heartbreak in a box and close that box and put it somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, because I had to get back to living life … for me, for my family, for my little girl that I never got to hold in my arms. ¬†My heartbreak was indulgent. ¬†The loss of my pregnancy is something I cannot even think about without crying, it’s still difficult to discuss with people. ¬†As I write this blog post, I’m crying. ¬†She would have turned one year old this past week. ¬†In a different life, we’d be celebrating her 1st birthday & watching her take her first steps.

To know that a friend of mine is experiencing the unbearable heartbreak of losing her unborn baby just opens that box back up & it feels like my miscarriage happened ¬†yesterday, and suddenly I’m reliving that heartbreak all over agin. ¬†It doesn’t matter how long you were pregnant for: 9 weeks or 9 months. ¬†A loss is painful. ¬†The only advice I have is: be kind to yourself. ¬†Grieve, cry, yell, be mad, be sad, and then put all of that pain in a box and put it away. ¬†Then breathe & know that each day will be a little better than the day before.

Where In The Heck Have I Been?

It’s been over a week since my last post, but I have some great reasons for my absence:

  1. Computer issues (not fun & still not resolved – I see a trip to the not-so-genius bar in my future.)
  2. Friends visiting from out of town (fun!)
  3. Car issues (not fun & very expensive)
  4. Working on a new project (fun, but time consuming, especially when coupled with computer issues)
  5. Washing machine issues (not fun)
  6. Hosting parties: pool & poker (FUN!)
  7. Being a being a fairly good mother & wife (fun & sometimes challenging :))
  8. Reading & researching special education law (eh, i’ll file this one under “not fun,” but necessary.)

So there you have it – those are my reasons for not posting, (without going into detail and boring you to tears.) ¬†I’ll be back soon … as a matter of a fact, I got my box yesterday & it was filled with lots of yummy fruits and veggies, so I’m looking forward to doing some cooking (and posting) this weekend.

Kids Show I Can’t Stand: Max and Ruby

I first caught a glimpse of this ridiculous mess of a show when The Boy was a baby, just before he turned one.  I immediately thought the show was obnoxious and annoying, and vowed to never let The Boy know of its existence.

photo credit: Nick Jr.
photo credit: Nick Jr.

My plan was going well for a little over 2 years, and then somehow, someway, The Boy was exposed to this hellacious show. ¬†(I blame The Husband.) ¬†And like trying crack for the first time, The Boy was hooked! ¬†Max and Ruby is a gateway show – next thing you know, he’ll be jonesing for Caillou!

How can I hate a couple of bunny siblings you ask?  Let me tell you:

  1. Max, who is supposed to be three years old, talks like a 20-month old baby, “Frog. ¬†Frog. ¬†Frog.” ¬†He utters one syllable words while his bratty sister tries to decipher what he wants or what he’s talking about. ¬†
  2. Where the hell are their parents during all of their insane escapades?  These 2 rabbits, (ages 3 and 7) apparently live alone & the only authority figure, their oblivious Grandmother, lives clear across town!  Someone seriously needs to call CPS!
  3. Max is a brat & Ruby is a bossy little twit who is more interested in chit chatting on the phone with her best buddy rather than babysitting Max. ¬†And how can you blame her!??! ¬†At age 7, I wouldn’t want to be the sole caretaker for an obnoxious rabbit either.

So we went through a Max and Ruby phase for roughly 2 weeks, which resulted in The Boy speaking like this flipping idiotic rabbit, Max, and me nearly losing my damn mind.

“Milk! Milk! Milk!” Screeched The Boy. ¬†I handed him his milk just to get him to knock it off. ¬†“Blanket, blanket!”

“Use your big boy words to tell me what you want, you know how to talk like a big boy, stop this baby talk.” ¬†I said through gritted teeth.

“No, I’m Max, mama, and you’re Ruby.” ¬†He whined, sad that I wouldn’t play.

I had to have a Max and Ruby intervention & it had to happen immediately. ¬†So, I erased any and all shows that The Husband had dvr’d and promptly informed him that we were never to utter the words “Max” or “Ruby” in my house again. ¬†If The Boy asks, Max and Ruby are dead. ¬†Kidding. ¬†Kind of.

“Max and Ruby! Max and Ruby!” He chanted when I asked him what he wanted to watch the other morning.

“Awa, Max and Ruby show has been cancelled, Boy.” I lied, feigning disappointment.

Parents, beware, these two rabbits are NOT good role models!  Keep your children away from this travesty!

The Darkest of Hearts

Everyone wants to know “why” when something terrible happens, a random act of horrific violence like the tragedy in Sandy Hook, CT. ¬†The truth is, sometimes there is no reason … or, if there is a reason, it may not be uncovered for quite some time. ¬†Unraveling the thorny wrappings of a dark heart is not a five-minute task, and trying to speculate as to how and why a person could have acted with so much evil toward innocent people, let alone against his own mother, can lead to some really irresponsible accusations.

Accusations from arm-chair psychologists like, “he was anti-social & likely autistic,” “perhaps even an Aspie,”¬†are splashed across news stories and blogs. ¬†Rumors of his troubled relationship with his mother swirl around the social media community, saying that she was a terrible parent & a drunk with a gun collection. ¬†These rumors enrage me and make me sad. ¬†Not only do they take away from the tragedy, and divert the grieving process, they fuel incorrect assumptions that somehow a developmental disorder equates to a mental illness. ¬†That is simply not the case, and to assert that having autism makes you a violent criminal is irresponsible. ¬†It’s like saying that all pitbulls are aggressive, deadly dogs. ¬†That is so far from the truth. ¬†(I happen to know a handful of pittbull dogs that are the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met. ¬†It is ¬†mostly due to how they are being raised by their owners.) ¬†And The Boy, my sweet three-year-old son, who actually has a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome from two independent child psychologists, is in no way a violent or vicious child. ¬†So to draw the conclusion that someone with Autism or Aspergers turns into a violent, rage-filled person really pisses me off.

This murderer, (I refuse to use his name because he doesn’t deserve that recognition,) was most likely mentally deranged. ¬†That is not an accusation, but rather a very likely assumption. ¬†That is as far as we should take it for now until we can learn more about who this person was and what made him this way. ¬†He may have been born this way, with a dark heart filled with angst and hatred. ¬†Or perhaps a series of random events shaped him into this monster … a victim of bullying, a child of divorce, having his heart broken multiple times by multiple people. ¬† We don’t know, but there are a million things that could have made someone this way.

I suppose it’s human nature to want to find a way to explain HOW this could have happened, and to try and find a way to prevent it from ever happening again. ¬†Enter the stricter gun-law legislation. ¬†Fine, why not make it more difficult to own a gun? ¬†I don’t have a problem with that so much, but it is not going to stop evil-doers from terrorizing innocent people. ¬†If they want a gun, they will find a way to get one; beg, borrow or steal. ¬†It’s not the responsible citizens who abide by the laws to own a gun & are educated on the proper use and storage of a gun that we need to worry about. ¬†It’s the mentally ill, ticking time bomb who is silently suffering with an undiagnosed mental disorder, and bought a gun off the black market, or stole it from someone’s house that we need to worry about. ¬†You can’t legislate evil.

But we can open the dialogue about mental health in this country. ¬†For as long as I can remember, it’s been this hush-hush, dirty secret that no one wants to talk about. ¬† And it’s time that we come to terms with the fact that keeping mental illness a secret doesn’t do us any favors as a society. ¬†Remember when child abuse was the dirty secret that no one wanted to talk openly about? ¬†Well, we changed that. ¬†It took a handful of horrible incidents to shift our thinking, but as a society we did open up the box of dirty secrets about child abuse, and now when we suspect that a child is being abused, it is our responsibility to notify someone of authority to do an investigation to determine if that child is in a harmful environment. ¬†Likewise, when we suspect that a child, a teenager, a young adult, or even an adult is suffering from a mental illness like depression, PTSD or schizophrenia, shouldn’t it be our responsibility to step in and offer help, or notify someone of authority who has the training to help?

The sad fact is that seemingly no one helped this murderous man. ¬†I look at the pictures of him on the news & see his eyes are black, they are vacant … devoid of any compassion. ¬†People had to have known that he had mental issues, but did they stay silent? ¬†Were they afraid to step in and offer help? ¬†I don’t know, but maybe this could have been averted had someone reached out their hand & said, “hey, you need help.” ¬†Maybe he would have taken the hand, and none of this would have happened, or maybe he would have slapped it away, and maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference. ¬†I guess we’ll never know.

Nature Walk

Today is a gorgeous, classic autumn day, (which is rare for Los Angeles!) ¬†It’s a chilly 61 degrees and we had showers off and on all day yesterday, so the sky is clear & bright blue, with big puffy clouds floating around. ¬†I am so thankful that it finally cooled down – on Monday it was 97 degrees!

The Boy doesn’t have preschool on Fridays, so I try and plan fun things for us to do. ¬†Yesterday, we talked about jumping in puddles, but they were all dried up by this morning, so I put together a little nature walk / scavenger hunt activity for the morning. ¬†We bundled up and headed out to explore the neighborhood. ¬†On our list of things to look for were snakes, (The Boy’s request,) lizards, (also his request,) rocks, leaves, berries, birds, squirrels & spiders, (much to my chagrin, but The Boy is a boy & boys love their creepy crawly things!)

Along the way, we talked about how the leaves had turned from green to gold, brown & red, and we picked up several leaves to take home.  We collected different berries that we found & talked about how you should never eat berries without first showing mommy because some berries can make you sick.  We talked about the kind of birds we saw, (a blackbird, a crow,) and admired the clouds in the sky.

It was a simple activity that didn’t cost a penny, but it was so memorable for both of us because, like me, The Boy loves nature, is curious about the world we live in, and loves learning new things. ¬†He’s been admiring his “booty” that we collected all morning.

And memorable for me because I relish in being able to introduce him to the magic that surrounds us … things like finding the tiniest snail shell, where I can set his imagination free to wonder about the creature that used to live inside of there; Cloud bursting, (the term we’ve come up for when we watch the clouds shape shift;) the symbolic meaning of a daisy; or what lavender smells like when you touch it with your hands.

These are the moments that I dreamt about when I longed to become a mother, and these are the moments I cherish because I know they will be gone all too soon. ¬†Someday The Boy will find a new “best friend” to explore the world with, but for now, it’s me & I am so thankful for that.