My Ba

Growing up, I didn’t have grandparents.  Well, technically I did.  I had a maternal grandmother and a paternal grandfather that both lived in India.  I was born and raised here and in our simple little imaginations, my brother and I suggested multiple times that they should marry each other.  We had never really known them.

My grandmother fought my Mom off for years when it came to coming to America.  She was a widow and only had one living child – my Mom.  But her health started failing and my parents insisted and went to India and brought her back home with them.  So at last, at 20 years old, I had myself a Ba.  She lived with my parents in the guest room downstairs.  She was legally blind and came with a slew of health issues that my parents diligently cared for.  After about a year, her health improved enough to where she was pretty comfortable.  My gujarati language skills improved dramatically and we taught each other all kids of things.  She asked about me the days of the week, “Monday, Tuesday, Birthday?” and I FINALLY learned to count past 16.  Despite coming from a different world, she never (ever) commented on my choice in revealing clothing, the way I came home late at night, the way I had male friends visit, or even that I ate meat.  You have to understand that for someone of her generation from where she was from, this is pretty remarkable – all of those things were pretty “bad.”  She only had a sixth grade education but in many ways, her mind was open and accepting.


When I was around 23 years old, I came home for a visit (I think I lived in LA so I’d come by on weekends) and she said “All my responsibilities are over. I have lived a good life.  The only thing remaining is to see you get married.”  Sigh.  Oh, the guilt trip laid forth by Indian mother is amplified many-fold when that mother is a grandmother.  But lo and behold, three years later, I was engaged.

I don’t know if she told me things because I was her only granddaughter or because she wasn’t comfortable telling my mom, but she did.  She seldom showed my mother compassion or a soft side but frequently praised her and showed sympathy for her daughter by telling me.  In the 19 years she was here in the US, I only saw her cry once.  At my wedding.  She loved me.  I know she did.  She could never say it to me.  She could never praise me, but she loved me.

Fast forward a few more years and her kidneys really started failing.  A few months before we found out we were pregnant, she was hospitalized.  She went through the speech again about how her responsibilities were through and she was at peace with her life but the only thing left is that she hadn’t seen was my kids.  Mind you, at this point, she had eight great grandkids…but she had a funny way of motivating.  I wasn’t sure she’d be around long enough to meet great grandchild #9 but she was.  And then even #10.

20110115_nn_1783 IMG_20130409_101039


20110115_nn_1816The last five years have been difficult for her and my parents as caretakers.  She was going to dialysis  3-4 times a week, on a myriad of medications, having back pain; all kinds of stuff.  But she still bathed herself, went to the bathroom by herself, brushed her teeth and combed her hair by herself.  My parents became less comfortable leaving her at home alone.  Even when they did, mom would be worried about her and couldn’t enjoy.  The truth of the matter is that her body was failing her.  She did the dialysis for over four years.  All the while, I couldn’t help but wonder what she was getting out of this life she was living.  When I think about all that she had seen in her life – poverty, the deaths of several of her children and her husband, coming to a country where she didn’t speak the language – I’m in awe of her resiliency.  What on earth would keep her keepin’ on?  Yes, she loved her baths – she would be in the bathroom for literally 4+ hours.  She liked watching the news and for a while she even watched Indian soap operas.  But I think it was us, her family, that kept her going.  We somehow brought her joy.  She’d be exhausted but if one of her great grandkids showed up, she perked right up.  She would try to lift my little ones.  She would offer to watch them so I could eat (I mentioned she was pretty much blind, right?).  Despite the effort, she would come to the garage door to wave goodbye to us as we left.  She couldn’t see us waving back but I’m thinking maybe she could feel it.




Although her body starting failing her, her mind was sharp as a tack.  Remembered every birthday, anniversary, and obscure relationship between people she barely knew.  So when she said she didn’t want to go to dialysis, we listened.  In the past, there had been days when she was tired and frustrated and fed up and upon returning home from dialysis would say she was done.  But sure enough, she’d be dressed and ready when the next appointment day came around.  This time was different.  She had her normal dialysis on Friday.  On Monday she said she didn’t want to go.  She was calm.  Not angry.  Not upset.  Just matter of fact.  My parents ensured that she knew what this meant.  They rescheduled for Tuesday just in case.  My cousin came over and tried to convince her.  No dice.  She was done.

Home hospice care was the next step.  The nurse was kind and the process really helped to put things into perspective.  To all of our surprise, she lasted almost two weeks without dialysis.  This is mostly because she wasn’t drinking or eating much.  It was a weird time in our lives, waiting for her pass.  It was scary and peaceful and just plain weird.  But it was comforting knowing that we didn’t have to wish or hope or fight for things to turn around.  The goal was to keep her comfortable.

My mom isn’t one to ask for help.  To this day, my parents try to protect me from the unpleasantries and uglies that life has to offer.  I had been calling a couple times a day to see how mom and Ba were doing.  Everyday I would ask “should I come?” and my mom would say “No, I think it’s ok.  The nurse says it’s not time yet.”  I hadn’t been to their house in two days and I called, thinking that I’d go on Friday (it was Thursday).  Sounded like Ba was ok, no big changes.  I asked, “should I come?” and to my surprise, my mom said “Ya, why don’t you come.”  I don’t know if she needed me or maybe she had a feeling.  So my husband came home to watch the littles and I went.

She wasn’t able to talk much at that point.  She was in and out of sleep from the morphine.  She could communicate that she wanted water but had a hard time drinking from a straw.  She vomited.  I went to get a syringe to make it easier to give her water.  I was in the room and noticed that her breathing was slowing down.  I got my parents and we were all together.  My mom told her we were all here and that everyone had been coming to see her.  In her last breaths I fed her holy water from the Ganges River.  Then the breath stopped.  It was over.  It wasn’t dramatic.  It wasn’t traumatic like we had been fearing.  It was just…over.

I had never seen a dead body.  I didn’t know how I would handle it.  I didn’t know if I COULD handle it.  But it was one of the most natural things I’ve ever experienced.  Having experienced this, death isn’t so scary if it’s on your own terms.

Ba was 85.  She made a decision about her life and how she wanted to go.  In this way, she was blessed.  It was her wish and that makes things a lot easier.  While I’m sad for me, I am not sad for her.  I’m relieved.  Hindus believe that when someone dies, their soul leaves their body and begins a journey to the next body or to return to become one with the universe.  We actually open windows to allow the soul to leave.  I don’t know what that journey is like but I firmly believe that she is at peace.

Miss K – How can so much awesome be packed into one small body?

Miss K is now 45 months old, just a few months shy of 4 years old.  She weighs about 29 pounds (still), is on her way out of 3T clothes and is about 39 inches tall.  She has an awesome/frustrating/adorable/messy head of curly black hair that she likes styled differently everyday.  Her most frequently requested hairstyle is “one braid, like Elsa’s” because naturally, her favorite character is Elsa from Disney’s Frozen.  By the way, I think it’s total BS that all girls want to be Elsa.  She’s not the one who faithfully tried to reconnect with her sister or the one who had an amazing adventure, or who took fate into her own hands or the one who was strong and actually saved herself by a true act of love for her sister.  That was all ANNA and yet…Yet all the girls love Elsa (who, by the way, did barely anything but shirk her familial responsibilities to live in her ice castle so she could dress and walk around more provocatively in her own solitude).  I digress.  Karina loves all things Frozen.


She is able to read.  I’m so happy to see her reading to herself now, not just reading books when we take them out and look at them together.  She’s also writing and can write her name. This learning was really strange.  I would occasionally try here and there to see if she would try to write letters but she wasn’t interested or maybe wasn’t able so I would drop it.  One day I tried by taking out a dry erase marker and her easel.  She wrote the entire alphabet.  Followed by her name.  Granted a few of the letters were goofy but she did it.  She knows the oceans, continents, etc.  She is learning about world geography by doing a world puzzle.  She likes to hear about what countries are on what continents but she sometimes calls them states.  It’s confusing.  Also has been asking to see videos on skeletons and keeps referring to her ibia (?) and fibia (?) and likes to talk about how big her femur is.  Here’s a picture of her in my glasses.  So very intellectual, pensive, and mature looking.IMG_20141003_184414

She is making friends at school – she is starting to play with the same few kids every day, it seems.  She’s not just singing songs but also changing the lyrics to amuse herself and me.  Miss K. goes to gymnastics once a week and she loves it.  She’s so much fun to watch.  She likes being around other kids and seems to get along well with others. She still seems to get a little intimidated by loud noises or crowds of kids but her curiosity typically overshadows any shyness she might have.  Over the last few months, she’s started drawing people and objects.

Her favorite activities these days seem to be playing in the sand (she’s no longer painting EVERYday at school), puzzles (man, this hobby is back with a vengeance), books, crafts involving tape, and caring for ailing stuffed animals.  100 piece puzzles are the right level of challenge for her.  She can climb into her carseat and buckle two of the three buckles herself.  And for some reason, she’s still never tried to unbuckle herself.  How great is that?  Also enjoys helping me with preparing food and making her own pretend meals.


Some of her favorite foods are grilled cheese, burritos, yogurt, peanut butter or sunflower butter sandwiches, fish, and rice.  She’s fancy.  She likes sea bass.  Seriously. You should see her put away fish.  It’s nuts.  Surprisingly, she still loves oatmeal.  Hands down she consumes more oatmeal than anyone else in our family.  She likes most breakfast foods but most often asks for pancakes.  Still loves pretty much all fruit and wants treats all day, everyday.  She’ll take any treat – muffin, cookie, cupcake, ice cream, icee…she’s not particular.  The nice part is that she’s usually accepting when we say that she’s had enough and toss a portion of the treat.  She tells me some things have too much sugar and I shouldn’t eat them.  I can’t argue sometimes.  Favorite veggies are carrots, peas, occasional broccoli, and sweet potatoes.  Says she likes cauliflower but then doesn’t really eat much.

She’s become a really great little helper lately.  She actually helps me put away laundry, make beds, unload the dishwasher, and she’s gotten really good at folding dish towels (bonus is that she’ll put them away after she folds them!).


She can dress and undress herself, washes her own hands/face, and brushes her own teeth but I still do her hair, give her a bath (though she’s close to being able to do most of it herself, I think), wipe her bottom after she goes number two.  She still says “I yuv you” instead of I love you.  And Yuca instead of Luca.  She thought Cheryl’s name was Cherub.  And she often ends sentences with “or sumsing like that.”  She’s been saying “OH. MY. GOSH.” a lot as well as “That’s crazy!” and “Are you SERIOUS?”  She may have picked up a  few of those phrases from me.  Lately her dad’s been playing the Wicked soundtrack and she like Defying Gravity.  He told her that the person who sings that song is the same person who sings Let It Go from Frozen.  So now she keeps referring to Elphaba as Elsaba.

Our biggest challenge with her right now is her choosing to not listen to us.  We know she’s ignoring us sometimes and it can be infuriating. Also, she’s no longer napping most days so by the end of the day, she can get pretty cranky and thought of taking a bath is too much for her to handle.  She seems to do well when we give her choices, so I use that strategy often.  Oh, and I wish she’d eat more vegetables (says every mother everywhere).


She’s getting so big.  A couple weeks ago, she woke up from her nap and was a little weepy so I picked her up and held her and she fell back asleep.  Instead of putting her down, I just held her for long while.  It occurred to me that it had been ages since she had slept in my arms like that.  Ironically, just three short years ago, I was beside myself trying to get her out of my arms for sleep and here I was, soaking in her deliciousness and filling my tank.  The other day I looked back at her in the car and something about her expression reminded me of when she was a baby.  I was so happy to see that face again but it made me a little sad, too.  Made me cry.  She still moves me with her kind heart and the way she just skips and jumps and sings and smiles for no reason.  She’s a great kid.  Please, god, or whoever or whatever oversees this stuff…PLEASE don’t let me mess her up.  There’s no doubt that she’s something extraordinary.


Blog? What Blog?

I’ve been horribly neglectful of the blog lately.  Actually of both of my blogs.  I don’t know what it is…I feel like writing.  But I don’t.  I want to get some thoughts down.  But I don’t.  I’m not horribly stressed.  But I don’t blog.  Hopefully that changes.  There’s been a lot going on the last few months.  We bought a home and are getting to celebrate our fourth Halloween with kids.  Every year for the last four years we’ve been somewhere different so I’m trying to find out if kids actually come to trick or treat in these parts.  I’m hoping yes.  My kids are growing up.  Miss K is a few short months away from being FOUR.YEARS.OLD.  How did that happen?  And Super S?  She’s 20 months old!  They’re both awesome kids.  I’ll do an update post on them.  What else?  Hubs is working hard, doing great at his job and going to school part time on the side.  I religiously worked out from June through most of August and lost 7 pounds and 12 inches from all over my body.  That was an awesome feeling.  More recently, I’ve started slacking and need some motivation to close out the year on a high note.  I’m cooking more frequently than a few years ago but am convinced that I can’t cook.  It seems that I’m the only one around here who enjoys my food.  Side note: it really blows when you spend time and effort researching, shopping for and preparing meals and no one wants to eat it.  I honestly cannot remember the last healthy, well balanced meal that I’ve made that everyone liked.  It makes me sad.  My grandma’s health (yep, she’s still around) has been off the wall lately.  I can’t help but think that maybe she’s really, actually nearing the end now.  The whole situation makes me worry about my mom (her primary caretaker) and the toll all this taking on her.  In lighter news, working out more often has me showering pretty much daily again (how sad that this is even news) but I still have crappy hair.  Speaking of which, i just dyed it for the first time because I’m going gray.  How sad.  I keep losing stuff.  Not insignificant or inexpensive stuff, either.  Eep.  Everyone in my house is using the toilet now.  And that, my friends, is some awesome news.  I’ll be writing about that whole potty training a second time experience too.  I’m really going to try to get back on this blogging train.  It’s good stuff.  Maybe not for you to read, but for me to write, anyway.

More Kind Stuff

So as part of our giveaway last week, I asked entrants to post something kind that someone did for them or that they did for someone else.  I really enjoyed reading the comments so I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.  Maybe they’ll inspire you too.

  • The little girl next door is about 11 years old and she always comes over with her old toys to give to my son.  He loves seeing her and it is so generous of her to think of him.  It really touches my heart!
  • I’ve bought food for a homeless person
  • Helped 2 lost dogs find their owner today
  • I just gave all my sons clothes that don’t fit him to my SIL.  I hope it helps her.  I wish someone would have did it for me!!!  I will still give her all the clothes he outgrows!
  • My friend watches my son when I get overwhelmed with homework
  • My best friend came over one day solely to help me spring clean my house from top to bottom, every nook and cranny
  • Last night hubby came home with dinner 🙂
  • My mom bought hubby and I a gift card for dinner and babysat so we could go on a much needed date! 🙂
  • My grandmom is gifting us with gDiapers!  She is great!
  • My wife took care of me all week while I was sick.
  • My 5 year old niece made me a beaded bracelet.
  • My coworker covered my shifts at work the past two days so I could stay home with my sick child.
  • My spouse has an amazing way of holding me and making me feel like everything is just fine even when it isn’t.  That kindness is amazing.
  • i was put onto bedrest before the birth of my daughter, my brother without hesitation flew down to Arizona, from WA, to take care of my toddler for me.  Without a moments hesitation he bought a plane ticket, and didnt hesitate when I need him to stay longer.  He has to be the best brother, uncle, around.
  • I just finished up getting all the pieces to a gdiaper diaper bag present for my best friends baby shower! I cannot wait to give her the beautiful new diaper bag, which is a discontinued color that she absolutely loves! I searched high and low, and found one on ebay, then i stuffed it with all sorts of goodies, including some beautiful new gdiapers!
  • It was particularly cold today, and my husband turned on my electric mattress pad so when I got home from work at midnight, my bed was toasty waitin for me!!
  • I’ve had someone pay for me and my sons dinner after I had lost my card. My 2 year old will opens the door for everyone.
  • I remember when my son was born and I was adjusting to life with a newborn, any teeny tiny thing that my husband did for me was so kind. Before bed, he would set up my “nighttime nursing station” for me. Simple, but so appreciated
  • A friend introduced me to gDiapers, and became my diaper fairy, helping me get started on an awesome stash!
  • So many kind friends kind friends bought us dinner if the first few weeks after L was born. Such a big help:)
  • Bought me flowers and told me what a great mother and wife I was <3
  • My wife sends me a picture of our son everyday while I’m at work. Its little, but it makes me so happy when I cannot be home with them!
  • My husband made me breakfast in bed today … and everyday!!!
  • A stranger gave me a compliment, just to be nice.

My Not-So-Babyish Lullabies

I don’t really sing my girls traditional lullabies to get them to sleep, although with Miss K.  I used to try…I’d find myself in tears when I’d attempt to sing ‘Lullaby and Goodnight” because my love for her was so overwhelming.  With Super S, I find that I also sometimes am brought to tears but it’s usually with pop songs.  So before I forget in the future what I used to sing to them, here’s a quick roundup:

During Miss K’s nightly massage, I used to sing Eternal’s version of Angel of Mine:

During her naps (age 2), I sing to her the following 90’s pop songs:

Trisha Yearwood’s “How Do I Live?” She never asks me to sing this one but I’ve been successful in getting her to fall asleep to this one –

This one will probably make you laugh but I used to love this song by Escape Club and decided to sing it to her one day. She asks for it – “Can you sing ‘Over Mountains?'”

Super S gets some pretty funny songs too-

I’ve always loved “To Be Close To You” by the Carpenters and I used to sing it nightly to Super S when she was a newborn. It seemed to calm her down. I don’t sing it as often as I did a few months ago but it occasionally finds its way into the rotation.  Again, tears, breaking voice, all of that…especially the part where it says “on the day that you were born, the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true”

This next one is her sleep signal song these days. I’ve loved “Can’t take my eyes off you” by Frankie Vallie since I heard it in high school:

Then when Lauren Hill redid it in College, I was thrilled and sang it daily. Without the horns and the upbeat instrumentals, it’s actually a very calm song. So it’s another one of those songs that brought me to tears, rocking in the rocking chair, looking at my beautiful baby, thanking my lucky stars that she’s mine. Sometimes she’d look back at me, sometimes not.

And then a few weeks ago, a funny thing happened. My older daughter asked me to sing “I Love My Baby” to her. Sometimes when I’d be singing to Super S, she would come in to the room with a gentle smile and would slowly walk over to us and I’d scoop her up and squish her into the chair with me and her sister. She’d lay her little head on my shoulder, and I’d have one arm around her, the other cradling my beautiful Super S. My absolute favorite memories of 2012 are of this very scene. And I was lucky that it happened several times.

I didn’t think she was really listening but then one day, she sang the entire song. She blew me away. Sometimes she goes and turns on the keyboard and sits and plays. The best part? She was singing to her sister.

What not-so-standard songs do you sing to your kids?

The 6th Month for Super S & Miss K’s 31st Month

Another big month for Super S.  Here’s a recap of what’s been going on with the kidlets:

20130906_093405Super S at 6 Months

  • Army crawling everywhere!
  • Can get up on her knees and rock back and forth
  • Started solids.  Her first food was sweet potatoes.  Since then, she’s had avocados, oatmeal cereal, zucchini, banana, and pumpkin.  She seemed to like avocado the least.
  • Left her for the first time overnight.  She stayed with my parents for two nights while Mr. Crunchycake and I went to my friend’s wedding
  • Got her ears pierced!
  • Left California for the first time – we went to Hawaii!
  • Sits in a booster chair for feedings
  • Was falling asleep with little assistance from us for most of the month.  After our trip to Hawaii, though, she’s been needing some help.  She’s also been waking up more often.
  • Went back up to Northern California for a visit with her grandparents.20130910_100512
  • Weighs about 15 pounds at the end of the month
  • Is wearing 6 or 6-9 month clothing
  • Babbles quite a bit
  • Is very active – likes to hang upside down from my lap
  • Pulls her sister’s hair and likes to play with mine.  Often she’ll hold on to my ponytail while we’re walking around
  • Likes to watch songs with finger play
  • Loves to watch her sister.
  • Smiles and laughter are over-the-top amazing.


Miss K at 31 Months

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARead her first sentence: “Jim Jot has a job” – Yay for Clifford books!  Is getting faster at reading but is doing a lot more guessing now
  • Has gotten really good at doing puzzles.  This month she did multiple puzzles a day.  The biggest one is 48 pieces
  • Says Lightning McQueen is her friend
  • Is still an alligator and says she wants to be an alligator princess for Halloween
  • Loves popsicles, even the ones I made at home
  • Fights getting her hair combed
  • Loves to see her sister.  Even asks to see her if Super S is out of her sight.  She was in the middle of an unusually horrid tantrum when we were in Hawaii and we showed her some stickers to see if it would help calm her down.  Through her tears and hysteria, she stops and while hiccup/sobbing, says “This one’s for Siu Siu.”  Even in her darkest moment, still thinks of her sister.  Her dad and I cannot find words to express how proud we are of her or how beautiful we believe her soul to be.
  • Is getting her 2 year molars (which we believe helps to explain the above tantrum)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Likes play-doh.  Especially enjoyed playing play-doh with her Aaji
  • In the last week or so, has started becoming ok with us leaving her room while she’s awake and falling asleep on her own.
  • Loved the beach and the pool in Hawaii.  The beach especially because she could play in the waves AND the sand.
  • iPad activity of choice – watching Disney’s “Cars”
  • Has been pretending to make plates of food with her magnetiles and serves them to us.
  • Doesn’t mind rolling her Minne suitcase when traveling
  • Still referring to her loved ones as “My mommy,” “my daddy,” “my sia,” “my aaji,” “my dadi,” etc.

Can’t Forget

Today is 9/11.  This morning, I was absorbed with taking Miss K. to her first day of her new school.  On the way to school, I saw the flag at half mast.  I got to about “I wonder why…” and then Miss K. said something and distracted me.  Then on the way back, I saw a parade of classic cars all driving with flags out their windows down the major street in our town.  It took me about 6 cars in before I remembered that it was 9/11.  This saddens me.  I worry that maybe I’m forgetting this momentous day in our nation’s history.  In the ten years following the attacks on the WTC, I always felt anxious that something horrible would happen on this day again and I vividly remembered the details of that day and those that followed.  I found myself stopping and observing a moment for the heroes and victims of that day.  But the impact seems to be slowing down for me.  As they say, time heals all wounds.  So I’m going to write it down in the slim case that my memory starts to fail me in the future.

In 2001, I was in my first year of MBA school in Tucson, Arizona.  My alarm was set to the radio, as it always was but instead of music or the usual lame DJ banter, there was a serious tone.  A plane had flown into the one of the WTC buildings in New York.  This had to be an accident, right?  I flipped on the tv just as the reporter on the tv started yelling “the second tower has been hit!” and all the sudden the reality of it hit.  This was intentional.  Some lunatics were flying airplanes into buildings.  I had never been exposed to this type of insanity.  It took me a minute to grasp what was going on.  There were people in the building.  And in the planes.  And on the street nearby.

I, like everyone else, found myself sucked into the television for a while.  Then it was too much.  There were no answers, just horror.  So I turned it off.  I had to go to school.  I drove and listened to the radio.  I parked the car and walked to my building.  I usually smile at people who pass by.  That day I couldn’t.  It felt wrong and after doing it once out of habit, I felt guilty for it.  I spoke to my now husband.  I remember him saying “this is fucking crazy.” and it was.  Then I heard about the pentagon.  And the other plane that had been flown into the ground in Pennsylvania.  I drove home and saw some kids.  I cried.  I saw a police officer.  I cried.  I saw a flag waving.  I cried.

Over the following days, the information was all over the place.  I remember hearing that it could be up to 10,000 deaths based on the number of people in the buildings and in the planes.  Thankfully the number was about 1/3 of that but it didn’t make the experience any less horrific.  We were shaken and scared.  I was unable to watch too much television for a while.  The deaths of the heroes, the innocents, the guilty wouldn’t leave my mind.  I found myself reading stories about these people and their families.  I was changed.  I was taught that there is true evil in the world and even our big, bad ass government can’t protect us.

People didn’t know what to think or do.  Planes were grounded for a while.  People were scared.  I had some classmates from India who had the FBI visit them because they were brown and listened to strange, foreign music.  Not necessarily racist; people were just scared.  My husband traveled for work often.  His ID was checked and double checked and he was questioned about why he was traveling.  It certainly felt as though it was because he was brown.  We had random luggage checks at the airport. Everything was different.  I also hope to never forget how people banded together at that time.  We were Americans.  Not just cohabiting the same country but we were going through this tragedy together.

It was unlike anything I’ve experienced.  Recalling it now, I don’t think I will ever forget.  I don’t think I can.

So Much More Than Just a House (er…Condo?)

A few weeks ago, we moved from our condo to a house a few miles away.  We were tapped out in terms of space at our old place and with the new baby on the way, we needed something bigger.  So we packed up our stuff and moved into a place with an extra bedroom, an additional 800 square feet, and a yard for our punkin to play in.  The house is great – it’s in a fantastic neighborhood and the previous owners did some really great upgrades.  But some part of me misses our old place.

We lived at our place for almost nine years.  My husband and I committed to buy it before we were even married.  It was under construction then and we were so so SO nervous making the decision on whether or not we wanted to take the plunge.  We were intimidated by the mortgage payment and it seemed like a lot of money for a little place with no yard.  We took the leap of faith with the intention to live there for maybe two years and then move into a bigger place.  Well, the market went nuts right after we bought so we didn’t sell and it turned out we COULD afford it and did so a few times on only one income.  I’m proud of us for buying that condo.

I lived longer at that address than any other address in my entire life.  Both sets of our parents were there when we picked up the keys and they were truly happy for us and so proud.  We learned how to be married there…and figured out how to fight and learned what was too much.  I learned how to cook in that little kitchen with the crummy ventilation.  We traveled the world but always were relieved to return to our home, sweet home.  Two and a half bathrooms…we learned that both of us are quite effective at destroying caulking and not being able to repair it.  We found out we were pregnant in that home and eight months later brought our precious baby there from the hospital to spend her first night at home.  We watched her roll over on the carpet upstairs, crawl on the floor downstairs, and then take her first steps there.  We found out we were pregnant again there.  Really, my husband and I grew into full adults and grew together there.

Now that we’re trying to rent it out, it feels strange thinking that someone else will live there.  To them it will probably just be another place they stayed for a while.  But to us, it was our first real home and I’ll always love that little condo, even with its stupid tandem garage.

Groceries by the Numbers

Was listening to NPR the other day and they mentioned that ideally, 40% of grocery expenditures should be spent on produce.  That seems like a lot.  But maybe I got that wrong…I tried googling it but no luck.  At any rate, it got me wondering – how much do we spend on fruits and vegetables?  So for the next month or so, I’m going to track our grocery bills to see what we’re spending.  I think it’ll be a good exercise because right now I really don’t know how much we spend on groceries or how those dollars are allocated.  Will keep ya posted!

In other news, Los Angeles just passed a law this week that says one-time use plastic bags are now banned at grocery stores.  Large grocers have six months to phase out the bags and smaller grocers get up to a year.  How awesome is that?!?  They will still be able to offer paper bags for ten cents each.  While it might seem ludicrous to some, I do think this will reinforce some good behaviors.  My guess is you’ll see a lot of people walking out to their cars with their groceries in their cart and piling them into the trunk piece by piece sans bags for a month or so.  Then it will become habit.

It also got me wondering about how much better for the environment is paper than plastic?  On the one hand, paper is much easier to recycle and I believe it biodegrades easier too.  On the other, paper weighs more and requires a tree to be cut down.  So if you fill a truck with plastic bags and fill another truck of the same size with paper bags, you’d fill considerably less paper bags than plastic.  So that means that we’re paying (both financially and environmentally) more to transport those paper bags than plastic.  I guess the payoff comes when you think about how easily the bags become an environmental nuisance.  They blow away easily and get caught in trees, they blow into the ocean and get wildlife…I guess also paper bags can be reused for a number of things whereas the plastic bags typically are just tossed.  My mom reuses them as garbage can liners in her smaller cans.  I should probably do that too.  Anyway, kudos to Los Angeles for being the biggest city in the nation to adopt this ban!

How to Make Mickey Mouse Oreos

Last week we went on a Disney Cruise.  It was fabulously fabulous.  I’m going to post about it all week long, in fact.  I thought I’d start by doing a quick tutorial on some super easy but adorable treats I made for the friends we were traveling with.  They look like this:

All you need to make them exactly like mine is:

1 package of double stuff Oreos
1 bag of Oreo Minis
1 tube of red frosting
1 small tube of white frosting
1 small package or bottle of red sanding sugar poured onto a small plate
Wax or parchment paper lined cookie sheet

This will yield about 32 Mickeys.  Here are the steps:

1.  Using a butter knife, pull apart the mini oreos and scrape off the white filling.  You will be tempted to eat that filling.  Resist.  You’ll thank me later.

2.  Gently insert two of the minis into the filling of each Double Stuff Oreo to create “ears.”  They should be about 1/2 an inch apart.  As you can see in the picture above, your Double Stuff Oreos will break.  Just be careful with them and try to be as gentle as possible.

3.  Spread red frosting on the lower 40% of the Double Stuff Oreo.  By lower I mean the side that doesn’t have the ears.  You can do this by squeezing the frosting into a bowl and using a butter knife or by melting the frosting a bit in a small bowl and dipping the oreo into the bowl.

3. Dip the frosted portion of the Oreo into the red sanding sugar and place it onto the cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.

4.  Using the white frosting, place two white dots on the red portion of each cookie

5.  Place in the refrigerator to set frosting for 2 hours or more.

While the cookies did evoke some questions from my husband (“Wait. I don’t get it.  I get the ears but what’s the red part?”  “They’re pants.”  “Why are his pants on his face?”), I just wanted to make a treat for our friends and their little ones that would kick off our trip with something fun.  I KNOW they don’t make sense exactly.  But they remind me of Mickey Mouse and they taste good. So I made some and put them in some small decorative Chinese take out boxes.  Done and done.

Some suggested modifications:
1.  Skip the sanding sugar
2.  Skip the white dots
3.  Skip the red frosting all together and just make mouse heads
4.  Insert a lollipop stick and bag them in cellophane bags tied with a cute ribbon