27 May 2009

I Love You Too, Aubrey!

My friend, Greta, has three kids. The oldest is Aubrey, a most delightful child. This is the girl who just this past Sunday raced down the hall and tried with mighty intent to cut in front of me on her way to the Primary room. And being the absolute and utter child that I am, I continually pushed in front of her so she couldn't get around (what, like it was an emergency that she had to be there at a certain time? I didn't think so). And when it finally looked as if she would get past my hulking frame I took the tone of voice I usually take when addressing medium-aged children and said, "YOU WOULDN'T BE TRYING TO CUT IN FRONT OF ME, WOULD YOU??" To which she sheepishly smiled and then immediately began to push past me again. But my legs are longer so I prevailed in the end anyway. Now that lass is my kinda girl.

A couple of days ago this same lovely child wrote her parents lovely thank you letters, which, combined with childhood honesty, turned out to be lovely insults to their parenting skills. I love it! However, reading through her notes to each of them (a good beginning effort for her), and feeling the need to appoint myself Role Model For Disillusioned Children Everywhere, I decided I can do even better. Take copious notes, my dear girl!

Dear Mom,

I love you! I love the way you pay attention to all of my other siblings before me; they need it more than I and it also teaches me to not have to rely on others for the attention I so desperately crave and that the school counselors insist I need to be a functioning member of society. I really appreciate that you make me wait for meals, even though I've been hungry and begging for food for hours; next time I promise not to tell the pediatrician that you do that...because I love you! I really like how you laugh at everything I do, even when I didn't mean to be funny or when I'm crying. After all, bad attention is better than none at all!

Thank you for doing chores and cleaning up my "messes" and making me food and sending me to school. You're right, that's so much better than loving me. I also love the rags you dress me in because I'm pretty sure it's teaching me humility somehow. According to my Primary teachers, that's a good thing, even if I don't get any sleep because I'm crying too much. And thank you for all the compliments you give me, even if they do sound pretty damn hollow.

Thank you for once in a blue moon retelling my birth story. If nothing else, it makes it pretty clear that all those security precautions at the hospital meant I wasn't switched at birth after all. And the recounting of your pain and misery just to see me into this world really makes me grateful I wasn't twins or we both would have been out on the street ages ago. Only one of me means you only resent me 50% of the time! Good thing I love you 100% of the time to make up for it!

You're such a great mother, Mom. Other kids dread Mother's Day, too, right?


Dear Dad,

Thanks for being such a fantastic parent! I love you so much! And thanks for marrying Mom. Are you sure you really hunted around first though?


22 May 2009

So Why Is PW At My House Again?

It's been a while since I've talked about The Pregnancy, so let's get on with it. First off, let me get something out of the way. All of the dear people who have actual contact with me and know of the looming medical problems I have hanging over my head always ask me how I'm feeling. This is terribly kind and thoughtful of them, particularly when accompanied by that worried furrowed brow-thing they do at the same time. Allow me to answer you here with the same answer I've been giving all along: I feel fantastic, thanks for asking! And this is where those of you who have been kind enough to entertain certain peawhistles in your homes give me a look that says, "Then why the hell am I babysitting your kid for you every week??" Because I asked and you're nice, that's why. You're an angel for this, trust me.

Allow me to explain the situation further, won't you? I have two issues the OBs are constantly hounding me with, or rather one big issue with two defining initial symptoms. The two symptoms are extreme protein loss and high blood pressure. OK, prepare yourselves for talk about my urination. Peeing protein doesn't hurt one bit. Losing protein doesn't hurt one bit. You'd never know you were doing it without a test telling you so. So there's that. High blood pressure doesn't hurt. It hurts your heart, sure, but you can't feel that. Occasionally I can feel my heart practically beating out of my chest, but that's usually when Peawhistle is bugging the crap out of me, hence why she's now at your house instead of mine. Otherwise, I would never have guessed my BPs are higher than normal without doctors telling me so. I feel fine pretty much all the time, aside from occasional pregnancy annoyances that most pregnant mothers deal with. I have more energy than ever and I find it difficult to sit still sometimes because my body is telling me I'm just fine. I have to force myself to sit down at the very least, let alone lie down when I can. Without OBs thrown in the mix I would think this was a perfectly normal and healthy pregnancy. However, it is the tests contradicting my opinion of my overall health. And it is the OBs conducting these tests telling me that if things get worse I'll be put on bed rest, and if they get worse than that I'll be hospitalized until the birth. I really, really, really don't want that, and neither does anyone else related to me in any way, hence why I took the bull by the horns once I discovered a problem rearing its annoying head. That's why you're watching Peawhistle and why also, so far, I'm doing great. And you have my undying devotion for it, too, believe me. You'll all be getting cakes after this affair is over with.

As for my tests of late, they're looking good, although I admit that hinging on the cusp of a potentially life-threatening disease that has no personally perceivable symptoms is not encouraging and isn't doing my peace of mind any good at all (otherwise I'm terrific!). They did baseline tests for everything to make sure they have something to compare it to if things start to go south. I still have protein in my urine, but not huge amounts yet so they say I'm still within normal ranges. Also, my BPs have been down these last two times. I got very hopeful by this news and hoped the OB would be as well until she informed me that they expected them to drop in the second trimester anyway as all women's do during this time, but they were up initially in the second trimester too, so I don't know what they're going on about. But at least they're down for now. She did hint that third trimester is when they start to go up again so that's when they would think a problem would come up if at all, but at least I've got 4-5 more weeks until then, and she said if I do wind up with pre-eclempsia again they could induce as early as 37 weeks if all is still going relatively well. So that's not tooooo long, but long enough to be worrisome.

Also, I've found that yet another switch in OBs has helped tremendously. The second-to-last one went into labor so I switched to the one I wanted all along for the last two visits (the ones with lower BPs I might remind you). I love this woman because she is very, very, very calm. There are no emergencies with this woman, no life-or-death consequences, no "YOU BETTER LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURES OR YOU'LL KILL YOUR BABY." Just an all-around optimistic and happy, easy-going attitude. The woman is so calm I wouldn't be surprised at all if a waft of weed followed her into every appointment; in fact, if it helps me to be calm too, I'd highly encourage it from her. So thank you, pot-smoking OB! Your attitude keeps me calm. Let's hope it carries over into the next trimester. Otherwise you'll be seeing a lot more of my dear mother, and that's not good for anyone's blood pressure, trust me.

20 May 2009

Come On, Be A Sport!

You ever have so much you can write about but you can't decide which topic to choose so you just sit staring at your computer hoping someone else will give you an excuse not to write at all? That's pretty much what I do every day. And it's also, obviously, why I don't post every day. So when you're sitting behind your computer wondering why I'm not enlightening your world at that very moment, chances are I'm thinking the exact same thing about you. I sure hope that keeps you awake tonight.

So as long as I'm here I might as well write something. I have a stash of already-written pieces that were written for one reason or another that I plan to post one day, but I feel like writing something from scratch. FOR YOU. Actually, for me since I don't care about you, but you benefit so you can pretend it's for you. You, the one who fails to entertain me every second of my life forcing me to provide entertainment for myself. Are you catching on yet?

So sports. It would appear that I'm not terribly physically talented when it comes to outdoor, or even indoor as it turns out, sports. Allow me to take you on a tour of my life vs. the sporting world.

Physical Education: Ah, P.E. I enjoyed elementary school P.E. to the extent that it wasn't classroom study and those days were the only days my mother allowed me to wear pants to school because I had just "so many adorable dresses and that's what you're wearing." (If you ever wonder why Peawhistle doesn't wear dresses except on Sunday, I guarantee some of that childhood trauma got passed along in there somehow.) Other than the no classroom/pants benefit, I saw little point in P.E. I sucked at everything. Gymnastics, running, basketball, obstacle courses, everything. The worst moments were the P.E. tests we were put through where the whole class got to watch you suck at it and fail miserably rather than just a small select group (of horrible, taunting children). Ah, Chin-up Bar. My old nemesis. I will never forgive you for the hours of torture you put me through. Dangling there, helpless, occasionally flinging my legs in an unorderly fashion in a vain attempt to propel my body in an upward direction, all while the gym instructor privately rolled his eyes and shouted mildly encouraging statements like, "Pull up! Use your arms, Abby, your ARMS." Very helpful advice. No, really.

The P.E. abuse continued on through high school. And then there was college. In the years prior to my arriving, BYU had only one class everyone had to take to graduate. I can't even remember what it was called, but half of the class was a health class and the other half was a running/jogging/torture class where, rumor had it, you had to run/jog/torture yourself for 20 miles. SCREW THAT. Fortunately for the university and my temper, the requirements had just changed by the time I got there and instead of the Health Class From Hell, you could instead take three sporting classes to fulfil the requirement instead. I chose the three sports I thought I could handle the most without therapy, crying, and heavy medication: tennis, golf, and bowling.

Tennis. My, my, do we go back some! I took tennis back when all my friends were taking it in grade school during the summer. It wasn't too bad because I didn't stick out so much then, mostly because everyone sucked at it. We were just kids starting out and every one of us was proud just to occasionally hit the ball when it came to our side of the court. I only assumed my talent for this sport would have somehow improved magically over the span of a decade and so I chose it as my first class. I don't really know how to describe how ineffective my performance in this endeavor was, but suffice it to say the whole of the experience was nothing less than a perpetual comedy of errors. I don't even know how it's possible, but I wound up being worse at tennis in college than I ever was as a child. At least back then I won a round or two, even if only by default; but college? No. People were kind to me, but you could see just how much they loathed the experience of being paired with me.

Serving was always the worst. Once in a while the ball actually left my side of the court, only to wind up on the street by the pizza parlor. But usually the ball landed right back on my head resulting in many a concussion-like state during play. When the ball came to me from my opponent it either went right past me or back out on the street like I was some MLB superstar going for a homerun record. But I really knew I was never meant to excel in this sport when the instructor himself finally took me aside and tried to give me personal lessons. Away from everyone else, mind you. Usually he had a baffled look on his face, wondering how I could possibly be this retarded. Every ball, served softly and slowly, directly at me, went right past. Sometimes I even swung at it to show I was trying, but usually it was just pointless to waste the energy, hence his frustration.* I have a couple of friends who play tennis, and very well mind you, who are probably wondering how all this is even possible. I don't know what to tell you. I don't know myself. I tried, honestly. Don't fret though, it gets worse.

Golf. I enjoy a round of putt-putt so how could I possibly not love golf? Yeah, it was somewhat entertaining, but man did I suck at it. I wasn't too bad at putting, and I even got singled out as a good example once or twice early on in the course. I tell you, those were some of my proudest moments on earth. Aaaaaand then it went downhill from there. Turns out I can't aim when driving the ball, and that's only when I actually managed to hit it (are you detecting a pattern of defectiveness yet?). I don't think I was the worst in the class for once, but I think I was close. In order to pass the class we had to go out to an actual course and play a round. A friend who came from a golfing family felt pity on me and offered to play my required game with me. The day we chose was a gorgeous day: overcast, rainy, with gusting winds. Perfect! If only we'd been struck by lightning too, we could have called it a day! My friend soon realized just how bad I was at this sport and gave me at least three mulligans per hole, even eventually going so far as to stand with her feet around each of the holes so I had no choice but to hit it in. Even after all of this vastly dishonest help, I still wound up with a score of 88. 88 you say? Why, that's excellent! Yes, but not for only nine holes it isn't! Let's move on.

Bowling. *sigh* I don't know where to begin with this. I started at an Obama-level expertise, ending only slightly higher by the end of the class. I had the highest handicap in the class with a whopping 98 (as in, 98 points had to be added on to my score after every game just to make me slightly competetive with the rest of the players). That came in kinda handy come the tournament when I magically began playing better, but it still didn't dull the sting of the fact that I needed such extreme artificial assistance to begin with. There's really nothing more to be said about bowling. Let's just leave it in the past and try to get past it all, shall we?

Peawhistle is in sports now. Or rather, I drive her to gymnastics, she runs around for 45 minutes, and we drive home. Where I take her for gymnastics is actually a pretty hardcore gym that prides itself on creating national-level competetive gymnasts. And then there's Peawhistle who wanders around, doing very little that could actually be defined as gymnastics and showing even less latent talent for it, with me clapping and calling, "Just have fun, honey!" They hate me there.

And thus the genes get passed along. YOU'RE WELCOME SPORTING WORLD.

*If it helps your opinion of me, Bonny and Gwennifer, it turns out I have an awesome backhand. The instructor positioned the racket in my hand, went and served a ball to me, and I hit it right back to him. He was so shocked he didn't even swing at it. He just stood there with his mouth open. He hit another one to me, and I hit it back again, and we actually had an entire match with me using only my backhand. Unfortunately, that wouldn't have sailed in the real world so I didn't pursue it further, but needless to say he was proud of me, even if only for one afternoon.

15 May 2009

Crap! Get Yer Crap Rightchere!

Hey, have you ever looked at my stuff and thought, "Man, what I wouldn't give to have some of Abby's crap!" Well, your wildest dreams are about to come true, friend! I'm selling some of our Very Desirable Crap here at our multi-family yardsale Saturday morning from 8-12 (though rain is expected at around 10ish or so, so you best get up bright and early to catch the great offerings of crap I've got goin' on).

So come on down and give me cash! I promise to give you something in return!

13 May 2009

Hey! Guess What I Won and You Therefore Did Not?

I actually won a blogger giveaway, can you believe it?? I cannot. As I told Lovely Loralee at the time, this is the first time I've won anything without resorting to my usual solution of bribery or life-threatening letters in the mail. I'm so excited I could absolutely assault a stranger!

And what piece of fantastickery did I win? An awesomely Martha Stewartesque homemade apron, seen here:

She herself took this photo (I have yet to receive actual physical evidence of my win. Because she failed to FedEx-Overnight it to me for some strange reason) so I don't see any reason to take another once I get it, and certainly no reason for me myself to model it since I am far too careful to post my actual face (can you imagine the large-scale international kidnapping effort that would be underway within minutes?? Why, it absolutely boggles the paranoid mind.). So if I do post another photo of it in my possession, it will be modeled by one of the Peas or Tic. I prefer the option of Tic if for no other reason than it would really piss her off and the photo I'd get of her would be her racing away with an apron tied around her neck. And how is that possibly not entertainment?

Thanks Loralee! I'll thank you even more once I find out it's not all one Big Fat Lie!

Onion Alert!

I had grand plans to post something else today, but I have just become aware of this and I feel I must therefore post it instead.

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'


11 May 2009

Ah, Controversy! Is There Anything You Can't Do?

I love the smell of indignation in the morning! Unfortunately, my last post only vaguely offended two of you, one of whom only if I hadn't been funny about it and the other only because I don't post more often. Poo! What does it take to offend the greatest group of offense-by-proxy crowd on the planet anyway?? Well, at least you all have a sense of humor, which is more than I can say for most jerks in my life. I'm sure you can say the same. Go ahead, say it. On your blog. Naming names. Can't wait to read it.

Oh, and Fred? I can officially now say that I'm intensely proud to know you. Just knowing that you and your entire ancestral line have been chastized by LDS church leaders for over 150 years is simply heartwarming to me. To think: your entire family tree sitting in hell together, reminiscing over the good ol' days. Just brings a tear to your eye, don't it?

Speaking of hell, remember that little boy Peawhistle sentenced to Hades not long ago? Three days later his mother dropped PW off at home after preschool for me and I heard the two of these children express their undying affection for one another and how they will miss each other painfully while separated for the next less-than-24 hours of their little lives. Peawhistle digs the bad boys it would seem. That's fine, but he just better get a good job while he's at it. As my dad said, "Honey, I don't care who you marry, but he just better have a lot of zeroes after his name."

And for the several, several of you from last week's post whose only concern was that you didn't possess a proper recipe for beef stroganoff and would like to have it so that you, too, may know what goodness tastes like, I congratulate you for shunning crap. Welcome to Abby's Quality Cooking That Is Not Crap 101! And the best part that while it isn't cheap, it is easy. Takes me maybe 30 minutes total to make it.

Here's what you do. Go to the grocery store and buy a packet of McCormick's Beef Stroganoff Sauce Mix. See that? You don't even have to take the time to mix the flour and spices yourself, you lazy creations, you! And it tastes just as good and convincing as if you'd slaved over a mixing bowl yourself. It even comes with a helpful recipe on the back of the packet. Here's what else you have to pick up while you're there (assuming you already have water and vegetable oil in your home): 1 c. sour cream, package of wide egg noodles, and at least 1.5 lbs boneless, quality sirloin steak, the leaner the better. The sauce mix contains dehydrated bits of mushroom in it, but if you're a fan of mushrooms you can buy a small can of sliced mushrooms to add as well.

Some variations of stroganoff call for the sirloin to be cut into strips, but we prefer the version with cubed bite-size pieces. If you choose to go this route, make sure not to cut the cubes too small because they will shrink in size and they'll be miniscule and tough to boot. So make them a little larger than what you'd want. Also, try to cut away as much fat as possible. There's nothing worse than sinking your teeth into rubbery steak. Nasty. Also, trimming and cutting the meat is the most time-consuming aspect of this entire venture. And even that doesn't take too long.

Start boiling the water for the egg noodles when you start browning the meat and they should come out timed OK in the end. Brown meat completely in oil, then add 1 c. hot water and the sauce mix packet. Stir, simmer for 10 minutes (while your noodles are cooking for 8 or 9; you can add mushrooms at this point if you choose, or later if you don't like them as soft), add sour cream, remove from heat, stir, and you're done. Add some butter/margarine to the noodles once they're drained. Serve the stroganoff on top of the noodles. Eat. Enjoy. Send me thank you cards.

And for those of you who are culinarily challenged but whose husbands prefer the good version to that dispicable cheap version, I'd be happy to make this for you one day if you like. Because you're nice. And apparently so am I.

*For the rest of the discussion on this subject, and my advice for making beef stroganoff from scratch, see the discussion on Trina's Recipe Blog here.

06 May 2009

I Like Beef Stroganoff And I Cannot Lie

Now, I'm not normally one for complaining about random, stupid stuff (feel free to stop laughing RIGHT THIS DAMN MINUTE), but this has been bugging me for decades and I feel that now's the time to drag it all out in the open. This post is about beef stroganoff (or "stroganov" if you're feeling particularly Russian heritage-ish). So prepare yourselves for a roller coaster of excitement.

You know I love me some Mormons. I have to. I go to church with them every fricking week. But there is one subgroup within the Mormon community that just bugs the crap out of me sometimes. Let me say that I admire a good Mormon who can actually live within his/her means, which is something that escapes many, many of their fellow churchgoers. But what bugs me are the pretentiously cheap Mormons. They also coincidentally happen to be the same Mormons who proudly brag about their pioneer ancestors who heroically swam the Atlantic Ocean with their handcarts clenched between their teeth. You know who I’m talking about. Them. I grew up in a convert family. Our family took every opportunity to make fun of this group and I'm certainly not going to turn my back on family tradition now. On with the beef stroganoff rant.

A quick lesson for all you pioneer-heritage handicapped folks out there: traditional beef stroganoff is made with high quality sirloin steak, egg noodles, a sour cream sauce, and mushrooms (among other things). It is NOT made with 82% lean ground hamburger, rice, and a can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup. I'll let you soak that in for a minute. Now that the shock of the moment has worn off, allow me to elucidate. If you really want to eat hamburger, rice, and cream of mushroom soup, by all means. It's a nice, cheap dinner and if it's tasty to you, go right ahead. But don't call it beef stroganoff. Because it's not. It's like calling a ham and cheese sandwich "chicken cordon bleu." Surely you see the problem there. And the problem I have personally with this whole mistaken-identity issue is this: I say I am going to/already have made beef stroganoff for my family and you, the snobbishly cheap Mormon, have the gall to look down your prissy nose at me and declare with disgust, "Beef stroganoff? That stuff's disgusting. I don't care for it at all." Well, of course it's disgusting. Or rather, it's disgusting the way YOU make it. I make it properly, which leads to a most exquisitly culinary piece of perfection.

These people's cheap and easy version of a fine dining experience has sullied the good name of what would otherwise be congratulated in every eating circle. Instead, I have yet to meet a Mormon who likes beef stroganoff because in reality they have never experienced what it's supposed to taste like, or that a better and more classic, traditional version is even in existence. Now, you see what happens when you call something something it isn't? YOU MAKE ME LOOK BAD. KNOCK IT OFF. So the next time I talk about making stroganoff for my family and the fact that it was superb (because it was; because I know how to make it), don’t pretend like I’m crazy and lack a discerning palate. BECAUSE I WILL BEAT YOU WITHIN AN INCH OF YOUR CHEAP, LAZY LIFE.

Oh, and speaking of which, I think you left an oxen or two back there in the Atlantic. Better run and fetch 'em.