Monday, December 31, 2007

Sous Chef in Training

Elaina loves to cook. She smells everything, to insure freshness, even the play doh.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Another Chapter in Dee's Life

Tomorrow was Saturday and Dee was looking forward to helping her dad out in the garden. Every spring he'd plant rows and rows of fresh vegetables and it was time to weed and pick the lettuce. Soon the carrots would be up and after that the cucumbers, then tomatoes and corn...and much later those beloved onions and potatoes! Just the thought of eating fresh, crunchy vegetables made her mouth water.

In North Dakota, the growing season was short so her mom and sisters would end up canning lots of the fresh produce. Dee chose to help plant, water, weed, and harvest in order to get out of having to "put up vegetables" in the hot kitchen every year. Seemed like once the vegetables were really going crazy, canning went on most every weekend. That's what they ate all winter...and what meat was hunted and prepared.

This morning Dee's mom had one of her premanitions, which she admitted to having about 3 or 4 times a year. Lydia said she had a vision that Glen (Dee's dad) fell out of a tree and died. This pretty much worried Dee, as once her ma had a vision that her brother Clarence had died in the war, and sure enough...five days later a telegram came telling of his death in Germany.

Later that summer, Dee was out back harvesting tomatoes when she heard her neighbor screaming "get him outta my yard", over and over. Dee figured it was Jim again, the white dog from down the road. While she went running toward the neighbors fence, her mom and Patty came running out the back door. It was Glen Tolliver, Sr., laying still in the neighbors back yard...with a tree limb through his chest. The next thing Dee recalled was riding in the back of the ambulance, next to her father. She thinks she must have screamed, or cried, or something. All she was aware of now, this very minute, was the sound of her own breathing.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Deck the balls with halls of folly.. and Adrienne Barbeau

The kids have a large deck out back...about 12 feet above their forested back yard. I am about ready to jump..head first. I think I overheard my son say the same thing earlier.

I don't know why 50-something year-old women are choosing to have babies. Adrienne Barbeau is the only one I've heard be honest about how hard it is. She had twins at age 51. Remember her? She was "Maude's feminist daughter"...and was married to John Carpenter...she was on Carnivale on HBO..the one with the huge boobs. Sidenote: now she's 60, and still looks great! I could look like that if I were her. Maybe she stays in shape chasing twins around.

I am whipped, pooped, scrambled, fried, and I feel like crying myself. At 54, I am perfectly happy to sit and watch a boring sitcom at night. Perfectly. I yearn for the sound of silence.

I think my "almost 2 year-old" granddaughter was on crack today...and I wish I had some pot right now...and I haven't wished that since 1978.

Good Night and Merry Frickin' Festivus already.

P.S. I am not making yorkshire pudding.

How about a vegetarian Christmas? Are You Friggin Nuts?

I bought a standing rib roast for Christmas dinner. I just couldn't do a way. So, as I am still in Portland, OR. I went to Haggens..a market similar to The Nugget in Sacramento.. but much larger. I got a choice cut standing rib roast on sale for $5.99 per lb...normally selling for about $12.00 per lb. or more. I'll make Yorkshire Pudding with it..of course.

For Christmas Eve we are having BBQ'd baby back ribs. My son makes the best...well, my husband makes some damned good ones too but he won't be here till Christmas morning.

Speaking of Christmas morning; we are having scones with lime & lemon curd and clotted cream from the Lavender Tea House. These are the best scones I have ever fact, they are really aren't like English scones at all. They are more like huge, flaky sweet biscuits. The Lavender Tea House makes it all from scratch. Yum. Jenn took me there for tea and a light lunch a few days after I arrived. Lovely.

I will get back to Sacramento one week from 6:30 p.m. this evening. Do you think I miss home? As much as I have absolutely loved bonding with my granddaugther, being with Mike and Jenn, and getting to know little Ethan...I can't wait to sleep in my own bed, with my own husband. (I've been borrowing the neighbors for the past few weeks). I am sure the kids will be happy to be alone in their home again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Are You Trippin'?

I went to work for Intel, in Portland, seven and a half years ago. Every seven years, an Intel employee earns a six-week paid sabbatical. As an avid motorcyclist, I made big plans for my time off over six long years ago. Those weeks would be filled with a cross country journey visiting as many states as possible. Just me and my motorcycle against the world!

I never wanted kids. I decided in my early twenties that I wasn't cut out to be a dad. My wife, at the time, was in agreement. I told her how I was planning on riding across the U.S. on my FZ1, taking only the essentials and camping out along the way. After our divorce, which was amicable, I was inspired after reading "Jupiter's Travels". Filled with a thirst for adventure I hatched a new plan to ride down to the tip of Mexico, taking only my American Express card, a small tent, some beef jerky, and a few clothes. That six-week sabbatical was always the carrot dangling just in front of me.

I met my wife, Jenn, a few years ago. She had me hooked when, on the sly, she programmed her number into my cell phone, along with her birthdate. Within a little over a year, we traveled all over Europe, got married, had Elaina, and bought a house. Our second child, Ethan, entered the world only seven days ago.
My sabbatical begins next month on January 23rd. Instead of an epic two-wheeled ride of freedom and adventure carrying only the bare necessities onboard, I will be on four wheels with a payload of two car seats filled by my young, poopy-diapered co-pilots, Elaina and Ethan. Our cargo will be comprised of ziplocs full of smart puffs, sippy cups, and of course the life-saving, essential-filled diaper bag. The sights and smells of the open highway will be replaced by crying children, blaring kid's music, and as a last resort, my repeated desperate attempts to amuse my daughter such as shouting "Hey look! There's a bus!" or "Here comes a truck!"

Dreams change. Man, there's nothing like the feeling you get when you walk in the house and your little girl smiles and runs up for a hug. Seeing my reflection in my infant son's eyes is equally amazing. I'll take that ride someday, but it may pale in comparison to the epic adventure that is fatherhood.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Who's your daddy?

Top 2=Elaina and Daddy
Bottom=Ethan and Daddy
{okay..I am about done with baby pics, for now}

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ethan Michael Harris

Jenn and baby Ethan......
What a proud mom!
.....Here we are; he is kinda shy so he looked away from the camera when I was holding him. He weighed in at 9 lbs and was 21 inches long. He seems to like to eat...already! He was born at 3:07 pm..and his sisters birthday is 3/7/06. Jenn said this morning that she planned to have him at about 3:00..and she was right!
The poor little guy came out a bit bruised..he sorta scraped against Jenn's tailbone. His father was black and blue when he came out too..and Ethan looks just like he did. Go back to my November 12th post and you'll see what I mean!

Jenn was a trooper, and Mike was busy taking pictures when they asked him to cut the cord already! At least, this is what I was told. :) I am so happy for their little family. They are such good parents. I am one wonderful grandma..BTW. Elaina did very well today...I'll post a pic of her holding Ethan when Mike has time to edit.

I have two grandchildren. Can you believe that?!
P.S. 12/11/07 I just watched the birth video. Incredible.

Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy

Well, I got up at 6 a.m. to see Mike and Jenn off to the hospital. She is being induced today..and we know it's a boy. I just hope she has a smooth and easy time of it. They took so much stuff with them, I thought they were moving! Mike had his photographic stuff, Jenn took her bag, pillows, magazines, etc. I'll take Elaina up in a few hours..when they call me and we'll be in the room as well..unless Elaina reacts that point I'll take her out. I am packing her little bag as well. We'll all be in "the birthing room". I am so excited.

Jenn belongs to this mothers group who, for 6 weeks, take turns bringing cooked meals 3 nights a week. They started already and brought a wonderful baked ziti, some Mexican soup with corn bread, and some ravioli with garlic bread. Amazing.

What a difference 30 something years make!

With Mike, I was rushed to the hospital after having a few contractions and then went thru 27 very painful hours of labor! I don't remember much. Only relatives were allowed to visit..and then only a few hours a day. Mike was kept in the nursery AND no family in the delivery room with either of my babies.

With Jer, my water broke, we drove 2.5 hours to Billings (to a real hospital) and even stopped for breakfast. I had him 10 hours later..and it was a relatively easy birth..but again, he was kept in the nursery.

Well, I can hear Elaina waking up...I can see her as well. These video baby monitors are fantastic! She likes to play in her bed for 30 minutes before getting up. She talks to all of her stuffed animals, reads a book (like only she can do) and eventually stands up.

Being a grandma is just the best. I get to remember physical pain involved.

(P.S. We put the tree up yesterday and it was snowing outside...these big fluffy flakes. Priceless).

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mike's Chili Recipe & Jenn's Chicken Soup for the Soul

[Jenn, unborn baby boy, and Elaina]

Mike's Chili Recipe:

4 Tblsp olive oil
3 Tbsp of minced garlic
1 large sweet onion
2 #s Ground Meat (1# pork-not sausage, 1# beef -15% lean)
1/2 to 3/4 cup of chili powder (pick variety to taste)
1/3 cup cumin
1 Tbsp sea salt
2 Tblsp pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
4-6 splashes of favorite hot sauce (tobasco)
2 cans of red kidney beans (do not drain)
1 can of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
2 bell peppers (1 yellow, 1 red)

How it's made:

1. Heat oil in a stock pot and add onion (coarsely diced) and garlic. Saute on med. heat until onion begins to turn translucent and garlic aroma starts to make u hungry. (~5 min)

2. Add the meat, and all spices and Tabasco. Cook until meat is browned. (~15 min)

3. Add everything else (peppers diced, beans and tomatoes undrained). Turn heat up and bring to a boil. (5 min-stirring constantly)

4. Reduce heat and let simmer uncovered. (2-3 hours-stirring occasionally)

Chicken Soup...this is good for what ails ya:

2 tbls.. veg. oil
1/4 cup green onion chopped
3 med cloves of garlic..minced
10 cups chicken stock or broth
1 tbls.dried thyme, crumbled
1/4 tsp. dried dill and 1/4 tsp. pepper
5 sprigs of fresh parsley
2 sliced carrots 1 lb cooked, chopped chicken (can used store-bought cooked chicken..don't use the skin)
6 oz no yolk egg noodles
2 tbls. corn starch
2 cups plain yogurt

Heat oil in large heavy ducth oven pot. Add onions and cook over med. heat for about 10 min. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Stir in chx stock/broth, thyme, dill, pepper, parsley, and carrots. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes. Remove parsley sprigs and add noodles to stock. Simmer uncovered about 7-10 minutes. Add cooked chx and cover pot to keep soup hot. In a small bowl, stir corn starch into yogurt, then combine with about a cup of the hot broth. Return this mixture to soup and bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with green onions.
BONUS=Elaina's Dinner:
Throw salad into bowl of chicken soup, then dunk bread in as well...and pour some milk in for good measure. Then, dump ingredients onto place mat and press together with both hands. Squish into little balls and procede to eat at your leisure.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Best of Portland

Well, my granddaughter is the best so far..and she can't say g's yet so she calls me darna..or darma....sounds like anyway. We just finished our first coloring session today...where we drew the big cedar tree that fell in the kids' back yard last night...and through the neighbors fence. It's windy as hell here...and raining constantly. We still have power though! No new baby yet..but we got power baby!

Was reading in the latest issue of Portland Monthly..their version of Sacramento Mag. Here are the top restaurnts in no particular order:

Paley's Place

Pok Pok/Whiskey Soda Lounge


Lovely Hula Hands


Castagna {also has best waiter}

Le Pigeon {also has best chef}

Podnah's Pit Barbecue {my son really liked this place}

Park Kitchen

Toro Bravo

Ken's Artisan Pizza

Restaurants to Watch:

Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen {Zuke is Extra Msg of Portland Food Group and his own website}


So, if you need recommendations for Portland, Oregon..or are planning a trip North...there ya go!

I recommend Serrato and Mingo for Italian..Nob Hill area.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Okay...I am pissed off!

So, now there is talk in the media about repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" lesbian/gay military deal. The military is kicking out dedicated men and women because they have "come out" as being gay. Get real people. The military has always had dedicated gay men and women in the armed forces. Many died for our freedom....many have won medals during wartime.

Do we believe that sexual orientation has anything at all to do with one's ability to serve this country? Hell no!

Dave and I are just flat out horrified that this is even being brought up again. We'd be pleased if the military would once and for all admit that our country is being defended by many honorable gay men and women and many other soldiers that our society refuses to accept as "heroes".

Write your congresswomen and men. This is 2007 people!

Fuck John McCain and anyone who feels the same way he does! They must be in the dark ages with regard to homosexuality. Educate yourselves!