30 August 2012

Sorry I went dark again. School started back on Tuesday, and I'm still recovering from how productive I've had to be the last two weeks. And I'm lethargic because it's HOT. Going back to school is supposed to be tinged with autumn and pumpkin spiced stuff. Sweaters get me in school mode, but right now sweaters make me want to gag. Between the heat and the fact that Jacob's working late tonight, I was ready to put Jake and myself down for the night at about 3.

Actually, I'm considering making Jake live in his crib until he develops more coordination.

Because the nightmare of all nightmarish milestones is upon us: Jake has learned to climb.

Whenever he encounters a new largish object, he immediately lifts his leg and tries to get a foothold on it. This has all but ruined my life both because I'm always having to get him down from things and because I'm sure he's going to learn how to climb his way out of the porchplaypen and plummet to his death. 

Today I was fussing with our dinky washing machine because I thought I'd broken it, when I heard the Jake-just-fell-off-something thud. But there was no crying baby, just a sick silence. I called Jake's name. Nothing. I ran out onto the porch and looked over the ledge. No baby. I ran into the bedroom. No baby. I turned back into the living room - the very room I'd just run back and forth through three times - and there he was perched happily on the back corner of the couch. My scurrying and screaming was quite the show apparently because he started cracking up. 

The sound I heard was just the little monster lifting the banjo that hangs behind the couch and slamming it against the wall. Brilliant.  

So I cuddled him on the couch, stroking his wispy hair while I settled down my racing heart and thought about how dear he was to me...for about 2 minutes, before I went back and started fussing with the washing machine again and he returned to his climbing expeditions. 

So that's my dud of a story. It's all I can muster right now. 

Well...after that things got real and baby started dancing on the table. And I recorded him because that's how we roll.

In the good news tent because I'm already feeling a little better about life than I was, oh,  three lines ago:

My washing machine is fine. (Tying up loose ends. It's essential for good storytelling.)

My sourdough is bubbling away, and I've become a sourdough pancake maestra. Tomorrow I shall try my hand again at some bread. My first loaf was a Fail McFail and my second was perhaps a C-. So...only the finest in my kitchen.


Go make coconut milk with Farrah because it doesn't get any cooler than that.

Or go visit Lara and make yourself at home in her beautiful blog while you wait patiently for her to post about her new little bundle because that's what I'll be doing. 

Pick Up Ball

23 August 2012

Jake wasn't racking up any points in the independent play department today, so I went off in search of something "new" for him to play with. At this point in time, my husband and I have managed to maintain our elitism about what "kinds" of "toys" our child plays with. Our house is not overrun with plastic monstrosities. How have we achieved this brilliant feat??

Short answer: We only have one kid, and he's only had one Christmas.

Longer answer: Who needs toys when you've got a crafty genius like me for a mother? All of you lucky readers get to read about how today, I donned my DIY hat and rigged us up a basketball hoop.



 Supplies: Cardboard Box and Belt

Instructions: Tie it onto something.

And then have yourself (in the pretty-much-only words of my son) a "ball ball ball."

Based on my experience today, the game will quickly devolve after you bring out the camera.


So...fair warning.

Happy Balling.

I'm Back

22 August 2012

So I've been having one of those weird "Why do I even blog?" weeks. 

Honesty time??

I've been in a funk generally. Money gets tight in August in the Rhodes Casa because Mama doesn't get paid in the summertime. I start school next week which is good because of the $$ involved, but I love summer, and I don't want it to be over, and it just got hot in So Cal. And I like heat in the summer.

I had a dear friend from come visit over the weekend. We had a lovely time, but now that she's gone she made the Texas shaped hole in my heart even bigger than normal.

My little sister is abroad for the semester, and the fact that she isn't a text message away is driving me bonkers.

End of summer has me suffering from a general decline in hygiene. My fingers and toes and leg hair and head hair are all in dire need of attention. Jacob is gone at a networking event this evening which deprives me of any hope of even showering today. 

I've been trying to break the cycle. I did laundry yesterday; I took my laptop into the apple store for a doctoring; and I made a decent dinner. So...mildly productive. But all it takes is some mediocre muffins and a dud loaf of sourdough this morning, and I'm right back where I started. 

So no. I haven't felt like blogging. Writing always forces me to have some perspective on life, and I've preferred to remain in my grumpy corner counting grievances.

And then Grace goes and shares her little secret, and I got all sappy and sentimental about this blogland and readers coming in droves out of their stalker caves to share in her excitement. I remembered that I love being a part of it. I love celebrating with you all.

That's it. No pictures. 

Ok. Just one. (I even busted out the real camera for you because I'm feeling so inspired.)


7 Quick Takes

10 August 2012

- 1 -
My sourdough starter arrived in the mail this week and has been doing some mildly enthusiastic bubbling over the past two days. The amount of excitement/anxiety I'm feeling over this is certainly unhealthy. I've read the instruction page probably 9 times. Thoughts of it WAKE me UP at night. Not even kidding. When the baby woke up at 3:30 this morning for a little 5 minutes of fussing, I had to talk myself out of getting out bed (not to check on baby, no siree) to see if my sourdough was proofing (you see how down with the lingo I've become?)

- 2 -
This morning there were indeed some bubbles in my starter. And being the Overeager Olivia that I am, I decided to make some less than mediocre sourdough biscuits. The biscuits are another sacrifice to the gods of please save my marriage while I learn to cook Real Food.

They were terrible. We're talking rocks.  

- 3 -
Speaking of marriage, Jacob and I watched Romantics Anonymous last night via the Netflix. It was tres bien, and I recommend it if you feel a hankering for a fun French flick. BUT unless you parle frances, you'll have to read the subtitles and thus you actually have to watch it. You won't be able to fold clothes or crochet or do any other mindless activities during the viewing.  

- 4 -
So quid pro quo, friends, I need some Netflix/Hulu mediocre TV to watch so I can finish embroidering a pillow case. I'm fresh out. Recommendations?? (No Sci Fi please, I take it too seriously. I prefer teen mysteries a la ABC Family or the equivalent.)

- 5 -
I'm washing diapers right now - which I do two mornings a week - and despite how easy I made it seem. It's actually quite tedious in my apartment size front loading washing machine with WAY low water settings. If I actually want to get the soap out of the diapers, I have to manually add water to each rinse cycle through the soap dispenser. Thankfully in the wonky afterthought backhouse where we live, the washing machine nook is right next to our shower, and the shower head is on a hose. Sometimes I try to balance the shower head on the soap dispenser which always ends with wet bathroom walls. 

So instead I just stand there forever holding the stupid shower head spraying water into the washing machine.

[Note my careful smartphone fotografia: I managed to debut my enviable hairdo while simultaneously avoiding armpit exposure. You're welcome.]

- 6 -
Someday I'm sure when I have more than uno caballerito and I've all but given up on cloth diapering, I will look back on this era and glare at my former self for wasting so much valuable nap time. But the current Kate has managed to feel pretty good about herself, because she knows that it's either diaperwatering or blogsurfing, and I already do too much of the latter.

- 7 - 
Multilingualism of this post brought to you service of my Tejano upbringing and Wordreference.com.

Happy Weekend! And go see The Jen for the rest and the better of the quick takes!

Back to the Summer Grind

09 August 2012

Now that the bee is dead. Papa Jacob has returned to a workplace free of freak out texts from his wife. And Jake and I have returned to our riveting pre-bee-catastrophe routine.

On the porch.

Like so.

Jake Summer

Neighbor's dog
Tennis ball thoroughly dog-slobbered
Empty laundry basket
Hose nozzle
Mother (optional)

Mix them all together and you have Jake's Idea of a Rockin Good Time

Bee Saga IV.2

07 August 2012

I awoke this morning excited that the bees might have settled down enough that the baby and I could venture onto the porch. But, alas, within five minutes of making noise in the kitchen the bee was buzzing outside the window again. Un-be-lievable.

So I called to Jacob who came groggily out of the bedroom. I told him she was back, and I insisted that he kill her immediately.

"I think I'm going to kill her in just my boxers." He said. "For the thrill of it."

By the time he came over to the window, she was gone, and he asked if I was the only one who'd ever seen her... So I spent the rest of breakfast indignantly convincing him that she existed. 

After Jake went down for a nap, we finished our tea on the porch waiting for the attack. The minutes ticked by and the little swarmer didn't show up. The time for Jacob to leave for work was fast approaching (Hollywood hours = 10am start time). He was making polite conversation and enjoying the fact that my eyes darted suspiciously toward anything that moved. I got plenty of lip ("That's a fly, Katie, and that's a bird...") But this bee hated me. And I knew she would come. And she did. 

She flew straight at me. 

Jacob was swatting at her with a dishtowel, and I was running in circles around him convinced she was trying to crawl into my ears. He grabbed my arm and smashed the dishtowel against my head. "I've got her."

Voila. The little dead diva. 

You can even see her stinger coming out...the little *%#*

And did I get any sympathy from my loving husband despite having just been attacked? Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Instead he raised his eyebrows, glanced at my new uniform (matted ponytail and yesterday's almost-running attire) and said, "Well, they emit a sort of pheromone when they die which attracts other bees....So you might want to take a shower."

The best news of the event - which Jacob was sure to point out before leaving for work: the infamous AHB only attack in herds. Never alone.

So we've merely domesticated regular old European Honey Bees with personal vendettas.

Bee Saga IV: Why is AHB a problem?

06 August 2012

Yesterday Jacob decided to harvest some honey. I thought this was a lovely idea. It was a lovely day. Honey is lovely.

He came back half an hour later sans honey. He informed me that they were building their comb "weird." He said they were extra aggressive, and that he'd been stung three times through his cowhide gloves. (He reported this as if he were proud of the little buzzers for achieving such a feat.)

These bees have been generally more aggressive than our last hive. After Jacob pokes around in either of the hives, it usually takes them a day or two before the bees completely settle back down. If we go outside on these volatile days it's not unusual to get chased by a rogue scout. So I wouldn't have thought much of this affair except that I later found this tab open on my laptop:

What is AHB you ask?  AHB is apparently the nice way of saying AFRICANIZED Honey Bee...which is the nice way of saying KILLER BEE.

I've never been stung, so as far as I know I'm deathly allergic. And we have a fourteen month old. And he's never been stung, so he's probably deathly allergic too. And Jacob's researching whether or not they're KILLER BEES???? 


Where in Los Angeles County can AHB be found? Thirty feet from my front door. 

All day today one of them has been buzzing outside our windows. The whole front of our apartment is windows, so it's easy to see her.  Wherever we are, she buzzes outside the corresponding window. She's terrorizing us. It's like she's our pet dog that's gone rabid or something. I decided I should probably go kill her since she'd obviously figured us out and the last thing I needed was for her to go back, do her little wing dance, and tell all her sisters where we live.

Let me just interrupt to say: I'm not a scaredy cat when it comes to these things. At all. Remember this post. I thought that picture was funny. On the spectrum of typical female fear of rodents, bugs, and creepy crawlers, I definitely fall under "butch."

So out I went, armed with the cliche magazine ready to end her life. As soon as I got close to her she abandoned her post by the window and hurled herself right at me. I swatted the air a couple times, and then my mission devolved into a tribalish freak out dance as I jetted back inside and slammed the door. Inside my dance continued as I swung my hair around and shrieked, convinced that the bee was stuck in my ponytail. Jake was giggling in his highchair, apparently finding my derangement delightful.

Now that my heart rate has gone down, I can safely say I'm mortified. A royal basket case. I e-mailed Jacob and said I'm not letting him in the house unless he makes me an offering of that bee's carcass.


Worst of all, baby and I are 100% housebound. Jake can't play on the porch at all, and it's making both of us crazy. Even the balance-the-ball-on-the-yoga-mat game can only last so long.

If you want to read more about our beekeeping adventures (from back when we were all friends) you can go here or here or here.

Otherwise I hope you have a happy Monday that is free of vengeful stinging insects.

7 Quick Takes Friday Morning

03 August 2012

 - 1 -
Jake in an act of heretofore unprecedented generosity slept until 7:45 this morning.

Indeed he was the last one in bed because:

 - 2 -
Jacob and I have been trying to stick to a (not that) heroic wake time of 7am. When we face and conquer the heroic wake time, we get to refer to one another as heroes for the rest of the morning.

 - 3 -
Jacob is fixing his bike right now, so he can start riding it to work. He just asked through the window if I would get the air pump from the closet, the largish closet in our tinyish apartment which smells like a mixture of mold and ammonia with a dash of industrial strength cleaner. And I got it for him. Because I'm a hero. 

 - 4 -
He is using the old pump now and it sounds remarkably like a woman in labor. Raspy inhale, guttural exhale. Weird. Weird weird.

 - 5 -
I'm wearing a neglected shirt this morning. I've been on a laundry strike because it's summer and the machine's been glitchy and, well, it's summer. This neglected shirt has a very wide neck which falls scandalously off one shoulder if I'm not paying attention. Anyhow, I caught a glimpse of myself just now and thought with my blousey shirt and my high ponytail, I resembled something from an old John Hughes movie.

Well. Ok. Not nearly that cool. And can you say haircut time? It's only been _ _ months since my last visit to any type of hair professional. (Lily, my dear little sister, I do love you. But you don't count. And you're in London where you can drink legally, so no one is feeling sorry for you.) and (Pretty effective blackout curtains we got going on in the corner there, huh?)

 - 6 -
Jacob just came in from the porch after finishing his bike tune up. He took one look at me lying on my stomach on the bed typing this and said: "Ah. Mothering. It's tireless, thankless work."

 - 7 -
So now I must go embrace my vocation...who is currently clawing at my ankles.
And you have me to thank for the superior photography exhibited today.

Happy Friday! And go see Jen for more Quick Takes!

Back from Teethingville and Looking for Answers

02 August 2012

I'm emerging from the darkness of Jake's nightmare of a teething week to ask for parenting advice.

Last week Jake's teeth made his life and my life hell. His first eight teeth came in without too much fuss, and so I thought we were in the Teething Not So Bad Camp. A little drool. A fussy night or two. Boom. Teeth.

But last week..last week...we had the fever, the rashes, the sleepless nights, the fire-hydrant saliva left in puddles all over the house. I kid you not. I literally slipped Mario Kart-banana-peel-style on one of these drool pools.

For days Jake went off like a switch into a royal tantrum whenever he was slightly provoked, and then I followed suit. He didn't eat; I overate. I banished him to the porch diaperless to air out his rashy tush, and I holed myself up on the couch to find solace in the blogosphere while I parented through the window. 

But we seem to be past it now. And Jake has returned to more typical routines. Like carrying a pillow onto the porch and laying on it. And picking it up. And moving it. And laying on it again.

So now that we're out of sickville and I've stopped letting Jake do whatever he jolly well pleases (like watch Netflix while playing with my iPhone) I find myself thinking a lot about getting on the actual parenting wagon. You know...teaching him stuff. (I'm also thinking a lot about kefir grains, and very impatiently waiting for my sourdough starter to arrive in the mail...but let's be honest, like any of you really come here to read about lacto-fermentation.)

Jacob thinks I'm a softie...and he's probably right. So I want to bring some questions to my mom-readers.  

I would ask my own mother, but she's cagey about these things. She's so elusive whenever I ask her for parenting advice. Once I asked her wisdom because I was worried about royally screwing up my kids. She laughed and replied:

"You don't have to worry about that. You will screw up your kids."

Thanks, mom.

And on top of her always helpful one-liners, she's out of the country with my little sister and a dear family friend, and with the three of them gone, my blog traffic has gone down by 75%.

Oh, yes, the questions:
How do you teach things to a one year old? When will he learn the word 'no'? When will he heed the word 'no'? What battles do you think are worth fighting?

I should probably go to the library and check out a parenting book or something. But instead I will ask you all.

And then google it.
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