Sunday, January 26, 2014

Minnesota packing list


Did I actually think I could get in a workout with all the to-ing and fro-ing between Whit's parents' homes? Yes. Did I also imagine that despite not wearing makeup and contact lenses in my day-to-day life, I would suddenly transform into a glamorous vixen in the frozen North? Of course. Did I spell Minnesota incorrectly? You betcha. 

I anticipated many more outdoor activities, but the latter half of the trip was marred by "balmy" below-zero highs that apparently can freeze human skin in 20 minutes? And sometimes cars can't start? And people live here on purpose? To be fair, it was unconscionably cold even to the natives, as the super friendly TSA agent (only in the Midwest) explained to us on our way back to San Francisco, where it was mid-60's pretty much throughout the month of December.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

weekly menu: January 20-25

Short week, and no prep day. Linnea's been waking up extremely early for some days, which makes late night food prep kind of nightmarish.
  • green minestrone, adapted from this recipe except with no green bell pepper (ugh) and a cube of pesto that I made in July and stuck in the freezer, plus barley and cannellini beans
  • cold soba noodles with broccoli and carrots, and a sunflower butter sauce
  • steel cut oats

Saturday, January 18, 2014

weekly menu: January 12-18

  • butternut squash soup with coconut milk and red curry (adapted from this recipe, but with red curry paste and less sweetness)
  • summer rolls (marinated tofu from this recipe)
  • kale, roasted sweet potato, and radish salad with lemon vinaigrette
  • and since it's been a while, oatcakes (I cut the amount of sugar, as in this version)

Whit is in India this week, leaving me to feel the full force of toddler-ness. I'm trying to figure out if the terrible two's are a binary or linear function. We are also traveling to Las Vegas this weekend to do a grandparent visit, but since Whit won't arrive at SFO until after Linnea and I take off, I need to navigate the departure part solo. Pros: it's only an 85-minute flight. Cons: 9:00 am is too early for drinking, even on a weekend trip to Vegas.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

vocabulary building

I took this vocabulary test (via Cup of Jo) and got this result:


And I felt embarrassed, even before I knew what the distribution curve was, even before I read the range of 20,000-35,000 words for native speakers. "28,800?" I thought to myself. "That is really lame for an English major."

Here's the list of words that I don't know (or at least, don't know well enough to think of an exact definition). Apparently, being a passive Weezer fan does not buy you vocabulary points.

  • inveigle: persuade (someone) to do something by means of deception or flattery.
  • mawkish: sentimental in a feeble or sickly way.
  • raiment: clothing.
  • legerdemain: skillful use of one's hands when performing conjuring tricks.
  • uxoricide: the killing of one's wife.
  • verdure: lush green vegetation.
  • cenacle: a small dining room, usually on an upper floor / the room in which the Last Supper took place.
  • pule: cry querulously or weakly.
  • tipple: drink alcohol, esp. habitually.
  • strop: a flexible strip of leather or canvas used for sharpening a razor.
  • redolent: strongly reminiscent or suggestive of (something) / fragrant or sweet-smelling.
  • chivvy: tell (someone) repeatedly to do something.
  • prig: a self-righteously moralistic person who behaves as if superior to others.
  • adumbrate: report or represent in outline.
  • bugbear: a legendary creature or type of hobgoblin comparable to the bogeyman
  • prurient: having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters.
  • sobriquet: a person's nickname.
  • mammon: material wealth or possessions especially as having a debasing influence.
  • polymath: someone who knows a lot about many different things
  • nostrum: a medicine, esp. one that is not considered effective, prepared by an unqualified person.
  • mien: a person's appearance or facial expression
  • fuddle: confuse or stupefy (someone), esp. with alcohol
  • noisome: having an extremely offensive smell.
  • imbroglio: an extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation.
  • sedulous: (of a person or action) showing dedication and diligence.
  • maladroit: ineffective or bungling; clumsy.
  • impolitic: failing to possess or display prudence; unwise.
  • epigone: a less distinguished follower or imitator of someone, esp. an artist or philosopher.
  • captious: (of a person) tending to find fault or raise petty objections.
  • potboiler: a book, movie, etc., that is made in usually a cheap way in order to make money rather than for artistic reasons.
  • tricorn: a hat having the brim turned up on three sides.
  • tenebrous: dark; shadowy or obscure.
  • embonpoint: the plump or fleshy part of a person's body, in particular a woman's bosom.
  • pabulum: bland or insipid intellectual fare, entertainment, etc.
  • pother: a commotion or fuss.
  • valetudinarian: a person who is unduly anxious about their health.
  • vibrissae: stiff hairs that are located especially about the nostrils or on other parts of the face in many mammals and that often serve as tactile organs.
  • cantle: the raised, curved part at the back of a horse's saddle.
  • estivation: prolonged torpor or dormancy of an animal during a hot or dry period. / the arrangement of petals and sepals in a flower bud before it opens.
  • regnant: reigning; ruling.
  • terpsichorean: of or relating to dancing.
  • clerisy: a distinct class of learned or literary people.
  • deracinate: tear (something) up by the roots.
  • fuliginous: sooty; dusky.
  • oneiromancy: a form of divination based upon dreams.
  • tatterdemalion: a person wearing ragged or tattered clothing; a ragamuffin.
  • williwaw: a sudden violent gust of cold land air common along mountainous coasts of high latitudes.
  • caitiff: a contemptible or cowardly person.
  • funambulist: a tightrope walker.
  • hypnopompic: the state of consciousness leading out of sleep.
  • opsimath: a person who begins to learn or study only late in life.
  • sparge: to spray or sprinkle / to introduce air or gas into (a liquid).

And can I say that Google dictionary feature is the most amazing thing ever. Etymologies for LYFE.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

how i want to die


One of my "big" resolutions was to start conversations and possibly finalize with Whit the big decisions in our lives: advance directives, wills, guardianship, etc. It's kind of a weird thing on which to be fixated, but I feel that it's better to plan for things when you have the frame of mind to do so impartially. When Whit and I decided to move in together, I pushed us to create a contract to guide us in the event that things fell apart ("That feels so...clinical" said my dad). My thinking is, better to figure out those things when you are calm than when you are hurt and bitter and trying to extract ever drop of revenge out of the entire mess.

We've been discussing guardianship on and off, but since there isn't a clear answer that feels right to us, we decided to skip to something that is actually pretty easy: our advance directives. Also called living wills, it's a document that guides your health care agent and/or medical team towards a plan that most closely matches with what you would decide if you were somehow incapacitated. It's a pretty easy thing to pull together (there are lots of templates online; this is the one we used through Kaiser), but only 25-30% of Americans have one. I assume it's because people don't want to think about dying, or that the decisions that surround it seem very overwhelming. I think of it as it allowing people to have control over their lives and deaths. I'm a very big advocate of individuals having the information and confidence to actively participate in their health care decisions, which allows for true autonomy.

One thing that's really nice about going through this process is having to think about things like what makes life worth living, how much information do you want to know about your condition, what types of interventions do you want (the NY Times had a great piece in November on how doctors make decisions for their end-of-life care, knowing what they know about death and dying; here is another one).

Maybe the feeling that occurs after the process -- that you've somehow regained control over your death -- is hubris, but at least I feel like I've left an idea of how I'm trying to get there.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

weekly menu: January 5-11

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2014 resolutions, redux

My prior post on resolutions was a little chickenshit. I was trying to play it safe and only give myself goals that I know I could hit. I hate making mistakes and I hate coming up short, and it played out in a totally cowardly list.

Not to say that it wasn't a good list, but I just know in my heart of hearts that I was striving for mediocrity there.

So, here's my big idea list.

(I guess "take Linnea to the beach" isn't really a big idea, but I was on a roll in imagination-land)

You'll notice that the list goes against most advice on building successful resolutions. There are no specifics here. No breakdowns via SMART goal criteria. Here's the thing: I do that every single day of my personal and professional life. I am a lover of reasonable objectives and lists. I can do SMART goals with one hand tied behind my back.

What I do lack, however, is bold imagination. My instinct when I talk with people who have that "blue skies, green pastures" kind of thinking is "what are all the things that can go wrong here?" And you know what? While that works super well for what my job requires, it's actually not so good for taking chances and making leaps. And even though I am totally risk averse by nature, I don't want Linnea to learn to be that way.

Maybe these things will happen and maybe they won't. But at least I'm stretching for something.

Monday, January 6, 2014

17 months

I've been lax on these posts, mostly because I felt they were stale, and I was always behind in posting. And then I realized that when I thought back to milestones (large and small), I couldn't remember when they happened, and had to go through my photos to figure it out. So, at least for now, I'll be doing photos and notes only, instead of letter-writing form. It's makes me a little sad, because it would be nice for Linnea to look back and see these as my speaking directly to her, but I feel like having something is better than mute inadequacy.

17 months
17 months
17 months

Things you love:
  • Rice crackers
  • Plastic measuring cups
  • Doing things yourself, dammit
  • Belly buttons (your own and others')

Things you hate:
  • Being put out of the kitchen after touching the trash can (which IZ VERBOTEN)
  • Random stuff that is not replicable or able to be predicted from day to day (o hai toddlerhood)

Things you do:
  • Say "mommy" and "daddy" with extreme concentration on articulateness
  • Watch yourself crying in the mirror and experiment with facial expressions
  • Peel your own banana slices (but not actually eating them)
  • Dream and talk/laugh/cry out in your sleep
  • Climb into your carseat on your own

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 resolutions

  1. Get a basketball and work on my free throw at the court next to my office once a week.
  2. Buy a stack of cards and keep in my desk and at home for last-minute birthdays or celebrations.
  3. Take a photo of Linnea with my good camera once a week.
  4. Read twelve books.
  5. Stock my desk with healthy snacks.
  6. Complete two projects on my craft to-do list. (There are like, 20 of them from which to choose.)
  7. Limit eating out to 2 times per week. (This will require more meal planning, but I've been working up to this in the latter part of 2013.)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

winter break in Minnesota

I agreed to pack up an active toddler, leave Northern California (and its daytime high of 65 degrees), and take a four-hour plane trip to Minnesota. This was the forecast for December 29:


We made the trip so that Linnea could meet her aunt Brooke and cousin Isabella for the first time, and also see her paternal grandparents, whom she hadn't seen for 10 months. All noble reasons, I'm sure. But -2 degrees as a high? That just seems unreasonable.

Linnea got to experience her first white Christmas.

winter break 2013

She tried to put her hands in the snow, and immediately regretted it. We pulled her around the block in a sled. She did not move once during the entire sled ride, and had no reaction other than the tears silently trickling down her face. Tears of joy? Of frigid air assaulting her eyeballs? We'll never know!

winter break 2013

Linnea and Isabella got along as well as could be expected -- that is, they would play near each other and did not interact except to steal toys from each other. As toddlers do.

winter break 2013
winter break 2013

The apartment building in which Whit's dad lives has a heated indoor swimming pool, so in desperation for some physical activity, we suited the girls up and hit the deck. There was actual ice collecting on the inside of the door to the outside.

winter break 2013

Words Linnea was most fond of during this trip:
  1. up (which she uses for both "pick me up" and "I'm climbing up on this chair to my potential doom")
  2. puppy
  3. more [food]
  4. eye

She also seems to be transitioning to one nap, but is super tired in the process. She also is a fan of gjetost, like the good Scandinavian she is.

Oh, Whit and I also got to go on a real date (at this place), which included Left Hand Milk Stout for me (finally!) and some West coast-style IPA for Whit that I didn't even taste because LEFT HAND MILK STOUT. Also, during our date night, we talked about Linnea and who to name as her guardian in case both of us get eaten by an escaped rhinoceros.

Successes include: above date night; Linnea eating the mess out of some turkey meatloaf; taking substantial naps on the plane (both ways); LEFT HAND MILK STOUT; family bonding time; and avoiding frostbite.

winter break 2013