msLaura: Modern Mama Laura Hamilton + Dan Baker = Julian Hamilton Baker & Adrian Hamilton Baker "When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her."
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Chrismukkah 2005

Christmas Eve 2005

Win a trip to Costa Rica, if I don't win it first ;-)

Monkey evolves!

#36

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December 25, 2005

Chrismukkah 2005

Well, Santa's Elf worked fast and furious last night and got the LikeABike assembled and placed under the tree along with various and sundry other small gifts, including a wooden Thomas the Tank Engine train set with three cars and a cute little figure 8 track.

Julian woke up at 6:15am. I went in and coaxed him back to sleep for a few more hours, then we went in together to wake up Daddy and Puppy. Dan distracted Julian while I snuck out to set up the video camera on a tripod and turned on the Chrismukkah tree lights.

Julian was duly awed by the new LikeABike, but the train was the big hit of the day. I shouldn't be surprised, given his recent obsession with vehicle taxonomy. Trains have been an especially big hit of late. We saw several Cal-trains go rushing by in a single afternoon, got a teapot that whistles like a train whistle, rode the monorail at the Dallas airport AND saw the Light Rail system go through downtown Cambell right in front of our car last night. It's been nonstop trains for the last few weeks. Oh, and I never realized how many toy trains people have lit up out on their lawns for Chistmas. Until this year, that is, when I was notified of each train spotting with a loud cry of "DA TWAIN!" followed by vigorous signing of the word "train" over and over.

I really can't complain, because I have a thing for trains myself. When Julian calls out "Mommy! Twain!", I'm always like, "Really? Where??"

So we played with the train set, and with the new LikeABike, which will be a huge hit once Julian grows another inch. We also got a mini badminton set, since Julian was dragging around the badminton racquets all summer. Instead of a birdie, there is a ball made out of that same netty material, but with it coiled into springs to make a ball shape. So it's like badminton, but easier to hit and retrieve. And the racquets are much shorter. Julian loves it.

Then it got cold and started raining, so we came back inside. Amazing, beause yesterday was like springtime. I went for a two hour walk in a T-shirt and flip-flops, and I was afraid that I was going to get sunburned. Today is back to dreary and chilly and wet. Which is fine, I mean it IS December. There's still a bit of novelty to the chilliness. It's in January and February that the cold and wet gets so tedious. And no, I have no right to complain about cold living in California, I fully realize that. Hey, Florida felt cold in the wintertime when I lived there too, and now I could easily be one of those crazy snowbirds charging headlong into the frigid 72-degree surf. It's all relative.

Anyway, I made Cioppino this afternoon and it was fantastic. A cornucopia of spicy saucy crab, clams and shrimp...Dan and I devoured it like shipwreck survivors, with plenty of crusty bread. I made a Pear Pie too, from some random recipe off the internet and it came out delicious, with a sort of sugar cookie crust on top of it, if you can imagine that. So we're stuffed like little pigs right now, but feasting is good at this time of year.

I'm just sad that I didn't get any more of that Organic Eggnog from Trader Joe's, because that stuff is the best ever. Blows regular eggnog right out of the water. A little cognac at the bottom of a glass, pour in the TJ's Organic Eggnog...heaven. Forget that crappy supermarket eggnog, it's all high fructose corn syrup and crappy fillers. The TJ's Organic is IT.

So we ate, played and played and played, and then watched back-to-back episodes of Arrested Development on DVD from Netflix. Family dysfunction was a good theme for the day, since Dan and I are both wishing that our familes could be a bit more...well, functional, I guess. Well, what can you do? You can choose your friends, but not your family.

We lit the first candles of Hanukkah tonight. Julian INSISTED on wearing the yarmulke, which is hysterical because he is so otherwise resolutely anti-hat. Yet he kept putting the yarmulke back on all night long. He would bend over and it would fall off, then he complained until I helped him put it back on.

The funniest moment came while reading the three verses of traditional Hanukkah prayers. Dan read the first one, I read the second one, then Dan said as a joke, "Julian, you read the third verse."

Julian leaned forward, looked at the page, and started solemnly intoning nonsense syllables. Our kid definitely has a wicked sense of humor. Totally cracked us up. We caught it on video, which makes for an amazing day just full of video catches, which we never, ever get. Thus far my video of Julian consists of endless shots of him grabbing for the lens and whining. Oh, except for the many video moments I captured where he is falling off steps or toddling off his truck onto his head or something equally charming. Ugh. Today was full of amazing video captures. I'm sure it will never ever happen again.

I am extra thankful, since my digital camera is on the fritz. It ran out of juice and then never charged back up. Right before Chrismukkah too. I dug out my lovely Canon Rebel film camera today. I really sort of missed it. It's just maddening to have to both pay AND drive to get your film developed, wait forever, and in the meantime you have no idea whether the photos you took are total crap or actually good. But it's almost worth it just for the sheer pleasure of hearing the shutter click the very MOMENT that I press the button, instead of 5 seconds later. And when the film photos are good, they're really good, not blurry or fuzzy or leaving you wishing that you had bumped up the resolution a little.

Off to bed. Our day of sloth and gluttony has left me happy but pooped.


December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve 2005

Well, we just had a festive Christmas Eve over with our friend Lisa and her family. Lisa's mom and dad throw a big dinner party every year, and this year we're in town, so we joined in the fun. Lots of kids and Dungeness crab and ravioli and Tom and Jerrys. Mmmmmm!

Well, I got the tree up this year, but I didn't progress much past that. I never got cards sent out, and I didn't get stockings sewn, and I never made a yarn star for the top of our tree, nor those handmade decorations. Sigh. But that's OK. There's always next year.

The party was very exciting, so I'm having a hard time getting Julian to bed. And he NEEDS to go to bed soon. because Santa's Elf needs to put together Julian's new LikeABike and wrap it up and put it under the tree for tomorrow morning. Santa's Elf also needs to clear out Julian's old babyish toys to make room for the new toys, like the mini train set and the baby badminton. Santa's Elf has a loy of work ahead of her, and is somewhat pissed that Mr. J is not sleeping right now. Methinks Mr. J might get passed off to Daddy very soon.

Santa's Elf is incredibly bummed that Dan's present was unaccountably DELAYED by UPS, aka Spawn of Satan Evil Shitty Company That ALWAYS loses or delays my packages. His present, which I paid $26 in excess shipping charges for, was supposed to be here several days ago, but suddenly was RESCHEDULED for Dec. 27th. Bitches! I HATE UPS. Can you tell?

Tomorrow I'm making Crab Cioppino for our Christmas meal. I'm over turkey and ham. We'll have a nice seafood feast with crusty bread and a nice wine and play with toys and relax all day. Next year I'll be more organized for Christmas, but what the hell. This year doesn't suck, you know?

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of
those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too
little.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US President (1882-1945)

December 21, 2005

Win a trip to Costa Rica, if I don't win it first ;-)

The Center for a New American Dream is a very cool group helping people to live consciously, buy wisely, and make a difference.

Living consciously means getting more of what really matters in life, being aware of what’s going on around you, finding balance, and having a little fun while you’re at it.

Buying wisely means becoming a positive force in the marketplace, using your purchasing power to support business practices that are safer for the environment and better for people.

Making a difference is all about making sure your citizen voices are heard, being active in your community and letting policymakers know where you stand.

So it's all the stuff you want to do anyways, they just sort of facilitate.

I'm a member, in case you didn't already guess. Anyways, right now, if you join up (it's free, you don't get spammed, and no commitments) you automatically get entered to win a ten-day, nine-night trip for two to Costa Rica, complete with airfare, carbon offsets, domestic transportation, activities, and lodging at swanky eco-resorts.

I could use a ten-day vacation at a swanky eco-resort. I know you could too, so why not give it a go?

December 19, 2005

Monkey evolves!

Our little monkey just came in clapping and cheering for himself.
"Yaaaaayyyy! Yay Baby!"
"What happened? What are you cheering for?"
"Yaaaaayyyy! Yay Baby!"

I got up and followed him into the bathroom, where he was gesticulating wildly in between claps and cheers.

Several months ago, I put a little Weeman urinal on the side of the toilet. J has been peeing in it with our help for some time now.

This time, there was PEE in it without me having taken him, he peed in his Weeman all by himself! He is busting his buttons, he's so proud. Dan and I are pretty psyched about it too. No telling if it'll happen again anytime soon, but the fact that it did is FREAKIN' SWEET.

There are so many funny moments lately. Here's a good one:

We are giving night-weaning another go. I want SLEEP, not a creature attached to my chest like a lamprey. I used to love nursing my little baby at night, but those days are long gone, pal.

I told Julian the other night that he couldn't have milk when it was dark, only when the sun was out. He kept crying for milk, and I told him, "No, no milk right now. You can have milk when the sun comes out."

Well, he just bawled his brains out, and I felt terrible, even shed a tear or two, but I stuck to my guns. I had to put a pillow over my head at points, because his screaming was making me lose my mind, and nothing that I did to comfort him helped. He wanted MILK, dammit!

The pillow over my head drove him crazy. I told him flat out, "I'm putting this pillow over my head because your screaming is hurting my ears. Please stop screaming and then Mommy can take the pillow away." Quite unexpectedly, as soon as I told him that, he piped down and snuggled next to me as close as he could get.

Every time that he woke up and asked for milk, I told him, "It's dark and time for sleeping now. When the sun comes out, you can have milk again." Then he would cry and I'd tell him I was going to have to put the pillow over my head. He'd snuggle up super-close, pipe down and go to sleep. Repeat five or six times, and you have idea of how our night went. But it was still great not nursing him back to sleep.

Before anyone gets on my case about depriving my baby, I always said that I'll keep nursing until it's not working for one of us anymore. Well, that time has come for night-time nursing. I want SLEEP. I've been a totally AP mom for two years now, but I'm not a martyr. It's bugging me. He doesn't get good sleep because the craving for milk wakes him up all night long, and then he has to pee more often, so THAT wakes him up, and it's all just a big vicious cycle. "The time has come," the Walrus said, and for us the time has come.

So it's about 7:00am, and both of us are fading in and out of sleep. I mentally note that it's getting light outside, and close my eyes, hoping for a bit more shuteye. Julian is snuggled right up against me, face to face. He reminds me of those cats who like to sleep on their owners' heads., that's how close he is to me. I have to turn my face away a little so that I can breathe. He is literally curled around my head.

I'm laying there with my eyes closed, not-quite sleeping, and all of a sudden I hear a baby voice, very quiet.

"Mommy?"

"Yes baby."

"Sun, Mommy. MILK."

And with that, he sits up and points to the cloudy gray light barely peeking through the closed blinds.

I start to say something about how it's light, but the *sun* itself hasn't actually come up yet, but then I realize I'm splitting hairs and being a real pain in the ass about this.

So instead I just say, "You're right sweetie pie, the sun is coming up. Are you ready for some milk now?"

December 13, 2005

#36

I had quite a pleasant 36th birthday today.

We just came back from a weeklong trip to North Carolina last night, so today was all about relaxing close to home. Julian and I had breakfast together (oatmeal and tea), then we kicked the ball back and forth and played in the backyard. It felt warm and balmy in the late morning, very nice to be outside.

We have a patch of wet swampy grass over at the far end of the yard, and you have to cross it to get to the hot tub. We also have a lot of lovely large tiles left over from redoing the patio, so I tried out various geometric arrangements of the tiles in the grass to see which were the most comfortable to step across as well as being aesthetically pleasing. I figured out the pattern, but didn't finish arranging the tiles. Still, it was a fun task for a sunny winter morning.

Julian finally took a nap and I sewed up some Wraps for customers and dealt with my Inbox. Over 900 emails....yikes. I have customers waiting for Ergo carriers to be shipped out, and no word on my giant 120+ Ergo carrier order, so I 've been freaking out, sending emails to the Ergo rep, trying to figure out where they are. Aaargh. The perils of running a business. Stressful. Once they get here I'll be set, but what the hell...how can it take more than NINE DAYS to transport a few boxes from Southern CA to Northern CA? Pain in my freakin' ASS.

I had a great phone conversation with a guy at an ad firm in NYC, a friend of a friend. He needs someone to do some basic HTML and Flash development part-time, on an hourly project basis. It sounds like easy work, and all the details will have been hammered out and nailed down ahead of time, so no changes and no haggling and no wanting to strangle the client for me. So looks like I got a sweet new low-stress job for a birthday present!

Last night Dan took me to a restaurant we've been eyeing for some time...Arcadia in downtown San Jose. Our meal was absolutely flawless, one of the best I've had in a very long time. Our waiter was a true professional as well and smooth as silk, which is fairly rare these days, but always appreciated. We were actually goofing on him at first, because he was just so polished and practiced and letter-perfect...almost a *caricature* of a waiter, but after about five minutes our goofing turned to pure admiration.

Our menu, which was fantastic and all went together beautifully:

Cocktails:
Cucumber Martini (me)
Delicious and refreshing. I'm not a gin drinker, but I could be if all gin drinks tasted like this. Good gin with cucumber essence, whatever that is. Nice.
Negroni (Dan)
Dan was impressed that they got the orange peel curl exactly perfect, just as as the true and original Negroni should be. Actually, we're not sure if they flamed the burst of orange peel oils over the glass first according to the Completely Anal Negroni Cocktail Instructions, but apparently it was damned impressive anyways.

Small Tasting Plate
Ice Cold Oysters, Littleneck Clams, Local Dungeness Crab, Spiced Gulf Prawns, and Marinated Scallop Ceviche. Amazing champagne mignonette, tiny little bottles of Tabasco, and cocktail sauce.

Coconut Curried Prawns on a Crepe filled with Parsnip Puree
We thought the prawns were good, but then we soaked up some of the sauce and that was even better, and then the crepe with parsnip puree WITH the sauce and some prawn....heaven.

Make-your-own-salad
This sounds like a pain, but basically they present you with a list of really good salad ingredients and you check off what you want with a pencil. Ours turned out great. I don't even remember what we had in it, but it was incredible, best salad I think I've ever had.

Maine Lobster Pot Pie
A signature Arcadia dish, they cook a 2.5 pound Maine Lobster in a ceramic pot with a delicious lobster cream sauce and all different kinds of amazing baby veggies and chanterelle muchrooms. There is a slightly cripsy biscuity thin perfect crust over the whole thing. Oh my word. It did not disappoint. No work or picking required. Our waiter took the lobster out of the pot already cracked, then elegantly reassembled it in the original lobster shape on the serving dish. Nice touch.

Dessert was some kind of butterscotch bread pudding, which I can't remember the exact description of, but which was as flawless as the rest of the meal, and Dan had an exquisite chocolate patisserie with multiple layers of ganache in it, and cherry granita in a tiny crispy edible ice cream cone cup.

Oh, and a perfect Napa Sauvignon Blanc from Rudd (I think?) to accompany everything. Nott too dry or too sweet.

Honestly, I wish that I were a ruminant and had 4-5 stomachs so that I could have tried more dishes. If I am ever stuck on a desert island, that Arcadia meal will be the one that I'll dream about.

We were hoping that Ashley the SuperSitter would have Julian fast asleep by the time we got home, but alas, it was not to be. He was still wide awake, so then I spent another hour and a half getting him to sleep. After that I was so tired that I went to bed and passed out almost immediately. Not exactly the perfect end to the day, but oh well. That's life.


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