Sunday, December 30, 2007

It's still Christmas at our House

Anna's going through the house, singing with phony 6-year-old vibrato:

"The first noel, the angels did say,
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the Ki-ing of Ih-Ihs-rael!"

She only knows the first and last verses, so she sings them over and over, pitch perfect, arms extended, with the breathy vibrato.

Colin wrinkles his nose and says, "Why do they say, 'No Elves?' "

I could eat that lovely boy up with a spoon!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Hardly anyone's posting this week

So, did all of North America get sick this holiday season? I was not alone - my brother-in-law, my dad, my cousin/babysitter, my coworkers, all my bloggy friends flung far and wide. Everyone's spreading viruses and their Christmas cheer.

It's been feast or famine at the vet clinic. One day the schedule's overly full, then today I have 3 appointments, conveniently spaced so that there is no checking out early. However, I love being one of the poor sods who has to work this week for one reason - the traffic is non-existent. Zip-zoom! I don't even get to hear the end of my NPR stories!

I worked the Saturday before Christmas, and it seemed like all the clients who came in were ornery and grumpy. The worst were the owner with the old golden retriever with a raging ear infection who did not want an appointment, she just wanted a blood draw for thyroid level. We finally convinced her that her dog with the bright red stinking itchy ear was SUFFERING and needed medical care. That and the new guy with the puppy who, when I tried to recommend getting started with a fecal and heartworm prevention said, "Yeah, when is Dr. W. (my boss) coming back? I just want the exam today because the breeder requires it within 24 hours. I'll talk to Dr. W. about all this when he gets back." Sheesh, you'd think I was trying to sell these people a thighmaster or a food dehydrater instead of basic medical care for their pets. Hey, people, we're giving up our Saturday morning with our families to take care of your pets here! Show some love!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Scenes from Christmas eve -- reading the classics with Auntie Emily, and Fratello jumping into Santa's sack!

Christmas was perfect, for the kids. I got Anthony's stomach bug, and sat on the couch wishing I could just enjoy the reaction to Santa's gifts and not feel nauseated and achey. After the gift frenzy, Emily and Anthony allowed me to take a 3-hour nap, which helped a lot. I was able to cook the Christmas dinner I'd been looking forward to making for weeks, and even ate some of it. Unfortunately, I didn't get to drink nearly as much wine as I wanted. Anthony was very enthusiastic and complimentary about the meal, saying it was better than any restaurant. I think he just really likes tenderloin with wild rice.

More on the beef here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Early English Christmas Dinner

We had our big extended family feast today, full of English foods. Anthony does not relish them like the rest of us, but he is good with the wines and the coffee! I truly feel that English food has been unfairly maligned in its general reputation. We feasted on scones for breakfast, and had leg o' lamb and roasted potatoes for dinner. The dessert course featured mini shortbread tarts with lemon curd, jam thumbprint cookies, and fudge.

We were all merry and bright in our paper hats that came out of our Christmas Crackers!

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's the most accelerated time of the year.

I really don't know why there are only 2 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. It has all just passed me by in a big blur, but the final pieces seem to be clicking into place. Emily arrived yesterday ("No, her name is Auntie Emily," Colin would say), and the cards are in the mail (thanks to Anthony and his new Mac). I work tomorrow morning, then we can settle in and bake cookies and wrap presents and go caroling.

Tis the season...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why I was there and not here

It's poor Anthony's turn with the wicked virus (fitting, after he read in yesterday's paper there's a viral bronchitis going around). Since I had a light surgery schedule, I let him sleep in and took the kids to school myself.

Colin usually starts every day by asking me, "You taking me to school?" On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays when I say, "No, it's Daddy's turn," the wailing usually ensues. I don't know why; I know Anthony doesn't beat them on the way to school or anything. At least not anymore! (just kidding).

So, this morning I told Colin, surprise! I'll be taking you! He said, yea! And, will you pick me up?

No. Wailing ensues.

I tried to explain I had to work, taking care of the sick animals, but he was not consoled. Oh, well.

I was sorry when I called at 7 pm, my usual get-home-from-work-time, and said, "Guess what? I'm just now leaving." Anthony sighed, weary from kid wrangling and virus fighting, and said, "I'll get the kids inside. They are waiting for you on the front porch."

Oh, man. It is difficult to explain why you are gone from your loved ones, taking care of sick animals. That sounds so trivial in a way, unless you realize I stayed to diagnose a tough case and help someone come to terms with the fact that the most constant companion of their life for the past 10 years is dying, is suffering in pain, and it is time to stop. You cannot rush a conversation like that, especially if you're quite fond of the little guy yourself, after treating him for 2+ years.

And how do I explain to my family I was the lucky one, the first of three doctors to leave. We all had terminal patients to diagnose in the final hours of our shifts and bad news to deliver after closing. One of the other doctors was supposed to leave at 1 pm, had afternoon family plans, and was still there when I left. The other very pregnant doctor had the bad news, an emergency with a puppy, and an irrationally irate client to deal with! I got off easy (relatively).

Still, it's a great job, and one that I know we all love, even when it delays us from our family members. We are grateful when they understand.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Feeling bettah, thank you

Today was much better than the previous 6. Let's celebrate with a cheeky ditty to help you remember to be green. How many video archetypes can you spot?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The weekend was a blur...

I've been fighting a bad virus for the past 5 days. Now that I am prone to migraines, it keeps setting off horrible headaches. The weekend was pretty much a waste for me - I didn't get any of the Christmas projects done that I had planned, and I don't know how I'm going to get caught up. I didn't even go to the Farmers' Market, and it was the last chance I had to do so before Christmas.

Saturday was all about Anna anyway, and her big Christmas ballet recital. It was wonderful, and all her hard work paid off. There were two shows - one we all watched with my parents at 2pm, and another at 7 pm. I had volunteered to help backstage for the second show, and it was fun helping the little and big ballerinas with their costume changes, and to see the funny backstage antics. I was completely tapped out by the end of the show, though, and slinked out of there without helping with the set breakdown.

In the show there were mice making cookies. They added two raisins and an egg into the batter:Sadly, one of the raisins fell doing her cartwheel in the first show, and fractured her radius and ulna! Anna was overwhelmed with sympathy for her. The injured dancer did return to at least watch the second show.

Anna also had parts as a "bead" and a "China doll."
I felt pretty rotten today but managed to help the kids make one small batch of cookies, as Colin needs to bring some to his class party on Tuesday.
Is there anything better than licking the bowl?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lemon curd

Rainbow over our cul-de-sac this weekend.

Today I made lemon curd, an English treat to be spread on toast and scones like jam. I know, the name "curd" does not make it sound delicious, but it is so wonderful, perfectly tart and sweet and creamy, all at the same time.

It was very special to me for two reasons: first, I made it with Meyer Lemons from our own tree, and eggs from our hens. If you've never had a Meyer Lemon before, they are special - they are crossed with an orange, so they are not so acidic, and they are HUGE. I heard a chef at the Farmers' Market describe them as having a piney flavor, and that is true, but mostly to me they have an incredible floral note.

The second reason is that the recipe came from my Auntie Olive. She wrote it down for me herself on that thin, thin paper people used to use, back when you had to write "Air Mail" on all your international letters. She taught me so much about cooking in season, going to farms and buying directly from the farmers the produce they had to offer, putting up loads of blanched veggies and peeled fruits that we had picked that day, even though we could have easily gone and bought it prefrozen at Sainsbury's.

Auntie Olive is gone, but I think of her a lot when I am cooking, especially in the summer when I make a fruit salad, and today when I make her delicious Lemon Curd. I still marvel at the way she would read a recipe: she would read it slowly from the top of the page to the bottom, her finger skimming every ingredient and the directions. Then she would turn and make the dish, never returning to the recipe again to refresh her memory. She was one smart cookie!

Recipe and photos here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Graceful Anna

My daughter has been practicing, practicing, practicing for this weekend's big ballet recital, but that is not the reason for today's title.

Mondays are a big "chore" day for me, and with the holiday season, I had a full agenda today. This morning I woke up, full of mental lists, starting the first load of laundry before breakfast, scooting everyone out the door in plenty of time while thinking two or three steps ahead.

I must've been a little distracted... anyway, I ended up driving nearly all the way to Colin's school (starts at 8 am) instead of dropping Anna off first - her school begins at 7:45 am! I was sitting a LONG time at a red light before I realized my mistake and then was making a tricky U-turn on the busy main street of our little burg.

"I am so sorry, Anna! I don't know what I was thinking! I certainly hope you don't get a tardy - it is all my fault!" I shouted to her over my shoulder.

Anna simply smiled at me and said, "That's OK, Mommy. You just made a mistake."

Wow, now I felt an avalanche of guilt in addition to my tardy worry. Anna certainly makes many mistakes, often the same ones I did at her age (forgetfulness, clumsiness, and especially the tendency to hoard everything and just shove it all in a drawer!). I see myself in her, and though I start out each day with good intentions about patiently teaching her how to focus and be more organized, I am afraid I am usually short-tempered. I don't often show her the kindness she was now giving to me. I still need to help her with her short-comings, but I can do it with more respect for her as a person.

Fortunately, she squeaked in before the tardy bell, and apparently had a good day.

Later I picked her up from school to go to ballet, and on our way out one of her classmates from last year ran up and gave her a big hug. "I miss you, Anna!" she said.

"Hi, K.," I said, "How is your mom doing?" Her mom had a brain tumor, and brought K. to Anna's birthday party last March. By May she was in a wheelchair.

"Oh, she died." K. said casually, in that kid-coping kind of way.

"Oh honey, I am so sorry! I didn't know!" I told her. Anna just looked at her friend, then gave her another big hug.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

December in Texas

Here is what kids do in TX on Dec 8th:

Here is what they did on Dec 9th, with leftover Halloween candy:

Here are vet clinic party pictures:

A good time was had by all!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Today at work it was a poop-fest. There were dogs with diarrhea, cats pooping from stress, all over the place. All the poop was immediately cleaned up and bagged outside, but something was lingering in the air. At one point we had 3 scented candles burning on the counter. However, as my coworker Luke said, "I'd much rather clean up animal poop than human poop."

Just ask Anthony. While he was on a business call this afternoon, Anna pooped and didn't flush. Francesca managed to eat all the toilet paper out of the pot, THEN vomit it up for him.

Lucky me, he cleaned it all up before I got home, and was drinking a nice large Cosmopolitan!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas Tea

Anna did get better, and we went to the Tea. More details later - too tired tonight.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I did it! (Hooray if you did, too)

Also, Anna has a monster virus that has taken her out all weekend. She missed the special ballet rehearsal and the Play Day where she and Colin were supposed to be dropped off so we could go shopping with out them and, uh, do other adult things. We were all disappointed, and I will try to be mature about the whole situation if we can't go to Houston for the big shindig aka Stephanie's Christmas Tea. Anna has a new dress and shoes and everything! Please, Santa, please...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Posting and I don't even hafta!

I am not addicted to blogging, but it is a habit. My other habit - farmers' market every Saturday morning that I'm not working. Even the kids groaned at the breakfast table, "You always go there!!!" Colin was happy to go with me, though, because as he said, "They have food!" Specifically, scones. Anna was too feverish to go, but we brought one home to her.

And look at the colorful meal I made tonight, all local! English Bangers from Peach Creek Farms, salads with my homegrown Juliet tomatoes, tender green and purple haricot verts (picked this morning, so tender and flavorful that they don't even need COOKING! just a splash of olive oil and salt), and a pepper and radish salad. Ah, the rewards of surviving a long hot summer...