The Date

Maya & Andy

We’ve passed another milestone around here.  I report today that my daughter had her first date on Saturday.  She’s been one half of a “couple” with Andy since one of the first days of school, and I have the distinct honor of (studiously not) watching them IM for hours every evening.  Granted, she is simultaneously communicating with 3 or 4 friends between Messenger and MySpace.  But it’s still rather off putting to look down at the screen as I pass, only to see ‘Maya Loves Andy’ as her user name.  I guess that’ll just be another thing to get used to.

And just how did we get suckered into letting my 14 year old go out on a date?  Well, you see it started out as a group thing.  They were going to be going out with 2 or 3 other “couples” to see a movie.  But one by one (after we’d said yes, mind you) the other kids dropped out of the evening.  Strangely, I think that Maya and Andy were just as bewildered by this turn of events as were we.  And, honestly, I think they may have been more nervous.

So there we were on Thursday night with the kids IM’ing away about how to get to the movies and who would drop whom where, when Chris (being the most annoying of step-dads) butted right in and started typing (gasp, choke) to Andy.  Maya turned white.  And Maya turned red…as Chris proceeded to tell Andy that we would not only join them in the theater, but would be sitting BETWEEN them. 

There was a loooong pause in typing as the blank screen payed testament to Andy’s inability to read Chris’ comments.  Then appeared the answer that we couldn’t have predicted, but which immediately put us at ease. 

By the way, I’m reading all of this to my parents. 
And so far, they love you.

Kajsa, of course, played the part of the three year old perfectly, and proceeded to take up the chant.  “Andy lo-oves Maya.  Andy lo-oves Maya” for several hours on Friday as her sister agonized that this behavior would repeat itself the following night.  Furthermore, Saturday as we were about to leave for the theater, Chris asked Kajsa, “What are you going to say to Andy when you meet him?”

Immediately, without skipping a beat, she popped out with, “Give me some candy.”

Huh?

We have no idea where that came from.  Perhaps I have been playing too many rhyming games with the kid.

A couple hours later we pulled up to the theater to see some really tall kid walking along with a woman who could only be his mother.  We went over to introduce ourselves and were relieved to find that Andy was a very polite guy who looks you right in the eye when he talks to you – and smiles freely, if not a bit nervously.

Maya and Andy walked off to buy their tickets, as we chatted with his mom.  We exchanged pleasantries, and then life stories.  It was comfortable and comforting.  I always have this fear that my children will end up subjecting themselves to the worst of humanity.  It was so reassuring to dash that fear…for now.

Unbelievably, they saw the movie “Scoop”.  Being the incredibly out of it person I am, I hadn’t seen a single commercial for this flick.  But I did hear an interview with Woody Allen on NPR. 

Maya’s review was that the old guy was weird, Andy’s hand wasn’t sweaty…but he did shake throughout the movie. 

All together now, “Awwww, that is so cute!”

It was, in my opinion, a perfect first date. 

I wish mine had been so sweet. 

What’s cookin’

One of the saddest things about my computer crashing was that it happened quickly enough that I was unable to save my MasterCook recipes.  Now, those of you who know me at all, know I love to cook food that makes people happy.  Even if I never got to sit down and eat it myself, just watching someone else’s eyes light up as they elicit a small moan of gastronomic pleasure makes my heart go thump.  And yes, before you think I’m some kind of anorexic saint, I do also love to eat.  (Any picture you find of me can attest to that fact.)

Yep, I’d collected some true pleasures.  But I didn’t take the time to back up the cookbook properly, ‘cause I’m always on the hunt for the next wowing delight.  SO now I ask for your help.  I NEEEED some fantastic vegetarian recipes.  And this does not include ingredients that I won’t be able to find.  Please remember that I live in a town with a population of 500 and have to drive 45 minutes to get to the big town of say 30,000.  So it’s just a little difficult for me to get agar agar flakes and hijiki.

On another note, I tried in vain to find a good recipe for vegetarian Swedish meatballs.  Alas, the search was in vain.  On RecipeZaar I found on that, at first glance, looked good.  But the reviews declared it a bit too crumbly.  My search must continue….

Speaking of RecipeZaar, does anyone use their professional level services?  If so, do you find them worth it?  I would like to avoid the panic of losing my much loved recipes in the future.  So I’m actively looking for solutions. 

But back to the post at hand…

I’m looking for casseroles, desserts, soups…all those good stick to your ribs, comfort foods that will be so satisfying as the weather begins to cool.  You know; the tried and true recipes that you just keep coming back to.

So, how about it?  What’s your favorite recipe to share?

Here’s one from me to start the ball rolling:

Curried Zucchini Soup
Serves 4

This recipe came to me from Chris’ cousin Kristin last year when I had zucchini coming out of my ears.  We loved it so much that it became a regular dish around the house.  It is especially delicious when eaten with toasted pita wedges.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne
2 pounds zucchini, trimmed and chopped
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Chopped cilantro, garnish

1.     In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

2.     Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the curry powder, salt, and cayenne, stir, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the zucchini; reduce to medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 6 minutes.

3.      Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the zucchini is very tender, about 20 minutes.

4.      Remove from the heat.

5.      With a hand-held immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor, puree the soup. Return to medium heat and stir in the cream. Simmer for 3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.

6.      Pour into a clean container and let cool slightly. Refrigerate until well chilled, 4 to 6 hours.

7.      To serve, ladle into large cups, garnish with cilantro, and serve with hot pappadums or pita toast. This soup may be served hot or cold.

moo

Well that was random.  It’s ten ’til ten tonight and Chris just looked outside to find a small herd of cattle in our yard.  (We live in free range land.) 

We opened the window and, of course, proceeded to moo at them.  In fact, I attempted to take a picture, but the flash didn’t go off.  I would have tried again, except that Chris and Kajsa had walked out to gawk, which led to Kajsa squealing, “Hi, Cows!!!” 

It wasn’t exactly a stampede.  But they didn’t dawdle either.

Ruff

crafty

Well, it was old home week at the hospital this week.  Yep, we were back in.  Didja miss us?  As you know, Kajsa is now immunocompromised due to her transplant – the effect of which is that she can have fairly sever responses to some normally benign diseases.  So when she began having fevers and a fair amount of lethargy, I packed up a few clothes and headed back down to Phoenix. 

Long story short, Kajsa has/had Parvo virus.  Yeah, you read that right…Parvo.  (You may stop barking now.)  This is a human form of the disease and not entirely uncommon.  My understanding is that most of us have had it.  And that includes you.  Yes, you out there.  Yipping away just isn’t as funny now, eh?

For the immunocompetent individual, Parvo primarily manifests itself as a red rash on the cheeks and trunk, and clears up in a week or so.  However, in immuno-compromised individuals whose immune system cannot properly clear the infection, infection can lead to a depletion of RBC precursors and lead to chronic hemolytic anemia and pure- red-cell-aplasia, a low red-blood-cell count. B-19-specific IgG immunoglobulin prophylaxis and/or RBC transfusion are used to aid immuno-compromised patients in clearance of the infection. This information is ripped from this lovely page provided by Stanford.  Thank you, Stanford.

What then, you may wonder, do you do for yon wee Kajsa’s poor ravaged eurythocyte population.  Well, we support it, while force feeding her body antibodies.  You remember antibodies.  They basically attack any recognized foreign body on a cellular level.  We do this through an immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy.  And this is where it gets kinda cool.

OK, say you go to the local blood drive and offer up your arm to the phlebotomists for the grand good of all.  You might think that they take that blood, check it for scary viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis (here I remind you to never use this as a method of screening for a disease – it’s so totally uncool) and then simply dump it into some pathetically needy sick person.  But no, it’s way more interesting than this. 

Yes, they screen the blood.  Then they spin it down to separate the red cells from the platelets.  The red blood cells are what are often transfused to patients.  They call these PRBC’s, or packed red blood cells.  This greatly reduces the possibility of passing on viruses as there aren’t any leukocytes present.  This is the form that all of Kajsa’s previous transfusions have taken.

With the rest of the blood, they do many things, including helping burn victims.  Pretty nifty, huh?  But the part that pertains to Kajsa is the formation of immunoglobulin.  This is essentially the process of culling the antibodies from many people’s blood and creating this magical elixir of hard core, bad ass, disease fighting serum.  Some very diligent guy named Mike has created a site that tells more about immunoglobulin than you could possibly ever pretend to stay awake for.  It is; however, well organized.  So if you have a question in mind, you can likely find the answer there.

So there we were for six lovely days watching the sun rise and set while deliciously cool in our hospital room.  Almost makes you want to go too, doesn’t it?  But it wasn’t so bad. 

We got to enjoy the company of some of our absolute favorite nurses…so there was much chatting and gossiping to be done.  We made soooooo many crafts.  Let’s see we have a caterpillar made out of construction paper, googly eyes, and glued baubles.  We created a sunflower from a couple paper plates and glued buttons.  We’ve made baby birds, and magnetic photo frames. 

I read every pop-up book and/or board book until my jaw ached and memorized all of the Winnie the Pooh videos.  Furthermore, I am almost finished with a splendid striped scarf worthy of the pages of You Knit What?, for whom I play a stanza of Taps.  May their snarkiness rest in some semblance of peace.  You were my semi-secret bitchy outlet.

And after a week of transfusions, IVIG and avoiding residents with their undying desire to test for every disease known to man, Kajsa was deemed worthy of release.  She’s still having fevers, as her body is waging an all out war upon the Parvo (woof) virus, as well as whatever else may have been lurking in the wings.  I have been granted, once more, the honor of caring for my child.  Yippee.

We bolted from the starting gate at 12:30 this afternoon and are looking forward to grilling out from the comfort of our own home this evening.  Sigh.

So.  What did ya’ll do this week?

MM: 8.14.06

Kajsa steps

Scene:

The three gals at Ross.  Maya’s in the dressing room trying on pants as Kajsa and I roam the aisles looking for anything that might be the slightest bit entertaining to either of us. 

Kajsa is, of course, whining that we neeeeeed to go to the pet store next door – RIGHT NOW.

Me:

Kajsa, you’re being ridiculous.

Kajsa:

Mom, don’t say dickless.  Say Oh man.

Lady in next aisle:

Trying to hide uncontrollable snickering…

*~..o*

morning sounds

The rain is coming down with such a sense of urgency. One can’t help but feel the sky is trying to make up for time owed the ground.  He calls to her with loud thundering bellows – as his fingers, quick as lightening, tap tap tap in hopes that she will answer him with fruit. 

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