Monday, 29 March 2010

Simulblog: Did someone say CAKE?

Who wants cake? I do! I do!

Ok, so what do Meg and I do when we get together? We eat, of course! Starting as far back as grade 11, "we" would make chocolate chip cookies and chat and read Cosmo and... waitaminute, why would "we" be in quotes?

Exactly. Good catch! You'll find that Meg's chronicles of the "same" events are posted on her blog. You may also notice that, although the photos are pretty much the same, the story is ever-so-slightly different.

Meg flew in with the adorable and quite wee (SO not fair) Kiernan, for a little visit while Chris was off gadding about the UK. We had created a schedule of events to include in her visit (and yes, it was officially sponsored by Clipboard of Fun, Inc.) (and yes, there was a powerpoint involved) and managed to get everything done except for yoga/pilates. The jammie-lolling (the art of lolling around in one's jammies) and walks to Starbucks and the tepee were a hit, however.

Here I am, comforting little Kiernan after yet another photo session with his mother.*

The Big Event, of course, was the baking. "We" made a delightful chocolate cake. Meg was looking for a heavier, denser chocolate cake, and I had just the one in mind. Eat, Shrink and Be Merry, the third cookbook by the authors of Looneyspoons (who had a cameo on Dan for Mayor last week!) provides a very sensible, healthy approach to eating, cooking, and lifestyle. Well, except for the last recipe in the book, the only recipe in the "You're Gonna Die Anyway" section. It's a deep, delicious, delectable chocolate cake with fudgey cream cheese icing. Sign me up!

So, with my sidekick (aka the Happy Homemaker) at her battle station (aka the couch), "we" began. I measured and mixed together the dry ingredients (bowl, top). Then, I was on bath duty with my splashy associate, Vaughn, for about 30 minutes. In that time, the Happy Homemaker tackled the wet ingredients (bowl, bottom). Note that the bottom bowl seems to contain oil and eggs, beaten. Kaff. To be fair, there was a mug of coffee cooling in the fridge, and she couldn't find the vanilla. And we didn't have any buttermilk. Of course, DG that I am, I made buttermilk (milk and lemon juice - oh, the curdly goodness), melted some chocolate, and added it to the mix, with the coffee. One of us (possibly Meg; there are no reliable witnesses, as usual) mixed the wet and dry ingredients together.

Now, this is supposed to be a triple-layer cake. Luckily (?), I only have 2 cake pans, so it turned into a double-layer cake, and 6 cupcakes (for testing). UNluckily, I didn't have any wax or parchment paper to put in the bottom of said pans. But the DG is resourceful! I greased and floured the bottoms! ALSO unluckily, I miscalculated how full the pans should be.

What you see above is the aftermath: cake that overflowed out of the pans while clinging quite tenaciously to the bottom, requiring severe whacking of the pans and only losing a little bit or so from the bottom.

Messy, not pretty, but tasty. Our disheveled Quality Elf agrees. She is not worried; no, she has gone through this before, and everything has been fine. Just fine. Fine, dammit! Why are you looking at me like that??? And more importantly, why does this happen EVERY TIME?

Alas, Fis was not around to ask that last question aloud. Again.

By this time, it was late, but the DG plodded on. To the icing!

Above, more chocolate is melted, this time with whipping cream. Droooool.... Please note, as well, whose hands those are. MINE.

This delectable mixture was cooled and added to an unnecessarily delicious amount of butter and cream cheese, then beaten without mercy! The whole shebang was refrigerated (after more quality control, of course) until the next morning. Well, evening - we waited till the V-man was in bed again, since he still has that propensity to beg, and Mommy doesn't like being a hypocrite with chocolate smeared around her mouth.

The Happy Homemaker took over while I was on bedtime duty, and put a nice crumb coat on the cake. (Nice spin, eh?) - really, it was a light coating of icing that pretty much emphasized all of the flaws from the baking fiasco. The DG offered to fix the problem, and just like with a gingerbread house, the best fix is to cover it with tons of icing!

This beauty is no longer lopsided or funny-looking. No! It is perfect and chocolatey. And the "pile of dung" in the middle (nice one, Meg) was for Seamus to stand on.

There is always a method to DG's madness.

The finished product!

Seamus, a distant relation of Cedric, is far better-travelled, but has met with a series of unfortunate events, resulting in several bruises, chips, and a missing leg. Also, he drinks too much.

To be accurate, I suppose the icing should have read, "HBSPD" - for Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day, but really, as long as it tastes good, and is covered with icing, accuracy is not paramount in cake making (see Why Does This Happen Every Time for more details).

Tadah! The Domestic Goddess shows off her oeuvre. The Happy Homemaker takes the photo.

Test Pig #2 was lucky enough to be in attendance for the cutting and tasting, and we all ate way too much just enough cake.**

There is more cake to come, however; Meg and I have decided to independently sign up for cake-decorating classes, and try to one-up each other every step of the way! Our first challenge is to out-cake the other with the Best Lemon Cake Ever. Judging will be difficult, since cake doesn't travel well by fax, but we'll do our best. Stay tuned!

* Imagine my surprise when I met Kiernan and discovered that he wasn't the traumatized, horrified little boy that I've seen so many times in photos - no, his mom just finds those pictures funny. Thus, after taking a perfectly good photo of little K in V's old teddy bear suit, in which he looked adorable, happy, and smiley, she waited till he got a bit ticked till she could get the shot she wanted. Child services, are you listening? And Meg, stop hanging out with my mom. It's weird.

** Woot woot! The DG has figured out how to add strikethrough to her witty html repertoire! The sarcastic possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Sweet Toddler Skillz

It's been a big week for the V-man! Daddy went away for 8 days, leaving a baby behind, and came home to a full-on toddler.

New signs:
  • Drink
  • Milk
  • Bath (he gets soooo excited to have a bath!)
  • Please
  • Ouch

New words:

  • Nose
  • Ducky
  • Tattoo (why Chris taught him "tattoo" has still to be explained to me...)
  • Daddy (his favourite word - not "dada" but Daddy)
  • Car (he'll look out the back window and point to one and say, "car", unprompted)
  • Ball

New teeth:

  • He's got all of his 1st-year molars in, and is working on two little canine buds (he's a vampire-in-training) on the top.

And he walks like a pro!

Unfortunately, with Toddler Skillz comes toddler behaviour. Eek. There have been a few meltdowns involving removal of a phone, a broom, a remote, a pen, etc. from his hot little hands. Or, more frequently, due to removal of a diaper (and re-diapering) from his cute little bottom.

Overall, though, for a vampire-in-training, he's still quite delightful.

We'll keep him.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

It Walks!

Ok, so without a scary font, we're missing something.

Anyway, finally caught on film this morning, our wonderful little creature performs two of his new tricks:

For those keeping track, V's vocabulary now includes "shoes" and, of course, "cheese". He can also do sign language for "more" and for "eat". Really, what else do you need to get by in life?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

...And I can't get up!

Well, I'm ending week 27 (heeeey, third trimester!) and, to (probably) misquote Kaz Cooke, people have stopped coming up to me to say, "Pardon me, but aren't you Audrey Hepburn?" Also, I am feeling, to (probably) misquote Douglas Adams, "less sylph-like than, to pick a name at random, the Princess of Wales."*

I've been feeling more and more ungainly lately (and I have that nasty diastasis recti thing again, which means that I can't sit up/forward without the help of a wall, a handle, a helping hand, or, as I keep lobbying for, a winch). The mirrors in my step class, though I feel somewhat graceful still, show that I am not, in fact, graceful. At all. Think lumbering, sweaty hippo in workout clothes, attempting complicated choreography.

Hey, time for a crafty segue!

Speaking of grace and not being able to get up (nice, eh?), I've learned that, at the start of the class when you give your introduction (Hi, I'm Karen/this is a 60-minute class involving step and strength intervals/please drink water throughout/if you need to leave early, give me a wave/I won't be joining you for the abdominal portion of the workout/etc) you should NOT say, "If I fall down, just keep going."

I learned this about 3 years ago, while teaching at the GoodLife on Queen Street. The studio there is odd; it's short, but very wide, and for a while, was the only GL without a stage for intructors, which is a problem if your instructor is only three apples tall. It helps if you can SEE what she's trying to show you, I've heard. Anyhoo. They finally put in a stage. It wasn't very deep. Altogether now: HOW DEEP WASN'T IT? Well, in a lunge position, I had about 2 inches to spare on either side. Also, the first time I taught on it, it wasn't securely fastened to the floor or back wall.

"If I fall down, just keep going." Ha ha! What an odd, amusing thing for an instructor to say, before embarking on another BodyAttack class, involving lots of high-impact moves, most notably the afore-mentioned lunges...done plyometrically.

Well, we all know where this is going.

The first three tracks of the class went well, with only a few wobbles at the front and back of the stage. It was during the fourth -- the plyometric track -- that I fell down. Well, half of me fell down. My back leg, in its enthusiasm to shoot back into a gorgeous, visually-effective and gluteal-toning low plyometric lunge, shot back about an inch too far. I missed the back of the stage with the ball of my foot, and the edge scraped most of the skin off my shin as I tipped over backwards...not gracefully...and got stuck.

Good thing I had made that announcement, though! Not one participant paused in their workouts! Nobody rushed the stage to see if their beloved, mangled, bleeding instructor was ok. They were in the zone! They were following directions! They were sweaty!

Somehow, I managed to extricate myself without doing too much more damage (and without a winch), and finished the class a bit gimpy, limpy, and bruised (with a Blood, Sweat and Tears song stuck in my head; ironic because that's what was soaking into my sock).

So, lessons learned:
  1. Know when to quit and/or modify exercises (eg. this hippo marches instead of cross-country skis) (aerobics lingo) (also, the oh-so-attractive waddlerun will soon be replaced with a less-horrifying quick waddle);
  2. Sometimes a tie-dye shirt just isn't slimming (nothing to do with this post, but true nonetheless);
  3. There's nothing wrong with asking for help when you're jammed, bleeding and helpless, behind an aerobics stage (also, if you can't reach the spare toilet paper which for some reason, Chris keeps up on a 7-foot-tall shelf); and
  4. When you think you're being funny, you're probably just asking for the universe to bite you in the butt (ongoing lesson, not actually learned yet - as Chris can attest).

* The Douglas Adams line comes from a very amusing bit involving why he loves scuba diving. Being 6'5" (and less sylph-like, etc.), it's the only experience that makes him feel graceful. Also, he usually throws up afterwards, which is a great way of working up an appetite. The man was a genius.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Proof that He's Not Adopted

For your consideration, I have compiled some photographic evidence to prove that Vaughn is indeed my son. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, that's for sure.

Exhibit A

Party Animal Vaughn was invited to two birthday parties on the same day, and of course couldn't refuse either one! We managed to get to Oliver's party at noon (unfashionably early), and then on to Chayce's at about 1:30. Above, he and Oliver share some laughs.

Sure, this probably doesn't compare to the legendary party crashing night of '98, in which Sean and I hit three random parties that we weren't invited to before our coup de resistance: a corporate party at Chateau Laurier! We were polite crashers, though, as we each had our own bottle (rum and gin, respectively) and a glass with us... anyhoo, but it's a start.

Exhibit B

Sometimes, I look at other people's cake and wonder why I don't have some, too. (Usually, however, I'm dressed.) Chayce is the birthday boy in the middle, and TJ and Vaughn clearly question why he's getting special treatment here.

Exhibit C

Oh wait. Everything is ok, and everyone's all cakey. See, I also like to share cake with others, as long as by "share", they mean that I can eat all that I want. I don't, however, make a habit of eating topless with black socks.

Exhibit D

Sometimes, the V-man gets a bit messy, but all in the name of good cake.

Exhibit E

Apparently, they had cameras back then.

Exhibit F

And finally, Vaughn shares my love of hottub parties, although I'm sure I've never been to one THIS wild (the overflow night with Danielle, John and Holtzy notwithstanding).

(Danielle, any and all comments you post to the contrary will be deleted!)

I hope to capture the Karaoke King link as soon as I can get it on video... he's also definitely his father's son...

Best Case Scenario

Ok, so further to the sugar test I took about two weeks ago, OF COURSE I was called back in to the doctorb's office.

Let's start at the beginning. The doctorb (the "b" stands for bargain!) gave me my lab requisition form and said that I was due for my gestational diabetes (GD) screen and a syphilis test.

Um, what?

Apparently, in Alberta at least, they now test for syphilis in each trimester. As was explained to my young doctorb in med school, three rules apply when doctoring weemen:
  1. All women are pregnant until proven otherwise;

  2. I forget; and

  3. All women are liars.

There's obviously some kind of bitterness in this man's history, but the lesson stuck with my doctorb, so here we go.

I go home with the form, do the one-hour test (meh, not bad), and three days later, lo and behold, there's a message on my voicemail telling me that I need to come back in to see the doctorb. Bleah.

So, of course I'm a bit stressed, since they haven't said why.

"No worries," sez Chris. "It's for the best. And I'm sure it's just your sugar, like last time."

Um... let's see. The Best Case Scenario is that I have to fast for 12 hours, go in for the three-hour glucose tolerance test (heretofore referred to as the g-d GD test) (again, the last one was no fun), get stabbed and drained repeatedly, and end up bruised and bitter, only to find out that my glucose tolerance is just fine, and I've wasted half a day sitting still in an uncomfortable chair, hungry and thirsty and feeling my breath worsen and cavities form. And that's the Best Case Scenario.

Next best is actually being diagnosed with g-d GD, being forced to meet with a "dietician" again, being restricted from any and all forms of sugary deliciousness, having extra ultrasounds to make sure the 'lump is doing ok, pricking my finger several times a day to check my blood sugar levels, possibly injecting myself with insulin, and maybe even being induced early for the 'lump's well-being, who may or may not end up with blood sugar issues itself.

The Worst Case Scenario, of course, is Divorce, Due to Syphilis.

Anyhoo, I call the clinic back first thing the next morning, and ask what it's about.

"We can't tell you results over the phone," she said.

"Oh dear," I said. "It's that bad? I have syphilis?"

"Fine," she said. "It's your sugar."

Heh heh.

SO, I booked Friday off for Laboratory Testing and Project Management coursework. I fasted (at 8:15 pm on Thursday night, I looked at the clock and realized that I had forgotten to binge on anything and everything in the kitchen...dammit), and showed up late to my 8 am appointment. (After all, you don't make a pregnant woman fast, then expect her to actually remember her lab req form that she laid out on the counter so she wouldn't forget it until she's at least halfway to the clinic, right?)

I drank my icky-sweet juice, I sat, I was poked and bled, I studied, and eventually got home, via McDonald's. Hey, it was past 11 am, and I was STARVING.

So far, no call from the doctorb. So, perhaps everything is just dandy, and it's the Best Case Scenario after all.


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

What Not to Wear

This Episode: Danny DeVito

Ok, so two years ago (the last time my parents visited me*...kaff), I received a full-length mirror for my birthday (from the aforementioned parents).

"But," they said, "we want to get YOU a present, not just something for the house."

"Trust me," I said. "This is for me."

The full-length mirror was supposed to solve the problem of me getting to work and looking terrible from the neck down. (The bathroom mirror and shoddy lighting will get all the blame for the neck-up situation, and my lack of time (and unfortunate genetics), of course, explains the hair.**) There are mirrored closet doors down the hall from my cubicle, so every time I go to the water cooler, the kitchen, or the bathroom (average time between viewings: 7.2 minutes), I get the pleasure of seeing what kind of disaster I have put together that day.


Apparently, just HAVING a full-length mirror isn't enough. You also, apparently, need to LOOK at it. AND you also need to have time to fix the problems (see complaint about hair, above).

I mean, the ongoing Gym Clothing Fiasco has its own litany of excuses: I pack my gym bag in the morning, sometimes in the dark, as I dash out the door; I have to make do with what's in my gym clothes drawer (mostly close-fitting stuff that's all turned into tummy tops and low-rise pants); and 'Fis' hasn't granted approval for maternity gym clothes, since, really, it's a waste of money for just three months of use.***

Besides, he's graciously given me his three largest white gym tops, whose armholes are open down to my (popped) bellybutton. On the days that I am either brave or out of Giant White Tanktops to wear, I take my chances with whatever else is in my drawer, and, thanks to the full-length mirror in the ladies' changeroom, I conveniently get to see the walking sideshow that I have become, right before heading out in public looking like...well, I don't know. Tweedle-Dee? A ball on two toothpicks? Someone with a bizarre gland disorder who still thinks she wears an extra-small? Or, even worse: someone that meant to dress like this????

To digress, the whole point of this is that, as I've gone through this sort of thing before, outfits like THIS shouldn't happen.

Discussion guide:

Layers: Aren't they supposed to make you look smaller? (They seem to add a nice amount of extra bulk to my already bulky frame.)

Accessories: Wouldn't a long, chunky necklace normally create an elongating effect? What the heck happened here? (Well, that's what I was going for.)

Detailed, slouchy boots (not shown): While awesome and quite stylish with jeans or a skirt that shows your knees, do these create too much cankle-tude? (Quote: "I can't tell where the calf fat ends and the ankle fat begins!")

Cuffed flannel maternity capris: Are they even fantastic in concept, as Danny DeVito here believes? Don't they, in reality, hang a little too loose and too long? And cuffs? At your height? (I'm sorry.)

Room to grow: Do the (stretchy) white top and (stretchy) beige vest look fitted and suave, or just -- stretched? Don't they, in fact, create three more horizontal lines to visually shorten Danny, here, just a little bit more?

Flowy, body-skimming charcoal sweater: Seriously? (Well, it was lovely and flowy BEFORE I got pregnant... I think...)

Ok, um...and the stain? (Honestly, that was put there at dinner by my associate.)

* Actually, that leftover ham is STILL in our freezer. It probably should go to a better place at some point, I suppose.

** In case anyone was wondering, this year's New Year's Resolution -- to actually "style" my hair twice a week -- isn't working out so well. I have gone so far as to purchase some curl-enhancing product, and apply it sometimes when I get the chance to wash my hair in the middle of the day, since adding said product then diffusing it creates Very Scary results, as does going to bed with it wet. Normally, I DO go to bed with it wet (and un-producted) and just hope for the best...the best being evident in almost every photo on this site. Kaff. Anyhoo, the time it takes to blow-dry and straighten or curl my hair (approximately 45 minutes) (I have a lot of hair) just takes away from quality couch time.

*** Sure, some would argue that three months of use, for 6 trips to the gym a week (twice on Mondays, since I'm still teaching step), adding up to about 78 wearings, wouldn't be a bad investment, but they're OBVIOUSLY crazy.