29 May 2009

Making Baby Food

Here's a brief window on how we make food for the girls.

Last weekend I made some soup and some veggies that were both shared with the girls. In both cases, the dishes were primarily for Hirono and me; but, they were also edible for the girls.

First some sauteed tomyo, pea greens. The first picture is the raw vegetable after being washed. Saute in a tablespoon of hot oil. A dash of salt and splash of rice wine. Make sure the boil the rice wine away. Total time in the pan was about 150-180 seconds. The second picture is the veggie has Hirono and I eat it. Put a handful in a mortar and grind with a pestle. For dry veggies it may be necessary to add a bit of water. Tomyo are wet enough to not need any water most times. The third picture is the finished product.

Raw tomyo.
Cooked tomyo.
In the mortar.
Second, beef and onion broth. Boil beef bones with a dash (very little, actually) of salt and a splash of sherry or marsala. After the beef broth is nearly done add a pile of quartered onions. I used four, 3cm thick slices of shin bone. So the boiling time was about 90 minutes and then I added four onions, quartered. After adding the onions, continue to stew for about 45 minutes or until the onions fall apart. The picture shows this stage. Remove the bones and cool the broth. After cool, grind the onions in a mortar and pestle. Add the onions back to the broth and bring to rolling boil. Let cool and serve. For Hirono and I we added pork meatballs and salt to taste. The girls were fed as is. We also can use this as a broth to flavor rice or other baby food.

Beef bone broth.

27 May 2009

Jury Duty Today

Or rather, jury selection duty. I know already that I have a hardship case the judge would accept. The trial will be in session on the girls' first birthday and the judge has accepted a similar hardship excuse already. However, I have to wait my turn and they're going in alphabetical order. They expect to get to the Ws sometime late in the afternoon. So I just have to sit there and wait all day - with no internet access.

Update: I got out of jury duty, but not for the reason described above. It was a close call; but, I'm free. I actually wouldn't have minded too much. This was a short criminal case (credit card fraud) and its good timing for work. Missing the girls' birthday, though, was a really bad aspect and would have had me fuming at court that day.

25 May 2009

Carb Addict

I have to admit, this has been the most fun memorial day I've ever had. The girls are really starting to grow up and be more interactive. Leia's a little monkey climbing all over everything and even trying to run now. Leia is getting a lot more attention because she's now in a lot more trouble. Alisa is inspired by the attention Leia receives and is now pulling herself up by herself as well as taking honest-to-goodness, tentative steps.

We spent some time outside in the garden looking at grapes and flowers and lady bugs. We have a native garden that attracts lots of bugs, which is beginning to attract the birds. Also, wildflowers are all over our lot (no grass!) Its really pretty. The girls loved touching the flowers and watching the bugs.

Corn on the cob was a mystery to them at first. They didn't know what to make of it while watching me shuck. After cooking, as I dug in with gusto, they quickly knew the score and were both clamoring for a taste. Leia's reaction was only lukewarm. But with one taste Alisa understood the soulful pleasure that is corn on the cob. Then again, Alisa is a carb addict...

23 May 2009

It Needed to be Said

And it was said well.

Cheney may want to blame what happened at Abu Ghraib on a few rotten apples, but when you take people whose buddies are dying around them, tell them that the rules they were taught back in training are void, and provide examples by way of CIA contractors who are redefining the boundaries in daily phone calls with the president's personal attorney... It's not the apples that are rotten, it's the tree.


Leia has gone nearly 24 hours without a bottle. We offered her a bottle last night when she went to bed; but, she didn't want it. She hasn't shown any interest in bottles all day today as well. Alisa took her bottle at bedtime last night; but, hasn't shown any interest in bottles today.

They just seemed to lose interest in bottles all of a sudden. Each stage goes so fast.

21 May 2009

Multiple Milestone Day

The girls each passed milestones today. Leia passed two of them.

First, Leia is walking. Its truly amazing to watch. The ability of a young child to learn is simply staggering.

Next, both girls starting drinking from a cup themselves. They are able to stabilize and drink from the cup without spilling, at least not much spilling...

16 May 2009

The Strongest Force in the Universe

Instinct is the strongest force known to humankind.

Today has been an emotional roller coaster. It started out really tough, with only one hour of sleep last night due to Alisa's restless kicking. It wouldn't have been a problem except she tends to kick me either in the face, or someplace even worse. That makes it really hard to go to sleep. Throw on top of that the fact that Hirono turns forty years old tomorrow and the girls' first birthday is just a couple weeks away. Life seems to be spiraling away like the spinning jenny in an old Yeats poem.

This morning Hirono and I spoke about the fact that the girls really aren't infants anymore. Sure, they need diapers and they can't feed themselves or really take care of anything else; but, they've lost that total inability to cope that infants possess. They've become little girls. We both mentioned how much we miss those early days. They were so adorable and helpless, so needy.

Instinct makes us want to have children. Instinct probably makes us forget how hard a child is at the beginning. The first few months are a long blur of sleep deprivation, milk and diapers. I complained mightily during this first year. I remember the complaints. I remember the fatigue and the inability to even get my socks on correctly in the morning. But, something in me misses those days. The scary part is, that adoration and longing for the tiny infant makes both Hirono and me want to have another child.

Lord help us.

15 May 2009

Easier Feeding

The girls' diet has changed a lot over the last week or so. As they near their first birthday their doctor's advice is to branch out into different foods more. Last week they started eating Cheerios. This week was yogurt, scrambled eggs, stewed pork, and celery.

Probably the biggest surprise for me was the fact that they really like natto, a stinky food traditionally eaten by those who couldn't afford meat or fish. They've loved tofu for many months. Both of them can cram down a huge volume of tofu at one sitting. But this week we tried the "learned taste" of natto. They took to it right away. I have trouble eating the stuff myself, which is saying a lot; but, they both really liked it from the beginning.

The only thing I've seen them not like is: Leia doesn't like bananas and Alisa isn't fond of stewed lentils.

12 May 2009

Lining Up for a New Car

Leia is planning ahead. She's trying to soften me up for a new car when she turns 16. She spoke her first real word this morning: 'Daddy'. I couldn't ask for a more perfect first word.

09 May 2009

Heart Attack Over

OK, I finally got all the data for my W-2 and 1099-B straightened out. Earlier I mentioned that my tax information was way off. That was obvious because the amount the tax forms claimed I owed was way over the total amount of money I earned. It turns out that altogether my W-2 and 1099-B's listed income more than double what I actually made. In addition, about 60% of my withheld taxes were not counted. Put that together and you can see why I freaked out when I first did my taxes.

Anyway, the error is clarified. Now its just a matter of getting all the paperwork done. The problem is, I must get it all finished by the end of May because otherwise I'll not be able to pay my life insurance premium this summer. Let's hope the IRS moves quickly enough here.

In the meantime, the economic turmoil this has caused my bank accounts has resulted in four bounced checks and a missed mortgage payment. Thank you IRS!

Updated: fixed a couple of typos.

03 May 2009

Home Stretch

The girls are 11 months old today. I feel like we're in the home stretch. Alisa has now slept through the night for three nights in a row! My work schedule still robs me of enough sleep; but, its definitely getting better. Leia's sleep patterns are better, too; but, she caught a cold from Alisa last week. Although Alisa is pretty much through it, Leia is still in the early phases and will feel worse tomorrow.

I was worried about swine flu since Alisa's symptoms were clearly flu-like. She ended up having an ear infection. Leia will probably be the same; but, we need to be careful. We'll likely take her to the doctor if it gets worse at all just in case. There have been a handful of cases of swine flue in the area already (including three kindergarten and pre-school age children.) With about half of the workers at day care being Mexican, I'm sure they have friends or family who have recently visited Mexico.

01 May 2009

Surrender Monkeys

Happy May Day everyone.

Enjoy it if you have the day off.

Very Pretty

My own mother would love Kona's post today. They just returned from a vacation of traveling through Texas to look for wildflowers. They came up empty. Mother Nature seems to have finally visited Austin. Very pretty.

I enjoy wildflowers or interesting arrangements myself. Arranging them was fun. I did it as a hobby for a year or so. Its a good creative outlet. You'll be surprised how you can psychoanalyze ikebaba.

Update: What the hell is ikebaba? Its supposed to be ikebana. Psychoanalyze that!

Religious Morality

Religion claims to instill morality. Yeah, right. Its sad enough that the number of people who support torture is non-zero; but, this chart from The Pew Forum lays bare another lie from those who believe in a god.

h/t Greenwald.