My favorite word

Word of the Day for Wednesday, July 30, 2008

sesquipedalian \ses-kwuh-puh-DAYL-yuhn\, adjective:

1. Given to or characterized by the use of long words.
2. Long and ponderous; having many syllables.
3. A long word.


He's crafty - and he's just my type

"Black cookie!  BLACK COOOOKIIIEEEE!!!!"

TP and I have an ongoing battle involving the timing of snacking.  TP's idea of dinner, when he hasn't concocted some gourmet meal worthy of the Food Network, is to stand in front of the pantry doors and nibble on this and nosh on that.  To my inevitable evening inquiry of "what do you want for dinner?" his equally inevitable response is, "Oh, I'll find something."  That's all well and good for this grown man who fended quite well for himself long before I came into his life.  For ZP, however, it's another matter.  

Back in the days when ZP would eat next to nothing, TP would offer him ANYTHING just to get him to eat.  When he discovered that ZP quite enjoyed chocolate chip cookies ("cookies and the dots") or the Chocolate Raspberry Milano cookies ("black cookies"), it became a habit of TP's to offer him cookies anytime he entered his line of sight.  Cybermom is always amused at catching ZP imitating his father and opening the pantry doors and gazing at the cornucopia of cookies and crackers and snookies and snackers within reach before deciding on one and hefting it over to us to open for him.  I keep up the threat of "if you give him cookies before dinner, then YOU are in charge of feeding him dinner" because I'm tired of being the villain, of fighting with ZP to eat a morsel of a proper meal, of being the object of sidelong glances when TP quietly confides to ZP, "no, Mommy said you can't have that."  But in the end, I take pity on TP and ZP and end up doing the whole song and dance routine to get ZP to have some dinner before he implodes.

Last night, our little family unit was gathered in the kitchen and while I was chatting it up with AP, ZP tried to whisper something to TP in his most charming, adorable two-year old way.  TP laughed and then told ZP to ask Mommy.  Chagrined that his father was ruining his attempt at subterfuge, he trained his sights on me and with a plaintive look and super grin asked, "Mommy?  Cookies?"  He took my hand and with guided-missile accuracy aimed it at the bag of cookies that were juuuuust out of his reach.  I sighed, glared at TP, and had to say, "No, not yet.  After dinner."  He kicked up a  little fuss but then backed down to regroup.  Not a moment later, while I was taking my plate into the dining room, ZP said, "Mommy.  GO UPSTAIRS." while dragging TP's hand over to the pantry.  CHEEKY MONKEY!  I can't believe he is already at that stage where he tries to outwit his parents.  The next thing you know, he'll be asking me if he can watch some crappy TV because he knows I'll say yes when Daddy tries, "no."  REVENGE!



KG just bought a gelato maker.  So guess what we did this weekend.  Thus far, I can say that the coffee gelato (despite the gritty Haitian coffee bean crunch) was my favorite  - thick, creamy, and caffeiney.  The cantaloupe came in second place because it was not as creamy but I don't believe the fruit-based ones ever really are.  The bronze medal was handed out for banana - not because it didn't taste good - it did - but while various melons and loupes are tasty when cold, bananas are not that appetizing chilled.  It reminded me of the frozen banana we had to eat in a Chinese airport because that was all that was available at the kiosk at 7 a.m.  At least this gave me the chance to say affirmatively that I don't like cold bananas, whether a la carte, with ice cream as a split, or even in gelato form.  Even so, it met the requirement to taste like the fruit and be gelato so I can't say too many bad things about it.

On Sunday, we walked over to the Dupont Farmer's Market where tried DolceZZa's lime cilantro (sharply tart and zingy) but ended up buying the lemon basil (sweetly tart and complexly flavored).  Apparently, this gelato is Argentine style, meaning it contains no eggs but is creamier than Italian gelato.  That somehow seems counter-intuitive because I would have thought that more eggs would make the gelato thicker and denser, but what do I know?  I think next week I'll give avocado honey orange a spin but at $6 a half-pint, I'll take a little taste test first.

To assist KG in future gelato laboratory experiments, I present in easy-to-read form the grades I handed out for the various dishes we sampled in Italy:

  • Amaretto, B (given by TP although almond-flavored anything (except actual almonds) makes me want to vomit through my nose and so I would have given it an F-) 
  • Chestnut, B
  • Tutti Frutti, F 
  • Perfumo di Sorrento, A 
  • Lemon, A+ valedictorian 
  • Tiramisu, C- 
  • Mint, C+ but can make up grade during summer school 
  • Dark Chocolate, I think you know the grade for this one 
  • Peach, A+ 
  • Cannoli, A- 
  • Walnut, B 
  • Fig, A 
  • Zuppa de Ingles, A- but with some extra credit homework, a potential A. 
  • vanilla cherry, C- 
  • coconut, B 
  • profumi di sorrento (citrusy), A 
  • vanilla, B plays well with others. listens carefully. completes homework assignments
  • pistachio, B
  • watermelon, B-
  • strawberry, A
  • chocolate, A+
  • sicilliana, A
  • egg nog, D


First of Many

New rule:  No naps for anyone before 10 a.m. or past 4 p.m.
Exception to the rule:  I may nap any time I please and for as long as I please.

Yesterday was a beautiful, uncharacteristically pleasant July day.  The kiddies spent a lot of time outside to enjoy the sunny day and apparently were so full of energy that they didn't nap until 3 p.m. and didn't wake up until 5 p.m.   Even though TP and I took them for a nice long walk around the neighborhood in the evening, they didn't sleep until nearly 10 p.m.  We thought we had a nice routine going where I give AP a bath and her last feeding by around 9 p.m. while TP does the same for ZP so that everyone is in bed and either snoozing or on the verge of snoozing by 9:30 with AP waking up only once and then going right back to sleep until a decent 6 or 7 a.m.  Alas, last night was wayyy out of whack.  AP got up at 2 and then again at 3 and then again at 5.  Meanwhile, ZP woke up at 4:30 and despite my efforts to get him to go back to sleep, he stayed awake and wanted milk and Daddy and Wiggles and "downshtores" and "upshtores" and more milk and "sientata, Mommy" and "hold the baby" and OH MY GOD I WANT TO PASS OUT!  The nanny is here now and after about a solid hour of tag-team wailing, all is suspiciously quiet.  I didn't hear the door open so I'm guessing everyone finally petered out and collapsed out of sheer exhaustion.  I think I'll do the same.  I'll start the new rule tomorrow.


Rear Window meets Broken Windows

"Jeff, you know if someone came in here, they wouldn't believe what they'd see? You and me with long faces plunged into despair because we find out a man didn't kill his wife. We're two of the most frightening ghouls I've ever known."
-- Rear Window

Working from home has vast rewards.  No exorbitant gas prices to pay.  No schedule on when to shower or eat or get dressed.  I can visit my kiddies downstairs when I get a free moment as well as do the laundry, make some dinner, and maybe even watch a movie or show (current Netflix arrival:  The Wire, Season One).  As long as I get my work done, I can make my own hours.  Sometimes, however, I do run into computer glitches that take a while to repair.  So, while I am on hold with the help desk and imagine some Nick Burns type messing around with my virtual laptop, I can play Scrabulous, I can catch up on e-mail, and I can stare out of my window.

My window overlooks my backyard with its beautiful dogwood, two fig trees, some gourds that TP hung up as decoration, and various greenery which is quite lovely in the spring.  It also overlooks my neighbor's yard on one side with its showroom quality selection of flowers, benches, and a grill atop a nice, warm wooden patio.  It also overlooks my other neighbor's yard with its patchy weeds, cracked cement, and apparently an invitation for bums, vagrants, and potential thieves to come and make themselves comfortable.  One day, I was privy to a youth using the fence as . . . a privy.  Another day, I saw an older man root through the garbage can, take out a jean jacket, toss it back, take out a cell phone, start walking away but then tested it to see if it worked (since he spun around to throw it back into the trash, I can only assume that it did not).  Yesterday, I saw a dread-locked dude slowly saunter up to the fence, pause, move forward to the garbage can, pause, and then disappear from my view because he approached the house itself and possibly over to the back porch.  I was still on hold and therefore kept watching outside until the guy walked back across the alley, past the playground, and around the apartment complex.  I sighed and went back to work.  

After a short while, however, a movement outside caught my eye.  When I looked down, I saw the dude returning, this time with a knife.  He took no pains to conceal it.  He moved forward with purpose.  I stood up and got as close to the window as I could without falling out of it.  I had the phone in my hand and was debating whether I should call 311 to report the suspicious activity when the dude must have sensed someone was watching because he looked up and saw me.  He stood there for a moment like a deer caught in the headlights.  I moved a fraction of an inch closer to the window and brought the phone to my ear.  I knew he could see me and he knew I could see him.  He finally broke the look by lowering his head.  He moved towards the house for a moment and then, with some detritus (was it a pipe? a tube?) in his hand, crossed the alley and did not return.  

My 80-something old neighbor had some medical condition (heart attack?) that required an ambulance to whisk him away sometime in the cold months (February?  this is how I remember things now - not by dates but by seasons).  His family reported that he is unable to take care of himself alone in this house and thus is not returning.  As a result, they came by a few times every week to clear the house out to (a) get his new place set up with this stuff and (b) potentially sell it.  It has been a long time, however, since anyone has checked up on it and the area has fallen into disrepair.  I went ahead and called 311 to report the incident on the chance that the dude returned but there was no follow up, no call back, nada.  

I couldn't help but think of the Broken Windows concept which I had first heard of when reading The Tipping Point.  I really hope it doesn't come to that.  I mean, we have a brand-spanking new Harris Teeters, we have easy access to TWO, count 'em, TWO metro stations, and new businesses popping up every other day in Adams Morgan.  At the same time, we have teens loitering noisily at all hours in the front and back, shady characters populating the alley and the playground at night, and all of the bars on 18th street spewing drunkards and criminals onto the streets.  For every beautiful arrangement of front yard foliage I hear a story of a shooting or mugging.  Is it time to put money into renovating our basement and installing a nice patio in the back for some BBQ?  Or is it time to put money into the bank and start thinking of moving out to the 'burbs?  


Just What the Doctor Ordered

By special request from Julestress (and anyone else who has sampled this dish, the recipe of which I was given by my mother exactly 20 years ago but the recollection of which my mother has none).

  • Chicken breast (cut into bite-sized pieces or huge slabs, your choice).
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (why she felt the need to specify it should be plain instead of, say, strawberry, I'm not sure).
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger (thank goodness for modern grocery stores where they do the grating for ye).
  • 1 tsp. cumin (best if you buy the seeds and then grind it yourself because then the spice is fresher).
  • 1 tsp. coriander (same as above)
  • 1 tsp. salt (or a pinch less, as you prefer)
  • 1 tsp. pepper (or a pinch more, as you prefer)
  • 1 tsp. turmeric (do you see a theme here for the portions of spices?)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil (again, did she think I would use motor oil?)
  • 1 minced onion ("medium," she says.  heh.  we're lucky she didn't say, "just the right amount of onion."

How to:
  • Mix the yogurt, oil, spices, and onion in a bowl to tenderize the chicken
  • Place the chicken into the mixture and, if in slab form, stab it a bit with a fork to tenderize it some more.  (Yaz, I'm looking in your direction)
  • Marinate (yay!  she got it right!  it's marinate, not marinade) for 2 hours or over night
  • Bake uncovered in baking pan at 350 degress for 45 minutes.

Final Touch:
  • Garnish with cilantro, as you please
  • Call me when it's ready.  I'll even bring along my own fork.


You say it's your bday. It's his bday too!

Happy Birthday to TP and Najm!  TP, since you are on your wheat-free kick these days, I guess Najm and I will have to eat all the pizza and cannolis by ourselves . . . 


Avast, Chips Ahoy!

TP sent me this recipe for chocolate chip cookies from the New York Times (the implication being 'you make this for me').  I got as far as "Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling" before I started daydreaming about how awesome it would be to chill for at least 24 hours.


if it's got monkeys, it's gotta be good

This website, 1000000monkeys.com, reminds me of one of my first forays into the blog world when I tentatively threw my hat into Abez's ring of story-telling in which various commenters added to, enhanced, and fleshed out the introduction of a tale.  I seem to recall that my entries were quite silly and possibly violent but I can't link to it because Abez is on haitus!  It also kind of reminds me of a rap battle between Chai and 2 Scoops and me about who was a champion swinger (the innocent kind, not the lurid kind) all held within the comment section of Yasminay's blog, but again, I cannae find it!  So.  Erm.  Nevermind.  Go have fun with 1,000,000 monkeys.


spool up the ftl

Good Gravy does time fly.  Every other day I think to myself, "Self, you really need to update and document some of the events that have been going on in your life before your cheesecloth brain forgets it all."  But then Self gets busy with living and doesn't have time for writing.  Until now.  My work computer is misbehaving and so I'm taking a moment to jot a few things down.  Um.  Hm.  Bullet Time!

  • AP is four months old today.  She is still such a dreamboat.   She sleeps pretty nicely through the night for the most part.  She likes to sit in someone's lap while ZP performs various antics to her great amusement.  She prefers, however, to view him from above, i.e. peeking over someone's shoulder as she is standing so that she is out of swiping range.  She doesn't mind being left alone and sometimes likes it better.  She has now mastered the mega-wattage smile.   Exhibit A is the smile at its lowest setting.  If I uploaded the highest setting, your monitor would explode.

  • ZP is two years old and despite his horrid eating habits (or lack thereof), he is full of energy, naughtiness, and information (from what is hot ("coffee!  fire!  outside!") to who is bad or mad or sad (the majority of the cast of Thomas the Tank Engine)).  He enjoys reprimanding folks young ("no finger in la boca, baby ziza!") to old (upon viewing TP standing on the chair to get some BBQ equipment from a high shelf, he excitedly exclaimed, "NO STANDING!") alike.  
  • TP and I have returned to work and are so thankful that we can avoid much of the slaughter at the gas station since TP can walk to work and I am working from home.  It has been bittersweet to start working again because on the one hand, I ache whenever I hear one of my babies in distress downstairs while the nanny watches them; but on the other hand, I am back to doing more than breaking up fights, I get to give my spine a rest, and I can catch up on other life stuff.    I just need to find some time to work in some exercise so I can recover from my Dunlop's disease.
  • Movies:  thanks to Netflix, I have managed to catch a few here and there.  Too bad many of them are just "meh" -- Michael Clayton, Darjeeling Limited, and The Namesake come to mind.  Good thing there are some thumbs up material mixed in though - Flight of the Conchords Season One, Eastern Promises, The Presige to name a few.
  • Music: Wah!  Nada!  Someone rescue me!
  • Books:  The only ones I have time for anymore are graphic novels courtesy of KG: Batman-  The Dark Knight Returns, The League of Extraordinary Gentlement, and the latest Buffy installments.  Next up:  The Watchmen and possibly The 99.
  • TV:  Thanks to AP's erratic feeding schedule, I am up anywhere from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. at which time the old reliable 80s shows are on.  I think I've seen every episode of "Roseanne" and "The Cosby Show" at least two or three times.  "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" is working its way onto the roster.  Once the fall season starts, I have promised KG I would get a DVR so I can watch some shows from this century.  Wish me luck.
  • Travel:  Armchair traveling these days but looking forward to our trip to Georgia (despite lugging TWO kids through the dead of August) for the big wedding and then to J'ville for Thanksgiving.
  • Food:  I just made Chhote Kofte and rice last night and the best review possible is that ZP actually ate it with no fuss.  Wow.  Just call me an Iron Chef.  Also, figures that now that rice prices have sky-rocketed, that's all ZP wants to eat. Well, that and peanut butter crackers which he calls, "cookies."  Nando's has finally come to DC and Wagamama is not far behind.  Can't wait!
That's about all I can remember for now.  More to come as I think of it. And am awake enough to report.  Post script:  anyone still out there or am I just going to be documenting stuff for posterity and/or the kids' sake?