Starting Inertia

You know that feeling, when you need to start something, but you just can’t seem to get rolling? And you know that once you do, it’ll be easy to keep going, if only you could just start?

I’m having a little case of that right now, all over my house and life. I need to be writing, and folding laundry, and writing a grocery list, and taking the dog and the baby for a walk, and working on the several projects that I already have under way, and unpacking from our recent trip, and organizing and putting away the holiday stuff, and cleaning the bathroom, and unloading the dishwasher, and making something for dinner. Any one of those things would be a perfectly acceptable place to start, but I can’t pick one, so I can’t start (bonus! decision paralysis!).

Sometimes, when the kiddo is taking a nap, all I want to do is lay on the floor and enjoy the quiet. That’s a normal part of parenting, right?

We started introducing solid foods this week. We probably could have started earlier, but I really didn’t want to do it while we were traveling, and he didn’t really clearly communicate that he was ready until we were away from home. This parenting thing is pretty amazing sometimes! He has eaten potatoes and carrots so far. He wasn’t really interested in the first round of potatoes, and mostly seemed to enjoy playing with the carrots, but we did potatoes again last night, and he was picking up little blobs from his tray and putting them in his mouth! Every day I am just stunned by how awesome he is. I get why people are all excited about having babies, because they’re cute and whatever, but I had a dream the other night that we had another one, right now, and I was MAD, because it meant that I didn’t get to give R the same level of attention that he has been getting. I may have also been a little put out that my midwives weren’t more excited to see me back as a repeat client, even though it’s only been six months. Silly sleep brain. Later the same night, I dreamt that I licked every dessert at a wedding in retribution for the groom pulling a prank on all the guests and not serving any food. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty satisfying.

Aaaaaaand that’s a rambling story about babies and my brain. You’re welcome? Did I mention that I’ve missed you?

Grumble grumble

This morning I woke up to not one but TWO emails politely asking whether I (and Carlos) had somehow vanished from the face of the earth, from people that I don’t know well, but am glad to have in our life.

Those of you who know us (all of you, hi!) know that we’re kind of super not into the whole winter/December/Xmas/cold weather thing. And it turns out that that whole thing is a lot harder when you’ve moved to Canada, even the relatively temperate Vancouver. So, yeah, between the dark and the cold and the seasonally busy work and the stress of the stuff we’re dealing with but not yet ready to share with you here, we’ve gone underground a little.

But I have to say that it strengthens my feelings of happiness about my community to know that these two people I hardly know, along with many of you, are out there checking up on us. I think that lately this blog is sounding really kind of down, and that’s something that we need to address. Our life is complicated. You know that! Remember that time someone told us we were the busiest people she knew? Still true, now with a baby, and some shit!

We’ve made some pretty awesome personal resolutions for the new year, and now I’m going to make one for the blog. BE IT RESOLVED: No more whiny posts this year! Yes, it’s only 11 days (uh, crap), but in those 11 days there will be no more whining!

Today I wanted to give you the first of many posts about where we’re heading in the next year, but seriously, there is a lot going on, and that task got pushed to the bottom of the pile. I will share it with you tomorrow, though, scout’s honor. But now, I have to go wrangle my unfairly cute son into some cold-weather clothes so we can trek across town to socialize. It turns out that if you want to have community, you actually have to get out of the house. Go figure.

<3

Celebration!

It’s that time of the year, again! That man who lights up my life and yours is turning 29 again!

Last year we celebrated with big news and a secret. This year we’re celebrating on the precipice of changes, full of anticipation.

Birthdays can be a really conflicted time in our house. Winter sucks, and we feel lonely. We miss the days of housemates around the wood stove, of Sunday potluck brunches.

Those of you who know Carlos well know that there is one thing he holds closest to his heart. Carlos loves his people. He loves his little jerk of a baby, and his family, and the people who make him think and laugh.

So today, on his n+29th birthday, I’d like you to help me out with something, please. Tell him something funny. Tell him the story of something ridiculous you did together. Thank him for saying something meaningful to you. Just send him a word to say “happy birthday, we’re glad you’re here.”

Do it in whatever way makes sense for you, but please, DO IT. His beautiful beard face needs to hear from you. If you don’t know how to contact him, you can email his first name at grumpypie.com.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

A Village

You know what’s awesome?

You.

We all know the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” but you know what? It also takes a village to be an adult. Humans are social animals, we need people. Sure, some of us have higher social needs than others, but we all have some need.

Part of what was really hard about our move to Vancouver was uprooting ourselves from our established community in Seattle and starting over in a whole new country. While having Carlos’s coworkers gave us someplace to start, it wasn’t really enough to make this city feel like home. I could have done a better job of getting us connected earlier in our time here, but I didn’t. Depression is hard, yo.

That being said, I want to say how much I love the people that we’re finally making connections with here. I wish I had had it together earlier, because we have some really awesome new friends.

One of the things I’m coming to realize is that I have to be better about maintaining relationships with people. Duh, right? So, what does that look like as we roll forward into 2013? For one thing, I need a parenting group, y’all. Like, STAT. So, look forward to hearing about that around here.

(Full disclosure: I spent most of 24 hours trying to get to the computer to do this writing, and when I got here, it was hard, and I’m not super happy with it. But I’m posting it anyway, because the spice must flow! I mean, the only way to write is to write. <3)

Father’s Day

How do you celebrate Father’s Day with the man counting down the weeks of not being a dad yet? Certainly the things we did to celebrate my own father (countless envelopes of guitar strings and CDs that he never listened to until years later) are great for him, but not quite right for dad-to-be Mr. Pie.

You may recall, if you were reading last year, or if you have ever tried to make plans with us in the summer, we get super busy once the days get longer. Last year a friend described us a “the busiest people [we] know,” which hardly seems like it can be true, but there you go. This year is a little different, but cut from a similar cloth. Not so many motorcycle rides to the beach (TRAGICALLY!), way more awesome house guests (BEST. EVER.) and scrambling to get our house and life ready for the kid-on-the-way. The downside to all the happy busy work, though, is that there are precious few quiet weekend days left for us to enjoy one another’s company without an agenda.

So, Father’s Day rolled around, and it became clear what we needed to do: pretty much as little as possible. I put down my 800 lists (things to do, to clean, to buy, to organize), and left the day’s direction up to my calmer half, and he chose a fantastically awesome task for us to undertake: Beer.

One of my favorite things about our Canadian adventure is that Carlos is becoming a diligent brewer, and proficient. I don’t think we’ve been without at least one batch of beer in process since March, and there’s no sign of that letting up. I haven’t really gotten to enjoy the fruits of his labors, but we’re in spitting distance of the time when that’s about to change. So, after a quick consultation about what kind of beer I want to drink while breastfeeding, he rode off to the homebrew store and came home with supplies to make me an oatmeal stout. An all-grain oatmeal stout.

Ten pounds of grain! No malt extract! Holy crap, people, it was the scariest haul I’d ever seen from the brewing store. (I thought I took a picture of the two gigantic bags, but apparently I did not. Sad face.) We have a pretty solid intermediate home brewing set up, and the thought of how we were going to turn all those grains into beer was a still a little daunting. I was a little afraid it couldn’t be done, but we persevered, and despite the barely-big-enough mash-tun, and the steamer-over-a bucket lauter-tun being somewhat inefficient, we turned out just over 5 gallons of the darkest beer I have ever made. And we only dirtied about half the pans in the house!


Pay no attention to the lumpy pregnant person! Admire our amazing system!

I want to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how little time it actually took to go from “terrifyingly giant pile of grains on the table” to “ridiculously high gravity wort,” but the truth is that it was about 6 hours. But at the end of those six hours, I have one dirty pot in the kitchen, and (fingers crossed) no lurking spilled wort to bring ants into the kitchen. And in the midst of all that, we snuck in a dinner of Carlos’s favorite foods (one of which deserves its own post):

Peaches (with tomatoes and mint and olive oil), watermelon, and steak (cooked in the oven with leftover fat from last weekend’s pho broth). Words don’t do it justice, and neither does the exhausted late-night photo. Sorry.

Of all the ways we could have marked our last not-yet-a-Father’s Day, I think this was a win. I smell a tradition in the making. It smells like beer and pho, and that sounds just about right for us.

Happy Birthday to me!

Guess who got something shiny and awesome for her birthday today?

It came a month ago, in a box wrapped in red paper, with my name written on it in Sharpie. It sat patiently on top of my wardrobe, undisturbed, patient, looming.

I unwrapped the paper, through the 25 pieces of tape my mom used to secure it (seriously, Mom, what’s up with the tape this year?), to find an unassuming cardboard box. Secretly, that’s my favorite – I like opening the box to discover what’s inside.

And then I got to the top. And then I saw the label. I could not get the tape (so much tape!!) off fast enough.

Hello, pretty.

Pretty rickrack!

It is, as promised, big enough for even a 10″ pie, with awesome non-slip nubbies on the bottom.

I am so, so pleased! If only I had a pretty pie to put in it and take somewhere… After playing with it a little this afternoon, I think one-handed operation of the zippers might be a challenge, but honestly, I probably shouldn’t be trying to unzip my pie carrier with one hand, anyway. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. I have not yet tested whether it fits inside the Vespa – I’m thinking it’s a little too big, but let’s all hope!

Thank you for the wonderful gift, Mom and Dad! And thank you for helping make it happen, Mr. Pie!

Science is awesome!

Science! It’s awesome!

Have you ever wondered why Asian foods taste fundamentally different from Western Foods? (No? That’s cool, science still has you covered). According to this study in Nature, it’s because Asian and Western cuisines use opposing logic when combining ingredients. Western cuisines pair ingredients with similar flavor compounds; Asian cuisines pair ingredients with fewer commonalities. Neat!

Also: Will you be an angry drunk? Science can predict whether you will! Do think about the future? You’re less likely to be an angry drunk, apparently. Something about consequences and perspective, maybe? I dunno. Still, good to know!

And! Christopher Columbus totally brought syphilis back from the Americas. Can we finally stop celebrating him now? Genocide, conquest, AND a major global disease?

Finally: Alternate science mnemonics. I really wish he had done one for the cranial nerves. None of these are the one I learned, which had something to do with trucks

National Cupcake Day?

As you may have heard, today is National Cupcake Day. This is, of course, not a Federal holiday, but still one that people are super excited about, because of the inexplicable popularity of cupcakes.

But there’s a scandal! (My favorite!)

We’re all celebrating an impostor holiday! December 15 is in fact… National LEMON Cupcake Day. Chocolate Cupcake Day is in October, Vanilla Cupcake Day is in November. Unofficially, March brings us Baileys/Car Bomb/Guinness Cupcake Day, which may actually be my favorite of the Cupcake Days.

But with all this celebration of cupcakes, I have a question: When will we celebrate National “Adorably cupcake-size pie that I refuse to refer to as a Cup-pie” Day?

I don’t need to worry about the full-sized pie, though – by my count, there are nineteen days celebrating some kind of pie. I’m a little sad to notice how many of them are way out of season, actually. Blueberry Pie in April? Tsk. On the other hand, I am perfectly happy to squish together national Egg Nog Day (Dec 24) and National Pumpkin Pie Day (Dec 25). That sounds like a perfect Christmas breakfast!

Since these all seem to be totally arbitrary dates, I suggest we pick a day for the Tiny Pie and celebrate it. What do you think? What day shall we designate for the celebration of the best kind of pie, the kind you can carry in your hand?

(On a more serious note, here is a suggestion for a national holiday that I would sing from the hills. The Bill of Rights: maybe the best thing ever. Let us be thankful and celebrate it!)

Countdown to Christmas Pies

Holy cow, you guys! Christmas is eleven days away!

Where does the time go?

Confession time: my family doesn’t usually do the whole big spread at Christmas like we do at Thanksgiving. One of our favorite family memories is the year that my mom made a gorgeous german chocolate cake for dessert for Christmas eve, and we all decided that we would skip dinner and have cake instead. And a tradition was born – keep it relaxed, especially Christmas Eve.

This year, our relaxed Christmas day will probably revolve around a pulled pork in the slow cooker, and our relaxed Christmas Eve will be all about pie.

Whether your family puts on the whole show or keeps it laid back, there’s always room for pie. And there’s still time for you to order a Grumpy Pie to brighten up your holiday!

I’ll be taking orders through the end of this weekend (December 18). Want something special? Let’s do it!

Christmas Pies!

You guys! Christmas is almost here! Like, really. It’s just over two weeks away.

Guess how much Christmas shopping I’ve done? I’ll give you a hint: it’s approximately zero. Oh well! There are more important things to think about, like pie.

Just like we did for Thanksgiving, Grumpy pie would love to make you some pie for Christmas. Same routine as last time: think about what kind of pie you like, go place an order. Easy as pie!

Over Thanksgiving, you all went crazy for Caramel Apple. What’s it going to be for Christmas?