24 May 2011

On Chocolate Cake and Pecking Birds

Photos & ramblings from May 22nd, because a certain someone has requested more frequent updates on her favorite little person, and these represent a really happy day for me.

Dark Chocolate Cake - have you ever seen such a black cake?! I used the recipe on the back of Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder as a rough guide, reducing the sugar significantly. The icing was the same cocoa powder, butter, some powdered sugar, and 2 cups of blueberries. Chad thought it tasted like biting into 72% dark chocolate, which is pretty much exactly the taste I was going for. No one has been able to taste the blueberries, but I can pretend that this is a healthy cake because it contains fruit :). I will definitely make this again.

Update: since so many people seem to be finding this page on Google, I'm including the recipe, as good as I can remember it. Enjoy!

Ingredients (my modification): 1c sugar, 1 3/4c all-purpose flour, 3/4c Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa, 1 1/2tsp baking powder, 1 1/2tsp baking soda, 2 jumbo farm eggs, 1c skim milk, 1/2c vegetable oil, 2 capfuls vanilla extract (the real stuff), 1c boiling water.
Directions (simplified): mix the dry and the wet ingredients (minus the water) separately, then combine gradually, scraping the sides as you go. Then, add the boiling water. Batter will be thin. Pour into two 9in round pans with parchment paper on the bottom (essential). Bake 30-35min until toothpick comes out clean. Cool, remove from pan...keep safe from curious cats and small children...etc until it's time to frost. I frost my cakes as soon as they feel about room temperature because I am quite impatient.
Frosting: Cook down about 1c frozen blueberries until they thicken, then puree. Melt 1 stick of butter, then add 1 3/4c Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa. Add blueberry puree and cook on low. Never stop stirring. Alternatively add powdered sugar and skim milk until you get the consistency you want. I probably had about 1/3c milk and about 1 1/4c powdered sugar...but don't quote me on that as I never end up measuring what I do for frosting. I also had about 1/3c cooked blueberries that weren't pureed that I added to the mix afterwards. These were the tiny, frozen wild blueberries that you can get from the freezer section. I've also done this recipe with fresh picked wild blueberries with similarly excellent results.

Aidan is proud of the mess he's made.

I had some blueberry "juice" left over from when I defrosted the blueberries. Aidan loved having his own "winebeer" juice.

It goes without saying that he needed a bath after that cake.

And Finally,

Dear Pecking Bird,
Why must you incessantly peck at my window all day long? Are you tormenting my cats, or do you really think that if you peck long and hard enough, that the glass will miraculously disappear? You had better be careful: while I find you amusing, my husband does not. Right now, I am the only thing standing in between you and his paintball gun. You've been warned.

We know where your wife and babies live.

20 May 2011

Como Park Zoo

On Wednesday, a friend of mine invited me to join her, her daughters, and a friend at Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, MN. We took her up on her offer and had a great time! We even got to bring Alan with us. Enjoy the photos :).

Alan gets to visit real giraffes!

The seals and sea lions were a big hit! They actually seemed to enjoy hamming it up for the kids (unlike the lioness...more on that later).


Nom nom nom...

The best way to end a trip to the zoo is to be covered in sticky ice cream

** So about the lioness...

I should preface this by saying that, while I greatly enjoy visiting zoos, I also feel bad for the animals in captivity. I recognize that zoos provide an invaluable education and conservation resource, but I never take for granted what I am seeing. To be that close to a gorilla or a snow leopard (one of my favorites) is a great honor. Were it not for zoos, I wouldn't have had the pleasure of seeing most of my favorite animals alive and breathing. Compared to the real thing, National Geographic just isn't the same.

Some animals seem to tolerate captivity better than others. The seals, sea lions, and otters, for example, seem fairly pleased with their lot in life. Other animals, like the lioness we saw in the indoor exhibit today, are clearly not digging the wards of screaming kids banging on the glass each day. The lioness got so ticked off, in fact, that she started growing at the glass. Of course, this only egged on the kids. When I left her she was snarling, clawing, swatting, charging, and biting at the glass - clearly agitated - while the warden was asking the kids to leave her alone. I can only hope they gave her a break from exhibition for a good long while.

Lioness-tormenting aside, it was a great day and we will definitely be back!

19 May 2011

Dear Aidan,

Today could have been a very sad day for me. Instead, it was a wonderful day.

And it was all because of you.

Thank you for making today one of the best ever.


Dona Nobis Pacem

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi...

A year ago today, at this time, I was preparing to knowingly commit murder.

...miserere nobis.

At least, that's what most Republicans (and some Democrats) would have me believe.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi...

I sat in a hospital room, alone, while I waited for surgery - waited for my doctor to take from my body a child I so desperately wanted. Chad stayed with Aidan and our nephew. He was alone, too.

...miserere nobis.

A year later, and I still cannot express to you the guilt and grief I feel every moment of every day. When people do their very best to act like this life never existed, it only adds to my misery. There is no outlet for my grief.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi...

No one to remember her but my husband and me. No one to mourn her but us. No record that she ever existed, except the hole burned into our souls, and the scars on my belly.

Dona Nobis Pacem

I always told myself I could never have an abortion, but there I was, sitting in that hospital room, waiting. Of course, this particular abortion was medically necessary. My daughter was growing in my tube - ectopic - and there was nothing anyone could do to save her life. I could either wait for the tube to burst - at great personal risk - or I could remove her tiny body from mine in a relatively safe procedure. Part of me wanted to wait, to punish myself for my body's failure. I wanted to hurt physically, if only to numb the pain I felt inside. But of course I couldn't do that, not with my sweet Aidan to mind, and my husband and kitties. My daughter was not meant for this Earth, but I was still meant to be here. Wife. Mother. Kitty slave. And so, God help me, I closed my eyes, went under anesthesia, and woke up empty.

Dona Nobis Pacem

I murdered her. She was alive with the beginnings of a heart beat, and I murdered her.

And my insurance company paid for it. And my insurance premiums were paid with pre-tax dollars. So when the bill from the hospital came, we could afford to pay it.

Deo grĂ¡tias.

I was always adamant that it was neither my place nor the government's to tell a woman that she couldn't have an abortion. I know many people view abortion (all abortions) to be the murder of a unborn child, and the idea that any of their tax dollars might be going to such an abdominal act sickening. I get it, truly I do. And honestly, I'm fine with writing it in the tax code: no federal dollars spent on abortions. It's not like that's anything new: the Hyde Amendment takes care of that. It's all the other crap that scares me and makes ME feel ill. H.R. 3 says:

- Flex spending dollars can't be used to pay for abortions.
- Premiums for insurance plans that list abortion as a covered benefit can't be written off.

This goes beyond protecting people's beliefs, and it's easy to see where it will lead.

- No insurance companies will cover abortions.
- Having an abortion will get a lot more expensive.

Which, I suppose, is what they want. These representatives (though who they are representing, I have no idea, because it sure the hell isn't me) want to tell me which medical procedures I should have and which I shouldn't by dictating where I can spend money that I earn.

And I'm sorry, but that's goes a bit beyond their job description.

They may believe that writing this into the permanent tax code is going to prevent more abortions, but I assure you that they are wrong. These changes will serve to do little more than cause already grieving women more strife by putting them thousands of dollars in debt, while increasing the number of dangerous abortions women will have without the aid of a trained medical staff in a sterile environment. We'll be back to where we were in the decades before Roe v. Wade.

And women will die because of it.

And their babies will, too.

I therefore urge you all to consider the ramifications of such a bill - the broader picture of the precedent these pieces of legislation represent. Who do you want to draw the line between medically necessary and murder? Yourself and your doctor? Or a bunch of (mostly male) strangers with no medical training whose beliefs may or may not be your own? Let alone the issue of rape (don't get me started on that one). Protecting unborn children at the expense of their mothers is not good legislation, regardless of the reason. And it certainly doesn't belong in the tax code.

Because the woman sitting in that hospital bed is me. She's everyone who has ever been a mother - however briefly. And I promise you, her suffering goes beyond anything you could ever know, regardless of what brought her to that bed.

Isn't it enough?

Dona Nobis Pacem


More info:

War Against Women:

06 May 2011

We're #NotANielsenFamily too!

My household is #NotANielsenFamily but we still love #Chuck! Watch this video, help spread the word, and lets have us a Season 5.

This campaign aims to show NBC that even though we're not counted in the ratings, we still care about the show, and still watch live. So far several advertisers (including Hyundai, Super Shuttle, and Diet Pepsi) have responded positively to our #NotANielsenFamily twitter campaign. The nice folks at Super Shuttle (http://www.supershuttle.com/) are even giving us fans a 10% discount through July 31st (discount code CHUCK). Isn't that nice? As Aidan would say, I THINK SO!

So I am trying to do my part, whenever I can...

with the help of friends...

(thanks Jon & Emily)

and family...

(thanks Chad). **

How about you???

** Please excuse Chad's weather-identity crisis - people do strange things in Wisconsin when winter refuses to let go it's grip once it's time for Spring. I'll leave you with a photo of my front yard, taken on April 16, 2011.

Yes, that white stuff is, in fact, snow. It's gone now, but snow in April is just plain wrong. But I digress.

Go Chuck!

05 May 2011

Eight years today...

...and I'm still missing you, Mom.

Her last words..."I don't want to see you. I don't want to talk to you. You're not my daughter anymore."

And I'm still sorry.

02 May 2011

A New Can of Worms

I was there almost a decade ago when it happened.

I was still there, six months later.

I was even there a year later. [thought, those pics don't seem to be working...]

My father is alive today, but this man is not.

And yet...

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that"
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. Unknown

War does not determine who is right, war determines who is left.