Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wijvenweek: wat mannen niet begrijpen

Or: "What men don't understand."

Let me tell you what men don't understand.

Jeremy was walking out the door to go play paintball with friends this afternoon, and on the way, he grabbed a bag of post-Easter-discounted Cadbury Mini Eggs from my secret hoard in the fridge:

Do you see what's wrong with this scene? A bunch of guys on a paintball outing would devour these rich treats, meant for a discerning, tender palate, as if they were common M&Ms. I tried to explain this to Jeremy, but he just didn't understand.

Probably because he's a man.

(I can say that because it's Wijvenweek.)

Tomorrow is a free topic, and I think I'll write about my experience working from home. I've had this job for over six months, but somehow, I've never posted about it. The reign of silence will end tomorrow!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wijvenweek: Kids

Are you still with me? Today we're chatting about kids.

Miriam is two and a half, but we're just barely getting into that most ominous and controversial of parenting arenas, DISCIPLINE. Until now, we've really given her a very loose rein in that area. This has been possible because we're lucky to have a child who is basically good, and who generally does not actively seek out ways to be naughty. I know that not everyone is so lucky (but believe me, Miriam challenges us in other ways - they're just thankfully not so visible in public).

I think our basic parenting "philosophy," so far as it is one, has evolved but not changed much since Miriam's infancy. I wore her in a sling all day for the first few months of her life, she slept in our bed for the majority of her first year, and I nursed her until she was 2 years old. After our first summer in Jordan in 2006, I noticed that my parenting style really came to resemble the style we'd seen there, which is quite different from the way we do things in America.

But at about the 2.5-year mark, I could tell that the only way to continue to give Miriam the freedom we wanted her to have was to use discipline consistently. Coincidentally, at around the same time, my friend Janae offered to lend me her book Love & Logic.

I didn't get very far into the book before I became a little skeptical. The authors claimed that Love & Logic parents actually look forward to their child misbehaving so they can put the principles they've learned into use. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?

But you know what? They're right! It has been so wonderful to see Miriam respond to the method of discipline this book taught us. She is happier, more confident, and more obedient, and I feel so much more in control as a parent.

I know that this method won't work for everyone. In fact, some of you are probably familiar with it and are about to tell me how much you hated it. That's fine - go ahead. But for our parenting style and for Miriam's temperament, Love & Logic has been a great fit.

I don't want to slaughter the book's message by trying to relate it all here, but I will share two of my favorite principles.

1. Love & Logic generally teaches that you shouldn't give more than one total warning. Please tell me I'm not the only one who agrees with this. Miriam is smart enough to not need a warning every night at dinner not to slide her plate onto the floor. In real life, with bigger problems, when she's older, she won't be getting clearly stated warnings all the time. It's better that she learns that now instead of later.

2. Love & Logic emphasizes empathy. I have always tried to teach Miriam to be aware of and in tune with other people's feelings, and this method builds on that principle and uses it to discipline.

Is anyone else familiar with this method? How did you like it? What other books have you found useful?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wijvenweek: My Household

Sometimes I find myself talking to Jeremy about household devices/gadgets/objects that I love. If I watch closely, I can actually see his eyes glaze over as I go on and on about stuff that makes my life easier. I guess it's a good thing I have this girly blog for wijvenweek so I can finally tell you all about some of my favorite household items!!! In no particular order, of course.

1. My magnetic silicone (?) hot pad (does anyone besides my family call it that) from IKEA. It sticks right on the fridge so I don't even have to open a drawer or cabinet to access it. Bonus: it also works well as a jar opener.

2. Cheese slicers and ice cream scoops. We own three each of these, which tells you how often we use them (and possibly how often - or not - we run the dishwasher in our house).

3. Those Clorox disposable toilet scrubbers. To be honest, I laughed out loud when I first saw these, thinking they were absolutely ridiculous. Then Costco had a really good coupon on them, and I thought I'd try them out. And I love them! So does Miriam. She is the world's best toilet scrubber helper.

4. Shower Power cleaner. I got hooked on this stuff in college and really, nothing else compares. Especially when you have Tucson water that leaves behind disgusting, hard-to-clean residue on everything it touches (seriously, what is that stuff??).

5. Vinegar. For everything else that I can't in good conscience use Shower Power for.

6. Pledge dusting spray. I had a strange fascination with this stuff in childhood. My mom probably wonders why we went through so many cans of it. Well, it's because I just couldn't get enough of it. It makes everything so shiny and beautiful, especially my piano. Dusting is one of my favorite chores.

7. My IKEA dish scrubber with a suction cup on the bottom. It stands upright on the edge of the sink so it's there when I need it, but not in my way when I don't.

8. Costco disinfecting wipes. I mention the specific Costco brand only because they are huger and scrubbier than any other brand of wipes that I've tried. This is one of those products where I don't know what we did before they existed!

What have you always wanted to rave about to your husband, if only he cared? Please share. I'm sure there are many more things that I haven't mentioned.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wijvenweek: Men

Today's topic for Wijvenweek is "men." If I really tried, I could probably write some snazzy, über-girly post on this topic, but I just don't have it in me, now or ever (further proof that this is not a girly blog. Are you taking notes, Jeremy?).

But the assigned topic remains, so I'll tell you about the man in my life. Jeremy and I have been married for almost 6.5 years. Here's the short story of how we met. There are more details that had an impact on the story that occurred months before we actually met. Even though sharing those details would probably make this entry more girly, I'm going to refrain for the sake of my audience.

It was the fall of 1999. Pervez Musharraf was taking control of the Pakistani government, tech-nerds were busy warning us about Y2K, calendar-nerds were trying to spread the news that the new century didn't start until 2001, and NCMO and one-strap backpacks were about to rock Brigham Young University's world as we knew it. Meanwhile, I was taking German 101 as part of my linguistics major requirements. My teacher was a German who lived in the FLSR as the native German speaker for the German house (apartment). Also living in that apartment? Mr. Jeremy Palmer.

At the end of the semester, our teacher put us into groups and had us write, perform, and film skits entirely in German. My group's skit was rather clever, if I do say so myself, even if my classmates cast me in a role way beyond my comfort zone (which was very, very small). Somehow, in our film, they had me wearing a motorcycle helmet that was huge beyond all reason and riding a gigantic old bike in the snow while the wicked witch music from The Wizard of Oz played in the background (among other interesting scenes).

Our teacher enjoyed our skit so much that he showed it to a lot of people, including his roommates, one of whom was Jeremy, as I already mentioned. A few months later, he saw me on campus. Even though he was a total stranger to me, he approached me and uttered the classic line, "Hey, I think I saw you in a movie once."

Common sense dictated that at such a moment, I should turn and run away as fast as possible in the opposite direction. But of course I didn't. We didn't start dating immediately, though. In fact, there were a few bumps on the road to a relationship that included Jeremy writing me an email that basically said he thought I was a stuck-up jerk. Yes, really.

But we got over that, and then took a break when I went on a study abroad to Japan for the summer. Then we dated some more back at the BYU, while I secretly hoped for war in the Middle East so his upcoming study abroad to Jerusalem (to study Arabic) would be canceled. And it was canceled - and then they announced that they were taking the Arabic students to Damascus, Syria instead.

Eventually, we managed to date for more than a few consecutive months while also remaining in the same country as each other. We were engaged on October 4, 2001, the day before my 20th birthday. Jeremy maintains that this was so he could say he was engaged to a 19-year-old (if only for a day), and knowing him as I do, I don't think he's entirely joking. We were married on November 20, 2001 in Portland, Oregon.

Seven weeks later, we left the country again, but this time it was to Moscow, Russia - and we were together. The end.

I hope you enjoyed today's wijvenweek installment. Tune in tomorrow for "mijn huishouden," which I am guessing means something about my household. I'm not using a translator here, and I don't speak Dutch - I'm just relying on my dusty knowledge of that most romantic of languages, German. After all, it's the one that brought Jeremy and me together.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wijvenweek: Shopping!

Today's topic for Wijvenweek is shopping! Now I know this isn't a true girly blog because shopping is not something that I enjoy. Even before I had a toddler attempting to climb out of the cart every time I looked away to compared prices, shopping was just something that sometimes had to be done. We found out just how often it needs to be done when I admitted here on this blog that I had owned (and worn!) the same swimsuit for 10 years.

But in honor of wijvenweek, I'll put aside my dislike and tell you about a place where I hate to shop (even within my not-liking-shopping personality), a place that's just OK, and one place I do love.

I really, really don't enjoy shopping at Walgreen's, or any other pharmacy of similar ilk. It's too bad, too, because pharmacies in foreign countries are some of the coolest stores ever! Has anyone else ever noticed that? But here, it's all overpriced, all disorganized, and all grab-happy for a toddler. The only reason I ever go there is because sometimes, there are things you just can't get anywhere else. If you can get it somewhere else, run, don't walk, away from Walgreen's!

I have mixed feelings about Target. On the one hand, it's not Wal*Mart. But on the other hand, the Target closest to our house is a veritable wasteland of abandoned, unstocked shelves. Whenever I go there, I never see the things I need to buy - just the space where they would be if our store actually had them in stock. Also, Target's sales are less than stellar. I'm sorry, Target, but "Clearance" obviously means something different to you than it does to me. Hint: If you marked it down from $9.99 to $9.00 (an actual example I saw yesterday), guess what: that is not really a good sale.

All that said, the Target that is next-closest to our house actually runs a pretty tight ship when it comes to stocking the shelves and making sure there is room to walk between the racks in the toddler girl's clothing section. If only it were closer...

Finally, a store that, if it were possible, could convert me into a shopper: Costco! I'm sure you saw that coming. My most recent good experience with Costco was when they refunded the shipping cost from something we bought on and then returned to the warehouse. Who even does that?!? Plus, the workers by the exit always draw a smiley face on the back of the receipt, which Miriam loves. If you need more feel-good stories about Costco, just look to the right sidebar - you'll notice it has its own label.

Well, that's enough girliness for today. Tomorrow, the subject is: men. Watch out, Jeremy :).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Is this a girly blog?

Every once in a while, Jeremy makes some comment about my blog that makes it clear that he thinks it's a "girly blog." He claims that no men ever comment (not entirely true - he's commented a few times himself, hasn't he?) and that I write about "girl stuff."

Well, apparently the women of Belgium are getting the same kinds of "complaints" from their compatriots. But the difference between me and them is that they are mad as heck and they're not going to take it anymore! So today they started Wijven Week, which means something like "Girly Week." All this week, the Belgian ladies will be blogging a different girly topic each day. And in a show of solidarity with my Belgian sisters, who I have never really given a thought to until today, so will I. And Jeremy can see what a girly blog really looks like.

Today's topic: mijn wijflijf (my body)

It's been interesting to be pregnant with Sasha 2.0 and compare the experience with Sasha 1.0. The only real similarity that I can think of is that, once again, I will be moving a couple of times (though this time, not internationally).

With Sasha 1.0, I was craving all kinds of only-in-America foods that were unprocurable in Syria, and doing weird things like going to Lebanon to buy tortilla chips. Eventually, I trained myself to crave fattoush and baba ghanouj instead. I felt really connected to the pregnancy and had a sonogram at every doctor visit. I was excited to start "showing" and was ecstatic the first time a complete stranger noticed I was pregnant and congratulated me. I didn't go out and exercise specifically for that purpose, but living in Damascus and walking everywhere to do everything probably made up for that, more or less.

Also, as I've mentioned before, I gained a massive amount of weight during that pregnancy (and subsequently lost it all, just so you know).

I was curious if gaining all that weight was just the way my body was, or if coming back to the land of Tillamook ice cream sometime during my eighth month had something to do with it (and Mom, I know you think you have the answer to that question, so you can just keep it to yourself).

With Sasha 2.0, I fell in love with tortilla chips again, and it was nice to be able to walk to Fry's and buy a gigantic bag for the same price I paid for a tiny package in Beirut (not that it wasn't worth it, believe you me!). Until we found out it was a girl, I confess I did not feel very connected with this pregnancy. The fact that we're only "allowed" one, maybe two sonograms during the whole 40 weeks might have something to do with that. And I didn't bother telling anyone I was pregnant until beyond the point where that complete stranger in Syria asked me how far along I was. Exercise is more of a conscious goal this time around, and I'm still running or biking six days a week.

And you know what? I have gained less weight so far. But you know what else? I am "showing" just as much as the first time around. I guess I have to give up the dream of being one of those cute pregnant women. Instead, I'm the one who, at six months along, looks about ready to deliver. I also get to experience the lovely, self-esteem-boosting feeling of no longer fitting into maternity clothes for those last several weeks.

Sigh. Maybe that moving-during-late-pregnancy trend will be my friend this time. I'll get to leave Tucson at about 7 months along, at the stage where all my friends will be wondering if I could possibly get any bigger. And I will get bigger, but they won't be around to see it, and then I'll come back to Tucson having had the baby and they'll be none the wiser.

There, Jeremy. Was that girly enough for you?

Ladies, join in!!!!! It will be totally fun!!!!!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The results show

We had our 20ish-week sonogram this morning and managed to find out the gender of Sasha 2.0. For some reason, possibly because we are nerds, we can't just tell our family members if it's a boy or a girl. They have to figure it out themselves. With Sasha 1.0 (later christened Miriam Damascus), I just sent them all a cryptic six-digit number (FF99FF) via email and let them Google it out.

Two years later, Jeremy's brother took it up a notch and would tell us via email only that he and his wife were expecting a κορίτσι.

So this afternoon, I sent out an email to our family members. Since I'm an equal opportunity annoyer, I'll post it here and let you figure it out. The first one to solve it and comment gets to be the one to share the news, I guess!

This man married the fourth-oldest daughter of the second-oldest daughter of the successor to the last King of the United Kingdom of the House of Hanover. So far, the gender order of his children matches ours.

Please note, however, that we are not necessarily going to have the same total number of kids as this guy, and we are certainly not going to use the same names (though they are lovely).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Déjà vu

Just like old times: we haven't had running water in our house for part of yesterday and all day today. Someone driving on the main road perpendicular to our short lane hit our water control box (whatever that is) and the plumbers have been working on fixing it all day long. In the meantime, our water has been turned off. One of our neighbors called me earlier today, worried about how I was coping with no water since I'm the only one on our lane with a child. I just laughed and told her we'd lived in the Middle East and that it was no big deal to not have running water for days at a time.

The truth is, it kind of is a big deal, so that wasn't really the right word to use. It's just that we've been through all this before, and we inevitably find ways to cope.

It's getting old now, since it's 9 o'clock at night and I'd really like to take a shower, but it makes me laugh because one of the first things we are thankful for whenever we come back to America is that at least we can count on having running water all the time. The joke's on us, I guess.

Too much information

A man came to my door yesterday afternoon, asking for money. That happens fairly often here in Tucson, and I find it very unsettling. It’s fine with me if they want to ask for money in public, well traveled areas of town, but to come to my private residence and knock on my door – security door, as it were – is just too much for paranoid me. Yesterday’s encounter scared me even more than usual.

I said that he was asking for money, but to tell the truth, he never got around to telling me what exactly it was that he wanted. I left the security door bolted so I could see out, but he couldn’t see (or get) in. He was very agitated and was talking a mile a minute, but at the same time he wasn't as unkempt as some door-to-door people we get around here.

He began his story by saying that he had a big problem and he needed my help. According to him, he and his two kids lived “in the house at the end of the lane” and he had a babysitter who was supposed to show up on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2 – 5 in the afternoon. Before he went on, I told him flat out that I was acquainted with everyone on our lane, that I had never seen him before, and that I knew for a fact that none of my lane neighbors had kids. He quickly backtracked and said that actually, he lived to the left, in a house. Then he started telling me how one of his kids had acid reflux disease – had I ever heard of it? Anyway, he could really use my help. Then there was a big, silent pause. I can only assume that he was waiting for me to open the door.

Of course I didn’t. Besides a gut feeling that this guy was up to no good, or at the very least not telling the truth, I remembered a thing or two from the book The Gift of Fear. The general, underlying principle of that book is that in most fight-or-flight situations, you can trust your gut more than your mind. And if you take a look at what he said (or if you listened to it in real time, as I did), it all seems to make sense.

But think again. One of the things The Gift of Fear taught me (that I didn’t already know) is that when predators of any kind lie, they add in extra details so that their lies ring truer. What they don’t realize is that their lie only sounds like a lie to themselves – most of their listeners will be inclined to take what they say at face value. The extra details actually make what they say sound less credible to our ears.

So a man who was telling me the truth would probably have said something like, “Hi. You don’t know me, but I live nearby. My babysitter didn’t show up and for some reason I also need to share with you the seemingly unrelated information that my son has acid reflux disease.”

That’s all there is to it. No unnecessarily specific babysitter schedule, confusion about what house he lived in, or awkward, unnatural house directions like “left” (that doesn’t make sense in the particular area where we live). You’ll notice that in all the talking he actually did, he never got around to telling me what he needed. I found out from a neighbor later that he was asking for $30 for medication for the aforementioned son. She referred him to the large medical complex next to the hospital extension just down the street.

I wish I had thought of that.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The pregnancy board

My local church congregation (read: Mormon ward) has something called a "pregnancy board." In the bishop's office at our church building, there is a large whiteboard that the leaders of the ward use to record various logistical details of the congregation's functioning. Written on that whiteboard are all the names of the people who are in charge of the Primary (children's organization), youth groups, women's groups, etc. And in the lower-left corner of the whiteboard, there is a small (but expandable) space set aside for the last names of the women in the ward who are pregnant. This is the pregnancy board.

Jeremy just informed me that the guys in the ward don't really care about the pregnancy board, but it comes up in conversation among women at church not infrequently. The board is not in a public place where everyone can see it, but most members of the ward go into the bishop's office at least occasionally, and it's easy to steal a glance at the board to see who's expecting.

Or, at least, who the bishop and his counselors think are expecting. Because mistakes have been known to happen.

Several weeks ago, Jeremy, Miriam, and I went to dinner at a friend's house (remember the
licorice chocolate?). After dinner, the husband casually stated, "so, you're expecting again, right?" Jeremy and I were flabbergasted and caught totally by surprise, and it must have shown on our faces, because he immediately backtracked and said, "well, I saw it on the pregnancy board!" Apparently, "Palmer" was written in that special lower-left corner of the whiteboard and he assumed it meant me. The awkward thing is that he was, and has been, the only person to ask me directly if I was pregnant - it made me wonder how many other people had seen "Palmer" on the board and just assumed it was true.

I happened to be in the bishop's office a few days later and noticed that my name had been erased. I asked one of the bishop's counselors, as nonchalantly as possible, why "Palmer" had been written on the board. It turns out that it was referring to another Palmer in the ward who was actually no longer in the ward and had had her baby four months earlier. They were just tardy about erasing it from the pregnancy board and inadvertently managed to manufacture a false pregnancy rumor.

The joke, of course, is that - tada! - I am pregnant, and so it wasn't really a false rumor after all.

The stats, if anyone's interested: I'm 20 weeks, or halfway, or 4.5 months, or due at the beginning of August, however you prefer to understand it. We find out if it's a girl or a boy on Thursday. Both of us are hoping for a girl but I think we'll get over it eventually if it turns out to be a boy (and in which case I will delete this sentence, of course). I'm still running 4 - 5 times a week and biking the other one or two days, which will freak some of you out and seem totally normal (and maybe even wussy) to others. We didn't share the news with friends or family until I was 16 weeks pregnant, just because. There were three exceptions, though. We ended up telling one of Jeremy's former bosses when we were trying to weigh our options for summer employment, just so he could give us better informed advice. And of course, we told our friends that night after dinner, even if their assumption was based on questionable intelligence.

Eventually, maybe I'll get around to telling the bishop to put my name back on the pregnancy board. If it isn't there already, anyway.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Two things each about two books

This book,

Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, has been camping out on my Reading and Recently Read list for a few weeks now. I've left it there to remind me to write this post. And this is going to be the post so it can finally be retired from its sidebar glory.

First, this is a very good book, and I would recommend reading it if you're at all interested in what goes on in the Green Zone. But keep in mind that parts of it will probably infuriate (while educating) you. If you've ever seen The Simpsons episode where Bart is indicted for fraud in Australia, there's a scene that basically illustrates the principle behind the Green Zone. The Simpson family stays at the American embassy in Australia and Bart asks if the toilets flush in the opposite direction. The embassy official responds:

"No. To combat homesickness, we've installed a device that makes them swirl the correct American way."

The "device" is a huge machine hooked on to the toilet tank, emblazoned with an American flag. It is that kind of attitude of overcompensating for inconvenience overseas and wasted patriotism that characterizes the Green Zone in Iraq.

Two specific damages I had with the otherwise very good, informative book:

1. The author snidely faults American personnel for being afraid to venture into the "real world." From page 19:

"Schroeder was incredulous when I told him that I lived in what he and others called the Red Zone, that I drove around without a security detail, that I ate at local restaurants, that I visited Iraqis in their homes.

'What's it like out there?' he asked.

[...] I described the pleasure of walking through al-Shorja Market, the city's largest bazaar, and of having tea in cafes in the old quarter...The more I talked, the more I felt like an extraterrestrial describing life on another planet."

This is all well and good, and I don't necessarily doubt the truth of what he's saying, but he's also being disingenuous. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing that Mr. Chandrasekaran is not a tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed guy with pasty white skin. Perhaps he blends into the local populace slightly better than your average career military dude, and is by default less of an obvious target. Just a guess.

2. It's not the author's fault that his source lied to him, but it wouldn't have killed him to run this by, oh I don't know, any Arab ever, to have it discredited in a moment (page 196; the speaker is "a professor of political science at Baghdad University"):

"We never saw each other as Sunnis or Shiites first. We were Iraqis first. But the Americans changed all that."

I really, really question the truth of this statement. I suspect that this professor is lying to himself, if he believes this statement, or to the author at least, if he doesn't.

Moving on to Valerie Plame Wilson's unsettlingly punctuated Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House.

This was a fairly interesting read, and I suspect that it would have been far more interesting without the extensive redactions made by the CIA before its publication (redactions are the bars of blacked-out text that you see in books that handle sensitive government material). The book also did a lot to punch holes in my conviction that Jeremy is not a CIA agent. There were waaaaay too many similarities in Mrs. Wilson's career path and my husband's for me to continue to easily laugh off family and friends' occasional queries about Jeremy's actual employer. :)

Two comments:

1. In the writing of her book, I don't think Mrs. Wilson allowed for the possibility that somewhere, sometime, anyone who leaned even slightly toward being a conservative would ever read it. Because the book is chock full of blanket statements ridiculing "The Right" and "conservatives" everywhere. I don't have a problem with her naming specific people who set out to harm her reputation, but lumping me in with their ilk just insults my intelligence as her audience.

2. I think Mrs. Wilson and I have very different methods of financial planning, or at least very different ideas of what it means to be "poor." In the part of the book after her exposure as a CIA operative (and thus the end of her career), there were lots of statements like "and then Joe and I were so stressed about money that we took a week-long ski vacation with the kids to Park City." I'm only being slightly facetious here. A paragraph after talking about how her family depended heavily on the income from her husband Joe's now-scarce speaking engagements, or how they really needed the advance from her book deal to come through, she casually mentions sipping a celebratory glass of wine in their home's living room, gazing out at the glorious panoramic view of the Washington Monument. Seriously, what the?!? There was enough of this kind of financial folly that it really detracted from my being able to take her seriously.

I don't know how Jeremy handles it, reading these kinds of books all the time. I think I'll read An Assembly Such as This: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman next.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Another ice cream scandal

Remember Dreyer's Loaded, and my damage with it?

Well, now Breyer's deserves a nastygram, too. I was at Fry's the other day and ice cream was on sale (there is always one kind or another on sale at Fry's, which is the main reason why I love that store). We took a look at the Breyer's variety and I noticed that there seemed to be two kinds of packaging available. One was what I've been used to. The other was newer, sleeker, and redesigned.

Compare the old, (in the largest size I could find):

to the new:

What is not splashed all over the fancy new packaging is the fact that this new carton holds a full seventh less ice cream than its predecessor. You have to look closely, but the (long standard yet still aggravating to those who remember the days of full 2qt ice cream cartons) 1.75-qt volume has been reduced, yet again, and all too soon, to a measly 1.5 quarts.

I remember when all the major ice cream brands used to do 2-qt cartons, and then one by one, they gave in and reduced it to 1.75-qt - but didn't lower the price. Tillamook brand ice cream was one of the last to submit and I seem to recall my mom confronting some poor employee at the Tillamook Cheese Factory and asking something like, "why, why, WHY?!?!?"

The answer was "due to customer demand." Because for sure, all us customers were "demanding" a smaller carton of ice cream for the same price as the bigger one.

OK, I think I'm done. For now, anyway.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Am I a slob?

I read this the other day and it got me thinking.

Do people really still use napkins in this day and age? Or is everyone else just like us, where they scramble to find some napkins when guests come over for dinner and thus perpetuate the myth that every good household uses them on a regular basis?

We didn't own any napkins (paper or cloth) until my family came into town for a visit just after Christmas two months ago. Before that, when guests came over to eat, we tore paper towels in half. Yes, it's true.

(Just in case there are still people out there who use napkins, and they're wondering what I use instead, the answer is nothing. We just eat neatly, I guess. I have noticed that whenever we go to someone's house and have napkins, I end up throwing them in the trash at the end of the meal, crisp and unused.)

So, do you use napkins? If not, feel free to say so. This is a welcome and loving environment. Also, I am the owner of this blog and I don't use them, so at least you're not alone.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

My new favorite water bottle

The title of this post implies that I had a previous favorite water bottle, which I don't think is really true. My previous favorite mode of intaking water was a Camelbak backpack, but it occupies a different category and therefore can remain my favorite.

I saw this water bottle first at Costco. I don't mean that it was for sale there, or I would have come home with it that same day. I mean that I saw a Costco employee drinking from one at her checkout stand. It's a Camelbak Better Bottle.

A few days later, we were at our favorite store where we never buy anything: Summit Hut. We go to this store as often as we dare, because it is awesome. I use the word "dare," though, because if we spend too long there, we can convince each other that we really, really need to spend a lot of money on really cool gear. One this particular trip, I noticed that they had the magical water bottle of my dreams for sale. In keeping with our family pact, however, I did not buy it.

This morning, Miriam and I went running and we just happened to end up heading towards Summit Hut. And we went inside. And I bought The Water Bottle. And it lives up to all my expectations. It has a neat little hook on it so you don't have to waste a whole hand carrying it. It comes in a few different sizes so you're not saddled with a huge, heavy water bottle - nor do you run out of water at the most inopportune moment. And best of all, it's like a sippy cup for adults: it has a camelbak spout and a straw so you can take discreet drinks during church. That also means that at long last, Miriam and I can share a water bottle at the park. I was getting tired of taking off the lid of her sippy cups to drink from the inside while fending off weird looks from other moms.

All this talk has made me thirsty. I think I'll go take a drink.


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