Yogurt. Yum. (Yes, Really.)

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour conducted by Clever Girls on behalf of Dannon. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program but my opinions are my own.

For more information and recipe ideas, visit www.oikosyogurt.com or www.Facebook.com/oikos. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


We eat a lot of yogurt in our house. Ever since we discovered the insane awesomeness that is Greek yogurt last year, we have been eating a really lot of yogurt. When we were making our post-earthquake-hurricane-preparedness arrangements last week, one of our biggest worries was what we would do if lost our electricity for an extended period of time, because we have a whole drawer full of yogurts in the fridge, and every one of them are our Preciouses, and would we be able to eat them all before they went yucky, and would we have to fight over who got which flavors? Because let me tell you something right now: I will THROW DOWN for the black cherry yogurts. I don't care if I have to cut my husband off at the knees -- DO NOT come between me and my yogurt.

Oikos® is not our usual brand of yogurt, but we got a chance to try it for this project. I compared nutrition information with our usual brand and saw all the stuff I was hoping to see: Dannon® Oikos® plain and fruit on the bottom contains 0% fat (the Dannon® Oikos® traditional blended varieties contains about 3% fat). Both are an excellent source of protein, twice that of most regular lowfat yogurts. I also saw that Dannon® Oikos® 0% fat berry flavors (blueberry and strawberry, my husband's favorites) beat our usual brand 2-1 in a taste test. INNNNNteresting. Kind of made this taste-test experiment a no-brainer.

And I am not going to lie to you: I have also been wanting to try Oikos® because I want to encourage any and all endeavors that put John Stamos on my television screen. (I can't help myself -- I remain a sucker for Blackie Parrish. Don't you judge me.) MOAR STAMOS PLZ KTHX!

Ahem. Anyway. I made one of my favorite breakfast treats, a fruit-and-granola yogurt parfait, with Oikos® yogurt this morning ...

breakfast 08-29-11 (after)

... by mixing one package (5.3 oz.) of Oikos® 0% fat vanilla yogurt, ¼ cup of my favorite granola cereal, and ½ cup of frozen mixed berries. (You could of course use fresh fruit but I am trying to clean out the freezer before we go to the beach.) It was just as delicious as I had hoped -- maybe even more so than it usually is, because I think this vanilla yogurt was just a bit sweeter than our usual brand, and I was totally in the mood for a little extra sweetness this morning. My only complaint is that this particular package of yogurt was not at all as creamy as Greek yogurt usually is; in fact, my yogurt was totally runny. I think this was a one-off issue, though, and I'll be sampling it again to confirm. (My husband's blueberry yogurt was perfectly fine and tasty -- just my cup of vanilla had the problem.) In spite of the texture problem with this one serving, though, it was totally delicious, just the right amount of vanilla flavor and sweetness. I did end up getting quite a nice "chunky smoothie" out of it, oxymoronicishness of that phrase be darned.

So, in short: Dannon® Oikos®. Greek yogurt. Really tasty. (Even without a free poster of John Stamos with every purchase. Although even my cheapo-depot husband couldn't argue with the added value in THAT.)


After The Rain

It's so nice outside right now that it's hard to believe that just 24 hours ago, we were at the tail end of a hurricane. We are mostly okay in my neck of the woods -- we had some water in the basement, but we were expecting to, and we never lost power so we were able to stay on top of it as much as we could. Some of my co-workers who live near me still have power outages, as well as a whole mess of people closer to the city and near the shore (plus many people south of here), but if there is an upside to mass power outages, it is that this is happening when it isn't too terribly hot or too terribly cold, and the outages appear to be -- around here, anyway -- more of an inconvenience than anything. I have not heard of too many people who had to deal with massive amounts of water and power outages, although I'm sure their stories are floating around somewhere.

The other thing that has been so shocking to me is the speed at which the waters rose, and the speed at which they also appear to be receding. Yesterday we went to the park down the road around lunchtime, when the rain had mostly stopped except for a few short showers here and there. In the time that it took us to walk around the park, between the playground area and the parking lot at the far end, we watched a car get covered in water that had overflowed the flooded creek. The whole process took maybe 20-30 minutes, and at the end there was so much water covering the park that you couldn't even tell it was a park any more -- and this morning, when I drove by on my way into work, you couldn't even tell there had ever been flooding, except for all the barricades and police tape that are still up to keep people out of harm's way.

We did manage to get a few pictures of "familiar" landmarks while the flooding was still in progress, so you can see how bad it really got. I've linked back to previous blog posts so you can see the truly amazing differences.


This is the creek bank where Shae was wading just last Tuesday, after the earthquake. You can't tell it's a creek bank, of course, but that's sort of the point.


We often cross this bridge when we go for walks in the park. This picture wasn't even taken when the water was at its highest point; on our way back home from the other side of the park, the water was so high that you could not see daylight between the bridge and the water.


Normally we're on the park side of these trees when we feed the ducks -- this was taken from the street side, where there was actual dry land at this point. I can't even tell which trees are my beloved white birches.


These are the baseball fields where we like to run around and blow bubbles. I'm not good at distances, but I would guess that the bleachers are normally at least a quarter of a mile from the creek banks. I have no idea how deep the water actually was anywhere, but this is not very far from the parking lot where the car got swallowed up by water, so I am guessing it was pretty deep.


Even the poor playground was completely under water -- not the slides and the swings, but the ground. Of course Shae still wanted to give everything a try, make sure it still worked, but for a change we decided to be responsible parents and give a big HELL TO THE NO to that particular idea.


Happy Birthday To My Hero

Today is my husband's birthday. He's 36. He'll probably get mad at me for saying that, but too bad. He wants to lie about his age, he can get his own damn blog.

Last night he stayed up until 4:00 am bailing water out of the basement so I didn't have to, because he is awesome that way. This video has nothing to do with anything, but it's cute. Just like he is.

Happy birthday, babe. I love you.


Ten at 20

On this day, twenty years ago, I was a week away from becoming a high school senior. Seventeen years old, with all the naïve and undeveloped and insufferable swagger that comes with being that age. I knew everything there was to know about everything at that point, figured it all out myself, and anybody who disagreed with me was flat-out wrong and stupid, and I told them so every chance I got.

(Hey, I never said I changed much in the last 20 years; I was just younger then. No less loud, no less opinionated, only a little less likely to be uncompromising in my beliefs, no more patient, and significantly more likely to be wearing tattered cut-offs and ripped fishnets and red jelly shoes. The biggest differences now are (1) that I know that I don't actually know everything, I just act like I do, and (2) in the last two decades I have learned how to call people stupid in about eight different languages.)

I was in the choir and I was a band groupie and I occasionally hung out with other fledgling "artists" and "writers," and by association I ended up listening to a lot of different kinds of music. My favorite records tended to be punk and post-punk and new wave and American college radio: the Clash, the Ramones, the Cure, the Smiths, Elvis Costello, R.E.M. – lots and lots of R.E.M., especially Document – Concrete Blonde.

(Most people, to this day, probably do not know about my secret hidden obsession with New Kids on the Block, and once this is over we're all going to pretend that this never happened, but I still hold a very special place in my heart for Joey McIntrye, and I still get weak in the knees if I ever hear "Please Don’t Go Girl" or "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)." I truly believe that in another life, he and I were meant to be together. SHUT UP.)

My parents, I'm sure, thought it was just so much noise, but I'm sure that's what their parents thought about their music, back in the day. The only difference between their generation and mine, I'm pretty sure, was that my grandparents were probably pretty certain that John Lennon and Paul McCartney were not secretly transvestites, as I'm sure my parents wondered about Robert Smith. As did I, from time to time, let's be honest.

I can't remember what class I was in the first time I heard chatter at school about this new band that had just put out a record. It wasn't one of my musical friends, who were all going through a simultaneous fixation with Queen to the point where we listened to A Night at the Opera every day at lunch time for almost an entire school year. It was a VERY LONG TIME before I was able to listen to Queen again without immediately wanting to find Jon Conahan and punch him in the face.

No, this was somebody else, another student who was not my friend, just someone I knew, who would now mostly like be called an "early adopter." The CD got passed around among a cluster of boys who were all listening to the same stuff at the time – "arena rock," U2 and INXS and AC/DC. This was something new, a kind of music coming out of Seattle, and nobody was really sure whether they liked it or not. I remember catching a glimpse of the cover, kind of bright pink, which I thought was weird, and some muttering about lyrics: "I think this one song is about suicide."

My interest was piqued, that was for sure, but not necessarily in a good way at the time. Whatever the equivalent of "girl, please" was in 1991, I no doubt was thinking it: that one song is about suicide? You need to listen to some different music if you think one song about suicide is a big deal. Love is suicide. Life is suicide. Here, listen to this record and read some Sylvia Plath and then we'll talk. Pass the black eyeliner.

Six months later, maybe more, I finally heard songs from the record for myself. Yet again, I cannot remember where I was or who I was with. I seem to recall being in a car, and having just broken up with a boy, and probably I was sneaking a cigarette as I wept into my Mountain Dew. It was night, I know that much, and I think it was cold. What I do remember for certain is the sound of my entire worldview shifting without a clutch.

It sounded like righteous anger, and fear, and boredom, and loneliness. Like grunts, and groans, and testosterone, and overcast skies. Like torn jeans, and boots, and flannel. Like someone railing against the entire world, guttural growls against the messed up shit that was all around us, everywhere. Like loud guitars, and live drums, and masculine wailing. Like I had finally found someone who actually understood me, after an entire lifetime of listening to music about people who were themselves misunderstood.

It sounded like Pearl Jam's Ten, first released twenty years ago today, and still one of my top ten favorite albums of this lifetime.


Rock You Like A Hurricane

Well. I've been so busy ordering my husband to stock up on hurricane preparedness supplies -- batteries, tuna fish, bottled water, beer -- that I almost forgot to post today. And that would be a shame, because these might be the last swimming pool pictures of the summer.

DSC_0155 DSC_0158

I'm not sure yet when my grandmother is closing her pool - we might be able to get in an extra day at the end of our vacation.


I was hoping to get a whole lot of pictures at the pool of the beach house starting in EIGHT DAYS WHOO!, but right now we're just worrying whether the beach house will still be there come Monday. Fingers and toes crossed.


(And if you're out there somewhere, battening down the hatches in preparation for Hurricane Goodnight, Irene, Goddamit - may you be safe and mostly dry and in good company, or at least in good spirits, or at least IMBIBING good spirits. I recommend this recipe for -- wait for it -- a Hurricane.)


Workin' At The Car Wash

I can't explain what possessed my kid to wash a car in a tutu and a craft foam pilgrim hat.


I can't explain about 99.8% of the stuff she does, really, because it's been a really long time since I was four years old.


And in any case, I'm 100% certain that when I was her age, I was not even in the same universe of awesome as this kid.


I am just glad that she does what she does and lets me take pictures of it for the Internets.


Aren't you glad, too, Internets?


Oh and by the way, she managed to do such an excellent job washing her Pop-pop's car that she also got asked to wash Aunt Shelley's car.


But everybody knows that this kind of awesome is a one-time deal.


I Feel The Earth Move

So, you might have heard we had an earthquake yesterday. Everyone's fine and nothing's broken, as far as I can tell, and I got to check an item off my bucket list. It is probably not normal to have "experience an earthquake first-hand" on one's bucket list, but when have I ever been known to do anything "normal?" It's been awhile, as far as I can tell.


This is the last week of "summer camp" at Shae's school -- their regular curriculum starts Monday, including Spanish lessons, which are new this school year and which I am way more excited about than Shae is -- and it was supposed to be a Water Play Day, but it was postponed until the afternoon because it was cool in the morning, and then it got cancelled after the earthquake, and she was majorly bummed about it because it was supposed to be the last water day of the summer. So I took pity on her poor soul -- seriously, a depressed 4-year-old is the saddest thing ever -- and we stopped at the water park on the way home.


Before Shae would go under the sprinklers, though, she said she wanted to show me "something cool," and she proceeded to drag me all over the world until we got down to the creek, which she kind of wanted to swim in, except she was afraid of getting eaten by alligators. And since God knows what kinds of gross things live in that creek, I let her think that alligators were the reason why we couldn't go swimming there.


We spent almost an hour at the water park, longer than I expected to, but there was nobody else around, and she was having such a good time that I just couldn't resist. Perhaps my brain got knocked around in my skull during the quake, or maybe I was just feeling indulgent. Who knows? She had fun, that's what matters, and I think we managed to make up for missing wacky water play with her friends at school.


Although there is something sort of sad about being the only kid at the playground in the late afternoon when the sun is still up and the summer is waning. Not that she minded much -- she had the whole place to herself. If I had known there was going to be an earthquake, I would have packed my own suit and played around with her.


I would never have looked as cute with the Hello Kitty hooded towel on, though.

All photos taken with my iPhone using Retro Camera (also available for Android).


The Kids Are Alright

The only time I ever feel guilty about only having one child is when everyone gets together and hilarity ensues. (I'm not really sure I could handle more than one, anyway.)


Look! It's a kindle of kitties! Er, kiddies. (Don't ask me what exactly is going on there, though. We were trying to get everyone to sit still and pose nice for a group picture, but ... well, have you met my child? She's the ringleader of this feral band of adorable moppets.)


Evidently they were practicing somersaults at some point. Or maybe training for their future careers as acrobats in the circus. Well, Shae would be an acrobat, and Joey would be a professional cleaner-upper-after, because he likes to clean. My kid just likes making a mess, and eating artificially-cheese-flavored salty snack foods.

See? I am not the only one who wants to eat the baby's face.


This is SO how we roll in my familial unit. Nothing ever makes sense, and I wouldn't want it any other way.



I love funny pictures of cats, but funny pictures of kids are even better. Here is a preview of the sort of comedy and foolishness you can expect to see when we all go on vacation together.

Joey, wearing my mother's lanyard and keys around his neck, looking for all the world like a tiny little lifeguard.


My kid, in goggles, because that is how she rolls.

Joey, in goggles, doing his very best Michael Phelps impression.

Makayla, at 8 months, showing off how she has already mastered the "BISHPLZ" face.


I have no stinkin' idea what this face is, and I'm pretty sure I don't WANT to know, either.


A miniature Abercrombie model, or perhaps J. Crew. (I included this picture because it reminds me of this one from Easter 2010.)


Sand Traps

Round-up of beach pictures.


I love - LOVE! - this picture, but am very disappointed that I cut off the top of Shae's head. Apparently I really committed to playing the part of my mother - a lot of the pictures from my youth are of partially headless people, and I seem to recall my mother often being on camera duty.


This was taken no more than 10 minutes into the day. Makayla got the idea of a day at the beach pretty quickly - loll around in the sand and shove stuff into your mouth. Usually it's frozen grapes or cheese curls, but I suppose sand toys work fine too. Lather, rinse, repeat, then take a nap.


Apparently two of the finer points of modern sand castle construction involve dumping water on ... I'm not sure what, exactly ... and getting yourself covered with a fine coating of sand that is invisible until your mother offloads the pictures. I'm not sure why. I am usually the beach-towel wrangler and don't get involved in land wars in Asia or manual labor.


Makayla is all, "I MUNNA EACHOO!" And I can't really blame her for thinking that this is an appropriate way to have a conversation with other humanoids, honestly, because every time I hold her I tell her I want to eat her face. Also: totally adorable baby is totally adorable.


This picture is just here because it is cool. (The handsome young man on the right is my cousin Greg. Shae wore his ass out, much like he and his brother used to wear my sisters' and my asses out when we took family trips to the beach when he was her age. The circle of life, n'at.)


"Okay, if I can't EACHOO!, then can I maybe just LEEKYOO! a little bit? Pretty please? Would you deny this face anything it demands? Really? You would? Hmm. Fine, then. I will just have a hysterically comical diaper explosion in the car on the way home, then. That'll teach you, bwahaHAHAHA!" (Funny how they learn the evil laugh so early, innit?)


An actual jellyfish, and not a whole bunch of gross salps this time! Whoo hoo! When we were kids, finding jellyfish corpses that washed up on the beach were like finding the Holy Grail, because you could torture your siblings with them, or cut them up into pieces to use as "crystal" decorations on your sand castles. (I usually went with Option A. And that's my sister's foot, not mine.)


This is my very favorite picture from the whole day - I love how in this picture you can see exactly how much my sister and her daughter look alike. The shape of their foreheads, eyes, noses, mouths, chin - all identical. And their eyes are EXACTLY the same color. And they are both SO HAPPY to be at the beach, just like Shae and I always are.

Good times, good times.


Beach Blanket Bingo

Long before my grandfather passed, literally weeks prior, my sister and I made plans to go to the beach with the kids for a day while she was on vacation for a week. Our pre-scheduled day turned out to be the day before the funeral.

I don't know about you, but I think the only day better than any random nice day to go to the beach is the day before one of the worst days of your life. So we went through with our plans, got up super-early, left before first light, and spent the day chasing seagulls in the sand.


We also played in the surf for a really long time and learned that it is really hard to set up a beach umbrella plus a sun tent when there are no big dudes or engineers around, as there often are when we go to the beach (as my husband is a big dude, and he and my other sister are both engineers).


Thank goodness for my cousin Greg and his lovely girlfriend Taylor, who actually is an engineer-in-training, and who met us at the beach later in the morning. Taylor made quick work of the tent, and because we had additional "adult" supervision (more like "addled" supervision, as my high school French teacher might have said), I was able to sit in my chair and play the part of my mother, chain-smoking and reading my trashy romance novel while the kids ate fistfuls of sand and built "sand castles" by basically dumping water on themselves. (I don't know either; my husband is the engineer, remember?)


What -- you don't take a big bathtub-sized plastic bucket with you to the beach, too, so the kids can sit there and look at it? My kid wouldn't use it for anything because she didn't want to "get it dirty." (It's from the dollar store or some such -- it has already suffered worse indignities, no doubt.)


But, as we always do, we had a great time, and now I am really, really stoked for vacation, in just 16 more days. (WHOO!) Maybe exponentially so more, now that I know there is a White Castle nearby. (Half an hour or so, BUT STILL. White Castle. COME ON. Large quantities of tiny cheeseburgers RULE.)

(Also: more pics tomorrow, including some of my niece, who remains the most adorable niece in the whole wide world and just gets cuter all the time.)