Mad knife skillz. Like a samurai, almost.

Two Christmases ago, I asked for a gift certificate to Sur La Table, the gourmet cooking store that also offers cooking classes. Bryan obliged, but stuck a note to my gift card saying that he wanted me to go there and learn knife safety. The man freaks out anytime I have anything sharper than a butterknife in my hand. So what did I do? I promptly spent all of my gift card on a series of classes which had nothing to do with knives.

To make up for not following the rules (and really just because I wanted to take another class), I finally signed up for the Knife Skills class they offer. Last night was the class.

The results? Well, I think my tomato peel rose speaks for itself!!

Yep, using a paring knife, I peeled a tomato, ending up with just ONE strip of tomato peel, then I contorted that sucker into a rose! I was impressed with myself. My teacher was so impressed he carried that masterpiece around the class and showed it off! I have missed my calling, people. I need to go into food peel art.

Even though this was the most exciting thing to come from the class, it was really just a small part. Mostly we learned how to hold a knife properly; how to slice, dice, and julienne properly; how to not chop your fingers off (it’s called "the claw"). Because of my arthritis, I haven’t been able to bend my right wrist since I was about 8, so the teacher was great about helping me figure out what worked best for me. I found that for some things (herbs, celery, tomatoes), a regular chef’s knife is great for me, but for others (onions, carrots, potatoes), I’m better with a serrated knife. So I bought one of those. :)

All in all, I think I accomplished what Bryan hoped I would, and I feel pretty confident I won’t be chopping any digits off anytime soon. And I am totally itching to figure out someplace to use that tomato rose skill now.


Funny, 'cause I actually kinda *feel* six years old.

Tuesday was a big day for me. For the first time in a good twenty years, I had a cavity filled!

When I was really little, maybe five years old, my mom took me to a dentist in Hopewell for a filling. I'm pretty sure this was intended to be a routine dental procedure, but for some reason the dentist wouldn't let my mom come back into the room with me. So naturally, as he started towards my mouth with some scary dental power tool, I freaked. I wanted my mom, and I started calling for her. Instead of letting her come back, or calming me down in some nice way, he put one hand over my mouth and the other over my nose and shut me right up. Thus began my dentist phobia. (For the record, I distinctly remember both my mother and my father wanting to kick this guy's ass... and when I was a teenager I remember considering finding him and doing the same myself. I'm sure someone eventually did kick his ass though, he obviously deserved it.)

So, I went to the dentist a fair bit as a child (because my mama gave me no choice), but as a teenager, I avoided it at all costs. Throughout college, even, I stayed away as much as I could, with nary a teeth cleaning visit. Until Sara and I became best friends. Sara's mom (aka Mama P.) is a dental hygienist, so naturally Sara began harassing me about taking better care of my teeth. I don't remember the turning point, but eventually I started going to the dentist regularly again. Thankfully, all that I needed was a cleaning every six months, and so until this week, I managed to avoid the scary dental power tools.

Recently I decided to switch dentists and start going to the one where Mama P. works. Somehow I had gotten off the teeth cleaning wagon for about a year and a half, and so when I went a couple weeks ago for a cleaning, I was told it was time to have this one tiny cavity filled. And I didn't realize how scared I was until I parked my car and found myself trying to come up with some reason that I should cancel my appointment.

But I didn't. And Dr. Mason and her assistant Libby were great. They tolerated my many, many questions quite well: "How long will it take? What will you do? How long will that part take? Will it hurt? What's that? What will it feel like? But how long will the actual BLASTING part take? Can I have some valium?"

Finally, Dr. Mason said, "Didn't Mama P tell you I was going to put on my kid gloves for you? I do this to six year olds all the time, you know."

Yes, well... fine.

So, I shut up. Or shut OPEN, if you will. And it took like ten minutes, and it didn't hurt. And now I can eat as much chocolate on that side of my mouth as I want, pain-free. :-D


Meet Miss Ally Lynn!

On March 1, there was a new addition to the Klinger side of our family! Miss Allison Lynn was born to Kelley and Jason and big brother Joey. In spite of outage season, which keeps Bryan working almost every weekend at this time of year, we managed to sneak up to Pennsylvania last weekend to meet our new niece. And lemme tell ya, she is PRECIOUS!
I pretty much held her the whole time we were at Kelley's house. She has a head full of the most beautiful black hair, and I couldn't stop petting her. Ha! :)

Bryan wanted to cuddle a little, too, so he held the cat since I wouldn't give up the baby.

Okay, that's not true... I did give up the baby eventually. But only long enough for Bryan to get a picture with her and her proud big brother, Joey.

Ally thought she would show off while we were there and pooped three times in a row... we'd change her, then five minutes later another poop, then another new diaper, then another poop, another new diaper, another poop, and finally, no more pooping for a while. I guess that's what babies do. :) (And I am one of those people who actually finds babies pooping cute. Ask me again if I feel that way once I have my own, I am guessing I will not.)

She didn't seem to have much interest in staying awake or opening her eyes (again, with the typical one-week-old behavior!), but we did get a picture or two of her checking out the world...


Splashin' Around Juvenile Arthritis Style.

Somehow over the past couple of weeks I have gotten super behind updating my blog. Which is understandable considering all the stuff I've been doing and the fact that work has been super busy so blog breaks just haven't happened! Anyhow, I'm going to try to get in all the fun stuff that's happened lately, but one thing at a time!

A couple of Saturdays ago, my friend Sarah W. and I volunteered at the Juvenile Arthritis Weekend at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg. Sarah's a former 4th grade teacher, so she got her own group of 6 10-year-olds, and I had a group of 5 7-year-olds. We each had a sorority girl from VCU to help us wrangle the children. I mean, entertain the children. :) The morning was spent doing activities to help the kids (and us) get to know each other and then a little time in the arcade, then in the afternoon we all went to the water park.

Some of you may not be familiar with Great Wolf Lodge. It is a massive hotel/resort with its very own water park inside. And it ain't no little water park. It's huge... I think there are four pools counting the Lazy River, and a giant clubhouse thing in the middle with some slides coming off of it and a giant bucket of water that fills and empties on the children every so often (their website tells me it holds nearly 1,000 gallons of water!), and then many bigger slides throughout. It's a lot of fun for children, and the last time I went (last year, I hung out there with Jodie and her two kids and Bryan) I had fun, too. This time, I was a bit more worried about making sure none of the five children in my charge drowned. :) We did have a great time, though!

Hanging out with the juvenile arthritis crowd is always a great experience for me. It turned out that only one little girl in my group had arthritis--the rest were siblings of children with arthritis--but my arthritis buddy, Megan, and I both share the same rheumatologist, too! I remember when I first started meeting people who also had the disease and were my age (or older for that matter). Even though you know the numbers (300,000 kids with juvenile arthritis in the US) and even though you know there are other kids dealing with the same issues you are, it is super reassuring & envigorating to actually come face to face with more and more people just like you. It truly is a family at Arthritis Foundation events, and I am so glad I found them almost eight years ago!

PS-Megan is the girl in the blue in the picture above! And while I actually have a waterproof digital camera, I was too busy whipping my head around locating 7-year-old girls to get any pictures of us in the waterpark!


You've gotta be kidding me.

I got a bill from Commonwealth Radiology from when I was in the hospital with that crazy epiglottitus stuff. They did a neck x-ray. My insurance covered most of it, of course, but not all... I have a copay or whatever.

The amount I owe them?


So they spent $.41 to send me the bill, not to mention, say, $.25 for the envelope and paper the bill is printed on and ink. Then they want me to send a check, and I have no idea how much checks cost each, but let's be conservative and say they cost $.20/each. And then I put on postage, that's another $.41.

That's $1.27 for them to get $1.12 from me.

Does anyone else think that is ridiculous?


Hey! Results!

Apparently, six months of belly dancing has paid off, at least a little bit!

Just now, I was changing my shower curtain. This is a task I hate, because my arms always get super tired and I have to rest them a few times in the process (I know, how weak can a girl be?!). Well, this time I put my arms down at the last hole because it pissed me off--the little plastic circle wouldn't come out so I could poke the shower curtain ring through it. And I realized, that was the first time I put my arms down for the whole shower curtain! This might not seem like a big deal, but for someone who generally detests exercise and never does it, it is pretty cool to see that holding my arms like this:

once a week for a whole hour has produced results! I should change shower curtains more often! (Just kidding. I still hate it.)

Incidentally, my instructor told me a couple of weeks ago that I will be promoted to the "Intermediate" class next session. I'm sad because she hasn't yet told my friend Krystyna the same thing, but the overachiever in me is ready to move to the next level, and my excitement about the class has been renewed. I'm a little nervous, though, because this will mean (most likely) I have to move my arms and my hips and feet at the same time in different motions. Oh, lord. I can get it after lots of practice, but it ain't pretty in the beginning!