Ultimate Scrabble Championship of the Universe

Ben grew up with parents that are avid game, and specifically, Scrabble players. He's also a mathematician, which makes it nearly impossible to beat him at games involving strategy. So, in order to keep things civil, we set special rules to give me at least a small chance at winning. We played Yahtzee before we were married because I could win if the dice cooperated. When we played cribbage, I'd get a twenty point lead for the first year of our marriage. In Boggle, he's not allowed to use the three letter words--he's crazy good at Boggle. But, Scrabble is a whole other story. When Tina comes to visit, she and Ben play, and occasionally I put my knitting down and join in. For 2 years, Tina and I would ask Ben to close his eyes or hum a song while we discussed the best play. We'd even be allowed to used the Scrabble dictionary as much as we needed, and still Ben would always win.

On Saturday, Ben asked Tina if she wanted to play the Ultimate Scrabble Championship of the Universe. I pulled good tiles, Tina came up with good plays and the dictionary was our friend. Finally Ben lost a game of Scrabble. We videotaped Ben conceding defeat, but then baked him cinnamon rolls for being a good sport.

Which will it be?

We had the ultrasound earlier this month, so we know the gender of our little one, but we aren't sharing it just yet. It's exciting to have this one little thing that Ben and I know. Also, we like yellow and green, and it seems a little personal to be discussing the baby's bits already.

That said, we are enjoying everyone's guesses, so place your vote in the sidebar. Voting ends on the anniversary of my birth (April 9th).

Inaugural Turnovers

I spent most of the day glued to the coverage of Obama's inauguration. At lunch I made red, white and blue turnovers as an inaugural treat. Ingredients: Trader Joe's Puff Pastry sheet, egg wash, cherry preserves, cream cheese and blueberry preserves. They were tasty and festive.

First baby picture

baby picture
Originally uploaded by quirky granola girl
This is a photo from our ultrasound last week. Watching the moving ultrasound with the cute knees and elbows (and the stomping on my bladder) is pretty amazing. The baby even yawned while we were watching.

I have a dream...about Obama

I had a really wacky dream last night. In the dream I was Jennifer Aniston and I had a thing with Barack Obama. I lived in a co-op house with some of my (actual, not TV) friends from high school and Barack Obama and his family. It was obvious that Michelle was still deeply in love with Barack, but she was taking the news with dignity. Meanwhile, Sasha and Malia were friends of mine and Malia was trying to get me to tell her who was the cause of mommy and daddy’s break-up. There were many other madcap sitcom situations, but the story really came to a climax when Barack and I met up on a Robinson Crusoe-type island in the middle of a river (he has to keep me all hush-hush, of course). He had to get to the island in secret, so he rode a velour couch from the shore (the couch was propelled through the water by joystick, naturally). We had to climb ropes to get to the canopy and Obama brought along a wrinkly old yoga teacher to give me, Jennifer Aniston, a massage. Then an earthquake hit the river and the water tsunami caught Barack while he was climbing up the rope and he might drown….. The dream ended there with a season cliffhanger.

I wonder when the next season of the Jennifer Aniston and Barack Obama show airs….

In the meantime I keep giving Ben presidential briefings. He declared the kitchen a disaster area after I spilled cereal on the counter.

Try this and tell me if I'm crazy

I think I invented something new and delicious, but I need input to tell me if it is true or if I'm just the crazy pregnant lady with weird cravings. I had a root beer float for desert last night, but wasn't too into the root beer. Today I tried it with ginger ale. It's not very photogenic, so I didn't take a picture, but it tastes quite lovely. It's sweet and light and gingery and it makes me very happy today. What do you think?

Belly Picture

My Belly Pic
Originally uploaded by quirky granola girl

20 weeks and 4 days, and I have one last pair of stretchy corduroys that fit, but that was three days ago. The scale said I gained 3 pounds in two days, so they won't fit for long.

Ben's scarf

Ben's scarf
Originally uploaded by quirky granola girl
I forgot to post this picture last week. I finally finished Ben's Noro Striped Scarf on Christmas Day. Now I'm working on one for me.

Kiwi the Cat

Kiwi the Cat
Originally uploaded by quirky granola girl

I also found this video of Kiwi. At the end you can hear her classic purring with any human contact, even if she's just being pestered.

For a Good, Sweet Kitty

Our cat, Kiwi, had a lot of personality. She was the mouthiest cat I've ever met, but also the only cat I've ever known to crave/demand so much human attention. She became sick with kidney disease this past year and died on January 2nd, 2009. She was likely 18 years old.

I got her from the Humane Society in April of 2001 and the people that surrendered her said she was 11 years old with a long tail and liked to lay in the sun. I picked her out because she was social and talkative, and at the time I lived by myself in a studio apartment. A couple of weeks after I brought her home, I called a friend to ask if I could come over to escape Kiwi's constant talking. We contemplated dialing the phone for her so she could prank call someone else.

After the studio apartment, I moved into a co-op house where she had many more people to talk to. She became an outdoor cat after many days of demanding at the door that she be let outside. At first she would just follow people around the garden in the yard, but she then became bolder and bolder as the summer went on. Kiwi's most infamous story was the time I got a call from the Barrymore Theater in Madison. Someone checked her tag and called to inform me that Kiwi had talked one of the theater owners out of a chicken dinner and then waltzed up on stage to meow at the crowd that had paid to see the heavy metal band that was performing. I'm not kidding. She was on stage with the band 2 or 3 times that night. Her risk-taking behaviors increased in late summer/early fall when she was found lying in the middle of our side street just daring someone to tell her to get out of the road. Eventually, she got picked up by animal control and had to spend the night in kitty jail. When the authorities brought her home she was grounded to the indoors for the rest of her life. This probably annoyed my housemates to no end, but it shortly turned to winter and then Kiwi and I moved into our own place again.

We moved to a third floor apartment with only a door to a hallway that she could easily be caught in. She got used to the idea. On Gilman, she enjoyed the sunny south-facing windows with views of other rooftops and the chimney swifts. Kiwi came with me when I moved into my first apartment with Ben in Madison, but she had a difficult time adjusting to him being on her side of the bed. Eventually she disrupted his sleep enough that we had to find her a different place to sleep at night.

Kiwi always hated car rides and would scream and pant until the car stopped. We had to drug her to bring her to our new home in Beloit. She slept most of the way, but would wake to pitifully try to dig her way out of the cat carrier. She quickly became accustomed to the new house and enjoyed greeting my yoga students after class to try to get as much attention as possible before they would be allowed to go home. Once, on a sunny spring day, we put her outside in our tent so she could get some fresh air. She didn't like the idea and promptly peed in the tent. Kiwi was always a great mouser (even without front claws) and she caught at least 8 mice last winter in the basement. In the past two years she'd taken up studying math on Ben's lap while he graded homework on the couch.

Kiwi was always good to the children that visited us. She didn't actually like being touched by them or even near them, but would tolerate anything like a true martyr. Once, our nephew cornered her by the couch and laid his head on her soft fur and she put up with it until she could escape. The picture below was taken just last month for our Christmas card and shows just how much she'd put up with.

She was a good and sweet kitty to all who knew her and will be greatly missed.