Darkhorse Cabernet Sauvignon

I do not understand how a mousepad can be so sensitive that it CLOSES the tab you are working on, bs!

So, I had this whole blog thing written about what I want to do here with this blog, but I don’t have the patience or the time to reiterate myself.

So I’m just going to tell you about this wine that you should buy:


The Darkhorse Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s one of the best cabs you can buy for $8, IMO. I KNOW there is better wine out there, I have had tasted it! But I am a mom of 4 kids, which means that aside from actually literally needing wine occasionally, I also have many more important expenses that take precedent over the highest quality wine– ahem college x 4, anyone?!

I have had many cabs in the $10 and less price range, and this one is seriously one of the best in its class. It doesn’t taste like a rioja or a zin, or a blend of some god awful varietals that they had left over and decided to blend, it actually really tastes like a cab! Which happens to be my favorite varietal of wine, BTW.

It tastes full bodied, warm, notes of cherries and dark chocolate. It is really good on its own, which most wines in this price range are not. It also tastes really good with a dairy free coconut & chocolate chip cookie, not that I’ve tried that combination or anything…

Here is what Trader Joe’s says about it:

“The Cabernet hails from some of Northern California’s best growing regions, and enjoyed primary fermentation on oak before aging in stainless steel tanks for up to nine months, resulting in a melifluous marriage of flavors and aromas — coffee and blackberry aromas lead to a rich palate of mocha, dark fruit and vanilla.”

Here’s the info TJ has about the vitner:

“Darkhorse Wines are the creation of one of the most recognizable names in American winemaking.  Named in honor of a famous Triple Crown winner, Darkhorse Wines represent a Triple Crown of great-tasting, smooth-drinking wines at an incredible price.”

Just don’t go drinking it all so that they run out. And feel free to send me a bottle in thanks, just kidding! I do accept chocolate donations though, totes.


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Standards, and Things

When I thought about having children, I only really focused on the frivolous things, like what I would name them, how I would decorate the nursery, what clothes they would wear, etc. Also, I never realized that no matter how hard you try, or feel like you are doing all the “right” things, your kids may still not listen to you. Tantrums are the product of emotionally motivated little people that aren’t always rational or reasonable.

So aside from not understanding that sleep would become non-existent, and public outings are a spectacle, there are some other things I didn’t realize would be true. For example, I never considered

  • My oldest would spontaneously break into song, much of the time. Favorites have included “Three Little Birds,” by Bob Marley, “Lonely Boy,” by The Black Keys, “Gold on the Ceiling,” TBK, and that nursery rhyme, Miss Mary Mack
  • My oldest would be able to lock and unlock the baby gate at will. Sometimes she will lock the cat out of the kitchen just so she can laugh at him.
  • My kids would like the things I like, especially sourdough. My oldest LOVES caesar salad, ever since she was old enough to eat lettuce, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we spent an inordinate amount of time at Sweet Tomatoes, a somewhat higher brow place than Fresh Choice. Same with my younger girl, she loves baby carrots, which I ate almost every day of my last trimester during a legal internship. With baby boy I ate tons of cottage cheese (which I had been revolted by most of my life), and yogurt with raspberries. So far he loves raspberry yogurt, and macaroni and cheese (which his older sisters and mama of course love too).
  • That my oldest would LOVE vegetables. Seriously, she is way into brussel sprouts, broccoli, sugar snap peas, and celery, in particular. And while I’d like to pretend that it has anything to do with my parenting, I know it’s just the way her tastebuds are. Otherwise her sister would follow suit. Luckily, she’ll sometimes mimic her (see below), and I can get her to eat a vegetable other than carrots or corn.
  • My kids would love Barney. I hate Barney. I cannot stand watching Barney. I don’t know why, I just have a negative association with him. I happen to thoroughly enjoy movies like thisone.
  • Similarly, Care Bears freak me out. I know I used to love them with a capital L, but now they are borderline creepy. I think it’s the artificial intonation of their voices. Shudder.
  • My (now 2 1/2 year old) younger daughter would do every single exact thing her older sister does. Good or bad. Against her interests or not. For example, at dinner time, if older sister declares she doesn’t like something, younger sister does too, even if it’s her favorite thing to eat. Mimicking doesn’t stop at likes and dislikes, it spills over into stealing toys from each other, laughing in a weird pitch, mimicking songs sister is singing (see above), shouting catchphrases at bedtime, etc. On and on. This is actually how she learned to run, almost the day after walking. It’s also how she learned to use a cup, fork, spoon, etc. And how she started talking in complex sentences with a venerable encyclopedia of words by the time she was two. I remember when my oldest was two panicking about how “little” she was talking, eventhough she at the time spoke over 500 words, though not necessarily in sentences. Now, of course, she never stops talking. I even hear her talking in her sleep upon occasion.
  • My kids would carry around seemingly random junk and crap, and covet it like treasure. In various containers, bags, etc. Puzzle pieces, rocks, fairies, wooden blocks, and other trinkets abound everywhere.
  • Our car would become like a moving toy chest. I really need to clean it out and deep vacuum it, but the baby freaks out at the sound, so I can no longer resort to the vacuuming at the gas station trick. I have become increasingly less motivated to negotiate out of them bringing more things in the car, if it means I will get at least a small amount of quiet in between the music requests, random questions, and overall nonstop talking and general noise.
  • It’s almost impossible to concentrate on driving with children who can talk in the car. “Mommy! I want to tell you something. Guess what? I have purple shoes,” etc.
  • My kids would put almost anything and everything in their mouths, just to see how it feels or tastes.
  • That I would be that mom in the grocery store, or Target, or whatever. Yesterday, when we were leaving a birthday party, and I wasn’t doing whatever it was that big girl wanted that second, she was actually hitting me, pinching me, yelling and screeching, in addition to almost sitting on the ground. As I continued to chuckle to myself at her unreasonableness and tell her that we were leaving, I noticed that everyone in the lobby was staring at us. I let an untrue “someone’s had too much cake,” comment slip out in the direction of the guy behind the desk, and he smiled, as if he believed me.
  • How you parent your first child is not the same as how you parent your second or third child. When your first is born you think that everything you are doing is the only way and everyone else doesn’t know what they are talking about, or at least you are incredibly skeptical. But with subsequent babies, you naturally calm down a bit, and change the way you do things. I’ve actually seen a book called how to raise your first child like a second, or something like that. As if reading a book could substitute for the actual hands on experience of rearing a child. Some things you just have to experience.
  • That the complete subversion of self into the service of little people, while all consuming, I would still never wish it were any other way. Even during the most challenging and stressful times.

Now that I’ve covered the amorphous “things” part of my post, I’ll move onto the standards. As I often like to plan years in advance, a habit of attempting to finish college early, and scheduling lawschool with two small children, I was looking at the Kindergarten standards for my oldest girl the other night, and I was kind of shocked.

Well, I wasn’t looking that early, since if the state legislature hadn’t changed the cutoff date for K, baby girl would have only been 2 weeks too young to attend, and I have no doubt she would LOVE to go now. So anyway, back to the standards.

I didn’t really look at the Math portion as closely, because as we all know, I am somewhat incapable of Math at this point. Too many years away from studying/actually using it, I rely heavily and embarrassingly on my phone’s calculator, I tend to deny that it actually exists. I’m sure I will look more closely when the relevant time comes.

Some of the things that struck me were that at the end of Kindergarten, kids are expected to:

  • Recognize and name all the uppercase and lower case letters of the alphabet
  • Know what a rhyming word is, and when given a word, be able to state a word that rhymes with it
  • Count the sounds in a syllable and the syllables in a word (I’m not even sure what this one means?)
  • And various other things related to reading and writing

In terms of all of the listening and speaking aspects, such as being able to restate a story, etc., girl will have NO problems in that area. She talks all.the.time nonstop about almost everything, and she’s got a memory like no one’s business. Sometimes she will randomly recount things from over a year ago. And she loves to ask questions. Lately, she has asked her friends what kinds of sheets and blankets they have on their beds, or what color their houses or parents’ cars are. She’s got a mind like a steel trap. Anyway, perhaps it’s the thought that my little 5 year old will soon be not only expected to but capable of performing these things that blows my mind.

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The Calm After the Storm

Some days, bedtime cannot come fast enough. The constant battle that rages between my children and I over why it’s not a good idea to climb on furniture, tackle each other, throw things, run full speed towards each other, etc. becomes unnerving. But, even on the worst days, I always miss them after they go to sleep.

The silence unfolds uncomfortably across the entire house, and all that can be heard is the rhythmic sounds of the rain setting of the white noise machine. Of course baby boy will wake up in an hour or so, seemingly the lightest sleeper of the bunch.

But the girls, they have been concurrently sleeping through the night for over a year now. Of course there is always some sort of pre-falling asleep chit chat, or sometimes raucous laughter or screaming out each others’ names, warnings about things falling out of cribs such as the occasional bear or baby doll, or other strange catchphrases (e.g. Happy Birfday!, Super Duper! To the rescue! etc.-as an aside, today they were calling each other “grandmother” and alternating tending to each others’ imaginary wounds or other issues-)

So aside from that post-story chatter, unless someone is really sick or going through some sort of mental development, or perhaps having a bad dream (or if they wakeup to notice that a baby or bear has in fact fallen out of their crib), then they sleep through the night. The only noises emanating from their room being the oscillating heater that turns on when it drops below a certain temperature. As I sit in the living room starting in on my “real” work for the day, after I step over countless toys strewn about, gaze upon the baby dolls, books, things set aside for “tomorrow,” I sometimes wish that they were just taking a few hour nap, like they used to when they were younger, so that they would soon be waking up to play.

Obviously, I realize that I will in fact be setting off to bed at that time, and having kids waking up rested and ready to play would not work, it still sometimes indulgent to think about. In addition to that, all the baby dolls all over the room kind of freak me out. It’s only when the girls are carrying them around, clutching them in their arms, that I feel certain the dolls will not turn against me. (It might be because I saw this film, or something like it as a child, and have been skeptical ever since.–This film, by the way, was playing on a big screen in the club where they had our first “bar review” social gathering after completing the first week of law school. Coincidence? I think not.)

So, eventhough I know that they need their sleep, and we all generally need our rest apart, I still miss them. My little doll sheppards.

What sort of motivated me to write this post, in addition to a chance encounter with one of said baby dolls, was something my grandfather said to me today. We try to visit them every week or so, my grandmother (the kids’ great grand mother) will turn 80 next week, and my grandfather (their great grandfather) will be 77. Anyway, as we were leaving, he said something to the effect of, “man I wish I was in her shoes!” Being the sarcastic person he is, I wasn’t sure if he meant Isabelle, Maya, or I, so I asked him who, and he responded me. Usually he says things like, “better you than me” when I’m leaving with the tired and cranky girls :), so I’m not sure how to interpret what he said next, but he said “you are around non-stop excitement all day long 7-24!” And you know what, it’s true, unless of course, they are sleeping 🙂

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Waxing Romantic

Several things have gotten me thinking about Valentine’s Day, aside from your typical over the top commercial displays.

This is one of my favorites:

And of course, I can’t talk about Paul McCartney without mentioning how stoked I am to pick up a copy of his new album Kisses on the Bottom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for itunes and digital song downloads, but there is something about the excitement of going to a store in search for a tangible thing, and then having that artwork, album case, etc. It was quite exciting in fact when I took the kids to pick up El Camino on the day it was released. We listened to it back to back 3 or 4 times, and about a thousand since 🙂

A more “modern version” of a love song, although this one is accompanied by random graphics rather than a video:

These are also incredibly sweet, my apologies for the micro size, I’m having issues figuring out how to post pictures from sites:

Pink Let Love Rule Women's Vegan Classics hero

Valentine Women's Classics hero

Lastly, the integral ingredient for any VDay:

Dark Pink and Silver Foiled Dove Milk Chocolate Hearts: 35-Piece Bag

Love these milk chocolate hearts.


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My 4 year old has been showing an incredible interest in puzzles. I figured this was a neat thing to encourage, as it clearly takes more concentrated thought and problem solving skills, etc. So, aside from the more simple board puzzles we owned, we started acquiring different puzzles. First, for her fourth birthday, we got this really neat set of 4 Disney puzzles, that are compartmentalized. Each puzzle has its own symbol on the back, so that at the end of the puzzle melee, you can sort them back out again (e.g. the fairies puzzle has a butterfly on the back of the piece).

So, as a result of her birthday and the holidays, we had amassed a few different puzzles that big girl put together enthusiastically. So, we were strolling through Target one day, and I saw this set of Disney puzzles that had 8, yes EIGHT, different puzzles in it. In addition to the princesses and fairies, it also had a few less girly puzzles, awesome I thought. I noticed that the puzzles were of varying size, e.g. a few 150 piece, a few 300, and then 2 500, or something like that. I thought it would be great because then big girl could increase the level of difficulty, wouldn’t get bored, etc.

Well, let me tell you. There’s a reason that 8 puzzles fit in such a seemingly small box. I’d say each piece is about the size of a stamp. Yes, barely visible. And, thus, each puzzle is about the size of a standard piece of paper. That’s all fine and well, except for the fact that the puzzle is for my 4 year old. What does this mean? It means that the puzzle is more than challenging for her, and I am the one who “gets” to do much of the puzzle. Granted, she tries her little heart out, which is wonderful, but she won’t even take the suggestion of attempting to put the edge pieces together first to make things easier. So, essentially, much of what she does with the pieces doesn’t lead to much progress. Oh, and since she’s turned four, she’ll turn her nasty temper on when I tell her it’s time to put the puzzle away for the day, she’ll throw a HUGE fit that we HAVE to finish it NOW!! Ahhh! But, I guess I’m ok with her wanting to finish something she’s started.

So that is about where I would stop if we were only discussing the “typical” way that puzzles are used.

I once saw this meme on Pinterest stating that legos are 10% awesome and being played with, and about 90% being stepped on inducing shrieks of pain.

Well, for some reason, my girls LOVE to use puzzles for any purpose other than what they were intended. Lately, for example, they are “chocolates,” to be carried around in little purses or other containers and “pretend” to eat. Except that the 2.5 year old sometimes really does try to eat them.

Puzzle pieces have been used as “wash cloths” to give baby brother a bath. Yeah, that one wasn’t so great.

They have also been used as currency to purchase imaginary trinkets.

Puzzle pieces are also a favorite token of the game “make a mess.” You know, the one where you spread stuff out all over the place as you flail about and yell/laugh hysterically, make a mess!

So I’ve got about a million puzzle pieces circulating through my house, in various nooks and crannies, casualties of play time. This also means that when a puzzle is actually being assembled, there is inevitably at least 1 piece missing, usually 2-5, I’d say, on average. The more pieces to lose, the more that are usually missing.

Then, probably the most sad, yet also funny, is the interaction between the girls when puzzles are being put together. This has been the starkest when one of those teeny tiny puzzles is assembled. I’m hobbled on the ground, usually holding the baby, trying to keep him from eating puzzle pieces as he throws a fit for me doing so, my back hunched over and sore from however long we have been sitting there, four year old rolling around in the pieces I have tried to organize, but still interested in putting it together. I have, with some help from four year old, put almost 75% of the puzzle together. Considering the circumstances, I’m feeling pretty damn proud that this fairy puzzle is almost finally put together. And then it happens.

2.5 year old comes and sits down next to us as we are working on the puzzle. She feigns interest in helping, but quickly realizes that it’s not easy enough for her to do quickly, and so thus she will not be helping. She then leaves, walks around, maybe picks up another toy to play with. Then, out of nowhere, 2.5 year old runs over as fast as she can and completely destroys the puzzle, twisting the pieces apart while simultaneously using her hands to spread them across the room, laughing hysterically the whole time. Sometimes saying “make a mess” (see above), other times saying nothing more.

4 year old throws a fit, cries, screams, etc. I usually start laughing at the irony, and then sit in disbelief, reflecting on the fact that this puzzle is never going to get done, and will probably be around for the rest of my life. But I guess that’s ok.

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