Tuesday, August 30, 2005

And breathe...just breathe

Ahhhhhhhhh. That's a sigh of relief. Relief that Millie has departed, not to return to Christmas (it's OK, I didn't want to have a pleasant holiday anyway). As soon as I knew she was on her plane back to her far-off land, my body untensed a little bit. I'm still reeling from her visit, so now, 3 days later, I still have some residual tension. I truly believe that everything she said and did to me was designed to be some test of how far she could push me, and how much control she could exert over me. She won't take no for an answer, and she doesn't listen to reasoning.

For instance, Chris will be going on a business trip in November, most likely to LA. He doesn't know the exact details yet, but it will probably be a 3 day trip, in which he will be working day and night for all 3 days. Millie tells me, "Oh, you should go with him! It would be like a second honeymoon for you guys!" I told her that when I first heard about it, I was jealous and wanted to go too, but it wasn't going to be a good idea. "Oh, nonsense, it will be great! I really think you NEED to go." I explain that Chris will be working all day and all night. "Well, that's fine. You can do your own thing during the day and then the two of you can go out for nice dinners at night." "But Chris will be working at night," I reiterate. "Oh, he probably won't work that late. You really need to go with him. You need to get away. What weekend is it? I can probably come in and watch Eric for you. YOU NEED TO GO."

I tried my damndest to make it very clear to her that I would not be going on this trip, but she just wasn't listening. As we were saying our goodbyes, Chris says, "We'll see you at Christmas!" She replies, "Oh, no, before that! I'm going to come in November so I can watch Eric while you guys go out of town!" Argh.

Honestly, that little episode was the least of my worries last week, but it just highlights her personality. It was a long week, and I'm glad it's over. I really don't want to dwell on her anymore...I just needed a little cathartic release. I'm just going to put her out of my mind until the next time I have to deal with her.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Family matters

On or about the time of my marriage to Chris, a new "friend" entered my life. Uh, let's call her Millie. You know, MILlie. Let me tell you a little bit about Millie. She is a nice lady with good intentions who happens to be passive-aggressive. She lives 2000 miles away and rarely calls us or returns our calls when we leave messages for her. She is famous for calling me at times when it is commonly known that I am not available to take calls. She will then leave messages that sound something like this: "Now, Kristi, you had better call me soon! I was just calling you because I hadn't heard from you in a long, long, long, long, long, long time and I want to know how my baby is. I would like it if YOU would call me sometime, not just Chris. OK? I'm starting to think that you don't like me and you don't want me to be part of your life. I just want to be part of Eric's life. [sniffle] I just don't want you to forget about me. [cry] You know, Eric does have TWO grandmas. [SOB] I don't think I can talk anymore. Just...I don't know. You had better call me back or else! [Gulp]" Then I will try calling her several times, leaving several messages until I eventually give up and a couple weeks later she leaves another message like that. When we do actually connect on the phone, this is how our conversation goes:

Millie: "How are you doing?"
Me: "Oh, I'm doing pretty well--keeping myself very busy. How about you?"
Millie: "Oh...me? Well, I'm just terrible--you know, the usual. [Insert 20 minutes of how bad she has it]. You should really call me more often!"
Me: "Well, Millie, as inviting as that sounds, I honestly dedicate the majority of my free time to sytematically ripping off my toenails."

Oh, wait...I don't really say that. In fact, it doesn't really matter what I say. She just says it as a pleasantry. Judging by the number of times I call and leave messages for her before she calls me back, she's really not that into talking to me.

In person, we generally get along fine. The way I describe our relationship to my friends is by saying that she is someone with whom I have very little in common and would not have ever crossed paths with were it not for the fact that we now have relatives in common. I fill her in on what's been going on for the past few months with Eric and our family, but other than that, it's a struggle to come up with things to say. She tries to be nice and helpful, but every once in a while, she'll say something that just really gets on my nerves. I think we have a bit of a power struggle wherein she feels that she has the authority to act like my mother while I don't feel that I have to take that crap from her--I already have one mother, thankyouverymuch.

I still can't tell whether it's her actual personality that gets on my nerves, or if it is her persona as Millie that gets to me. I think she has a certain image of how a MIL is supposed to act, so she acts that way. I know some things that irk me are really minor, and I shouldn't be so petty, but I just can't help it! First of all, MY child is a blend of both his mother and his father, in looks and in personality. He is not YOUR child, and he does not take 100% of his genetics from your son. I was not just some random vessel selected to carry the chosen one. Secondly, you see my baby once every three to five months, for a couple of days at a time--stop telling me what he likes and doesn't like, and that he "always" acts a certain way. And, thirdly, just know that my parents are going to buy him mostly practical gifts, at my request, for holidays, so don't waste your breath calling "dibs" on the most outlandish, overpriced pieces of crap you can find. Months ago, and then again a couple of days ago, she told me to let my parents know that SHE was going to buy him a Hummer power wheels for Christmas. I was thinking, "Uh, OK, Millie. I know my parents aren't going to spend $300 on something like that." And really, they wouldn't. It's not like they don't buy him nice gifts, but they tend to agree with me that $300 is too much for something like that. Another thing is that I know Millie really can't afford it. She just wants to buy it so that she can one-up my parents.

So, usually I just keep my mouth shut about Millie, because honestly I don't have it that bad. Mainly, I just find it fun to make an artform out of being annoyed by her. I kept my mouth shut when she caused a scene at Eric's birthday party and then stormed out. I suck it up and call her back when she leaves me messages that make me want to block her number from my cell phone. But this time, she's really gotten to me.

We found out last week, on Wednesday, that she was coming to town on Sunday (four days later). It was supposed to be a surprise, but her sister let it leak. I really find it insulting that she would come to town for a week, presumably to visit us, mainly Eric, and then not even tell us. She's staying with her sister, so I guess that takes a load off me. But, like I tell her every time I talk to her, I'm a busy person. Had I known she was coming, I would have planned for it. I wouldn't have made plans with other people. I might have even taken some time off work. The same goes for Chris, obviously. But now I just feel put out. Fuck that, I want to tell her. If it was important to her to see us or our baby, she certainly would have let us know that she would be in town. So, what can I deduce from that? It just makes me mad; I feel like the only way she can figure out how to deal with us is by hassling us.

We saw her on Sunday night. She slobblered all over the baby then handed him back to me and told me how she was sick as a dog and had been all week. "What do you have?" I asked. "Oh, first it was a cold and then it turned into the flu. I just feel miserable." Ugh. You know what...you haven't seen Eric in three months, another day or two is not going to hurt you. I mean, is it too much to ask that you be relatively germ-free before you get in my baby's face? Then she said something to the effect of how we'll have to get together during the week. OK, I'm not a complete ass, and I'm generally free during the day, until I leave for work at 3:30, so I say, "Yes of course." Then she says, "Yeah, you can just take some time off work and we'll go out some night." Uh, no...sorry. I completely forgot that this is the week that I have set aside to systematically rip off my toenails.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Cap it to travel

Just outside the city of Chicago, in a town called Elmwood Park, lives a Chicagoland legend. Johnnie's Italian Beef is a little sandwich stand that is home to some fantastic Italian Beef sandwiches, tasty Italian Ices and the most efficient fast-food service known to man. I haven't been to the Original Johnnie's in years, so forgive me if I mess up the exact details. What I have in my memory is a bit of a blur between what I actually remember and stories I have heard from my parents.

Johnnie's is remniscent of an old car-hop, only without service to your car. If you were one of the lucky few, you could park on either side of the building. There was a door on either side of the building, but you entered from the east and exited to the west. There was just enough room upon entrance for about 10 people to move along the counter as they placed their order and then scooted down to wait for it. A line usually formed outside well past the door. Under NO circumstances were you allowed to wait in the doorway with the door propped open. If space did not allow for you to stand inside Johnnie's, you patiently waited outside the closed door until someone exited at the other end and made room for you.

On many occasions, the man taking orders was a very large, extremely agitated man whom my parents referred to as "Johnnie." I don't know if they knew that for a fact, or if they just assumed it to be true. Johnnie was not only in charge of getting your order, but also making sure it was processed and packaged correctly, and, additionally, making sure that the door was not being held open. Johnnie had no patience for indecision. If you did not know what you wanted by the time you reached Johnnie, you shouldn't have gotten in line in the first place. Akin to Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, Johnnie held the key to your success or failure at buying lunch.

Johnnie would take your order and then shout it down to the next person in the assembly line, including--get this--the type of packaging they were to use for it. Let's say you ordered an italian beef, dipped in juice, with hot peppers, an order of fries and a medium coke, to go. Johnnie would yell over to a person standing all of two feet from him, "Wet Italian Beef Hot! Fries! Small Bag! Medium Coke! Cap it to travel! HEY, KEEP THAT DAMN DOOR CLOSED!" Absolutely nothing was left up to the discretion of Johnnie's employees.

I was reminded of Johnnie's overkill on efficiency because of recent dealings I've had with Wendy's. Much like the Walgreens of a previous post, Wendy's has absolutely nothing going for it except it's location three blocks from my home. After my I've-had-it-up-to-here experience with them on Friday night, I'm thinking of contacting the manager and suggesting he track down Johnnie and see if he does consulting.

Chris and I go to Wendy's once every one to two weeks. We always order the same thing, consisting of two chicken sandwiches, two orders of fries and one small order of Chili. Here's the thing--much to the dismay of the Wendy's employees, it just doens't fit in one bag. They try their damndest to make it fit--they really do. And they get pissy with me when they try to hand me a bag where my fries (which are always cold and chewy, by the way) are hanging out the top, and I nicely request that they separate my order into two bags. "[Insert exasperated sigh here] Fine." Surely I can't be the only person in the land who doesn't want to drive around with a bag of fast food that is hanging out of the top of the bag and a) getting cold and b) likely to topple and end up all over the floor. What's worse than cold, chewy fries? Oh yeah, that's right, cold, chewy fries strewn about the passenger side floorboard.

So, here's my question: do I start ordering my food the way Johnnie would shout it out to his workers? "Two number 7s in a large bag! One small chili in a small bag! One Dr. Pepper and one Lemonade--cap 'em to travel!"

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Mad hatter

For as long as I can remember, I have been quite fond of hats. In general, and much to the dismay of my friends and family, I am of the belief that the more unique the hat, the better. It has been a while now, but I used to wear hats quite often. I'll have to dig out some of the pictures...

As luck would have it, I have been blessed with a hat-loving baby. Anything that even vaguely resembles a hat will be put on his head. He simply adores hats. How lucky am I?

Here are some shots of the baby Eric in all his hatted glory:


When I ask Eric for kisses, usually one of three things will happen. One of his long time favorite things to do is to bow his head down to my lips and allow me to kiss his forehead, as if he is royalty and I, some pleb who should be honored that he even cast his regal glance in my direction. Another kiss that Eric is fond of is a bit more straightforward. He simply presses his pursed lips against mine--no fanfare, no mushy stuff, just a plain old peck.

Then there's this third, new kiss. This kiss, I would say, falls into the "let's please hope you grow out of this by the time you reach your teens" category. This new kiss entails closing his eyes, opening his mouth, sticking out his tongue and slobbering all over my face. I honestly wonder if maybe he has access to my memory cells and has been watching replays of some of my more horrific dating encounters. In any case, I hope it's a passing phase because I don't want to be the one to have to tell my son that girls don't like sloppy dog kisses.

Here he is geared up for kiss type two:

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

And we meet at last...

Tonight I had the awkward pleasure of finally meeting someone I have heard about for the past seven years, Joey. He is the son of one of the partners at my mom's law firm. Shortly after my mom started working there, she learned that Joey and I were the same age. We were both in college at the time--at rival Big Ten schools. The school I went to happened to be the alma mater of both of his parents; the school he went to, well, let's just say it was second rate.

Over the course of the years, it was revealed through interactions I had with Joey's father that Joey and I had quite a bit in common. We were both involved in theatre. We both took improv classes at Second City. We both got our degrees in the spring of 2001 and dawdled all summer instead of looking for jobs. When the economy crashed in September, we both lost all hope of ever finding "real" jobs and started working at different locations of the same chain restaurant. We both have the same smart-ass sense of humor. We both liked the same bands and had been at the same concerts without knowing it. Etc., etc., etc.

From the tone of these conversations, I started to worry that a set-up was on the horizon. Luckily, I found out from my mom that his parents were still holding out hope that he would marry a nice Jewish girl, so it was unlikely that dad would be playing matchmaker with a cradle Catholic. You see, despite the fact that we had all these things in common on paper, I could tell from the stories I'd heard that we had very different personalities. I'm sure we would get along and have plenty to talk about, but he was definitely a little bit frat boy, while, I on the other hand, was a little bit band camp girl.

Anyway, fastforward to now... I work at my mom's office as the evening legal secretary. Joey comes into the office at least once a week to visit and use the laser printer to print his resume on his headshot. We have exchanged pleasantries and such, but have never been formally introduced. I wondered if he even knows who I am. I mean, don't tell me that hours of my life that I'm never going to get back were spent listening to Joey stories, meanwhile he never heard one kind word about me. And, even if he did hear about "Kristi," did he know that I was the Kristi?

Well, tonight we finally officially "met." We engaged in a good half-hour of conversation, along with one of the attorneys who knows us both well. It started to get awkward, though, because I really didn't know how to play it. Do I let on that, despite the fact that we have never said more than "Hello" to each other, I know that he once "lent" his dad a pair of black socks for fifty dollars and only under the condition that they would be overnighted back to him the moment they were clean. Do I just ask him how the acting career is going, or do I wait for the fact that he has acting ambitions to come up in casual conversation? It was a bit surreal. It also wasn't helped out by the fact that he didn't act as though there were any spark of recognition regarding me whatsoever. After I made a couple of references to things I knew about him, he finally let it slip that he knew some things about me as well, so I felt a little better. But, seriously, what is the socially acceptable way to handle that situation? Lay your cards on the table right off the bat? Offer tasty morsels of knowledge in hopes that they'll nibble? Pretend like you don't know anything about them? I'm still not sure, because honestly I felt fairly awkward throughout the conversation (conversation number two will probably be much smoother, though)...

Kicking my coke habit

Well, friends, I'm not going to lie to you; it's been a tough week for me. I've been detoxing for five days now and hopefully the worst of it is behind me. If I can just make it a few more days, I think I'll be in the clear. Last night, though, I was seriously jonesin'. I had to work late and I just didn't think I could get by without it. First it was the angel and the devil scenario. Then, the devil pummelled the angel into submission and I almost gave up. "Come on, man, it's not that bad for you. It's only a quarter. Don't worry about it. You can get back on track tomorrow. All the cool kids are doing it." But I stonewalled that mother fucker and I held strong. "Tonight is not going to be the night that I relapse!" I told myself over and over again. I got a headache. I got the shakes. It was tough, but I made it through.

This isn't the first time that I've tried to quit. I've quit before and been successful for a short while. I quit once after college for a while and obviously I quit when I found out I was pregnant. The first time I quit, it was horrible. I worked at a restaurant at the time. That shit is in abundance in a restaurant. I couldn't get through a single shift without some jackass bringing it up in conversation. It was as if I had engaged in a strange form of self-loathing torture. What on earth was I thinking? But you know what, I made it through that time and I'm going to get through this time as well. I mean, this time I've got a family to think about!

Oh man, if I can just get through this first week, I think I'll stop feeling so strung-out. In order to get by, I have taken solace in other stimulants, namely coffee. It really can't compare, but it helps me get through the day. I haven't told anyone that I quit cold-turkey, but I don't think anybody really realized how bad my problem was. I was really good about doing it discreetly and destroying all evidence afterwards.

The biggest problem that I am having right now is that it is so fucking ubiquitous. Coca-cola, I hate you and your evil empire. Let me have my life back. I want to free my brain from your strangle hold. I don't want to feel compelled to turn into every drive-thru I pass just to get you. I don't want to crave you anymore. I don't even like any of your family members--in fact most of them repulse me. I can't stand your partner "Diet" and I think your sister "Sprite" is a poor excuse for a carbonated beverage. Oh, and your arch nemeses, the Pepsi gang? I had a relationship with one of them on the side--Mt. Dew. That's right, Coke, take that. You wanna know what? Sometimes I found Mt. Dew to be more fulfilling than you. There, I said it. Oh man, the weight of the world is off my shoulders! Goodbye Coke! I know I can do this now!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again

Just got back this weekend from a weeklong trip with the Baby Eric, my parents, my brother and other assorted oddballs. Whew. That's all I can say right now. Whew. I'm sooooo looking forward to going to work this afternoon. My brain is too fried right now to write anything very interesting. Later, though, for sure. I'm going through some serious blog withdrawal. Eeek.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Guttural noises

A really special part of motherhood is learning to communicate with your baby. In the beginning, you try to figure out what their cries mean. You know, if it's high-pitched, he's hungry, if it's squeaky, he needs a diaper change, etc. I never really trouble deciphering Eric's cries, or should I say cry. He only really had one and it meant, "I'm really fucking pissed off and I won't calm down until you try at least seven different calming mechanisms at which point I will suddenly be happy as a clam because on the inside I'm chuckling heartily at your foolishness." Luckily for me, he didn't cry too often.

Well, these days, Eric is at a much different spot in the communication continuum. He is at the point where he seems to understand the concept of language, but is as of yet unable to use it very meaningfully. Sure he has a few words--ball, dog, woof, bear (although he says it like he's from New Yawk), ba-ba, uh-oh, dada and daddy (more like da dee). He has a wonderful range of sounds that he enjoys making, from the adorable "v" sound to the ear-piercing squeal and many things in between. Unfortunately, as with most toddlers, he has the patience of a drunk girl in line for the bathroom at a college bar. Combine the limited knowledge of language with a limited amount of patience and an unlimited amount of curiosity, and you get a lot of pointing and grunting and moaning and whining and general frustration. I mean, unless he wants to tell me, "Uh-oh, dada, dog woof ball bear uh-oh, baba" (translation: Oh, no, mother, that dog's ball was just stolen by a grizzly bear! How tragic; I'd like to contemplate that over some milk.), then our day is basically an extended version of 20 questions, where he knows the answer and is PISSED that I don't know it as well.

Take the other morning for instance. It's breakfast time, and Eric and I are enjoying one of our three favorite breakfasts: waffles and fruit. All of a sudden he starts pointing up at the top shelf of the baker's rack in our kitchen. At first I thought he was pointing to the sky to alert me of an airplane overhead (we live near the airport). Then I realized two things: first, there was no airplane noise, hence, no airplane, and second, he was definitely pointing over, not up. So, I'm trying to figure it out...I look up to the shelf. Baking soda, herbes de Provence, a stack of Cooking Light Magazines, a fancy strainer thing and a roll of paper towels...which could it be? He's getting frantic, and I'm clueless as to which of those items is so intriguing that he's willing to throw a tantrum over it. So, I start pointing to stuff. He shakes his head no. I point to something else, he shakes more frantically. And on it goes, with him getting more upset by the nano-second. Finally, I see what he sees. Tipped over, behind the stack of magazines, with just a tiny little corner sticking out, is a bag of Goldfish. I fish it out (pun intended) and there is a collective sigh of relief in the kitchen. So, allow me to correct an earlier statement: Eric and I are now enjoying our new favorite breakfast: waffles, fruit and goldfish.

This stage of communication is as adorable as it is frustrating. I want so much for him to tell me what he wants, but at the same time, part of me is going to miss the pointing and the head shaking stage. As with every other stage he's gone through, this one is going to be gone in the blink of an eye...just another date in the baby book. All too soon, he'll be turning those grunts into real mommy-defying words. I just read somewhere that between 18-24 months, kids can add a new word to their vocabulary as often as every 90 minutes. Fascinating, although I guess that means it's time to stop playing Snoop D-oh-double-g all day long.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

867-5309...Not just your Grandma Jenny's phone number

I remember hearing this song as a child and thinking it was a fun song. It had a catchy tune--that sort of thing. Up until recently, if you had asked me what the song was about, I would have told you, "Well, it's about this girl named Jenny whose phone number is 867-5309." As a child, that's all I got out of the song. If you asked me about that song today, I would tell you that it is proof that human beings are indeed able to retain phone numbers despite the widespread use of cell phones and speed dialing. I would also tell you that it's about a creepy guy who spied Jenny's phone number on the wall in the bathroom and has since become obsessed with her.

I'm almost embarassed to admit that I really didn't figure that out until recently. As a kid, I really didn't pay attention to that sort of thing--it was more about the music than the lyrics. Of course I've heard that song on the radio since I was a kid, but I guess I still didn't really pay attention to the lyrics. It wasn't until I was taking guitar lessons in January that I really even noticed what the lyrics were. A couple of the teachers were rocking out to the song during our break and I realized how easy it was to play. When I went home, I went online to find the chords and lyrics. Just reading the lyrics without having the music really makes you pay attention to what the song is actually saying. And, honestly, it's pretty damn creepy!
Jenny Jenny you're the girl for me
You don't know me
but you make me so happy
I tried to call you before but I lost my
I tried my imagination but I was disturbed

Creepy, no? I'm a little relieved by the fact that he was disturbed by "using his imagination" (do you think that is a euphemism for something else?). But come on, to fall in love with a girl just because the you read a sign in a bathroom that says, "For a good time call..."? There's something not right about that. Yet we still like the song. It all goes back to that catchy tune.

I've decided that I need a catchy tune for my life. That way people won't notice how incredibly boring I really am. Wouldn't it be cool if we could all walk around and just sort of eminate a song that tells the rest of the world something about us? It would be distracting, I guess, but an interesting idea (to me, at least). If you'll excuse me, I need to go compose a catchy Kristi tune.

Monday, August 01, 2005

My husband the chef

When people first hear that my husband is a chef, they inevitably ask, "Does he do all the cooking at home?" I'm pretty sure that they automatically think that we eat seven course meals on fine china every night. Can I let you in on a little secret? Being married to a chef is really not glamorous at all. It is very, very rare for Chris to cook at home. Maybe once every six months or so, I'll get a fancy-ish meal out of him. About once a month he cooks a less-than fancy meal, or grills something for us. About once a week I can get him to throw a frozen pizza in the oven while I head home from work. That's pretty much the extent of his cooking at home.

When he and I first started dating, I was amused by how small his kitchen was in his apartment. It was so small that it only had room for one of those college dorm sized refrigeraters. I was also amused by his utter lack of kitchen ware. He had 4 plates, one large mixing bowl, a set of silverware and various glasses. Oh, and probably a bottle opener too. Couldn't forget that. Oh, and of course he had a knife bag full of expensive and scarily sharp knives. The only food he ate outside of work was cereal or takeout.

When we were engaged and registering for wedding gifts, he had a field day. Oh, we need this $300 blender. We should get this $600 All Clad cookware. We can't get by without this Kitchen Aid mixer. He almost had me tricked into thinking he might take an interest in cooking at home. I thought, "Oh, he just hasn't been cooking in his apartment because he doesn't have the necessary appliances!" Interestingly enough, when people find out that you're marrying a chef, they seem to head straight for the "kitchen" part of the registry list. We got lots of stuff to stock our kitchen so that Chris could cook at home (because god knows I don't know how to use half of this crap). Well, now that we have a kitchen aid mixer, a hand-held mixer, an immersion blender, a regular blender AND a food processer, we have a lot of extra things to catch all that pesky dust that floats about the house. So, that's kind of nice.

Over time, I have decided that not only do I not mind that Chris doesn't cook at home, but in fact I would rather that he didn't. What happens when a chef cooks at home is that every piece of cookware and every utensil gets used. He can't make a sauce without using two pans and a pot, a spatula and 4 spoons. And guess who gets to clean up when he cooks?

Another downside to having a chef in the house is that when I cook, I feel like I'm under constant scrutiny. He treats me like I'm someone who works in his kitchen. He wants to watch what I'm doing and see what I do wrong before he tells me what I should have done. Since I'm definitely no master chef, I ask him for help and he always tells me, "Do whatever you think is right." Now, let me tell you, that drives me nuts. If I knew how to do it right, why on earth would I be asking for help? Not too long ago I was stirfrying some vegetables. He was watching me like a hawk, so I start asking him questions. I was going for a particular flavor, and I asked how much of each ingredient I should use. "As much as you think you need." So, when all is said and done he says, "Now here are some tips for next time. Use less oil, and put the mushrooms and peppers in first and the squash and peas later because they cook faster." OK, this isn't culinary school, this is dinner. When I ask you a question, answer it BEFORE I end up with soggy squash. Thanks, I appreciate that.

From all this discussion of food, you would think it was common for there to be a homecooked meal on the table in our house. Unfortunately, that is so far from the truth it's not even funny. Since I work through dinner time, Chris and I ususally fend for ourselves. I think both of our diets suffer because of that, but it actually helps our sanity. As for all the small appliances, sometimes I'll get out the immersion blender and stick it some chocolate pudding, just so it doesn't feel useless.