Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sliding into the New Year

We're not big revelers when it comes to New Years Eve. This year was one of the most low-key NYEs yet.

We decided to treat the boys to Raclette. Well, sort of. Do you know about Raclette? Raclette itself is a swiss cheese that melts easily. Raclette dinners use an electric grill that sits on the dinning table.
There are an assortment of sliced and diced vegetables and meats on the table. Everyone picks their own food, fills an individual tray, covers their chosen food with Raclette cheese and grills/broils it. (In the photo below you can see potatoes on top of the grill and a tray with veggies underneath.)
It's a nice, slow eating process; it's also a little healthier than it's (also Swiss) cousin Fondue.
Hmmm! Yummy perfectly toasty cheese on vegetables.
Noah was really into assembling and grilling his own food this year. And thankfully, the ratio of sober adults to children allowed us to give him some freedom to create his own concoctions.

The price of raclette can be steep, and since we were working with the under 5 crowd, we opted to use mozzarella and kid-friendly vegetables, in place of the more traditional options. Here in Denver, you can even rent the raclette grill from a local deli.

The Raclette dinner in Germany was really popular in the late 80s. That makes it practically retro, but you can look trendy in the States if you start now!

Noah gives it the thumbs up.

[photo removed]

Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr! Best Wishes for the New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Other Expectations

I said I wasn't going to post this until after the holidays. But I think it needs to be purged in 2011 so that I can go back to posting more regularly in 2012. So. Here we go.

Fritz is going out of town early in the new year for a conference. In the recent past (since Mattias was born), he's been avoiding out-of-town conferences out of deference to me. I'm pretty afraid to spend more than 2 days and nights alone with just the boys. We attempted a two night trip last year. I mean: Fritz was gone for two nights. And the two night trip was, in fact, something of a disaster. Both boys got sick, I was sick, Fritz returned to utter chaos and a wife in tears. I more or less forgot the details and just remembered it as 'hard'. But Fritz didn't forget anything. He has avoided conferences ever since.

[photo removed]

It's really difficult for me to explain why it is so hard to be alone with the boys for multiple days. If you are a parent, you might be thinking, I get it. But if you are not a parent, you might be thinking: what is wrong with this woman? I understand thinking that way, because I ask myself what is wrong with me all the time. But being alone with the two boys for days is so maddening. Imagine your worst day at the office. Perhaps that would mean constant interruptions and noise and carrying around 30 pounds on one arm so that you can't carry anything more than a book with your other hand. And there's no way to take a quick break, if you even think of leaving the room without your 30 pound weight, you are subjected to panic and crying and someone even likes to join you even while you are sitting in the loo. And then, you think, thank goodness for bedtime! But somebody wakes up for water and somebody else is coughing and can't sleep and by the time one is asleep the other one is awake for more water. And then you wonder what happened to those two hours that you were going to use to load the dishwasher, change over the laundry and use the loo in solitude. But all you can do is crawl into bed and then someone wakes up because he drank too much water...

Oh, and I make additional excuses for why I'm unable to be alone with the boys for more than 48 hours. There's no grandma nearby to help. There's no regular daycare or childcare or babysitter. The boys are especially demanding.

I can go on and on, just like my sons.

But yet, other parents, under similar circumstances do it all the time.

My own mother did it for several months when I was 6 and my brothers were 4 and 2. My father was transferred by his employer and moved ahead of us. He was gone for about two weeks at time. We stayed behind, 3 kids and their mother, waiting for our house to sell.

I called my mother the other day to ask just how she managed to do it. Here is what she said:

"It was hard. I remember I called your grandmother and complained. She wasn't very understanding."

"Well. That stinks. She should have been more empathetic."

Here, my mother defended my grandmother's lack of empathy. I offered a rebuttal and we reached an agreement that my grandmother's general personality is a product of depression-era-no-nonsense. My mother took it a step farther suggested that she and my aunts developed extensive empathetic abilities as a result. Feeling like I still had not uncovered the secret to being alone with the boys for multiple days – and this conversation was headed in a less than helpful direction – I asked again:

"But, still, Mom, how did you do it? How did you stay alone with us kids for days at a time?"

My mom sighed, "I didn't have your expectations." Um...

"What do you mean?"

"Oh, Ann. You have all these things you want to do; and you had all these professional plans and dreams before you became a mother. I didn't have that. I knew I was good with children. I just wanted to be a mother. That is what I wanted to do."

"So...why did that help you stay alone with us kids for several days?"

"Because it's hard when you change your expectations."

I think about this. I think about the obvious question: am I NOT suppose to have expectations? Or are my expectations suppose to revolve around ONLY motherhood? Because she didn't raise me that way. And I'm not that way, anyway.

She is right: I had expectations - I HAVE expectations. And some – many? – of these expectations have very little to do with motherhood. I'm still not really sure how this affects my ability to be alone with the boys for several days. But I think maybe I get the gist, even if I'm not really willing to accept her suggested consequences.

study time
It is that time of year when I am forced into reckoning with my Other Expectations. Once a year, my license as an architect comes up for renewal. Once a year I put it off until the last minute. I complete continuing education requirements in the fastest and cheapest way possible: reading books and taking tests to qualify as 'structured learning' while (this year) the boys tear apart the house and climb all over. In a more ideal world, this continuing education requirement could be my link to the real world of architects. A chance to get out and socialize with adults! Adult architects! Next year, I think every year.

At this time of year, I also think intensely about all the things I miss about practicing architecture: the concrete problem solving, the coordinating and REAL planning, stomping around job sites, and even the zen-like typing movements of keyboard shortcuts while drafting. I think about my classmates and past colleagues, many of whom have very successful careers. And I have vivid nightmares revolving around various forms of professional failure.

Yet, as the boys reorganize the house and I cram information about heating and cooling systems into my rusty brain, I am reminded how very difficult it would be to be working professionally.

Have I told you that my dream for me would be to work part time? I worked 10-15 hours a week for about a year and half. Noah was under 2, we were still in Munich. I loved it. For me, it was great.

For the rest of my family, it was NOT GREAT. The problem was that since my job was mostly teaching, and it was already ONLY part time, it was difficult for me to call in sick. Instead, Fritz frequently and repeatedly missed work when the Tagesmutter (a woman who does home daycare) got sick. Or when her kids got sick. Or when her husband got sick. Or when her cat got sick. Or when her neighbor's cat got sick. No, just kidding on that last one. Noah himself got sick repeatedly and entered his phase of life as (what did the German pediatrician say? Oh, yes:) a bronchitis candidate. Here in the US, they just write ASTHMA on his charts. Eventually, Fritz insisted we quit the 'undependable' Tagesmutter and he recruited Oma to come and live with us for a few weeks at a time. Recruiting Oma was an option in Germany, where Oma was only 2 hours away by train.

I guess this is pretty normal stuff. Normal stuff for any family with two working parents. Additional problems accumulated: When Fritz was also teaching, it was more difficult for him to take off. And Fritz's grant writing; the necessary engine that drives this whole self-sufficient family unit, fell through the cracks. We vowed to make changes for self preservation. My job was just frosting. I'd stop working.

I used to say that I was waiting for Fritz's elusive grant that would secure life for a few years. THEN I would look for a paying-job.

But that grant came about 6 months ago, and I'm still here, paying-job-less.

Most of the time, I don't really know what to say for myself. And I do feel like I need to say something for myself. I feel like I need to bridge that gap between all the various expectations I have and the way my current life only fulfills half of my expectations. I'm not bridging the gap. At least, not yet. Instead, I'm slowly beginning to mentally defend this staying-at-home. I'm still not very comfortable with it. Even in my mind, the defenses feel mystical or whiny or weak or overly-sentimental. The defenses are based around the boys, who *I* (believe-it-or-not based on my frequent belly-aching around here) actually think are pretty awesome human beings. I'm determined to keep them as awesome as possible. All these years at home with them are starting to feel like maybe this Being at Home thing has been An Investment that can't be thrown away lightly or changed too readily. And I've got expectations for the boys and all their ongoing awesomeness now, too.

But the expectations of myself as mother? Seeing myself as a good mother, or thinking I'm good with children, or even wanting to be 'good with children?' I may be willing to credit the awesomeness I see in my sons to the State of Being Here at Home with them, but I don't feel that I can credit Me. As long as I know that I'm sitting here, half thinking about my Other Expectations, it's hard to feel good about my mothering efforts. But I'm not ready to let go of the Other Expectations. Those Other Expectations feel like a part of me, too. And in fact, Other Expectations have been a part of me for much longer than this motherhood thing.

after painstakingly avoiding words like 'gun' and 'shoot' for 4 years with Noah, he still figures out the concept using a hollow wooden tube and dowel. WHATEVER.
In this season, we naturally think about expectations. We think about expectations of Santa, expectations of presents, expectations of giving. We think about expectations in the form of New Years Resolutions. As children, we also had expectations that were not just seasonal. Maybe we dreamed of being professional athletes. Maybe we dreamed of being President. Maybe we dreamed of being firemen, or bus drivers, or doctors, or architects. What expectations do we support and encourage in our children? What expectations do we not really intend to follow? What expectations do we allow to fade?

Do expectations fade?

When I told Fritz about my conversation with my mother, he thought she might be on to something:

"You are always saying that you aren't good at mothering, or that other people are better at mothering, or that you aren't meant to do this. Maybe you're making your own self-fulfilling prophecy."

Maybe, maybe not.

Maybe some expectations just come more easily than others. Maybe it's difficult for me to let differing expectations coexist.

the way wrapping presents went
This is what I CAN say here, now, December 30, 2011. This is the type of resolution that I need to go forward: I think there is a personal cost of holding onto my Other Expectations. That cost is ongoing conflicting feelings. It seems to me that holding onto differing expectations is not necessarily holding onto conflicting feelings. My personal conflict does seem to be getting less conflict-y each month. But in some regard, I find a degree of healthiness in letting myself feel conflicted. It feels important to be able to say: "Hey, there are BOTH good things and not-so-good things." Also, I like to think that holding onto my internal conflicts gives me more empathy for others. And you know what else? I think conflict in people is interesting! It gives us laughter and humor! It makes us human, it inspires change and growth and discovery....

Nonetheless, my conflicted self is sometimes a hard thing for my family and friends, and even myself, to accept. We're conditioned to want clear answers and wholistic truths about who we are and how we feel. And I, well, right now, I have none: more than that: I want none. For now.

Noah: Mommy?... Mommy?

Me: (daydreaming)

Noah: Mommy? What should I be when I grow up?

Me: (Pause..consider...pause...stall) Hmm...

Noah: Mommy, what should I be when I grow up?

Me: (Pause) How about a person who helps other people? (Pause) What do you want to be?

Noah: I want to be a mommy. Can I be a mommy? I want to be a mommy, okay?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

First Day, Legos, Banana Fanna Fo...

I've been working on this rather lengthy, emotional-for-me to write post. I finally realized that there is no way I'm going to publish such heaviness until after the holidays. So, instead, I give you assorted musings from the Wyse Household for your reading distraction.

I baked cinnamon rolls for this morning. Americans call it Christmas Eve, but today is considered the First Day of Christmas in Germany. There are three days of Christmas (the 24th, 25th, and 26th). The 24th in Germany still has some similarities to the 24th in the US; stores are open early in the day, everyone runs around doing their last minute Christmas shopping.

Speaking of shopping, I, alone, went out shopping in the craziness on the 23rd. I decided it is easier to shop in holiday craziness than it is to shop on a normal day with a preschooler and toddler. Nonetheless, I'm grateful I didn't have to do both at the same time.

We're going sledding this afternoon.

Santa (or the Christkind or the Weihnachtsman) is bringing Noah 'little' legos for Christmas. I'm not sure if the duplos are cramping his style or if he just wants to be cool like his friends, but he is asking for them. I see many, many years of legos in our future. But before the Lego Madness begins, I have been reflecting a little bit on why *I* didn't play too much with legos as a child. I think this is a fair question to ask a woman who grew up building and making all sorts of things and later studied and practiced architecture. NPR recently reported on the topic of girls and legos. You can see some of their report here.

Here's my female perspective on playing with legos:

1. They're generally ugly. Making them pink or purple doesn't change the overall poor portions of most individual pieces, or the less-than-elegant nobs that 'grace' their topsides. The 1x1x6 piece is clearly the most graceful, but it's woefully lacking in most legos sets.

2. Too many specific pieces. One year I asked for a 'house' lego set. I got it. But it came with pre-designed mullion windows and roof pieces. Even at 6 years of age, I found windows with mullions OBNOXIOUS. Those pieces: roof pieces that looked like roofs and window pieces that looked like idealized windows: they didn't give me enough creative freedom. The green plate piece, which I was suppose to build upon? Too small for anything but the predesigned house. And those pieces told me what to do instead of letting me figure it out myself.

3. Too few buildable options after the suggested designs. Once I built the suggested 'house' there was nothing more to make. I needed, like, 6 more boxes of 'house' legos to have the design freedom I wanted. But by then, I was unimpressed. I didn't ask for legos anymore.

4. Lack of gravity. That's right, the ability of legos to stay together when upside down was disconcerting. Clearly, that's what made/makes them great for spaceship design and that's why they needed the ugly nobs. Well, whatever. They were still cheating gravity. I was not impressed.

5. Tactility. The NPR article talks about how girls like to role play with dolls and princesses. I was either too old (I was born in '76) or too disinterested to take part in princess play as a 4 year old. But I can relate to the dolls. A big part of role playing, I believe, is the tactility of it. The heavy, solidness of the doll, the lightness of a tulle skirt, sparkly shoes, shiny accessories. I'd say both soft and hard, light and heavy are important. The legos I know are very one dimensional in this manner. They are all light-weight, and all plastic-shine.  Sorry, but that's something that I still find not very interesting. And I'm not feeling appeased by the see-through plastic pieces. It's a start but not nearly far enough.

6. Hmmm...yeah, it might be hopeless to market to girls without fundamental reconceptualizing.

7. I definitely intend to do my own playing with legos over the next few years and see if I can come up with more concrete suggestions for improvement. Because I'm thinking the NPR reported changes won't bridge the gender gap.

I'd love to know if you played with legos and why or why not.

[photo removed]

Noah's been out of school for over a week now and he's getting more than a little restless. When he's not redecorating the tree and playing with the ornaments, he's singing.

But, oh, what was I thinking? I taught Noah that rhyming song... you know the one that goes "CALM CALM bo BALM banana fanna fo FALM me my mo MALM...CALM! (Or at least, that's my version.)

He's singing it nonstop with the '_uck' words.

I don't think he has any idea of *that* word or how to use it properly, he just knows it is majorly getting on my nerves. And I'm torn: explain to him that it's a bad word (I think he's old enough, don't you?) and hope he stops, but be forced to give him a consequence should he continue? (Sigh.) Or ignore it and hope it goes away before Grandma and Grandpa arrive?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Growing where I am planted

Whenever we are driving behind a particularly slow driver, Fritz exclaims,"Blumen pflücken während der Fahrt verboten!" Flower picking forbidden during the drive

"Flowers are dumb!"

"Flowers aren't dumb. And I love flowers," I say.

"Well. I love flowers, too. But I just don't want them on my police boat." Noah pushes the plastic duplo flower away from his constructed duplo boat.

I have several blooming houseplants right now. This flower-as-blooming-houseplant is a new phenomenon to me. Previously, I told people I had a black thumb. I frequently killed houseplants in our past homes. But now that I have windows with southern exposure? The plants are not only growing they're thriving and blooming in the middle of winter!

It probably also helps that I'm watering them.

My favorite is this Bogota Amaryllis. I've always liked lilies, and this amaryllis looks lily-esque. I'm sure that it is NOT a coincidence that I love it.

I also have a calla lily, purchased last January while it was blooming. I paid little attention to it over the year. Basically, I watered it thinking that the leaves themselves looked nice enough. And amazingly, it's blooming again. I say amazingly, because from what I read online, the bulbs need to rest (ie, not be growing) in order to bloom again. So maybe this is a new bulb? Bulb plants do that, right? They divide or split or something? No idea, but I'm awfully glad it decided to bloom.

The cost of all these blooming flowers is more cluttered windows. Once upon a time, I had a Strategy for these windows. Yeah, whatever. Now I'm calling it a Plant Hospital. I'm filling every single accessible spot on the sills with plants that seem to need a little extra help. I think, well, the pot is red-ish. or I'll find a red pot for it. Good enough.

The flowers also make me think about how very few breakable/fragile/delicate items exist in our house. And that makes the blooming flowers feel like an extra special treat in this boy-centric household.

Today, we got stuck in very slow holiday traffic on the highway.

"Mommy. Do you know why we are going so slowly?"

"Because everyone is going to buy their last minute holiday gifts?"

"No. Because everyone is looking for the place where they planted their flowers along the road."

Noah decided that the flower on the boat may be okay afterall.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cinnamon Ornaments

This week has been rough. Fritz is both swamped with work and staying late at the office. Mattias  picked up a 24 hour stomach bug somewhere. I've got Stuff preventing me from keeping up with the housework. It's not so much The Mess as my inability to figure out how to address it that puts me on edge. And there's my pledge to help USPS by snail mailing Christmas cards all around the world. I treasure the arrival of cards and letters and photos in the mail and solemnly swear to return the favor each year. And I do. And I'm almost done...However! However. However:

Today, the boys and I made cinnamon dough ornaments. I have always loved the fact that these ornaments smell - it makes unpacking the decorations all the better. Although, the color on last year's turmeric salt dough ornaments was a lot more fun against the green tree.

We put on our spin on the cookie cutter ornament theme. We reused the straw technique to punch holes in the christmas tree ornament. (Good thing the furnace man left all the straws he found in the vent.) Noah's accuracy improved greatly over the last year. This year, he actually made the christmas tree ornament by himself. We used nested cookie cutters to make 'outlines.' I had to do that myself, but with a different nested set of cookie cutters? Well, maybe there would be some hope of self-sufficiency. We experimented with sticking cloves in the star. The boys love sticking things in things. That sounds wrong...but it's true. Don't worry, I'm exploiting it appropriately.
I was able to dry these in the food dehydrator. Which is pretty much a godsend, because if you've ever made cinnamon dough ornaments before, you know that drying them on parchment paper and flipping them every 8 hours (so they don't curl) for 3-4 days is tedious.

There are lots of recipes for these on the internet. I'm partial to the versions without applesauce, because I like my ornaments to smell like cinnamon as much as possible. Aside from that, my other piece of advice is: add the water slowly as you knead. You'll know when the dough is ready.

Back to my cards. The weekend is almost here. Hurray!

Edited to add: recipe we used is here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Do you know I use one browser for blogging and a different browser for everything else? Does that make me organized or paranoid?

Denver doesn't plow, like, 95% of its streets. But, you say, I thought it snowed in Denver! Yes, it does! But the city relies on the fact that the snow will melt. As of today, it's been 2 weeks since it snowed and there is STILL snow on the streets out of my neighborhood. The only other place I ever lived with such miserable plowing was Houston. Houston is forgiven. Denver is not. I think Denver is single handedly keep the All Wheel Drive industry afloat.

The persimmons are almost edible.

The other day was an occasion to wear make up. Now I remember why I'm not wearing makeup very much any more. It emphasizes my wrinkles. I guess that would mean I really, really need to start moisturizing. But: do you think this is intentional on the part of the cosmetic industry? Hook them young on makeup and they will buy moisturizer (to keep wearing makeup) their whole lives? I might just throw away everything but eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. I'll save money twice over. The End.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Adventures at the Symphony

We took the boys to a Christmas concert this weekend, downtown, in the symphony concert hall. We try to do a proper concert at least once every year with them.

How, you may ask, did I get my 20 month old to sit still for two 45 minute performances? Wasn't I worried about behavior?

Mostly, I was worried about my behavior. Because getting the toddler to sit still in a symphony hall was all about egregious parental rule breaking. I slowly doled out half portions of gummy bunnies for the first 20 minutes. When Mattias lost interest in those, I gave him a granola bar.

The granola bar was crumbling all over the place. And you know how the symphony hall seating doesn't hide much? I mean, I've seen steeper seating in sports arenas, but one can almost see the laps of the people sitting on the opposite side. Certainly, we could see the laps of the people seated in the orchestra section below.

Mattias was not interested in lap sitting after about 25 minutes. I decided, fine, let him stand. He stood there, holding his granola bar, grabbing the seat in front of us. I glanced over the seat: Ha! No problem, there was a 6 year old girl slumped in the seat below him. Most likely, she wouldn't notice a toddler pulling on her seat.

There he stood, yanking on her seat, peering over it to the orchestra below, munching his granola bar.

And then he sneezed a nice, big, granola sneeze.

Fritz and I both flinched as granola pieces sprayed forward.

But there was no reaction from the girl below.

Until 5 minutes later when she puked all over the seat in front of her.

Her parents exchanged accusatory glances at each other; less we needed any further confirmation that they had more pressing concerns than the granola sneeze. They speedily left. Just before the Hallelujah chorus, someone came to clean up. It was two shows in one.

Honestly though, the boys' behavior was otherwise really good. As we were leaving, we overheard another parent saying to his kids, "Let's talk about what we can do better next time..." In our well-behaved-kids (but not parents) euphoria, we turned to Noah and asked him what his favorite part was.

"Nothing," he mumbled.

"Didn't you like the concert, Noah?"


"Really, no? It seemed like you really liked it. And you were so well behaved!"

"It was boring."

I'm becoming more convinced everyday that he inherited my contrarian gene.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Puppet Theater

I love this.
That's Noah, performing a puppet show for Mattias and I. This has become a regular activity around here since the temperatures dropped to highs-in-the-teens with snow everywhere. I don't really mind the weather, because it's pretty much perfect for indoor puppet performances.

But you know what I really, really love about this? The fact that Noah is entertaining us. I know I've mentioned this before, but the first three years of his life, he was so determined to have constant, unrelenting interaction and entertainment. I still feel a wave of exhaustion just thinking about it.

Lately, however, I feel joy. Joy that this child of mine can finally, finally take the lead and create on his own. Actually, I'm not sure that I'm ever going to be able to shut up about it. I'll probably spend the rest of my life being overjoyed, impressed, and boastful about his every step of further independence.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tradition Overload

We managed to get the advent calendars up. That's right, calendarS. We have three. One for Noah. One for Mattias. And I decided the other one is for Fritz and I to share, although it's actually Noah's. I've got all the stuff to fill them, but, um...
I am having trouble trusting the boys not to take everything out all at once. I decided to fill ONLY the pocket for the next day on the night before. Probably a missed opportunity to teach the boys about trust, huh? Or maybe I should sit an elf on the shelf and let the elf teach them?
Boys disassembling advent calendars
However, this business of filling the advent calendar pocket each night?

Makes me feel like I'm Santa Claus. Or the Christkind, if we were still living in Bavaria.

But no! This isn't Santa Claus. Or the Christkind.

I say to Noah, "What did Santa – "


"– no, Saint Nikolaus –"

BEEP! No! Wrong! 

"– I mean, me! What did I put in your advent calendar the other night?"

Because I'm obviously old and forgetful. Sheez.

Noah, at 4 years old, is still and also confused by our plentiful blending of December traditions.
It might help me to write down all the traditions we're suppose to cover. And when. And by whom.

Instead, I've listed most of the stuff we're giving in the advent calendars here. (So far this year, we are avoiding Traditional Chocolate Overload.)

Friday, December 2, 2011


One of the most eye-opening experiences of my life has been to see the United States through the eyes of a foreigner. (That would be: first, my husband, and subsequently, our friends and family in Germany.)

Generally, I shy away from political discussion. And I'm unlikely to link to political stuff on this blog. But I couldn't stop myself this time.

I'm linking to an article from the German der Spiegel. It's about the US Republican Presidential Candidates. It has been translated to English. (I have been waiting - hoping - that it would be. Given recent events, it's also a little outdated.) Der Spiegel calls this a commentary; I'd say editorial. In any case, I think it's simultaneously humorous and horrifying and powerful. It's harsh. It's strong. No sugar coating, nor gentle persuasion, nor constructive criticism. In my mind, that's part of what makes it an interesting read.

In the beginning, reading about American news from foreign sources was upsetting to me. But I think slowly, over time, I've gained some new perspectives on us Americans. So, okay, check it out if you want to be pushed a bit. Or not.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Death by Persimmon

The other day at the local warehouse retailer, I found these:
Ah, persimmon! I love persimmon! They had Fuyu and these Hachiya ones. I've never had this Hachiya variety. Hmmm. At first, I wanted to buy both and do a taste test. I figured, if I had extra, I'd dry them and give them away as Christmas gifts. But then I thought about all the other designated Christmas gifts that I have left to buy. And, sigh! Budget, budget, budget.

I'd go with the Hachiya because they looked much better. No, they looked BIGGER. And I really like persimmon.

At home, they seemed ripe. I peeled one and cut it up at breakfast for the boys, babbling on about what a wonderful treat this was and how beautiful they look when you cut them. See the star inside? You know, the whole Mommy Talk Up Schtick.

I popped a whole slice in my mouth and immediately, it soaked up every bit of saliva in my mouth. Then my mouth started to go NUMB. It didn't taste bad....  Maybe I hadn't peeled it very well - maybe I had some peel in there? Maybe the peel is like a Super Sponge? Or like the dentist without the glaring light and chair?

I handed Noah a piece, careful not to give him any peel and careful not to let him know that I was eager to take MY piece out of MY mouth before it completely dehydrated and numbed me.

He took a bite.

"Mommy, it tastes okay, but my mouth feels funny."  Guess it wasn't the peel. Hmmm... chemicals? Insecticide!?! I should have bought organic! Or is this a Hachiya-thing?

"Here, bud, spit it out, give it to me." Noah gladly gave me the chewed slice.

So, now that I've confessed my ignorance on this topic, I'll go google and find out what I can.

But if I'm dead tomorrow, you'll know why.

Okay, dokey. If you believe Wikipedia the hachiya persimmon is an astringent, with high levels of tannins before it ripens.  So, my persimmon must not have been ripe. I cross checked this with my resident scientist (always a good idea!), and he tells me that tannin is NOT what I get at the dentist, but it is a toxin, used in leather. And it's brown. Uh huh. Still not very clear to me, but I drank some coca-cola(!) to prevent and bezoars(!) from forming after reading the part of the wikipedia entry about medicinal uses of persimmon. Just in case. Ha! Next time, I'll go with the non-astrigent fuyu persimmon.

By the way: this is EXACTLY the type of information from the internet that I try not to believe too easily. I share this purely for the ridiculous-ness factor. May or may not be true, I won't be held accountable (especially if I'm dead).