Thursday, December 22, 2011

Surprise

For the record, at about 3PM yesterday I almost tweeted “I don’t think we are actually going to a Christmas party”. But I didn’t.

A few weeks back, Hub asked me if I would mind going with him to a Christmas party that was being thrown by one of the big companies he does a lot of work for. He said things along the lines of “It’s a big deal!”, “They throw a lot of money my way, so we should go.”, and “All of their big wigs, from the STATE will be there too. This might be a good networking opportunity for you.”

So I arranged for my parents to come out and babysit, for my father to take Bud to his TKD belt test (as a note, if he works hard, he will be testing for his black belt in August or September), and to get done with work by about 3 so I could gussy myself up. Hub was acting sort of weird, very nervous and stressed out
(more so than usual), and something just seemed to be up. I’d read in the paper that Kenny Rogers was coming to town on Wednesday and I thought about it for a second, but figured we wouldn’t be going there because we saw him in concert a few years back.

Let me tell you for a second about my love affair with Kenny Rogers. It started in my teens…I don’t know what it is about him, but his voice just gets to me. And up until the plastic surgery, I thought he was one sexy hunk of man. He is still somewhat handsome, but in a weird way. Anyway, I have fond memories of driving down the east coast on summer vacations with my friend S and her family, with Kenny blaring on the radio. So yeah…I love my Kenny.

So my parents got here around 4:30 after I had spent an hour on my hair and makeup to impress these fancy people. My mother sort of looked at me sideways when I put on my nicest pair of heels (that I haven’t worn in more than a year since I don’t go to work anymore) and flexed my foot. “For the greater good”, I told her. I wanted Hub’s people to think I looked nice, that he didn’t have a schlub of a wife

Hub got home with Olivia at about 4:45, changed his clothes, and we left immediately. We’d talked about grabbing dinner before the party but hadn’t decided where. Hub drove like a mad man to get downtown in the foggy rainy early evening. By now I knew that he had a plan. Finally we pulled in to one of the “go to” fancy dinner places in the city. He’d made a reservation and everything, all by himself. Hub told me that it was hard to get a weekend reservation, and that he hadn’t known about Bud’s test when he set it up. He thought a nice dinner was a great Christmas gift as a treat to me; there was no party. The meal was fantastic. The wine was fantastic. We really enjoyed ourselves—and that is saying a lot. Neither of us puts much stock in big fancy expensive meals, OR our local downtown area.

At this point, I played along. Of course, dinner out on a weeknight was not my gift. Even the fanciest of dinners. That’s crazy. Like I said, I had read about Kenny coming to town in Sunday’s paper, but every time I thought I was putting 2 and 2 together, Hub threw a curve ball. It wasn’t until we were actually outside of the music hall that I knew for sure. And once we were inside, we ran in to some friends of ours, and were able to pass the time until the show started by talking with them. The show was good. ½ classics and ½ Christmas songs. Kenny had great charisma, though I did recognize a few of his bits from the last show we saw…and I think that was in 2007. Even if the show had been horrible, the people watching at the event was EPIC. There were interesting people out in full force. One guy in the front row had to be subdues on several occasions because he was just so in to it. The same guy changed outfits at intermission, from regular clothes to a red Christmas shirt. Hilarious. And one of the ushers, a little old man in a Santa cap, was up and down the aisles like a crazy person warning people with their phones out that they would not be allowed to take any photos. Then after the show started was pouncing on anyone who had a camera/phone out. That being said, this was the only photo I got:


Surprise or not, it was an amazing night. I am a lucky girl. Had I known in advance though, I wouldn’t have worn those darn heels.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oh Crappy Day!

I arrived home very late on Saturday night/Sunday morning to find that my Crappy Day package from Misty had arrived. I took it downstairs and did not remember it in my sleepless state yesterday. When I turned my computer on this morning, there it was! Surprise!

Misty's instructions were to open anything in Christmas paper before Christmas, so that I did. There were also a few unwrapped items. Just look!!

The tree is filled with mint truffle Hershey's kisses, and the bear is an special reminder of where Misty is from.


The rest of the goods


The first package I opened was these ornaments. How did Misty know I'd just printed a bunch of photos?


Then there was this, to use in the owl mug she sent me a while ago:


And some candy and cupcake adornments!



And finally, an owl candle:


I almost can't wait to have a bad day so I can open something else! Whee!!!

Thanks, Misty!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Weekend Successes--aka The Longest Post Ever

I am actually putting off writing a fitness-y health kick type post, which isn’t so much “health kick” as it is “I need to be cured of this acid reflux once and for all and that means avoiding my triggers for 3 to 6 months to give my whateverthehell time to heal”. If I don’t write it, I don’t have to do it, right? Not really, but I need another day to collect my thoughts on the topic. So there’s that.

This past weekend I had 2 successes in the kitchen. The first was the amazing pasta dish I threw together on Saturday. I was reading Food Lush last week and came across this post. Cheese, chicken, bacon, pasta, and ranch. It sounded good, but I wasn’t sure that Hub would be on board. He can be weird about flavors melding together. I pitched it though, and he was all for it. When it came time to cook , I didn’t have my mini laptop handy and for some reason, I couldn’t get to the recipe on my phone, so I decided to wing it. Everyone knows I never actually follow the recipe anyway. I did, after tasting the finished product, make a note of what I did though so I could replicate it in the future. It was so delicious! I ate it with gusto. (I’ll add the recipe to the end of this post)

On Sunday, we made cutout cookies. Cutouts stress me out more that decorating the tree. There are children doing what they are not supposed to be doing. There is a mess. My dough never works. It is a trifecta of error. We’re working on being more calm around here though, so I approached the cookies calmly, even though I started them later than I had wanted to and Hub was griping that the basement was never going to get clean. The first thing I did was look up a new cookie dough recipe. The one I use from my Betty Crocker cook book calls for both powdered and granulated sugar. The cookies are always very sweet, and I think the powdered sugar is what makes the dough crumbly. I did a little bit of searching and ended up going with the simplest recipe that got the best reviews from All Recipes. This is the one. I don’t know if it is because of the 4 eggs, or what the deal was, but these cookies were so easy to put together. And when it came time to roll, after chilling for a few hours, I had no issues. The dough rolled like a dream and cut well. I was in awe.

And here is what else I did to east my stress. Rather than sitting 3 kids down at the table and making it a cookie cutter grabbing free for all, I rolled and cut cookies with each of the kids separately. It was delightful. There was no fighting. It was perfect. I enjoyed spending the time with them! I followed suit with the decorating, though Bud and Lucy were able to do theirs together and mostly on their own while I made dinner. I have never been more relaxed during a holiday activity.

There are no photos of the actual rolling process, but here are some from decorating. You can see that Liv really had a thing for eating the frosting and not so much decorating. Hub took the ones at the end, and even though I look like…well like I was baking all day, I like them. I love when I can make things work for our family.

(These were all taken with my phone which is why the lighting looks a bit wonky)










Finally, here is my recipe for the chicken bacon ranch pasta bake. This made enough to feed my family of 5 with leftovers for 3 lunch portions. Even my super picky eater declared that he "liked the pasta and even the chicken was good"! (He picked out all the bacon. Because he is not my son.) We served it with steamed broccoli and garlic bread.

1lb rotini noodles, cooked and drained
½ lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2-3 cups dairy liquid of your choice. (I used a mix of milk and half and half)
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
3 tbsp ranch powder
1 tbsp Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic (this is my secret ingredient in EVERYTHING)
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra cheese for sprinkling on top

1. Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add flour and stir, cooking until bubbly.
2. Add in 2 cups of your dairy liquid. Stir with a whisk constantly until it comes to a teeny boil and thickens.
3. Add the ranch powder (I noticed that the ranch powder thickened the sauce a bit, which is why I say 2-3 cups of dairy—you may need to add some more in this step)
4. Remove from heat and stir in cheese a little bit at a time until all melted and combined
5. Stir in the Garlic Garlic, salt and pepper
6. In a large bowl, or in your noodle pot if you are me, combine noodles, cheese mixture, bacon and chicken. Stir until all noodles are coated
7. Transfer to a baking dish and top with extra cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until it is good and bubbly.

Make this. Your life will be changed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Light Errors"

Let’s start by making it clear that I am not talking about an error with lighting here. I’m talking about something that rhymes with light errors that involves a child waking and screaming throughout the night. I don’t want to come up in any search engines. So now that we’re clear, I’ll move on.

We’ve only noticed it completely in the last couple of months. Liv has always been a poor sleeper, waking several times a night to be covered, whining or just gritching about uncomfortably. It’s escalated over the last few months though. Yelling. Crying. Speaking incoherently. It happens more nights than not, and you can’t wake her up. She’s never been terrified, and for that I am grateful. Usually it’s just general discomfort and angst. We figured she was working some things out in her sleep. She…doesn’t get her way a lot because her way is usually unreasonable. And it feels like it is us against her a lot of the time. But as her sleep has gotten worse, we were really starting to worry, and I wasn’t sleeping because I was up with her half the night while she screamed and thrashed.

I had planned on making an appointment with her pediatrician to discuss all of this, when she ended up getting a sinus infection and we had to go in for a sick call anyway. We went through all of that, and then I brought up the sleep issues. I told the pediatrician everything—and seriously, bless her, she sat and talked to Hub and me about all of it for 45 minutes. On a day when we were just an add on appointment, we must have screwed up her whole day. Just because she is not fearful doesn’t mean it isn’t light errors, apparently. She’s definitely trying to work things out that she can’t or doesn’t when she’s asleep. The doctor went on to give us some tips for trying to stop them before they start, and right there is where I have some issues.

Liv by nature is a very difficult child. She is a limit tester. She believes that her way is the only way. She will stop at nothing to get her way. And even when she knows she will be punished, she will still do what she wants to do. She would rather get her way and accept the consequences than not do what she wanted to do in the first place. So there is a lot of Liv being in some sort of trouble at any given time. With all of this in mind, here are the doctor’s suggestions:

1. Let her have her way more often. If it’s not dangerous or causing problems for other family members, try letting her go. Hub and I are really big on rule following up in here. One of our big ones is that nobody gets up from the table until we are all done eating. This is one of the examples the doctire used. Just let her go. I…struggle with this.
2. Eliminate things that potentially make her nervous. We were thinking along the lines of the dancing Santa, who she wanted out of her room because she didn’t want him to see her being bad. The doctor recommended that we walk her around the house and ask her what makes her nervous and then show her that we were getting rid of it. The first night we walked around, and a dirty pair of underwear she’d left laying around made her nervous. Then last night, it was a Santa hat she’d left on the floor. She’s yanking our chain.
3. Even if she doesn’t eat any dinner, let her have a snack before bed. If Liv eats 2 bites of dinner any given night I consider it a success. I have a hard time getting behind letting her snack when she doesn’t listen and our rule is no dinner, no snacks. This one is workable though…I can get past my issues if potential hunger is affecting her.
4. Don’t let her watch any TV with scary images. This one is not hard either. Bud watches a lot of Star Wars and while it doesn’t seem scary, and while Liv’s favorite song to hum is the Imperial March and she wanted to be Luke Skywalker for Halloween, we’re putting a temporary ban on the movies while she is awake.
5. Don’t yell at her at bedtime. Even if she gets up and calls to be covered 247 times, keep it relaxing and calm. This one will be hard. Like I said—she is a limit tester, and she is SMART. She will figure it out if suddenly I am soft. Bedtime has never been the best time of the night for her, and even after you give her everything she wants, she still gets out of bed and needs things and is just generally obnoxious.

So last night I let her have a bowl of cheerios at bedtime even though she ate dinner. Then I sang her 5 songs instead of the agreed upon 3, I cheerfully covered her 4 times, and let her get 3 drinks from her water bottle. She slept all night. This may be a fluke, because her antibiotic makes her tired. It seems like we’re going to have a lot of trial and error going forward, but the plan is to try and stop them before they start. And thankfully, Shannon has given me some tricks to help Liv when the errors do happen. So I guess we shall see what we shall see. But hopefully we can make some progress, and all of us can get some sleep.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Long Weekend; Answering Questions

It seems like we had such a long weekend! I had 2 nights of drinking way too much wine, and I am paying for it today, let me tell you. I rarely drink to begin with, and I never drink 2 nights in a row. It didn’t help that Liv cried and screamed in her sleep all night Saturday, either. I have a call in to the doctor about her. I wouldn’t classify what she has as night terrors, per se, but something is going on. And when you add this to her already established sleep issues…well nobody is happy. The ENT we saw when she was 1 said to expect her to need tonsils and adenoids out at around 3 or so. I’m wondering if this has anything to do with that. Ugggh.

So anyway, I’m tired. Really tired. But I do appreciate you answering my Saturday questions, and now I will answer them for you.


1. What is your favorite kind of pop tart?—Brown sugar cinnamon. Yumm. I should have asked whether or not you toast yours as well. I usually don’t. I like them “raw” out of the box. They have to be Pop Tarts brand though. No generic ones for me. And really? I never eat them. The Kid’s have pop tarts on their breakfast list (yes, we have a pre-determined list…it is necessary for my sanity) once a week. And I try to buy enough only for them.
2. What kind of car do you drive, and why?—More often than not, I drive our Ford Freestar mini-van. She is old and has no air conditioning, but is the best method of transport for 3(often 4) kids and gear. This is also what I am most comfortable driving of our 2 vehicles. Since I am at home now though, and Hub drives all over the place, it’s often more practical for him to take the mini-van, leaving me with the F150 to drive to school and back, or up to Tae Kwon Do. I don’t mind driving the truck, but I really hate to park it.
3. If you had to pick one pair of shoes to wear every day, which pair would you pick, and why?—In the winter, certainly my Uggs. I am on my second pair now, my first lasting me for 2 winters. They are so comfortable and warm. If money were no object, I would have them in all styles and colors. And the thing of it is, that I used to be against them. I’d be all, “oh, look at that girl and her Ugg Lees!” But then I came around to the fact that they could be worn with just about anything, didn’t need to be pulled up over leggings, AND that you weren’t even supposed to wear socks with them. BONUS! I’ve never looked back. I love my Uggs.

Feel free to answer if you haven’t already!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Questions for Saturday!

And why not? I'm sitting at gymnastics and I've wanted to try my Blogger app anyway. So here are my questions this week:

1. What is your favorite kind of pop tart?
2. What kind of car do you drive, and why?
3.  If you had to pick one pair of shoes to wear every day, which pair would you pick, and why?

Happy Saturday! I hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Free for All

• I actually completed NaBloPoMo! I can’t believe it. It felt good to not have the pressure of writing yesterday, but I really enjoyed doing it all month.
• I had the weirdest dreams last night and the fact that I remember them in such vivid detail seems even more weird. The first was that my best girlfriend was renewing her wedding vows. I’d assumed that she was having her daughters stand up in her ceremony, but the wedding party was exactly the same, except for me. Yet I wore the same dress as I did as her maid of honor. And so did her other bridesmaids and my random replacement. It was awkward. Then I was at the kids’ school and the principal called me out and asked me to leave because my sneakers looked like bowling shoes. She said it was inappropriate. And the third one was that we had a get together at Hub’s cousin’s house, and on her book shelf was an 8x10 photo of Swistle’s kids. I asked how Cousin knew them, and she said that Swistle was her husband’s cousin. I was excited, and immediately emailed Swistle to tell her we were kind of sort of related! And Swistle said no, that was not the case, but that she sold a bunch of 8x10 photos of her kids at a garage sale and now people everywhere were claiming to be her relative.
• I was so tired today, I’m assuming from all the dreaming, and because Hub worked all night and I don’t sleep well when he’s not here, that I took a 45 minute nap on my lunch break. It was necessary. And I am still exhausted.
• Lucy lost her 1st tooth at school today. Then she swallowed it. Her teacher had to call me to talk her down because she was so upset. We remedied the situation by telling her she could write a note for the tooth fairy, AND by reminding her that she was the 1st student in December to lose a tooth. She’s been waiting forever to be on a lost tooth list, just like I waited forever when she was a baby for her to be on the “We have __ teeth” poster at daycare. She was 11 months old before she even had any teeth, so of course she is losing them later than her friends. Now, she is just fine:

• We had our first snow this morning. It’s already melted, but there is more to come. Hub took this picture and captioned it “Even Frosty is sad about the end of Fall”:

• I’d like to think about going to blog conferences in 2012. I’m sure I could swing it, but…I don’t know. The whole concept makes me nervous. And how would I explain where I am going to someone like my mother who cannot ever know that I blog?
• I was so excited to finally send off my CDP the other day! I’d been piling stuff in to a tote for what seemed like forever and when I couldn’t fit anything else, I sent it off. I hope the recipient likes it! I know I would. (In fact, I doubled up on a few of the gifts for myself)
• We are mostly done Christmas shopping. Hub and I are not getting anything for each other since we bought the new TV. Kids are mostly done, and we have some gift certificates for my parents to buy and a few things for the other kids on our list. Can you believe that Christmas is 3 weeks away??

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The way I do it

When I ask my kids to pose for photos, it turns out one of 3 ways.

Cheesed and posed (although even cheesed and posed, she is still gorgeous):



Eyes closed/Weeeeird:



Angry (someone has green eyes when he is annoyed/angry):



I have taken to hanging back and taking shots from behind or from the side and really, these have become some of my favorite photos. I have plenty of pictures of them smiling happily, right in to the camera. Capturing how the light hits someone's hair, or the excitement in their step, or watching them take something in when they don't even know you're there...there is just something about it.

Check it out:






Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Second grade revisited; Teacher conference frets

Second grade for me was when I really decided that I hated school. Not coincidentally, this was the time when play time ended, and real, actual school work began. I hated second grade. In fact, I still feel claustrophobic when I think of sitting at my dining room table and writing number after number on a sheet of paper. We had these long strips, and each strip was to have numbers written, something like 50 to a strip, up to 1000. 1000, people! If I even think about it now, I start to hyperventilate. I hated second grade, and most grades of elementary school thereafter. I remember sitting there, just being bored all the damn time. And never writing down my homework assignments. And seriously, just not giving a shit.

And now we cut to 26 years later where my own child is in second grade. He’s doing wonderfully, although he hates that he has to read specific books rather than something he would choose (Star Wars) on a nightly basis, and struggles with writing down his homework. Generally though, he likes school. I have a problem with his homework. So much of it is of the “complete with your parents” variety and it’s making me crazy. I swear, I am having flashbacks. The thought of doing second grade homework makes me twitch. It’s all in my head, I know. But it is a big struggle for me to not let my anxiety out when sitting at a table completing work with Bud. It’s hard, man.

***
Related to school, I have 2 problems with our teacher conferences that I am not sure how to address. I asked what Bud needed to do to increase his effort marks from 3’s to 4’s. The teacher advised that most everyone gets 3’s because they do a lot of group work. It’s not one specific thing that Bud is doing or not doing. This kind of blows my mind. Not that we’ve given him any sort of hard time about his report card, but we have just sort of assumed it was because of his lax approach to everything in the world. He’s the kind of kid who does most things well without trying. So we assumed that Lucy’s 4’s were because she does things very well, but often has to put in a lot of effort to get the results she wants. Now that theory is all shot to hell. And I know it’s not a 1st grade compared to 2nd grade thing, because Bud has had the same teacher for both years.

The second problem was with Lucy’s conference. I love her teacher, I love that Lucy loves school, and I love that Lucy does very well in school. Here is what her teacher said to us “I meet with each student daily to talk about their progress in their reading and writing. The exception is Lucy, who I meet with maybe once or twice a week. She is so far ahead that she doesn’t need it. And she doesn’t mind that I spend the time with the other students. She enjoys working independently.” Now I know Lucy, and I know that this is true. If you tell her to work with her sister to get her room cleaned, she will insist on doing it herself because she can do it better alone. Here is my problem: there will come a point when she is no longer so ahead of the curve. What if you’re so confident in her abilities that you miss it? I mean, this is probably not something that I have to worry about in 1st grade but situations like this bring out the worrier in me. I love my independent over-achiever. I do not want her to slip through any cracks.

Monday, November 28, 2011

(long) Weekend Recap

Oh what a very long weekend. It was a good one though, that is for sure.

Wednesday was a kick it in to high gear cleaning day, basically making the house presentable for our Thanksgiving guests. Hub was supposed to install the dishwasher that day as well, but things came up like they always do (things like bailing his brother out of jail for a suspended license and having to get his work truck out of impound) , and it never happened. I’d also wanted to have out photos hung but we didn’t get to that either. Bud and I went shopping alone for some last minute food items. I made pies. I scrubbed the tub. Not that our guests were going to be in the tub, but I could not in good conscience leave it with its grey ring around the bottom lest someone open the shower door and see it. So the tub. She is sparkling white. In all though, it was a relaxed cleaning experience. We were really already pretty well on top of things, based on the last few weekends of getting Important Projects out of the way.

Clean house coupled with a late dinner scheduled because my father was working, allowed us the opportunity to laze a bit on Thanksgiving morning. We had cinnamon rolls for breakfast and watched the parade. This is the first year the kids were legitimately interested in it, I think. I prepped the turkeys then and had a little bit of down time before I was going to start in on the side dishes. This of course, is when Hub decided to install the dishwasher. And guess where the parts were? Oh, they were in the minivan that was left at the impound lot in order to drive the work truck home. Yes, they were. So he went and got them, and thankfully the actual dishwasher setup only took about 30 minutes, but of course was finished just as my parents arrived and the contents of my under the sink cupboard were strewn across my kitchen floor. That was the only glitch of the night though. We had a fabulous meal, fabulous desserts and played games. I was a smart girl and waited until after our guests left to start drinking.

I did regret drinking after midnight come Friday morning though. We had to be up early because Bud signed up for a day camp at Tae Kwon Do and had to be there at 8. We’d planned on having Liv stay home for the day, but since Hub was already going out, and since her daycare was doing a day long pajama party, we decided to send her. As soon as they were out the door I went back to bed. Moments later Lucy woke up, but she was happy to crawl in to bed with me. Hub did some black Friday shopping at home depot and brought us donuts back from the cider mill. After he picked Bud up at noon, the 4 of us went and did our huge bulk shopping at BJs, picked up my minivan from the impound lot (eyeroll), and by then picked up Liv. The weather was gorgeous—not typical November in Buffalo weather at all—so we decided to have a fire in the yard. Hub heated up the turkey fryer and he, BIL and I had chicken wings, fried fish and potatoes. The 4 kids roasted hotdogs. Through this, Niece looked sort of off. She had a cold, but you could see her going downhill fast. When I brought the kids inside, she had a 102 temp. It was time for her to go. Niece is notorious for throwing up when she has a fever. And thankfully, she didn’t throw up until she was back home with her father.

Saturday was once again, absolutely gorgeous. We’d already decided that we were cutting down our tree that day, so really the weather was a bonus. I found the perfect tree pretty early on, but Hub and the kids hemmed and hawed over it, and we ended up walking the majority of the tree farm before we ended right back where I’d led them to begin with. We’ve found that this is the sharpest tree we’ve ever had, but it is sturdy and holding the ornaments well. It’s also not making me nearly as itchy as trees we’ve had before. It was a good choice. We had plans Saturday evening to go to our friends’ house down the street, so we and the kids went and just hung out. It was a really nice time, and we were home around midnight.

On account of not having very much sleep over the course of the long weekend, I’m assuming, Liv was very overtired and tossed, turned and screamed all night long. Finally I just slept in her bed with her because I was tired of getting up every 10 minutes. We slept in a little bit longer than we should have on Sunday, considering that we had plans to meet Hub’s cousin and her family at the movies by 10:30, but it was necessary. We made it in time, and saw The Muppets. It was so so so good. I can’t remember the last time we enjoyed a movie so much (although Bud insists that he just hates Muppets). From there we went to lunch at Friendly’s, shopped for new tree light at Target, and came home and decorated the tree. I even kept my rage pent up as the kids put the ornaments in all the wrong spots. The best part? Liv was in bed by 7:30, and she slept until 8:30 this morning. That happens, um, never.

We really did have a great long weekend though. It was very hard to get back in to the swing of things today, for sure. But the next long vacation is only 3 weeks away!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Good Stuff

Today is the end of another week! Can you even believe it? Here is my good stuff:

-I received part 1 of my CDP from Misty. Just look! Magnets!

-I got this in the mail from Another fine gal

-I sucked it up, swallowed my fear and called Keurig thanks to Erica, and got a brand new working mini-brewer on Wednesday.
-Liv ate her entire dinner more nights than she did not.
-Bud started reading Superfudge (even though he hates it...it brings back memories for me)
-Lucy and I were able to take a trip to the library alone.

What was your good stuff this week?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Questions for Saturday

This is the last Saturday of NaBloPoMo. Will the questions continue? I do not know!

So, Thanksgiving is over. Let's move on. But first:

Did you do any Black Friday shopping?
If so, what did you score?

And also:

Will you be decorating for Christmas this weekend?
Are you in Full Blown Christmas Mode yet?

Our plan is to go and get our tree today or tomorrow. I'll have to get back to you on whether or not that pans out.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

Today, on Black Friday, I'd like to direct you to the post I wrote on my old blog after Thanksgiving weekend 4 years ago. This was back when we still went somewhere for Thanksgiving, and then I cooked the whole meal for us on Friday. This was just before I found out we were expecting Liv, when I still had in-laws, when niece was a baby and had a chance, and when Bud and Lucy were still so little. Isn't it crazy how so many things can change in such a short period of time?

Here is the excerpt about my mixer, in case you aren't clicking over:

All night on Thursday, Ed was talking about getting up early on Friday to go pick out a laptop. Circuit City had one on sale for $300. I told him he could do what he wanted so long as he didn’t wake me up. So he got up and went and when I woke up he was sound asleep back in bed. When we got up, he said that he hadn’t even gone, and I had no recollection of him leaving, so I believed him---until I went outside and saw a Dunkin cup in the car that I knew was not there the day before. I asked him f he was sure he stayed home and he insisted that he had. Anyway, Eddie got up and asked for some cereal and when I opened the cupboard, there it was, my new Kitchenaid stand mixer. For the last 2 years, any time I’ve mentioned getting one, he’s said no. It’s too expensive. I’ll never use it. So to say that I was shocked would be an understatement. I actually burst in to tears. Over a mixer. I am a lame ass.

I still say the mixer was the VERY best gift Hub ever bought me.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Required Thanksgiving Post

I have so many things to be thankful for today, but really it all comes down to these 4:






I truly couldn't be a luckier girl.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blah.

I am up very early this morning. I am writing this before I've even had any coffee--so beware. I fear that if I don't just get a move on, nothing will be done in time for Thanksgiving. We aren't eating until later tomorrow though, since my dad has to work, so that will be a help. We've been so busy cleaning and reorganizing these last couple of weekends--so really there is just surface work to be done, but still it is all overwhelming. Hub is busy with people trying to squeeze in cleanings before the holiday, and today, he is going to install our dishwasher. Now, when I said I would like for it to be in use in time for Thanksgiving, I did not mean that he should wait until the day before to get it done. But here we are, and he has worked all night, and is back at work now, and hopefully later today we will have a working dishwasher, and not a gaping hole in my floor or cupboards, and hopefully nothing will have caught fire.

I'm not the type of person who feels pressure to have a completely spotless house, are you? I say good enough is good enough. And if you want to judge me for it, feel free. If the floors are swept and vacuumed, the counters and table are clear, the bathroom is shiny, and we've at least feather dusted, I am all good. I'm not a housekeeper, you know? I'm a mom, with a busy life, and I have better things to do than to scrub my grout with a toothbrush, or wipe my baseboards obsessively, or worry too much about the clutter in the kids' rooms.

I think you'd be very comfortable here. You might get some cat hair on you. But the comfort...it will be undeniable.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Train to Crazy Town

I am just having the shittiest of days. It’s “that time” and I’m crabby, the dog tore up my office garbage this morning, and I am privy to some family information that was not disclosed to me by the family member involved so I have been in the position of answering questions and acting like I have no idea what’s going on, when I do in fact know way more than I should but nobody can ever know that I know and have known all this time, (that’s maybe a bit cryptic…just not for the blog but I’ll tell anyone who wants to know) and the pressure is making me so stabby! And speaking of stabbing, seriously, if I don’t stab my mother before Thanksgiving is over, it is going to be a miracle. And then I had to have my thyroid bloodwork done today because I waited ‘til the last minute, and am out of refills like always. So it was today, or go down that slippery slope I always go down of randomly being off my thyroid meds and basically taking a trip to crazy town.

Anyway…

If there were ever a probable time for me to get in to a fist fight, it would have been at the blood draw lab today. They have this system where you can make an appointment online, and even though they still take walk-ins, appointments are guaranteed to go first. This way, I assume, they hope to avoid having their patients waste their entire lunch hour hanging out in their waiting room. This appointment system has never failed me until today.

I arrived for my 12:10 appointment at 11:55. There was one non-appointment maker in the waiting area who, by the sign in sheet, had arrived one minute before me. By their design, I should have been seen first. But I wasn’t. So, I stewed a bit when at 12:10 PM the other gentleman (if you could call his burping snot swallowing gentlemanly)back in to the room, but wasn’t going to make a big deal. In the meantime, another guy came in and signed in. It was 12:20, 10 minutes past my appointment time, but I still had plenty of time. No Big.

Finally the tech came out and called my name. I stood up and then she said to just wait a second because the other man had an appointment. And that is when I got a little bit pissy since I also had an appointment, AND I had been waiting for 30 minutes. “But”, she told me, “his appointment was for 12:00 and yours was at 12:10.” Then I went from straight up pissy, to ENRAGED. I was here for 30 minutes before this guy even walked in! He showed up 20 minutes PAST his appointment time. He missed his appointment!! She says “Ma’am, I can’t prove that he was here any later than you were.” THE SIGN IN SHEET! “He signed in at 11:55 as well.” The hell he did. So if he showed up at 2PM, would you take him before all of the 2PM appointments, since his appointment was scheduled for 2 hours before? “Well no, we’d consider him a missed appointment.” This is not different! He was not here for his appointment! “Well, I can’t prove that ma’am and his appointment was first.” So I flung myself back in to my waiting room chair, like a surly teenager and waited my turn, even though my turn had already passed.

I really wanted to storm out of there, but they already had my lab slip, and I’d already wasted almost an hour. And then of course, I ended up with that same tech drawing my blood. I was sure she was going to jab me or something because I had made a scene, but she didn’t. Though now I am convinced she’s going to tamper with my blood. We’ll know if I get any weird calls from my endocrinologist tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Questions Answered

Ugh, I have not felt this blah in a very long time. There is no actual malaise to pinpoint---I just plain don’t feel well. I did have a migraine for a bit yesterday, but it passed. Mostly I feel tired and foggy. I’d really just like to take a nap. It is a good thing I have some questions to answer, because otherwise, I’d probably whine on for this entire post. So! Here’s to hoping that I start feeling better, and here are my answers to Saturday’s questions. Feel free to answer for yourself if you didn’t get a chance to over the weekend.

1. White meat or dark meat? White meat, please! I like to save the dark meat for soup and turkey salad sandwiches though.
2. Gravy or no gravy? Gravy, and lots of it. I like to have gravy over everything, with a little pool for extra dipping right in the middle of my plate.
3. Do you call it stuffing, or dressing? And what kind does your family eat? (cornbread, sausage, oyster etc.) I don’t know why, because I am sure that nobody else in the North calls it this, but I say dressing. About 5 years ago I started making cornbread dressing from scratch and I have never looked back. So delicious.
4. Cranberry sauce? Yes or no. Nope. I don’t care if it is fresh or from a can. I do not like it either way.
5. What is your one cannot live without Thanksgiving dish? What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert? Main entrĂ©e? That is tough, because seriously…all of it. I think if I had to pick one thing it would be the dressing. Or my mom’s creamed cucumbers. For dessert, it has to be pumpkin pie and it has to be absolutely slathered with cool whip.
6. Who are you spending Thanksgiving with this year? I am cooking for Hub, the kids, my parents, my brothers, BIL and BIL’s girlfriend. That’s…a lot of people. I’ll have a 24lb turkey in the oven, and Hub is frying a smaller one outside. Still, I’m sure there will be way too much food.

**oh, and a note on my Good Stuff post yesterday-- I received our package of Christmas cards in the mail on Friday. I did not mail them out on Friday. I'm not a psychopath!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The good stuff

It's the end of another week! Here are a few of this things that have made me happy this week:

*Putting together our Christmas cards, and getting them in the mail on Friday.
*Starting the OCM with some of my favorite Twitter friends.
*Putting the finishing touches on my crappy day package.
*Spending Friday and Saturday Christmas shopping with Hub.

What was your good stuff this week?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Questions for Saturday

What else would I ask this time of year? Questions about Thanksgiving, of course! Please indulge me with your answers.

1. White meat or dark meat?
2. Gravy or no gravy?
3. Do you call it stuffing, or dressing? And what kind does your family eat? (cornbread, sausage, oyster etc.)
4. Cranberry sauce? Yes or no.
5. What is your one cannot live without Thanksgiving dish? What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?
6. Who are you spending Thanksgiving with this year?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Free for All

• I am off today! I will be dropping the kids off with my mother shortly, and she will keep them until tomorrow. Hub and I are going to do something, but we aren’t exactly sure what. Maybe a long country drive. Definitely a good dinner out. Probably some Christmas shopping. Tomorrow we’ll have a bit of time together before I go get the kids and he heads off to a job. Maybe we’ll go to Panera for breakfast.
• While shopping for the finishing touches of my Crappy Day Package, I scored a few of these melamine plates on clearance for $.62 each. I would really like to go and scour Target endcaps across my area to see if I can find more. LOVE them.
Photo from Target.com
• I also bought a second blanket for our bed. Because seriously…screw that shit.
• I was talking to Hub the other day, about how I really just hate the monotony of the gym and how I don’t work hard when I’m there because I am bored. I told him I wish I could somehow feel about my regular work out the way I do about Zumba, which is head over heels in love. It’s challenging. I sweat. I feel my blood pumping. I legitimately need a shower afterward. He looked at me like I was crazy and told me to find some daytime Zumba classes and cancel the gym membership. It was a total “well, duh” moment for me. I mean seriously. Although finding classes during the day without having a gym membership at one of the big fancy gyms that holds classes, is proving to be hard. There are millions in the evenings, but I don’t want to go at night. I need to work out in the morning. So, I don’t know. Do you think I would get as much out of doing a DVD? I really want a class.
• Has anyone else noticed how hard it is to buy Christmas pajamas for boys, once they are over the age of 4? I got the most adorable sets for the girls, and had horrible luck for Bud. Lands End came through for me though. Here is what I got the girls from Gymboree:
Photo from Gymboree.com
And this is what I got for Bud:
Photo from landsend.com
• I ordered my Christmas cards this week, and they will be here soon! I am pleased with how they turned out. I feel ahead of the game this year. We’ll see how long it lasts. We’ll see how many gifts I buy today.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Parent Teacher Conferences

Ugh, the kids are home today. This is full day 3 of the 8.5 spread out days they are home in November. Parents have been complaining at the school left and right, only to be told that the district made the calendar, so talk to them. Understandable. If this were even a year ago, this would be more than the minor “oh my GOD, get these kids OUT OF HERE!” type of dilemma I am facing. How do working parents navigate 8.5 days off in a single month? Thank God that Hub and I both work here at home and that our kids are a bit older and can take care of themselves with minimal supervision.

The reason for the days off this week is parent teacher conferences and the illustrious first report cards of the year. I don’t anticipate any surprises partly because Hub and I are in the school so much and already speak to both teachers weekly, but also because my kids are very predictable.

Bud is very very smart, but he is a scatterbrain. He forgets homework, and skips reading directions on tests and assignments. We call him the absentminded professor. In a recent conversation between Hub and his teacher she said “You have a little math whiz on your hands! He’s at the highest level! If only I could get him to remember to write his name on his tests.” He loses points for things like that. I don’t know if it is an advantage or a disadvantage that he has had the same teacher for 2 years now. Last year, she always gave him 3 out of 4 for effort in all of the areas. We worked with Bud all year last year to get those up to a 4 and it just never happened. I’m interested to see if there is any change this year. In any case, we work a lot on the following of directions here at home. I make lists of chores, and speak specific instructions to him. We make him repeat instructions back to us. Hopefully, it will all click one of these days.


There has never been a more classic middle child than Lucy. She loves attention, and she aims to please. At home, she will take any attention she can get, whether it is positive or negative and she pushes my buttons like nobody else can. At school, she is a freaking upstanding citizen. She helps other students. The teacher tells substitutes to “check with Lucy” about anything they might be missing or have questions on. Lucy would rather die than ever be in any sort of trouble. She brings home all of her homework for the week on Monday, and does it all immediately, even though it’s not due until Friday. She is my little over-achiever. She struggles a bit in math, and excels in reading, art and music. Last year she was all 4s for effort. I’d be surprised if she was any lower this year.

We have a conference set for Liv in December, but I think it’s kind of ridiculous at the preschool level. Next year, in Pre-K, I think it will be more beneficial. While at home Liv is my most difficult child—throwing tantrums and being just generally miserable and antagonistic, she is basically good in school. Teachers are consistently amazed because she speaks like a grown-up. She knows what she wants and she usually gets it. She eats well. She is helpful. She has excellent manners. I think she’s going to give kindergarten a run for its money when she gets there though.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This blog has been reclassified from "Mom Blog" to "Bedding Blog"

Hub and I moved in together in the fall of 1997, on my 19th birthday to be exact, in to a one bedroom basement apartment on the outskirts of our home town. To say that my parents were not thrilled would be putting it quite mildly. Though my mother had told me on numerous occasions that I was no longer welcome in her home since I refused to follow her stringent rules (this is a very long story for another day—I’ll tell it if you’re interested), when it came time for me to actually leave, she was beyond pissed. I had to get out of there in a hurry, so I packed as much as the back of my Ford Ranger pickup could hold, and I got the hell out of there in one trip. This of course, left me without a bed. My mother said I couldn’t have it anyway, so I guess it is a moot point that it did not fit.

Hub’s mother was much more understanding and supported our move. She purchased and packed many things up for us. Allowed Hub to bring his bed with him, and all of his furniture. Hub may have purchased the furniture on his own, now that I am thinking about it, so maybe it wasn’t a case of her allowing him to bring his stuff. My point though is that she was happy for us, and helped us as much as she could. In the box of items that she had purchased, was a comforter. It was ugly; it sort of reminded me of of that laser photo background from the 80’s. But it was warm and comfortable, and was basically my bed for the 1st 6 months Hub and I lived together. Later, when things cooled down with my parents, I did get my bed, but I kept the comforter.

When we moved in to our house in 1999, FIL bought us a queen sized bed, and we inherited his and MIL’s bedroom set (seeing as how they’d been separated for 25 years at that point). We bought new bedding, of course and cast the old comforter aside. Soon we realized there was a big problem though. It was impossible for Hub and me to share a blanket. He is a blanket hog and I am a cocoon myself in the blanket sort of girl. Constantly, I’d be wrapped up just right, only to have him pull the covers right off of me.

This is when we got a brilliant idea. Separate bedding. Oh yes. For at least 10 year now, Hub and I have used completely separate sets of blankets. He took the old comforter and I took the new. It was a glorious sleeping experience for many years.

I mentioned how we bought new bedding this past weekend—and that was because all of our old stuff was falling apart. It was time. Hub took off the blankets and immediately took them out to the trash. So we bought a really nice set that matches the bedspread I got as a wedding shower gift, and we came home and set it all up. It’s pretty, soft and comfortable. But there is one problem. Now we have to share. I haven’t slept since Saturday.

We’re both kind of at a loss. The end result is going to be for us to buy another blanket, obviously. But I am left wondering how people do this? How do you share your blankets with another person? Is there a magical way to make it work? Educate me people.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Secret is Out: I like to spend money

It’s maybe not a secret that I love to spend money. I like to think that I hide it well, but if you read through my blog, especially lately, it seems like a never-ending chorus of I bought I bought I bought. It’s true; I like to buy things. I can’t help myself. And what does help me is the small amount of money I have put aside in to my own personal checking account each pay period. This money used to go for things like lunches out, morning coffee and my work wardrobe. I’ve been home a year now, and those expenses have drastically decreased. Yet I keep my stipend. It’s the Saly fun fund! This is the money that allowed me to buy the hair pins, and the new Uggs, the Bath and Body stuff, and my Clinique order. I use this money for my Birchbox as well. And for contests here, pay it forwards, and now, my Crappy Day Package.

More than spending my own money though, I love when the household budget allows for us to buy some things off of our want list. We’ve done pretty well lately, and the holidays are always a good time to spruce the place up a bit. (For the record, we do not use credit cards. At all. We only buy things when we have money to buy them. The end.) We went shopping on Friday night to eyeball some sectionals. We have a sofa and a love seat now, and they are in poor condition. We’ve wanted a sectional for years, but have never taken the plunge. I was planning on something simple; maybe spending about $1500-$1800 for it, and calling it a day. Then we saw this. It is beautiful and so comfortable. And we are in love. It is large; it would fill our living room for sure. But all 5 of us love this sofa like no other.

We left the store on Friday, because weHub isn’t one to make rash spending decisions. We are still mulling it over. It is a lot to spend when we have cats, small children and a psycho dog. But the recliners. And the microsuede. And the beverage holders. We’re still mulling though. There is only one spot it could go, and it would be a tight squeeze. We have a small house, but a large-ish living room. So we’ll see. Hub has a big check coming from a big job he does twice a year. Maybe then.

We spent all day Saturday cleaning and getting ready to rearrange the living room in to the normal winter set-up. Hub rearranged our bedroom, and decided that we just could not live with our bedding another minute. And never mind that we reside in the former nursery/kid’s room that still has Winnie the Pooh prints on the wall, but we need some decent freaking curtains. So off we went to Wal Mart and Target to pick up some things. Curtain rods, curtains, pillows, a new comforter and so on. And as we had a cart full of crap, and 4 children who were getting hungry in tow, we moseyed over to the electronics section and were mesmerized by the TVs. Hub and I like TV a lot. In our down time, after the kids go to bed, we curl up on the couch and watch whatever we have on the TiVo. We’ve been doing this with a 32 inch flat screen for about 5 years now, and Hub has said over and over lately that we need a bigger TV. We looked at a bunch, and ended up deciding on a 50 inch plasma that was on sale for less than smaller TVs were running. There was an issue with my debit card (apparently, I only have a $500 spending limit—we have to call the bank) and Hub didn’t bring his, so we had to take everyone home, and Hub went back. He called me from the car to say that he’d gotten a better deal on a 52 inch 3D TV. Plus 3D glasses. You guys, this is the biggest TV ever. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but just look (don’t mind the crap on the floor; we were still rearranging and tearing things apart):

It’s a really nice TV, but we both feel kind of ridiculous now that it’s here. I mean, who needs such a large television? As a bonus, we can now use the HD service we get for free with our cable package, so there’s that. But man that TV is big. A perfect excuse to buy the giant furniture, in my opinion.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Answering my own questions; Hairpins

I asked some questions on Saturday. Thanks for playing along! Here are my answers to the same questions.

1. Do you ever let your kids sit in the front seat of the car? What is an appropriate age to sit up front? Would you judge a parent with, say, a 5 year old in the front seat? Hub and I are having something of a debate on this one. He thinks it is no big deal to let Bud ride up front. Bud will be 8 in a few weeks (Ok, like 6 weeks but OMG—8), and is of normal 8-year-old size. He no longer requires a booster seat by weight, but we make him sit in it anyway. Hub always puts the booster in the front, and the airbags auto-shutoff on the passenger side when you weigh less than 100lbs. So, he says it is safe. I disagree, and also, having a flailing almost-8-year-old touching things and talking at me is definitely distracting when he is not in the front seat. Him in my face? Way distracting. Plus there is the Lucy factor. Lu insists that she should be able to do anything that Bud does, and therefore if he rides up front, she expects a turn. (This is what happens when you have children close in age, my friends.) Over my dead body is my 6-year-old sitting up front. I will allow them to sit in front if I happen to pick them up from school. The ride home is 4 blocks.
2. What is your opinion of "best by" or expiration dates? Do you follow them to the letter? Are you a bit lax? I almost never look at an expiration date. And if I do, it is because something seems off. I think most stuff keeps forever. Especially yogurt. I have very low standards when it comes to such things. I don’t budge much on meat though, but that is more of a smell thing than a date.
3. How do you drink your coffee? 99% of the time, I drink it black. I have since I was probably 17? I am one of those strange people who actually likes the taste of coffee, I guess. I do enjoy fancy coffee beverages quite a bit though. Mochas and lattes and frappes and all that jazz. You wouldn’t believe it, but I think McDonalds has one of the best frappes around—better than Starbucks even, and lord knows I love me some Starbucks. If I am getting an iced coffee, it is always with cream and sugar. And on occasion, I will get a hot coffee with cream and sugar but only if the establishment has real cream. No milk (hork), no half and half.
4. What is your favorite kind of cake? Do you like cakes with filling, such as jam? I am a white/yellow cake with buttercream frosting kind of a girl. I love frosting SO MUCH. In fact, my filling of choice in a cake is MORE FROSTING!! Never anything like jam or pudding that will make the cake soggy. Bring on the buttercream. We do have a local bakery here that makes a delicious chocolate cake with a chocolate buttercream frosting. This is what I always get for my birthday because the kids like chocolate, and really, they are a big part of the reason my birthdays are happy.

I also mentioned yesterday my new love affair with decorated hairpins, and I got a few questions about them, so I thought I would show you how cute they are. I have the most ridiculous fine will not do anything hair you can imagine. So fine that clips do not stay in, or if I can get them to stay, they somehow look wrong. I’ve used plain bobby pins to get my hair out of my face in the past, but really…so boring. So when I came upon the flowered ones a few weeks ago, I went a bit crazy. Then I shopped on etsy last week, and went a bit more crazy. It’s safe to say now that I have a hair pin for every occasion.

Here are the hairpins in all their glory (the elephants are my favorite):




And this is how I use them. Today I have just one black one in, but I also like to criss-cross 2 in the same spot. Sometimes I twist my hair a little bit too. The possibilities are endless.





Saly + hairpins= WIN!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Good Stuff

I think that even after NaBloPoMo, I'll write about the good things from the past week. It's easy to rant and rave all week long; it's nice to have a bright spot.

Here are the things that made me happy this week:

* A boatload of free samples from Clinique. I knew I was getting some with my face care order, but I got even more than I bargained for. I love love love free samples.
*My second Birchbox came in the mail. I got chocolate, boob firming cream, nail polish, other lotions and a few more things. It was jam packed this month. Again, sample whore. I love my Birchbox.
*This actually happened last week, but it was the weekend, so it's moving here. the knitted owl cap I bought for Olivia. I spent $15 on it, but it is so stinking adorable. (You've seen the photo...I'm not in the mood to get it off of my phone)
*Decorated hair pins. I bought several at our school's vendor fair, and then bought several more on Etsy this week. They work so well in my fine and ridiculous hair too. I can't show you the ones I got without linking you in to my actual transaction, but I will show you when they arrive. They are my new favorite thing, for sure.

What was your good stuff this past week?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Questions for Saturday

Here are some things I would like your thoughts on:

1. Do you ever let your kids sit in the front seat of the car? What is an appropriate age to sit up front? Would you judge a parent with, say, a 5 year old in the front seat?

2. What is your opinion of "best by" or expiration dates? Do you follow them to the letter? Are you a bit lax?

3. How do you drink your coffee?

4. What is your favorite kind of cake? Do you like cakes with filling, such as jam?

Don't worry, I will answer these questions too, next week.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Free for All

*As I mentioned yesterday, the kids and I were alone for the evening. We had a rare treat of McDonald's and we rented a movie, I was disappointed because McDonald's was out of fountain pop, and they were pouring from 2 litre bottles, but other than that (and the mild profanity in the movie we rented, Gulliver's Travels) it was a delightful evening.
*We found out yesterday, after carefully arranging our schedules for parent teacher conferences, that 2nd grade teachers would like for parents to bring their children along to the conference. So, that's nice. And of course, 1st graders are not welcome at their conferences, so everything is totally convenient. /end sarcastic rant
*I very much appreciate all of your skincare advice from last week. I am in the phase of dry skin, to the point of it peeling from my face in sheets, but the meds seem to be working. I bought some Clinique soap and lotion,and it is ok, but I think I like the Target compare to Olay moisturizer better than anything. Ironically, that is what I've been using for years.
*Supposedly, the owl bedding has shipped. I am so nervous to see if it is actually what it's supposed to be.
*I have a piece of Family Information that I am not supposed to know, and that I cannot talk to anyone about. And I only know bits and pieces and I can't ask any questions. It is kiiiiiiiling me!
*Well, we are 11 days in to Nablopomo, and I have officially run out of things to talk about.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Train of thought

Man, do I love to volunteer at my kids’ school. Not the actual volunteer work, specifically because if I am be honest, that shit is B O R I N G! But I love that I walk through the building to a chorus of “Hello, Mrs. B…!” from students and teachers. People know me. They know my kids. We have lived here, on our street and in our tiny house since 1999, but until last year, we never really felt like we were part of a community. It is nice.

That being said, I walked to and from school today on my lunch break for my volunteer shift in the rain. This was not an overly fun experience as it was about 45 degrees and raining, but with Hub’s truck in the shop he needed to use my car for the day. No biggie. And really I was dreading it, but it wasn’t horrible. We live about 4 suburban blocks from the school and it took me maybe 15 minutes each way. If it weren’t for the rain and the wind blowing my umbrella every which way, it probably would have been delightful. What a concept, walking to get somewhere instead of just for mindless exercise. I should do it more often.

I have no segue…

I was reading through my archives earlier today. Man, was I ever funny back when I was pregnant. What happened to that girl? Maybe it was because pregnancy makes me a raging bitch, and bitchiness=funny. I don’t know. I also found a post where I talked about our washer breaking, and going out to buy a front loading washer. I remember the circumstances. I remember FIL and I mopping water in the basement forEVER. But as for a front loader? We did not get one. We have the exact same washer we’ve always had. So we must have had it repaired? And cancelled our purchase? But I do not remember any of this!! And now I’m all disappointed like, damn, I could have had a front loading washer.

Random transition line about kids…

Hub has a huge job scheduled tonight, and is leaving shortly to work all night. The kids and I are on our own for the evening, so we are going to first do my patented 1 hour cleaning blitz, which is where I set the timer for an hour, and we all clean furiously for that time and when the hour is up, providing everyone has worked their hardest, we are done. It’s an easy way to make chores fun. And then, we are going to do a campout in the living room, complete with another one of my patented items, microwave popcorn with m&ms mixed in. Seriously. You would think I Was some sort of gourmet chef the way the kids go on and on about it. We will watch a movie and sleep on the air mattress and have a great time. This is the way to start a long weekend.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Three.

I’ve long said that 3 is the worst age of toddlerhood. I’ve never had many problems at age 2, but age 3, it just blows up. It has now occurred to me that before Liv, I had no idea what I was talking about. Bud and Lucy’s time of being 3, even if I combined their tantrums and bullshit, pale in massive proportion to what I deal with from Liv on a daily basis. I have always been the person wide eyed in the grocery store, at the child having a meltdown that the parent is seemingly powerless to stop. I’ve always been the one thinking to myself something along the lines of “damn, control your child!”. I should have known better. The tables have turned.

Olivia has always been a force to be reckoned with. She has been strong willed from the time she was an infant, fighting to the death to get her own way. Now, she is an extremely verbal 3-year-old who thinks that she is on par in all levels with her older brother and sister. I think too, because she has spent so much time one on one with grown-ups, that she also thinks she is something of a grown-up herself. So of course, when she doesn’t get to do what she wants, it is an all out battle.

Here is a typical conversation with Olivia, usually happening minutes before dinner time.

Liv: Mom, can I have a apple bar?
Me: No, we’re going to eat in a few minutes.
Liv: Please can I have a apple baaaar?
Me: Olivia, I said no. It’s dinner time.
Liv: But I said pleeeeaaase!!
Me: No.
Liv: Apple Bar!
Me: …
Liv: Apple Bar!!
Me: …
Liv: AAAAAple Bar!!!
AAAAAAAPPPPPPLE BAR!!
APPLE! BAR!
APPLEBAR!
AAAAAAAPLE BAAAAAAAR!!
Me: Olivia, I told you no. Now please sit down for dinner.
Liv: Well fine then, I’m not talking to you.

She is beyond infuriating, and I’m having a really hard time keeping my fury in check. We have tried everything: taking things away, time outs, carrying her to her bed, removing her from stores and dinner tables. You name it, we have done it and she does not care—not one single iota. And I am at a loss as to what to do with her anymore. Am I to just ride out this hurricane? When she is not being a raging hellbeast, she is really quite delightful. She loves to help with any chore, she likes to just converse with me, sit and read books, and do puzzles. She is quite a puzzle wiz, actually. But the second she feels like the slightest injustice has been performed, it is over and there is usually no going back.

So here’s my question. Are there any tried and true methods for disciplining an ornery 3-year-old? What about other forms of distraction? I feel as though I’ve exhausted all of my resources and I am starting to question whether the problem is me, and not her. Granted, I’ve never had this happen before, but still. Or maybe she just has, and always will have a strong personality. And if that is true, well, God help us all.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

School Photos

We finally have all 3. Liv's is the only one I am happy with, FYI. BUT, this is why we don't spend a lot of money on school photos. They generally suck, am I right?

So here is Bud. He is not usually so, how do you say, crazy, in the eyes. But there is some serious possessioncrazy going on here.



Here is Lu. Her hair was sleek and gorgeous before she left on picture day morning. She maybe had a run in with a wild animal. Maybe a real owl! Who knows.



And here is Olivia, the devil in disguise. And that is a whole post for another day. Being cute keeps her out of trouble more than you would think.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Timeline

It was just about a year ago when my bosses flew in from California for a week full of meetings. One such meeting was the one where they gave me the opportunity to work from home, something I had been angling for over the course of 6 or so months. At the time, my concern was commute, and just generally saving time. I never knew how much our family was going to need this, with the quick illness progression and then death of (our live in babysitter) my father- in-law, and with Hub’s business turning in new directions. I was excited for working in yoga pants and being home to see the kids when they got off the bus. I don’t think I ever fully grasped just how much life would change though. And also, how much work it is.

Here was a typical day for me before:

5:00 am: Wake up, and ready myself for the gym, leave for gym
6:00 am: come home, quick breakfast and coffee, shower
6:30 am: make lunches, more coffee
7:00 am: wake kids up, have them get dressed. Wake Liv up and dress her.
7:15 am: Leave the kids to deal with breakfast, the bus etc. with Grandpa or Daddy, take the baby and drop her at daycare (or my mom’s depending on the day)
8:30 am: (or thereabouts) Arrive to work, work the day away.
12:00 pm: go out or order in lunch
1:00 pm: continue working until 5
5:00 pm: commute home, pick up Liv
6:00 pm: start dinner, worry about homework etc.


A typical day for me now looks something like this. For the sake of this timeline, we will assume that I go to the gym as much as I plan to. On non-gym days, I just press snooze for an hour. Don’t worry, Hub never hears the alarm, even when it’s for him.

5:30 am: Wake up, put on my gym clothes, brush my teeth and leave by 5:45. Work out 30-45 minutes.
6:30 am: Home. Put coffee on to brew. Usually catch up on blogs/Facebook/Twitter on my phone while the coffee brews
6:45 am: Pour a cup of coffee and start making lunches.
6:50 am: go downstairs for juice boxes and lunch snacks, turn on work computer and catch up on emails, review my calendar for the day etc
7:30 am: back up stairs, finish packing lunches, double check homework, and pack up the back packs.
7:45 am: start waking the big kids. (We try really hard to always let Liv wake up on her own)
7:50 am: get Bud his breakfast, for he needs to eat the second he gets out of bed. Beg Lucy to please just eat something. Pour Hub his coffee and make his breakfast. Lay out clothes for the day, and start my usual chant of “let’s go guys! Let’s go let’s go!!”
8:10 am: If she hasn’t gotten up on her own, get Liv out of bed. Coddle her for a few minutes. Get her dressed.
8:20 am: Make sure everyone is getting dressed. Speak an endless chorus of “Shoes! Socks! Teeth! Let’s go!!” Usually clapping my hands briskly Is also involved.
8:30 am: Final check of hair, teeth and bags. Does everyone have their lunch? Usually, the answer is “uh…no…”
8:40 am: Ship the big kids outside to wait for the bus, clean Liv up, and get her shoes and socks on so she can wave to the bus driver.
8:50 am: Bus comes, and bye bye big kids. Hub loads Liv in to the car and takes her to daycare
8:55 am: More coffee, breakfast
9:00 am: downstairs to work, and work straight through the day with stops to nibble on lunch here or there, small breaks for blogs. Take 30 minutes to throw dinner together at some point.
4:00 pm: get kids off the bus, give snacks, get homework started etc.
4:05 pm: back downstairs to finish work
5:30 pm: end work for the day

I honestly do not know how we ever got through the day before, how my kids managed to make it to school with everything they need, how dinner ever got on the table, or how we survived with me being away so much of the day. I always said that I didn’t have it in me to be a stay at home mom, and maybe I still don’t. (Having the kids home with me all summer was tough, but it was also my first summer home, AND our first summer without a 3rd pair of hands here.) I think though, that I sort of have the best of both worlds. I’m here to do for my kids the things that I had to rely on others for in the past. I have flexibility within my schedule to volunteer at school, make dinner, and do extra projects around the house. I don’t know how I ended up being so lucky, but here we are. And hopefully, here we will stay.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Good Things

Happy Sunday! I’ve had a great week; have you?

Here are some things that made this past week a great one for me:

• A huge order with free shipping from Wag. The only cat food that doesn’t make a single one of our 3 cats throw up is only available in 3lb bags for $4.99 here. Wag has the food in 15lb bags for $14.95, and had free shipping plus 15% off for it being my first time there. And, bonus! My order arrived less than 24 hours from the time I placed it.
• The Hush Puppies shoes I ordered for myself. I haven’t worn Hush Puppies since I was a little girl, but these shoes just spoke to me. They also arrived in 1 business day, and were a free ship. They are so comfortable and supportive, and I am completely in love. Just look at them!
• The fact that Bath and Body is carrying Juniper Breeze again, if only online. I'd forgotten how much I loved it.
• All of the Crappy Day excitement happening over at Doing My Best. I am positively giddy with the possibilities.
• Our girls started sleeping in their bunk beds!
• We’ve started planning out our Christmas shopping.

What made this week great for you?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Recipes on a Saturday

A while ago, someone asked me for some recipes. I no longer remember who, or in what context, but I have had such good luck with your recipes in the past, (ahem, Mommy Daisy, Swistle, and most recently, Erica) I thought that I would share a few things that really work in our family. And as luck would have it, I just shared them with Laura , so they are already written out, and I can now share them here.

These are 3 kinds of recipes—1 slow cooker, one super cheap pre-payday meal, and one that is more of a weekend meal for us. If you make them, let me know how they turn out!

Recipe the first-an all day cooker

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

1 boneless pork roast (I always get the kind that is tied together with twine because I know it will shred. I don’t know if it’s a shoulder or a butt or what)
1 McCormick pulled pork seasoning packet
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Rolls, to serve sandwiches on
Anything else you want to throw in for flavor--I sometimes add nutmeg, garlic or some barbeque sauce etc. (It would probably be good with onions, but Hub does not eat onions, so…)

Directions:
1. Place the roast in the slow cooker
2. Combine all the other ingredients in a small bowl and pour them over the top.
3. Cook on low 8 hours
4. remove pork and shred with 2 forks, return to juice and stir
5. serve on toasted rolls.

It's really good, and you can serve it with fries or whatever. We usually have it with steamed broccoli though, because that is my go-to side dish. If I am home when I am cooking it, I cook the pork alone for an hour or 2 and then drain off some of the grease. Then I add the sauce stuff and cook for the remainder. It's good either way; the pork isn't all that greasy but hub has a sensitive stomach when fat and barbeque sauce collide, so I try to drain it.)

Recipe numero 2- On the CHEAP

Casseroni

Ingredients:
1 box of beef rice a roni
1lb ground beef
1 beef bouillon cube

Directions:
1. brown beef, drain, and set aside.
2. begin to prepare the rice a roni as directed, browning the rice in the butter.
3. when it is time to add the water and the seasoning, also add the ground beef and the bouillon cube.
4. sir together, and finish cooking as directed on the rice a roni directions

Now, I always double this recipe for my family of 5. Hub likes to put gravy on it, but I don’t really think it is necessary. My mom always made this right before my dad got paid and would serve it with either white bread and butter, or if we had them, Pillsbury biscuits. It’s delicious! I’ve also used the chicken flavor with cut up chicken, and it’s not bad.

Recipe #3—The Finale

Sweent & Sour Chicken

Ingredients:
2lbs of chicken
3 cups of Bisquick (for dredging the chicken)
1 TBSP paprika
Oil for cooking
1 Green pepper
1 large onion
1 can of pineapple chunks, in juice
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 bottle of your favorite sweet and sour sauce

Directions:
1. mix Bisquick with paprika in a shallow dish
2. cube chicken, and dredge though Bisquick mixture, and set aside.
3. Preheat a large skillet with a few tablespoons of oil
4. cut onion and green pepper in to large pieces, and place it in the preheated pan, cooking until it's tender, but still somewhat crisp.
5. remove the peppers and onions, drain the oil off, and place in a bowl.
6. Add more oil if necessary, and cook the chicken in batches til it's done, and remove to paper towel or a rack to drain
7. On the stove, either in the same pan or a fresh one, combine the peppers, onions, pineapple with juice, sweet and sour sauce and soy sauce. Heat until warmed through.
8. Add the chicken, and cook until the chicken is warmed back up.
9. Serve over rice

If I am feeling ambitious, I will set up a flour, then egg wash, then Bisquick assembly line, and this gets the chicken extra crispy and delicious. If I’m going through the trouble of doing it this way, I usually double the chicken, with the second half being all chicken strips, and then we have dinner for another night. I also always leave a few onions in the oil while I am cooking the chicken, because I think it gives the breading good flavor. This recipe was adapted from one I saw in the coupon section of our newspaper a couple of years ago. That recipe called for only half the pineapple juice, but I always add it all to make the sauce a little bit thinner.