Thursday, December 22, 2011
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
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!!!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
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
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
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
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
• 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??