Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Home, for everyone

Thank you to everyone who has sent their well wishes, thoughts and prayers for my Dad. We are all thankful that after a 10-day stay in the hospital (and our family's MOST unusual Christmas ever) that he was able to come home on Sunday. So he is home and recovering and will start chemo in a month. I am home with the kids now for New Years, but my heart is with my mom & dad and will be until this ordeal is over.

I hope you all have a happy and safe New Year's!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


My dad's surgery went well. Unfortunately, the tumor was large -- the size of an apple!!!!!! -- and it had completely breached the colon wall. It had engulfed his urethra and was resting on his sacrum (tailbone). So the removal itself was a lot more involved. They had a urologist come in to re-attach the urethra, but they had to scrape the tailbone which causes significant pain. They won't know until Tuesday if the cancer has spread into the bones, but right now it doesn't look like the liver, kidneys or any other organ is involved. He will definitely need chemo.

The upside? He'll be able to eat again by Sunday. Also, because the tumor was so high up he won't need any "accessories" down the road. His colon should function fine. Now he needs to get his strength back up for the chemo.

It has all happened so suddenly -- I woke up this morning thinking it wasn't real.

We're heading to Naples this morning.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Now what?

That stress from the other day? The one where I was wondering how I was going to get everything done? And had presents to make/wrap? And was still thinking of more things to do? That stress?

That was nothing.

Yesterday my wonderful, loving Dad was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. As I type this he is being prepped for surgery.

NOW I'm stressed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mom is maxxed

I'm feeling the Countdown to Christmas stress right now, that feeling like you want to do so much more, but you know you're not going to get around to it. So if you don't get a tin of cookies this year, I'm so sorry but we we've been playing Candy Land for hours every day and it really cuts into my ability to get things done. But I'm thinking of you!

I might even wimp all the way out and pick up dinner from Let's Eat or Foodies - you know those places that might as well be called "Mom Gave Up on Cooking But Doesn't Want to Order a Pizza." Nothing wrong with that, right? I mean, when it comes down to it what's better: a homemade meal of grilled cheese and apple slices or picking up a frozen tray of chicken marsala? Oh hell, I don't even have to think about it to know that the kids would eat neither meal. Whatever. Cheerios it is. Maybe I can talk M into getting Pei Wei.

I love the concept of those dinner places though. Very handy. Some of their choices even look like things the kids would at least try (at least D. Not so much A.) Too bad they don't have one called "Your Kids are Ready!" which would deliver your children to the breakfast table in their school clothes, faces scrubbed, hair & teeth brushed, bed made, lunch/snack made, backpacks packed, ON TIME. The amount of nagging it takes to get them to breakfast by 7:15 is incredible. I don't have any idea AT ALL how my mom did it with five kids.

*NOTE: My dad & my aunt are scheduled to have major medical procedures this week. If you are a praying sort of person, please say one for them. Thanks!

Friday, December 12, 2008

This old house, part 24203

Note to self: If you have any desire whatsoever to go to bed in a cozy house on a cold night, you must turn the boiler on before 5:00 pm. Especially if your house is an un-insulated, leaky-windowed, 85 year old. With only an ancient boiler/radiator system for heat.

The Christmas spirit

Take one rainy, chilly, grey morning. Add a toddler. Subtract two humongous outdoor shopping malls, three Targets, two Michaels, one Bed Bath & Beyond. Multiply by one Starbuck's Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (ohmygoodnessyum) and a donut.

Add an impossible-to-find mini-bundt Cake Pan (which I've spent hours* searching for):

The result? Christmas Spirit!!

It may also have something to do with looking forward to getting our tree tonight, and decorating this weekend, and M & I have a party to go to tomorrow. YAY Christmas is almost here!

*Most of the hours I spent searching for this pan are a direct result of 1) my failure to secure said pan well before the Christmas baking rush and 2) the young, male customer service guys at Target who have NO IDEA AT ALL what I meant by "mini-Bundt." One dude even asked me if it was something for a car. So when one guy at a store told me he had found it and was holding it for me and when I showed up it was actually a pan for oversize muffins, I wasn't too surprised. But I was a bit miffed that I had spent an hour driving in pouring rain to a Target that is practically in another county.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


We are home from our wonderful ski vacation and boy did we have a great time! Park City was so cool, the weather was perfect and M got in three straight days of skiing. There was just a bit of snow in PC, so we ended up skiing Snowbird and Alta. M declared Alta "perfect." At one point there, he was gone for about two hours straight. Since I didn't know about things like mid-mountain lifts, I thought he was lying dead in some snow covered ditch and was just about to get worried when he came back down.

And can I call myself a skier now? I don't know 'bout that -- but I did have two lessons (I probably need two more) and managed to ride a chairlift and ski down a hill. I freaked out on the chairlift and let out quite a yelp, shriek, screech, terrified scream when I got off. But it was great fun and I'm already looking forward to doing it again.

But now.... I've got a house to decorate, groceries to buy, cookies to make, presents to wrap, and 28,000 loads of laundry. I love vacations!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Do they show SEC football in Utah?

Oooh I hope so. I just realized we'll be in Utah for the SEC championship game. I will probably have to go directly from dinner to a sports bar and hope they have a CBS satellite feed. Otherwise I'll be the chick in the Salt Lake City airport at 6:00 a.m. Sunday running around asking people if the Gators beat the Tide.

When we lived in Pittsburgh I got burned many times watching SEC football, only to have it rudely, suddenly preempted by something local. Big East. Whatever. Ugh.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What am I DOING?

What do you do before you go on a trip? A little laundry? Last minute errands? Pack?

Yeah, me too. BUT I also clean the whole house top to bottom like the Queen Mum herself was coming to tea. AND I still have to do errands, laundry and pack. But not until my rugs are washed, darn it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

How we roll

One of my sisters paid us a very nice compliment this week saying that she thought it was awesome that we give the kids freedom to be creative and express themselves without going crazy correcting them. Thanks sister Debbie! Though, truth be told, I never really thought I was being awesome. It was mostly me being too lazy or too tired to correct every little phonetical spelling error. D is a very prolific writer.

I hope she also thinks it is awesome that we give the kids freedom to be creative and express themselves in the way they dress. Because I am also too tired and/or too lazy to try to get everyone into matching outfits unless it is a Very Special Occasion. So here's how we roll:

Good thing the kids are cute, huh?

And that, my dear friends and readers, concludes NaBloPoMo 2008. Whew. We're off skiing this week so I won't be blogging, but catch me next week for awesome pictures of me wearing ski pants! And hats! And ear-warming-thingys. You know you can't wait. Kisses, T.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hitting the wall here

Home from Thanksgiving, pleasantly full of turkey & pie.

Got home later than expected - kids eating cold cereal and noodles with butter. I'm looking forward to some Pei Wei in about an hour when they are tucked in and dreaming.

Tired, but happy and looking forward to skiing next week! Woohoo!

One more day of NaBloPoMo!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

I normally don't shop on Black Friday, and normally don't shop in stores. I'm an online kinda girl. But I have been enjoying all of the super November sales, so much so that I'm pretty well done with my Christmas shopping. Woohoo! Go me!

Which means this year I can go out with my sisters on Black Friday and shop for myself! I carefully pre-planned the trip, first by telling M he can go golfing on Thursday morning with my dad & Shane. So now he'll have kid duty Friday -- mmwwwhahahahah. Next, I've got my coupons carefully arranged, including the awesome Beauty Insider one I just got from Sephora (smooches!), and my list planned. I definitely need stuff for our ski trip next week: the best moisturizing sunblock money can buy, lip balm by the gallon, something warm and pretty to wear to dinner, a pair of slippers, comfy pants for the plane ride, ear wamer-thingys, a knee brace. But the thing we need most of all is not to be found in sunny Florida: ski socks. We'll probably have to wait until we get to Utah and buy them there when we rent our skis. Actually, I probably need a couple of regular pair of socks too, which bums me out because I hate socks. They make me so uncomfortable. And I don't really own any. I've got a few pairs of the little white ones you wear to work out, two pairs of SmartWool short hiking socks and one pair of black trouser socks. Except for hiking or working out, I've only worn socks maybe a dozen times since I stopped working four years ago. I kid you not. My feet just don't get cold. And, like I said, I don't like socks. But I do wear them under boots. And I guess that goes for ski boots too.

Happy Shopping! Maybe I'll see you at the shops as I walk off the turkey and pie in support of our economy!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm doing this for NaBloPoMo (just 3 more days!), but I can't imagine why anyone would be reading today.

Go enjoy your family, turkey, pie, peace and quiet, whatever you've got going today.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Perfect egg salad in 23 minutes

We love egg salad here at Three's Company -- we usually have eggs in the house and it is cheap, easy and delish! And since the kids don't eat eggs I can tart it up however I'd like.

But hard boiling eggs is one of those kitchen tasks that I always forget I'm doing. I'll put my pan of eggs on to boil, walk away merrily, and hey! presto! 20 minutes later I'm wondering what the bubbly rumbly noise is coming from the kitchen. I'm lucky I haven't burnt the house down.

Anyway, when I do remember the eggs are cooking before they turn to rubber, I make the bestest egg salad in the world.

Twenty-three Minute Egg Salad

Place eggs in saucepan, cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute, uncovered. Turn off heat, cover pan and let sit 12 minutes. Drain water, cover cooked eggs with cold water and ice cubes. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Peel eggs and chop roughly. Mix eggs with sour cream, mayo, salt & pepper, dill, dry mustard, pickle relish, chopped, rinsed capers, or whatever else floats your boat.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For the birds!

We went to the beach yesterday with a friend and her two kids. It was a perfect beach day - high 70s, no humidity, bright sun. Freezing cold water. There were some tourists sitting next to us and they were the only ones in the water. They must have been from someplace really cold like Iceland or Canada or Maine. I got brain freeze just sticking my toes in. Of course the kids were having a blast splashing and splishing.

We also brought along a picnic lunch, but were totally molested by hyper-aggressive seagulls the minute we started to eat. Why, why, why do people insist on feeding these things? It's just crazy. Feral cats, squirrels, seagulls... they should all be fending for themselves. So two huge seagulls dive bombed us just as we started eating, one grabbed my sandwich right out of my hand, the other went for poor D... actually nipped her finger and drew blood! Later, A was standing with a large seashell in his hand and it must have looked crackerish to the birds because they bombed us again. Two hovered right over my friend's head, flapping in her face. It was nuts. And a shame because it is (was) one of the nicest picnic beaches around.

Today is baking day and we'll see how that winds up what with the two kids home all day. Already I might have screwed up because I was making my sugar cookie dough this a.m. and D distracted me (she wanted to know how to spell something) and I dumped the baking powder into the butter/sugar mixture instead of sifting it with the other dry ingredients. So there's proof positive that I can't spell & bake at the same time. Then I slightly overtoasted my pecans because the dog suddenly threw up. Of course she threw up because she's been off her regular food for a day now because I keep forgetting to go to the pet store so we've had to feed her some little sample packets (Duck & Potato!) of food we've had lying around.

So I'm sticking all the cookie dough into the fridge and running out RIGHT NOW for dog food. As soon as I email my pecan pie recipe to my friend who needs it. And stop the kiddos from killing each other.

Have a nice Tuesday!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Elf on the shelf?

We're going to start the "Elf on the Shelf" tradition with the kids this year, in addition to the Advent calendar, setting up the nativity scene and our other traditions. I think they'll get a kick out of it and it will help prolong D "believing" for a while. Although someone at school must be spreading rumors about Santa as she's been asking some pointed and difficult questions. Like I said, it's hard to put some things past her.

But first, Thanksgiving! We're going to my parents this year and they're hosting our whole family plus my s-i-l's so it'll be quite a crowd! Tuesday sister Debbie is coming over to help me decorate my Thanksgiving cookies - I've made acorns, turkeys, leaves and pumpkins in regular sugar cookie dough and (my new fave for decorated cookies) chocolate-cayenne pepper dough. The pepper isn't hot, compliments the chocolate and cuts the sweetness of the royal icing. I'm sure the kids won't eat it but maybe the adults will.

I'm also in charge of the kid's craft table and I was hoping to get cute little Thanksgiving themed foamie kits at Michaels, but they were totally into Christmas when I went in this week. Apparently the time to shop for Thanksgiving is Sept/Oct. So I'm going to improvise with paper plate Turkeys and other fall crafts from Family Fun. Lotsa fun.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Facebook = crack

Yeah, I'm on Facebook. I've gotten in touch with a bunch of my high school buddies. I love it but can't believe I let it happen. Between the blogs and that, I could be one of those online addicts you hear about. I have to make a (more) serious effort to only go online after the kids go to bed.

What would happen if I got a iPhone? Would I grow a wi-fi port on the side of my head?

One of those nights

Last night M was sick. Kids were on sugar-cookie-highs. One of those nights when it was all I could do to crack open a can of vegetable soup and make french bread pizzas.

One more week of NaBloPoMo!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dere Santa

D has been hard at work on her Dear Santa letters.

Here is what A wants from Santa (according to big sis D):
Paritkit with paritkit food
Lots of balls

Here is what D wants:
Paritkit and paritkit food
A magik kit
easy bak ovin
a Pixos (Santa is NOT bringing anything that has 42,000 small beads. I'd rather get the paritkit.)
A totally funky science kit (this she saw in a Wal-Mart catalogue)
iDog (Huh? I'll have to google this)
Easy bak frosting pen

She ended both the letters with the p/s "I will give you cookies"

I'm not sure where the "paritkit" idea came from. But she is definitely getting the ez bake and the magic kit. We've spent almost a year explaining to her that magic tricks are tricks, not real magic and I think she's about 75% of the way to understanding that. Although she'll still say things like when I get my magic kit I'm going to change all the lightbulbs to candy! Then I'll explain (again) how magic is just tricks and she'll go on about how candy lightbulbs ARE a real trick because we wouldn't have any light.

Can't argue with that. Mommy needs some hot buttered rum.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Only one problem

We are all set for our ski vacation. Got the gear, got a plan for apres-ski, got our tickets, got reservations for a fancy-schmancy dinner, got my parents to watch the kids. Only one little problem....


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Things I will do next Fall

I will clean my entire house at a time, not one room every two weeks.

I will cook more breakfasts, instead of ladling out the cold cereal.

I will organize all the crap that is floating around our house.

I will make the master bedroom sunroom into a cozy, private retreat for M & I.

I will decorate our house with some of the beautiful photos M has taken over the years.

I will landscape our backyard.

I will write letters.

I will exercise every day.

I will do all of these things when A is in school next year (although I know I will miss my baby terribly). For now I will be playing Iron Giant Attack!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What not to wear

It was freakin' cold here this a.m. Like low 40s cold. COLD. After my 5:30 a.m. shower I grabbed a sweater and a pair of cords. Then I got busy with the kids and didn't think about anything except being warm as we headed out for school.

As we were walking up to school D remarks that I look "pretty, like cotton candy." And that is when I notice I'm wearing hot pink cords and a bright blue rib-knit wool sweater. And ancient brown & pink Reebok trainers. An awesome look for a 42 year old.

In which A gives fair warning

A and I were watching some Thanksgiving-themed cooking shows on Food Network this past weekend. I ooh'd and aah'd over the goodies, particularly one glorious herb-rubbed turkey. A was sitting quietly, until he saw the turkey, nekkid before it's herb rub, sitting in the roasting rack. "Ew! Yucky!" he suddenly cried, "Looks like chicken!" And as we know around here, of all the meats A refuses to eat, Poultry is at the top of the list. I was hoping he wouldn't catch on that Turkey was indeed a lot like chicken, but I doubt I'll be able to fool him now.

Here is what he will eat: Cheerios, Oatmeal Squares, Life, Lucky Charms, oatmeal, Eggos, bananas, watermelon, red grapes (only Red. Green is Kryptonite), mandarin oranges, cantaloupe, Honey Wheat Bread, Ritz Crackers, creamy peanut butter, grape jelly, Cinnamon Raisin Mini Bagels, cheese pizza, baguettes, baked beans, Kraft mac n' cheese (blue box only!), plain noodles, Goldfish crackers, pretzels, graham crackers, raisins, cheese sandwich crackers (Late July organic ones only), Juicy Juice, chocolate milk, rare Beef Tenderloin.

Yes, he eats a "peanut jelly meesh" (pb&j, honey wheat bread, crusts off) every day for lunch. At least I don't have to wonder about what to make for him. And there have been dinners where all he eats are rolls and grapes. I can't think of the last time I saw him eat a veggie -- although I give him a small serving almost every night.

It's funny if you dare to compare him to D, who at his age would eat (or try) almost anything! Spicy, exotic, fishy, it didn't matter. She'd be game. There are some things neither of them will eat: american cheese, sandwiches (besides A's pb&j), potatoes, mushrooms, hamburgers, OJ, chocolate pudding, eggs, sushi, onions, celery.

Why the crazy detailed menu? Because my dear parents will be attempting to feed both of them while we're off skiing! Good luck mom & dad. We love you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bon Appetit!

A food meme I've seen going around.... feel free to steal! Or chime in!

1. Favorite milk? Publix Greenwise organic 2%

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook this season? Chili, Beef Wellington, perfecting my Roast Chicken

3. Topping of choice for popcorn? Butter

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure? Casseroles. My family HATES casseroles. My husband once actually left the table in the middle of the meal, horrified by the site of a breakfast casserole.

5. Favorite pickled item? Gherkins

6. How do you organize your recipes? By type: appetizers, breads, desserts, main courses, salads, veggies

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal? Trash and disposal

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)? Potatoes, blueberries, chocolate

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood? My dad grilling steaks and freshly-caught fish on his homemade, backyard grill-pit. Tied with my memory of huge family Sunday dinners with all of my cousins & my brothers & I playing hide n' seek in the yard.

10. Favorite ice cream? Haagen Dazs Fleur de Sel Caramel

11. Most loved kitchen appliance? My Kitchen Aid

12. Spice/herb you would die without? Die? Hmmm... maybe not die, but I'd be upset without thyme

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time? A Better Homes & Garden one that my parents got me when I moved into my first college apartment, circa 1987

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly? Guava

15. Favorite recipe to serve to a friend? BBQ chicken

16. Do you eat tofu? Nope, not willingly

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)? None right now. Cooking - esp. dinner - with two kids is a two-hour long exercise in frustration, tears and threats, culminating in a meal that barely gets eaten. My kids eat next to nothing. I don't know how they live.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator? A bag of alphabet magnets, an empty box that my daughter pretends is her Easy-bake oven, a kids bicycle helmet

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking. Eggos, ice cream, frozen baguettes

20. What's on your grocery list? I always have apples, bananas, baby spinach, bread, Eggos, milk and cheese on the list.

21. Favorite grocery store? Publix

22. Name a recipe you'd love to try, but haven't yet. Homemade doughnuts

23. Food blog you read the most. Smitten Kitchen and Pioneer Woman Cooks

24. Favorite chocolate? Scharffen Berger Milk Almond

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately? A tiny jar of imported Fleur de Sel -- it was waaay more expensive per ounce than anything I've purchased lately

26. What vegetables do you enjoy most? Baby spinach, kale, swiss chard, onions, brussel sprouts, artichokes, green beans, peppers.... basically anything but corn. Not a fan of corn.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A-skiing we will go....

Are you as tired of reading about the minutiae of my life as I am of writing about it? Only two weeks of NaBloPoMo to go.

And it will end, luckily, just as M & I will be departing for a fun-filled week in Park City, Utah! One whole week with no kids, no dog, no chores, no errands, no cleaning and... no internet. I already feel a bit cut-off since we don't have blackberries or iPhones or anything like that. M is bringing his work laptop (OF COURSE) so I guess I could get on my email in an emergency, but whatever. This is about the skiing people!

I've never been skiing before, but I'm psyched to learn. I'm taking lessons of course. M & I decided I'd be better off with a real instructor so he'll be free to go ski the Triple Black Diamond, Warren Miller-style runs. Did I ever mention that my usually laid-back, conservative, easy going hubby is a skiing dare devil? Yeah, well he is. We'll see who comes back in one piece.

We got ourselves all outfitted - ski pants, gloves, long underwear and those little things that keep your hands & feet warm all day. I don't know what I'm going to do about headgear, because I absolutely loathe hats and my hair is NOT hat-friendly at all. But I know, I know, after a whole day in 20 degree weather flailing about in the snow I'm going to want something on my head. Although frankly I'm way more worried about my ears -- if they get cold it's instant migraine time for me. The other thing I'm worried about is my skin, which is so very dry that my hands crack and bleed when it's in the 50s. So I'll be loading up on the cocoa butter and shea butter and whatever other butters I can find.

I do have a burning question though.... what do you do with your clothes after you are done skiing? Do you just sit around the ski lodge or lobby or whatever wearing your puffy, wet ski pants? Do you bring jeans to put on when you're done? Do you bring an extra pair of shoes? And the shoe thing alone is killing me because I've got about 100 pairs of sandals, heels and flip flops but only one pair of snow-appropriate shoes. Unless you count my Cole Haan knee boots with the 3" heels which M has informed me are absolutely inappropriate for skiing, ski towns, ski resorts and all of Utah in general.

I'm out of my element here so any snowbunnies or snowmen who have insight into the packing/changing/shoe situation ... please let me know! And if you ever need to pack for a week in the Islands or two months in Kosovo with a toddler, I'm your girl.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Save or spend?

Unfortunately, the tough economy didn't stop the Man from sending us a whopping new property tax bill -- and right before Christmas! Wow! What good timing! Of course because we are RESPONSIBLE homeowners and we knew the low, low tax rate we paid last December wasn't going to last forever, we had planned accordingly and can pay the 200% 300% enormous increase.

Still, all the news about the economy and how we, as a nation, better get our financial act in order has begun to take a toll on my attitude if not my behavior. I think we live a relatively unmaterialistic, unconsumeristic, basic life. M is a great money manager and I try my best to keep the day-to-day spending in check. Mostly by limiting the trips to Target. And for a long time I've been a big fan of generic groceries, mostly because our grocery store is Publix and they carry name-brand quality stuff at lower generic prices. They even have Publix brand organic milk and meat. So I'm a fan. Although I usually buy name-brand cereals because cereal is one of the only things A will eat and darned if he doesn't know the difference! I think it's best not to mess with his food groups.

Feeling all virtuous after saving at the grocery, I decided to splurge a little at Sephora for my birthday. M had bought me a bottle of Hermes Kelly Caleche (mmmmm.) and so I had some Beauty Insider bucks to use. I got some Boscia products, re-stocked on my Bare Escentuals and an amazing GWP -- a mini train case stocked with all kinds of cool samples! AND because it was my birthday, I got a little bottle of Sephora bath gel in an amazing vanilla cupcake scent. I've never used their bath products before, but it was really nice, made a ton of bubbles and now I smell like dessert. D liked the scent to so I'll have to keep an eye on her skulking around my bathroom. Only six and already after Mommy's products! I guess in these times we should all be sharing though.

More news tomorrow (NaBloPoMo Day 17!) about a BIG splurge on the horizon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hot, hot, hot

I've lived in a tropical climate practically my whole life but seem to forget every Fall that Florida can be hot year round. We've got a few more days of near-90 temps I think. Then it's supposed to plummet to the 40s/60s. Which is REAL Fall weather.

We're going to have a mini Family Day today. Maybe go see Madagascar (A's first theatre experience!) or go to the beach or maybe the zoo. Depends on what the weather actually does.

Tonight we got a sitter so that M & I can go out for my belated birthday dinner. I'm going to stuff myself with stone crab claws & mustard sauce. Yummmmmm.

NOTE: NaBloPoMo Day 15! Half-way there!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reality TV

Wouldn't it be sort of funny if they had a new Reality TV show on Fox where the execs of all these failing banks and insurance companies and car manufacturers had to compete for Bailout Dollars? They'd have to do all sorts of challenges and then at the end, the American Public would use a phone-in voting system a la American Idol to decide who could stay and who gets cut. The winner gets the Bailout.

Since it's basically my Tax Dollars at work I'd at least like a say in what's happening with the money.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Festooned AND beribboned*

I am off to Michael's today, coupon in hand, to begin the search for my Christmas decorations. We have a staircase to decorate-- hurrah! I'd get all jazzed about the mantle, except that someone has their big ol' LCD TV up there and I doubt there's anywhere else for it to go, holidays or no.

We're getting two trees this year: one in the sunroom for the kids to decorate with paper chains and popcorn and my old collection of nutcracker ornaments and then in the living room we'll have a big formal tree. I'm thinking of doing a Silver Bells theme this year -- but we'll see. Our house looks great with metallics, but I have tons of folk-art style ornaments that would be pretty neat too. But for the stairs - I want garland and sleigh bells and glittering berries and huge tartan ribbons. I've never had a staircase to decorate before!

Here's an idea - but imagine about 300% more stuff. This looks a bit skimpy, if you ask me:

*Line lifted from THE funniest show on TV: Worst Week. If you don't watch it, you're missing the fun.

NOTE: NaBloPoMo day 13. Woohoo!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy birthday.....

TO ME!! I am 42 today!! There. I've said it. How am I celebrating? Normally I'd have a nice cake, but I'm trying to lose a couple of pounds before our ski trip next month. So I'm going to treat myself to a nice fresh Cobb salad instead. And then I'm going to go for a walk on the beach with A.

For two years now I've been boo-hooing over being in my 40s. Well, I'm over it. I can't go back, so I might as well go on.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In honor of

To my brother-in-law the Lt. Col (or, as we like to call him, Uncle Mike) and all the other brave men and women serving our country: thank you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Heating things up

A bbrrrrrrr kind of morning here but since it will be in the 70s this afternoon no sense turning on the heat and running up the gas bill. But still, the house is only 66 which is pretty chilly so I'm going to heat things up the second best way... by BAKING! And lest you worry about my waistline, I'm either giving the goods away or freezing them. So, on tap for this morning:

Pumpkin spice cake w/ cream cheese frosting (A is happy, but we know how he feels about frosting!)
Chocolate sugar cookies frosted to look like Pumpkins (for D's class)
Gingersnaps (for a friend in need)
Whole wheat buttermilk pancakes (to freeze for breakfasts this week)
Cranberry-coconut-cashew granola (headstart on Thanksgiving treats)


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sunday mornings

Ahhh...what could be better than a hot cup of coffee along with a big bowl of oatmeal topped with pears, cinnamon and maple syrup?

I'll tell you what. If I weren't eating this at 6:30 on a Sunday morning because the kids have been up since 5:30. Thanks a lot, TIME CHANGE.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Dilemma solved!

Well the solution to the Great Roller Skate Birthday Debate was rather easy. After a brief overview of what roller skating is, I asked D if she would like to go and try it to which she responded, unprompted, "NO WAY! I don't think that sounds fun at all!" Then she asked if we could have a Family Day instead.

That's our girl.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Cleaning house

Thursday I cleaned my house. Like really cleaned; company-is-coming kind of clean. And as I pushed my "green" microfiber mop around, I wondered do most people clean their house room by room or task by task? I usually go task by task: the bathrooms, all the dusting, all the vacuuming, then the mopping. (I hate mopping.) But it might be more effective, as I attempt to clean and parent at the same time, to go room by room. That way, you might get a whole one or two rooms clean before your two-year-old undergoes an existential crisis and you have to abandon your chores. I let A watch TV last week when I absolutely had to get some vacuuming done and also had to make some rather important phone calls. And he was crazy for the next 12 hours. Thus scientifically proving my theory that TV + A = Trouble. I have noticed that he can withstand about 30 minutes of something low-key like Curious George without too much fallout, which is good because that gives me time to either help D with homework or cook dinner or, on some nights, both.

** NaBloPoMo Day 7 **

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Time to get real

It's time to buckle down people. Quit talking and start doing. Unite. Organize, prepare and get ready.

The Holidays are almost upon us. (You didn't really think I was going to talk about the e-l-e-c-t-i-o-n, did you?)

Strangely, except for some stocking stuffers which I'll wait until December 24 at 9:35 p.m. to run out to Target and purchase, I'm done with the kids presents* and M & I have already agreed that neither of us need anything this year. So now I have giant boxes hidden or disguised throughout the house. D is already a bit suspicious since she was here when UPS delivered twice in a row. She keeps asking me to do a fashion show so she can see what I ordered. It's hard to get things by her!

I've even started to plan my baking. So far, here's what's made the cut: gingersnaps; candy cane cookies; peppermint bark; fleur de sel caramels (Scott -- let me know where to send your batch!); jam thumbprints. I'll probably add some kind of quick bread. And maybe some rosemary-pepper cashews.

I absolutely cannot wait to decorate this year, especially since last year -- what with selling a house and moving two weeks before Christmas and all - we didn't even have a tree, or nutcrackers, or bows, or candles, or cookies or anything.

I love Christmas.

*Well, maybe not quite done. A is really into robots (he loves the movie Iron Giant) and I might try to find a simple remote control one for him. I'm getting them Wall-E for Christmas, so maybe I can find a Wall-E r/c toy?

NOTE: NaBloPoMo Day 6! I can do this!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wednesday's dilemma

D has been invited to a classmates 7th birthday party. They are friends, but not super close. However, with only 12 girls in her class, everyone is usually at every event.

The twist is it's a Roller Skating party. D cannot roller skate. I doubt she's ever heard of roller skating. And she is NOT one to dive boldly into physically challenging sports. And she is also not big on doing things that everyone else would think is funny (i.e., learning to skate) in front of a crowd.

If I tell her about the invite -- which I suppose I'll have to -- I'm sure she'll want to go, even though she won't have a concept of what roller skating is all about (and how hard that rink can be!!)

Do I let her go and just try?
Do I let her go although I know she'll end up clinging to a wall, probably crying with frustration?
Do I let her go and stay with her and try to help her? (Do I remember how to skate? Do I even want to try less than a month before our ski trip?!)
Do I massively underestimate her ability to deal with challenging situations?
Do I try to talk her out of it and, if I succeed, am I being overprotective?
Do I send her with M, who is much more patient than I?
Do kids really need to go to every birthday party they're invited to?

So, PLEASE, anyone with older kids who has been in a similar situation: Chime In!!

**It's NaBloPoMo Day 5! Hurrah!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Where will you be from 10 - 12pm?

I will be attempting to beat the rush hour traffic at the polls today and will be voting during the (supposedly) non-peak times of 10-noon. M is even taking a few hours off of work to come with me to wrangle help with A. We are bringing: snacks, portable DVD (extra batteries!), lotsa water, some candy, and his favorite blankie. Oh, and of course our picture IDs and voting cards. They are telling us to expect to wait, even during non-peak times. So we will be prepared.

I am excited and nervous to be part of this election, and more than a bit anxious about the outcome. It may be supremely unpatriotic of us, but we are NOT going to watch the election results. I don't think I can bear a whole evening of predictions and guesses and babbling on from both parties about the historical historicness of this super-historical election. Especially since we'll have done our part to try to elect the candidate we want to see elected and no amount of incessant Special Reporting will change the result. Instead we'll be making a delicious dinner (I'm think steak au poivre and pommes Anna) and renting some awesome movies and we'll check the results -- calmly -- first thing in the morning.

God Bless America!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Perfect weekend

We had a wonderful, fun weekend not the least because it was perfect Florida Fall weather.

Saturday I got a pedicure. I got the perfect bronzy-plum Fall color.
Then D had a birthday party. M got a "Daddy Kid-Free Day" so I took A to the park to play. Perfect.
Sunday we went to Mass and then to a local nature park for an art/nature show. It was overcast and cool, a perfect day to ramble around a nature park.
Then we came home and had s'getti & meatballs - perfect Sunday supper. Then D decided that she wanted to learn to ride her bike without training wheels. After dinner M went out to help her and lo! and behold! she caught on justlikethat! I was amazed. It was perfect.

Oh.... and speaking of perfect, then there was the Gators CHOMPING on the 'Dawgs. If all goes well I believe we'll get a crack at 'Bama (and the National Title!) in December.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Trick or Treat!

I allow candy free-for-alls four times a year: Christmas, Easter, Valentines & Halloween. We are candied like yams right now.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

4th of the 4th

Here's a fun idea that I've seen on a bunch of blogs lately. You take the fourth image from the fourth folder in your photo program (umm, if you're that organized) and post it. Pretty cute! After a little searching and last-minute organizing, here's what I got:

This is a picture of one of my best friends, LB, and her boys and D and I. We were on a "sunset cruise" while staying at their Lake House. I think this was about 4 years ago, because D started growing out her curls when she was almost three. The kids all look a little disgruntled (it had been a long day swimming and playing and doing stuff like that) but L and I are feeling no pain, probably due to the mass quantities of Pimm's Cup involved.

I wish we lived closer, L!!

P/S - I may be crazy, but I joined NaBloPoMo for November!! That means I'll be attempting to post every day -- even weekends! -- for a whole month. Get ready for some serious rambling. I promise I won't talk about ice cream though.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Am I THAT mom?

D brought home her first report card EVER yesterday. Momentous. Milestoney. Can I really have a child old enough for a report card?

I held the thin, folded paper with trepidation. After all she's only six. No way could any of her grades make a difference on her future. She doesn't know the difference between an A+ or a C-. Yet. But, the natural competitor in me was kicking and screaming, "All As or Nothing!" Part of me wonders what her class rank would be. Part of me knows it doesn't matter. Part of me knows that I have to keep on making learning fun around here and not let the pressure to do well squelch their enjoyment of school, or their interests or creativity or talents or... oh B.S. just open the dang thing.

All As. Glowing comments. Os for conduct. And then... at the bottom... a C in handwriting! What?! Oh no! There goes Harvard.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Howa-heeeeen!

A. says "Happy Howa-heeeeeen!" D. asks every day if tomorrow is Halloween. Not since Christmas and July (their Birthday Month) has an event been so eagerly anticipated around these here parts. Even more so since Mama decided to do a Homemade Halloween this year. It was surprisingly easy -- no sewing involved! -- starting with the Gallery of Ghosts and ending with D's Spider costume. She's going to be Charlotte from Charlotte's Web for school, complete with cute stuffed pig. We may even make her a "Some Pig" sign to carry. For trick-or-treating we're going to make her a little more scary and drape on some webs and stuff.

I was so into it this year, not the least because the weather has been so cool and Fall-ish, that I wanted to make homemade treats to hand out, but M. reminded me that it probably wouldn't go over very well with all the concerned parents out there. Good thing I came to my senses before slaving away over trays of cookies. After all, I wouldn't let D. eat a homemade treat unless I personally knew the person who made it.

Anyway, "Howa-heeeeen" was a Big Deal in our old neighborhood, we probably got 200 - 250 kids coming by. I've heard it's a bit slower over here in our new digs, maybe 100 kids. I'm still going to get the "good stuff" this year - Snickers, Baby Ruths, M&Ms, Musketeers. My main rules with candy is no PB cups. I can't resist a Reese's and last year I ended up snitching all of them from D's basket. But it's OK because she doesn't like them anyway. Anyhoo, despite my well-documented sweet tooth, I am NOT a candy fan. I like some Belgian dark or milk chocolate; I like Mike & Ikes. But I'm not big on commercial candy at all (except PB cups). So if I stick to buying Snickers, etc. I can pretty much guarantee I'll be able to keep my hands out of it.

I'm also making my traditional Trick-or-Treat dinner of turkey Sloppy Joes and Tater Tots. I've made this for dinner on Halloween since M & I first bought our house, so I'm keeping up the tradition. It's a great, quick easy dinner before we head out and keeps nice and warm in the Crock-Pot if anyone is hungry when we get back. M is in charge of handing out the goods (A will help) while I take D. around the neighborhood. The porch will look very spooky and I got some great haunting music from iTunes to play out there. By the way, check out iTunes Halloween sounds if you're looking for some mood music for a party -- some of it is really scary. Think whispery children's voices; distorted rantings; screechy stuff. My sis Jenn & I freaked ourselves out!

And finally, if you're looking for some REALLY SCARY ghost stories, the marvelous Fig of Dizzlefig has published a series called "Boo" including one by yours truly. Go check 'em out - look in her archives for "Boo."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It don't think it broke 70 yesterday. That's what I call nice!

I made a pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting for M to take into work. It made the house smell like Autumn. I gave A a small spoon of the frosting as a treat. I might as well have given him crack. He licked it all off, begged for more and then had a total fit when I told him he'd had enough. He wailed and whined and then when I put him in time out he looked at me, all teary-eyed, and said "Mommy happy?" I explained that I was happy but I was disappointed in how he was acting and it makes me feel sad to see him sad, especially when I thought he'd be happy he got a treat. Too much complex psych analysis for a two-year-old? He then forced a grin and said, "More?"

I'm breaking our month-long moratorium on TV today because I absolutely have to vacuum the house. We'll see how it affects him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Type "A"

A. is my two-year-old.

He is his own Type A. A could be for awesome - he can be awesomely sweet. He is awesomely smart. He has an awesome vocabulary. A can also be for awful - he's (still) a total awful nightmare at mealtimes. I used to love family meals. Now I sort of dread them. He screams and screams and cries until I want to scream and cry too. But I don't. Because I. Am. The. Adult. (Repeat 4 times.) A could be for aggravating - he sure knows how to push those buttons. He hits buttons I didn't even know I had. But I try to remain calm because I. Am. The. Adult. A could be for absolute - he's the most all or nothing kid I've ever been around. It's either 100% wonderful or 100% the pits.

A. screamed for a solid hour during dinner tonight. Then ate about a tbsp. of dried cherries dipped in sour cream.

A. is my two-year-old. He is going through the Terrible Twos in textbook fashion. I will live through this year and I will be a better mom and person for it. But right now? I feel like I'm the worst mom ever.

Friday, October 24, 2008

(My) Top 10 things every child should know

1) How to use a dictionary
2) How to write a thank you note
3) How to answer the phone properly
4) How to introduce themselves
5) Where the emergency phone numbers are
6) How to make themselves a snack (a healthy one!)
7) How to save money for a rainy day
8) How to floss their teeth properly
9) How to apologize graciously
10) How to make their own bed

Guess which one we did NOT need in real life this week?

Do I ask too much? Do I?! I think not.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Back to ice cream

The children aren't allowed to eat my Fleur de Sel Caramel. A doesn't much like ice cream (he's a cone-only guy) and the subtle deliciousness would be lost on a six-year-old. Or so I tell myself. Isn't it enough I share with my husband?!

But I did break down and buy the kids some regular Haagen-Daze vanilla i/c minis for their special snack time. The little ice creams are sooooo cute - about a 1/4 cup serving:

But what really caught my eye are these itty-bitty cones! A perfect two-bite treat:

Image shown is actual size. Note Grumpy in the background who is mad that I wanted to take a picture before he ate the cone:

All filled and ready for munching!

I think I've exhausted the topic of ice cream for the year. Friday we'll move on to something else, promise.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In non-ice cream related news...

We finished decorating the porch for Halloween this past weekend. The theme this year is Gallery of Ghosts. My sis Jenn helped me make homemade, family-friendly ghosts using nothing more than $20 worth of white sheets from Goodwill, some hangers, a black Sharpie and a pair of scissors. And Martha Stewart's awesome ghost face templates. They were super easy and the kids had a great time "helping." They look very friendly during the day, but at night they are a bit more spooky.

(Note unintentional matching sweaters on J. and I. Also my incredibly flat hair.)

My favorite ghostie

Shane & A. say "boo!"

Daddy says "Scaaaary!"

A. dressed as a PumpkinHead. (No, he's not wearing this for trick or treating.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Ha! I got the last four pints at my local Publix this morning.

I'm hoping no one in my family notices I have five pints of ice cream where the frozen veggies used to be. Although that D can be pretty observant...

Tuesday's pick

You don't know it yet, but you need this:

Haagen-Dazs Fleur de Sel Caramel ice cream. It is amazing. It could cause world peace, stop "global warming", solve the oil crisis, bring bipartisan unity to the country, end poverty, do my housework. It makes my children stop squabbling, cooks dinner, and folds laundry. It makes me walk on air. I love my husband, kids, dog and neighbors more because of it. There are no superlatives in the English language that can adequately describe this ice cream. Other food wishes it were this ice cream.

Tomorrow I'm going to buy out the entire stock at the grocery store. If you're lucky you'll get there before me.

Go. Go buy some now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Top 10

Lame-o, crazy-o, busy-o Monday morning post. Top 10 TV shows we're watching this season:

1. Amazing Race. I *heart* this show. It never fails to entertain and it provides vicarious worldwide travel thrills.
2. The Office. I am happy Pam & Jim are together. Aren't you?
3. Bones. Good show - gory without being too scary.
4. NCIS. I just like the characters. Whatever.
5. Life. Very quirky cop show #1
6. Life on Mars. Very quirky cop show #2
7. Worst Week. Sooooo funny!! You have to get past it's horrid lead-in (2-1/2 "Men") but worth the wait.
8. Old Christine. Liked JLD on Seinfeld, like her here. I like the brother too.
9. What Not to Wear. Catty, funny, I'm a sucker for makeover shows.
10. How I Met Your Mother. This show has grown on me. The writing is great and they usually work some pretty poignant, twisty stuff in there too. The whole show is one big cliffhanger!

I've got one kid off school today, Jr. League puppet show (w/ BOTH kids in tow), swim lessons, a house to clean from the weekend's festivities. So.... yeah.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ode to silence

Turn off the TV
Turn off the ringer on the phone
Daddy took the kids to play
And mommy's home alone!

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's for dinner

If you are one of those lucky folks who's kid will eat anything (I'm looking at you Reed!), then I congratulate you. #1 Daughter ate everything (or at least tried to) we ever gave her, with the notable exception of bolognese sauce. The Son? Not so much. So I have to get creative. Or not. Last night we had Build-Your-Own-Oatmeal for dinner.

What's that? Well, it's kind of like a build your own taco/pizza/omelette bar. But we had oatmeal instead of any of those more traditional dinner foods. I started with a big hot bowl of oatmeal, then added:

Here's everything mixed together:

A says "Yummylicious!"

Happy kids. Happy mom. That's what I call a Happy Meal!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I usually treat myself to two things when M is gone overnight -- a yummy little dessert savored while watching something entertaining on TV/DVR. So, last night, I settled on the couch in my pjs, kids asleep, house clean(ish) and quiet, my yummy treat on a plate, getting ready to watch "Bones" on Fox. Instead I got a MLB playoff game (not even the Rays!) and a spoonful of petrified cheesecake in a pool of Smuckers strawberry jelly. Boo. Boohoo.

The kicker is I passed on the ice cream and opted for the cheesecake, a dessert I almost never eat, never crave, never think about, don't usually like. I should have got the mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Early bird

I was up at 5:00 today because M had to leave superduper early for a business trip. He'll be gone until tomorrow night, or maybe even Friday, depending on whether he has a hearing go forward, so it's just the kiddos and I. Sigh. So for the next few days I'll have to get up early to shower, get some makeup on, have some coffee, catch up on blogs, make my to do list for the day. If I don't get my personal stuff done outside of business hours around here, my (two) bosses get pretty cranky.

Today A and I have an outing to Old Navy to get some tshirts (he destroys his, so we can never have too many). Then we're going to make ghosts for our Halloween "Gallery of Ghosts" theme. I got a bunch of old white sheets from Goodwill, bleached and washed them on the hottest setting -- twice -- and I'm going to draw faces on them. I hope they turn out OK.

Still got a lot of prep to do for our company this weekend. Including the dreaded mopping of the floors. I hate mopping. Vacuuming isn't so much fun either. Of course I'm going to put it off until the last minute because I'm so so lazy busy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Busy week

Hello there! What are you doing this week/end? We are going on our neighborhood's annual Haunted Hike! The neighborhood where we live is (un)lucky enough to contain the intersection of 13th Street & 13th Avenue, so it lends itself to all kinds of Halloweeny fun.

Sister Jenn & Co. are coming for the weekend so I got a passle of grub to get together and I need to put the finishing touches on D's spider costume. Yes, I've figured out how to make a homemade costume that requires no sewing! Yay me! But there are a ton of safety pins involved. Her school has a strict code about costumes for their Halloween carnival: only characters from stories, fairy tales, some movies, no violent imagery, no occult imagery. But I figure we can either make her Charlotte or the spider from Little Miss Muffett. A will be dressed/undressed as Dash from The Incredibles. He loves the costume, but doesn't seem to like to wear it. He's not trick-or-treating anyway, so no biggie.

Last night A was pretending to put me to bed... read me a story, said prayers, sang a little song. He even did the little impatient eyeroll that I give him when I asked for one more story. It was too cute.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday update

You wouldn't know it from looking at me today, but I was one sick puppy over the weekend. I apparently had a Perfect Storm of every virus that has been making the rounds: the "tummy related" one, the high fever and aches one, the nausea one, the sore throat/cough one. My midsection hurt so much I actually thought I had appendicitis on Friday -- until M pointed out that I always think I have appendicitis when my tummy hurts. But this time it really hurt! Really!

Anyway. I guess when you get so many things all at once they kind of cancel each other out quick, because I was mostly better by Sunday and today I feel fine except for a tiny scratchy throat. And I lost 7lbs. over the weekend! As my sis said, we're always one good bout of the flu away from our perfect weight! Now as long as I don't eat my body mass in brownies over the next week, I may actually keep it off.

I checked my calendar this morning and we have something going on every weekend from now until Thanksgiving. I love this time of year, when the excitement of almost-holiday time lurks in the air. Now iIf only our weather would change to Fall -- and stay that way! It's not fair to be in the 90s in October!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

We made it to the big 9. Hurrah for us! 

My dream dinner didn't work out. Instead we had:

pork chops
buttermilk mashed potatoes (noodles for the non-tater eating kids)
green beans sauteed with 'shrooms 

I'm a good wifey.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


"You look terrible!" said my friend at morning drop-off.

And she'd only seen me from the side. When I turned to face her, she got the full effect of the massive dark circles and bags under my eyes, pale and splotchy skin, the more-rumply-than-usual outfit. Early trick-or-treat? Nah. Up all night while A barfed and barfed? Yep. Poor baby. Poor mama. At 3:00 M was rocking him, cleaned up and wrapped in a towel, while I changed his sheets and wiped the worst of it off his precious baba (blanket) that he can't sleep without. I could hear him asking M over and over "Me throw up? On bed?" I could tell he was worried about lying down again, so I held him on my lap in the rocking chair nodding off while singing "Hush Little Baby." He woke up again around 5:15, but only wanted some water.

It's the start of our own mother-son vicious cycle though because he gets sick, then I get rundown taking care of him all night, then I get sick, then I pass it back to him. And so on.

But at least my amazing husband helped out (and I only had to ask once!) and A is starting to feel much better after getting all that yuck out last night.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What are they thinking?!

Yesterday I get a new catalog in the mail. No problem; I love new catalogs. Only this catalog, called PoshTots, was ridiculous. It was the toddler equivalent of the wretched MTV show "My Sweet Sixteen." Here are some of the highlights.

Looking for a way to get your little bundle of joy outside for exercise? Well how about a playset!

You can have the Topsy-Turvy Tangerine playhouse:

It's only $3000.

What? Your tike doesn't have an imagination of his own? How about the ultra deluxe Pirate Ship?

For $49,000. No problem.

Or, if you are looking to instill a permanent sense of superiority in your child, for the price of a real house you too can own this monstrosity:

It's only $123,000. Sorry I couldn't get the picture any larger. Check out their website for a full size pic.

Don't even get me started on the $14,000 toddler bed.

I immediately called the company and asked to be permanently removed from the mailing list. Even if we had that kind of money, even if we felt that we should be spending that kind of money on our children (and the only time they'll get close to that kind of cash is for their college tuition!), even if we HAD to spend $123,000 and couldn't think of anything else to buy, I wouldn't do it. Everyone with children knows that they would be just as happy playing with the boxes these things would be shipped in. What a waste.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The good, the bad & the ugly

The good:

Go Rays!

The bad:

Sick baby, AGAIN. Too much partying for him!

The ugly:

I desperately wanted this dress to look stunning on me. I loved the way it looked on the mannequin. On me? Ugh. Not. My. Style. It emphasized things that had no business being emphasized and exposed things that had no business being exposed. 

NB: I cannot wear wrap -- real or faux-- tops of any sort. I need to stop trying them on. They will never ever ever work for me.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Party hardy

We had five social events this weekend -- which is five more than usual for our family. But, as a mark of how my little family is growing up, everyone hung in there, had a great time, partied and, except for one teeny blowout on the way to b-day party #2 on Saturday, there were no tears, fits, or temper tantrums.

A even made it through Mass on Sunday -- a whole month of church for my little guy. It was so nice to be there as a complete family.

We've been media free for over one week now and we've really seen a huge difference in the kids -- even D who had always watched some TV. They are playing with each other more and really using their imaginations. At dinner last night (Taco Night!) I was describing "The Amazing Race" to D and she totally got into it. After dinner both kids spent an hour tearing through the house doing "challenges." At one point, D was dragging him along by the arms and when I stopped to ask what she was doing she said she was helping him out of the icy river that they'd been swimming in for five miles.

On the downside, things aren't quite as clean and tidy as I usually keep them and the laundry room looks like someone's camping in there. I've also been cooking more e-z things like mac n' cheese, spaghetti, quesadillas, basically cheese. A doesn't like sharing me with anyone or anything, so unless he's being distracted I really don't have time to cook like I used to. And there's only so much roast chicken one family can eat. Which leads me to this week's conundrum: anyone know where I can order surf n' turf for two to be delivered on Thursday? It's our Ninth Anniversary and I'd like to do something special but will probably opt for the mail-order kind of special instead of the cook-it-yourself-then-clean-up-until-ten-o'clock kind of special.

My dream menu:
Gazpacho with garlic croutons
Surf n' turf
Buttermilk mashed potatoes
Sauteed green beans with mushrooms
Bananas foster

Friday, October 03, 2008

I didn't. Did you?

I didn't watch the VP debate last night. Instead M & I spent the evening watching the Mel Gibson classic "Tequila Sunrise" and making snarky MST3000-type comments. And folding laundry. And trapping the few remaining cats.

Was it socially irresponsible of me not to watch? I have decided who I'm voting for and I doubt whatever I heard last night was going to change my mind. I think both parties have a share of the blame in the current mess, but I don't think that Obama's plan is going to fix anything, other than the short-term agendas of a few special-interest groups. I think the bailout has to happen, but I don't like it or agree with it. The way I see it, it's kinda like when you're a struggling student and you have to hit mom & dad up for a loan to cover your rent. But guess what? The reason you're short in the first place is because you spent the money on BEER. (True story. Sorry mom & dad.) But you learn from your mistakes, as we are now. I don't care what you want, or what the "American Dream" is, you don't get to own a house, or have a credit card, or buy nice things just because you want them. Those are things you have to earn by working hard and saving your money and not buying stupid stuff you can't afford to pay for all by yourself. (If you want to buy stupid stuff you can afford, check out the dollar bins at Target.) And there are a whole lot of people trying to get into office right now who's policies reek will create an even bigger class of people looking for entitlements and handouts. I grew up in a socialist country (not America). It wasn't pretty.

I'm talking about a government who will happily take MY tax dollars to support programs that shouldn't exist in the first place.

I'm voting for the person that will be in the best interest for MY family. You should vote for yours.

This is my Friday Rant. I'm up to my eyeballs in Daisies, and birthday parties and Jr. League stuff. And we are keeping A "media free" right now so my blog time (and blog-reading time) is minimal. I'm sure I'll post sometime next week, but don't worry if things are a bit quiet 'round these here parts for a bit.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Over the hump

Two days to the weekend.

Not easy keeping up with things these days. A definitely has me on the move -- I think it's a boy thing. And even though M & I have never really enforced any gender-specific things with the kids, they chose their boyness and girlness all on their own. This afternoon D was playing Cheerleader while A played Iron Giant. I sat on the couch and tried to play both. But at least dinner wasn't a total nightmare. A only ate a handful of grapes, but at least he wasn't screaming. I think the trick is to wear him out completely. We were at the zoo for four hours today and he never stopped running. Tomorrow I might take him to the beach and see if that works too.

All this activity is bad for housework (I'm still doing Laundry at 10:00! Yikes.) and bad for any downtime during the day, but if it is good for A and helps him get back on an even keel then we'll work through the rest.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I don't like lizards. At all.

Hey, lizards. If you persist in coming into the house I will persist in killing you. One by one or all at once, it doesn't matter to me. You saw what we did with the cats, right? You know we don't fool around when it comes to getting rid of vermin.

And also? Why do we always, always, always have at least one or two get in on the days when M is out of town?! I think I have a permanent case of the heebie-jeebies. Ugh.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. A

A has been working himself into the Terrible Twos and although he's shown all the classic symptoms like independence, separation anxiety, clinginess, crying jags, stubbornness and so on, for the most part he's been his usual agreeable self. Except for the last week, when all of us a sudden every meal time has become an all out battle of wills. We've tried serving him whatever we're having, asking him what he'd like (but only giving two healthy-ish choices), and on Sunday M decided to see what would happen if we just let him graze and eat whatever and whenever he wanted. All three options had the same result: the minute he sits down to eat he throws a temper tantrum. We remove him from the table. He cries til he throws up. He calms down. He comes back to the table. He pitches another fit. We remove his food. He goes hungry. Until the next meal and it starts all over again. It's a little bit worse if I'm trying to eat too, but that's not saying much because it's downright horrible. So, in addition to trying to deal with his finicky eating, we're also having to deal with a huge meltdown at every meal.

We've tried talking to him about it in advance, talking to him when he's sitting down, holding him while it happens, getting angry and putting him in another room, but the end result is the same: he doesn't eat. It makes me want to cry, because after it's all over he invariably comes up to me and says "Love, Mommy?" which is his way of requesting a hug. I don't think he wants to act this way, he just can't help it.

We were willing to chalk it up to his cold for a while, but I know he's almost over it now and he doesn't have any problem eating snacks like Cheerios, graham crackers, Goldfish or fruit. It's just mealtime. Do we just give up for now, let him snack and trust that he'll start eating meals again? Do we stick with serving him and try to work through the crying? Do we all eat separately? I'm at my wits end here, so anyone out there dealing with mealtime tantrums, PLEASE let me know what you think!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Of Saturday, sao bao and scones

Take that, cat people. With the sudden, welcome and blissful arrival of Fall we've been spending a lot of our free time enjoying our beautiful CAT FREE porch and yard. Hooray! No more smell of cat pee! No little "presents" in the yard! It kind of makes all the hassle worth it. Especially since Neighbor Man came over and had a heart-to-heart with M and privately thanked him. (I guess she was spending a pretty penny on cat food.) Then Crazy Cat Neighbor Lady came over to thank us too! And apologize! All's well that end's well and hopefully the joke won't be on us when we're overrun with fruit rats or something.

So Saturday morning I made a batch of spiced apple & cranberry cream scones, heated up some sao bao (Chinese steamed buns) and we turned off the cartoons and forced took the kids outside to play: pirate ship, ahoy!, croquet, buggy races, spot the garden snakes and other assorted porch/yard games. If the humidity stays low we may even head to the beach after Mass tomorrow.

Yummy scones:

Everyone loves sao bao!

Daddy likes the scones

Playing in the yard

Friday, September 26, 2008

Finding my happy place

We decided to take A to the doctor yesterday morning as he's been up 5-8 times per night since June Sunday and then he woke up with a fever. When I went in to get him you could feel the heat pouring out of his crib from the doorway of his room. Turns out poor baby has a raging ear infection, a sinus infection and a sore throat (not strep at least). Yay Zithromax! He's to rest quietly for a day or so -- fat chance-- so we're out for playgroups and stuff this week. He's eating even less than usual, so while normally I wouldn't encourage him to graze, I am OK with it for a few days. Yesterday he ate a bowl of cereal with milk, about half a bowl of cereal with no milk, a cracker or two and water (and Zithromax). He turned down: waffles, watermelon, pb&j, cookies, jell-o and applesauce. He's the pickiest eater ever. Ever. Have I mentioned he's a vegetarian who won't eat vegetables? Not even corn. And it's worse when he's sick. Amazingly, he seems to get all the nutrition he needs from cereal and peanut butter and the occasional bite of fruit.

So, after my mini-rant about needing a break, I am cheerfully! gratefully! bi-polarly! back on the happy trail. Today, I am (tiredly) thinking about being a mom and the constant juggling act that involves. Don't even get me started on what it takes to juggle the house and meals, because these days I'm of the mind that I only need to really, really clean up if someone is coming over. You show up unannounced and you'll be tripping over toys and shoes and homework papers with the rest of us. I supposed I could've spent an hour cleaning this morning, but A wanted to play "throw the balls in the laundry basket" and you know what? So did I.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mama needs a break, v. 43309

Last night was the first night I've seen/talked to M since Sunday. Have I mentioned that he's been traveling a lot lately? Yeah, well he has. And will continue to for the immediate future as all of his cases are busy right now and they're all out of town. Hooray?! I guess with the economy the way it is, we should be grateful and thankful he has a job. (Which I am.)

Anyway, the "funny" part comes when I mentioned to him last night that we have an extraordinarily busy weekend coming up whereby the universe has conspired to line up D's first Daisy event of the year as well as two birthday parties for the children of very good friends. Luckily the universe also saw fit to schedule the events at totally different times so we'll actually be able to attend all three events -- I would simply need M's help to get A to Party #1 while I drive D down from the Daisy event. No biggie, right? I'm talking about a difference of maybe15 minutes. Well, lets just say the reaction was less than positive -- you would have thought I'd asked him to watch the kids for a week while I went to the Ritz. His first reaction to anything, if I ask for help, is to say "why don't you just skip it?" So, I can totally see myself schlepping the kids all alone, all day. The lemonade part to that is that the kids will be totally into the parties and I might actually have some quality girl-talk time.

But, a bit of a break would be nice, even if it is just 15 minutes. Maybe when the kids are older? When they can do their own homework? And don't get sick every other week (I'm looking at you, A!) and aren't up all night? I can wait.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What did she say?

Three of D's first grade "electives" are Spanish, Music and Religion. So it was no surprise when she came home singing the popular Spanish hymn "Envia tu Espiritu". It was a surprise to hear that God has a "frosted tiara." Actual line: "la faz de la tierra."

Thank you, Google, for clearing that up!

However, I think we're stuck with her beauty pageant-esque interpretation for a while.

(This one is almost as good as her line from "Our God is an Awesome God" when "with wisdom, power and love" became "whizz down pal on us.")

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

First day of Fall

Well I do declare. The first day of real Fall weather fell unusually close to the actual first day of Fall. This morning brought not only much, much lower humidity, but actual cool air. I think it was only 72 when I took D to school. Why, that's practically sweater weather! And chili weather! And stew weather! And baking weather! Yay! Plus you know it must be Fall when Target starts to sneak the Christmas stuff in. There were a whole bunch of cards and wrapping supplies right between the Autumn/Harvest and Halloween displays.

I'll draw the line at Christmas decorations, but I could not resist buying apple cider and caramel apple stuff and even some teeny-tiny hard as rock pears at the grocery.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A friend of a friend of a friend...

Because I read so many blogs and then, on days when I have time, I read the blogs that those bloggers read and sometimes I follow links to other blogs because someone made an interesting comment and, if I end up with more spare time, then I'll comment on those blogs, and so you end up with this funny electronic "paper" trail (I don't know the real blogger term for this phenomenon) and you end up with this six degrees of separation feeling from all the other wonderful bloggers out there. Does this make sense? If not, it's because I've been up since 4:00. Anyway.

Once in a while I'll read something on a blog that is so moving, so incredible that I say to myself, "Self, you lazy thing, you should post this on your blog, and maybe someone reading your blog will go read their blog and be moved by their story too!" And then the baby wakes up or something and I'll forget about it. But not today:


If you want the full story you're going to have to dig a bit after the click, but basically CJane's sister, NieNie, who has a popular "mommyblog" of her own, was in a horrible plane crash a few weeks ago. NieNie and her husband are in critical condition and will be hospitalized for months because of their burns. CJane (and the rest of Nie's family) has taken in 3 of Nie's 4 young children to raise and take care of and be a surrogate mother to them while their parents recover. You may have heard/seen this before in the blogosphere and it's been all over the morning shows, but I still thought it worth posting about. Because, although I don't know them, I wish I did. It is an incredible story of an incredible family. Go read. And get some tissues.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I'm fried. Tired. Frazzled. Both kids up at 5:30 this morning. D wanted to make a card for her teacher! At 5:30! Awww, how sweet! Now go back to sleep. A up multiple times for water. The kid's a camel, I tell ya. I just want everyone, but especially me, to sleep through the night. Please. Pretty please.

But there was a small compensation for the early rising, and not just that I didn't have to nag D constantly to hurry up. It's also because this morning Fall was in the air (shhhh, don't jinx it!) Just enough to lower the humidity, if not the temperature. Just enough to make the walk to school pleasant, not a trip to the steam room. Just enough to make me say ahhhh, not ugggh.

And in an unprecedented move, we're getting a sitter and going out tonight. Usually, we only go out once/month. And usually on a Saturday. We're supposed to be going to a baseball game with M's law firm, but I have a feeling we might show for a bit then ditch out to go eat tapas and enjoy the nice weather. My biggest problem right now is what the heck to wear because I truly hate all my clothes. Except for the cute new tops I got at ATLoft last month, but I've already worn them all over the place so I'm getting that "I can't wear that again feeling.

Okey-dokey. A is incredibly cranky from lack of sleep and I've got housework to do. So I'll leave you with this:

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The drama-mamas

By unspoken agreement and mutual consent, most of the parents who handle morning drop-off at D's school are dressed down. Waaaaay down. We're talking one step up from jammies, hair in a ponytail (or hat), make-up totally optional. Those that stay home are dressed to return there. Those that work are dressed tastefully for work. We are, after all, a parochial school and there are men and women of the cloth about.

But, as in all situations, there are a choice few who choose to flaunt the norm. They edge right up to the line of modesty and good taste and stand there, proudly, screaming "LOOK AT ME! ME! MEEEEEE!" to the short-n-tshirt clad masses. They talk loudly about how plastered they got this past weekend. The laugh loudly and inappropriately at nothing. They flirt with each other, your husband and the PE coach. They talk about you while you're talking about them. They are the Drama-mamas.

Up until this year, the main object of my amused fascination in the morning was a woman I'll call Sport. The mother of two girls, she has sported just about every trend or fashion that they'd see on MTV or maybe even E!TV. She is clearly dressing to attract attention, to fuel drama and maybe even controversy, a strategy that is clearly working well for her given the cluster of people around her in the mornings. Thigh-high boots? Check. Orangey over-tanned body with mismatched face? Check. Mini-skirt? Check. Full makeup and hair with work out clothes? Check. To her, tight, revealing, flashy and inappropriate are good things. (Granted, she has both the attitude and bod to carry off these things. Who knows? If I looked like her I'd probably show up wearing a bikini and stilletos, carrying a coffee mug filled with vodka.)

This year Sport has some competition for the main Drama-mama at school. A new Mama is in town. We'll call her the Bond Girl. Tall, starved to willowy perfection, sculpted (think knives, not weights), Botoxed and so shiny she looks like a penny. Her large blonde bouffant doesn't move, her make-up never runs, her teeth are impossibly white and large, her heels are so high she needs supplemental oxygen. I don't know where she was the first few weeks of school -- sunning on some gorgeous South Pacific island? couldn't bear to close up the summer place in Cote d'Azur? -- because I just noticed her this week and there's no way I could have overlooked her up 'til now. Naturally she has drawn some of the minor satellites orbiting Sport, but so far there has been no obvious sign of competition other than an ever-so-slight uprise in bouffant height and a slight increase in volume. So far she's stuck to a uniform of high-heels, unbelievably tight designer jeans and either tank tops or shiny wrap tops. Perhaps she had to assess the competition before breaking out the minis? Perhaps her thigh-high boots are out for re-heeling after a busy summer trampling on others? Perhaps she'll trump Sport's wardrobe of skintight sheath dresses and go straight for evening wear?

Luckily, I shall be able to observe and report all of the Drama for you from my nearly-invisible position amongst the other normally dressed moms and dads. I wonder who will up the ante first?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


In keeping with my theme of Upbeat! Cheery! Laid Back! this week, here are the things that I'm grateful for today:

1) That my reliance on PBS as a babysitter has not seem to affected A's mental health or vocabulary development(yet)
2) That my kids are healthy
3) That only two of the five members of my household coat everything with drool (hint: one is the dog)
4) That we currently have two working a/c systems in these hot, horrible, humid Florida months. Even though the electricity bills make me cry.
5) That my children are curious, happy, intelligent and well-mannered, despite the occasional meltdown, hissyfit or screaming match
5) That we can afford to buy food, whether anyone eats it or not. BTW, I will never, ever make casseroles again. M hates them, the kids hate them. I don't care how quikneasy they are. It doesn't save me any time if I have to go make a whole other meal for everyone not eating the damn casserole. My most recent attempt, a chicken spaghetti casserole, featured chicken, pasta and cheese, three usually tolerated -- if not beloved -- ingredients (and this was a Pioneer Woman recipe. Everyone loves PW! What gives?) It was deemed: yucky, crunchy but gooey, too oniony, not good, tenkyoumommyNONONONO, great! and yummy, thanks I'll have seconds. The eaters were: myself, M, sister Debbie, Debbie's Roommate Kari, and the kids. Guess who said what?

Our Parish's sister church is on the little island of La Gonave, Haiti. They are desperately poor, have no electricity and are almost completely dependent on food and supplies brought over from the mainland. Because of the recent string of hurricanes, Haiti itself is being cut off from the world and food is almost non-existent. On La Gonave, they have lost their entire avocado crop and this means almost certain starvation for many. When they can get food, the staple dish on La Gonave is a concoction of rice, beans and oil. At Mass on Sunday, we were encouraged to partake of a similar meal (or fast) on Fridays for the rest of the year and donate the difference in what we would have paid to eat out or have meat or butter or ice cream or whatever to our church's Partners with Haiti ministry. It may be a bit of a hard sell for my family, but I feel led by Gratitude to at least try it this week.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Say no to the mope

M is out of town on bidness for two days and so last night I got the kids to bed and was getting set to indulge in a What Not to Wear marathon (from my DVR'd collection that I keep in case of emergency or absent hubby) when I stumbled on a 9/11 documentary on the History Channel. It was a series of "man on the street" videos taken by real people and it was very moving. Afterward I vowed that from hereafter, I was going to say NO to the mope. Life is just too short. And although I'm aware that I'm very blessed in many aspects of my life, I am, by nature, fairly impatient and I know I be abrupt in my dealings with the kids, M, house, etc. I also tend to lose my shit pretty easily when people don't respond with as much alacrity as I'd like or when certain children start pushing my buttons. But I'd like to change all that. So. No more moping, pity parties, rolling of eyes, sighing, muttering under my breath, clenching of teeth, barking of orders (esp. for tasks like teeth brushing, but I'll reserve the right when it comes to homework), cynical epithets, clanging of utensils, and other myriad and sundry overt and subtle expressions of my inherent impatience. Instead, we're going to try for laid-back, sunny, cheerful, easy-going, kind and loving.

I do reserve the right to keep a secret stash of chocolate goodies hidden for my own private consumption during moments such as:

1) having to holler up the stairs for the nineteenth time that we're going to be late for school
2) the repeated punching or kicking of siblings
3) the ongoing battle over dividing the living room couch into "his side/her side" (for the kids, not M & I)
4) tuning out petty bickering
5) children who refuse to eat a meal, beg to be excused from the table and then request a snack five minutes later
6) kicking myself for procrastinating driving to Tampa to get necessary forms for upcoming Daisy registration meeting
7) crying jags that last longer than 5 minutes and that invariably end with someone throwing up
8) waking p at 5:30 after being woken up every half hour from 2:00 until 5:00 to: get water, find blankies, talk about bad dreams or fish fallen stuffed animals out from under beds/cribs

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Call to arms

Well, it looks like not everyone used yesterday as a day of peaceful reflection and remembrance.

One of our neighbors told us this morning that yesterday the E.A.A. circulated a nasty, untruthful, catty (haha!) email to the neighborhood association members about us "trapping our neighbor's pet cats!" Totally made us out to be the bad guys. Practically made it sound as if we went onto her property with a net.

Well. You really have to work to get me angry, because it's just not one of my go-to emotions. But, this..person... who accosted my husband, yelled at him, lied to him, gave a false name to the Animal Control Officer (because she herself harbors several feral cats), lied about where she works, and then DARES to accuse us unjustly in a public forum. Well, my first rebuttal email was not worthy of my education or upbringing. Instead M & I will bring our full intellectual powers to bear on the matter and craft an exquisite, pointed rejoiner informing one and all of our stance, reminding everyone of the law in our area (hubby is not an attorney for nothing!) and challenging others who are also disgusted by the cat problem here to rise up and do something about it. I am not afraid to use my real name (except on this blog).

I gather all peaceful solutions to the problem are not going to work. May I remind the EAA, my neighbor and all their feral-cat-loving friends, that we have twice talked the county out of fining her cat-feeding ass and that we have talked and talked and talked about this problem with them and NO ONE has done anything about it. Except us.