Friday, February 27, 2009

Lead us not into temptation

Why oh why does this year's Neiman Marcus Beauty Event have to fall during Lent -- when I have sacrificed unnecessary shopping? And, is stocking up on products that you use anyway and thus taking advantage of some awesome giveaways and freebies really Unnecessary? Is it a coincidence that I just happen to be out of exfoliator? Please don't ask me to use drugstore substitutes - there are about 5 products that really truly work for my skin and they happen to be available at NM. And I love getting samples and free stuff. And I have extremely weird skin that manages to be sensitive, dry and prone-to-breakouts all at the same time. 'Bout the only thing I don't worry about is wrinkles (thanks, Mom!)


What can you do in 30 minutes? I can clean three full bathrooms top-to-bottom, including mopping floors, in 30 minutes. I can also change the sheets, do laundry and pick up the playrooms in 30 minutes. And I can usually pull dinner together in 30 minutes. 30 minutes is exactly the amount of time that it takes A to watch an average episode of Go, Diego, Go! on the DVR. Coincidence? More like examples of domestic precision, accuracy and efficiency.

M asked why A was watching "so much" TV while D never really did when she was 2-1/2. I had to think on that a bit before I remembered. We had a cleaning lady back in the day. We had a nanny. We ate out four nights a week. We took vacations and long weekends and day trips. And just like that I stopped feeling guilty for letting A watch TV.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I am no paradigm of Lenten sacrifice, but I am proud to say that I made it through Ash Wednesday's fast. I am a bit amazed because the average toddler has more willpower than I do. It was a hard day and I was dog tired from being up all night Tues. with A. But I did not eat meat. I did not buy a Starbucks on the way to swim lessons. I did not snack between meals -- which is like giving up breathing! And I did not succumb to the temptation of the milk chocolate Moose Munch bar I found at the bottom of my tote bag, which I don't remember buying so to my sugarless, tired, semi-hungry brain it must have been placed there by Satan himself.

I did pray a LOT.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the 40 days of self-sacrifice and reflection called Lent. Which is the prelude to the glorious celebration that is Easter Which is my favorite religious holiday of the year. Not to be confused with Memorial Day, which is my favorite secular holiday of the year.

Anyway, about Lent.

D -- being 6-1/2 -- is participating fully in Lent for the first time this year, including going meatless on Fridays. I had spent some time explaining the concept of sacrifice to her and we discussed some examples of what she could sacrifice. I also asked her to think of a way that we could, as a family, spend more quiet time in prayer. When she came up with her original list of sacrifices it included "Sprite" and "school" until I explained to her that 1) since we don't drink soda at home, she couldn't very well give up something that she hardly ever got anyway and 2) school is not optional.

So I was amazed when she told me that she was going to sacrifice TV watching for Lent (she does get 30 minutes to watch after homework time and usually some Saturday morning cartoons) and, as for prayer, she was going to say the Hail Mary three times each day! I am so proud of her and impressed by the amount of thought she gives things.

I hope the rest of us spend our Lent so wisely.

A, apparently, decided to give up sleeping through the night, but I think that is due to the awful bug he has come down with. Poor baby. Tired mama. I will need prayers to get through the day, that's for sure.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


2/23 - 5:00 - 6:00 pm - Negotiate with kids to eat dinner (parmesan chicken, cheesy rice & broccoli)
6:00 - 7:30 - Bathe, shampoo, brush teeth, pajamas, read stories, say prayers, tuck kids into bed
7:30 - 8:30 - Eat dinner with M; clean up kitchen
8:30 - 10:00 - Fold laundry, make D snack/lunch for next day, set coffee maker and WATCH TV
10:00 - 10:03 - Fall asleep while reading in bed
10:03 - 11:30 - Sleep
11:30 - 11:45 - Woken up by screaming kid
11:45 - 1:00 am - Sleep
2/24 - 1:00 - 1:15 am - Woken up by screaming kid
1:15 - 3:00 - Sleep
3:00 - 3:15 - Woken up by screaming kid; suspect something is going on with kid, too tired to deal
3:15 - 5:45 - Sleep
5:45 - Woken up by alarm
5:45 - 6:15 - Shower, make up, get dressed, do hair
6:15 - 6:25 - Down a cup of coffee, estimate Benadryl needs for day
6:25 - 6:50 - Deal with screaming kid, who now has a 103 fever and is hacking his lungs out while simultaneously getting D ready for school
6:50 - 7:30 - Breakfast for D; medicine for A
7:30 - 7:45 - Change into clothes appropriate for morning drop off, i.e., not flannel pajamas and mismatched lounge pants
7:45 - 8:00 - Take D to school
8:00 - 9:00 - Clean up breakfast, check emails and blogs; A alternates between watching Diego and screaming
9:00 - 10:30 - Errands: post office, grocery store, CVS
10:30 - 11:30 - Read stories for A
11:30 - Try to convince A to eat lunch
11:40 - Opt for nap instead (A, not me!)
11:40 - 2:00 - A naps: 2 loads of laundry, clean downstairs bath, balance checkbook, order rug samples, check on retreat at Church, go through mail, respond to RFI from Jr. League council
2:00 - 2:45 - Play Cariboo with A
2:45 - 3:00 - sit in car line
3:00 - 4:15 - dispense snacks, do homework, read with D
4:15 - 4:55 - Make breakfast for dinner, put away laundry, vacuum up 3 bushels of dog hair
4:55 - 5:00 - Negotiate with kids to eat dinner; remind self that bedtime is just around the corner

Jack Bauer has it EASY.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Out of ideas

3:00 and the dreaded dinner hour is facing me down. I have a love/hate relationship with cooking these days -- I love to cook and my kids hate the stuff I make. They would eat cereal and macaroni and cheese for every meal, every day if I let them. Oh sure, D will also eat fruit and frozen peas; A also eats beans and peanut butter once in a while. But mostly they don't eat anything. It makes it very hard for me to get excited about cooking a meal because I know it is absolutely unappreciated. I had to make a dinner time rule that, even if they aren't going to eat, they can't complain throughout the whole meal.

I've got chicken breasts, rice and broccoli planned for tonight, but I might as well throw it all in the garbage and give them bowls of Cheerios.

I've said it before, but meal planning is seriously the hardest thing to do.

Friday, February 20, 2009

On vacation

No, I'm not really on vacation. However I will be guest-posting here for the next few days:

Monkey Me, Monkey You. Come on over and check out Monkey's North American tour.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not as drunk as I look

Contrary to popular belief, Florida has four seasons just like the rest of the world: Summer (April - Sept), Football (Sept - Dec), Winter (Jan), Allergy (Feb - March). My least favorite is Allergy.

I'm not allergic to anything except Live Oak pollen. And while that means I will never die from eating a peanut butter sandwich, during Feb & Mar when the live oaks pollinate I am utterly, horribly miserable. My misery is compounded by my extreme adverse reaction to Claritin which has made me afraid to try any OTC or Rx allergy meds, except for that old standby Benadryl. So for Feb & Mar I walk around in a semi-permanent haze, half-asleep. The alternative is being a sneezy, itchy, drippy mess. What a trade off.

This morning must be the start of peak pollen time because I woke up sneezing, my eyes red and watery, itching all over. To make things worse, I had to schlep both the kids to school and walk the dog through our pollen-infested neighborhood because M is out of town for work today. So two Benadryls and six cups of coffee later, we're pulling up to school and D says "Mommy, did you forget to change your shirt?" And there I was at morning drop off wearing my pajama top -- light blue flannel with brown penguins, thankyouverymuch. With jeans. And, inexplicably, old, beat-up Tevas. (I'm such a HOTTIE.) Combined with my Benadryl-stupor and red bleary eyes I probably looked like I was coming off a three-day bender. D didn't even want to walk up with me. I'm surprised no one sniffed my coffee cup.

The enemy:

Friday, February 13, 2009

No school!

D has off school today so we're going to have some fun!

Publix - for milk, fruit, TP
Library - for Cam Jansen, D's fave books for read-aloud time
Bank - for some cash
Vet - for some flea meds for Fizz
The Cupcake Spot - for cupcakes!

This afternoon we're going to make potato-print Valentine's Cards.

Best of all, no rushing about in the morning, no waking A from his nap to rush to car line, no homework, no packing lunch or snacks. I think I like days off school as much as D does.

Family Medical Update:

Dad: Week #2 of chemo going well, he's mainly tired and still trying to keep his weight up.

Mom: She has been having shortness of breath, dizzy spells, pain in her back/abdomen. They diagnosed gallstones AND kidney stones!! So she'll have to have gallbladder surgery and then they'll deal with the kidney stones.

Us: In an effort to keep our end up in the family medical drama, A developed a rather severe limp in his right foot. Wednesday night he started walking on his tiptoes, with his foot pigeon-toed! By yesterday morning he wouldn't walk at all and I couldn't even put on his shoes. So I took him to the doc, who made a preliminary diagnosis of Transient Synovitis - basically a viral infection of the synovial fluid in his hip/leg - and said keep him quiet and give Motrin every 6 hours. But I also got a script for x-rays and blood work, so if he's not doing better by Monday I need to take him to All Childrens for that.

Praying. Praying. Praying for healing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


And I forgot to mention that our porch thermometer hit 80 by noon today. It's still February right? Because it feels a lot like June. Our thermostats are programmed to kick on the a/c at 78 and I'm betting we'll be running it by dinnertime. Or maybe I'll just turn it off and keep the windows cranked open (allergies be damned!) and see if anyone complains. Because the only thing worse than a wicked high gas bill is getting a wicked high gas bill and a wicked high electric bill in the same month.


Whew! Playgroup was a lot of fun. This was my first time hosting this bunch of mommies and it is a bit unusual because all of the kids are toddler boys ages 1 to almost 3. Nary a girl to provide a softening touch (or bossy attitude). I am amazed at how well boys play together with... boys. The cake was a smash hit and everyone had fun. I'm looking forward to getting A out and about more with some boys his age.

Now I'm onto my next project - cutting cheese into little hearts to serve with crackers for D's class V-Day party tomorrow. Luckily, it will be worth mega service hours toward our annual requirement at school. Otherwise? I'm not really into cutting cheese into shapes.

I have a haircut tonight and then a 4-day weekend from school starts tomorrow. I'll have to rustle up a good project for Friday to keep everyone busy.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Need a break? Bake this cake!

We are hosting playgroup this week and as usual I've been dithering about what to serve for a snack. I know, I know. How much thought should one put into playgroup snack? It's just a bunch of two-year-olds! But I do try to serve something healthy, easy, fun and that doesn't generate too many crumbs. And I also try to serve something absolutely delicious for the moms. Because we work hard. And the last thing we (I) want to munch on when we're (I'm) "relaxing" is carrot sticks and non-fat yogurt.

So for the kiddos I've decided on mini-bagels and cream cheese, raisins, juice boxes (Motts for Tots, natch) and fruit kabobs (watermelon, banana, mandarin oranges). For the moms I'm making a more elaborate fruit salad, coffee and an amazing Butterfinger Cake. The cake meets the playgroup criteria of easy and delicious. And also features two ingredients that hardly ever show up at our house, yellow cake mix and Cool-Whip, so it feels like a really novel treat.

Butterfinger Cake

One package yellow cake mix
One jar caramel topping
One can sweetened condensed milk
3 Butterfinger bars, crushed
One tub Cool-whip (regular, reduced fat, fat-free, whatever)

Bake the cake according to package directions for a 9x13 pan*. Mix together caramel and condensed milk, set aside. When cake is done, but while still hot, poke holes all over it. Pour the caramel/milk mixture over the cake. Spread crushed candy on top. Let cool completely in fridge. Spread Cool-whip on top. Enjoy!

For chocolate lovers, you can also do a version with chocolate cake mix, Hersheys syrup/condensed milk, and crushed Heath bars. But, oddly, the chocolate version is too rich for me. Very strange for the girl who can eat her weight in buttercream frosting, but there you go.

*I'm actually doing mine in two 8x8s because I'm going to send the half we don't eat to work with M. I really don't want all this deliciousness hanging out in my fridge all week.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Why I no longer read fashion magazines

I have a hard time relating to fashion magazines, even ones from the UK:

I just don't see the application for something like this in my life. You can't clean in it. You can't cook in it. You can't milk a goat in it (that one's for you Stacey!). You can't pick up legos for the 99,903rd time in one day in it. You sure as shit can't show up at morning drop-off/car line wearing this. I'm not even sure old Gwynnie there can raise her arms.

I think I'll save my £3.50/$5.12/€4. We're a fashion-free zone. Now, if it were the Warm, Cozy & Comfy issue.... you might have me there.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Guilty little secret

There's a new business in town that I've been supporting with M's hard-earned money. I've tried to be low-key about it, but I really ought to share. So, may I introduce:

The Cupcake Spot!

I think I'm in love with the butterscotch babies. But the Elvis one is really good too (if you like PB & banana, which I do). But they are all amazing, fresh, delicious. Go read the menu. And then wish you could live here the next time PMS hits.

Monday, February 02, 2009

And some other weird things

Some other weird things about your kids getting older:

- Lamps/lights get turned on or off without your help
- Window blinds raised/lowered according to someone else's light preferences
- Nightlights go unused
- Basic hygiene attended to without asking/nagging
- People are reading in bed before lights out

It's very Twilight Zoney for me. I used to do all those things!! I'm sure all you parents of older kids can relate.

Weirded out

It is so weird being the mom of someone who can allofasudden read. It's been coming for a while now, but I'd say D is officially reading. Everything. She reads what's on TV, she reads street signs, she tried to read my blog! I was typing away at a post and she was pretending to do something behind my computer chair then suddenly she's asking about something I've written. So we had a nice chat about privacy and the written word. (It's all about teachable moments, people.)

We were driving up to a park on Saturday and had to pass thru a Not So Nice part of Clearwater/Largo that has some cheezy/seedy "gentlemans clubs". At a stoplight she asks me what "I I" means. "Eye-eye?" I reply? I don't know. Where did you see it? And she says, "See Mom? What does Fore Play II mean?" Nice. We managed to distract her. This time. So now we're going to map out safe routes to our favorite places where we can avoid difficult questions, at least for a few more years. I am very thankful that the part of Saint Petersburg where we live is free of that kind of thing. I can't imagine what people who live in those areas tell their kids! But just so I can forestall the inevitable, I've also been spending more time making sure that bathroom stalls are graffiti-free (esp. at parks!) because you just never know what people will write. Or (ick) draw.

Tomorrow: Get your guilt on!