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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Whew

Well, we survived Florida. And the trip home. And the week after when I tried to attack everything at once.

But once I got my head above water and got some "down" time, I started editing  photos. A lot of photos. My dear friend not only put us up for the night as our "halfway" point, she also gave up her uber-nice Canon for me to use while we were gone.

Me + fancy camera = A schmidt-ton of photos. 797 to be exact. In 7 days.

In my defense, with trying to get two kids AND my dear Hubby to smile, it's not always one or two clicks and we're done. And a lot of times, I get home, load the photos onto my computer and have to pick the lesser of many evils. Someone is almost always scowling, not looking at the camera or has a finger somewhere it shouldn't be.

But then you put in my hands a NICE camera, and my trigger finger gets happy. Then on top of it, I had a couple lenses to play with too.

Oh yeah... we had fun with that camera. Definitely on my wish list.

But keep in mind, my photo software is as old as my camera. Still does what I need it to do (which really ain't much), but apparently asking it to deal with 200+ photos over a few days was too much.

It.... was.... so.... slow.... I.... couldn't....stand.... it....

I have the actual editing and filing process down to a science. I have the prompts memorized along with a few quick keystrokes. But actually waiting for my poor laptop and 6 (?) year-old software to catch up was enough to make me bang my head against the keyboard. Good thing I didn't. I can't imagine that would have sped the process up any.

I will keep drooling over and coveting my friend's camera, and start saving my pennies. We swung Florida this year - a camera is NOT on the horizon. But at the top of my Christmas list is new software.

I hope my computer will start speaking to me again.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I'M FAMOUS! ...well not really

As I run around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to prep for our great Florida adventure, you can head on over to The Snarky Mom where I have a guest post today. She and I both have an affinity for America's Dairyland (as she still lives there) and understand the torture joy of working for newspapers. She needed some help filling her blog while she got her schmidt together and I was happy to help.

See ya'll in 10 days!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Relief


It's so shiny! And the water reservoir is bigger, too.

When the doorbell rang at almost 6 p.m., Nathaniel ran to the window, 
saw the FedEx truck and called, "Coffee for Mommy!"

Smart boy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chopped: SAHM edition

A friend started a group on Facebook where a bunch of us could post weekly menus, share recipes and give cooking/baking tips. I try to post every week because it helps me think through my menus (usually), so I'm not running to the store a couple times a week for "just one" thing and ended up spending $100. And when I get into a major cooking rut, it's nice to steal other people's ideas for a change.

Admittedly, this week I did not share a menu. That's because everything in my fridge needs eaten by lunch on Friday, otherwise I'll have a scary, smelly, science experiment waiting for me after our vacation.

I've done it before. It's not pretty.

Monday we had leftover sausage gravy, biscuits and scrambled eggs, which took care of all but one serving of gravy and 2 biscuits and 2 eggs. Last night it was leftover chicken noodles. Mission accomplished there. Tonight is cheeseburger soup (again, leftover) and salad.

After that it gets interesting. In no particular order, here are the perishables that need to disappear before the end of the week:

Taco meat (not quite enough for 4)
Rice
one serving of biscuits and gravy (and eggs)
yogurt
3 squeeze yogurt
half a gallon of milk
3 apples
1 mango
half a bag of clementines (those may make the trip with us...)
half a loaf of bread
2 hot dog buns
3 hamburger buns
4 English muffins
bag of pita (I really don't know the shelf life on those. They may survive)
appx 8 oz container of sour cream
1.5 green peppers
2 carrots
half an onion
cream cheese

I can be pretty creative to combine all of those things, but I kinda need more days and "stuff" with which to do it. I mean, there is more in the fridge and freezer that will last an eternity that can help, but I don't want to generate any more leftovers.

Maybe I should host my own episode of "Chopped" and see what someone else can come up with for dinner. And the ingredients in your secret basket are... All the crap from Bridget's refrigerator! You have 30 minutes. Begin!

Any takers?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mama needs her coffee

Reason # 492 why I love my Keurig:

In August, I finally broke down and called customer service because my Keurig was leaking water all over my counter with every cup it brewed. This was particularly noticeable when I had a house full of people for Fun Fest and the poor thing was making like 8 cups a morning.
My Keurig and coffee mug... perfect harmony.

I waited and waited before I called because I was afraid a) they'd tell me tough luck, b) they'd tell me to buy a new one or c) they'd make me send my brewer in, thereby leaving me Keurig-less for an excruciating amount of time (ya know, like more than 24 hours).

When I called, the woman I spoke to was very helpful. We guessed it was leaking from the water reservoir, so she agreed to send me a new one at no charge.

Sweet! I thought.

I got the new reservoir in a few days and happily switched out the "defective" one.

I didn't notice any puddles on my counter (always a good thing), but one morning I decided to lift up the brewer "just to check."

Ahh, ignorance is bliss... puddle city underneath. So I sighed, grabbed a dish towel to put underneath and went about my day. I hesitated to call AGAIN because I was still afraid of a hassle. In my experience, customer service is dead.

Then this weekend was the last straw. I pushed the largest cup option to brew a nice, piping hot mug of my coveted pumpkin spice coffee... and it only brewed half a cup. I like my coffee strong, but not THAT strong, so I dumped it out and made another one. Wasted a precious K-cup. Tsk tsk.

It did the same thing again this morning (although I didn't risk the pumpkin spice this time), so I called Keurig. I explained what was happening and she promised to send me a new brewer, free of charge. I don't even have to mail my old one in first or at all! There was no yelling, screaming, crying, begging or standing on my head involved. They just need the little K-cup holder as proof and they'll mark my brewer as "defective" in their system.

I probably won't get the new one before we leave for vacation, but that just means I will have a brand-new non-leaking Keurig waiting for me when I get back.

We're driving to Florida and back with two kids, visiting the Mouse and hitting the beach. I'm gonna need that coffee.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Overheard at my house: Tacos and math don't mix

"Does anyone want lettuce on their taco?"

Blink. Blink.

I was addressing five kids, all of whom know how to talk. I got bubkis.

"There's gonna be seven boys at my house Friday! 'Cause I'm having a friend over and my brother's having a friend over and then there's our dad and our dog..."

Right. That's not quite seven, but...

"So nobody wants lettuce on their tacos?"

Same kid: "Oh I do."

Right.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Overheard at my house: excited bovines

The upside to having two chatterboxes is that I hear some pretty entertaining things when my kids think I'm out of earshot.

Take this gem between my 4-year-old and my friend's 7-year-old.

"Holy cow!"

"I'm not allowed to say that."

"What? You're not allowed to say 'Holy cow?' Who's not allowed to say 'holy cow?' Why not?"

"My mom said, 'That's enough.'"

Yes, I'm a mean mommy. I got tired of hearing 'Holy cow!' when I told him we were out of Apple Jacks, when he found a lost (for 5 minutes) toy, when the dog needed to go outside, when it was lunch time, when it was time to leave the house for any reason, when I needed to do laundry, when the mail arrived, when the paper got delivered, when the school bus came...

You get the idea.

We did lift the ban momentarily after we told the kids we're going to see Mickey Mouse in a little over a week.

"Oh my  uh... my!"

"Buddy, you can say 'holy cow.'" Hubby told him.

"Really? Holy cow holy cow holy cow holy cow holy cow!"

There. I bet he feels better.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In my head today...

Way back when in the middle of the summer, I got to cover The Band Perry at the county fair. I admit I was annoyed by "Hip to My Heart," their first single. "If I Die Young" is too creepy to say that you love it, but it's a good song. No other acts sounded up my alley, so I bit.

It didn't disappoint. I was tapping my toes and singing along anytime they pulled in a rock cover. They brag that they grew up on Rolling Stones and Loretta Lynn, and their sound reflects it.

Fast forward to my birthday, when I got an iTunes gift card. Their album was the first that I bought and I LOVE it. The only problem is that I end up singing the same song for days on end. Today? "Independence."

So I had to drag y'all down with me share. Enjoy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Applesauce '11

I was a spoiled kid.

I mean, yes, I got a lot of "stuff" (being an only child and the youngest grandchild), but I also never tasted store-bought applesauce until I was an adult.

It was a sad day.

Nana wasn't the greatest cook, but baking and homemade goodies were her specialty. Someday I'd like to be half as successful in the kitchen as she was.

I am bound and determined to give my kids a little bit of what I grew up with - complete with homemade applesauce every fall. And winter. And spring. Sometimes summer, if we're lucky.

First, we do something I never did, which was pick the apples off the trees. Well, we were a little late this year, so the apples were pretty high. Hubby manned the picker pole and the kids fetched the apples and put them into the bucket.


I like this system, mostly because I just get to supervise. I did check for soft and brown spots since it was later in the season, but even a few questionable ones managed to sneak through. They don't have to be pretty to become applesauce.

After we got more apples than seemed wise, we headed home. In past years, we've let the kids watch and eat the peels, but we opted for the "wait until they're asleep" sprint this year. Too many monkey-like tendencies, in my opinion.

So here's how we started.


A mix of Jonathons and Cortlands. Probably worked out to be 50/50 on each batch, so a nice combination of tart and sweet.

Here's the set up...


Hubby mans the peeler-corer-slicer, mostly because I get frustrated trying to line everything up and the suction on the bottom doesn't hold it to the counter any more. He ends up cranking with one hand and holding the dang thing down with the other. I take off the bottoms and the tops and quarter each one to make it cook faster and then man the pots.


I only own one huge pot, which I need for the hot water bath (on right), so I use two large pots for actually cooking the apples down. 

One pot held a bag of apples. I forgot to take a picture. I was trying to quarter and check all the apples Hubby was peeling and dump them into the pots and put a little water in and stir and stir and be sticky from my fingertips to my elbows. I didn't want to stickify my phone.

Take my word for it, I couldn't have fit any more apples into the pots if I tried.

Here is one (of five) pots after cooking down.


Next came my new favorite part of the process... two words for you: immersion blender! I had one on my Christmas list after attempting to use a potato masher on waaay too many pots of apples last year. OW. The stick blender was so cool! Stir and whir and voila!


Doesn't that look yummy? I combined the two pots I was cooking simultaneously and seasoned with a little sugar. "Little" being about a cup for a 8 qt. pot-full. But it all depends on your apples and personal preference.


There. That's better.

So into the sterilized jars they went to hang out in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Then they lined my counters while I finished the remaining batches. I love the popping sound the lids make when they seal.

The finished product:


A total of 34 jars of homemade applesauce. Only one didn't seal, so the kids and I happily polished that one off today. The rest are in the pantry keeping our 30+ jars of pickles company.

It's gonna be a yummy winter. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sad day for motorsports

I was all set to chronicle our adventures in apple picking in 35 mph winds and marathon applesauce making session tonight, but my heart and mind aren't in it. 

Like many Sundays, we filled it watching sports - football, baseball, and of course, racing. 

I was happy to hear that 2011 Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon was racing today at Las Vegas and I was pulling for him. He didn't have a full-time ride this year, and I think it was a shame. The only benefit from an idle season was that he hopped into the broadcast booth and showed his enthusiasm and his personality for Versus. 

The sport is inherently dangerous, and the perfect storm happened today: too many cars riding too close going too fast. One mistake led to 15 cars being collected in a mess of twisted metal, fire and billowing smoke. 

Hubby and I sat on the couch transfixed. It was hard to pick out which car was Wheldon's until it had already been covered with a yellow sheet, which broadcasters blamed on trying to keep the pieces together. It also made it harder to see that the car was flat; the part of the car normally behind the driver's head was gone.

As time ticked away on the red flag, I had a sinking feeling that word from the hospital would not be good. If he had been OK, it would have been a priority to get word back to everyone at the track.

Instead, the word was not good. 

As a mother and someone who has lost a loved one, I think I feel things differently now. I hugged my children extra tight tonight, knowing that Wheldon leaves behind two little boys who will never get another good night hug from their daddy.

Heartbreaking.


Rest in peace, Dan. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Heart Fall

I love fall. Or autumn, as my know-it-all preschooler now tells me daily.

I love warm sun and cool breezes.

I love the colors of the trees.

I love the crunch of leaves underfoot.

I love football.

I love that I can have windows open to go to sleep and not wake up feeling like someone ran over my sinuses with a Mack truck.

I love walking outside on a cool morning (it's been known to happen. Sometimes it's just to the mailbox. Whatev).

I love warming up with a mug of coffee, tea, or even better - apple cider!

I love taking the kids to pick apples at the orchard and making enough jars of applesauce to feed an army (or my kids through the winter. Same difference).

I love picking the perfect pumpkin.

I love wearing jeans and hooded sweatshirts.

I love warming the house up by baking.

I love anything made with pumpkin, especially pumpkin spice lattes.

I love freakishly warm fall days like we've had in the last week, when the mercury rises to almost 80. I banished the kids to the out-of-doors all week because I know it won't last. In fact, today was it.

I may cry when it starts raining tomorrow.

There are only three things I can possibly think of about fall that I DON'T love: the smell of burning leaves, the random rogue tornado, and the season that follows it.

Don't get me wrong, I like LOOKING at snow. I like skiing. I want a white Christmas.

But I don't like having to drive in it.

I don't like Hubby has to drive to work in it.

I don't like that we won't see a county plow on our road all season.

I don't like 2-hr delays or cancellations, because I have a 4-year-old who loves school.

I don't like being stuck in my house for weeks on end with my children. We all get a little squirrelly.

I don't like being cold all.the.freaking.time. Coffee consumption goes WAY up.

And if those pesky weather people are to be trusted, it's gonna be a doozy of a winter.

Great.

Let's hope it doesn't start next week.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crazy sports weekend

Anyone who knows me knows I try to do everything. I hate to say no. It applies to every aspect of my life, although now that I have two monkeys in tow, I do recognize their limits. But not my own.

ND Band
In June, we got information on how to apply for Notre Dame football tickets. (Yay alumni status!) We picked Air Force, a game that we thought wouldn't be 95 degrees or 35 and snowing, and one that we could get up to four tickets for (ie not a premium game. USC, for example, we could only get two). Lucky for us we got them, and asked another couple to join us.

Fast forward a few weeks from getting the tickets and planning the day, another friend texts me that she won the chance to buy four Colts tickets at work. We were the first people she thought of to join them. Flattering, but once I realized it was the day after our ND game, I got a little flustered. With one football game already a definite and me hoping to go to the Colts-Steelers game (alas, I did not) AND our trip to Florida at the end of the month, I didn't think our checkbook would speak to us if we did everything, never mind how we would feel after all the running.

But they asked us first. And Hubby can't turn down football tickets. I'm pretty sure it's in his DNA. And I would have actually had to say "NO." Huh-uh.

Touchdown Jesus!
But what to do with the monkeys? One quick call to Granny, who hadn't seen them in a while and was itching for some time with them, and we had a plan to meet halfway on Friday after school and do a kid-swap. That meant in addition to two football games, we also had a date night that didn't involve finding a babysitter. We went for a bike ride (which was WAY more fun before he started doing triathlons) and then went out for a late(r) dinner at the "new" Japanese steak house in town. We came home and watched baseball on DVR.

The Notre Dame game was something, especially since they shellacked Air Force (didn't see that one coming). I had fun and so did our friends, so I see doing it again next year. But it was a loooong day. After the game, our friend called her mom - who was watching their kids - to let her know we were grabbing a bite to eat before heading home.

But you ate before the game, her mom said.

"Mom, that was eight hours ago..."


We finally got home and should have gone right to bed since we needed to be up early to head to Indy, but we didn't. Shocker.

See this guy? Not
what you'd call a happy
camper.
The Colts game was fun, except for that whole "they can't win without Peyton Manning" thing. Luckily there was good people watching. We were sitting behind two women who were dressed like they did something unspeakable for a living. Tank tops, bras showing (when did THAT become acceptable?! I so don't get it) and leggings that were probably painted on. And their assets were anything BUT real. They had no idea what happens in a football game, so they kept turning around to ask Craig questions. A guy a few rows down pretended to take a picture of his son, but was really getting a picture of them. Classy.

A few seats down was Mike Ditka. Or his twin. I kid you not. If I had a little more guts, I would have sneakily taken a picture with my phone, because I know no one will believe me. He had the mustache, the sunglasses, the slicked back hair, everything. Who knew Ditka was a closet Colts fan?

We collected very hyper and overly tired children from Granny and Grandpa's house, and after another long drive home, we watched baseball on DVR. Another late night.

I loved it and I'm sure we'll do it again. Just hopefully not both games in one weekend. I'm looking forward to a hot date with my pillow tonight.

...After we watch baseball.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Family photo shoot

We had family pictures tonight. I like to think I'm a pretty good photographer, but the one thing I can't do well is take pictures of myself. Luckily I have a great friend who has her own business and enjoys corralling my howler monkeys and trying to force Hubby to smile.

She picked a local park and the kids were quite wound up, so there was a lot of running, yelling, adults fearing kids were going to fall into the water, stick and rock throwing and oh yeah, a few smiles. We even taught Steph how to play "Pooh sticks," but Leah and I didn't win.

I even remembered to have pictures of JUST me and Hubby. Steph sat the kids down on the ground near her so there was no fear of them running off, hurting themselves or otherwise distracting us from smiling and looking pretty. It was their job to make funny faces and make us smile.

Now I can't wait to see the pictures to know if it worked!

Last year's family photo. Wow, the kids have grown...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Car Dealership Fun

I went to the dealership to pick up my still-broken rear seat in the minuscule chance they might be able to force it open, thereby making it a seat again. They couldn't.

There must be a run on tan leather van seats, because they have to come direct from the manufacturer and could take 2-3 weeks, minimum.

Last week when we were there, I commandeered the TV and put on Disney to keep the howler monkeys at bay. This week, I didn't expect to be there long, and there was an older couple already watching the Game Show Network. Hmm. What to do.


Oh right... use the cute and innocent balloons the service manager gave us as weapons. After chasing each other around for 30 minutes, you'd think they'd take naps in the car on the way home.

Heck no. They were holding onto their balloons, waiting for round two.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Car after car

We are a teensy bit hard on our cars.

It dates back to the first car of Hubby's that I knew, a '92 Thunderbird. Actually, it wasn't just us, LIFE was hard on the T-bird. It had 180,000 miles on it by the end. Every part that could break did, at least twice. It was a two-door red boat and the doors weighed more than the rest of the car, so the hinges regularly failed. The passenger side handle was broken, so when the hinges went, Hubby had to lift up and close the door from the outside for me. Of course, it had automatic seat belts, so if the door didn't close tight, the seat belt wouldn't engage. My seat vibrated unnaturally for the 6-hour drive from Milwaukee to Indianapolis when gosh-only-knows what was broken and Hubby wanted his dad to help fix it.

I regularly cursed that car. I wanted it to come to a swift and painless end. I was close.

The weekend of his college graduation, Hubby and I were returning from signing our new month-to-month lease on an apartment when some yahoo decided to ignore oncoming traffic and turn left into us. We were fine, but the T-bird was far from it. The car was fixable, but since the odometer made the insurance adjuster's eyes bulge, he totaled it. 

Now I mentioned the month-to-month lease because Hubby didn't have a real job yet and I did. (Technically) So we were planning on living on my reporter's salary (HA! and savings) until something panned out. A new car was decidedly NOT in our budget. After years of wishing for its demise, I needed it to survive two more months before Hubby got a job and we moved to Indiana. 

Stupid T-bird. 

The T-bird's replacement was a Mitsubishi Montero Sport. We didn't hurt that one too badly, although my father-in-law DID forget we were parked in the driveway once and back into it. Think that one hurt his checkbook more than it hurt us.

I got my soccer mom mobile, a Subaru Outback, not long before I got pregnant with Nathaniel. I loved that car. When Leah was on the way, we sold the Mitsubishi and bought a mini van. Hubby got my Outback. I loved the van, but I had no problem taking his car when I'd go to work or out with friends. 

That is, until one night when I was running late to a meeting. I wasn't as cautious or observant as I should have been and it got me this: 


But I walked away with only bumps and bruises. Anybody who gives me grief about owning foreign cars, see above. That new commercial where the guy says, "A Subaru saved my life"? 'Nuff said.

So we borrowed my in-laws truck for about a month while we sorted insurance things out and car shopped. Hubby wanted a car that we would both like, but since we couldn't wave a  magic wand and bring back my Outback, there was no pleasing me. So he settled on a Mazda CX-7 and amazingly enough let me drive it. Brave, brave man.

Now my van has 67,000 miles on it and is acting a little squirrelly. The motor on the rear seat failed once, and was "fixed" under warranty. Allegedly. It failed again this summer and wouldn't go back to a seat after being stowed. The extremely helpful people at the dealership told me I needed a new motor and then failed to actually have the part when I dropped it off for an all-day fix. 

I got the van back, seat still broken, and put off calling another dealer because I knew it would be a headache to get fixed. In the meantime, I put a cooler into the back (with the seats stowed) and forgot to put the plug in. Water seeped EVERYWHERE. We dried it out the best we could, but once the next dealer took the seat apart to try to check the motor weeks later, he found that the inside was corroded and covered with mold. 

Great.

The same week of the water incident, Hubby backed into the dumbest stop sign at a local grocery story in his car.

Seriously?!

So we procrastinated some more. 

With our history in mind, I took a look at my van. I can count on one hand the number of times it's been vacuumed out in almost 3 years. I started feeling guilty. So I took one layer of dirt off with the shop vac this afternoon while the kids played. If the car is still running in the morning, I may wipe down the dash, doors and seats too. 

Hubby would like our cars to last more than two years, so I need to keep her happy.

My FIL suggested calling our insurance to see if they'd cover new seats, so instead of being out like $4,000 for JUST my van, it's only our $500 deductible. Times two, of course, for the new bumper on the Mazda. 

I think we might have a rate increase coming our way...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Back in the saddle

I'm baaaack!

Don't get too excited, I didn't go anywhere fun. Nobody was serving me fruity drinks with umbrellas in them while I sunned myself. In fact, that would be the exact opposite of the last six crazy weeks.

Even the most sarcastic and snarky person hits a funk sometime. It may or may not have had something to do with a certain birthday last month. I turned thhh... thhh...iiirr.... oh just ask my 4-year-old. He can't count to my age, but gosh darnit, he knows how old I am. Thanks go to my bestie's husband on that one. Good thing he's always gonna be a year older.

I'm not unhappy with my life, but that looming milestone had me thinking, "Okay, now what?"

We've been in the same house for a long time now. I am still convinced this lovely abode was designed by monkeys, but I have the kind of neighbors who will gladly loan a ride if I need it, ingredients for baking, ketchup when I forget to stock up for a cookout, tables for garage sales, kids to entertain my own and teenage daughters to babysit. And they're pretty awesome to hang out with too. The house would have to be falling down around us for me to move right now. And even that would give us a chance to improve what we don't like and still stay put.

With a few department shifts, Hubby has had the same job for even longer. But the economy sucks, so it's not like a) he's looking or b) he could find anything better. And c) see house argument.

So I've been feeling kinda stuck. I'm not sure what to satisfy that nagging feeling, and I turned away from what kept me sane for the last year - blogging. I shouldn't have.

My early birthday incident at the state fair - in addition to giving me literal nightmares for weeks - served a different purpose. Before that, my blog averaged 40 hits per day. When I shared my story about the Sugarland concert, I got 205 hits. Everyone I know who reads the paper (or doesn't) told me they read the blog/newspaper article and was moved. I forgot in all my school board meetings and fluffy business features that I do, in fact, have a gift with words. I can't waste it.

I may never go back to my old job, but that doesn't mean I have to put down my pen and walk away forever. I don't know how it will factor into my "next step," but that doesn't mean that it won't. I have to just learn to be patient and wait for the right opportunity to find me.

In the meantime, I'll be right here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A flock of fails

A lot of things in my life right now seem to fall under the "Well, it was a good idea at the time..." category.

1. Hubby went to a conference in Chicago for FIVE days. Normally I take that opportunity to high-tail it to a friend's house out of state, so I don't have to be cooped up with my howler monkeys by myself. I'd rather drag my friends down with me enjoy some quality time with friends I don't see often. But our schedule was too crazy and the thought of an 8-hour drive while missing a laundry list of things was too much for my already-frayed nerves. So I stayed home. With them. Like, the whole time. 

2. Well, almost the whole time. I got a new babysitter one night so I could cover a meeting for work and then swing by a bar to wish a friend a happy birthday. But the meeting went an hour longer than I thought. And since my sitter is 15 and it was a school night, she needed to be home early. No bar for Mommy. Night out fail.

3. I also got a text Friday from a friend/neighbor asking if I wanted to see a movie "tomorrow." I scrambled around and got a babysitter. My friend wanted to leave at 7. At 6:55, it didn't look like anyone was home at her house so I sent the "where r u" text. Uh, yeah... she got confused on her days and meant Sunday, not Saturday. So my big night out consisted of driving with two confused children to take a very understanding babysitter back to her house 5 minutes after she arrived. 

4. My disappearing, reappearing hip pain reappeared itself Friday, so I called my doctor and set up an appointment for the following week. To help in the meantime, I made Nathaniel do some Wii yoga "with" me and then iced it. Saturday morning I was as stiff as my 95-year-old Nana. Sunday was even worse. Today I would do anything to be able to stand upright. Self-rehab fail. 

5. When Hubby arrived home from the world's-longest-business-trip-in-the-history-of-ever, he brought a tub of Garrett's popcorn. It's sitting on my kitchen counter now, calling my name. It's supposed to be for me AND the kids. I could easily sit and eat the entire thing by myself. My new skinnier jeans would not be happy with me.

It's a good thing I can't stand up to get it...


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Little legs can go a long way

At the beginning of the summer, when we shoe-horned our kiddos into the bike trailer, we realized that while they hadn't hit the weight limit, but they had definitely outgrown the comfort factor. They couldn't sit next to each other without severely bumping shoulders. Whoever was unlucky enough to pull them on our bike rides got jarred as they poked, prodded, tickled and all-out tormented each other.

We decided we needed to look into a tag-along bike for Nathaniel. He could practice pedaling and hopefully build his confidence and take a break and let me or Hubby pedal if needed. Leah could have the trailer to herself. Easier ride for everyone. Right?

Well IF we would have actually bought the tag-along. We didn't. So family rides were few and far between.

Until last weekend. Hubby decided that after a week of zipping up and down our cul de sac with no training wheels, Nathaniel was ready for a ride on the "big" road. We loaded Leah up in the trailer and gave him explicit instructions to stay behind Hubby, with me following close behind, making sure he stayed to the side.

We were on the county road for maybe a quarter mile before we ducked into another neighborhood. He pedaled his little heart out and started asking to go again as soon as we got home.

Tonight he got his chance. After dinner, we checked radar, crossed our fingers and rode 1.25 miles along county roads and state road to the local hot dog and ice cream shop. Nathaniel claimed he was tired about a half-mile in... until we told him we were going to get ice cream. As Hubby said, "It always worked for my sister. She managed to get an extra boost of energy every time."

Nathaniel doubled his speed and followed all our (ie Hubby's) instructions. The strawberry ice cream gave him just enough energy to make it home, where he asked to ride more. Really kid?

I'm hoping the exercise means he'll sleep in tomorrow. I know I could. A Mom can dream, right?!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Getting the most out of our health insurance

Nothing says fun-filled-Friday like a trip to the ER.

I knew it was coming eventually. And I was pretty sure which one of my darlings would get the first trip.

And Momma was right. Although Leah did not need stitches, a cast, and hadn't fallen off anything, she wins the ER prize.

Turns out she needed the help of her big brother and two friends to get there.

It turns out they were playing "rescue" and taking turns pulling one person out of water, quicksand, a giant vat of peanut butter... or something. But when it was Leah's turn, the strength of a 5, 4 and 3-year-old on her little pudgy arm was too much. Or they got her at just the right angle. Dislocated elbow.

She came upstairs howling, grabbing her arm and climbed on me. I didn't see anything obvious, but she wasn't acting right. A quick call to my friend's hubby who is a doctor (SO helpful) confirmed what we feared.

Off to the ER we went.

The doctor tried to pop her elbow back in, but she was crying too much so he stopped. He ordered some Motrin for her to help with the pain and x-rays, just to be safe. As long as I didn't touch her arm, she was okay. She was really okay once I let her play Angry Birds. (Note to self: download kid games to iPod and/or phone BEFORE walking into a giant building where you'll have no cell signal to speak of. I had games before, but then the cell phone from you-know-where reared its ugly head and had to be wiped AND replaced. It was on the to-do list. Somewhere. Maybe.)

About an hour after the Motrin and 30 minutes after the x-rays, the doctor came back and popped her arm back into place. She cried and it took awhile before she would move it. Once the doc saw she could move it again, we were on our merry way.

Three hours, no bloodshed and I didn't have a nervous breakdown. And as long as we keep the pain meds on time, she'll be fine.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Big stuff

It's a good thing I didn't have to send Nathaniel off to kindergarten this week, when all our neighbor kids hopped on the school bus for the first time.

I don't think my nerves could have handled it.

Saturday morning, before the girls weekend from hell began, he went outside to play with Hubby and declared that he wanted his training wheels off of his bike.

Hubby raised an eyebrow and called me outside.

This wasn't our first foray into big kid bikeland, but we had initiated the other tries that ended with a lot of frustration for all parties involved. But since then, Hubby had moved the angle of the training wheels up so Nathaniel was forced to balance or wobble back and forth. He hated his bike for a week after that, but eventually got over it.

I had every bit of confidence in his ability - he has been riding with the training wheels barely touching for weeks. It's always HIS confidence that is the downfall. But he's branching out more and more, so I guess I shouldn't be shocked that he decided he was ready.

So after a shaky attempt at riding through our really-needs-mowed front yard, Hubby had him cross the driveway a few times. He let go of the bike after the first pass. Nathaniel didn't even notice that Daddy wasn't holding him. Within 10 minutes, he was speeding up and down our street, looking at everyone who was watching him and only half paying attention to the road.

After my girl friends and I left, he spent the rest of the day riding up and down the street, making sure every neighbor saw him. I am so proud of him.

But I can only handle one moment at a time. It's going to take me most of the next year to get ready for the school bus. I have a hard enough time wrapping my head around the notion that he will be FIVE in four months. FIVE!

Like I said, one thing at a time...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brownie Points

Sweets are my weakness. Hubby knows that. And he used it to his advantage tonight.

He was busy all day today volunteering with the United Way's Day of Caring building some little old lady a deck on her trailer. (I know, he's awesome and handy like that. It's one reason I let him stick around) Apparently the deck was quite involved - ramps and everything - so he stopped for 30 minutes for lunch and didn't look at his phone and then got right back to work. I had texted him mid-morning, figuring he'd eventually see it.

And he did. At 4:45. So he replied back that I shouldn't wait dinner on him. That's always nice to know.

But I was nice in my reply. I kept the grumbling to myself and left the howler monkeys to continue dismantling the basement while I started dinner.

As soon as I had their plates ready, both claimed stomachaches and went to the couch to watch cartoons. Normally, that doesn't fly in this house. But we didn't listen to Nathaniel last night at dinner when he said he wasn't hungry and saw his dinner revisited while we were still waiting on Leah to finish.

(Thank goodness we decided to eat on the patio. It's a lot harder to hose off my dining room floor. Although, when I have one of my architect friends design my dream house, I'm totally adding in floor drains. GENIUS! Hubby and I cleaned up the child and the table area and were about ready to yak ourselves. Leah just kept right on eating. I didn't realize my meatloaf was THAT good.)

So needless to say, we won't be forcing any meals in this house for awhile. But because they didn't eat, the kiddos went straight to bed after I ate and Phineus and Ferb was over.

I finally heard from Hubby at 7:30 that he was on his way and "What do you want for your understanding?"

Like he needed to ask.



I have their app on my iPod and just downloaded the Droid version yesterday. I can tell you what the flavor of the day is anywhere in the country, give you nutrition information - trust me, you're better off not knowing - and have it alert me when my favorite flavor (bananas foster) is on tap nearby.

SLUUURRRPPP!

The Wii Fit is totally gonna yell at me for that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Aftermath

I have talked about weekend hangovers before. Not the kind I used to get in college (and for that, my liver thanks me), but the ones where I look around the disaster that is my house and wonder "Whuck?!"

Mondays are not what you'd call my "productive" days.

Then there was this weekend. Holy Mother-of-all-craptacular-weekends. The house is the least of my concerns.

I'd like to say I'm doing fine. Trust me, about 50 people have asked in the last day or so. So many people have told me they rushed to their computer or phone after hearing the news because they knew I was there. I'd feel all warm and fuzzy and loved inside if I didn't still have the feeling like my stomach was closing in on itself.  But after rehashing it with so many people, talking about what happened is almost easier.

I said almost.

I still picture the rigging going down and still feel the knot in my stomach when I talk about it. I woke up at 4 a.m. because I was reliving it in my sleep. It's hard to play tough guy when your dreams say otherwise.

I teared up last night recounting the story for someone, because I mentioned how close we could have been, if only my friends had responded faster to the idea of surprising me. We would have gotten tickets earlier, and probably closer.

Talk about guardian angels.

I'm not sure what to do with my fears that have multiplied overnight.

Storms? Ya 1,000 times worse now.

Crowds? Dislike has mutated into fear.

Outdoor concerts? Yup, that's a new one.

The fear of storms is not new, but I will think twice before being outside for any length of time. I tried to check my phone and understand what weather was coming toward us, but I couldn't. I didn't have access to all the information that concert organizers did. I was excited and wanted to see the concert, so I pushed my nervousness aside. I thought it was just paranoia; that I was overreacting like normal. I trusted that someone was looking out for me and my fellow concert-goers.

Talk about reality check.

We weren't evacuated. People exited the grandstand in as orderly a manner as you could expect when we were all terrified. In an open area like that there were several ways to get out of the stands. But it was too late for everyone on the track. But I will pause before going to any inside venue with a large number of people. If I do go, you can be sure I will take stock of the exits immediately.

I love music. LOVE music. I want to be able to sit and enjoy a live concert, but I don't know how I'll be able to. And I can't picture listening to Sugarland without tears or feeling nauseous.

So much for happy birthday...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Girls weekend gone horribly wrong

Thanks to the glories of Facebook, most of you know where I was this weekend. No matter how I try, the reporter in me will never go away. Like my friend told me, I'm still a journalist, no matter how many times a day I ask "Do you have to go potty?"

Thanks to the managing editor for letting me share my story in my own words.

http://goshennews.com/local/x1555806825/Eyewitness-at-a-horrific-scene

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Party Planning 101

I am two days away from our annual cookout. The one that has the ability to run screaming for my room, so I can sit in silence and rock back and forth, hoping all the people in my house would magically disappear.

Me this week? Hells no...
To be fair, that's only happened once. We had everyone we invited actually show up and it rained, so there were 50 people in my house and garage.

It wasn't pretty. Well, for me anyway. I'm pretty sure everyone had fun, because they keep coming back.

The invite list is a little smaller, but with a few last minute adds, we'll be up to 40 this year. I think I can handle that. Weather promises to be mid-80s and sunny. Otherwise, I guess our friends will end up hanging out with the clutter in the garage. Whatevs.

I make the same things every year and let guests bring a dish (learned after year two). That way I only have to worry about feeding the overnight guests a few extra meals. I have my simple menu list written out and the grocery list made.

We've been a little stressed in our casa lately, so I'm desperately trying a new approach to party planning - don't worry. It's not going well. Hubby is still trying to nail down treatment of his ulcer (ugh, don't ask. I hate doctors right now), so even when he isn't doubled over in pain, he's exhausted. That means the prep falls to little ole me.

Right. No stress there.

So I swear, I am only cleaning my bathrooms and any surfaces that will come in contact with food. I will run the sweeper for the benefit of my overnight guest with cat allergy and attempt to chisel some of the kid-related mess off my dining room table.

I will not dust.

I will not deep clean anything.

I will not suddenly decide that picture that I've always wanted to go in *that* spot on the wall needs to be there NOW or any other house decorating projects that I've ignored for the last 11 months.

I will not painstakingly sweep, mop and scrub my dining room and kitchen floors for my children to promptly spill something or for 40 people to be traipsing over with grass and whatnot on their shoes.

I will not try a brand new recipe or add to my minimalist contribution to the food feast.

I will find a box and gather up all the random clutter "stuff" and hide it in my closet until they all leave. So if you want to know what my house looks like every day, feel free to nose in my closet. That is where random miscellaneous crap goes to die.

At your own risk, of course. Who knows what might fall off a shelf onto your head. Probably whatever I hid there last year.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Brickyard 400

I did something Sunday I never thought I would do.

I went to a NASCAR race without Hubby. Or his grandfather.

I still remember the first time I sat down to watch a race on TV with Hubby. It was the summer before our junior year of college and I was asking a lot of questions (as I tend to do) to try to understand what it was about racing that held his attention. I just thought it was a bunch of guys turning left forever.

Hubby has attended every Indianapolis 500 since he turned 13 and until now had only missed the inaugural Brickyard 400. His grandfather has been attending the 500 since the 1960s, and Hubby was the only one of his family who really got into racing, so has been at his side for years.

The following year I got to go to my first 500. I was hooked. There's something about being at the track, watching the cars whiz by at amazing speed and with the kind of high-pitched whine that the unruliest toddler can't rival. Helio Castronevez won that year, and famously climbed the fence.

Grandpa had enough clout to get a few more tickets so I could eventually go to the Brickyard as well. Hubby's favorite driver, Tony Stewart, won his first that year. The cars are so much brighter in person and if you close your eyes, you can feel your ribs vibrating when the cars drive past.

Every year, we get up early and head to breakfast. We talk about who's on the pole, who didn't qualify and I end up picking Grandpa's brain about the history of the race. The last few years, my brother-in-law has joined us as well.

I've frozen to death at the 500 and melted in the failed-tire-fiasco that was the 2008 Brickyard, when tires were blowing out left and right and they had to bring in the cars every 5 laps for new ones. I've seen 4 races pregnant, and wondered why I thought sitting in Indiana's 90-degree July heat was a good idea. I was keeping hydrated, but had to pee about every 10 laps. I saw Danica Patrick nearly become the first woman to win at Indy, when 250,000+ people were on their feet, cheering for a chance at history.

And the whole time, I had Hubby and Grandpa with me. I never met my grandfather, so he's as special to me as if he were a blood relative. But this year, after a terribly slow and painful walk into the track in May, Grandpa admitted his knees weren't up for the Brickyard this year. He's gonna talk to his doctor and see what he needs to do to be in top shape by the next 500. Can't let that nearly 50-year attendance streak die so easily.

Hubby stayed home with a mystery illness that we now know is an ulcer. Like HOME home. I drove to Indy without him. I couldn't believe that I was doing all the things we normally do on race day, just me and my brother-in-law. I was even more impressed that I remembered the back way into the neighborhood where we park, without needing my brother-in-law's GPS or the over-the-phone walk-through with a map in front of me that Hubby insisted on the night before. I couldn't tell you road names, but I knew exactly where I was going.

Hubby's cousin and her boyfriend used two of the tickets too. The four of us had fun, and maybe this was foreshadowing what is to come - the younger generation taking over. We probably won't wait until 13 before we take Nathaniel to his first race, if we have the opportunity. And I was kinda "in charge." I still feel like a kid a lot of the time, especially with family (never mind the fact that next month I'm turning th... thhh... well I can't say it, but that number after 29).

I texted Hubby throughout the race, knowing it pained him to be missing it, but I couldn't NOT turn to him when something happened. I had to have him to talk to.

And I hope I don't ever have to do that all again alone.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Civic Duty Fun (Fail)

Despite the fact that I tried to fill out my jury questionnaire last November in such a way that no attorney should want me, I got that darn summons anyway.

Hubby agreed to be on Mr. Mom stand-by and, sure enough, Monday night when I checked the voicemail message from the clerk's office, I actually had to show up.

Crud.

This is the second time I've gotten a summons in the six years we've lived in our house. Last time, that same message said no trial. Technically, the courts reporter at work told me the defendant was going to plead out first, but I checked just in case.

So I actually got up when my alarm went off and fended off children until Mr. Mom got out of the shower.


For the record, I had to leave him a note on what he needed to do - cat to the vet, laundry and thaw dinner. He got 2 out of 3. In one morning. I'll take that.

I drove the 17 miles to the courthouse, circled around a bit until I understood where I could park without being towed (signage would be GREAT, folks).  I eventually followed the small wave of people heading in the same general direction. I had left my weaponry at home, so the metal detector was easy (I am always afraid I'm gonna set them off. How lame am I?). Then I was off to sit in a room with 20-plus other people trying to look as boring and un-juror-worthy as possible.

After 30 minutes of waiting for everyone to show, the Bailiff started explaining a few things, fielded questions and then popped in a instructional DVD. While I got a refresher on high school civics, I was pretty well at ease. I could be a good juror, right? I listen, process information reasonably well and I'm never short on opinions. And my kids and Hubby would be no worse for the wear after a few days in Mr. Mommyland.

I was becoming intrigued by the whole process, I admit. I was looking forward to doing something that *might* require more brain cells than the SAHM gig.

When the video was over, the Bailiff came back and said there was something going on, that we might not be needed after all. There were a few murmurs as some tried to figure out what she meant.

Sure enough, she came back in followed by the judge and the prosecutor. The defendant had decided to plead guilty literally minutes before we were going to be numbered and herded led into the courtroom for questioning.

So I got $17 plus mileage for my time. I still had to come home, feed two howler monkeys lunch, fold laundry, entertain said monkeys inside lest we burst into flame out in the crazy heat, and prep dinner. And that does NOT count as my jury service for 2011.

I'm pretty sure I'll be getting another summons in the mail yet this year.That's how my luck goes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Payback

The doorbell just rang. It's 9 p.m. I was ready to chew out the unsuspecting, inconsiderate solicitor who came *this close* to waking my sleeping children.

I was mentally preparing my worst Momma Bear pissed off attitude when I opened the door and realized there were two teenage girls on my front porch. Before I could utter a sound, one girl looked at me with sudden realization and said, "I taught your daughter Leah in swim class."

Of course she remembers The Screamer. Doh.

I totally bought the coupon card she was selling. It was for a mission trip. For her volleyball team. Can we get a little more wholesome, please? Geez.

I don't think I really had a choice. My daughter screamed and kicked at her for 15 minutes straight three days a week for two weeks. I'm pretty sure that's not what she signed up for.

Leah has a different teacher this time around. The girl claimed she had a youth camp and couldn't teach this last session. Mmhmm...


Fear the Screamer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I am Freezer Mama, hear me roar

Y'all remember our adventure in freezer cooking last month? Despite confusing directions, inaccurate recipe amounts and general late-startedness, Hubby and I survived. Most of the meals were edible. A few needed more cook time. A few that I thought would be great were the exact opposite. Who would have thought that my kids would turn their noses up at mac n cheese made with ranch dressing and lil smokies? Not me.

Over the last month, I enjoyed having those meals to rely on when we had busy days, and made the task of creating a weekly menu that much easier.

But I wasn't sold on an exact repeat. Once Once A Month Mom came out with their July menu and nothing on their list knocked my socks off, I had a thought. I had a few recipes from last month I really wanted to do again and I found another healthy eating blog (80/20) with a lot of things that I wanted to try that were decidedly NOT freezer friendly.

And since I was intimidated by the 4 million-step process OAMM laid out, I decided to make my own rules.

I know, walking on the wild side. It's what I do.

We did breakfast/snack stuff: Breakfast burritos; Oatmeal bars; Honey-Yogurt Waffles and Zucchini cakes.

And main meals: Beef Chimichangas; Mexican Verde Casserole; Squash Mac n Cheese and shredded chicken for 2 meals we're going to do later this month.

The burritos and oatmeal bars were carry-overs from last month. The mac n cheese I have made several times. The others are new and it was fun to make the Salsa Verde for the casserole. I never knew what to do with tomatillos before. Now I know I can make salsa. So even if the cassrole is "eh," I still got something out of it.

I am not completely sold on the chimis. They smelled very vinegar-ey, which we hope will bake out. Our vinegar may have been a "smidge" past its sell-by date but it smelled like, well, vinegar. No harm, right? Well, we'll find out in a few weeks when it comes up in rotation. If not, there's always pizza delivery.

We lined up our ingredients on the dining room table again to allow for more workspace in the kitchen. Hubby did the cooking and assembly-line work and I did the baking, mac n cheese and the bulk of the dishes (not by choice. Grr). I put the chicken into the crock pot with water earlier in the afternoon to cook, but the rest we started at 8 p.m. Sunday and were done by 11.

I am totally hooked. Hubby likes being in the kitchen but doesn't often get the chance and I don't always enjoy cooking unless I have company. Now this is something we can do together that is a project, but isn't nearly as stressful as home improvement. Like our bathroom/laundry room project the week before Leah's first birthday... Ugh. Not gonna go there.

So now I'm telling you to scan through your cookbooks or browse online and find things you can make ahead and freeze. It's fun, I swear!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Slacker


And what the heck did YOU do while you were in college... geez...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Eye on the prize

After a busy and exhausting July 4th weekend, it's official. Summer is half over.

NOOOOO!

Okay, I'm better now.

I am what you'd call restless. If it were 2 degrees outside, I would blame cabin fever and trudge on. But it was 80-something today and gorgeous. Kiddos splashed in the baby pool for 2 hours this afternoon while I read and had half an ear in my iPod. Ahh, summer... right?

Well, kinda.

I'm hearing about people who are going here on vacation, or going there. There are people I know and friends of friends who have pools, boats, lake cabins or some of all of the above. We have The Other Woman. Not quite the same thing. And Mother Nature hasn't been supplying much wind on Hubby's free days, so she's been pretty dry. Not that you would catch me on her EVER.

I admit it. I'm green with jealousy.

But we don't have any kind of grand summer vacay planned this year for a good reason. We went to Colorado and skied for Hubby's 30th birthday (and visited amazing friends for THEIR birthdays) and we need to save some days until this winter.

You see, when we went to the home show in the Big City, I randomly filled out whatever drawing cards I could find. Hubby asked why.

"One of these days we're actually going to win something," I told him.

And gosh darn it, we did. A trip to Orlando and Daytona Beach. Seven whole days in Florida sunshine that we are squirrelling away for when the mercury drops and the snow flies.

That's what I keep telling myself. It'll all be worth it...


It's no cruise, but I'll take it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Legopocalypse

My son has a problem. With Legos. Specifically their heads. I've avoided discussing it here, mostly because it's kinda creepy, but I can't deny it anymore.

Hubby brought down his old Legos from the attic last summer and Nathaniel fell in love. My boys had a lot of great bonding time that involved son telling father which Lego plane/truck/space ship to build next. And then after a day or so, which one to repair after he played too rough or his little sister wandered into his room.

But while Hubby was busy reliving his childhood building, Nathaniel had to pass the time somehow. So he played with the Lego men. And took off all their heads. He tossed the bodies in with the rest of the random block and collected the heads in an old prescription bottle circa 1985 (no childproof cap - how on Earth did we survive?!).

Once he decapitated every last one, he had more than the bottle could hold. They were in a small red Lego wagon of some sort, and then after we added birthday and Christmas gifts, they migrated to a small book box.

What he did with them, I really can't tell you. He called it a game and mostly just dumped them out and put them back in whatever container they were living in that day. It drives me bonkers, so I try to ignore it. I resist the urge almost daily to spend my afternoon reuniting all the heads and bodies. Lord only knows how many have already been lost.

When Nathaniel's tractor-loving friend came to play Monday, the boys were content to harvest for hours. They worked mostly in his room, but by the time they came downstairs, the grain silo had something in it.

Yup, you guessed it.


Lego heads make good corn seeds. Or so I've been told.

That was fine by me, it just meant the heads were living somewhere new. Until I did laundry the next day.

When I pulled all the clothes out of his hamper, I found no less than five Lego heads. He admitted that the little sisters had come in during the harvest and it got a little rowdy. Somehow Leah's hippo pillow pet was to blame. Bad pillow pet.

I should have known I would keep finding heads everywhere.


This guy didn't make it out of the clothes in time.


Since he never uses the bodies, I have no idea how this guy even made it into the hamper. But he's nice and shiny clean and warm now.


I couldn't leave him all Ichabod Crane-ish, so I gave him some time together with his noggin. I carried the little guy up to Nathaniel's room and put it next to the head corn silo.

Poor thing doesn't stand a chance.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Swimming drama

If only I went somewhere fun while I was doing anything but blogging... yup, I was just here, being a scatter-train. (Name that cartoon reference)

I actually spent much of last week praying for storms to hit at about 5 p.m. Because, you see, my fearless Godzilla decided that there is, in fact, something she is afraid of.

Swimming lessons.

I was praying for a healthy dose of fear last year, when we had no floatation device small enough to keep on her and her favorite thing to do was just walk into the pool, whether an adult was ready for her or not.

Oy.


Day 1 went great. She hopped right in when her instructor called her name and even went under and swam a little. I was happy, because even my scaredy cat was doing well. Yes! Score one for mom on the swimming lessons.

Until the next lesson.

Leah went into the water fine, but about 5 minutes in she started to whimper. And then she got louder. By the end of her 15 minutes, she was howling to "Go back to Mommy."


Now I didn't see anything unusual. She was doing the same things she had happily done the lesson before, and I was trying to watch two kiddos at the same time.

The third lesson, the schmidt hit the fan. She howled as soon as I told her to get her bathing suit on. And the entire drive. She calmed down to watch her brother for the first half of his lesson. And then it was her turn.

Oh. My. Gravy.

Every lap she got more and more ramped up. Full-out, double-barrelled snot, hiccuping screaming. The kind where she sounded one gasp away from yakking. The instructor was fine to tough her out, but afterwards the owner asked me a few questions and then suggested I try to swim with her over the weekend before the next lesson on Monday.

Yaaa, that didn't happen.

I promised her she didn't need to go under the water if she didn't want to (that's our best guess why she was so upset). She practiced saying "I don't want to go under." But once I took her cover-up off, all bets were off.

She seemed to ramp up every time she saw me, so the owner gave me the OK to stay out of sight. I knew even if I had a suit, getting in would've solved nothing. So I spent 5 minutes hiding behind a hot tub. Every parent there had given me the "been there" look of understanding. One mom who had been sitting next to us nodded in my direction and gave me words that made my heart a little lighter.

"She's doing better."

The relief was short-lived. She started getting whiny again and may have caught a glimpse of me as I crept up to spy how Nathaniel was doing.

And then of course, we have to go back tomorrow. And there isn't a drop of rain in the forecast.

Maybe I should invest in ear plugs. And tissues. For both of us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Potterdate

With Hubby out of town on a business trip, I thought I could finally get a much-awaited movie date night.

With Harry Potter, of course.

I missed seeing Deathly Hallows Part 1 in the theaters because, well, life happened. So now, a month from Part 2's release, I am am parked in front of the big screen, snuggled under a blanket.

And when this is over, I will begin counting down until July 15.

Who's with me?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fail - Gardening edition

I was only sorta kidding last week when I talked about placing bets on how long our garden would survive. I saw the neighbor's cat pee in it once, but didn't need to get my old lady broom to scare any pesty neighbors away.

Apparently I should have been a bit more serious. We have the worst luck. No matter when we plant - early or late - we always end up with this.



This used to be my butternut squash plant. It was going to supply me with enough squash puree to figure out how to sneakily healthify my family with every meal.

Now, not so much.

See, we had a crazy cold spring. So Hubby and I waited to plant. And waited. And then we got busy, so we shoe-horned in a trip to the greenhouse and a planting afternoon. It was June, so I figured we were past the cool nights.

We certainly were... it hit 98 the next 2 days. All the water and wishful thinking in the world couldn't prevent this.


That used to be basil. A few plants did survive, so on goes my growing obsession with fresh basil in/on EVERYTHING. But I had 4? 6? to start so I will be severely hampered.

Then there's the peppers...

Hubby loves to make fresh salsa. Hubby's coworkers and our friends love Hubby to make fresh salsa. We haven't used peppers from our own garden since the first year we lived in the house. One year it's too cold, one too hot, one there was a fungus... you get the idea. Hubby picked this bell pepper plant specifically because it had the beginnings of a pepper and SURELY it could survive.

He picked four kinds of pepper plants. They all look like that.


But there will always be beans... Ah green beans, you always save the day. I think we could forget to water or weed or do anything useful and we would still be buried.

Green bean puree? Green bean salsa, anyone?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Aww, Mommy moment

I had an Aww, Mommy moment today at gymnastics class - besides the fact that my monkeys are pretty darn good listeners and very enthusiastic.

Nathaniel was sitting patiently in the chairs, watching Leah's class. Every time it was her turn, he stood up so he could see better and cheered her on. By the second time, another mom turned to me and asked if it was her big brother.

I couldn't help but smile. She told me it was great he was so into watching her.

"He was born to be a big brother," I said.

Turns out her little girl - who is only about 6 months older than Leah - and her big brother are about 2 years apart too. And despite all that mom has done, brother has very little interest in lil sis.

Man, did I hit the sibling lottery.


And they're darn cute too.

Monday, June 13, 2011

If at first you don't suceed...

I downloaded a massive update for my POS phone last week after 3 phone calls and more than an hour and half of my life that I will never have back on the phone with Verizon and Samsung. Hubby was getting stabbity about the whole thing, so I am still refraining from mentioning any of my phone's eff-ups foibles in his presence.

I was going to tell you all about the *ahem* struggles our garden is having. I snapped some pictures on my phone when we checked on it last night.

They are still on my phone.

You see, when I plug my phone into my computer, Nothing. Happens. Something is supposed to pop up to ask me if my phone and computer can talk to each other. I'm guessing that my laptop stole my phone's girlfriend or something, because my phone doesn't want to talk to the computer. Like never ever again.

I dared to ask Hubby about it, but lest he turn stabbity again, I took it away after a few screens didn't solve the problem.

I was willing to give the POS a chance, since I've actually held two conversations on it without doing anything wonky, but today kinda sealed the deal.

It's gonna be a long wait until Dec 2012.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Garage sale etiquette

I hosted a garage sale last weekend. I was tired of sitting in the garage and listening to a tired 2-year-old chatter incessantly by about noon on day 1. Day 2 was about 9,000 degrees by noon, so the sale did not last much past that.

I've done a sale almost every year since we moved in, and some things will never change. Here are the top five things that annoyed the snot out of me while people are traipsing through my garage buying or not buying my crap treasures.

5. Inevitably, one small child will suddenly have the pressing need to use the bathroom, which is a) right inside the garage, b) covered in laundry and c) in no way even remotely clean since I spent the previous week trying to assemble the garage sale. I am pleasant and accommodating, because, well, hello, my life revolves around pee, and someday I may have to do the same thing. Or find a bush, which we've proven my kids have no problem with.

4. I had black footprints on my kitchen floor after 3 days of all of us running in and out and in and out and in and out of the garage. Like my floor needs extra help to get dirty.

3. Moms, I can understand that letting your kid paw through the 25- and 50-cent boxes is how you can browse. That is why I put them out. But the least you can teach your kids to do is throw the rejects back INTO the box when you're done, instead of leaving everything laying in the middle of the floor. Seriously. But of course, these are the same mothers who leave clothes that used to be folded thrown willy-nilly across the tables. Hmm, apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

2. I had chairs to sell, and guaranteed, every person who spoke a language besides English sat on them, chattering away in Spanish or German, all the while teasing me that they MIGHT be thinking about buying them. NONE of them did. Thankfully someone did take them off my hands.

1. I had probably 2 dozen adult and kids' books for sale. The sign on the table clearly said 50 cents for adult books, 25 for kids books.

One woman browsed, picked up three books, asked me about the author and small-talked about mysteries before putting them down on the table to pay. I politely asked for $1.50.

"They aren't a quarter?" I pointed to the sign and explained, no, they were not.

"Oh then I don't want them. I never pay more than a quarter for my books. That's all I ever mark mine as. If you think you can get 50 cents for them, go for it honey."

And she walked out of the garage.

For the record, I sold almost all of them and my books are in excellent condition, so they're worth a heck of a lot more than 50 cents, you old bat.

I don't think I'll be too eager to have a garage sale next year.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Phone envy turned hatred -FAIL

Late last fall, I started getting itchy. More friends around me were getting smartphones, and while my phone had a qwerty keyboard and was "cool" when I got it, that wasn't cutting it anymore.

I was all but convinced that Hubby would NOT be a fan of me getting a smartphone since I'm home most of the day and have wi-fi available. I didn't have a great mp3 player and the idea of an e-reader intrigued me. So I talked Hubby into letting me get an iPod touch. He has never been a fan of Apple, but I can be convincing when I need to be.

I carried it around with me constantly. I love(d) it. I had game apps and books at my fingertips. I started actually downloading iTunes and using my iPod when I folded laundry (Pandora is my friend). I was content.

Then something changed. Hubby started getting the itch. He decided his phone wasn't cutting it anymore either. So one Saturday, we hit the Verizon store. I was in no way expecting to walk out of the store with anything. When we spend money, we debate it, think, talk, research and in all ways possible make sure we're making a rational decision. Sometimes he drives me batty, most of the time I know it's just how he operates and makes sure he's being smart. He will never run out and empty our savings account on something hokey.

But as odd as it was that he decided he wanted a smartphone, it was even stranger when he listened to the sales guy's pitch on the HTC Thunderbolt and was sold. Another saleswoman had grabbed an iPad and shuffled our hellions darling children off to a corner to read and play games so we could think without them trying to dismantle the store.

I was caught. I had no excuse. Now I was the one wishing for time and research and a confident answer. The "dumb" phones were sucky so I pointed at a random smartphone. The sales guy asked why. I was thinking, "Dude, because I want you all to leave me alone and get out of this fricking place." I mumbled something and he pointed me to the Devil's phone Samsung Fascinate. It wasn't as bulky as what Hubby had picked out and looked OK. Sales Guy said his girlfriend had it and loved it.

Fine. Whatever. Done.

I asked how long I had to return it if I found out I absolutely hated it. Sales Guy said 15 days. Fair enough.

On Day 16 (I kid you not), all heck broke loose. The screen stopped going to sleep when I'd put it to my ear, so my ear would mute calls, end calls, go to apps or pages that I couldn't do while on the phone thereby ending calls, and in other words, made it impossible for me to use it AS A FREAKING PHONE. I tried calling Verizon's help one night and got nowhere because I was not listed as a primary on our account and Hubby wasn't home. I updated my system with a download that took TWO HOURS and actually, crap got worse. My calendar stopped working and it was combining contacts with similar names (Thanks phone, my mother-in-law and my best friend from elementary school are in fact NOT the same person and their names are NOT spelled the same.)

I started standing perfectly still, not doing anything else while on the phone and it is STILL effing with my calls. I am at my wit's end. I can't use my phone for work anymore, because I will look oh-so-professional when I mute them and can't get it to let me talk. And what mother can talk on the phone without doing 4,000 other things at the same time? At that rate, I won't have a conversation until my kids are teenagers.

I am done. I am only answering calls on speakerphone (so if you call me, sorry) and Hubby changed me to a primary on the account so I can go raise heck. Now if only I knew what phone would let me do all those cool app-ey things AND still talk to people. You better believe I won't be asking any sales people.

Monday, June 6, 2011

To Pee or Not to Pee

I am sick and tired of bodily functions.

I have one child almost completely potty trained and the other who we are trying to force help stay dry at night by taking away his crutches pull-ups. This means a LOT of wet, smelly, laundry. In case laundry didn't suck enough, pee ups the suckabilty quotient to a billion, at least.

Nathaniel has good days and bad. If he is really tired, he sleeps harder and there is laundry to be done. Oh the smell! I swear I can still smell it on his shorts after they've been through the wash. My nostrils are ingrained with the smell of pee. And I thought diapers were bad!


Leah is doing remarkably well keeping her big girls dry. Now if only she would keep them on. She felt it necessary to lift up her shirt and start to pull down her pants at the coffee shop this morning to show my bestie her "Minnies."

I just heard her get up out of bed, go potty, and never heard her leave the bathroom. Then the whimpering began. I found her pant- and diaperless, laying on the bathroom floor half asleep.

"Leah baby, what's wrong? What are you doing?" I asked as I scooped her up.

"I pee."

"Okay, you had to pee. Are you done?"

"Yeah."

"Then why are you laying on the floor?"

Pause.

"Cause I am."

Right. "Can we go back to bed now?"

"No, I done sweeping."

"No, no you're not sweetie. C'mon."

Oy.

But now it is summertime, and apparently I need to worry about pee outside as well as in.

This weekend during our town garage sale, my kids were alternating between playing at our house and the neighbors' with their kids. My friend and I had been randomly texting each other from our garages so we didn't have to shout across the yard like hilljacks. One from her said this:

I think Nathaniel just peed in our yard.

Oh Lord help me. My friend's sister had the best view of the yard, and apparently he decided to take a break from pulling a wagon around and just drop his pants, do his thing, and get back to playing.

I am still shaking my head. My friend thought it was flippin' hilarious... because it wasn't her kid! Okay yeah it would be funnier if 50 extra people weren't going up and down our cul de sac at the time. And if what he did wasn't contagious. In case I ever doubted that Leah pays attention to her big brother....

The next day, Hubby had pulled the Other Woman out of the garage so the kids could get to their toys better and left it at a 45 degree angle in front of the third bay. We were both in and out and Hubby was checking on dinner on the grill.

I was inside cleaning up when Nathaniel came running into the kitchen.

"Mom, Leah's peeing!"

Now this could have meant any number of things, but it actually was what I was afraid of. She was in the garage readjusting her pants when I got to her. When asked where she peed, she pointed to a puddle on the driveway right in front of the third bay. THANKFULLY it was shielded from the street by a bush and the Other Woman.

How she didn't pee on herself I will never know. The girl is good.