Thursday, June 30, 2011


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.


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


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?"


"Then why are you laying on the floor?"


"Cause I am."

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

"No, I done sweeping."

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


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.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why freezer cooking?

Yesterday I told you a little about our adventures in mass cooking. We did finish up what didn't get done Friday, although the "twice baked" potatoes became "throw them into two freezer bags" potatoes because the skins weren't holding up. That was probably completely user error - they were baked in two tries and then sat until they were cold - not just cool to touch - since Hubby was SAILing and I was garage SALEing all day. (I know, that was bad. I'm done now.)

Besides becoming my Nana, freezer cooking presented another kitchen hurdle that I could attempt to overcome. This from a girl who at one point could not make Jell-O or box mac n' cheese. Blink. Blink. Yes, let that one sink in a bit.

So I've come a long way. I feel more comfortable baking than cooking (my oatmeal cookie debacle notwithstanding) but necessity has made me try new recipes. Eventually, after a few hundred times I just dump things in without measuring and they taste pretty alright.

I hate to say it, but sometimes I actually... like cooking. So getting a ton of meals out of the way in one swoop is more like a "hey look what I can do" than eliminating a chore.

But if you want to talk about chores I HATE, then I could get even more on board with only doing them once a month. The consequences might be a bit extreme...

Once a Month Dusting - Oh, wait, I already do that... Shh, don't tell!

Once a Month Litter Box Cleaning - Tigger would run away or sprout opposable thumbs so he could do it himself. Hey, now that doesn't sound so bad!

Once a Month Dishes - As soon as somebody invents paper pots and pans that won't burn my house down, I'm all over that like white on rice.

Once a Month Laundry - I think I would need a washer and dryer the size of my kitchen to take care of my kids' and Hubby's dirty, smelly clothes. And we'd need a crapload more underwear. Yikes. Maybe not...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Freezer cooking, take 1

A friend from college - who is far more crunchy than I am (that's a good thing) - mentioned on her blog that she had stumbled upon a "once a month" cooking web site and was going to try it. I was intrigued.

My Nana always had a freezer stocked with food, just in case a swarm of hungry people descended on our house unannounced. Soups, pie, bread, jelly... gosh only knows what was in there when my aunt moved her out of the house. Now that we have a full-size upright freezer, I feel like I could be using it more. For the rouge swarm, you know. Or when my kiddos have me outside enjoying the summer and I don't feel like really preparing a meal.

Yes, I'm slowly turning into my Nana. She is 95, deaf as a doornail, sharp on occasion and can still drink a beer a day. I think I could aspire to worse.

This web site my friend found puts out new recipes each month ( so when June's came out last week I decided to jump in. Hubby had agreed to help - he loves being in the kitchen and is the take charge, organize kind of guy. He keeps me from getting flustered and is actually a better cook than I am.

The best chance we had was shoehorned in after a Friday night grocery trip and the kids were in bed. How many meals could we squeeze in before midnight with no prep ahead of time? The lucky number was 9.5. We did 3 breakfasts, 3 pastas, 2 kinds of burgers and a chicken dish. The twice-baked potatoes were not quite baked the first time and we weren't prepared to wait longer, hence the half dish.

Now this web site is thorough, but we had a hard time with a few things. A few of the recipes had amounts that were wonky - one burger recipe called for 2 lbs of beef, the other 4 lbs. How does that make sense? A lot of things were measured by cups for easy dividing or multiplying in a spreadsheet, others in ounces. What is 21.33 oz of pasta? Was it by weight or volume? We guessed and changed a few amounts on the fly when it didn't seem right. And by "we," I mean Hubby.

I had to ignore the month's grocery list because I wasn't making everything and I couldn't figure an easy way to delete the ingredients I didn't need. So I made my own. Annoying, but tolerable.

The list of instructions that was supposed to help figure out the order of our recipes got chucked after two dishes because there were steps missing. Really annoying for someone who is not naturally organized and doesn't handle "new" well.

One recipe didn't seem like it would spread to two 8x8 pans (spaghetti pie), so we ended up making just one. It will be a big meal for us, but it can be dinner for all four of us and several days of lunches for Hubby and I.

I don't want to give a full grade until we actually taste the meals (although they smelled pretty good), but I'm leaning toward "C." The process and the specifics were iffy, which is what I needed help with most. That meant that Hubby took the reins and ended up doing more than I did. That isn't why I wanted to do this experiment.

The high points: I appreciate the meal ideas and hints on how to freeze and then heat/reheat. I love the breakfasts. Hubby may actually grab an egg sandwich or breakfast burrito on his way out the door and we can mix up the cereal, oatmeal or toaster waffle rut the kids and I get in.

Next time (yes, there will be a next time), I will try to put my thinking cap on and not follow the letter of the site. I'm not great in the kitchen (I am getting there), but I can try to figure out when things don't seem right. The idea is to watch sales and stock up on ingredients when there is a deal. Since we were in a time crunch, that wasn't possible this time. Speaking of time, I'd like to start BEFORE 8 p.m. I didn't hit a wall until 11:30, really, and all that was left then was bagging the last few meals and clean-up, which was waiting for me bright and early this morning.

So for anyone who is curious, we used mostly the "traditional" menu : raspberry breakfast cake, bacon hash brown wraps, sausage mac n cheese, bacon cheeseburger chicken, ranch burgers, green chili burgers, and garlic chicken farfalle. Left to go tonight are the sneaky stuffed potatoes, buffalo chicken sandwiches and peanut butter pork kabobs, which are mostly assemble and freeze. From the "whole foods" menu, we made spaghetti pie and oatmeal on the go bars.

I encourage you to try it! Nobody can feel as lost as I do in the kitchen sometimes and I survived, so take a chance. And if you live closer than my college friend, maybe we can cook together sometime.

Or maybe I'll let Hubby do it and I'll just eat what's in my freezer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

You and me baby ain't nothing but badgers...

There is nothing better to do on a sunny, 70-degree day than go to the zoo. My kids are obsessed with animals and I get an entire hour of silence (sometimes) in the car on the way home. Next time, I'm totally going through the Starbucks drive thru before we leave the big city. It'd be almost like being on my own coffee date. Winning!

I try not to brag about my kids like they are the smartest in the history of ever, but Nathaniel remembered a lot of the animals from our last visit a few weeks ago. He has trouble pronouncing "zebra," but gosh darn it, he remembered the honey badgers.

I said I had a headache!
But of course, we all will after today.

My darling children waltzed up to the badgers' area and he said, "Mommy, look, it's the honey badgers."

Before I had a chance to compliment him on his memory, I realized that someone should have hung a Do Not Disturb sign on the glass. They were doing it like they do on the Discovery Channel. My jaw dropped. I glanced at my friend who was covering her mouth and laughing.

Our kids, aged 4, 3, 2, and 1, had front row seats. 

"They're just wrestling," she said before any of the kids could even ask. Of course, Mrs. Badger wasn't so much participating in the "wrestling." Typical.

The kids continued to stare until Mr. Badger passed out on top of Mrs. Badger.

"Well I guess they're like humans after all," my friend said.