Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Home sweet gone

Who ever said you can't go home hit the nail on the head. You can try, but you won't find who, what or where you're looking for.

"Home" hasn't been the same for me since Dec. 31, 2004. My grandmother was still in the same house I grew up in, but there was a hole where my mother should have been.

No woman in her 90s should be living alone, particularly in a neighborhood that was graying and going downhill. A few years ago, my aunt sold her house and my grandmother's and found a townhouse that would fit both of them - mainly less stairs for Nana to negotiate. But it wasn't in my hometown, so all of our visits "home" wouldn't be to the place I knew for 18 years.

With a "For Sale" sign looming, I went back to the house to say goodbye. It was smaller than I remembered. I stood in the living room and bawled. It hurt that my children would never be able to go back to where Mommy was a little girl. It hurt that I couldn't come back and find Mom and Nana waiting for me; one succumbed to cancer, the other to the creeping shadow of old age. I was mourning Mom all over again.

The house sold quickly to a young couple and I was hopeful that they would fix it up and call it home for a long time to come.

I was wrong. It's on the market again.

From the looks of the pictures online, the owner took down the paneling in the dining room and painted over it in the living room. The shutters are down, replaced with new curtains. I didn't recognize my bedroom because the last I saw it, it had pale pink walls (a leftover from the five minutes when I was 10 that I actually liked pink) and fugly green carpet Nana picked out after I moved out. The other bedrooms got fresh coats of paint as well.

It's one of three houses on the block for sale and there are countless more in the neighborhood. I'd like to think that this time someone will fall in love with the house and make it their forever home.

I doubt it. Call me a cynic.

I call it loss of innocence. A loss of "home."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Overheard at my house: Ignorance is E. coli

This was an actual honest-to-goodness conversation held in my kitchen last night as Hubby and I unloaded the dishwasher. We were debating the merits of our small white plastic cutting board.

Me: This cutting board is gross. Can I just pitch it?

Hubby: No. It's sterile.

Me: Do you want to eat something that was cut on that?

Hubby: Yes. Do you think the black one is better just because you can't see it?

Me: Ignorance is bliss.

Hubby: No it's not. Ignorance is still E. coli.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Menu plan Monday... Freezer Edition

Once upon a time, a friend from college (who screams uber-organized-on-top-of-things momma) turned me onto freezer cooking. The concept intrigued me: spend one night in the kitchen and take the effort out of cooking for quite a few days during the month. I don't really enjoy cooking, so if that's one chore I can get out of the way, awesomesauce.

There are countless cookbooks and web sites dedicated to how to do it. I tried one, which after our first attempt led to a slight revision. Moral of the story: we can do it "better."

But that was last summer, and we really haven't done more than freezer breakfast burritos since then. I'm not sure if it's the sunshine and warmer weather or the spring fever that makes me want to attempt crazy things in the kitchen, but I'm ready for Round III.

It helps that I'm over the super woman "I can do this, no problem," attitude when it comes to cutting out dairy and I'm back to "Oh woe is me..." I hid in a corner yesterday at our friends' son's birthday party because the food options were pizza (my favorite), Cheetos and Doritos. Hubby scolded me for not eating and commandeered some leftover boneless chicken wings for me. I was talking to someone at the time and had every intention of ducking home for a quick PB&J or something, I swear.

Once a Month Mom has a gluten free/dairy free menu every month, and I've been having trouble finding good comprehensive web sites that can help me plan a month's worth of meals. I need someone to take at least SOME of the effort out of it for me.

So I'm back to where I started, but with one difference: I know better. I'm not going to follow their amounts or instructions to the T. I had Hubby look over the amounts for doubling each recipe last night and helped reign me in and be realistic.

I have three lunch recipes for me and four dinner recipes (that we will eat twice - hopefully). I have a massive grocery list that I will NOT be attempting with both kids because it's spring break and I'm not insane. It may be a run to the store tonight after dinner or bed. We'll see.

I also have no idea when we'll actually be cooking. My thought is to do it in two stages this week: one night for lunches, one night for dinners. All in one night proved to be too much last time. And Baby kinda zaps my energy by the kids' bedtime anyway.

I still have a list of dairy-free meals to fill most of April, but I haven't put pen to paper to know exactly what we're eating when. But it's only 9 a.m. on Monday, so I think I have some time to figure that out today.

But I'll need more coffee.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A short note on school

We went to parent night tonight. It won't be our last (and I think the teachers are equally excited at the prospect of two more), but it's hard to believe Nathaniel is almost done with preschool.

He sang and danced his little heart out... well, at least I'm pretty sure he did. He definitely did for the last two songs, which is when we could see him. My boy is not what you'd call "tall," so you can always find him in the front row.

Except that tonight the 3/4 class stood in front of the 4/5 class. And yes, the little girl in front of him was taller.


His teacher asked us afterward if we could see him. I admitted we could once the little class joined their parents. She laughed and apologized.

"I am so sorry! I tried to make eye contact with him at one point and I was like, 'Where IS Nathaniel?'"

Yup. That's my boy. He already thinks he's big stuff. Never mind that he's barely 3.5 feet tall.

And in a few short months, he'll be off to kindergarten. On a bus. All day. Where I will have no idea what he is doing and learning, but I'm sure I'll hear about lunch and recess.

Where there will probably be lots of little girls taller than him.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Overheard at my house: Potty tales

My darling girl went next door to watch her brother and the neighbor boy play basketball. A few minutes later - when I was on the phone, mind you - she returned.

"Mommy, can I go potty at Bev's house?"

"Honey, do you have to go potty?"


"Okay, you're here. Just use our potty."

"But I want to use their potty."

"Well why didn't you ask Bev to use her potty?"

"But I can't open the door."

"Well next time ask one of the boys to open it. But for now, use our potty."

We went back and forth like that for a minute before I gave her a Look and the wailing began. "But I don't want to!!!"

I was on the phone with my Thirty-One director and she absolutely lost it. I think my children and I both amuse and frighten her.

I feel the same way.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Overheard at my house

All the warm weather means the few flowers I didn't manage to kill last year are starting to come back. In most cases, they're buried under the dead growth from last year (it's on the to-do list, I swear), but my bulbs are coming up for the second year in a row! Score!

Leah noticed the daffodils (and something else... I forget...) were starting to show above the mulch.

"Mommy! Your flowers are growing! They need water and sunshine and wuve"

"Water, sunshine and love?"

"Yup. That what Quincy says on Einsteins."

If she follows that advice, she may have more of a green thumb than her Momma. My plants have hope.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Overheard at my house: Untle Mino

My darling girl is destined for speech therapy. For all my fretting and worrying over my barely-verbal son who could now talk anyone into the ground, she is the stubborn one who I think needs help.

She's willing to work with me for about three tries and then she shuts down. We're getting closer on "l." Next up is "r" but the sounds that you make in the back of her throat - c, g, k - are no go.

She's pretty good at pronouncing words that don't contain any of those. Put a lot of them together and it gets interesting.

"Daddy when awe you donna be done with your Untle Mino?"

Hubby, through snorts of laughter: "My El Camino? Not for a while, Baby Girl."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bouncing baby... fever

Ahhh baby fever, what a wonderful thing.

I've had direct contact with two squishy, wonderful babies in the last week. All I can say is, it's a good thing we're having another, because I want to have another.

We visited a friend at the hospital this week who had her first baby early that morning. They were old-fashioned and didn't find out what they were having, so I was itching to hear the news - boy or girl? I guessed boy and I was right! As soon as I heard, I couldn't wait to get my hands on that fuzzy, squishy bundle of baby boy. Luckily my friend didn't mind some visitors.

My kiddos fought in both cases over who could hold the baby first and for the longest and again and again. I had no doubts about Nathaniel being a fantastic big brother again, but for my little princess, I had reservations. 

Not necessary.

Having a boy in the middle of the night sounds a lot like where Hubby and I were, more than five years ago. Nathaniel arrived at 3:16 a.m. just past his due date and after 17 hours of labor. (my friend was in labor 30 hours. She wins.)

There is nothing quite like holding your first born. Hubby and I enjoyed that early morning surprise (as much as we could on zero sleep) and I remember loving the feeling that the three of us were in our own little bubble. As much as I loved snuggling with him, and especially letting him sleep on my chest, I was so happy and proud of my little man, I was happy to hand him off to anyone who wanted to meet him.

Then there were the sleepless nights, the fretting over nursing - oh to have known he was tongue-tied, mastitis (twice), the relief over switching to formula, the two weeks relying on family for help when Hubby had to go to Switzerland for work and all of the chubby, drooly love.

There's nothing quite like your first.

Or your second.

And I'll get back to you later this year, but I'm pretty sure there's nothing like your third.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Parental victory

My kids do hilarious things sometimes. That's part of the reason I started doing this - half to remember the insanity of their toddler/preschool years and half to share it because it's too freaking funny not to.

Many times, it's the mental head-slap moments when my kids are repeating or mimicking me and Hubby gives me a raised eyebrow that says 1,000 words. A little less than a year ago, it was my television-watching habits that came back to haunt me. Here's what I'm talking about:

Parenting Fail - The News Edition

My kids are pretty observant. As soon as Nathaniel could say "choo-choo" he knew exactly where every set of tracks was near our house. He now knows all of the important stores in our life: Walmart, Target, Starbucks... ya know, the staples. He is a walking, talking game of 20 questions.

Both munchkins love cartoons, but we also watch a lot of Food Network, DIY, HGTV, Discovery and Science Channel. They are equally as likely to be zoned out on a weekend morning to Mickey Mouse as to How It's Made. What can I say, I married an engineer?

In my former life, current events and the goings-on of the world was pretty darn important. I still like to know what's happened in the real world, so our TV auto-tunes to the local news everyday at 5, and if I have my way, it stays on the same channel until the national news is over.

But obviously I need to start shuffling to CNN during the day, because my children - despite all my efforts - are lost.

Nathaniel was going to curl up on the couch with Hubby while I cleaned up from dinner. Hubby had switched to BBC America to watch "Top Gear" and a commercial showed a clip from an upcoming news program.

"Look Daddy, it's Dr. Phil," my beloved cherub said.

It was President Obama.

DOH! Mental head slap.

I don't know, you tell me... was he close?

Flash forward to tonight. 
Nathaniel and I were curled up on the couch, watching the "first" round of the NCAA tournament when the camera kept flashing over to the President (and Britain's Prime Minister). Nathaniel asked me to pay attention to the screen to see "this guy."
"Who is that, Mommy?"
"That's the President of the United States. President Obama."
 "Oh. Obama."


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fresh out of snark

Sorry folks, I have nothing funny or even remotely humorous to say today. I hope you'll forgive me.

And while you're deciding to hate me or give me a second chance, say a quick prayer (or whatever works for you) for my friend. There's a medical crisis in her family right now and I hate sitting by without being able to help. I've offered my shoulder to cry on, my ear to listen, and food when she doesn't feel like cooking. That's all I can do, but it doesn't take away the pain and uncertainty.

I know she would do the same for me.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Menu plan ...Tuesday?

Is it really Tuesday? I think I was here Monday but I blinked and then it was an hour past my bedtime. That's been known to happen on the day we get back from a trip/community band board meeting day/a day I realize I haven't done any work in a while. It wasn't pretty.

And I kinda freaked when I realized that I needed to make a lot of dairy-free recipes for yours truly this month. Lucky I have some good friends who talked me down on Facebook and gave me good ideas.

So here we are a day late and a dollar short, but it is what it is...

Monday: Fend for yourselves, which meant mac n cheese and green beans for the monkeys, fried eggs and toast for me and whatever Hubby could find before band while I was in a meeting.

Tuesday: leftover enchiladas from the weekend

Wednesday: grilled flank steak with lime marinade (new)

Thursday: shrimp fried rice

Friday: on the road to the in-laws for my nephew's birthday

I have all of March on the calendar, so let's see if I can make a list and get to the store while the boy child is in school. I am cautiously optimistic...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Overheard at my house: Sharing with friends

An oldie but goodie for you to enjoy while I'm sipping hot tea under a blanket, watching snow and reading a book or 12. 

"Daddy, is John coming over to help you move my closet?"

"No, Kirt is."


"Yup. How do you like them apples?"

"What?! We're giving them some of our apples?"

No, but I still have plenty of jars of applesauce to share.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I hate my car. No really, I do.

It was an Alexander kind of day. You know, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"?

Me and him, we're like THIS.

My wonderful, loving, supportive Hubby ran to the store last night after I got home from shadowing my director at a party. We needed a few last-minute things before our annual ski trip with friends and he knew the last thing I wanted to do was take the kids in the morning.

But I ended up doing it anyway. See, he didn't get salt. And we were out. Completely, totally out. Not a grain to be had in my house. Made making pancake mix a smidge difficult.

So when I finally dragged myself and the monkeys out to mail a package, hit the library and get ONE thing at the grocery store, I missed a telltale sign that we were going nowhere. A massively flat tire on the right rear of my van. At least when I started the van, she yelled at me.

"Hey dumbass! Your tire pressure is SEVEN. You ain't goin' nowhere."

No really, that's what she said. She's tired of me bad mouthing her all the time. Just because the seats didn't work and now they don't match and smell like new plastic, or the headlight is temperamental, or the radio loses ONLY my presets, not Craig's, or every once in a while it acts like there's no power steering...

Sorry. I digress.

My only saving grace was that we haven't returned the Grandparents' pickup that brought the New Other Woman home. I squeezed two kid seats into the front with me and we were off. Slowly. I'm not what you'd call a truck girl. I swung her wide and parked far away from everyone else at the library but got brave at Kroger. Darned if I didn't park it PERFECTLY between the lines and with about a foot to spare between the hood and the car across from me. Score.

But of course, there was still my van. Hubby came home early, tried to get enough air in it to drive and could instantly hear the hiss. When he backed it up to see the culprit, we found this:

I have replaced and/or patched that same tire FIVE times now in the three years I've had the van. The first was the week after we brought it home. I should have taken that as a sign.

This car really, really hates me.

And she was due for new tires anyway, so $800 later, we can drive to Michigan for our ski weekend.

Starting out to be a damn expensive weekend...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Overheard at my house

My darling children planned their next activity while sitting in the living room with me, petting the dog.

"C'mon Leah, let's go play in your room."

"No, I don't want to. Let's play in your room and close the door."

"Why? So you can climb on my top bed while Mommy's not looking?"



Excuse me. I just heard a thud.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Menu plan Monday and the why

We've been tightening our belts around here after surviving Christmas and two birthdays within a month of each other. I think my credit card might be speaking to me right now, but I'm not sure. It got a workout.

Every month or so, Hubby will look at the finances and tell me where we fall in a number of categories. Eating out is always our downfall, especially Hubby's lunches at work. But the one category that I have complete and yet zero control is our grocery budget. When he reads me the number at the end of the month, it boggles my mind. It makes me mad. I shake an angry fist at the people who keep jacking up food prices (yes, I get that it is a domino effect and they're not doing it for shits and giggles. Let me have my rant). I watch for sales! I use what coupons I have! I buy generic! What the hey!?

I've been planning my meals by the week for awhile now, thanks to a friend who set up a Facebook group for planning and ideas. It's cut down immensely on the "oh crap everything is frozen what the h-e-double hockey sticks are we gonna eat" nights that end up in take-out. Or the afternoons of me flipping through my recipes and sighing heavily when nothing sounds good.

In January, we took it up a notch: a MONTH of meals, so that we could do one big trip for everything I'd need for the month except for milk and produce that wouldn't survive that long.

It was a success in that I stuck to the plan pretty well, which was great since it took all my energy to even make dinner most nights. The downside is that it still didn't save us all that much. Of course, we had a run to Sam's in there for TP and paper towels and other stuff that we won't need for months. I'm blaming that.

February is almost over and I've stuck to the plan again, but I haven't seen the bottom line to know if we've really saved.

I'll keep doing it for next month too, but it's going to get a little more interesting. Hubby wants to stop stock-piling so it's less to worry about if/when we move. It'll be a short enough distance that we don't need to worry about the freezer, but a full pantry will just be a pain. So no more massive cereal-buying sprees when it's on sale and I have coupons. (Hubby had a bowl for a snack last night and said, "Is it bad that the cereal pile (on top of the pantry) is so high I have to jump to get the one I want?")

And on top of all that, last week No. 3 decided s/he wasn't too keen on dairy, which has made meals and snacks harder for me. Doc says it would be strange for lactose issues to just show up, and said it may be a phase. Um, are babies really allowed to have phases in utero?

So this week, we are mostly dairy-free (Tuesday will be interesting).

Monday: Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and green beans
Tuesday: Chicken and rice casserole and salad
Wednesday: Pork chops, stuffing and a veggie
Thursday: Spaghetti with smoked sausage, garlic bread and salad
Friday-Sunday: ski trip with another family. I'm making enchiladas for one dinner and bringing pancake mix and a Butter Braid for breakfast contributions.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The New Other Woman

In the midst of our holiday craziness, my darling, wonderful Hubby found himself a new project. A New Other Woman. Another woman who is available year-round, unlike the first Other Woman, who has been relegated to a friend's barn in the off-season.

Once again, she's older, bigger and will become a giant suck of time and money. And once again, being the thoughtful, kind wife that I am, I approved.

Here she is.

That folks, is a 1970 El Camino. It originally belonged to Hubby's (step)grandfather's dad, but has been sitting in Grandpa's barn for the last 30 years. It hasn't been registered since 1985, but we're pretty sure Grandpa renewed it for a few years after he stopped driving it.

Grandpa has had a few people express interest in the car over the years, but he wasn't ready to give it to just anybody. When Hubby's dad casually mentioned that someone else had come by to see it and Grandpa was thinking of selling, Hubby's ears perked up. We went to the building and checked it out, saw that it needed some TLC (and to be aired out for the next 30 years) and Hubby offered to buy it. After Grandpa grilled Hubby's dad on why exactly Hubby wanted it - "But what's he going to DO with it?" - it was ours. For "free." (Nothing about this car from now on will be free.)

Grandpa is meticulous about his vehicles, so he kept it in stellar shape for the years he used it. But it hasn't been used in quite some time. We brought it home at Christmas, and a few weeks ago, Hubby had cleaned enough out of the engine to actually start it. It needs new tires and new brakes before it can move from its spot in the third bay of the garage.

And that's just the beginning.

We figure he might have it done by the time Nathaniel graduates from high school... 2025.

Friday, February 24, 2012

We don't do things that way...

Most people take on new projects one at a time, so they can fully submerse themselves in whatever it is and come out the other side refreshed and ready to take on something else.

I am not most people. Case in point:

I was MIA through the Thanksgiving-birthday-Christmas-birthday cluster that is November through January. That's a given. But right about the time I should have been able to recover, we got those two little pink lines on a stick that said, "Hold on, you're in for another wild ride!"

So for the last 13 weeks or so, I have been a tired, forgetful, exhausted mess.

But wait, there's more.

Before we knew for sure we were adding to our family, I felt like I needed another outlet. Something a little more regular than my paid writing gigs and that required slightly more different brain cells than it does to mother my kids 24/7. And so while I've never been a salesperson and have only ever hosted ONE direct sales party in my life, I signed up to be a consultant with Thirty-One gifts.

Yes, I knew I was pregnant when I did it. That really shouldn't surprise anyone that I'm that crazy.

In case those two things weren't enough, Hubby and I started taking a look around at the chaos that is our house. Our dear, sweet house where we brought our first two babies home. Our first house in the nice neighborhood with awesome neighbors I wouldn't trade for the world.

But the actuality is, no matter how big we thought it was seven years ago, we've about filled it to the brim. And now we're bringing another person here to live. A little person who will have a crap-load of stuff no matter how many clothes/toys/etc. I have from his or her older brother and sister.

I don't have an office. Hubby really doesn't either. Between the Other Woman and the New Other Woman, his tools and "workshop" the cars, the kids' toys and general storage, our garage is crying uncle.

N's room has a kick-butt new closet organizer, but it would be a squeeze to put both kids in there once No. 3 arrives.

You get the picture. So today, Mother Nature permitting, our realtor is coming with a "For Sale" sign for our house. If I think about packing up the contents of our house and physically moving all of our crap treasures for too long, I start to hyperventilate. Hubby isn't fazed. He is the master packer and could probably have our entire house packed in five evenings. My job will be to make up for my lack of strength and ability to carry anything since I'm pregnant by calling everyone we know and begging for help, once the time comes. We aren't looking to go far - we've settled into this school district and don't want to be any farther (or closer, really) to Hubby's job.

I hope our neighbors will forgive us.

And that I don't lose my ever-loving mind between now and well, forever...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The death of customer service

For the last few Christmases, Hubby and I have opted to buy one big household item instead of exchanging gifts. This year was a little bigger than usual, but sorely needed: a new stove.

We researched models, scoured reviews and comparison shopped. We decided to pull the trigger and take advantage of a Cyber Monday deal that gave us a significantly lower price plus free delivery and haul-away. Sounded too good to be true. There's always a catch, right?


The earliest delivery was Dec. 22. I hesitated, but knowing we wouldn't find a lower price or a way to pick up the stove ourselves, I didn't have much choice. It was still before Christmas, so we could thoroughly enjoy cooking on it for Christmas Eve dinner and Hubby could cook to his heart's content over break.

At 4:30 p.m. the afternoon before delivery I got a call saying the stove was on back order from the manufacturer (not cool, GE). They only deliver to our area on Tuesdays, which put delivery on the 27th, when we were out of town. Next available delivery after that? Jan. 3.

Freaking A.

But right at the beginning of our 4-hour window today, I got a call from the delivery truck that he was 25 minutes away. Sounded promising.

Until he arrived and said he couldn't unhook the old range and haul it away without installing the new one. I didn't pay for installation. Something about an open gas line (pssh)... But no one told me that was the case when I opted OUT of paying for installation and Mr. Delivery Guy didn't have a cap or anything to account for the fact that he wasn't going to be installing the range. He suggested leaving the old range until Hubby got home to install it. I not so politely asked him what I was supposed to do with it in the meantime. He suggested the garage. Uh, no hand cart dude, and I'm not carrying a damn stove that shouldn't be in my house.

I had had it up to *here* with the run around and delays from Home Depot and GE, so I gave him an ultimatum: either he figured out how to safely leave me my new stove and get rid of the old one, or I would be refusing delivery.

He quickly ducked out to his truck to call the home office.

Good idea.

The home office wisely decided that a good way to appease a disgruntled customer was to install the stove free of charge.

Another good idea.

But you better believe I won't be buying from either company again any time soon.

It is pretty though...

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year

2012 - A new year; a chance to start over!

Hubby is not big on New Year's Resolutions. I'm enough of a cynic that I usually agree with him. But this year, I think I'm going to turn over a new leaf.

Starting today.

I resolve to get out of my funk (again) and blog regularly. There are hundreds a handful of people who missed my writing.

I resolve that 2012 will be the year of the anti-pack rat. The kids and I purged their toys before the great birthday/Christmas/birthday toy explosion, but I did not get rid of as much as they received. And I didn't purge any of MY things... and I'm pretty sure that if there are clothes in my closet that I haven't worn in 10 years, I'm not going to ever. For one thing, I've had 2 kids. Nothing fits the same anymore. And I'm pretty sure the 90s won't be cool again for a long time... at least they shouldn't be.

I resolve to do more meal planning. I had enough time before a grocery trip this weekend to plan a month's worth of meals (at least weekdays). That means I have the all the ingredients on hand now, minus a few veggies and perishables that I can buy when I stock up weekly on milk, eggs, juice, etc.

There. It's a start. I'm going to try to set weekly goals for myself, and even write to-do lists (even though they normally give me panic attacks). Maybe I'll even start folding laundry and putting it away they same day I do it.

Nah. That's just crazy talk.