Friday, July 31, 2009

A little poem for you

My husband was CRANKY
when he got out of bed
He was so CRANKY
I wanted to kick him in the head

But he took my advice
and upstairs he fled
when he came back again
I made sure he was fed

Now we can return
to being happily wed

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Own Cooking Show...coming to a blog near you

You know those cooking shows? The ones where they whip up a fabulous meal in a half hour while saying things like "Well, I thought it would be great if I added..." Have you ever noticed that when you add stuff recipes at home, the result is not always as stellar? I thought it would be fun if everyone got to relive tonights culinary efforts with me...the good, bad, and the ugly.

It all started with a trip to the chiropractor this afternoon. A very large zuchini was sitting on the counter with a note saying "Take Me". So I did. And I thought "maybe I could make some fried zuchini to go along with tonight's stroganoff." And so I did.

I could have started at and got some instructions first, but what fun would that be? Instead I started by slicing my very large zuchini into disks. I needed a bread-crumb-ish mixture, some kind of "sticking" liquid to adhere the bread-crumb-ish mixture, and oil for deep frying. Oil I had, but I didn't have bread-crumbs. So I looked into my pantry and found a box of Grape Nuts that nobody wants to eat. I used my ever-so-handy Pampered Chef food chopper to grind up the Grape Nuts and then I added Montreal Steak Seasoning to the crumbs to give it a better flavor. I melted some butter for my sticking liquid.

I put my first three zuchini disks through the steps: Dip them into the butter, press them into the crumb mixture, and drop them into the hot oil. The result? The crumb mixture completely fell off in the hot oil. Butter as a sticking mixture was no bueno.

For my second attempt, I used a couple of blended eggs as my sticking mixture. I threw those mixed eggs into the butter mixture (can't be wasteful of the butter!) and tried the next few zuchini disks. This time the crumb mixture stayed on the disks...Yeah! However, I found myself running out of crumb mixture. Back to the pantry I went, this time coming out with Rice Krispies cereal. Turns out Rice Krispies cereal is much easier to grind into crumbs than the Grape Nuts were.

I continued with my zuchini disks until I had cooked them all (half of the huge zuchini that I started with). Towards the end of my process, my oil was really dark and some of the zuchini disks were coming out with little burns chunks of Grape Nuts sitting on top.

Caption: Here's the first three zuchini disks where all the coating fell off. The fourth zuchini shows how the oil started to get dark and the Grape Nuts started to burn.

Here's what my family thought. Hubby said they were good, but don't bother to save the leftovers. Sweetness thought she'd try them with ranch dressing, but then decided to just eat the ranch dressing alone. Spunky Girl didn't bother to try them and the Big Guy whimpered when I put them on his plate. Me? I liked them, although I thought they were a bit salty.

Yeah...I'm not quite ready for prime time.

My knight in shining armor

Today I took the kids to a birthday party at a park. I love being at the park with the kids, but I hate getting from the parking lot to the park (or the beach, or the lake, etc.) with the kids and their gear. I doubly-hate getting back to the car, as the gear is no longer compactly packed and the kids are no longer clean or compliant.

The location for today's birthay was a lovely spot. It had a covered picnic shelter, a concrete path where the kids would be having scooter races, a water park, slides, swings, climbing toys & grass. Who could ask for more, right? I would like to ask that the park not be a 1/4 mile from the parking lot. By the time I got the kids, their 3 scooters, their 3 helmets, a birthday present, and my own bag down to the picnic, I was one grumpy lady. Instead of the big hug the hostess deserved in greeting, all she got was a growl from me as I complained about the Big Guy's lack of ability to steer on the way to the spot. A quarter mile is a long way to push a tricycle when the front wheel is sideways and dragging along the path.

I was starting to get my cool back (despite the 95 degree heat) when Sweetness informs me that she had to go to the bathroom. And does anyone want to guess where the bathroom was? Yes, most of the way back to the parking lot. So I grab the Big Guy (thank goodness Spunky Girl can fend for herself for a few minutes) and headed up to find the bathrooms. I was waiting for Sweetness to finish, when I saw a familiar body come across the grass toward me. I couldn't even see his face yet when I knew it was my hubby.

Oh the joy of unexpected help. I though hubby was off working today, but he ended up with some free time and he came to help me with the kids. It was like he rode up as a knight in shining armor -- that's how happy I was about his arrival. The next few hours were so much easier. When the Big Guy needed a diaper change and I realized I forgot the supplies in the car, I didn't have to haul him with me when I walked back to get the supplies. When it was time to leave the party, he pushed the Big Guy *uphill* back to the car while I carried our gear and Spunky Girl's scooter. While I was walking back, I tried to picture myself pushing the Big Guy, carrying the gear, & carrying Spunky Girl's scooter. It wouldn't have been pretty.

Now we're back home, hiding in the house from the 95 degree heat. We have air conditioning, thanks to the kindness of my in-laws. I'm thanking God for them today!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Girls, you SHARE that toy."

The call for sharing is a common one, but it takes on an extra challenge when the toy is their brother. This morning Sweetness and the Big Guy were huddled together on the sofa. Spunky Girl came over to join them and instantly the problems started. "Move over" "But I want to play too" "Look over here brother" "Why won't he play with me" "He's playing with me right now. He doesn't want to play with you" "You always get to play with him. I never do" "MMMMMMOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM"

I hate it when I don't know what answer to lob back at them. "You girls share that toy or I'm taking it away" hardly seems appropriate. Somehow I don't think the Big Guy will enjoy being banished to the top of the washer and dryer like all the rest of the toys that they fight over.

The hard reality is that Sweetness is older and knows how to play in a way that doesn't irritate the Big Guy. She knows when to interact with him and when to give him his space. Spunky Girl gets in his face too much. Spunky Girl and Big Guy enjoy wrestling together, but most other games end in disaster within minutes. So, what do I say? When Spunky Girl cries and says that brother likes sister more than her, my words of comfort seem hollow. She's picking up on something real, but it won't be like that forever. Saying "he'll like you too in another year or so" just seems mean.

I ask Sweetness to try to include her sister in the game too, but there is already a lot of drama trying to get Sweetness to be polite and kind to her sister. Adding another level of responsibility to Sweetness (i.e. I want you to be nice to sister AND I want you to make sure that brother is nice to her too) won't make that drama better.

For now, I will just try to enjoy the times when they are all getting along and try to survive the times when they don't. I don't have any other solutions in my mommy-bag-of-tricks.

Caption: Spunky Girl, Great Grandma Bea, Sweetness, and Big Guy

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wish I read that warning label sooner

I don't know why, but I haven't wanted to sit down and eat breakfast in the mornings. That isn't like me...I'm more of a have a cup of coffee, then a bagel, and then finish it off with a plate of hash browns and bacon kinda gal. Instead I've been stealing my husband's protein bars as I run out the door with the kids. They aren't particularly tasty, but they aren't gross either and they keep my stomach from rumbling and my mood from crashing.

Today I happen to glance at the back of the protein bar. I read this warning:

WARNING: This product contains sugar alcohols, which may cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Excessive consumption may have a laxative effect.

If there is anything I don't need to have happen while I'm out with the kids, it is to be tied to some gas station bathroom somewhere with the runs. It is bad enough when the kids have to go to the bathroom and we have to stop somewhere. "Don't TOUCH anything" will be difficult to enforce if I can't stand up.

No more protein bars for me. I gotta find something else to grab and go. Who knows? Maybe I'll start buying donuts and get addicted to a new bad habit.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Miss Him

Hubby is working a 48 hour shift, so I miss him. I ran across this quote that made me think of him and thought I'd share:

Sweet is the smile of home; the mutual look, when hearts are of each other sure. -- John Keble

Today is gonna be a hot one...we're off to the Lake.
Have a good one.

P.S. Left my camera in Hoodsport, so no up-to-date pics for awhile until I make the trek back to pick it up.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bad Habits: So easy to pick up, so hard to get rid of

Why are bad habits so easy to pick up and so hard to get rid of? I cannot begin to count the number of times I have stopped drinking soda. My current nemesis? The Dr. Pepper can.

It all starts innocently enough. I buy some soda to bring on vacation. Maybe I sneak a can or two before vacation actually starts. Then I increase my usage to 2 - 3 cans a day on vacation. Then I bring the leftover cans home...and waalaa, I'm back to drinking soda on a regular basis.

Some have suggested that the solution to my problem is diet soda. No my friends...I don't drink that poison. I know it has almost no calories, but I do not trust those chemical sweetners. Give me fully loaded soda or give me death. That sounds a little strong, doesn't it? How 'bout: Give me fully loaded or give me Pelligrino.

Yes, Pelligrino is my hope for breaking this latest addiction. I bought a case of it at Costco today (I had a coupon!!). With no calories and no sweetner, I can drink guilt free. It's also got a little sodium, which my doctor recommended that I increase my intake of.

Cross your fingers and hope that the Pelligrino works or that I don't run out of Dr. Pepper before I get my "I refuse to buy soda" willpower back.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stepping up on my soapbox

In case you can't read the image, this is what the back of the cereal box tells children:
18 things to do before you reach 18
* Ride the worlds biggest rollercoaster
* Bungee Jump
* Score a winning goal
* Win a Trophy
* Learn an instrument
* Go backstage at a gig
* Meet your idol
* Play a part in your favorite TV show
* Meet someone with your own name
* Make a discovery
* Get away with a perfect practical joke
* Own a pointless collection
* Invent a word that makes it into the dictionary
* Conquer your biggest fear
* Raise money for charity
* Pass your driving test the 1st time
* Take a coast to coast road trip
* Reach 18 years of age

Today's culture teaches kids that the quality of life is directly related to the number of experiences that you have. The more you experience, the better life you must have. I think that is bull-puckey. While this cereal box is a fairly eggregious example, there are many others. Sweetness comes home with new experience opportunities in her backpack almost every other day at school. Cheerleading, Orgami, horseback riding, japanese lessons, running club, soccer, softball, art classes, drama, jump roping, skiing, and the list goes on and on. Of course, all these things are are told to "ask their parents if they can partake in these great opportunities". So Sweetness believes that all these great opportunities exist and the only thing standing in her way for a great life is her mom's permission.

I find it annoying that I constantly have to tell Sweetness why she can't do something. I see no sign of her appreciating my message that life is about
being the best person you can be, and that has more to do with making choices to put others first than it does with reaching your personal best in activities. (Yes, I know she is only 7.) Seriously, what kind of happiness does it bring to have goals like "I want to score the winning goal"? That sounds like pressure to have an outcome that you can't really control. And how are kids suppose to excel at anything if they are constantly trying to experience all the other sports and activities to see which one they like best? And what about the financial unreasonable-ness (there's my new word for the dictionary) of that list? What will it cost for a child to travel to the world's biggest roller coaster or go bungee jumping or take a coast-to-coast road trip?

I will go on trying to provide fun opportunities for my family and trying to teach them that life is more about enjoying and making the most of every day, not about what you experience and accomplish. That's my soapbox for today.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Welcome back to Suburbia

As of 9 pm last night, I'm home! Strange how some things about home life resume the instant you touch your driveway. The Big Guy had a tantrum within moments of coming home. It isn't that he had NO tantrums on vacation, but he definitely had a lot less. I think the great outdoors is soothing to my son. He gets really quiet when he's out in nature, be it on the back of my bike, on the raft, in the jogging stroller on a walk, or even in a pulk being pulled behind cross-country skis. I wonder if he'll be an outdoorsman when he grows up.

Another thing that resumed when we got home is the Big Guy talking to me non-stop. At the cabin, he had a whole host of other people to talk to. There were 3 tween and teen girls there who loved him, so he could talk to them whenever he wanted. They even played endless "knock knock" jokes with him, which is a sacrifice because he doesn't really get the concept. He always says "knock knock" and when you answer "who's there?" he says "apple". That's pretty much it. This morning, I heard myself saying something to him that I don't think I said in a week:
"just a minute, mommy can't listen while she's...."
I think at the cabin I also had a lot more time to talk to him. It seems to bug him when I am trying to get anything done because he can tell that I'm not giving him my undivided attention, and there was a lot less work that I had to get done while on vacation. Today's at home to do list already crossed the 15 item mark, so I stopped writing things down.

The Big Guy was sleeping in till nearly 8 am on vacation too, and this morning he was back to getting up at 6:30. That I think is interesting because his bedroom at home is darker than his room at the cabin. And he stayed up just as late last night because we didn't get home till well after his bedtime. Go figure. I can't figure him out!

I'd tell you how the girls are doing transitioning back into at-home life, but they would need to actually get up for that to happen! I'm off to tackle my list. Happy Tuesday everybody!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The cat is out of the bag...will it go back in?

Well, vacation days are nearly over. The smores have been eaten, the woodpile is dimished and piles of laundry remain. Hubby has already headed home (he has to work in the morning) and I plan to leave with the kids tomorrow afternoon.

We are vacationing with a family that is far more laid-back than we are. Things like set bed-times, no dessert if you haven't eaten your dinner, and having to ask before doing things just aren't part of their family dynamic and so we tried to run our family the same way for the week. Overall, I would say it went very well. The things that I worried about (like my kids melting down because they were staying up so late) may have occurred, but they weren't as big of a deal as I expected them to be.

Now I'm wondering how it will be when I get back home. Can we go back to 8ish bedtimes when they've been going to bed at 11 pm all week? Will they return to asking permission before going outside at our house, or will they just disappear into the outdoors when the mood takes them? I suspect we may have a few battles when we enforce the kids trying everything on their plate before getting down from the dinner table.

Regardless of how the return transition goes, I'm glad for the "freedom project" experience of this week. It has taught me about my own abilities, taught me about my kids' abilities, taught me some of the benefits of a laid-back lifestyle and perhaps even underscored some of the things that I like about my own system at home. I'm glad for the time spent with wonderful friends and enjoyed their family and their perspectives on life and parenting.

I feel blessed by the week. Pray for our safe return trip home tomorrow!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Life is getting easier

I've been guilty of wanting my kids to grow up because it bums me out to not be able to do all the fun stuff that I want to do because my kids can't hack it. All of a sudden it hit me that my kids are starting to be able to do all that fun stuff.

Attempts in previous years to go on bike rides have been disasterous. I remember how frustrated I was a year or so ago trying to take Sweetness for a bike ride because the stupid training wheels got stuck in the rocks and she couldn't push the bike up a hill nor ride it down. It was completely maddening that it took us an hour to decide that there was no way to make the bike ride work and Sweetness cried all the way home. Today we were able to take the whole family for a ride (even with another child thrown in too).

I've got the Big Guy on the back of my bike and hubby has Spunky Girl on a bike that attaches to his bike. Sweetness is now able to ride on her own. We set off for a ride and everyone had a marvelous time. Sweetness had some trouble on the soft dirt/rock paths and started to get a bit frustrated, but we stopped by a river for awhile and threw rocks in until everyone was in a good mood again.

After we got back from our bike ride and had a quick lunch, it was off to the pool!

Once again I was struck by how much easier it was to have our family at the pool. I could even sit on a lounge chair and read if I wanted to.
The Big Guy is happy to wear his life preserver and doesn't mind hanging out by the edge of the pool. Sweetness is a good swimmer and Spunky Girl can manage nicely on her own if she's wearing a flotation belt. After enjoying the ability to lay out for a moment, I didn't mind joining hubby in the pool with the kids and playing around. It was fabulous!

It is so nice to really enjoy this stage with my kids. I think I worried that I would always wish that my kids were older and that made me feel like a lousy mom who didn't enjoy being with her children. It feels great to realize that those feelings were truly about the limitations of the baby years and not something that would be a constant in my life.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

There's too much to blog about

It has been days since I posted to my blog, but I can't decide what to write about. I think I have too much material. I could blog about Sweetness' birthday today and how much fun we're going to have horseback riding. Or I could blog about how she learned to ride her bike without training wheels yesterday. I could blog about the 6:30 wakeup call from the Big Guy that leaves me with several hours alone in the morning before the rest of the house stirs. I could blog about the beauty of God's creation around me. I could blog about the mental weight of trying to be a more flexible, relaxed person on vacation (it isn't that relaxing to continually reconsider all of your responses before making any decision). Or, I could simply leave you with a poem about how yummy smores are when you make them with Reese's Peanut Butter cups. Alas, I don't think anyone wants to read ALL that, so I'll just leave you with some pictures.

Happy Birthday Sweetness. Your mom couldn't be more proud of you!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I found it!

Do you all remember my previous post where I was searching for the perfect sundress? (Yes, I know you all have better things to do that remember each blog post that I write, but I dare to hope that someone might.) Well, I found a darling one! Check out my new dress:

It is going to be a busy weekend for me and I wanted a cute sundress to wear to a variety of events, so I grabbed the kids that weren't puking and headed to Macy's. I liked this dress as soon as I tried it on, but the price tag of $59 was a bit off-putting. I know it is not THAT expensive, but I definitely stopped to consider whether I wanted to dip into my August and September clothing budget to do it. I heard my friend Melissa's voice in my head, encouraging to buy fewer things that I really like and spend less time scouring the clearance racks for bargains. I decided to go ahead and get it.

When I got up to the counter, I told the sales associate that I might have had a coupon at home but didn't bring she rummaged around and found me one for $20 off. Yippee for me. $40 bucks for a dress that I love makes me happy!

The Anticipation

In 4 days, our family is off on a week vacation to my dad's cabin in Eastern Washington. One of the things that I love best about vacationing there in the summer is getting up, grabbing a cup of coffee, and heading out to the porch to watch the lake. I suppose it isn't really the lake that I'm watching, but rather the birds and the mountains and the little ripples the fish make. It is such a peaceful time, both outside and within myself. When I'm at home, my morning thoughts quickly are consumed with the day ahead: what needs to get done, what time I have to be out the door, what phone calls should be made. When I'm at the cabin, I don't think of those things. I can really sit and think, or read my Bible, or just watch nature and marvel at it.

This morning, in anticipation of my cabin trip, I headed out to my front porch with my coffee. The view is not quite as magnificant at first glance. Kids toys, two hastily parked vehicles, the house next door make up the view. After a few minutes, though, I found myself looking up, watching the birds fly from tree to tree and noticing the beautiful blue sky. I suppose it is possible to enjoy the same moment at home, but it seems much harder to push today's to do list from my mind...especially when the Big Guy finds me and says "PooPoos, Mama". But I guess that can happen anywhere.