Thursday, December 31, 2009

Countdown to Midnight...

Or 8:00, Eastern Standard Time. Whichever...


(Cake plate! Eeek!)

(sigh. I think she's so beautiful.)

From our family to yours, Happy New Year.

(Don't we look circa 1909 or something? Cracks me up...)

New Year's Eve 2009...

Or is it 2010? I never know if it's the year you're leaving or the year you're entering...

Anyway.

One of my goals for this year is to save money. Which means I've chosen 3 holidays (4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) that I can go crazy on, and the rest? They are going to require great creativity, not to mention restraint.

Have you noticed that I'm big on holidays?

This is going to be a challenge.

New Years Eve is my first test. No trips to to the store allowed.

I found some posterboard behind the fridge and decided to make it into a table runner. I cut it in half, then let my kids march all over it with paint on their feet. It was a hit. The feet go with our theme for the evening and year. My chosen theme for the year is "Good, Better, Best" and the theme for our New Years is "Best Foot Forward!"

So far, so good...

Now. What is already in our pantry that I can make a celebration out of??

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Realistically Speaking...

I love New Year's Resolutions.

I get into the whole spirit of the thing, complete with a topic and themes and divisions.

But I'm thinking this year, the theme should be "Keeping it Real" and my resolutions would go something like this:

Spiritually:
Go to church.
Don't eat all the kid's fruit snacks, while at church.
Judge more.

Physically:
Consume your own weight in aspartame.
Be the same weight next year as you are right now.
Don't have to buy clothes in the next size up.

Mentally/Emotionally:
Read more books for avoid housework.
Find even more methods of escapism.
Avoid people.

Wife and Mother:
Make sure the TV is on by no later than 7:30 am.
Save the planet--use febreze rather than actually doing laundry.
Spend every penny of the Spouse's hard earned money.

*smug grin* I'm pretty sure I could follow through on THOSE resolutions. My. What a thrill that would be. (Ok. Fine. Real ones are in the works.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh My Stars...

I am slowly putting away Christmas.

Not in a grand sweep. But just a little at a time.

We ate the last of Grandma Johnson's scones yesterday. Last night, we played the cheap version of Jenga, "Jumbling Towers" and ate our Christmas oranges. Not to mention the Symphony bar from the Spouse's stocking.

I put away the stack of books and dvds. Some of those, I'm happy to wait a year to see again. I'm gathering the Christmas music and CDs. Those will be put away today. Except the Carpenters Christmas CD. I need that for a few more days.

And I'm carefully taking a few ornaments off the tree every day and putting them away. I have a thing for stars, and so my tree has lots of them. When I lived in Switzerland, I fell in love with their tradition of putting stars everywhere at Christmas. America has stars on the top of our trees and a few ornaments, but in Europe, I saw stars everwhere. So I brought home star shaped Christmas light covers and sparkling star ornaments. Slowly, over the years, I've added to my collection. Dear friends have added to my collection. Now, my stars get a special box--all their own.

I'm putting my stars away today. Because, once I've let go of those--the rest is easy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Thoughts that Count...

When it comes to gifts, it's the thought that counts.

And the day after Christmas--there are some thoughts that are counting a bit more than others.

Thing 2 received a "Power Wheels" 4 wheeler from Goodwill/his dad. He knew that we had it, and he knew where we were hiding it. But that didn't seem to diminish his delight when he saw it. My favorite moment for him was when he "offroaded" over the other gifts, with a determined and triumphant look on his face. Precious. Almost as precious as the Wee One riding all by herself.

The gift that seemed to mean the most to Thing 1, in all her Age 5 wonderfulness, was not the pink bike that she had asked Santa for, and was happy to receive. Nope. The thing that I've seen her enjoy the most was the random little "Ice Cream Scoop" game that I got, for super cheap, as an after thought. Thank heavens for after thoughts.

The Wee One liked her gifts. But not nearly as much as she likes the 4 Wheeler. Good thing she has a brother that shares. Unless he doesn't feel like it. In which case, he tries to run her over with it. We're working on that. He's usually pretty repentant, which means she gets a turn. I wonder if throwing herself in front of it is her tactic to get a ride, actually.

And the thoughts that counted the most, for me? Well, I have a wall vinyl that says "Come What May and Love It" in my living room now, where there wasn't one last week. It was one of those gifts that I hadn't asked for, but really have been wanting, and a dear friend just... noticed. That means the world to me. I can't see it without smiling. And from my own sweetheart? Well--he gave me several really great gifts, but two were my favorite. The first was a framed picture of the mountain I grew up looking at, most of my life. It's called Mount Timpanogos and it towers over Utah Valley. I have climbed all it's 12,000 feet. Twice. I have signed my name in the book at the top, and dangled my feet over the razor sharp edge, looking down at the mountain goats below. Then I slid down a glacier. I love this mountain. So I began, quite awhile ago, looking for a print, but found that most photographers favor the East Face over the West Face. While the East Face is pretty, it is not the one that is most familiar to me. So my husband sought out pictures taken by amateurs, rather than professionals, and found one in public domain that he printed off and put in a frame for me. It is truly beautiful.

The other one? A class in beekeeping this winter. My Mom asked me "Why?!" and I told her: It's because it's one of my 100 goals, to gather honey. In 2010, I'll be checking that goal off my list. I love it, and the thought behind it, because my goals are important to me. And I can't do them without him. (Especially the "Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro" one. Maybe next year???)

He also gave me (and himself) tickets to Wicked next spring for our anniversary. And that is great... but those didn't hit me as much as the other two did. Even though they cost the most. Isn't life funny that way?

I'm wondering what each of you were given, that made you smile or took your breath away. Care to share?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Middle...

It is 2:13 in the morning. Christmas day. And I can't sleep. I don't even want to. What does that say about me?

Since I can't sleep, I've been laying in bed, thinking about things.

It started because my lips hurt. They are cracked and chapped. They are cracked and chapped because I've been kissing my Spouse. A lot. Which I should explain about.

Every year, we try to give each other a homemade gift. One year, I made the Spouse a scrapbook of his semester in Jerusalem. Or at least part of it. Last year, he made me a sparkly red book of coupons for chores around the house. Which he completely came through on--even mopping the floor at the end of a long day. Three times.

This year, I decided to give him a different kind of homemade gift. It was called "Let's fall in love all over again." Which sounds funny to me, because I consider myself pretty smack in love anyway. But I thought about how fun it would be, if we could spend some time being giddy over each other. Although I had no idea how to approach it.

So I started off the month by just trying to be the Nice Wife and not the Ornery Wife. I tried to make dinner every night. I tried to not throw the kids at him when he walked in the door and beg for the keys to the car that has a working radio. Sometimes I did great. Sometimes I failed, and Ornery Wife came out of hiding. But I was trying. And the amazing thing was that I found myself thinking about the Spouse more often. Wanting to call him. It seemed like even mundane things, like folding the laundry--a chore I detest--could be a happy thing, if I sat there and thought of all the things I loved about him, while I folded.

So, on impulse I started the 15 days of Christmas. Each day, I tried to think of something to do. Some way to serve him. Something, anything, to delight him.

Somewhere in all of these 15 days, I realized that my gift was working wonders for me... but I wondered if it was working for him??? Was he falling any more in love with me? Was I doing the right things? Then I decided that it couldn't matter. Because I couldn't control that. But I was getting butterflies when he called. So I'll take it.

On the 5th day of Christmas I painted the bathroom. Again. Because I finally (finally!) found the right color. It was right in front of my face all along. But I digress... I was painting and the gift was "For the 5th Day of Christmas, your true love gives to you--5 colors of paint!" So I primed the cupboards, and thought of his hands. I taped the baseboards, and I thought of his laugh. I just couldn't stop thinking of how amazing and fantastic and HOT my true love is.

So when he came home, there was kissing that needed to be done.

It's been 10 days since then. And my lips are quite happily chapped.

It has been a phenomenal Christmas gift to give myself. I think now I will do the 7 Days of New Year... what do you think?

Twas the Night Before Christmas....

Christmas Eve day is my favorite. I mean, seriously, is there any better day of the year?

I've wondered, sometimes, why I enjoy the Eve so much more than the Day. I think it might have something to do with the fact that there are just more traditions to Christmas Eve. But I also think that the anticipation of wonderful things is the absolute best part.

So today, we celebrated by:
Holding our annual snowball fight.

Stuffing our faces with "Grandma Johnson's Scones" for dinner. (You really ought to try these. Tast-yyyyy.)

For the recipe, click HERE. :)
In the evening, we had our annual family circus known as "The Nativity."

And finally, after listening to Danzel the Elf (a recording of an ooooooooooold record) and sprinkling our Reindeer Food on the lawn, it's time for bed. (If you want to make your own reindeer food, we just mix oats with glitter. The kids love throwing it on the lawn, and watching the sparkles catch the light.)

Which is Santa's very favorite time. To put a log in the fireplace and watch a movie. And eat his scone. With milk.

But, in all truth, my very favorite part of today? Dave and I were up early, just the two of us, and we read some of our favorite scriptures together and talked about the Savior. The kids woke up slowly, and in good moods, and joined us one by one. For just a little while, there was peace on earth. At least at our house.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2 Days Before Christmas...

My kids are watching "Santa Buddies." (gag)

I am so tired, I feel like I could drop. Because I have finally reached 'Too excited to sleep stage." (Pause to shoo the cat off the presents. She REALLY likes to open presents.)

Where was I?

Oh. Yes. Too excited to sleep. It cracks me up that I still, at the blessed age of 30, wake up and just grin like an idiot in the dark. I start going over lists... getting the house clean... stocking stuffers... what time is the candlelit Christmas service?....

And of course, going over our Christmas Day Dinner menu. Which is called "Everyone gets their favorite foods." So this year we are having:
  • Pigs in a Blanket (hors doeuvres)
  • Aunt Irene's stew with homemade bread (soup course)
  • Cheese Bundles (quesadillas. main course.)
  • Rose Alfredo (main dish)
  • artichoke with curry dip (side dish)
  • popcorn (pallet cleanser)
  • banana pudding (dessert)

Eclectic, no? But so much fun. And much easier to put together than a huge feast, actually. (Pause. "CAT! GET OFF! THE PRESENTS!")

*uh-hem* Better.

Tonight, when the Spouse comes home from work, the kids and I will all station ourselves at the light switches in the front of the house. We will switch them on and off, on and off. And that, my friends, is the beginning of Christmas.

There will be no sleep for me tonight.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

3 Days Until Christmas...

And it begins to hit me, that Christmas will soon be over.

For the past two years, I have taken down the tree the day after Christmas. I was just ready for the chaos to be done and my house to be clean.

This year, it feels completely different. Very bittersweet.

The world always feels so dark, after Christmas. I always want to leave my lights up for another month, and I wish other people would, too. It plunges us into the very heart of winter in such an abrupt way.

Taking down the tree, which filled the corner of our family room with light. Putting away all the things that sparkle and shine.

I am just really dreading it this year.

But I'm trying to remember that I have a few more days. Just a few more days to make magic happen for my children. To bring the Christmas story to life for them, as much as I can. To see the utter amazement on their faces. Today they asked me if maybe Santa was loading their gifts in his sleigh by now. I told them that I thought he might be, and they couldn't contain their shrieks of excitement. I only have a few more Christmases with ALL of my children believing in Santa Claus and his reindeer. These days are truly, truly precious to me.

So I'm trying not to think about the end of this season, and stretch every second out. Because I don't want to miss a single thing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 Days Until Christmas...

Today, I am thinking about hope.

I have heard so many truly sad stories this Christmas season. A few of them on the news, but most of them firsthand. Stories of jobs lost... love lost... dreams shattered.

It seems to me that so many people are struggling, and doing their very best, but it all feels like we're getting nowhere. And sometimes it all just feels so heavy.

There have been moments when it has felt like having Christmas in the middle of all of this is just adding insult to injury.

Which is why, when I heard this song from Brandon Heath, the message of it really struck me. I've been listening to it on repeat today. Because it makes my heart lighter and reminds me of the many reasons I have, to have hope.

Which is really what the whole message of this season is all about.

May you have hope in your heart today.

(PS--You can download this song for free at amazon.com right now. Just click here. Merry Christmas! ;))

Sunday, December 20, 2009

5 Days Until Christmas...

This morning, someone pointed out to me that Christmas is a great time to forgive people who have "trespassed against us."

And I was feeling all glowy, because I don't have any trespassers to forgive, really. So I was about to check that off my Christmas list, but then I thought a bit more.. And I was like "Oh."

So, in the Spirit of the Season.

To the Ice Queen: I forgive you for being the exact, polar opposite of me. I forgive you for being a size 2, and looking like a Banana Republic ad.  Even when carrying your two week old baby child. I forgive you for getting everything I want, and gloating about it. And I forgive you for wearing black clothes and cool, winter makeup when you are so clearly an autumn. It's good to know that you have some flaws, however petty.

To our Pit Bull Owning Neighbors: I am going to just come out and say it: I hate your dog. Don't take it personally. It's just that, when I come out of my front door with my babies in tow, your dog starts lunging at the tiny, not-very-high fence with such violence and sound that it makes me run for the car, muttering to my children to hurry up and not make eye contact. That is really not something I look forward to. It freaks me out. I don't think it should be allowed. But I am really, really trying not to think that you're in your kitchen, watching the whole thing and laughing at me. I'm trying not to take it personally. I forgive you for moving in, and being completely aloof. Even rude. But I can get over that. And I promise, I'll work on forgiving you for the dog.

To the Guy that Flipped Me Off and Honked: I really apologize for cutting you off.  I promise that I didn't mean to do it. Did you see me wave and mutter "Sorry!" or were you too busy laying on that horn? I kind of thought you were reaching for your gun, in that black Escalade looming down on my very old, slow minivan. I forgive you for overreacting, if you can forgive me for thinking about what a total jerk you are.

To Thomalee: Yes, even now, I am still trying to forgive you for making my elementary years 3-6 a nightmare. You are the first person I ever prayed for as an "enemy." I do not know what I did to incur your wrath on my first day at my new school, when I was so nervous. Perhaps it was very deserved. But when we were 13 and you were looking at all the girl's ankles so you could predict who would grow up to be fat and I was the ONLY ONE that you said would be fat, just as a fact, based on my cankles? That was low. But now, 16 years later, I forgive you.

Ah. That feels better. I hope you can all find a place in your hearts for forgiveness this year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

6 Days Until Christmas...

Today, I made my way out into the mayhem of the Last Saturday before Christmas.  All by myself.  And I went to the places that you avoid at all costs, the Last Saturday before Christmas: the post office, and the mall.

Standing in line at the Post Office, clutching small packages to send to family, everyone around me felt so tense. They were snapping at their kids, frantically taping together packages, and sticking stamp after stamp on whole piles of Christmas cards.  I suddenly wondered what would happen if I started singing Christmas carols.  It was the craziest impulse, and if I'd been the least bit brave, I might've tried it.  What would happen in an atmosphere like that, if you suddenly started chirping out "Jingle Bells"? Would people have joined in? Would they have stared at me and muttered? Would the workers have asked me to stop?  I didn't dare. But I wish I would've.

Leaving the Post Office, I turned the radio on my car on, loud, and rocked out to some great music that came out this year.  It's been an awesome year for music. And I drove to the mall, where traffic slowed to a desperate crawl.  Merging was a nightmare. But there was no honking. A lot of waving people over. And I loved that. Especially when listening to Train's "Soul Sister."

Ah, the energy that is The Mall at Christmas. Even when you're only there to pick up a small item or two. It's just fun to be part of this great thing that is Christmas in America. To see people looking and debating over all kinds of things... purses, hats, cell phone covers, candles. I wonder who everyone is buying for, and hope that they find just the thing.

I stopped at the jewelers to pick up my wedding ring, which I dropped off two weeks ago because one of the stones was loose. And they gave it back to me so beautiful and sparkling. When the jeweler wrote down the description of my wedding ring, she wrote "Worn."  But I think it would be more accurate to say "Loved." or "Cherished." Because I love my ring. I think it is so beautiful. Mostly because of the man that gave it to me.

Goodness, I love that man.

Especially at Christmas. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

7 Days Until Christmas...

My son is having macaroni and tomato juice, with an abundance of shredded cheese, for breakfast.

It is our Family Food.

I made it earlier this week, and I made a literal VAT of the stuff, so that there would be plenty of leftovers.

It has been requested for breakfast every morning since.  But he's eating the last of it, today.

The Wee One had a german chocolate cake ball for breakfast.
I had fudge.

It is one week until Christmas. My parent's 40th Anniversary is today. I find that amazing. So I am sitting here listening to the song that they danced to at their wedding, Theme From A Summer Place, and contemplating where I will be in 34 years, in the year 2043.

It is incomprehensible to me--time, like that.

So I'm sitting here, gazing out the window at the leaden sky. Thinking about my wonderful parents, who are the reason I believe in true love, and wishing for a White Christmas.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Visions of Sugarplums...

I've been putting together our friend/neighbor/co-worker gifts.

And can I just say, BLESS the INTERNETS?! Because without the internets, how would I have ever found a recipe for Sugar Plums, I ask you??

So, first, we took our inspiration from one of my favorite blogs and went to Goodwill and Salvation Army to rummage for old china plates and candlesticks. (I'm going to be on a hunt for these from now on.) We took those and attached a china plate to a candlestick and *ta da!*... darling cake plate. An example from Miss Michelle...


from Three Men and a Lady

*sigh* I want her thrift stores.  Okay. Now, what to put on the plates?

First, I found a recipe for Sugar Plums. Okay, I should clarify, I found LOTS of recipes that were ALL different and they seemed to contradict each other. After looking through many of them, I finally went with this one from Handmade Homeschool:


Sugar Plums
3/4 c. almonds or pistachios
1/2 c. each of dried dates, apricots, and figs (I couldn't find figs, so I used dried cherries.)
3 T. orange juice
2 tsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (and I'm a huge cinnamon fan, but really--1/4 tsp is plenty here)

Chop all of those up until the nuts are the size of peppercorns.(Or you can put them in a processor and chop 'em up that way, if you're all fancy like that.) Once combined, form into 1-2 inch balls and then roll in sugar. Chill until firm. (Bonus--these are actually pretty dang healthy and low calorie. Like we care right now.)

Next up, my "famous" (to me) truffles...


Chocolate Truffles
1/2 c. whipping cream
1/3 c. sugar
6 T. butter
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla

Coating:
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 T. shortening

1. Mix cream, sugar, and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add 1 c. chocolate chips and stir until chips are melted. Add vanilla. Pour into a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally. Cover and chill in refrigerator several hours or overnight to allow mixture to ripen and harden.
2. Remove from fridge and form into 1/2 inch balls, working quickly to prevent melting. Place on wax paper on cookie sheet. Chill again several hours.
3. To make chocolate coating, melt 2 c. chocoalte chips and shortening on top of a double boiler. Remove from heat and cool until just warm (85 degrees), stirring constantly. Dip each truffle into chocoalte with fork; gently tap fork on side of bowl to remove excess coating. Invert candies on to wax paper and let chill until set.

You could stop there. Seriously. You could. But why???

Let's do cake balls!

You can use any cake and frosting combination, except spice cake and vanilla frosting. Because we did that one once, and it was gross.  But for our Christmas plates, we're doing our favorite: German chocolate with pecan frosting.

Cake Balls
Make your cake in a 9x13 pan. Bake, and cool.  Crumble into a large bowl and mix in one FULL can of frosting until everything is sticky.  Form into 1-2 inch balls and chill for at least two hours. Dip balls into melted chocolate chips or dipping chocolate.  Chill on wax paper, until firm.

The goodness of cake balls is not to be underestimated. I really think we should start airlifting them into war torn countries and give peace a chance.

Finally, peppermint bark.



image from Beyond Recipes

Peppermint Bark

1 pound white chocolate (not chips)
2 c. Rice Krispies
7 1/2 ounces peppermint candies, crushed and then run through a sieve to separate big pieces from the dust.

Melt chocolate over a double boiler, 4-6 minutes.
Add cereal and mix.
Press mixture into a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and sprinkle with crushed candy.
Chill for no more than 20-30 minutes and then break into pieces. Store at room temperature.

Yay! Holiday goodies. It's so fun to make a gigantic mess of your kitchen and spend WAY more money on a homemade gift than a store-bought one. I'll get a picture of our finished product when they're all done and put together tomorrow.

Happy Christmas-ing!





Sunday, December 13, 2009

Comfort and Joy

I learned something really profound last night, in the middle of the night.

In the early hours of the morning, my youngest started to scream. Not crying: screaming. Like the Best Spouse in the World that he is, my husband got up to try and comfort her. This was difficult since Thing 1 and Thing 2 had each moved to the couches in the family room during the night, and he didn't want to wake them up. So he shut himself in the nursery.

I awoke and was alarmed by the intensity of Wee One's crying and went to see if I could help somehow, and found her pitching an absolute fit. She was writhing in Dave's arms and pushing against him. I could tell that he had used all of his resources, with no result.

Eventually, I found myself in a dim room, by myself, with a screaming child. I employed different tactics to try and soothe, but they seemed to bring only momentary relief or intensified crying. And in my daughter's eyes, I could see anger--WHY wasn't I making the hurt go away? WHY didn't I make it stop?

And suddenly, I could see something from the eyes of a Heavenly parent... the way my Heavenly Father must feel so often. I knew that I was doing all in my power to comfort her, and that there was nothing else I could do but let her little body work it out. But I could love her through it, and make sure that she knew I was there. Even though I suddenly became the object of her anger and confusion, I knew enough not to take it personally, and to comfort her as best as I could.

Eventually, we found just the right thing (a tight swaddle and a slow "cha cha cha" motion) that soothed her to sleep. She slowly relaxed and her eyes fluttered shut, as she took deep, hiccuping breaths. I didn't lay her down, right away, but let myself enjoy the silence and the peace of comfort that has been desperately sought and finally found. And I found myself uttering a silent little prayer... "Thank you, Heavenly Father, for comforting her. And for comforting me, when I need it. I don't think I ever really understood before, but I think I do now... at least a little bit."

So today, I am truly grateful.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Karma.

The other day I read on some other person's blog about how their baby puked all over the place at the Christmas party.

And I was all "HA! HAHAHA! That is sooooo funny."

And then karma happened.

Which began the story of HOLIDAY PUKEFEST '09 at our house. I'll spare you a photo.

Because of which, I know the following are true:
  • A gigantic Tupperware bowl is an investment that just keeps giving. I might start giving them as wedding gifts with a note that says "For making huge macaroni salads! And the stomach flu that will result!" I'm sure I'll get a good thank you note for that.
  • "Grape" flavored "Pediatric Drink" from CVS is significantly harder to clean up than the "Apple" flavored kind. Don't even think about that "Bubble Gum" flavor. Ew.
  • A tutorial on how to "layer" when the stomach flu comes to your house:
    First, go to your towel or blanket closet or chest.
    Dig out that really ugly "Bed in a Bag" comforter from 1989. Place it on the floor.
    Layer with a sheet.
    Dig out the blanket that your husband's ex girlfriend gave him. Mutter under your breath. Place on top of the other blanket. Add a sheet.
    Continue layers. If you're lucky, 2 layers will do, but I suggest at least 5 layers.
    Place sick child on top of pile and wait for the inevitable. Remove layer and start clean. No mess, no fuss.
    You're welcome.
  • I married the most.fantastic.man.on.the.planet. I kid you not. He totally took the first shift and let me sleep for longer than he had to. How many husband's will do that?!
  • It doesn't matter how many times you scrub your hands in hot water with tons of soap and chase it with antibacterial hand sanitizer. You can do it until your hands have the texture of old, supple leather. It doesn't matter if you only rub your eyes with your shoulder and eat nothing--you are going to get sick, too. Keep that Tupperware handy.

Remember, laugh at your own risk. Karma'll getcha every time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

You've Not Got Mail.

Dear Nicole,
Um. I got your message about your camera. The one you left. It was in the crack in my couch.

And I know you asked me to mail it.

I totally intend to. And of course I'm going to throw something fun and Christmas-y in there, for good measure.

But I think I might just have to drive it down to you instead. Because it would be so much easier for me to drive the 2.5 hours to your apartment and drop it off, with some Hershey's Kisses, than it would be to take my kids to the local Postal Office.

You've seen my kids. I think you can imagine why. It's very "Apocolypse Now."

So--whatcha doin' this weekend? Can I bring you your camera?

Kthxbai.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Life in Pictures...

People ask me how I get my blogging done with three little kids running around.

Easy:

Also, Thing 1 did a pastel chalk drawing of me and The Spouse today. The truth is terrifying to behold:



Betcha can't guess who is who. *smirk*

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Truly Outrageous..."

Lately, Thing 1 has been distinctly reminding me of someone when she gets up in the morning, but I just haven't been able to put my finger on it. Some distant, cob-webby memory from my childhood

Until this morning, it hit me.

I asked her to make a "rocker" face:

And I knew...
For you 80's impaired...




And I don't know about you, but I get an awesome *spark* everytime The Spouse and I kiss.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Operation Sandwich


Christmas is such a great time for serving. When I was younger, I loved to do any number of services, any time of year, but one of my favorites was to go caroling at rest homes. I have to admit that taking my children to a rest home is daunting now. Not even so much because of the kids, but because when I hold hands with the very old, I look down and sometimes--for a fleeting second--I can't tell which hands are mine. And that is sobering.
Although it's true that our kids would definitely find some way to wreak havoc at a place of comfort and quiet.
So, we are trying to work in appropriate service behavior, trying to prep our kids for trips to the rest home to sing. What service is. How we do it. And why we love it.
Those things are SO much easier to teach if you get friends involved, and today we did that.
Today, we made sandwiches for a place that needs 800. Every.single.day. Sure, after two seconds, and the realization that the sandwiches weren't actually to be personally consumed, Thing 2 announced "Actually, I no want make sandwiches." But service was being done, you know, in his proximity.
And when all is said and done, I'm continually amazed and humbled by the simple fact that if there is a need, and you ask people to help... they will.
To the tune of 150 sandwiches.
And that is amazing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dear Santa...



Dear Santa,

For Christmas this year, I would like any and/or all of the following:
1. A fully automated kitchen that cleans itself.
2. Harvard to nominate me for an Honorary Doctoral Degree. If they could give me one of the funny PhD caps, that would be great, but I'll settle for the diploma alone.
3. My waist back.
4. The book of my children's lives, unabridged, so I can see how this mystery/drama/comedy is going to end. If there's a Cliff Notes version, send that along, too. No "choose your own adventure" options, please.
5. The equity back in our house that the economy ate. I'll go for a "break even"
6. Speaking of self cleaning--if you could get some of those self cleaning clothes for my kids, it would probably be really good for the environment. I'm just sayin'...
7. The directors of Lord of the Rings to decide they want to (re)do the whole Twilight series. With a gigantic budget. And good actors. Please. For the love.
8. World Peace.

I think that should do it. In return, I shall make my Boston Mint Cookies. I'll even leave the recipe out.

Think about it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Week of Thanksgiving: Cornucopia


I don't know about the rest of you, but the symbol of the cornucopia has never made much sense to me. Why a horn shaped basket? What did it symbolize?
Turns out, it's a Greek mythology thing. Awesome. So, I decided we needed to teach our kids about the cornucopia.

At the beginning of November, I used my kid's Crayola watercolors and painted a cornucopia that we put on the window. Each day, we wrote down things we were grateful for on little watercolor fruits, vegetables, and meats. It was so fun to see what everyone was grateful for, because you never knew what they were going to say next. Here is a list of my favorites:
  • Decay
  • Each of us, by name, several times.
  • Stove
  • "spray"
  • "nise voises"
  • jammies
  • toy saw
  • "trick or treat"
  • dress ups
  • chalk
  • "me"

We had such a great time, and every day there was excitement over who got to choose the fruit or vegetable to write on for the day. As thrilled as I am to put up our Christmas decorations this weekend... I was sad as I took down the cornucopia from our window. We have so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Week of Thanksgiving: Never Forget



At this time of thanksgiving, let us remember and never forget:


The needy are always with us.

(Especially the 3 year old kind.)


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Week of Thanksgiving: Interfaith Thanksgiving Service


Sunday night, in the pouring rain, I drove up Providence Road to a place I'd never been before: Temple Israel at Shalom Park.
A week previous I got an e-mail asking for people to be a choir participating in an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The rehearsals and performance will be held, this year, at a Conservative synagogue.
That is one bandwagon I jumped right on. Not only that, but I decided to drag our local sister missionaries with me--just for effect. Any excuse to visit a new house of worship is something I'm up for. Not to mention how fun it sounded to sing with people from lots of religions. We Mormons have our Tabernacle Choir, but we will never have the soul of a good, Southern Baptist choir.
I got there right on time, and entered the beautiful building, feeling a little unsure. I saw the stacks of kippot for the men, but reassured myself that they were optional for women, before entering the synagogue.
A group of people sat in the folding chairs, some sitting in little clusters, some sitting alone. Taking a deep breath, I marched down the aisle and introduced myself to a lady sitting by herself. We began to warm up.
Our music directors include a Jewish Cantor, a Universalist Unitarian Music Minister, a music minister from Friendship Baptist Church, and the music pastor at St. Gabriel's Catholic Church, although he is actually Episcopalian. The director from the Baptist congregation is so fun to watch, he jumps up and down all over the stage, which inevitably sends his kippah flying from his head. At which point the most delightful little Jewish lady trots up to the stand in the middle of the song and plunks it back on his head. Repeatedly. And neither of them even miss a beat.
Meanwhile, the Unitarians are crossing out every referal to "mankind" and urging us all to substitute the word for "humankind" so that we're gender inclusive.
At about which point the man from St. Gabriel's starts railing on us for being even slower than the speed of sound and begging us to KEEP UP!!!!
I find myself grinning and laughing and just singing my heart out. My favorite are, of course, the songs in Hebrew, with their lilting melodies and softly accented words.
At the end of the first practice, the music pastors all stood on the stand together. They talked about how they first started meeting over 6 months ago. And how they learned that you haven't learned to live in peace with your neighbors of a different faith until you've sat down and discussed and disagreed and been uncomfortable with each other. Only when you've faced your differences, can you find real friendship and peace. I thought that was beautifully profound.
So, Shalom. Have peace.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Week of Thanksgiving: 2009


I feel like I have been blessed, beyond measure, this year.
As I've been thinking, all day, about the things I'm truly grateful for, my mind has gone back to all of the absolutely phenomenal memories I've been able to make this year with people I absolutely adore. And that is precious to me.
Two years ago, The Spouse and I took a trip to Jamaica to celebrate his birthday. On our second to last day, we traveled up to the west tip of the island. While The Spouse was jumping off cliffs like a crazy person, I was safely bobbing in the azure blue water below. I stretched back and floated, gazing up into the sky as the sun began to sink. I remember closing my eyes and thinking "Contentment. This is what contentment feels like." And I tried to memorize it.
The months that followed brought particularly acute struggles and challenges, and I would find myself, closing my eyes and thinking that word "Contentment" and I was right there in my mind, with the waves softly rising and falling beneath me. It carried me through those months.
And this winter, I can close my eyes and think "Contentment." and I'm there, again, in those waves.
But this year has given me more gifts--the kind that nothing can take. The kind that I will carry with me, even when I grow old and die. I'm roasting marshmallows with my children on a summer night and catching frogs. I'm walking the decks of a beautiful ship with my parents, and chasing Alice in Wonderland with Thing 1. I'm gazing out over the bluest skies on the coast of Maine with a dear friend and wishing for time to slow down. And I'm laying on the slopes of a mountain, resting my head on my spouse's shoulder, gazing at waterfalls and glaciers, with the warm sun on my face.
And no matter where I am, or where I go, I am utterly content.

Week of Thanksgiving: I love this.



I love this. I just do. So if you have a few minutes, you should watch it. I'll be thinking about this question, really thinking about it, for the rest of this week.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Week of Thanksgiving: Lip Balm

Kiddos with their lip balms.


If you couldn't tell, I love Thanksgiving.

A lot.

And it's about more than turkey and pumpkin pie, or even getting together with family. It's about a chance to give sincere thanks for everything that we've been given in preparation for the celebration of Christ's birth in December. I have found that the Christmas Spirit is much more powerful if I have spent a lot of time developing a spirit of gratitude and giving the month before.

All month long, in our house, we've been counting our blessings and putting them in our "cornucopia." (A picture of that will come later this week.) We've talked about pilgrims and the native peoples who helped them to save themselves. We've read our very favorite Thanksgiving books, including The Mousery, An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, Over the River and Through the Woods, and Pumpkins. We've talked about service and put together boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We've been building up to this week.

Today, to start off the actual week of Thanksgiving, I'm using an idea I got from the blog Mustard Seeds, and we made our own lip balm so we can say "Sweet Words of Thanks."

First, we read the following scriptures and talked about HOW we give thanks...

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (Through prayer.)

Psalms 28:7 (Through song.)

Matthew 15:36 (Through service and an "abundance mentality.")

Then we talked about how the way that we give thanks involves our mouths, and how it's good for us to give thanks.

Then we made our own lip balm. There are lots of recipes online (Mustard Seeds has one that uses shortening), I chose to use plain vaseline, but you can also use beeswax.

In our case, I took a tablespoon full of vaseline and mixed it with a dollop of honey and some unsweetened Kool Aid. You can also add food coloring, if you want. Then we put the lip gloss in the little jars you can buy at Walmart for holding beads. The kids added stickers, and we decided who we want to give the lip balms to at church today to say thank you.

The kids loved this activity, and they loved listening for the action words in the scriptures. Today, we're going to use our mouths to give sweet words of thanks!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Decay


All the things my kids need to know about life, they have--apparently--learned on PBS Kids.

From Sid the Science Kid, for instance, they learned the very important principle of DECAY. This, it turns out, is really, really useful when watching Mama clean out the fridge. "Ewwww, Mama! Decaaaaaaay! It's decaaaaaay!" Maybe I'll start leaving food in there longer, just so they can have the joy of discovering more decay.

Thank you, Sid.
From Curious George they've learned this: you can get away with almost anything if you're cute enough about it. Like begging for LOTS of red licorice so they can measure how tall they are, looking so serious... like it's a purely scientific pursuit. They'll also throw in there, from Sid, that they're learning about "Nonstandard measurement." At least they didn't dump out an entire box of detergent, unlike my nephew and niece. (This despite the little disclaimer in each episode that says "Curious George is a monkey, so he can do things you CAN'T do." I don't know how that message didn't make it into their craniums.)
And from Super Why (which should REALLY be called Super Readers), my kids have learned completely messed up versions of the fairy tales. I can't even do a normal retelling of Red Riding Hood or the Three Bears because I meet a chorus of "The wolf just wanted to play, Mama!" or "Goldilocks cleaned up after herself!" Which is completely annoying, because how am I supposed to teach my kids the difference between good and evil if all the villains are just poor, misunderstood "friends"????
Hmmph.
Whatever happened to Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and Today's Special???

Monday, November 16, 2009

Right Now in North Carolina


You know, sometimes people ask me if I miss the snow.

I spent my early childhood in Idaho. The drifts were so high that I had my own private tunnel to walk to school. I remember tubing down the big hills at the park across the street. When we moved to Utah, we spent endless hours making snow caves and snow forts.

So you might think that I'd miss the snow.

But on days like today? When you have a water fight with your kids outside, in November?? I don't miss the snow one bit.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

MINE!


I want a lot of stuff.

The Spouse doesn't have the "want" gene. Or, if
he does, it's rather recessive. He wants things like a single ice cream sandwich.
This is the only reason our household is solvent.

But back to my wants.

Sometimes, since I can't get the stuff I want, it just helps to write it down. Get it out there. Say "Yes, I want this, but I can't have it."

Currently on my list:

Yeah, yeah, I know. What IS that thing? It's a heat embossing tool from Paper-Source.
I.love.Paper.Source. I crave most of the things in that store. But I've wanted this embossing tool (with some stamps and sparkly embossing powder) for well over a year now. And I've bought all kinds of junk that would've cost the same, but it was the principle of not getting something that was purely a want. But every time I allow myself to go Paper Source (which is rarely, because they close at 6:00 pm...) I put this embossing tool in my basket and walk around with it, like I'm going to buy it. Every time. *sigh*

Next!
This? This is the "Laurie" set from Crate and Barrel. I wish I'd never set eyes on the thing. It's so girly and whimsical. It also happens to perfectly fit Louisa May Alcott's description of dishes from the children's book "An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving." I've been daydreaming about serving pumpkin pie and hot spiced cider with these things. I think they're so beautiful. I know that I would be a better person if I owned them. At least for a day.
Okay, last one. I saw this frame at The Met Museum store in New York. And I broke a commandment right there in the store: I was coveting. I was trying to think of a way, any way, to justify the cost. Isn't it beautiful? It also has additional meaning for me because The Spouse's name means "Beloved." Alas, this picture frame costs $125 dollars. And nobody is e-baying theirs.

It would be so much easier to just want an ice cream sandwich. But even then, ice cream sandwiches aren't gluten free, so I couldn't have one anyway. Might as well want the good stuff.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yo Hablo Espanol.

I was talking to my really good friend the other day. She happens to be Romanian. Her husband is Dutch. They have lived in various countries where French, English, and German have been the predominant languages. So her preschooler can speak any given number of those languages. Probably without an accent, too.

Oh. The jealousy.

It is a proven fact that it's easier for children to learn languages. The younger that they are, the easier it comes. I read about it in a trustworthy magazine somewhere, although I don't remember where, but it was probably at a doctor's office, so it's true.

At the beginning of the school year, I was alarmed to see that my daughter was going to have one day a week of Spanish as part of her school curriculum. My daughter was going to know a language that I did not. It's bad enough that my husband speaks Spanish and Russian. I find it intolerable if he knows stuff I don't know, let alone my 5 year old. Since my neural pathways are hardening as we speak, I decided that I needed to remedy the situation with all possible rapidity. (Great word. Rapidity. Sounds so Dickensian.) Spanish strikes me as taking less effort to learn than Russian, so I decided to start there.

My neighbor down the street is from Peru, so she offered to come over and teach me. We started with the months of the year. (Which, by the way, seemed a little odd to me because on a list of "critical to know" phrases in any foreign language the months of the year wouldn't be at the top of my list. From my personal experience, the most important phrases to know would be "Where is the bathroom?","How much does it cost?","Is there any alcohol in this?", and "Uh-oh. I think I'm starting my period." You do not want to have to resort to charades to be understood, trust me.)

I dutifully committed the months of the year to my memory and began working on the days of the week. Numbers. Members of the family. I even made some flashcards.

But it was always lurking that my daughter's neural pathways were speeding along, and she and her dad would have a special Spanish Speakers Only club.

But tonight we were driving home and she started babbling in some incoherent language, so I babbled back. We exchanged nonsense back and forth for several minutes, and then I said "That was a great made-up language!"

Her eyes looked at me seriously in the rear view mirror and she said "Mama, THAT was not a pretend language. THAT was Spanish."

And BOY was I surprised! Because I didn't even know I spoke Spanish already. I guess I don't need those lessons after all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mom of the Year

Image by Anne Taintor

Should you ever find yourself pondering the question, "Self, am I as good a mother as Becca?" then you can quickly reach your conclusion by taking the following quiz:

1. Have you called Poison Control at least once in the past week?
Yes (5 points for each time you've called.) No (0 points)

2. How many of your children are currently sick?
1 point, per child, per illness. (For example, if little Suzy has a case of the green apple quickstep AND a raging case of the flu, that's two points.)

3. In the past week when making dinner, say--lentil soup--you
manage to catch something on fire.
Yes (10 points) No (5 points) Never (0 points)

4. True or False: A hot dog, with a vitamin filled dollop of ketchup, is a nutritious breakfast and a fabulous way to begin your child's day.
Absolutely (5 points) If I'm desperate (2 points) No (0 points) Vegetarian (-5 points)

5. You are already listening to Christmas music.
Yes (7 points) No (3 points)

6. Does your family have a list of Appropriate Places to Be Naked Policy? (Such as, your bedroom and bathroom are fine, but the kitchen and front yard are not.) If yes, 10 points.

7. Who has eaten more of the Halloween Candy, you or your children?
You (5 points) Your children (7 points) Equal amounts (10 points)

8. Does you child know what a cornucopia is? If yes, 5 points.

9. How many nights this week have you gone to bed and left the dishes in the sink? 1 point/day. Bonus point if the dishes from the day before spend the night in the sink for two nights.

10. Give yourself one point for each time you've gotten up with a child this week. Give yourself two points for each time that your spouse has gotten up with a child this week.

SCORE:

50 or Higher... Congratulations and rest at ease--you can be confident that you are, indeed, right up to par.

30-50... With just a little more ambition, you too could be the kind of mother that I am. A little less laundry, a little more facebook, and you should be just fine.

10-30... Hey, we all have our down weeks. Maybe you could set some goals. Start with this simple exercise: do all of your parenting from a sitting position for a day or two. It will have you well on your way.

0-10... Really?? I mean, really? How are we friends???

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gluten Free Thanksgiving: Crustless Pumpkin Pie

I am venturing into my first foray, for myself, of a gluten free Thanksgiving.

Oy weh.

I wanted to find some GOOD recipes well before the big day, so that I don't spend the day miserable and whining/wishing for my Cranberry Velvet pie with orange shortbread crust from last year.

A moment of silence for that pie.

Ok. Better.

Anyway, I remembered a crustless pumpkin pie that I made for my mother when she was here for Thanksgiving three years ago, and decided to try it again--I remember it being really, really delicious.

The recipe:
GLUTEN FREE Crustless Pumpkin Pie

2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 1/4 c. sugar (I use a little less.)
3/4 c. evaporated milk (yes, you can use skim.)
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (puh-lease. I use this as a starting point and dump the stuff in.)
If you DON'T need to eat gluten free, add 3 T. flour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together until smooth. Resist the urge to eat it by the spoonful. Lightly grease a 9 inch pie plate, and then dump it in. Taste a little bit with your pinky finger. Resist the urge to do it again. Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet. (The regular metal kind. NOT the bake stone kind. Trust me.) Pour hot water on the cookie sheet until you've got an even 1/2 inch or so. Place in the oven. Careful--don't dump the water. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Cool. Add whipped cream. Devour. You can even share if you like.

Mmmmm.... what was that other kind of pie I had last year?? I don't remember...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Windows

*choirs of angels sing*

I was made aware, earlier this week, of a BLACK FRIDAY SPECIAL... on Saturday. There was a bunch of stuff... X-box... blueray... big ol' white trash televisions... and, oooooh--laptops! "At least 10 per store."

My family goes through laptops like most families go through, oh, I dunno. Shampoo. There is a veritable graveyard of laptops clustered around my feet. Most of them recently refurbished, and totally useless. Their causes of death range from "Stepped on the day that it was opened" to "Possessed by demons."

So I got up this morning at quarter to six and took my super-awesome Kate Gosselin haircut to the local Valmart. The parking lot was alarmingly full, and not everyone could be stocking up on emergency supplies of Baby Motrin or Gingerale and saltines. (My only other reasons, before today, to show up at, pre-dawn, at Valmart.) So I Senior Olympics speed-walked (cutting through the Intimates and Pubescent Boys section) to Electronics. There was a single worker there, who looked at me with raised eyebrows.

"Laptops. On sale." I gasped, out of breath.
"Ya'll realize that's you gots to wait, right?" he said kindly.
"Yup. 8:00." I chirped, waving my tattered copy of Harry Potter.
"Oh wow. You's prepahred. Well. Go head. Wait on them benches in Site to Store."

I walked back to Site to Store and plunked down on a black iron bench, and felt really foolish. Wishing for my bed, I opened up Harry Potter to the first page.

And then, I heard them coming. A herd. Soon--all the benches were full and the line twisted down the toy aisle and out of sight. I didn't feel so foolish anymore.

The girl next to me, a state trooper, happily opened the latest celebrity magazine and gave her thoughtful opinions of celebrity romances, children, and boob jobs. ("That's never gonna work." seemed to be the general consensus, for all three.) A worker got off of work and plunked herself down in her blue vest, asking us each in turn was WE were there for. A guy on a cell phone was taking off-sight orders and planning how to sell things on craigslist.

The time ticked by. Word leaked from the jumpy manager's walkie-talkie that there was only one laptop available. The rest would be rain checks. People shuffled nervously.

Then 8:00 came.

And I left the store, with the people in line staring daggers at my back, with the single, brand spankin' new laptop.

And there was rejoicing throughout all the land. Or at least in my house.

But please, let this laptop last more than one Christmas....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Top 10...

Top 10 Things You Don't Want to Hear Your Doctor Say...

  1. I just don't know what to tell you.
  2. I really think we might be able to write a paper on this.
  3. Oops.
  4. Huh. Well that's weird.
  5. Let me check with my medical dictionaries and get back to you.
  6. Really? I just figured you knew more about it than I did.
  7. My colleagues are gonna freak.
  8. Do you know where to get more information on this?
  9. Wanna see something cool?
  10. Oh my gosh! You have GOT to take a look at this!

All of which I heard at my doctor's office today.

Joy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

You've Got Mail... maybe...

My new (as of Christmas) laptop has started playing hard to get. I push the button. The little Windows flag waves it's cruel greeting. And as soon as the main screen appears, my fingers begin a mad dash through their routine. A race against the cruel and unreasonable temper that rules the Lappy, which will crash at any moment and for no apparent reason. Sometimes it gives me 5 minutes. Enough to check my e-mail. Sometimes it gets to my log in, just enough to see the list of e-mails, and then it crashes.

Which brings up another point: I haven't been able to deletee my JUNK folder for quite awhile and it's piling up. Do you ever look at the stuff in your JUNK folder and think, "Where in the name of Pete did these people get my address???" The random causes, the monthly VISIT FRANCE newsletter, invitations to FUND YOUR COLLEGE CAREER NOW, not to mention FND TRU LV. I can tell you one thing, my true love does not speak cyber.

But, between the moodswings of the laptop, blogging is taking a backseat. In a double decker bus. Behind the old lady with the yappy dog and the young mom with lots of kids, a massive stroller, and a raging case of the Swine Flu.

Yup. That's where I'm at.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"It's a Great Day..."


A picture says 1,000 words.
This picture says everything (and I do mean everything) about my life right now.
Hmmph.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Holier Than Thou.

Yes--and by "thou" I mean "you."

Because look at me with my red Target cart and my HAPPY BABY ORGANIC PUFFS in GREENS flavor.

And you're all over there, with your Gerber. *snort* Puh-lease.

I have a friend. She's the loveliest woman on the planet. I'm pretty sure, because I took a poll, and she is so earth friendly. Buys local. Dresses like she's headed to a j-jill photoshoot. Drinks from a Sigg. Sigh. I want to be just like her. She's completely inspired me.

Which is why I've been trying to buy more local and organic stuff.

But I've discovered this great side benefit: self righteous egomania and pride.

Ha.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Detox.

Earlier this week, before 7:00 in the morning, Thing 2 demanded the following for breakfast:

1. Chocolate
2. Little Chocolate
3. Starbursts
4. Hot dogs
5. Cheese
6. Chocolate
7. Ramen Noodles

All attempts I made at "How about cereal? How about eggs? How about yogurt?" were quickly rebuffed in the strongest terms, using an unearthly, growling voice.
As I tried to convince the two year old of the delicious nature of peaches, I began to realize that we are in desperate need of a junk food "detox" before we enter the Halloween to Christmas Candy Marathon. And when I say "We" I mean "all of us"...or at least those of us that are too short to reach the M&Ms.

Day 1 was tolerable.
Day 2 was a nightmare.
Day 3 resembled a hutu uprising.
Day 4 isn't going so well:


Oh well. There's always tomorrow.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This May Be the Stupidest Blog Post Ever. Don't Miss It.

It may surprise you to know that I have a weakness. It's true.

I can be pretty good at the Air and Aspartame Diet. Also known as the "Shut your mouth and quit eating everything in sight" diet. It's all the rage.

But I have a downfall.

I can so "No" to so many things. So many good, yummy things. Pie. Homemade bread. Pumpkin and pecan ice cream in a chocolate dipped waffle cone.

But not cheese.

Oh help me, not cheap, American, cheddar cheese.

And I have, apparently, passed on the gene that carries this cheesy weakness to Thing 2.

Which is why, last night, when I was getting dinner on the table, the Spouse picked up the small block of cheese that only two days before had been a LARGE block of cheese and said "We ate this much in TWO DAYS???" I pointed, innocently, at the toddler.

I mean, really. It's possible. That he ate that much. On his own. And cut it. With a knife. By himself.

It's possible, right???

Tell me--do you have any weaknesses?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Birthday Quilt

Thank you for the quilt, Grandma Denise.

It's really, really beautiful.




I love it.


Love, Wee One

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Unedited Life: Cake.

Photo from thepioneerwoman.com



Pioneer Woman's "Grandma Iny's Prune Cake" is in my fridge. Taunting me. Glistening in all it's spice cakey, gooey carmel covered goodness. "You mayn't have some." it taunts, sounding self righteous. The flour in the batter sticks it tongue out at me. The 1 cup of oil beckons with a "Come hither" glance and a reminder that there is buttermilk, nutmeg, and cinnamon in here. Tantalizing cinnamon..... mmmmm....

Considering that my baby will turn 1 in a month and I'm wearing a maternity shirt today, the oil should be a deterent. It isn't. But that darn flour. If it wasn't for that darn flour, I'd be diving in FACE FIRST into this cake. It's been that kind of day.

So I'm eating iceberg lettuce by the handful. Just plain old iceberg lettuce. Sometimes I glare over at the fridge, "See??? I don't need you, Cake. This lettuce is awesome. I love this lettuce, and it loves me back."

Cake rolls it's eyes. Cake knows I am lying.
Because Cake knows a universal truth: iceberg lettuce is NOT cake.

I hate Cake.

If you like Cake, and you really should, and you aren't Celiac or something, then please--follow Pioneer Woman's admonition and make this cake now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Daily Funnies...

My kids crack me up. For example:

Thing 1: "Mama, the dream is over."
Me: "What? What do you mean the dream is over?"
Thing 1: (mumbled) "The dream is SO over."

And the fact that Thing 2 wants milk with ice in it. I think I may have given him just-made lukewarm powdered milk one too many times. "No, Mama. I want COLD milk. I want COLD, FRESH milk." (He's two, p.s.)

Or the Wee One, who is army crawling and finally pulling up on things... and getting stuck there... with no way to get down. And the fact that when she laughs it's like a sheep "baaaaa-h"-ing. Or a machine gun. Take your pick.


This pretty much sums up my life.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Give-a-Care is Busted

Does that ever happen to you? Does your Give-a-care just... break? About halfway through a morning and a pile of dishes? Cuz it just happened to me.

So I scooped the Wee One out of her crib (hey--she wasn't napping anyway) and plopped flat on my back on the couch and let her play with my face.

That's about all I'm capable of today.

Cuz my Give-a-Care is busted.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Deal.

I have been handed a new set of cards.

I was playing Go Fish. But someone just dealt me a hand of Old Maid. And I'm not sure what to do with these cards.

One spring day in 2005, I got a call from my dad. My Mom had been undergoing some routine tests that day and he said "Oh, they're all fine. But they think she might be allergic to wheat." "Wheat? Bummer. I guess no more bread for her."

Which just shows my own stupidity.

So, for the past four years--my Mom has lived gluten free. She avoids all foods with wheat, barley, or rye in them. Bread, yes. Cookies, cakes, and pasta. But also shampoos, makeup, meats, lotions--just about anything you can think of. We've all felt bad for her. She got dealt a rough hand of cards.

Well, guess what? Can you guess? This morning, I called my doctor to find out the results of my lab work, the nurse said "Oh--and the doctor tested you for celiac. And that's positive."

Such an offhand way to tell someone they're never going to have gingerbread or birthday cake or Olive Garden ravioli again. Like she wasn't dealing me a whole new hand of cards. Because, unlike this nurse--judging by her tone--I know exactly what it means to be celiac. It means being different. It means a whole lifetime of checking labels and explaining why you can't have some. It means that I'll never again have my mother-in-laws hot scones or homemade bread. Ever. It means that someday when my husband and I go on a mission, there are places they won't send me... because I won't be able to get the right kind of food.

It changes everything.

I'm just not sure what to do with it.