Monday, December 13, 2010

Humidify


I am on the hunt once again for the world's most efficient humidifier. I am not asking much really. I want something that produces a mist to humidify the room at least 30%. I want something that doesn't leak. And I want something that doesn't sound like an airplane running in the room. Oh and can it function longer than one winter? How hard is it to get these things really? Growing up we had a humidifier that mom brought out every time we got a cold. It was bare bones back then, but while loud and leaving a small water puddle near the vapor outlet, it worked for like ever.

We have had four different brand humidifiers in the five years we've been married and only one that I was decently happy enough with that I bought another of the same and then they both promptly stopped working in different ways. All work okay until the 30 days are up for warranty.

When my sister came to visit, my nephew came down with the croup. I rushed over to Target and bought a humidifier. From the get go, the thing didn't work right, but my sister, who was concerned about my nephew only cared that it put out the vapor, not that you couldn't change how much vapor or even turn the unit off without unplugging it, despite what the instruction manual said it should. Since she never informed me that it didn't work right, or maybe it did and then two months later when I took it out again, the gauges stopped working, I couldn't return it. The machine is quite loud and hubby refuses to have it in our room, but it does emit a great vapor.

The next one I bought was the cutesy Frog looking one from Crane for Cookie's room. It was quiet, it emitted a small amount of vapor....but only worked well enough to humidify a small closet. I continued to use it though for a good two winter seasons, but after the second, the plastic cracked and broke, rendering the unit unusable.

Next, I purchased an ultrasonic one that didn't require a filter like the first one did, which frankly was gross and I changed often. While the first unit was just under $50, filters are close to $12 a piece....thus making the unit actually not that economical. The ultrasonic did not have filters, but was on the pricier side, closer to $100.00. I liked the ultrasonic unit, as it seemed to work, it had a humidity control monitor that seemed to work, and kept the room humidified. I liked it so much , I ran back to the store and bought another one so I could have one in each of the kid's rooms because inevitably they will both be sick at the same time. Then inexplicably one started dripping water from the base....and I mean the whole unit of water, all of the bookshelf I had it sitting on, down the back, soaking the entire carpet. Having had the book self anchored to the wall for kid safety, we had to remove said anchors, empty book self and spend an hour with the steam cleaner soaking up the water from the carpet. It took over two days to dry completely. with the floor heater pointed to it. The other one stopped measuring moisture properly and would turn off, so I had to leave it on all the time at optimum output. Now I am back to using filtered loud one until I can find another unit.

I have been online. I have read hundreds of reviews regarding numerous different humidifiers and everyone, it seems, has the same problems with every single product out there. I am even willing to shell out $300 for a product, if it works...but even those seem to have crappy reviews. Are humidifiers that difficult to make? Or is this some gigantic conspiracy by these companies to make a product that only lasts 90 days, forcing you, the consumer, to continue to buy more? I once had an American made car, whose parts individually broke as soon as the warranty ran out. The rear view mirror literally came off the window. Door handles broke, belts burst, and I don't want to forget the peeling paint problem...all occurring days after the warranty was over.

Maybe this time I'll get lucky and find something that works.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Sugar Cookies


My friend over at Evolvingmommy.com is hosting a cookie exchange again this year. Last year I accumulated many yummy and delicious cookie recipes. I was baking almost everyday before Christmas last year thanks to her.

I am reposting my Vanilla Cut Out Cookie Recipe for her exchange. I found these to be the best...and I mean best cut out, no need to refrigerate dough recipe. My Hungarian friend retrieved this recipe from an old Hungarian Cookbook, translated it for me, and then I had to convert everything from grams to cups and tablespoons and teaspoons. I did make a couple changes....but I bet you won't eat just one. I love my sugar cookies nice and soft, so I don't cook them until they are golden brown on the bottom, but if you cook them longer they turn out nice and crisp if that's what you prefer. I also like my cookies thick, but you can roll out the dough to whatever thickness you prefer. I make these for every holiday...but have yet to make them for Christmas this year...I went with chocolate this week. Therefore my picture is one from Spring. My own little Cookie loves to make these and Jelly just loves Cookies.....Enjoy

Vanilla Cut Out Cookies

2 3/4 Cups All purpose flour
2 1/2 Sticks of Butter (or 1 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
4 Egg Yolks (reserve whites to baste cookies)

Mix all ingredients together until forms a dough. Roll with flour and cut out with favorite cookie cutters. Baste with egg whites, sprinkle with sugar or sprinkles if desired. Bake 350F until golden brown.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Personal Shopper


Hubby's boss has summoned us to the company Holiday Party. And when I say summoned, I mean it. Since Hubby's company is in California, that means we have to fly out to go. The boss man is paying for the whole family to go. Great news considering that my grandfather had a fall and is now in a nursing home. I wanted to fly home to Mom last week, but had puking kids. Now I can go and have someone to pay for it.

Of course a Holiday Party means a holiday dress, thus sending me into a panic.It's been about five years since I've really needed to dress nicely. Five years since I've worn actual nice clothes. I am a mom, and I have become that Stay at Home Mom horror. Frankly I can not see spending good money on clothes that the kids just ruin with snot, puke, and other lovely things. One I get dressed in the morning, the nice clean clothes last approximately 5 minutes. Little fingers with some kind of goo always smudge them. Plus my size keeps changing.

To the mall I headed to find the perfect little black dress. You all know the one I'm talking about. Two hours alone at the mall for shopping while hubby takes care of the home front is pure bliss. Shopping and trying on clothes without grubby hands or whining kids is a plus.

While discarding the fifth unacceptable dress, hubby texts me to inform me that the party is casual....so buy something nice, but casual. Oh Thank GOD! I was seriously becoming depressed, having been unable to loose the baby weight after Jelly. That's a combination of lack of exercise (not without trying trust me...these kids don't cooperate with me trying to live a healthy lifestyle...not sure how others do it) and still nursing. Yes, I am in the minority who can not loose weight while nursing. I didn't loose a pound until I stopped nursing Cookie.

So I left the big department store and headed to my all time favorite store, Ann Taylor. I used to love their clothes, maybe I'm too old. Maybe my body just changed too much...but that store was a colossal fail. It could have been the florescent lighting they placed along both sides of the mirror, casting a horrific glow, making it impossible to see if clothes actually fit properly, or it could be that they had nothing in the exact size I needed. Either too big or too small.

Dejected just a tad, I walked into Eddie Bauer. They've been sending us their catalog and I had walked in there the previous week and bought hubby two new work shirts and me a brand spanking new adorable winter coat. I was impressed with the service I had received, and thought to try them again.

Like before, I received excellent service. But it got even better. As I am trying on clothes I hear a voice outside my door. "Hi, my name is Katie and I can help you with anything you want..in just a minute....ummm, I kinda have to get dressed as I was trying on all our clearance stuff." I open the door and say, "sounds like fun, when you get a chance can I get another size in these pants." That's when the fun begins. She oohs and ahs about what I'm trying on, comes back with the requested size pants and a boat load of other clothes. She says, "here's some stuff I thought would look great and it's on clearance...so just give it a try." I had been lamenting just the day before to a friend that maybe I needed to hire a personal shopper because I hadn't a clue as what to buy anymore. My body was f*ed, and I am now 30 not 20. I am outdated and haven't a clue as what to buy. The next hour and a half consisted of Katie as my own personal shopper and new best friend. Honest opinions about clothing and great options. Not only did I leave the store with a great outfit to wear to Hubby's Christmas party, I left with two outfits and a fuzzy gloved ice scraper. Can you say salesperson of the year?

I am so happy with my purchases and the personal attention I am going to write a positive letter to the company...I know something different from the terse ones I've been writing to everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Things that go Bump in the Night

You ever have one of those feeling as a parent that you are just destined not to get sleep that night? Last night was one of those nights. I have recently been a little obsessed with Korean Drama shows. I used to watch them years ago in order to practice my Korean, and get the cadence of the language when I was learning it. Since we cancelled cable over a year ago, we've been watching t.v. online....and the site we consistently go back to has been adding Korean Drama to their catalog of shows.

The cool thing about it, is that, unlike American soap operas, they end in sixteen episodes, and the website usually posts all episodes at once. There is no waiting a week for the next episode or even a day. The bad part of this, is they are highly addicting, and all I want to do is watch the show I am currently on. All. Day. Hey kids you need a bath? Eh we'll just skip it tonight...MinSung is about to meet up with Hwang So. Anyway the last two nights I have been staying up past 11 o'clock watching. Stupid me.

Last night I had that intuitive feeling that I should be going to bed at 9 o'clock, but could not turn off my Korean Drama. As I hit the hay at around 11:30, I tossed and turned and just as I was finally drifting off to slumberland, Jelly started crying. She's going through a pretty rough separation anxiety and has been fighting naps, sleep, and going back to sleep in general. Thinking her issue was this, I vowed that after going in, changing a minor wet diaper, rubbing a tummy for a few minutes, I was going to let her cry it out. Immediately upon leaving the room she started screaming. A fever, high pitch scream. Not her normal scream, but she sounded angry.

From the Cookie's monitor I could hear her tossing a little, most likely disturbed by her sister. And that's when I heard it, a bump. Thinking it was Cookie getting out of bed to go pee, I ignored it. But, then I didin't hear her door open. So I finally got out of bed to deal with the fever pitch non-stop screaming of Jelly before she really did wake up Cookie. Ready to show her my frustration, I walked in and there she was....wondering around her room crying! In case you missed that, my 15 month old was out of her crib!!!!! That bump was Jelly climbing out of her crib. Grabbing my child to my now very awake self, feeling her all over to make sure she was uninjured. I proceeded to cuddle with he until she started to drift to sleep. She was pulling her ears, so I got to thinking she was probably teething again.

Fast forward to four a.m. After nursing the crying Jelly (we have just the one left), I put her back to bed. Five a.m. I hear her coughing and crying. The sound every Mom knows means...puke is going to follow that cough. I get up and as soon as I lift her, she starts throwing up. Panic, did she hit her head when she climbed out? I am now examining my now naked child's head for any discerning bumps. No, nothing. I am pretty positive she doesn't have a concussion. Despite all the puke, the panic about concussion and bleeding in the brain. I have the following recurring thought, "Oh my God! She's climbing out of her crib already, what the fuck am I going to do?"

Monday, October 11, 2010

Laughter the Best Medicine

They say that laughter is the best medicine. That laughter actually makes a person healthier. I haven't really had a good laugh in a long time. Don't get me wrong, I laugh, I find things funny, particularly, hubby and some of the things the kids do. But a good, strong, tears rolling down my face laugh, not so much.

Hubby says that I am too serious. My siblings like to say I am too. Which, probably means I am. I just don't take responsibility lightly. When I was teaching, I wish I could say I was the funny teacher...cause who doesn't like a teacher who is funny? My classes were fun, the kids generally liked me (I think), and learning happened all the time. However, I was always professional and a little cynical. Seasoned teachers told me I acted like a veteran. The things I said, the way I held myself screamed old timer. Yep, a nice way of saying I was serious, that I didn't have that new teacher glow. It was not meant as an insult, as seasoned teachers kinda felt threatened by the newer, younger teachers. New teachers have energy, they have pizazz, and many have that young/good looking thing that even if they are terrible at the job, the kids still love them. One student once told me that I hung out with the "popular teachers." I think she meant the younger ones in their twenties opposed to those in their 40s-60s (cause at the school I taught we didn't have many in between...most were within 10 years of retirement). But, I could hang with the older crowd and fit right in. The other new teacher had problems being able to relate to their mentors.

As a stay at home mom, I take my job very seriously. What I do is important, I have to convince myself of this daily or I would just get depressed. But I am not the "cool" Mom. I never will be. My parents were the cool parents. My Mom used to pile all the kids in the neighborhood in their station wagon and just drive around turning right or left when the kids told her to. My dad would bring home the company truck, pile the kids in the back and take everyone out to ice cream. These things would never happen in my home. First, hubby isn't too keen on kids other than our own. Second, all that gas wasted, and I would not feel comfortable driving all the kids around in the neighborhood. The responsibility scares me. Yep, I am too serious.

Last night Cookie asked me to come play in her room with her. So I obliged, since really how long is she really going to want to play with me anyway? One day she's going to be slamming that bedroom door asking me to please leave her alone. She told me she wanted to give me a show and to get in the closet (lucky girl has a walk in). And then she sang and danced and intermittently between the singing and dancing she started burping and farting. I was laughing so hard tears started streaming down my face. My sides hurt. And Cookie kept laughing because I was laughing. Then she' ask me to stop so the show could go on...but she'd start to giggle, then she'd burp and then I'd start laughing again. It felt really really good. I love my Cookie and I was reminded that sometimes I just need to let go, stop worrying about the laundry or the kitchen that has yet to be cleaned and enjoy my kids. Because they are really really funny.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Be the Ball...or something like it

Ever have that Ah Ha moment? That moment where there is perfect clarity. I had it the other day. I have been struggling with keeping my cool in regards to Cookie and her 3 year old behavior. That little girl sure can push. Not to mention she already is sounding like a teenager. Her tone when responding to us can really use an adjustment. And the other day her Daddy was the recipient of a "Fuck You, I hate you" face. In fact if she had those words I think she would have used them.

Back to my moment of Zen. I was reading one of those Parent magazines with the name "Parent" in it's title and there was an article about how to stop yelling at your kids. I am not sure what spoke to me, and made me actually take their advice, but for once, maybe the author knew what she was talking about. She wasn't some clinical child psychologist or doctor telling me how to raise my kid. She was a mom who also found herself yelling at the top of her lungs, "You will listen to me! Why are you driving me crazy? Why are you doing that?" While her kids either looked at her like she was crazy or continued to misbehave.

Here's the thing. Some of the suggestions were things I learned to do as a teacher....and employed them successfully on a daily basis. After my first year teaching, in which I call the "screaming year." Where as a first year teacher all you do is scream louder than the kids. I learned that yelling did nothing, so I whispered or spoke softly. This method always worked. Well why wouldn't it work with my three year old? Cause newsflash, it does.

Secondly, as a teacher I found I had to be explicit in what I wanted and why. I also had to explain in detail why I was upset and what the students were doing incorrectly. If I had just said, "Jimmy, you are driving me crazy." He would be clueless as to what behavior was really driving me nuts. Since, he may have walked in the door, sat down at his desk, got out his notebook, all correct behaviors, but was chewing gum and blowing bubble (incorrect) in a one minute span. I would have needed to say, "Jimmy your gum chewing and blowing bubbles is driving me crazy." Immediate understanding should follow. This descriptive talk is something I have failed to do as a parent. I am not sure why, as it is one of the first lessons I learned preparing to teach.

Yesterday I employed tactic number two, while speaking in a soft firm voice. It worked. I found that when my blood started to boil in annoyance at some behavior Cookie was displaying, telling her in detail why it was wrong actually calmed me. I found other parents at the park giving me marveling and impressed stares as I told the girls, who were fighting over a water bottle that, "taking turns is how both of them get what they want, so Cookie gets to take a drink first while Jelly waits and then it is Jelly's turn to take a drink while Cookie waits. Grabbing the water bottle out of each other's hands just makes the person whose turn it is upset and no one is happy." I didn't shout my usual, "SHARE FOR GOODNESS SAKE!" or "STOP HITTING YOUR SISTER!" Amazingly the fighting stopped and both girls waited their turns. All day things like this happened. It was only while I was cooking dinner that I lost my patience with Jelly as she can not quite understand why she is not allowed in the kitchen while Mommy is making dinner.

The last tactic discussed was reminding yourself that your child is acting their age, so speak it out loud, "you are acting so three!" This is supposed to help you remember that your three year old has only been around for 36 months to learn everything. This tactic makes me think of "CaddyShack" and Chevy Chase saying "Be the Ball." Cookie is just being "3" that's it. I need some reminders of that.

Parenting is harder than I ever imagined and I need a lot more patience than I was ever given. Hopefully by employing these tactics I can learn to parent smarter not harder.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Awesome!

Have I told you how awesome my Mom is. She really is. I can not fathom where she got all the energy to raise us kids and have fun while we were at it. Probably cause she's awesome. With all the Halloween and fall preparedness kicking in, I am reminded of the things I loved about my childhood, and it was because of Mom that they were awesome.

First we always, always made popcorn balls. Caramely, buttery popcorn balls. She'd pop a gigantic bowl of popcorn, heat the caramel on the stove and us kids would slather our hands in butter waiting for her to pour the caramel over the popcorn and then tell us we could start molding balls. As we dug in, forming popcorn balls, we'd all being blowing on our fingers saying "ouch...ouch...ouch...hot...hot..hot" all the while we'd keep trading off dipping our hands in the butter and then the popcorn. I looked forward to lunch everyday the week after making them, as Mom always packed them in our lunches. Dad would come home from work excited to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Every holiday we made sugar cutout cookies. What another treat for us kids to have in our lunches. Yummy homemade cookies that we got to cut out and decorate. Spiders, pumpkins, witches and an occasional leaf adorned the Fall cookie collection.

Cookie has started to ask if we can get the Halloween box out of the basement and make cookies. So this year now that it is October, cookies, popcorn balls, and pumpkins are on the agenda. Not to mention a lot of crafting projects, trips to the farm and pumpkin patch, and trick or treating.

While Halloween is not my favorite holiday, Fall is my favorite season. And it does feel like fall. Today I took the kids on a bike ride, enjoying the cool fall weather, the color changes on the trees, and the smell of dampness that was missing all summer.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chicken Soup for the Soul


Growing up with a Catholic grandmother who embraced the Jewish culture was quite an experience. The woman was phenomenal at dishing out guilt trips. I was either to fat or too thin. I never ate enough but was eating way too much. If you were sick, she fed you. But she fed us with the Jewish penicillin, Matzo Ball Soup. For a Catholic lady, she sure could whip up a mean matzo. She died too young, I think, and before I was old enough to get her recipe. But the little bit of Jewish in me, 1/4 to be exact, likes to feed my family with this particular Jewish cure for all that ails you. Every Jewish family has a chicken soup recipe, which they claim to be the best. Frankly what makes it the best is the time and love they put into it.

When my Cookie came down with the flu, I chucked the idea of having a nice steak for dinner and began to thaw the whole chicken I had in the freezer for just such an occasion. (I like to buy a whole baking chicken when they are on sale and keep it in the freezer to either make a stock, or a soup with, my favorite is Tortilla Soup..but plain chicken soup is great). While Cookie of course refused to eat the soup (tummy hurt too much), Hubby, Jelly, and I enjoyed it along with some homemade egg noddles and homemade baguettes. Below is my easy peasy Chicken Soup/Chicken stock recipe. The one below is if you want to eat the soup the same day, but the best soup is made over two days allowing time to cool the stock and remove the fat, then chopping more carrots, celery, and onion to add to the stock and cooking until they are soft. Which you can do if you want an even more delicious and rich stock.

Chicken Soup (best started first thing in the morning)

1 Whole Baking Chicken
3 Stalks of Celery Chopped
1 Onion Chopped
4 Carrots Peeled and Chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 Bay leaves
8 cups of Water
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)

1. Saute Onions, Celery, and Carrots in a large Stock pot in the butter.
2. Add the whole chicken(thawed, gizzards removed), water, and bay leaves. Salt and Pepper to taste (I generally add about a tsp of both and then add more at the end to taste). Add more water if needed to cover chicken.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked
through. (about 2-3 hours...you can increase heat, but you will have to add more water
later). Taste the stock and add more salt and pepper to taste.
4. Remove chicken to a plate or bowl to cool.
5. Drain the stock into a bowl or another stock pot using a colander to separate the carrots,
celery, and onions (retain for later use but remove the bay leaves).
6. Place the stock in the freezer (if you've got room) or in the fridge and allow to cool (about 2
hours).
7. While stock is cooling remove the meat from the bones of the chicken and chop up. You
decide how chunky and how much meat you want in your soup. I sometimes take some of the
meat and save some to make chicken salad or serve the kids it alone.
8. Once the stock is cool you will notice that the fat will start to solidify on the top of the
liquid. You will need to spoon this off or use a towel to soak up the fat. I usually start by
spooning and then finally place some paper towels on the top to soak up the rest. (if doing
this over two days, skim the fat the first day, and then reboil the stock, then place in fridge
again and skim the next day.)
9. Return the stock to the burner, add the chopped chicken and the onions, carrots, celery you
set aside (note, that if you are doing this over two days you would throw out the first batch of
veggies and then chop the same amount and then you would throw them in with the stock and
cook until they are soft, then add the chicken...making sure you refrigerate the chicken over
night.) Heat over med. until chicken and veggies and stock all warm. Enjoy.

Egg Noodles

3 eggs
2 cups of all purpose flour

1. Beat eggs together in a large bowl
2. Add flour a little bit at a time until incorporated and using a dough hook or by hand knead until shiny smooth and form a ball.
3. Wrap in Saran wrap, set at room temp for at least 15 minutes.
4. Using either a pasta machine or rolling pin, separate the dough into to balls and then roll each one out until really really thin. Let set until hard enough to cut into thin strips for noodles.
5. Either cook in boiling water for about 5 minutes or allow to dry over chairs and then place in Tupperware in fridge. Once dry you will need to boil at least 8 minutes.

I would suggest you cut the noodles thin and in pieces for your soup.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hiding Out

Hubby has started doing something I only wish I could do. He is hiding in bed. Of course I get up when the kids get up, but lately I have noticed Hubby wakes up and lays in bed watching shows on his computer. He is hiding. Of course this annoys me because I wouldn't even dare to think about it.

We have trained Cookie so well that she still lays in bed waiting for someone to come in and tell her she can get up. Of course she also yells, "Mommy the sun's on" and Jelly just cries out or talks until someone gets her. I often wonder how long it would take hubby to get out of bed and stop pretending to be asleep if I just ignored the kids in the morning. I have yet to get up the gumption to find out.

We like to joke sometimes when the kids are stressing one or both of us out that we are going out for cigarettes and milk. Sometimes it surprises me that Hubby comes back. I don't blame him for hiding out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Won't you be my neighbor

I don't expect to be liked by everyone. In fact people either love me or hate me. I am not the kind of person you can say, "Oh, Ginger, she's alright." I tend to rub people the wrong way sometimes. I am too sarcastic, too upfront, and too talkative.

Sometimes there are people who just don't get my humor, who don't appreciate my blunt language, and people who just want me to shut up. If these people are strangers, or those I don't expect to see again, I can understand being ignored or even the cold shoulder. However, someone I have to see on a regular basis, someone I may have to deal with in regards to my kids, I would like to be friendly with. Whether or not I like them or they like me, a cordial friendliness is nice to have. I can fake it, I do so with the "perfect mom" all the time. We both have an unspoken understanding. We partake in a cool friendly chat it up conversation when we see each other. Cordial, polite, businesslike, acceptable. Our kids play together, our kids see each other, we make the best of it.

Recently we had some new neighbors move in. This development was exciting for me. I had just said goodbye to a really good friend. Cookie had to say goodbye to her buddies and we were both aching for people to fill the void. The new family is from California, like us and they are around Hubby's and my age. They have two kids; a son who is five and a daughter who is the same age as Cookie. It seemed that this might be a wonderful addition to our neighborhood. Finally someone my age. Finally another Mom going through the same stages I was. I love my neighborhood. I love my neighbors who are like surrogate moms for me and aunties for the girls, but having someone close to my age with a daughter Cookie could play with just seemed like providence. Ever hear of too good to be true?

We seemed to hit it off. The kids played nicely together, she seemed welcoming. I invited her to join me on a bike ride to playgroup and she accepted. Then things went south. I am not sure what I said, what I did, or what happened on that trip. But since then we have been given the cold shoulder. A nice cool reception awaited us when we popped over to play. At first I thought they just might be busy. Moving in, adding a porch, and fixing up their house. I thought maybe I came on too strong. So I gave them some space. Like a month of space.

Yet, after that month, she continually turned us down to play. Her children sat there begging to play, they were doing nothing but watching t.v., yet she always had an excuse. I don't have to be her friend, but I would like to be friendly, for the kid's sake. I know that I can't make everyone like me, but it is sad to see Cookie beg to ask if they can play, and I have to say no. I can not take the sad faces of not only Cookie, but the crying from her kids. The last time we went by, her daughter threw a tantrum so bad, her mom had to put her in the house and shut the door. We could hear her weeping, "But I want to go play."

The fixer in me wants to call and confront her. I want to ask what I did to offend her, if anything. I would like to make it right, not just for Cookie, but maybe for me, too. The practical part of me says to let it go. I have to live near this family and letting things lie might be better than making a big hababaloo about something that might be nothing. So I continue to tell Cookie, that no, we will wait for them to ask us over. And will continue to say hi and be cordial when they pass by the house. For now, the ball is in their court, even though it is killing me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Order

I like order. I like all of my stuff to be in certain places, certain ways. I like to be able to find items when I want them. Unfortunately places like my closet, my bedroom, and well, the whole house resemble the chaos that is in hubby's head. He is definitely the scattered artist.

The bedroom and the closet, I can certainly blame him, because once a month I find myself sitting on the floor in the closet re-hanging clothes, his clothes. Somehow, they fall off the hangers and land on the floor, without being rehung. The discarded articles sit on the floor until the pile reaches mound like proportions and I must do something before it becomes a small mountain. Despite having a hamper, clothing (hubby's) fail to make it in. Discarded worn, dirty clothes litter the bedroom floor where they were removed....and frankly this goes for any place in the house. I find socks and pants in the weirdest places.

There was a time that I was able to stay on top of the chaos, keep order, but with two more scattered brained children, it has become impossible. And thus I have fallen into the abyss of chaos. I long for the order that once was my life. I know that some people manage to get it. I know that somewhere, out there, there is a super woman who is able to get it all done, and catalog and label all of her shoes with pictures and boxes. She has managed to type in all of her recipes, catalog them alphabetically, by theme and food group, including beautiful pictures of her concoctions. In my head I'd love to be this anal. I would love to take the time and put everything in it's place. But frankly, with children and hubby, I will go for organized chaos. Because I am just too tired to be as organized in real life as I am in my fantasy world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Non-Smoking Please


I hate smokers. My Dad is a smoker, and I think, because he is, my respect for him is a little less. I remember my parents struggling financially. I remember my Mom concerned about affording groceries. I also have recall of them arguing about his cigarette habit. The fact that he was spending a large amount of the families' budget on his nicotine fix every month, was a cause for friction. My Dad, because he loves smoking and did not particularly enjoy my mom nagging him about it. And my Mom, because she was in charge of paying the bills and was literally watching him burn through money. But he did make one concession, he started buying the cheap brand instead of the better known brand. If anyone knows a smoker, they'd know that smokers are brand loyal. He also began to smoke outside when us kids began to harp at him, well that and the fact that my brother got the croup often, his smoking only made it worse....so outside he was sent.

Smoking sucks. Smoking is smelly and expensive and of course addicting. While smoking is the one and basically only thing I do not like about my Dad, him not being able to break the habit is something I understand. He started smoking at, I think, 13. It is hard to quit something that was started so early. One thing I have loved about owning our own home is the fact that we are no longer held hostage by our very close neighbors in our old condo complex. Nothing is worse than having a downstairs neighbor smoking on the balcony and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop the smoke. Except, I have noticed recently the smell of smoke. I am not sure which neighbor has taken up smoking, or if it's our new neighbors, but it drives me crazy. I hate it. It actually hurts to breath it, and I notice it throughout the day.

So for now, I have to live with the smoke and the selfish most disgusting and destroying habit of smoking. One of my biggest fears is that one of the girls will pick up the habit. That no matter what I teach them, they will give in to peer pressure, they will try smoking. And I don't know how to prevent it, other than placing them in a bubble and locking them in the house forever. But we all know, we can't protect our kids against everything, we can only arm them with knowledge and life skills to cope and make the right decisions. Here's hoping that my kids are smart enough to listen.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

For Myself

If someone told me that motherhood meant no more weekends and no more sleeping in, I don't think I would have believed them. I mean what do you mean no more weekends? There is always Saturday and Sunday. With kids there is no more lazy waking, no more watching the lifetime channel and definitely no more drinking hot coffee while reading an entire paper.

Right now my life is dictated by two little beings who rely on me for just about everything. While I know that will change, that I will long for the day that someone asks me to help them "wipe," I fantasize about my old life before kids. How nice it was to get up on Saturday, make a cup of coffee (BTW, caffeine free for almost 3 years now), enjoy the morning news with hubby then a trip to the gym together. Afterwards, we'd go to lunch or home for showers and a day in front of the boob tube. Ahh the days, kid free.

At the beginning of summer we had a house guest who asked me an interesting question. A question that I couldn't really answer. He asked me what I enjoyed doing for myself. He had me stumped. I mean really, I haven't thought about myself since I brought Cookie home. Okay, maybe that's a lie. I've thought about myself numerous times, but doing anything about it, now that's a different story. I think it took me something like four months to get a hair cut after having Cookie, and that was at Hubby's insistence that I go do something for myself. I used to enjoy the gym. I used to enjoy running. I used to enjoy a good book, or shopping. These past activities are no more. They belong in that other life, the life before kids.

Jelly went with me to the gym for the first time on Monday, taking the kids along is always a gamble. Will they behave, will they have fun, or will I be called to come and get them, screaming and crying with the only thing to show for my effort is a reduced gas tank and two very upset kids. Shopping is a struggle between keeping one kid in the cart and the other from wandering off or touching something while I hurriedly shove things in the cart hoping I either did not miss something, or inadvertently buy the wrong thing. Shopping alone means a time crunch. I am always worried about how the kids are doing and if I need to get home. Hubby has been working crazy hours the last year. Something like 12-14 hour days, seven days a week. And we just recently felt comfortable enough leaving Jelly with a sitter.

So what do I enjoy for myself? I am not sure. I need to reinvent me. The me after kids. Maybe Yoga classes or a book club. How about cooking classes. I just don't know. But hubby's friend is right. I need to find something that I enjoy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Feed a Cold



The old adage, "Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever" may be true. I came down with a cold this week. You would think that would put me in bed. Having the kids of course does not allow any rest for the weary, so instead I have baked, and baked, and baked.

It has helped that I have been reading more of that Joanna Fluke and I just had to try her Zucchini Cookies, delicious. Then I have been compiling recipes to make snacks and such for the girls and I came across the Yam and Jam muffins. I have also made Chocolate Sugar Cookies and baked two loafs of bread. Carb heaven over at our home that's for sure. But really the sugar cookies lasted less than two days. The bread is almost gone. And Jelly ate two of those muffins lickety split. The zucchini cookies I must say are just unbelievable wonderful. They are soft and fluffy and frankly, unless you told me there was zucchini in them, I'd never know.

So, I did make one or two changes to these cookies but here are Joanna Fluke's Zucchini Cookies for all of you, who like me, have a plethora or zucchini this time of year.

Zucchini Cookies


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F.

1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups peeled and shredded zucchini (pack down the shredded zucchini in the cup)
1 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews, but I am sure pecans or walnuts would be great)
1 cup chocolate chops
4 cups flour

1. Mix together sugars in a large bowl then beat in the softened butter until nice and fluffy.
2. Mix in the baking soda
3. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla, mix well.
4. Mix in the zucchini until well incorported.
5. Mix in the nuts and chocolate chips
6. Mix in the flour in one cup increments until well blended, mix will be thick.
7. Drop by spoonful onto a prepared cookie sheet (I use parchment paper).
8. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Miss. Manners

Let's face it, teaching kids manners can be a challenge, especially three year olds. My three year old has a particular amount of sass, which I am hearing is not unusual for a three year old.(right?) But we started early on the whole manners thing. "Please", "Thank You", and "May I" are three terms we constantly instill with the kids.

I have a friend who is challenged with how to discipline her children. I think her challenge isn't the discipline per se, but the follow through and execution each and every time. Consistency, consistency, consistency is the key. Cookie is not allowed to get up from a meal with out asking to be excused, each and every time. We will not get Cookie food, drink, toy, or anything with out a "please". It was difficult at first, but we continued to correct, now she just needs a look or "what was that?" to self correct. And of course we always need a "thank you."

Cookie is three, so right now our challenge is the "I don't want to" and the "I WILL!" with attitude, which we keep correcting to, "yes, Mommy." I can see how someone wouldn't want to fight with their kids every conversation. But really, after the first week of forcing the issue, we really don't have a fight. We just tell her it is polite and the correct way to say something. Or we give her a look or the right term and she will then repeat.

How do I know it is working? The other day Hubby and I went for a bike ride with the kids. We ended up at a park, and in playing "baker" in the sand, Cookie told me very politely, "Mommy, your cake is ready, please come pick it up." When I appeared at her delivery window, she asked for "Five dollars, please." I "ate" my cake and thanked her for the delicious concoction which she promptly replied, "thank you for coming today." We have never ever played this before. I am not sure if she played something like it at summer camp, but I had a mommy proud moment. My daughter had manners.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chocolate Crack


I made a serious mistake. I happened to see a recipe in a recent "food murder/mystery" book I was reading, so I made it. And it was delicious. And by delicious...I mean like crack.

Aptly named "Chocolate Crack", the recipe called for just four ingredients. Since I just happened to have all four ingredients on hand and I was craving chocolate.....well I couldn't resist. It is a great combination of toffee and chocolate. It takes all of seven minutes to make and ten minutes to cool. I believe it would be a quick, cheap, and easy way to treat oneself, or to take as a treat to a party. Not only is it addicting, it includes chocolate.☺

The book also had a recipe for "Vanilla Crack", but there is no chocolate in it, soooo, I passed...You can check out the book yourself, Apple Turnover Murder, or the author, Joanna Fluke and her series about Hannah Swenson for the Vanilla Crack Recipe. The dessert recipes are divine....seriously I have spent hours at the library photocopying recipes from these books before returning them.

Chocolate Crack

Preheat oven to 350 degrees., rack in the middle position

2 sticks of butter
1 cup of packed brown sugar
12 approx. graham crackers
2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz. package)

1. Line a 10 X 15 inch cookie sheet w/ heavy-duty foil. A jelly roll pan or even a cake pan works great. If you don't turn up the edges of the foil to form sides.

2. Spray the foil with a non-stick cooking spray.

3. Line the pan completely w/ a single layer of graham crackers. It is okay to break them to fit. Set aside.

4. Combine the butter with the brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat on the stove top, stirring constantly. Boil it exactly for five minutes, stirring constantly.

5. Pour the mixture over the graham crackers as evenly as you can. Place in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Give them a minute or two to melt, then spread them out with a spatula or frosting knife as evenly as possible.

7. Place the pan in the refrigerator to chill. (or freezer for a short time if you really can't stand to wait the 30 minutes)

8. When the pan has chilled and the toffee and chocolate has set, peel the foil from the cookies and break them into random sized pieces.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Silent Treatment

One of my hubby's ways to show he is displeased is to apply the silent treatment. I have not gotten it in a long time. I am not sure if his lack of silence is because he has grown up and has decided that adults do not fight that way, or if he realized that there is no way possible to remain silent in this house. Whatever reason, it is nice to no longer be on the receiving end of the deadly silent anger simmering under the surface, waiting until he was ready to blow and "discuss" whatever it was that was bothering him.

Lately though I have learned to be the silent one. Learned to pick my battles. Learned to keep my mouth shut and not discuss an annoyance. Hubby has called me on my "looks" a few times and does not like the shoe being on the other foot. And I have learned that the silent treatment holds much power. You are controlling when, where, and how a conversation will take place.

Once, when we were looking to buy something in L.A., we applied for a loan. The bank told me that because hubby had a couple "bad" things on his credit from 5 years before that the interest rate would be really high, because they assumed that as partners we would take on the other person's bad habits. My question was why couldn't you assume that since his credit had gotten better since we were living together that he took on my good habits. No answer for me there.

So here's a question, did we just learn each other's habits and adopt them? Or are we just growing up. Him learning to discuss his feelings, me learning that not every single feeling needs to be discussed?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Take that Cupcake

I am not sure why, but for Jelly's first Birthday, I decided to make the cake. My mom always made ours and I thought, why can't I? Store bought ones are nice. They generally taste decent, and let's face it, it is easy to just order one and pick it up. Not to mention that the stores have made them pretty economical.

I have been experimenting with my own cake recipe from scratch. None of that box mix stuff for me. (insert snooty stuck up face here). Really it wasn't a matter of being too stuck up, or I have to be the best Suzie Homemaker, it came down to a challenge for myself. As a SAHM, there really is not a whole lot of goal setting other than to make it through a day with out loosing my mind, I gave up on the clean house a long time ago.

I wanted to see if I could make a beautiful and fun cake for my daughter. Not to mention there was some guilt that I was not having the rip roaring first birthday party for Jelly that we had for Cookie. I wanted to make the day extra special...maybe a little bit just for myself. As we have no intentions of having more kids....this is my last (hopefully) planning of a first birthday party. I am saying goodbye to having a baby and hello to toddler years....and heaven help us, ages two and three and then the teenage years.



My first challenge was not the actual cake recipe, as I had mastered that a couple months before, it was the icing and the actual putting together the cake. A couple weeks before Jelly's birthday, I decided to have a dry run so to speak. I have a wonderful cream cheese icing recipe, that I wanted to try on the cake......let's just say, it is great for cupcakes and regular cakes, bad for "designer" cakes, as the icing kinda just melted right off. But my buttercream icing that I made for the filling was wonderful. While the first try was pretty bad, the final, I must say was great.



While the idea for a fish bowl cake was not original, I made it my own. Below I have included my cake recipe. It is perfect for anyone who wants to make a cake they need to cut and mold into a shape.

Yellow Cake Recipe

Ingredients
2 1/3 cups of all purpose flour/shifted
1 tbsp baking powder
dash of salt
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix in applesauce until fine crumbs are formed. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat at a low speed for 1 minute, then high for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl frequently.

2. Pour batter into greased and floured cake pans. Bake ina preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day and Night


When I was pregnant with Cookie, I remember torturing myself with my impending labor by watching one of those shows on t.v that follows a family through the birth of their child. One particular birth stood out in my mind. It made me feel comfortable with what was to come. Made me feel at peace.

The new mother described the moment her child was placed on her chest as the most beautiful, most wonderful, full of love and warmth feeling she had ever felt. It made me cry. I couldn't wait to feel this. I couldn't wait to have my baby in my arms and know that all was well. I couldn't wait to feel that all encompassing love for this new being that I had made. Maybe I set myself up for disappointment, but the moment they placed Cookie on my chest, what I felt was the complete opposite.

My labor with Cookie was intense. Fast and intense from the moment I felt the first contraction. Pushing was equally fast, just ten minutes. I'm not sure why, but when they placed Cookie on my chest, I was expecting to feel that glow of love, that feeling of rightness that the mother in that show had described, instead I felt relief, annoyance, and indifference. Here was a perfect beautiful baby and I felt, ehh. I had some tearing and it was taking forever to sew me up. As I watched my husband bath our new baby and clean her up, all I felt was relief. Relief that it was over, relief that she was okay, and relief that they were taking care of her and I didn't have to.

I tried to force myself to feel happy. To feel that all encompassing love, but it wasn't there. Then I felt inadequate, horrible, like the worst mother out there. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I feel better? I wasn't depressed. I didn't feel hopeless. I felt nothing. My emotions were everywhere. I felt confused and hazy.

Bringing home Cookie didn't go so well either. I had trouble nursing, she became jaundiced and lost weight. The lactation consultant seemed concerned. All I could do was cry. I was a failing mother. I couldn't even feed my child, the most natural thing in the world...or so I thought. No one told me nursing was work. No one had warned me that there might be issues. But, I was stubborn and determined to make it work. And my parents were on their way. Frankly this upset me more. I didn't want to show my mom what a failure I was. Hubby and I were just not up to hosting guests. It would be my parent's first time in our home, their first time visiting us since we moved, and I was a wreck.

On day five, just like our Lamaze instructor said, I broke down. It was the middle of the night, I was trying to shove my nipple into Cookie's mouth so she could eat. She was screaming, and it was not working. My Dad came in, kissed me on the head and said, "you can do it, she can do it, it will be okay." My Dad has never really known how to talk to us girls, but at that moment, it was the words I needed. He made me believe when no one else could.

Nursing was an uphill battle, but eventually Cookie and I worked it out. Really what made the difference was a call from my mid-wife. When I described how Cookie seemed to be colicky. That no amount of colic tabs, or plain chicken and rice diet seemed to help. That she cried and cried and ate and ate until she pooped, that something seemed wrong, and the nurse at the pediatrician just kept telling me she had gas and I could only give her so much mylicon, that she suggested it might be a problem with her sphincter, that it might be too small. Well, let's just say, an insisted Dr.'s visit, and exam confirmed the mid-wife's diagnosis...and within a couple weeks things quieted down.

My love for Cookie of course grew and my post pardon reduced. By month six, I felt the fog lifting, like I was being weighted down, and when I felt my hormones shift, I felt more alive, more in love with my daughter, and frankly happier. I think my relationship with Cookie will mirror my labor, will follow the aftermath of her birth. We will but heads, it will be fiery, and there will be intense feeling.

Fast forward two years and Jelly's birth was the complete opposite of her sister's. I went into labor as I was going to bed. Contractions were slow and irregular....5 minutes, 7 minutes, 3 minutes....etc. I let hubby sleep until 3 a.m. before waking him. Even after they broke my waters, labor was more painful, but soooo different. Pushing took me close to an hour. And when they placed her on my chest, I felt that glow, that love, that perfect fit. There are pictures of me after having Jelly, where I am ebullient. I felt even. I felt right. I felt myself. It was wonderful, it was fantastic, it was slightly depressing knowing that I had missed this euphoria after Cookie.

Hormones are an amazing thing. What I feel today, what I felt after Jelly was completely night and day compared to Cookie. I wish someone could have helped me understand that you don't always get that automatic feeling of "rightness" of well being, of love. But for now, I know that what I felt with Cookie was not wrong, it just was.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Borg Babies


I think my kids are part of the Borg Colony. Resistance is futile. No matter what I do, this house does not, can not stay clean for more than 2.3 seconds. Last night, I didn't bother cleaning up, as I was in the middle of putting back together Cookie's train tracks, after having taken it apart for the carpet cleaners.

Hubby went out this afternoon, and came home to Jelly in only a diaper. He commented that we had finally achieved "white trash" hood. I lost it a bit today after taking one look at my home and threw in the towel. Laundry was piled up, toys scattered everywhere, model magic pieces strewn here and there, allowing Jelly a nice mid-morning snack, and the kitchen....well, let's just say it was in such a state as to match the rest of the house (which is rare, since that is the place I keep the cleanest), food littered the dining room floor, milk had encrusted the couch, and I cursed myself for putting up the ball pit again.

Any attempt to curb the chaos was met with a fight. Whining and crying ruled the day. Resistance is futile. You will become Borg. You will conform. Resistance is futile.

I have a friend who kinda reminds me of my Dad, she's anal about cleaning up. My Dad is the type take your water glass and put it in the sink if he sees that you are not holding it. Go to the bathroom, you can guarantee that your drink that you just poured, will be down the drain. My friend followed the kids around picking up after them as they went from one thing to another. It drove me mad. I have long since given up the fight. Resistance is futile.

But sometimes, just sometimes I get an itch to clean, a bug to remove the clutter and the chaos. But, like I said, Resistance is Futile. Yep, I have Borg Babies.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum


We used keep our alcohol in the pantry, on the highest self, until hubby moved it to the basement...where we have a beautiful bar, albeit unused. However, after fixing a bar shelf for the alcohol to sit on, hubby decided that the basement is where it should be. Thus causing me my current dilemma....you see, the rum, which I fetched last weekend from the fathoms below, is still sitting on the kitchen counter mainly because I am too lazy to bring it downstairs, but not to be discounted my sensibilities that I will just want some in a caffeine free diet Coke after I put the kids to bed. ( I know, here I am strictly adhering to no caffeine, but will consume alcohol while nursing, makes no sense.)

When the alcohol was in the pantry, I rarely noticed it. Since I have spent the better part of the last four years either pregnant or nursing, it really hasn't been in my repertoire so to speak. However, I fell off the wagon earlier than I did after Cookie. I think I rarely drank the first year after having her. After Jelly, I think I lasted about six months and then the stress of having two got to me. I had to have a Margarita or a rum and coke, or a glass of wine to wind down an evening.

I still try to leave alcohol drinking until the kids are asleep, and only on the weekends, but there the bottle of rum sits, on the counter calling to me. I pass by it in my daily routine and I say, "Oh! Hello Rum. There you are." Of course I spend a large portion of my day in the kitchen, either cooking or cleaning, and the Rum keeps calling out to me like a bottle from Alice in Wonderland, "Drink Me". Most nights I don't want a drink, or don't "need" one. And most nights I don't...but some days drive me to drink.

One of my biggest fears is becoming an alcoholic. Not sure why it concerns me, other than my Mom once told me there was alcoholism in the family. Maybe it was the large amounts of beer my Dad and the neighbor men consumed that bothered me. Or it could have been that my best friend grew up with an alcoholic father and I saw first hand the result of alcoholism.

I remember reading an article in one of those "family" magazines about a mom who slowly turned to alcohol. And let me tell you, I got it. I can see how being a parent might drive one to drink. In fact sometimes I am surprised that there are not more people who are alcoholics once they become parents. One day a thought crossed my mind that maybe they were all drinking and just hid it well, or maybe everyone is on some kind of mood altering drug. That's the only way they can hold it together right?

Having kids is tiring, it's emotionally heart wrenching. When you are not loving that little ball of sweetness, you are cursing them for their destructiveness, their rudeness, or their just plain sociopathic behavior that only children can have. Your love for them is so overpowering that yes, sometimes, a little drink helps take the edge off. But when does that "little drink" lead to too much? When does it become alcoholism? I have never been much of a drinker, I don't like being out of control, at all....which is why I might have had such a hard time transitioning to parenthood, I realized that I had absolutely no control over anything anymore...even when I went pee.

So why am I so concerned about drinking when at the most I have maybe one to two shots of rum a week? Call me prude, call me kill joy, but I am not one for overindulging in booze. I enjoy a beer, I enjoy a margarita, but I do not enjoy loosing control. Which begs the question, why is that bottle of rum calling my name, again?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Never alone

So one thing no one shares about Mommy hood is the fact that you are never ever alone again. While this sounds kinda nice, it is actually quite frustrating at times. Like when you have to take care of some women business and your toddler is grabbing at your legs and hands. Or your three year old wants to know what that thing is your removing and all kinds of other questions you are just not ready to answer quite yet.

Recently Cookie has decided that she wants to shower with me. I would really be annoyed if I didn't have specific and very clear memories of jumping in the shower with my mom. What comes around goes around I guess. I recall laying in bed, listening for the shower to turn on. Then I would jump up, undress and run into the bathroom in order to take a shower with her. I guess it was special time for me. I also vividly remember the day I stopped. I heard the shower, jumped out of bed, got undressed, opened the shower door, and there stood my dad naked in the shower. I am not sure who was more shocked, him or me, but I never tried showering with mom again. I had to be at least seven at the time, since I remember being in the front room as opposed to the one my brother ended up occupying.

Even if Cookie isn't in the shower with me, she is in the room. And now of course there is Jelly. And the last couple times, hubby has come in. I like the fact that we have a shower that has glass doors, that it faces the bedroom without a door between it and the rest of our room, so as the kids play, I can see them. Because of this set-up I can usually get in a nice shower....even shave my legs, that is, if Cookie is not occupying space.

So with kids, I am never ever alone, even sleeping their monitors crackle, and I can hear their sound machines, heart beat for Cookie, ocean for Jelly. And of course, hubby is next to me, usually, accept when he falls asleep in the basement watching t.v. I know that one day I will miss Cookie playing ring around the rosey in the shower, I will miss her dropping the soap a dozen times, or asking me to move so she can have most of the water. But sometimes, I just want quiet shower, alone.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Garyisms

I am sure that everyone eventually experiences the horrifying moment when you realize you've become your parents. Even if you like your parents, even if you think they did a phenomenal job raising you (like my parents), the idea that you are quoting them, becoming them, is disconcerting. There are key moments in my day where I hear my mother coming out of my mouth....even to the tone of voice. Of course what makes it worse is that you realize that your parents were right. You now have a better understanding of why they said and did what they did while you were growing up. While me becoming my mother is cause for some concern, what's more scary is that my husband is becoming my father.

I kid you not. Hubby has a strained relationship with his folks. I don't want to go into detail or reveal too much of his own personal issues, but I think he sees my parents are surrogate parental figures. I find it funny that he has started to adopt what I like to call "Garyisms". Garyisms are sayings and phrases my Dad is known for making. Things like, "I've got no problem with that." "Are you in or out." or my all time favorite, "you snooze you loose." So in this household, not only are my kids getting a little flavor of my mom, they are also getting my Dad. I just hope we do as great a job with them as my parents did with us.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Customer Service??? Hello??

Have you ever gone to check out at a store and found no one at the check out counter? It seems as if this is happening more and more. Big conglomerate stores are replacing human beings with computers and technology, in "self-checkout" kiosks.

It's as if these companies have brought the ineffective automated phone menu to our stores. Where one pushes button after button, getting no human being to answer any questions, just more options, only when one finally reaches a person, they are located half a world away, and their English is sub par at best.

What frustrates me is the lack of customer service in general anywhere. In my town there is a movement of "shop local, buy local." After a melt down by yours truly at the self checkout at the grocery store today, I am looking into the food co-op and the CSA (no, not the Confederate States of America, but the Community Supported Agriculture).

First, my melt down happened because I was trying to use my own bags at the self-check isle. Since the only check out counter available was the express lane, and there was no clerk standing there, I was given no other choice but to self-check out. If you have ever tried to go shopping with a toddler/3 year old, you will know that half your attention needs to be on them at all times, or disaster will strike. Because I am not the kind of parent to ignore my children's misbehavior, or them while in public, self-check out is pure torture. Let's just say 5.6 seconds into my attempt at ringing up my purchases , things went afoul. Cookie started wondering towards the toys (which are conveniently placed across from the area) as I was struggling to put my own bags in the "bagging area" thus receiving a message that a clerk was needed. As I am looking around for someone to help me, wrangle my 3 year old, and figure it all out....I lost it. I started throwing the items back into the cart, announcing that "self-check" is crap and that is why I would prefer to be helped by a human. Of course now that I was making a scene, a person suddenly appeared saying, "ohhh but I will help you figure it out." Then I really lost it. "what is the point of you helping me here when I can have someone else help me the entire transaction at a regular line?" And miraculously the clerk for the express line appeared to "help me". This all left me grumbling like my grandmother, "this is why I hate technology replacing humans with computers, etc." Not only did I make a public scene in front of my child, I cursed and sounded like my grandmother. It was not my proudest moment by far.

Anyway the by product of this lovely shopping trip got me thinking about where I purchase our groceries. Which has me contemplating the local food co-op and the CSA. I've looked into the CSA before, opting not to participate, as I was concerned about getting 10 pounds of beets when I needed lettuce or potatoes. I have yet to visit the local food co-op, but am going to try it next week, even if it is on the other side of town. Since I am spending a third of our budget on food, I expect good service, I demand good service, and the idea that I have to bag my own groceries and check myself out makes me angry. This lady ain't takin' it no more.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rookie

For the second year running, we have had rain on the Fourth of July. And not the soft drizzle kind some might be used to during June gloom of California, but the Colorado, "here's a summer storm" kind. Thunder, lightning, hail, and torrents of water at once.

We had planned on having Hubby take Cookie over to the cities' fireworks display this year, but of course it was wet beyond wet, and cold. Not sure if the firework display was going to happen or not, we opted to stay home.

Hubby's good friend is visiting and the two of them had gone to Cheyenne, WY.....not once but twice over the weekend to buy fireworks and set them off. You see in Wyoming, it's legal to buy the dangerous kind. It is also legal to set them off there, too.

I had given Hubby the job of buying some smaller firecrackers for Cookie. And I emphasized Sparklers. But Hubby is a rookie, and was hypnotized by all of the ones that went "BOOM." Therefore, he came home with ones that made big noise, but not a lot of color. And sparklers, well he's just lucky his friend was with him, who bought just one box!!!! Yes, just one box.

Growing up, my dad would buy a good dozen boxes of sparklers. They were just good to have around for birthdays...or just because moments. Cookie was obviously let down....hubby, besides himself with embarrassment, started talking trip to Wyoming in a downpour at nine o'clock on the fourth of July. However, he got off easy, down the street a vendor always sets up, selling pretty tame stuff, yet all of the wizzers and poppers and sparklers that little kids adore and don't find too frightening. Even though the firecrackers were twice as expensive as those in Wyoming, hubby gladly plopped down the money to see our Cookie smile....and smile she did.

Next year I have a feeling that hubby will no longer wear the title of "Rookie".

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Missing

Since moving there are many things I miss about California. Sometimes I miss a good Mexican dinner or Korean food. I miss being able to go to the beach and smell the ocean air. I miss teaching and the challenge it presented daily. I miss my grandparents, where sometimes stopping by their house meant hearing a story I had miraculously never heard before. I miss my mom and dad. I regret that my kids don't get to see their cousins more than once a year. I miss seeing my brother become a man and get a "big boy" job. I miss monthly dinners with my friends. Yet, despite these things that I miss, they are not enough to make me move back.

This week I have been feeling a little down. Maybe it's hormones. Maybe it's feeling penned in by the kids and attached at the boob a little too long with Jelly. But really I feel lonely. A year and a half ago I made a new friend here. A new friend that really made Colorado feel like home. Someone who, when I called, would gladly change her plans in order to meet me and the kids anywhere. A friend who made me remember what it was like to feel welcome and liked and understood. I miss my friend. I miss going to the park and her and her kids being there. I miss someone here who understood.

I guess that there used to be nothing to miss about here, which was why it was so great. But now, there is one thing or people I should say that I miss and it makes me sad and it emphasizes all the things I do miss. I'm just missing.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's my fault

Some days it is just my fault. No matter what, it is my fault. Ohh the baby spilt your coffee because you left it where she can get to it. It is totally my fault for not watching her. You can't find your sunglasses...it is my fault. I should observe where you throw your items when you come in the door. You are starving and I am too busy with the kids to fix you a meal right that moment. Totally my fault that I have not mastered holding the baby while making a meal.

Hubby is by far not a demanding husband. He does not require me to fold or iron his clothes, he does not care if the house is in disarray. He is happy to have hot dogs for dinner or left overs if I don't feel much like cooking. He doesn't require me to prepare three meals a day. But sometimes, I just have to take the blame....and today is that day.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mom's Buttermilk Cake


My favorite recipe of my Mom's would have to be her Buttermilk Cake. It is so good that she would have to make two sheets of it any time she made it; one for the family, and one for whatever occasion it was being made for. It is one of those cakes that one can not stop eating. One of those recipes that everyone wants you to share.

So, for Father's Day, I present you with this wonderful recipe that any Chocoholic will love. Hubby , who is not a huge chocolate lover, will devour this cake. I must brag a little, that today's cake turned out perfectly. My mom handed the recipe over to me when I moved out of the house some nine years ago. And it has taken me that long to get this recipe perfect. The first time, I did not wait for the cake to cool before adding the icing and all I got was a gooey mess of melted cake with icing. I think I cried out of frustration. The next couple times came out okay......but the icing was never perfect. The key to this recipe is patience while melting the butter, for both the cake and the icing. Indulge and enjoy.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Chocolate Buttermilk Icing

Ingredients for Cake

2 Cups of Flour
2 Cups of Sugar
1 tsp of Baking Soda
2 sticks of butter
6 tbsp of Cocoa powder
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of buttermilk milk
1 tsp of vanilla

1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Over low heat melt the butter, cocoa powder, and water until butter is dissolved, stirring
occasionally to mix ingredients
3. Pour over dry ingredients, adding the vanilla and buttermilk and mix together.
4. Place in a 9X13 greased cake pan (mom always made this in a 13X13 thin sheet pan....which I
don't have. Since the icing is sooo rich, you might want to get a disposable sheet pan from
the market to make this last a little longer).
5. Bake 400 degrees for approx. 15-20 min. until cake is done. (25 min. in high altitude).
6. Cool completely in the pan

Icing Ingredients

1 stick of butter
6 tbsp of cocoa powder
1/3 cup of buttermilk
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla

1. Melt the butter, cocoa powder and buttermilk over a low heat in a saucepan on the stove,
stirring occasionally until the butter is melted.
2. Pour over the powdered sugar, adding the vanilla and stirring until the sugar is melted. Ice
over the cake as soon as sugar is incorporated for easy spreadability. Allow icing to
cool....and enjoy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Trails

I love this time of year. I love that I can get out on the bike and exercise with the kids. I love that my town has such a wonderful trail system. Of course, weather permitting, this means I have no excuse to not exercise. The trail here goes literally from my front door to the complete other end of town. It does not mean a direct route though. To get to playgroup I have to wind around the trail about three miles in the opposite direction, only to head back the right way. But, it does give me that cardio I need to help drop the baby weight.

One thing that drives me nuts on the trail is all those places where there is no passing people on the left. The spots up hills and around tight bends that is really dangerous to pass. Not that I want to pass in a very precarious place, but lately it seems that every time I approach one of these places, there are the slowest people there. Normally I would not mind stopping or slowing down to a crawl for the cute little old couple, but when I am pulling two kids in a trailer that totals about 65 pounds...I start to get annoyed that on some days it seems like it is at only these bends and hills are people blocking my way. I know, there are soooo many other things to be annoyed with, but this is my little frustration.

Despite the old people, those with dogs off lease, and the complete tuned out, the trail is awesome. Two years ago, I even biked my way to Jury Duty.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A lot of Whipped Cream

When I started going to weight watchers one of my sneaky secrets to success was whipped cream. I bought it by the trunk load, stocking my refrigerator both at home and at work full of it. People would joke at work that they would never see me leave the classroom without it. Sometimes, depending on the time of day, I'd even drag it out for a fire drill, the can propped under my arm.

For breakfast I enjoyed either a low fat yogurt accompanied by whipped cream or toast with jam, and guess what, topped with whipped cream. For snack I would enjoy some piece of fruit, slathered with it. Let's just say, it made me feel like I was having dessert all the time, but I knew that really, it was an easy way for me to enjoy low calorie foods, while getting some dairy. Since having Cookie, my sneaky indulgence and secret to my success could not be employed,Cookie reacted badly when I had dairy, making losing the baby weight all the harder. Of course I was so pleased that when I stopped nursing and Cookie began having Cow's milk, that I could indulge once again.....and guess what, with the help of some bike riding, and I like to think whipped cream, I started losing the weight.

Then along comes Jelly. Now, I can have dairy with her, but Cookie it turns out, is lactose intolerant. At age two, she just couldn't have it any more. Which meant that she could not have whipped cream, a staple with her breakfast of fruit. Because she couldn't have it, I couldn't have it. It just wasn't fair. We tried the soy and rice brand, which tasted okay, however they are really expensive and always the dispenser breaks, leaving half a bottle of it unused.

But today, Cookie is at Summer Camp and I am having whipped cream with my grapes and watermelon. I sense some weight coming off soon.

All anything needs is a lot of whipped cream.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mommyhood


The other day I was outside watching the kids play. It was in that moment that I realized I was bored. Don't get me wrong, I love being home with the kids. I love being able to be there for each and every milestone. I love seeing Jelly try and work out walking, seeing the wheels turning in her head and her experimenting with some idea that she just conceived. I love watching Cookie examine the growing vegetable garden and feed the horses around the corner. But let's be honest, little moments warm my heart, but most moments in my day just bore me.

So I was bored and I began thinking that when I was a teacher, I used to enjoy those little moments where I could just watch the students play out in the yard. The times where no one was bugging me and I could get my thoughts straight. The times where I could take out a pen and paper and start lesson planning for the next day. As a mom, the quiet moments where the kids are playing is not only short lived, but a time of non-production for me. I can stand there and think about the piles of laundry that need to be done, the dinner that needs to be prepared, and the house that needs to be cleaned....however, there is no way for me to get to them at that moment. While teaching, this time would feel productive, even if I never wrote anything down, because I was technically working on something....organizing lessons in my head or rearranging seating charts. At home, the only thing I feel productive about at these moments is to prioritize the chores that need to be done, but haven't had the time to get to. These moments, I realize, that I should probably be enjoying or relishing, actually drives me insane with boredom.

Cookie and I spent the weekend playing with a neighbor and when my neighbor left Sunday, after a couple hours of pool time, she said, "is it wrong to look forward to Mondays?" You see, she works. I told her of course not, she gets to talk to other adults about other things than the potty habits of her 3 year old, contribute financially to her household, and she gets a break from her kid. The one thing no one ever told me, or couldn't explain about being a SAHM, was how lonely, how boring, and how frustrating it all is at one time or another. When I was working, coming up with lesson plans was what I was paid for. No one is paying me to come up with fun, interesting, or crafting projects with my kids. It is hard to organize such things when I am just exhausted at the end of the day. It is hard to put all this work into maybe 10 minutes of interest on the part of my three year old. Five minutes of which we normally will spend frustrated at each other. If maybe I was watching someone else's kid, I would feel compelled to show how productive we've been. Instead, I just try to slog it through another day with out wanting to throttle my beautiful Cookie. Which is why I needed to find her something to do this summer. Which is why I am putting her in preschool. I just can't do it on my own. My Cookie needs to be stimulated, she needs to be discipline by someone other than us, she needs to find friends and playmates outside of playgroup.

Today, Cookie went to her first day of Summer Camp....and I found myself with still not enough time to get what needed to be done.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Handy Man and one Dirty Birdie

I admit, Hubby can drive me crazy sometimes. But, for the most part, he is a wonderful man, husband, and father. One thing I love about him, is his ability to create. He can make anything with his hands from just about any material.

This weekend he tackled the time consuming chore of making new window well covers. It has been a project that has needed to be done since we moved in. Let's just say the old ones were dangerous. Really the only thing they did was point out to anyone in the backyard that, "hey there is a window well here. Death is certain," as one step would be a step to disaster. Having not one, but two kids running around back there, made it a project that had to be completed sooner than later. (I'd take a picture, but it's dark and I'm writing this at 9:00 at night and who knows when I'll get another chance to write something about it, let alone upload a pic. So at a later date for one.) I must say they turned out really nice.

Despite Hubby's carpentry skills, at any "Manly" building task, he is also very much a guy when it comes to cleanliness around the house. I am not complaining, because, really his little quirks and things may be annoying, but they are nothing to divorce over. But, I had a little chuckle this evening, when said very tired Hubby retired quite early after a weekend of sawing and hammering, and building, leading me to the basement bathroom to take a quick shower. I really have not been down in the basement since I have had Jelly Bean. It used to be the place hubby and I hung out after we put Cookie to bed, but since we cancelled cable, and Jelly came along, it just hasn't been a place we go together. We tend to now, lay on the couch on the main floor together watching Hulu on my computer.

Anyway, the bathroom, and the basement resembled my husband's first apartment. I am not going into any gross details, but I am a little scared to have company in three weeks with it looking in the condition he has left it in. I know that it was clean when I had Jelly, since that was where my Mom was staying, but great googly moggly!!! Hubby claims that he will make sure it is clean before his friends get here, and I know he will.....but sweet Jesus man, clean a friggin toilet. Throw away empty shampoo bottles (note to self, buy shampoo for guest bathroom..and toothbrush, and toilet paper, and soap, and toothpaste...not to mention clean bathmat...nay get new floor mat, as the old one needs to be burned). Of course I chuckle, because this man can create many things, including a gigantic cesspool of scum. Here I was going to blog about some deep thoughts I've been having about Motherhood, my struggle to adapt, and finding some balance and answers for my feelings about certain things, and instead I was inspired by dirt.

Hope all of your weekends were as productive as Hubby's. And he thinks the kids are gross:0

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Worst Visitor Ever

Dear Aunt Flo and Uncle Fred-

You are the worst visitors ever. You like to show up at the exact wrong moments. Your visits are always too long. And you are never on time; choosing to be either too early or late. Either way making my life complicated and full of anxiety. I spent the early part of my teens waiting for you to appear for the first time, then the later part of my teens praying you'd visit every month. I have spent a large chunk of time obsessed over the calendar, counting the days until your next visit. I have spent massive amounts of money in order to make your presence more comfortable or less inconvenient. You literally cause me pain. I officially hate you. You drive me to eat massive quantities of chocolate, and make me slightly insane. I despise the fact that you can control me in such a way. You are the one thing that makes me look forward to getting older, the idea that your visits will be no longer. So I thank you once again for making a visit this month, albeit late, but really, thanks but no thanks.

Ginger

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One small step....

Jelly is at that stage where she is crawling everywhere. Standing without holding on, walking with rolling things...but is still just one step from figuring it all out. That stage where it is hard to bring your baby anywhere because you just don't want them crawling on cement or dirt or whatever suface is not baby friendly. She's at the point where being held is not fun when we are at a new place. She just wants to crawl and explore...or in her case, crawl and climb. And of course I refuse to put her down because, my baby is still perfect. No bruises, no scrapes, just perfect beautifully soft baby skin. I know that if I put her down to crawl on cement, those chubby knees will get scraped, her legs will have little bruises and then I have to admit that I no longer have a baby but a toddler.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

OOOps I think these are Granola Bars



Today I attempted to make granola bars. It is not my first foray into making homemade ones. I have made the super yummy ones over at Evolving Mommy's site. But I wanted something sweet. Something to replace my Quaker Chocolate covered ones. I had some ideas on how to put it together, but I wanted some inspiration. Of course I went to my favorite recipe website and got a few ideas. But really I wanted three items in them: mini chocolate chips, Mini marshmallows, and coconut. So I started to just throw together items that I liked from all of the recipes I found online. I can not stop eating the final product. Cookie even loves it. Unfortunately I can not give to jelly quite yet, but I am sure she would ask for more and more. So below is what I came up with.

While this recipe may need a little tweaking, here it is.

2 cups of rolled oats
2 1/2 cups rice crispies
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup mini marshmallows
1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips
1 tsp flax seed
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 egg beaten
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup of honey
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup of cashew butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9X13 inch baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, rice crispies, raisins, coconut, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and flax seed. Make a well in the center and pour in the honey and the egg. Mix ingredients well.
3. Combine the rest of the brown sugar and molasses in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until just boiling, then remove from heat. Stir in cashew butter and vanilla until smooth. Pour over mixture and mix well.
4. Press into prepared pan using the back of a large spoon.
5. Bake in the oven about 25 minutes.
6. Allow to cool, cut into squares.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Childhood Memories


I realized the other day that things that were staples growing up for me, things that were taken for granted will not be part of my own kids lives. The summer weekly trips to the beach, playing hookey to go to Disneyland, celebrity sightings and movies being made down the street.

It's weird to think my kids won't really know the beach. Won't know the sticky feeling of dried salt water on their bodies during the drive home. Or tar stuck to the bottom of their feet and sand in places they didn't know existed. Piles of sand at the bottom of the car, or sand burn from walking bare foot on the blazing hot surface. Seaweed wrapping around ankles, or finding buckets of seashells. They will know the beach as vacationers, not locals. In fact, I was so out of practice, that when we went to San Diego and the beach, I forgot to bring towels, changes of clothes, extra washing water and of course sand toys. Maybe next time.

After our recent trip to Disneyland, I realized that as kids, we probably went once a year. My own kids will get to go, maybe every two to three years. I used to know Disneyland so well, that I could tell you what company sponsored what ride. I could tell you when a cue was changed. Now, I didn't even know there was a new Winnie the Pooh ride. My parents used to take us kids once a year. They'd wake us up early in the morning, tell us to get dressed, and that we were going to visit family and had to take the day off school. We'd end up at Disneyland.

Movies were made right in my own backyard. Little House on the Prairie and Poltergeist just to name a couple. Celebrity sightings was an everyday thing. It got to the point that when you saw a celebrity it was no big deal. Moving making became more of a hindrance than anything. Street closures, detours, and rude celebrities was just another day in paradise. I can even claim to have taught a celebrity's offspring.

I am not quite sure what will become memories and every day past times for my kids. Maybe it will be summer bike rides on the trail or hikes in the Rockies. Maybe trips to Horsetooth Resevoir or one of the many lakes that I can't quite bring myself to go to because a lake is just not the ocean. Whatever we decide to do, my kid's memories will not echo my own childhood. I know we moved here for all the right reasons. I know we moved here for them, and maybe a little bit for us, too. But it is a little sad to acknowledge that the beach is now a vacation destination.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

For the Record

If you read my last entry than you know that I desperately need a break. Hubby gallantly offered me one, albeit not truly. He suggested I take break when I put Cookie down for a nap and take Jelly with me to get some coffee. Ummmm...last time I looked that would mean I still had an appendage. When I said I just needed some quiet down time...ie time away from the whole entire house, I did not mean time away from just Cookie. But, really I was happy to have Cookie just take a friggin nap. So I told him that I would rather stay home where Jelly could crawl around than be unhappy in a high chair somewhere...he then asked me to run errands.

So for the record, running errands is not a break. Taking one kid instead of two is not a break. It is easier, but not a break. A break is a blissful couple hours sans kids, sans screaming, sans someone hanging on one's leg. I am tired of taking Cookie places to play, and all she wants me to do is read to her. I paid $8 yesterday at the local play place for me to read to her! I can do that for free at home, at the library, and at the bookstore.

But, after she did nap for an hour today, I felt much better, a little more even, a little more less like I was going to loose it. And it helped that I told hubby that if he didn't stop provoking me, I really was going to loose it.

Tomorrow is a new day, let's hope it is full of happy kids and healthy kids.