Saturday, December 10, 2011

Look at Me Damn It!

I've always wondered how my friend with four kids manages to get at least one picture with all her kids more or less smiling, at the camera. I can't even get the two I have to smile, let alone look at me while taking pictures.

Today I hang my head in shame at the loss of complete control while trying to take the annual picture of the kids in front of the tree. The picture I want to put on our Holiday Cards. I even bought special outfits for the kids. I spent an extraordinary large amount on an elephant dress for Cookie, because I liked it, and I knew she would, too. I special ordered a red sparkly "horsie" shirt for Jelly, whom I am now calling Biscuit, since I heard another Mom refer to her child as that, and thought it would be cute to have a "Cookie" and a "Biscuit."

The girls were cute, Cookie all dolled up in her Angel halo and hair out of her face for once because she had a "dance" recital in a Christmas play...a whole other post on that later. But would these little demon children look at me? Would they stop playing for one minute with all the Christmas decorations that have been out for two weeks? Would they sit still? Will my camera please just take pictures and stop trying to recognize fricken faces? After about the 20th shot and not one good photo where both or either are even remotely looking towards me I loose it.

I am now seething. Cookie says, "Mommy, can you stop yelling please." Me to self,"I am the worst Mommy ever." To Cookie, "Sorry sweetie, we're almost done...can you just please look at me instead of playing..."

And then of course when I tell Cookie to hug her sister....the result is a headlock. And then the tugging of the hair accessories and then they were done, and so was I.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Top 12 Crafty Things Every Mom Should Have

After my rant yesterday, I thought I should post the top twelve things every mom should have for her Crafting Crazy Child.

1. Paint. preferably washable kid paint with brushes of different sizes, but really you can use sponges in a pinch. I love water colors, too.
2. Glue. Sticks that are the purple color that dry clear so they can see what they are gluing. Elmer's clear, and Tacky Glue. "Dot Dot not a lot".
3. Construction paper. Any size will do, but I like to have the large and small.
4. Tissue paper: All different colors. I cut some into squares and keep in plastic baggies. See the elephant we made with tissue paper, sticky sparkle foam and wax paper.
5. Paper plates: For holding paint and creating fun stuff.
6. Googly Eyes: Self Stick are best, but you can help your little one apply a dot of Tacky Glue to
the back of them.
7. Contact paper. In a crafting pinch, make place mats...we have a dozen self made ones. We print out coloring pages of the kids favorite thing, color and then glue to construction paper.
8. Cotton Balls: You can not imagine what you can do w/ those suckers. Cookie once surprised and made little men with cotton balls, Popsicle sticks and construction paper.
9. Popsicle Sticks and Pipe cleaners
10. Pasta different sizes and shapes: You can dye them any color you wish...just place pasta in a plastic baggie, add a tbsp of vinegar and add one drop of food coloring...set out to dry on a lined cookie sheet.
11. Crayons
12. Scissors both adult and kid kind.

May you be driven crazy and may you create adorable stuff to dis
play and brag about to your friends.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Crafty Obsession

Besides math and science, my most dreaded subject in school was art. I have vivid memories of my 6th grade teacher making us create monthly calendars. Only the best were displayed on the wall each month. Out of a nine month school year, I got my calendar only displayed once, it was my Mother's day one. Every time my teacher would hand back our graded calendars mine would say, "Use a ruler." Letter grade, "C". Damn it I did use a ruler and the fucking lines never ever came out straight no matter how hard I tried! Of course, later in adult hood, I learned how to use a ruler properly. But seriously I hated art. Nothing ever came out as I envisioned, everything always looked horrible. My stick figures were even bad.

Later, as a teacher myself, I learned to embrace art. I became creative. I would make all kinds of wonderful wall displays...with the help of my super talented super artistic boyfriend (now hubby). One of the things that attracted me to Hubby was that he could draw, that he could create anything with his hands. In fact, inheriting his artistic talent was one of the things I hoped the kids would get the most. Embarrassingly using my artistic skills while teaching History to middle schoolers can be funny, when everything one draws looks like a penis. I even encouraged students to be creative, many times I would give them choices on how to show understanding, written or artistic. And I never graded on how well the art was done, but on comprehension.

Now, as a parent I am knee deep in crafting and I am slowly going mad. I hate art. I hate crafting, I hate everything about it, except the joy my kids get in creating it. Cookie asks to craft about 100 times a day. I have an entire cabinet devoted to crafting supplies, which she is bound and determined to go through in a month. I am constantly stepping on sticky crafting things. I have gems stuck to the bottom of my shoes, my feet, and on my couch, in our food. There have been tears over the fact that certain things are not going according to Cookie's vision. There are tears because I say no to crafting, there are tears when I tell her to clean up and stop. There are tears because we don't have any more purple sparkle paper.

I wince when Cookie asks to craft. There is much yelling over crafting...mostly by reluctant me. I want to pull my hair out every morning beginning at 6 a.m., when my little Cookie starts harping about crafting for the day. Here is how the most innocent conversation turns me into the World's Worst Mother.

Cookie: "Can we do crafting"
Me: "Not right now"
Cookie: "I want to do crafting"
Me: "Later, I am not ready to deal with the mess."
Cookie: "I want to do crafting."
Cookie, now in tears: " I just love it so much. Can't you do crafting with me? I want to do it now."

Yep, Every. Single. Day. And every single day, I dissolve into a screaming crazy mom because, frankly I suck at crafting, and we end up fighting. Cookie asks me to help her. I tell her what she wants to do is impossible, it just can not work out. That there is no way possible I can do what she wants me to do. She dissolves into tears and begs me. I end up screaming.

Crafting makes me dissolve into a tantrum throwing child. When I was about 11, my Mom, sister, neighbor, and I made Gingerbread houses. Well this uncrafty person ended up smashing her uncooperative house to bits in a fit of frustration with my frosting knife. Picture graham crackers, frosting, and candy flying everywhere with me yelling and screaming, huffing and puffing. We never made Gingerbread Houses again, and I think my Mom gave up trying to craft with me. Girl Scouts was pure torture for this untalented girl.

And to think I was actually happy that it seems my kids got the artist gene! Cause frankly, I am starting to resent my sweet little Cookie and even Jelly, who loves to sit and peel stickies off the backs of gems and stick them to construction paper. Both love to paint, and color and create, and I hate it all. And I am frustrated that Hubby does it so easily with them, when he finds the time. I hate those Moms who come up with cutesy crafting projects and like it. I hate Martha Stuart, too just for her..."let's see what we can make with these pine cones and ribbon." But, mostly I just hate crafting. And I hate that my dinning room table and floor are littered with glue, glitter, stickers, gems, sequins and bits and pieces of paper. As soon as I clean it, they want to start over again. Of course I buy it for them, I contribute to the madness, and I am ultimately the CRAZY ONE in this household.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Not so Mr. Roger's Neighborhood

I read an article the other day that discussed how more and more people's newspapers are being stolen for coupons. Just when I thought print was dead, it is revived by mega savers. Never in my wildest dreams would I think someone would stoop to stealing another person's $1.65 newspaper for coupons. That was until our paper started disappearing.

At first I thought it was because we had just reopened our account after our trip to California. I had completely canceled our delivery and told them we were moving, in fear that somehow, it would get out we were out of town for an extended amount of time. So soon after renewal our paper would be there one day, then absent the next, then there for two day, well you get the picture. I even had reported at first, what I thought, lousy delivery to the paper. Then it kept happening, so I started to suspect that someone was stealing our paper. And it looked to be just ours, because both my neighbor's were still there. Annoying to say the least.

By chance one morning, I happened to be rearranging the closet by the front door, when I glanced out the window. And I saw IT happen. A family, that I knew as THE family you shake your head at. THE Family, who leave dirty mattresses on their front lawn (okay front weeds). THE family whose kids have been known to ask neighbors for cigarettes or they were going to be in trouble by their Mom. THE family that you are sure social services has made at least one trip to. THE family where I actually was not sure how many kids they had, but was sure each one had a different father. THE family where you were sure the parents were on Meth or some kind of drug. Yeah, that promising to not judge went out the window with THAT family. You see THAT family was walking with their kids to school by my house when the male adult in the group pointed to my paper, said something, and then one of the children picked up my paper.

Needless to say, I went tearing out the front door, in my pajamas yelling at the top of my lungs "So your the ones stealing my paper!" The entire family stopped in their tracks. The little boy who was in possession of my paper dropped it quickly. The toothless mother responded, "It's the first time my son has ever taken it." This comment, got me even more angry. How dare this women blame her child! (Yes I was judging) I saw with my own eyes the "Father" figure tell the kid to pick up the paper. Her child looked stricken. The male adult continued to walk on. And in my not so great moment in front of these children, who obviously needed some good role models, in front of my children who stood at my door with my husband, (in shock and quite confused), I responded, "YOU ARE JUST TRASH! JUST TRASH" And then grabbed my paper, turned around and stormed back into my house.

Husband was left speechless and I must admit, a little proud of me. I was left sheepish, thinking how I could have handled the situation a little better. How I could have used it as a lesson in using one's words nicely to get what one wanted. How maybe it might come back to bite me in the ass in the form of T.P., eggs, or something worse. How maybe, that mother, according to those friends with a different perspective on Facebook, might have needed the coupons. How maybe my $1.65 a day paper was not worth it. How instead of judging, I should have helped. There's a reason my American Indian name, given to me by a friend in High School was, "Speaks With Foot in Mouth." It will one day be my downfall.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

When a Good Cookie Goes Bad

Food allergies are annoying for those of us without them. But for those with severe ones, it is absolutely frightening. Because my Cookie is lactose intolerant and allergic to pumpkin, I have had to become "THAT" parent. You know, the one who insists that no one brings cheese or milk for snack at school. As any parent of a child with a food allergy knows, it gets harder as the kids get bigger. Having to order spaghetti at Chuck E. Cheese while everyone else enjoys pizza at a party, or forgoing the summer trips to the D.Q. are just small sacrifices. It is heart wrenching as a parent to witness your sweet child's eyes tear up when they can not be like their friends.

Yesterday I inadvertently poisoned my friend with nut tainted zucchini cookies. I am not a nut fan. I usually forgo putting them in any baked good, however, for some unknown reason, I put cashews in a batch of zucchini cookies.

These cookies are incredibly yummy. It's a recipe I stole from one of my favorite food mystery writers, Joanna Fluke. In fact, I lost the copy I had made, and had to go to the library, and borrow Apple Turnover Mystery for the recipe. I've made these cookies numerous times, and have never ever included the nuts it called for...but last minute decided to throw in some cashews. I have included the recipe below.

This delicious recipe is made for sharing, and it makes two dozen cookies. So, when my friend and neighbor invited us to the park yesterday morning, I brought some along to share. Forgetting she was allergic to nuts, she forgetting to ask about nuts, had one bite....then asked, "Oh my God, are there nuts in these?" Yes people, I poisoned my friend. We had to gather our children and rush over to my house just down the street. Within fifteen minutes, she was having trouble breathing. I drove her, bringing along Cookie and her little firecracker to the Urgent Care. An hour later, a shot of Adrenaline and friend was done for the day. Unfortunately, her hubby was out of town...and she has a 4 year old. So of course, I stayed with her while she slept, and let the girls play. My hubby had to step up and take Jelly.

Thankfully, we caught it in time. Thankfully, she knew how bad she was. The worst
part, other than I could have killed my friend, was that she was hesitant to get help. Hesitant because of course it was the weekend. Hesitant because that meant a possible trip to the E.R. And a trip to the E.R. would cost money...a lot of money, even though she has insurance. Glad I remembered the Urgent Care, which we have gone to for hubby for his broken collar bone and his anxiety attack. Glad that I could take her little one with us to the fair to give her more rest. Glad that she harbors no anger towards me. But in the future, no nuts....ever.

Almost to Die For Zucchini Cookies

preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 cup of White Sugar
1 cu
p of Brown Sugar (packed)
1 cu
p of Softened Butter (that's 2 whole sticks people)
1 1/2 cups of peeled, Shredded Zucchini (I use a cheese grater)
1 tsp of baking soda
2 large eggs beaten
1 1/2 ts
p of Vanilla
1 cu
p of Chocolate chips
1 cu
p of chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, cashews) optional
4 cu
ps of all purpose flour

1. Combine White Sugar, Brown Sugar, and butter in a large bowl, beat until fluffy
2. Mix in baking soda. Add beaten eggs and vanilla extra mixing thoroughly
3. Add in the
peeled shredded zucchini packing it down into the measuring cup. (I had to drain it first) and stir until incorporated.
4. Add nuts and chocolate chips, mix well.
5. Add the flour and mix in one cu
p at a time. Dough should be thick.
6. Dro
p by teaspoonfuls or tablespoons (depends on the size of cookie you want) onto a cookie sheet.(sprayed w/ non-stick spray or on parchment paper)
7. Cook 10-12 minutes, for smaller cookies, 20 minutes for bigger, at 350 degrees until lightly browned.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amusement Park? I use the term Amusement loosely

If you have ever experienced the joy of taking your children to an amusement park, you will understand when I say, for parents, it can be anything but amusing. In February, we were blessed with the opportunity to stay in California for a total of just about 6 weeks. During the coldest part of winter in Colorado, California weather is a blessing. We even were fortunate enough to rent a house in a privately gated community on the beach just 15 miles from Anaheim, better known as Disneyland central.

We drove. Straight through, 18 hours. While the kids slept the majority of the drive and did relatively well.....hubby thought he was manly enough to do all the driving himself. Five bottles of energy drinks seemed to do the trick...however, he suffered once we got to my Mom's house. And by suffer, I mean five days stomach flu on top of basically diuretics in the form of those energy drinks...almost killed him. Jelly had the tummy flu right before we left, and I was praying to whatever deity might exist that no one puked in the car. At least, we were fortunate enough that hubby avoided the death plague until we got to California. Cookie came down with it the day we moved to our beach house, puking all over a local restaurant before we even got our food....we ran out, hubby throwing two twenties on the table and we never went back. "oops, sorry about the puke, gotta go".

So, after dealing with a sick Jelly, 18 hour car drive, sick hubby, sick Cookie....I was left to just suffer a yucky tummy, but darn it if I was going to puke and not take my kids to Disneyland. So, while hubby was stuck working during the day, I spent six weeks taking the kids to the Long Beach Aquarium, the beach, and Disneyland all alone. If you want to learn your tolerance level for your children and fellow man/woman, take your kids solo to an amusement park.

February in California can be warm, cause, well, it's California. My first solo mission to Disneyland scared me. But, I was going to do it. We bought season passes, and I was going to get my money's worth darn it. While the day started off okay, it soon became apparent that I was not really in the mood to deal with the public. Let's just say, waiting in line for 3 hours to see princesses with and impatient almost 4 year old and active 18 month old is not for the faint of heart. It was close to 80 degrees, I was in a pair of yoga pants (no pockets...what was I thinking) and I was sweating carrying my 20 pd baby, a backpack full of kid crap, and wrangling a hot and cranky 3 1/2 year old. And of course the "Mommy I have to potty" just as you are getting to the front might make you want to strangle your lovely child. Or the claim that they are absolutely not hungry, even though you know they are, and the tantrum they are throwing makes you want to shake them and force the fried food you just bought at inflated prices down their throat to prove how wrong they are and to shut their lovely mouths is just a small part of the amusement park experience. Every. Single. Time.

However, none of those moments compare to what went down in the bathroom at Disneyland. After my very long morning and afternoon at "The Happiest place on Earth," I realized I had yet to change Jelly's diaper all morning. I dislike the changing stations at Disneyland. First, they are sized for infants, not any child over the age of one. Second, they dwell in a spot that receives very little light. And finally, Disney, for our convenience, provide toilet paper at the stations on dispenser rolls right at a child's hand or foot level. Having wrestled with Jelly on a previous day at the changing station, I really really did not want to use them.

As we are leaving the park, I inform Cookie that we will be making one last trip to the restroom to go pee and change Jelly's diaper. Cookie, being the stubborn mule that she is, exclaims, "I don't have to go" and begins balking at the entrance. Me, "the rule is you try. I have to go, so we are all going." Cookie, "I don't want to." Me, "I don't care." Jelly, in stroller, "Out Out, " as she strains against the straps and starts pulling out her arms. I am now dragging screaming Cookie, pushing stroller with screaming toddler, avoiding running into other people and notice that the handicapped bathroom is taken, the changing station is being used, so I go to a stall at the very back. Because, I have two children, one in a stroller, and not all three of us, let alone two of us will fit in a regular stall, I am going to have to go w/ the door open. And then discover, I have started my period. Fanfrickentastic!

Toddler is making a break for it, bad mouthed 3 1/2 year old I have decided is so not making it to her next birthday, and I am bleeding. I struggle for my backpack, which I am praying holds my Diva Cup ( I love my Feminine Cup...). Child, whom may or may not make it to four, is now very interested in what I am doing. "Mommy, what are you putting in your bottom?" I so don't want to have to explain this now. Me, "Nothing Cookie." Yep, I had promised myself that I would always try and be honest with the girls about that stuff, and here I was, pretending it didn't exist. But, really, I was in a Disneyland bathroom, with the door open, and I was tired. I then tried distraction, "Can you check and see if sissy is still strapped in?" It worked! Discussion about being a woman and periods and sex and bleeding avoided...this month.

I finished my business, gathered my stuff, my children and headed to the changing table..when another mom swooped in and took it! I was done. Put a fork in me done. I sighed and in my oh so passive aggressive way, say to Cookie, "We'll just Change Sissy at the car, I hate the changing tables in here, they are too small." And then it happened. The other Mom who must have been just as tired, just as done as me, turns to me and yells as I am leaving, "Aren't you a Bitch having a bad day. It's not too small. Get over yourself." Me, in complete shock, "my child dislikes them." and I continue out the door but not before another woman, I can only assume her friend, chimes in "Fuck You". I grew up in S. California. I taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District. I have had gang members in my classroom. I have been threatened. I have had students with guns and knives. I am not easily intimidated. And if I did not have my children, if I was not so shocked that another woman could say such things in front of her children I might have responded, instead I took my darling daughter by the hand and we left Disneyland. Of course she did ask, "Why was she so mad Mommy?" I responded, "because we all have bad days sweetie."

And yet, here we are, back in California for two weeks, and I am back at Disneyland...where this World's Worst Mom, dragged her hungry child out of Disneyland kicking and screaming from all the way from the middle of the park, on the bus, and to the car. "I want it and I want it now" demands just do not fly with this Mom. "Amusement" far from it. But it is all worth it when your princess meets here favorite princess for the first time. Or your baby points to Dumbo and yells "Dumbo". Oh I hate you are a marketing genius.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Little Help is a Hard Thing to Ask For

I am not one to rely on others. I usually feel that one should not rely on someone else to do what they can do themselves. In fact, I have a hard time trusting others to follow through. Way back in the time I like to call BK, or before kids, I was a highly organized person. I could juggle numerous projects and get them done weeks before deadline. I was the person people called to get things done.

You read in all those baby books to take a break when you have a newborn, as often as possible. To hand that baby over to someone else. To ask people to help you clean and cook. Because I knew practically no one when I had Cookie, I had a hard time asking anyone for help. I am not the one to ask for help. I am the person who can handle anything. I am the person who keeps it together. My neighbor had to beg me to let her babysit so Hubby and I could have a date night. I think Cookie was like a year old before I relented and let her.

In a one week span I have asked for help three times. From friends, acquaintances, and even a stranger. A move completely out of the ordinary for me. Completely uncomfortable for me. A move that makes me feel vulnerable and not in a good way. But, when hubby was in the E.R., when I could see that Cookie was worried and stressed, I knew that I needed help. I reached out to anyone and everyone I could think of who might take her. Friends and classmates of Cookie were e-mailed...I was begging. Not a position I like to be in. But, the response I received was encouraging. The fact that a friend came, picked up my baby, fed her lunch, and remembered to bring extra socks for her, made me feel better. But, not well enough that I didn't show my appreciation in the form of a gift bag of stuff.

On Thursday, while hubby was out of town, I decided to take Cookie to Summer Camp via the bike. What an enormously bad idea. I had that intuitive feeling like, maybe I should just drive, but I can not make excuses for not exercising anymore. I was determined to get some exercise in while hubby was away. The flashbacks of the last time he went out of town, me taking a bike ride, getting a flat, and the ensuing hour of trying and succeeding of changing the tube was echoing in my brain as I set out.

But, I went anyway. I kept thinking, what are the chances, I mean I go out all the time, when he's home, why would I get a flat now? But on the way home with just Jelly in the trailer, I got a flat. I was nowhere close to being home...I was some 3 miles away, with my almost two year old. And I was not in the best neighborhood in town. My town is relatively safe, but we are not immune to theft or murder, or all the bad things that happen when humans come into contact with other humans. I knew that I could take a bus home, or call a taxi, but where would I leave the bike and trailer? They would be gone in minutes. So I pulled up to a not so nice apartment building's front lawn to try and fix my flat.

Normally, under good circumstances changing a flat would take me a little time, but when you don't have the right size spare tube, the pump is not working properly, and you have a crying 22 month old....things can go south quickly. I must have been trying to fix said tire for about an hour before someone stopped to help me. A few bike riders, runners, a couple walking a dog, and even the local police went by without asking if I needed help. Picture a disheveled bike rider sitting in front of a crappy apartment building with a relatively expensive piece of equipment (the bike trailer), with a toddler running around crying, covered in dirt. But, finally a girl named Megan stopped on her bike to ask if I needed help.

My pump for some reason was not working, I couldn't patch the tube, as I couldn't pump it up to find a leak, I replaced it with another tube, one slightly thinner, made for hubby's bike, but it would work, but couldn't pump it up. She proceeded to pump up my tire, and then asked if I would like to follow her to her house down the street, as she had an air compressor and a bolt for the tube's valve. She seemed trustworthy, I mean she did stop....and she helped me put the tire on, and even held the bike while I put Jelly back we proceeded to her home. She fixed me up, we went on our way...about one block, and the tire went flat again. I turned around, went back to Megan's home and rang the bell. She let me park my bike and trailer in her garage and even gave me her garage code, so I could come back whenever I needed to for pick up. She was incredible and I am more than thankful to this stranger, who went above and beyond for me.

Now I was still 3 miles from home with a toddler. I racked my brain. I could walk to the bus stop about a block away, call a cab, or call someone I knew. The problem with calling someone, is that again, I had a toddler, and she needed a car seat. So, I was left with a limited group of people. Who would have a car seat without a child in it. The only people I could think of, were those whose kids were at Summer Camp with Cookie. So I called one of the Moms...who came and picked us up right away, like we only had to wait two minutes, she was down the street.

In less than a week I had to swallow my pride and ask for help, not once, but three times. I wish I could say it will come easier, but I don't think it will. In the meantime, I am thankful for the people who came to my rescue last week. I know that I could never ever return the favor.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reflection on the Past

I'm not sure why, but I was thinking back to a time when I was in Middle School. One of the darkest times in my life. I was in the 8th grade, and had been bullied on and off since 6th grade. I was not a thin child. I was overweight, and in the cruelty that is children, I became an easy target for mean girls to pick on. All of the bullying began in P.E. And after experiencing the inattentiveness of my teachers, the lack of supervision in the locker room, and then witnessing some of the same scenarios played out in the school I taught at, I am almost glad that P.E. is one of the first things they cut in education. I said almost, because I do believe in teaching our children fitness, and about different sports and activities.

Maybe because Father's Day is this Sunday, but thinking about my Dad always brings me back to the day I saw him from a different light. The day he became human to me. The day my English Teacher agreed to drive me home after I begged her to take me because some of those bullies were waiting for me on my walk home. Those bullies wanted to "kick my ass." I'm sure today those same girls have very little recollection of the torture they put me through. Of the concocted reason to be mad at me. I remember it distinctly. I can still see the locker room clearly in my mind. See the unlocked locker against the far wall near the doors leading to the bathroom. Me, asking "Whose locker is this? Did someone leave it unlocked?" You see, the year earlier my locker was broken into. All of my clothes were stolen, including the $20 I had for lunch. It so happened on that day, out of the norm, my Mom did not pack me a lunch, she gave me money, and all she had was a larger bill. I remembered that feeling of having to walk around all day in my P.E. clothes because my Mom was working and they could not get a hold of her. I remember not being able to eat lunch that day because I had no money. And I remember the shame of having to tell my Mom and know exactly what girls did it as "revenge" for them getting caught ditching. (That's a whole other story). So I opened that unlocked locker, in my mind to find out whose it was so I could tell them. I pulled out a shirt, read the name out loud and asked if anyone knew her. Another girl from class just told me to "leave the locker open, because maybe they wanted it unlocked."

Later that day, the same girl approached me, and told me she was told that I broke into her locker and stole her stuff. When I tried to explain what happened, she pushed me and told me she was going to "kick my ass. And to mind my own business." I later learned that her and her friends left the locker unlocked because they shared P.E. clothes. A whole other kind of gross that I can not fathom why you would do that....but that is really the reason they were angry, they thought they would get caught.

The tormenting began. The girl and her friends would show up at my locker and threaten me. They even threatened my friends. There was a lot of pushing and mean words spoken to me. I played a Cat and Mouse game. I would change my route to get around to my classes. I would try and walk near teachers. I would even go late to classes or hide out in bathrooms. One day the girl and her friends accosted me on my way home. Thankfully the boy I grew up with and lived down the street from happened to be walking with me. He was pretty popular, so they just threatened me. But I knew my time was limited. Somehow someone got word to me that the girl and her friends would be waiting for me on my way home. That they were going to fight me. I was a good girl. I didn't believe in fighting. And more importantly, my family was going through a rough time. My Paternal Grandmother had just passed. My Dad was home and the idea of having to explain to him that I was in a fight was more stress on my parents. Something I keenly did not want to give them.

That day, I timidly told my English Teacher what would transpire if I was allowed to walk home. I begged her for a ride home. I only lived down the street. She agreed. I followed her to the office while she "finished up something" and she drove me home. I keenly remember the awkward silence. And I remember as we approached my house, seeing my Dad at the mailbox. As I got out of the car, he spoke to my teacher and as he turned to me. I started to cry and then so did he. It is the first and only time I have seen him shed tears.

As all things Junior High, the situation eventually was resolved, thanks to my big sister, who happened to know where the girl lived. When I confronted that girl in 0front of her home with her big sister and not her friends, she was forced to listen to me. And accept my apology for whatever she perceived I did.

As a Middle School teacher, one of my goals was to mitigate the kind of bullying and treatment I had experienced. I can give examples and stories about how I think I helped, but in life's weird twist of fate, I ended up helping one of those bullies, returning the favor that my teacher had done for me. I can still vividly remember the boy. He was from downtown L.A. and a real tough kid. He was big, he was mean, and I think he really was just a scared kid from the hood. He had been kicked out of our school, sent to three others, before according to district rules, sent back to us for his 8th grade year. One day he hung back in class at the end of the day. Which, for him was out of character. He was a bully to others and my class was always a safe zone. No one was allowed to be disrespectful of others. And no one was allowed to bully. I asked him if there was something wrong. If there was anything I could help him with. He told me that there were some guys waiting to "jump" him at the bus stop. He was going to his Aunt's house and was taking the city bus instead of the school bus. He informed me that if he got into anymore trouble, he'd be kicked out of the district. I was thinking, more like reform school or Juvie. He asked me for a ride to his Aunts'. The last thing I wanted was an adolescent teen boy in my car, let alone this one. But instead I agreed. You see, I remembered my 8th grade teacher, the risk she took for me, and I thought "Universe you suck", but I have to do it.

I took every precaution I could. I called his Mom and his Aunt for permission. I spoke to the Counselor and told her. I had him call his Mom on my cell while we were en route, and then confirmed with her when we arrived at his Aunt's house. It was the longest 15 minute drive of my life. My palms were sweaty and I was more nervous I think than when I first brought Cookie home from the hospital. I have always wondered what happened to that boy. He was one of those whose future had one of three possibilities; murdered, jail, or professional athlete. I hope he has ended up closer to the last.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Trip to the E.R. and a Pat on the Back

Friday we made a surprise trip to the E.R. Hubby had some severe chest pains. Turns out to be a huge anxiety attack about his impending trip to L.A., where he has to engage in just about every activity he hates. Thankfully nothing was really wrong with him physically.

Our trip, besides making me more than a little scared, showed me how prepared I really am for those unexpected moments. I actually for once was the Mom who had everything the kids needed. Pretty good for rushing out the door at 8:00 a.m. I managed to get Cookie to throw on some clothes, dressed myself, grabbed some snacks and drinks, and had both kids in the car in about 5 minutes. Granted, Jelly was still in her P.J.s, but I did grab her some shoes. I was pretty sure I had a change of clothes in my bag.

While we waited anxiously for any news about hubby, I was able to ply them with snacks and books. Frankly, I chose not to drag the kids into the exam room to be with him. Cookie was obviously worried, and I didn't want to freak her out any more and while Jelly was clueless, she would have just caused havoc. She is my little destroyer. The E.R. was pretty well equipped to deal with small children. They handed me crayons and coloring books right away, there was a fish tank to distract them, and they had a t.v. with VCR and DVD player and some kid movies to choose from. There were about a dozen wooden puzzles and a play table. The kids were well occupied. The longer we stayed, the more agitated Cookie got, especially after I brought her into the back to visit Daddy for a minute. I am more than fortunate, more than thankful, and more than humbled at how fast my friend Catherine came to the rescue and picked up Cookie for me. She was able to distract her with a play date and even provided her with lunch. For that, I can never repay her.

Only having Jelly there to watch and worry about was easier. She is still not cognisant enough to understand what was happening, but Cookie was. It doesn't help that all those "Mommy and Marcey" stories ended with trips to the hospital. But I told her that Daddy's heart was feeling a little sick so the doctors just needed to do some tests to make sure it was okay and get him medicine. I think deep down she knew it could have been bad...she was really really nice to her Daddy all weekend. There were a lot of extra hugs and I love yous.

But I did learn that first and foremost to always keep my bag stocked with food and drink. Second, always have crayons and paper. Third, have a change of clothes for both kids including underwear and socks and diapers. And finally have a surprise stashed away at home for those just in case moments. Because Cookie was exceptionally good at the E.R. She listened, she was quiet (well for her anyway), and she was polite. When I brought her home I was able to give her a prize. A prize for behaving exactly how I expect, and for making things easier for Mommy and Daddy. I had bought a Cars set and stashed it away thinking that I would give it to the kids for a plane ride or a trip or for something, you never know...and a week after I got it, I needed it. The Universe definitely works in mysterious ways. But this Mom gets a pat on the back for being well prepared.

Friday, June 10, 2011

This Might Not Turn Out How I Expected

I went to my favorite local toy store with Jelly yesterday. It's one of those stores that carry incredibly cute boutique clothes and wonderfully expensive toys, all that you want your kid to have. If you don't have a game plan before going in, your wallet might be in trouble. They even let your children explore and play with all the toys.....they are devious geniuses.

I had a game plan. I was going to buy gifts for two good friends, mostly from the clearance rack, because frankly their original prices are extremely high. I even knew what I wanted to buy. I was doing well, until I overheard one of the owners selling some "story dice and cards" to another customer. I was intrigued. Cookie asks for me to tell her stories all the time. She likes to tell me what to tell about and should I not tell it exactly how she imagines, my demanding monster gets upset....sometimes to the point of tears. These stories began as "Mommy and Marcey" stories. Stories about a little girl I grew up with and the mishaps and escapades we got ourselves into together. They all had a common theme, us doing something we weren't supposed to, and one of us, or both of us getting hurt or punished. Cookie loves them, but like all things Cookie, she likes to be in control. She has to be boss on how the stories should go. These story cards and dice sounded like a way for me to get her to think outside the box...and to come up with new themes and characters. Lately she wants Marcey to be jealous of Ginger about getting a certain toy. In reality, Marcey always got the cool toys because her parents had more money than mine did and I was always jealous of her.

So I bought both, the dice and the cards. Really both are cool ideas.

The story dice have nine dice, each with six pictures, like a phone or a bell, so when you roll them, you get many different combination of images to help you tell a story. You can of course use all or some of them to tell a story. But the idea of Cookie telling me the general theme and players and then letting the dice help in the development of the story seemed like a good idea.

The story cards are for younger kids about 3 to 5 years old and have a similar idea. There are 32 cards with images on them. The images are fairytale like. A Castle, a princess, a king, a little boy, and a witch. Again, the idea is to use the cards to help build a story. You can use all or some.

Cookie loves them. As a result, I spent most of yesterday telling story after story. While I love that she gets to build her imagination, she is not ready or she does not want to participate in the telling of the story herself. We spent three hours, yes three hours playing with them until I called "uncle". I just could not play anymore. I think it's cute that she calls the story cubes, "sugar cubes" and was touched when she laid out the cards to tell her sister a story.

I am a little hesitant to bring them out again today, as I am not ready to tell stories and be imaginative for three hours today. The teacher in me loves them, the tired Mom in me may need to warm up to them, or set a timer.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Coincidence....I think not

There is usually about once a month where I completely lose it. Once a month where I am an evil bitch to everyone, including my kids. Following my hormone induced freak out is the gut wracking guilt, but for about two days every month I contemplate running out the door and not coming back.

Growing up, my parents were friends with another family. This family also had two girls the same age as my sister and me. I really didn't like their little girl who was only a week younger than me, she was mean. But one day their Mom up and left them all. She packed her bags and went to Europe or something like that. She returned years later, but the damage was done. But this isn't really about them. It's just that for a split second once a month I understand their Mom. I get it. The urge to just run away from the screaming, crying, snot running, pooping kids, not to mention judgmental husband, who really means well, but EVERYTHING he says is just wrong, crosses my mind.

This week was just one of those cosmically crappy weeks. Of course it probably belongs on Reddit in the category of "What First World People Complain of"....but it is in one of the top ten worst weeks for me.

First, our stove broke. In one of my Best Mom moments of making sugar cookies with my own little Cookie, my oven stops working. We are mixing the dough, she's adding sugar, flour, eggs..I hear a popping sound. I can not figure out what it is...that is until I glance at the clock on the stove and realize it is not working. MY OVEN IS NOT WORKING. Because it is Tuesday, because Memorial day weekend is that weekend, we wait until Friday to order an oven. It will not be delivered until the following Thursday. I am facing almost two weeks without an oven. I'd like to say I plan delicious, wonderfully healthy meals to grill and cook in the crock pot...but, we order pizza, Chinese, and eat out for the most part. Well, mostly because my wonderful ungrateful family decides to not want to eat the first night I grill up steak, corn on the cob, and sweet potatoes, all cooked to perfection. I become a little petty at my family's indifference to my awesomeness. Still I am up for the World's Best Mom and Wife....but it soon goes downhill.

Sunday, I notice Jelly is running a fever as I put her down for a nap. She wakes up running about 101. And proceeds to puke all over me. Cookie, who is perpetually jealous of any attention handed out to Jelly tries her best to drive me up the wall. Let's just say there was lots of crying by both kids. Jelly, because she felt awful and just wanted to cuddle and basically crawl back into the womb, Cookie because I was not paying enough attention to her.

I spend not one but two nights on the couch with a sick Jelly. Before bed on the second night, I notice Jelly has a rash and she's been complaining that her mouth hurts. Coincidentally, I had just read a blog about a family's ill fated vacation to Puerto Rico where they all come down with a lovely virus called Coxsackie. And she described it as what Jelly had. This virus is ugly. This virus sucks, especially if you get the mouth sores. For five days Jelly would wake up in the middle of the night screaming about her mouth. All day, every five minutes she would stick her hand in her mouth and cry saying, "hurtee, hurtee." She then would cry, "hungee, hungee." I would try and feed her something and she would just cry some more. For five days my baby lived on ice cream and Top Ramen (cooked in microwave). And on day three Cookie got the dreaded disease, better known as hand/foot/and mouth disease.

Knowing that I had just spend two nights on the couch with Jelly, Cookie demanded that I sleep with her, as she was sick. Night three, I am sleeping in Cookie's bed, with Cookie and Jelly. Every two hours Cookie would wake crying for her "Neh Neh." Jelly would wake up and cry about her mouth. Three nights of little sleep. By night four, I was done. Neither kid could eat anything but ice cream, and it was 9 p.m., Cookie was exhausted, but refused to go to sleep unless I was there. Jelly was screaming and I had enough. Now we all love the book that's coming out "Go the F** to sleep" Because frankly we all of said it or thought it. And each one of us are jealous that we didn't think to write it first. And me, day four of no sleep. Day four of screaming, crying, clinging kids have had it. I start screaming, " YOU WILL GO TO SLEEP, I AM DONE, I AM NOT SLEEPING WITH EITHER OF YOU. I AM NOT CUDDLING ANYONE. I AM NOT LOOKING FOR NEH NEH. I DON'T WANT TO BE ANYWHERE NEAR EITHER OF YOU." I put Jelly in her bed screaming. I slammed the door to Cookie's room, and I laid down in my bed until I no longer heard a peep from either disease laden child.

By far not my best moment as a mom. I later went and laid in Cookie's bed and slept with her. Gathered up a crying Jelly in the middle of the night to sleep with us...and repeated the process of every two hours looking for the scrap of Cookie's blankie, calming a crying Jelly, and dealing with a cranky husband in the morning, who complained that the monitor to Cookie's room was on all night, yet he never turned it off, so he slept as fitfully as the three of us. Oh and I started my period. I'd like to say that I never once thought of running away...but on the fourth morning of waking to screaming kids, a period, a cranky husband, and no oven, I had visions of myself running down the street bra less, bare foot, and in my pajamas screaming and pulling at my hair like a crazy person. At the same time, that vision felt liberating, because I'd get to hear the birds. feel the warm sunshine that was out after a week and a half of rain (and I'm stuck at home still with two sick kids) and I would be far far away from my family whom I love more than life itself.

It's day six, Jelly is finally eating, Cookie's mouth is still a puss ridden mess, and I sheepishly admit to threatening to throw out he Neh Neh for the hundredth time. Coincidence that my oven breaks the very week my kids can't eat? You be the judge. But in my book, I guess there is a silver lining to everything.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I will readily admit that I am an ageist. I only have patience for things that work in favor of my kids at their particular age at this particular moment.

For example, it's the end of the school year for the kids in our area. This means that end of the year parties and activities. Most of those parties and activities are held at local parks around town. We have 27 parks! Yes, 27. The number is awesome, the choice is awesome...what's not so awesome is when you bring your two children, ages 4 and 22 months, to the park to play and it is crawling with elementary school age kids. And not just 5...but 60 of them. No matter what park you choose!

I am one of those parents who watch their children. I am sure some of you know a few parents who are too busy facebooking and texting or talking on their cell phones to watch their children. Even when I am talking to other parents at the park, I am still aware where my kids are and what they are doing.

Being a former teacher, I know that there are wonderful and fantastic teachers out there....but I also know that there are ones that don't care. Sometimes at the park I get to view the later...the ones who let their students do anything they want. They throw sand, push little kids out of the way, steal their buckets and shovels, and prevent the little ones from going on certain equipment. I hate having to be that mom admonishing the elementary kids when they are supposed to be having fun. I hate having to act as mediator for children that I am not responsible for. I am not a hovering parent. I let my kids try new things, fall (safely), fail, dust off and then try again. I teach my children tools on how to get along with others, although this doesn't always happen.

I particularly hate these elementary schools invading my park. I also get annoyed during the summer when busloads of kids from summer camps and daycare places show up at my normally tame and quiet park. I know that when Cookie starts elementary school I'll be one of those parents who think the parents of little one's need to chill out and share the park....cause I'm an ageist....and when there are too many kids I won't get to see this:

Monday, May 16, 2011

For the Hell of It.

Sometimes I like to say "No" to Jelly, just to say no. There really is no reason to say no, I mean I could say yes to whatever it is, but no is just so much funnier. I mean Jelly is almost two and she has started throwing those terrible two tantrums. I find them pretty hilarious. Maybe it's because I've been through them before, or maybe it is because they just are not as violent as Cookie's were. Does this make me a mean Mom?

I will pretend for appearance sakes to say it teaches her some positive traits. 1. I am in charge 2. You don't always get what you want. 3. You get nothing if you cry (cause sometimes I'll say yes when the crying stops). 4. patience.

On another note, I enjoyed scaring the pants off Cookie today. There she was, playing sweetly in her room, when I sneaked in quietly and yelled "BOO". She jumped like a foot and screamed. Then she started laughing....and of course I laughed an evil laugh. She said, "Mommy you scared me." I felt slightly satisfied.

Maybe I'm a little demented. I just like doing things for the hell of it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

What's with this age?

Nobody and I mean nobody warned me about four. You hear horror stories about two...trepidation about three, and downright fear about thirteen and well...any teen year. But four, nobody, told me about four. Take the terrible two tantrums, mix well with the word "No", and throw in a little "I don't want to" and you've got my four year old. Being a parent is delightful, it is fun, it is tiring, it is scary, and it is frustrating to no end. This four year old makes me absolutely terrified to reach teen years. Emotionally charged and verbally adept, she is exerting her independence like a freight train. If I was to tell her that the color was blue, she would insist it was red. I tell her to jump, she says she wants to lie down. She tells me she likes a certain food, then says she hates it.

The other day we went outside to take some four year old
pictures in her princess dress. All things were going great.....and then in a flash of a moment tears and a tantrum. I would ask her to stand one place, she'd insist on another. This is where I need to learn to get good at reverse psychology. I have to make things seem like her idea, contrary to my idea. "Charlotte it's snowing, maybe you should go outside in your tennis shoes." then hope she chooses to wear her snow shoes instead.

I am not a fan of four...I hear five is better, but then again, I think those Mom's are just lying again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Get Angry

I received an e-mail the other day from a woman I met once at a park while playing with my kids almost a year ago. We hit it off enough, that I got her e-mail and invited her to playgroup. Like many women I meet and invite to playgroup, I e-mailed her...but never heard back. That was until a few days ago.

I am not immune to the world or the problems many people are facing right now. The idea that our government, our congressmen and women are playing games while the numbers in poverty increase daily sickens me. The idea that they continue to give tax breaks to the richest of the rich, allow large conglomerate companies to avoid paying taxes drives me nuts. The fact that I am a historian, and throughout history, "trickle down economics" does not work. The rich do not create more jobs if you give them more money....point in case: in the 80s, they just took the money and built themselves new homes in other countries, and moved this country's manufacturing across the seas to places like China. But, this is not really about politics and my feeling on how all members, yes I said it, ALL members of congress need to be fired, we need to start over...maybe have a few teachers, plumbers, and waitresses start making the decisions...cause those there now are not there for us, the people's best interest, they are there to make more money, and keep their billions growing.

All that being said, this woman contacted me to see if my husband could hire her husband. She recalled that I mentioned he was looking in to hire a web guy to help him....she said her husband was good with computers, but was a landscape architect by trade. Things in a year have changed significantly for us, in the company my husband works for (for the better), and in what my husband needs in his "web" people. The e-mail is just one example, of many, I am sure, of what our economy, what the reality is for most Americans today. We are thankful every single day for what we have, for what his boss and the company he works for provides. We are not rich, we are not well off, but we are doing better than most. My heart breaks for this woman who not only has had to face a major life changing event in regards to her husbands unemployment, but two miscarriages in the time span from when I met her. A person so desperate, that she is begging virtual strangers for help. A person who, when I told her that unfortunately my husband hired four new people but all in California, that he is no longer looking for help, said they'd be willing to relocate. My heart breaks for her, her situation, and those who are too struggling to make ends meet. Those who are making daily decisions..."do I buy groceries or provide heat for my family this month."

I ask are we not angry enough yet?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Torn and Tattered

Next month my Cookie is 4 years old. Sometimes while driving, I'll glance in the rear view mirror and be thrown at how much she has grown, at what a big girl she is. Last night while cuddling before bed, I became just a little verklempt. Cookie hung on to my neck and pushed her little head into my neck and told me she loved me and wanted to hug me forever. In that moment I knew that this closeness to my baby girl was fleeting, that one day she will push me away. That one day she will tell me to get out of her room, that she will roll her eyes at me and tell me I am annoying.

But, for now I still have my bossy, talkative, boisterous, fearless little girl who loves to sing and dance without a care in the world. A little girl who jumps headfirst into the deep end of the pool even though she can't swim, and expects and knows that it will be okay, that someone will be there to catch her from drowning. My tomboy who asks for dinosaurs and princesses for Christmas. The first one in her preschool class to brave the zip line, even though technically she is the youngest. She wears princess dresses and cowgirl boots. Prefers her clothes only be purple, and hates to have her hair brushed. Is in one breath super jealous of her sister, yet very giving at the same time. She will sing at the top of her lungs even though in reality, she can not carry a tune (something she gets from me). And of course the one thing in those four years that goes everywhere with her. That has been dragged through the mud, sleet, snow, dirt, water, and goodness knows what else. The item that we can't get out of her face, even for pictures, her blankie, or "Neh Neh" as she calls it.

I am afraid, okay maybe relieved, that Neh Neh will not last until her 4th birthday. It has been through some transformations since she attached to it at 4 months old. The yellow thermal receiving blanket started out quite large. She would drag it behind her, tripping herself as she went. Finally, fed up with it being so long, I cut it down (or I should say them...I bought three of the same blanket for her). Last year, I put most of them away to be used in a quilt I am making for her out of all her baby blankets...and left her with just three Neh Nehs, one to be used at a time while the other two were in the wash. Two have been lost in at Disneyland, the other who knows where.....and we are left with one. One tattered and torn lovey. Last month I noticed that it was so worn, that it looked as if it was disintegrating. Cookie of course has not helped poor Neh Neh's plight, she has pulled and twisted it until the edging I had sewn around it detached from the middle part. Then what was left was about a 6X6 in square, has been torn into two very thin strips. The two vestiges of her baby and toddler hood are going going going and will be gone as she reaches 4 and becomes a little girl.

Neh Neh is so small, so minuscule that she loses it about a dozen times a day. Hysteria ensues...because she knows that it might be gone forever, that she might have misplaced it for the last time. Am I ready for my baby, my toddler to become a little girl? Am I ready for the attitude, the emotional roller coaster that comes with girls, I think it is already too late.... her Neh Neh, is torn and tattered, she has outgrown it, although she is still holding on, like I am. But someday, too soon, it will be gone and so will my little baby girl.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meatballs-Beach House Style

Our last days at the beach house and I am working on clearing out the pantry. Tonight's menu was spaghetti and meatballs. Cookie asks for meatballs all the time. She loves ground beef in many different ways, and meatballs happens to be her favorite. I have been looking for the perfect meatball recipe, but so far it has alluded me...that is until today. Something about having to make due with what I have, to substitute for what I would normally use, has worked out in my favor. Five years of being married and trying my hand at cooking has helped. Below is my successful Meatball-Beach House Style recipe.

Meatballs-Beach House Style

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup red onions chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Good Seasons Italian Dressing Seasoning prepared
1 egg
1/2 cup Ritz crackers crushed
salt to taste
pepper to taste

1 jar of Marinara Sauce (your choice, I used Barilla)
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 tbsps Olive Oil

1. Mix all ingredients together and then shape into balls. You can make as big or small as you desire
2. Heat Olive Oil in a frying pan. Brown Meatballs on all sides. Place onto bake safe pan. Pour sauces over the meatballs and bake until internal temp reaches 165 degrees. I baked at a low temp of 250 for about 2 hours...but I made them early in the afternoon, you could most likely turn up the heat and bake a shorter time. I also used a gas oven at sea level, so everything bakes faster and more evenly than my electric at home.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Vegetable Beef Soup..Beach House Style

Vegetable Beef Soup

1-2 pds of round beef steak cubed

1 cup diced onion

1 cup of carrots sliced thin

1 cup celery chopped

1 tbsp butter

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

6 cups of beef broth (or water 4 bullion cubes or 4 tsps)

2 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp Worcester sauce

1 tbsp of cinnamon

1 bay leaf

1/2 tbsp of chili powder or you can use like I have in a pinch "famous Daves" rib rub or some other rub.(seriously)

salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large soup pot cook the onions in the butter over a med. heat until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the veggies. Cook about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the meat and brown on all sides...stirring occasionally.

2. Add the Beef Broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Worcester, and the garlic (peel off the skin...but do not crush). Add the spices...I let them cook about 10 minutes, stir and taste then add more to taste.

3. Bring to a boil, stir and then simmer until the meat falls apart and the carrots are soft. I like to simmer covered at least an hour. Uncovered about an hour. You can also brown everything and then put in a crock pot.

Creative living

If you ever want to see what things you have in your kitchen and pantry that you really don't need or use, go away for a month. Stay in a beach cottage that has almost all the plates, utensils, pots, pans, furniture, and beds. Go shopping for food and staples, then when you attempt to cook your family a meal, realize that all the things you usually use are not available or you forgot to buy.

We are lucky enough to be staying at the beach in Southern California for a month. Lucky to have a wonderful two bedroom beach cottage with almost everything including cable. Our first day was anything but ideal, as Cookie promptly puked at a local restaurant (her turn with the tummy flu that nearly did Hubby in as soon as we arrived in L.A....another story for another time maybe). When I finally did get out that evening for food staples I decided to go to a Super Target because upon arriving at said beach house, I realized that my number one mistake was not making sure it had a bathtub. 18 month olds simply do not appreciate a nice shower. So not wanting to go to multiple places, and we desperately needed food staples, I went to Super Target for food and a blow up kiddie pool to place in the shower.

I am not a huge fan of Target's grocery selection. In fact I am a little leery of it. I bought some chicken tenders which I had intended on making my infamous Frosted Flake chicken with the following night for dinner...but when one fails to buy Frosted Flakes (oops) and Hubby has the car (nobody walks in L.A....that and where the house is there is really nothing close enough or safe enough to walk to with two kids), ....creativity comes in. The pantry was pretty paltry anyway, bare bones, to be exact, as I was intending on going to the regular grocery store later in the week....I decided to use Ritz crackers as bread crumbs...a good choice as I also realized that we had no salt, just pepper for seasoning. Score one point for Mom. I realize that crackers are something others use regularly for bread crumbs...just that my Mom and Dad never did, so I felt pretty creative and the Hubby and non sick kid ate them.

Night two on my dinner menu (still have not gotten to the real grocery store) Vegetable Beef Soup. Things I did manage to get at Target, carrots, celery, and beef. However I had failed to get beef broth or any other kind of spices I usually use. Problem solved with a Beef Top Ramen packet. No Chili Powder or bay leaf....Cinnamon (who knows why I bought Cinnamon, because I don't know what I was thinking). One of the best beef soups I have made in a long time. Although cutting the beef into cubes was tougher than usual since I discovered that there was no butcher knife, just steak knives. Really, who stocks a kitchen and does not include at least one butcher knife but buys a rice cooker. I mean I use a rice cooker at least 3 times a week so score for me, but seriously. Recipe of soup to follow.

Things I have in my kitchen that I have discovered and rendered useless, Butcher knives who needs them, just tear the meat. Spices other than Cinnamon...okay salt is good and pepper too, but those others are just expensive and take up room in your cupboards and pantries. Baking trays, just use tin foil. everything if you make it. Bread crumbs, seriously just buy one kind of cracker and use those for everything, finger sandwiches, croutons, you get the gist. Spaghetti spoon. Dishwasher, use your hands. Dust Pan, just sweep the dirt outside. These are just some of the things I have discovered I've been doing wrong.

Monday, January 24, 2011

In the gutter

I am no marketing genius, I leave that up to Hubby. He sometimes will blurt out while we are someplace, "are you kidding me people?" There are a lot of places that choose their company names or product names that make no sense. Names that are asking to be made fun of.

For example, on our way to the Denver Zoo there is a Chinese Restaurant named, "Ho Mei". Seems innocuous right? Wrong, it is in a predominantly black neighborhood. Did they name it so that calling it "Homey" would feel more natural for the locals? Whatever it means in Chinese, it makes me laugh every time I see it.

Or locally, a restaurant opened and their signage read, "RustiCoven". I should have taken a picture of this before they finally changed their logo to read, "Rustic Oven." The first time we saw the sign my husband actually did a hand to the head smack. But, I still call it the "Rusty Coven" and will as long as the place exists.

Today my mind was apparently in the gutter when I came across the scene of a man loading his company truck with the name "T & A Counters". I mean, naming your business after you and your partners first names that start with a "T" and an "A" respectively sounds all right. But, when you put them together with "Counters" you are just asking for it. I actually drove past this truck, turned around and took a picture. And of course I just happened to get a picture of the owners ass sticking out of the truck. So what are the rules for counting the number of tits and asses? Do you have to go to school to become a "T & A" counter? Oh I could make jokes all day. Maybe my mind is just in the gutter. I am also wondering if you find this as amusing as I do?

Tofu Lo Mein Stir Fry

I am forever trying to find ways to cook Tofu. Besides the fact that Jelly loves the stuff, it is good for you and provides a great alternative to meat. We decided to purchase a 1/4 of a cow last Fall. The cow comes from a Colorado farm where the cows are not pumped full of hormones and are grass fed. When you go to pick up your meat, they literally butcher the cow that day. Needless to say we have a lot of beef products.

I like to try and meal plan my week where we have a rotation of chicken, beef, pork, and tofu. It doesn't always work out, as my kids are pretty picky eaters and sometimes I just want them to eat instead of turning their noses up at what I serve them. I refuse to stop feeding the kids healthy foods because all they want is PB&J. The rule in the house is that they have to try everything on their plate, but do not have to finish it. I can not force them to eat. I am under the belief that if they are hungry, they will eat, even if it isn't chicken nuggets. (which they only get when we go out for dinner).

I never ever have "dessert" because that would just set me and them up for disaster. Since I have no will power when it comes to things like chocolate or ice cream, I don't keep it in the house. Even chocolate chips, because eventually I will raid the bag and start eating them by the spoonful. I know some people have dessert every night and have to battle the food dilemma nightly. "Did I eat enough Mommy? Can I have dessert Mommy?" None of that here. We just ask, "Did you try everything on your plate? We'd like you to take a bite of your carrots, before you ask to be excused."

The following recipe is one I put together that would satisfy both the kids and us adults. Jelly gets her tofu, which I love, too. Cookie gets her pasta, and everyone gets a good dose of vegetables. (sorry no pictures today)

Tofu LoMein Stir Fry

1 package extra-firm tofu
1 package of spaghetti (I use regular spaghetti size)
2 tbsp veg. oil
1/2 onion sliced
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1 med. red pepper thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 large zucchini cut into thin half moons
1/4 pkg spinach
1 broccoli crown separated
2 large carrots peeled, shredded
1/4 cup Mr. Yoshida’s (or you can mix some soy sauce w/ some brown sugar or honey)
red pepper flakes according to taste (I don't use because the kids don't like spice, but I have added Chinese sriracha to hubby's and mine.)

1. Cook Pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large frying pan or wok, brown tofu in 1 tbsp oil, set aside on paper towel lined plate.
3. Add remaining oil to the pan, cook onions, garlic, celery and bell peppers until soft
4. Put zucchini, carrots, broccoli, spinach in pan, cover and steam 5 minutes
5. Add tofu and pasta and Mr. Yoshida’s mix cook on med. until warm.
6. You can add hot sauce or sriracha or even Korean hot sauce according to your own tastes.