~my thoughts about life~

Monday, January 31, 2011

I Made Fried Chicken

I don't know why I never tried it before.  But seeing the recipe in Paula Deen's book gave me the courage to give it a try.  "Fried chicken is really hard," my mother said.  I was quite worried about it.  But goodness, it only has like 3 ingredients in it.  Then you just put it in the oil.  How hard could fried chicken really be?  Turns out, it's really not that difficult.  I was impressed with the outcome.  There were only a couple issues.

Issue #1:  I don't have a kitchen thermometer.  The recipe says to bring the oil to 375 degrees.  When you don't have a thermometer, it's hard to know when the oil is up to temperature.  I fried the chicken in two different batches and realized I didn't have the oil hot enough for the first batch.  The second batch went much quicker.  I kept my heat between medium-high and high.

Issue #2:  I didn't have a pot big enough and had to make the chicken in two separate batches.  Although, if I had a pot big enough, it would have taken a gallon of oil.  So I guess that's not really a problem.  I just kept the cooked dark meat in the oven on warm while I fried up the white meat.

Issue #3:  The recipe said to add a pinch of seasoning to the flour.  I did.  Maybe my pinch was not large enough but the chicken was not seasoned enough.  Next time I'll add quite a bit more salt.

Other than that, it went just peachy.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the beautifully browned crusty chicken.  This was all that was left by the time I got my camera out.  So the result is, Fried Chicken made the cut and will be added to the rotation.  Here's Paula's recipe:

Fried Chicken
3 eggs
House Seasoning (1 C salt, 1/4 C pepper, 1/4 C garlic powder)
2 C flour
1 1/2 to 2 lb. chicken, cleaned and cut up
Crisco or vegetable oil for frying, deep enough to cover the chicken
In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with 1/3 C water.  In another bowl, add a pinch of House Seasoning to the flour.  Roll each piece of chicken in the egg, then roll in the seasoned flour.  If possible, return seasoned chicken to the refrigerator for about 2 hours before cooking. 

Remove chicken from the refrigerator, heat the oil to 375 degrees in a frying pan or Dutch oven.  Put the largest pieces of dark meat in first followed immediately by the smaller pieces of white meat chicken. 

Cook, covered, for 5 minutes.  Remove the cover and turn the chicken when the undersides are well browned.  Cook, covered, for another 5 minutes.  Remove the cover and cook until the chicken is well browned.  The entire chicken will take about 20-25 minutes to cook.  Don't turn the chicken more than once or some of the fine flavor will be lost.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Happens When You Have 4 Kids...

-  When Son #1 was born, I was the perfect mom.  I laid him in his bed awake and made him fall asleep on his own.  I put him down for naps at specific times and wouldn't get him out of his crib until I felt he was done.  He would sing and play in his bed until I came for him.
-  Son #2 came along two years later.  This child did not like to sleep and I was exhausted from having a toddler and a newborn.  I let him sleep whenever and wherever he wanted.  He would only nurse to sleep.  When he was older he had to be rocked to sleep.  I would tiptoe to his bed, making very small movements, and try to lay him down without waking him.  He would scream and I would have to pick him back up and start all over.  When the pediatrician finally talked me into letting him cry it out, he would scream for two hours straight every night.  My marriage almost ended during those horrible two weeks.
- Big Sis arrived three years later.  I vowed that I would never make the mistake I made with her older brother.  I did nurse her before sleeping but if she woke up when I laid her down, I wouldn't pick her back up.  We had some crying, but nothing like before.
- Baby Girl was born four years after that.  By this time, I was so busy with three other kids.  I laid her down in bed awake because I didn't have time to rock and cuddle with her.  She learned to sleep on her own and did great.

Early Eating
- As a newborn, Son #1 was put on a strict schedule.  I determined it by his needs.  He ate at 10:30, 2:30 and 6:30, morning and night.  He nursed for 10 minutes on each side, which got bumped up to 12 minutes if he was going through a growth spurt.  He never spit up and was always pleasant.
- Son #2 had me wrapped around his finger.  He would nurse at all times of the day and night, usually for 2 to 5 minutes each feeding.  I got so exhausted that I started putting him in bed with me, something I swore I would never do.  I would wake up to find him sleeping soundly in a big puddle of spit up.  He would nurse until we both fell asleep and never got burped.  I cleaned up a lot of spit up.
- With  Big Sis, again I vowed not to raise her like her brother.  She didn't eat on schedule like Son #1, but I refused to nurse her every hour. 
- Baby Girl's newborn feeding was a nightmare.  I had an overactive thyroid during pregnancy that I wasn't aware of.  Even though I looked good and skinny, I had no milk supply.  I sat in the hospital crying, holding a screaming baby that I couldn't soothe.  I had to start her immediately on formula, which she inhaled greedily.  I was overcome with guilt and depression at the thought of not being able to provide for my own baby.  At this point, I would have gladly traded places with myself seven years ago when I was nursing every hour.

Later Eating
- Son #1 was only fed baby food until he was close to a year.  When we started with table food, he was not allowed any salt or sugar.  His first taste of sugar was his first birthday cake.  Then after that, I continued to withhold sugar.  We tried all kinds of veggies and tried to train him to eat right.  It did not work.  He developed picky eating habits by the age of two. 
- Son #2 was also only fed baby food for a while but table food was introduced much earlier.  My friend's kids would eat anything and she said it's because she fed them whatever she was eating.  So I tried that.  If we had spicy food, so did he.  He developed picky eating habits even earlier than his brother.
- Big Sis ate baby food for a little while but didn't care for it.  We tried table food but she didn't like that much either.  We tried to feed her a great variety of foods.  She too became a picky eater.
- Baby Girl refused baby food.  She acted like we were giving her scalding hot poison.  We even put the veggies aside and went right for the fruits.  Nope.  We tried table food.  Nope.  This child did not eat enough to keep any human being alive. 

- All of my kids sleep great.  They are all light sleepers though and can be woken up easily.  Son #1 is nearing the teenage years and is sleeping more and more.  Baby Girl still wakes up during the night once or twice a week.  She will not cry it out.  I have to walk in her room, tell her to lay down, and leave.  That's all she needs.
- None of my kids eat well today.  Son #1 finally realized he's a carnivore and has taken to eating meat whenever he can.  When we took him on a cruise, he ate so many hamburgers that he vomited all over the cabin.  We had to call housekeeping in the middle of the night who had to use masks and a carpet cleaning machine to rid all the vomit.  We still have to monitor how much he eats or he throws up. 
-  Son #2 is very limited but tries to occasionally branch out.  As long as dinner is made up of something with red sauce or noodles, he's a happy camper.  Lunch every day is peanut butter crackers.
-  Big Sis eats very little.  Very few restaurants please her, except for McDonald's and Cracker Barrel.  She is limited to chicken nuggets, applesauce, spaghetti, and salami.  She even abandoned hot dogs when they started "not tasting right."  Every night at dinner results in her crying.
-  Baby Girl eats practically nothing.  She lives on crackers, bacon, sausage, and Chapstick.  Occasionally I can get her to eat cereal.  I'm not sure what I did so poorly while raising my kids to eat.  I blame it on their father- a picky eater who stands at 6'2" and weighs 175 soaking wet.

And so it goes...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Time for a Rhyme?

The snow is falling,
It's coming down fast,
We might just stay in
'Til this snowstorm is past.

Drinking hot cocoa,
and coffee and tea,
Let's snuggle in blankets
And just watch TV.


I have a sty in my eye,
It's swollen and red,
It's painful and itchy,
I should be in bed.


I need to clean this house
But I'm a lazy louse.
The laundry's piled high
I need to wash and dry.
The dishes in the sink
Are beginning to stink.
I should be getting paid 
'Cause I feel like I'm a maid.


During the winter there's not much to do
It's yucky and cold and folks say "a-choo!"
Spending time reading rhymes by Mother Goose
Keeps me talking like this.  No, I'm not Dr. Seuss.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Glad Game

Have you ever seen the movie Pollyanna, staring Hayley Mills?  My brother and I used to watch it over and over when we were young.  We must have recorded it off of TV on our totally rad VCR.  (I actually remember feeling slighted that we didn't choose Beta over VHS.  Funny.)

Anyway, I remember sweet, bubbly little Pollyanna always playing The Glad Game.  When something bad happened in her life, she would think of something positive to distract her from the negative.  An example she gave was when she received crutches as a gift, she was thankful that she didn't have a need for the crutches.  Years ago, I adopted a form of this game in my life.

When the going gets tough, I try to see my glass as half-full.  I try to find the silver lining, see the good in people, and find joy in the storm.  This past week in my life has been among the tough.  You may be able to tell from my recent posts.  Some of them haven't been the most cheerful.  I apologize for that. 

We had a death in the family.  The deceased was someone who once lived next door to me, was someone I would call any time I had a cooking question, was someone whom I considered to be close.  Two years ago, this person removed herself from my family's lives.  She took with her my cousins and their children - people I grew up with.  My grandfather, the always wise leader of the family, has never gotten over it.  Not only did he have to deal with the death this week, his health is declining.  He lives with my grandma whose dementia makes every moment of every day difficult beyond the point of understanding.  I don't know how he functions.  He is the strongest man I've ever known.  And to see him break down is simply more than I can bear.  I would have allowed my own arm to be cut off if I could have kept my sweet grandfather from the pain he has endured this week, this month, these past two years. 

But in spite of my pain and sadness, I make myself pull out that inner Pollyanna.  I have to find beauty in ashes.  And to voice that gladness out loud (or in print) makes me realize my true blessings. 
-  I am so thankful for my family's health.  My husband has been through his share of sickness.  Seeing him able-bodied is a tremendous joy. 
- My kids received extraordinary grades on their report cards.  I don't have to fight with them, tutor them, or stress over their learning.  They make me proud to be their mama.
- I have recently been added to the vocal staff at our church.  Singing with such talented vocalists is like a dream for me.  It doesn't even bother me that they had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to justify using me.
- I have a gorgeous home.  It is in no way grand or showy but it's just right for me.
- Through all the hurt, pain and betrayal, my family has grown closer to one another.  We value each other so much more and truly appreciate one another's skills, talents, and traits.  Being accepted is something I take for granted.  I can't imagine not having a place to belong.
- I have some pretty incredible friends.  I have lost a couple best friends in my lifetime.  Best friends and incredible friends are two different things.  Best friends are people you see nearly every day.  You talk or text throughout the day, you know what the other is doing at all times and where they are going.  I no longer have a best friend.  Incredible friends are the ones who just happen to know when you need a phone call, a hug, a compliment, or a lunch invitation.  I don't know how they know, but they just do.  I actually consider some of you incredible friends.  Even though we've never met, you seem to know when to say or blog the right things.  Thank you.
- And most of all, I am thankful that I could go on and on like this for days.  I am so blessed that I can't even begin to list all the things that make me smile, keep me going, and make life worth living.

I'm glad I played The Glad Game today.  :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another Cheesy Prank

Since several of  you got a kick out of my recent attack by little action figures, I have to share another story that reveals how much of a cornflake I really am.

Big Sis received this little Mexican girl as a souvenir from her Great-Grandma's cruise.  (Yes, Great-Grandma is spunky, but that's another story.)  The doll came to represent an inside joke between Hubby and myself.  This was the first item we began hiding from one another.  The kids were not involved in this prank so the hiding places were better thought out.  At one time, the doll was so well hidden that she was not discovered for over a month. 

One summer evening, I got the great idea to hide her in Hubby's golf bag.  I knew he had a golf day planned and this was a perfect way to get him.  He surely wouldn't discover the stowaway until he was actually at the course.  So I snuck into his car late at night and buried the Mexican girl deep inside the golf bag.  I smiled halfway into the night at the thought of my cleverness.  Well, the golf outing passed and not a word was uttered about the prank.  But part of the game is pretending that you didn't notice the doll before you re-hide it.  So I didn't say anything to Hubby.

On Monday morning, a co-worker of Hubby's approached him.  He held up the doll and asked if Hubby had any knowledge of the Mexican girl.  Hubby laughed and wondered how I got the co-worker involved.  The man went on to explain that, while on the golf course Saturday, this little doll flew out of his golf bag while he attempted to remove a club.  What?!?  Dumb me put the doll into the WRONG GOLF BAG!  I had no idea that Hubby had someone else's bag in his car from the last time they golfed together!  Hubby got the biggest kick out of my attempted cleverness and tremendous failure.

Even though the prank on Hubby was ruined, it ended up being funnier in the long run.  This poor man was the subject of much ridicule at having a little girl's doll tucked inside his manly golf bag.  So now he's in on the joke too.  I can only wonder where she will turn up next.  Maybe after we lose all the action figures...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Has Me Confused

My new neighbor is someone I just can't quite figure out.  She and her husband moved into the neighborhood about a year ago.  He was a upper-management businessman recovering from a horrific injury.  He was in a coma for 3 months after having the living daylights beat out of him.  Hearing their story, we were quick to go over and welcome them to the neighborhood.  I took cookies and a plant.  The wife was cooking dinner at the time so was obviously somewhat domesticated.  I described her as a 50-something feminist who probably went to Berkeley.  She was wearing a sweater and khakis and resembled Annette Benning. 

Time passed and I didn't see her for a while.  Her son was home from college for the summer and must have brought his girlfriend home with him.  I saw the two of them in the driveway several times.  Then one day, it hit me...the girlfriend is actually the mother!  She abandoned her classy college professor look for Alicia Keys' weave.  And she didn't look a day over 22 in her spandex workout clothes.  OK, whatever. 

This weekend, I saw an unusual looking black woman with Mr. Neighbor.  She actually resembled Prince or a man in drag.  Unfortunate.  But you probably guessed it...it was again my same neighbor.  I just don't understand how a woman can progress from Annette Benning to Prince over the course of a year.  And to appear to change races and gender?  I'm stumped on this one.

Have you ever known someone to drastically change their look, leaving you scratching your head?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Today's + & -

+ Even though it's been in the single degrees lately, the falling snow is so beautiful!
- A day off school for the kids is unfortunately a day packed full of stress for me.  Grocery shopping with four kids is never fun.
+ Diet Coke
- Finding out about a death in your family on Facebook is not a pleasant experience.  Why do people rush to be the first to post bad news on Facebook?  I don't feel that's the proper place for sad news to be spread.
+ Hubby has a wonderful way of dealing with me when I'm in a bad mood.  He knows when to cower from the dragon.
- Baby Girl did not sleep well and has been extremely grouchy all day.
+ Hmmm... the plusses are a little harder today.  Life, breath, health, security, shelter, transportation....now I feel bad about saying the plusses were hard.  I'm thankful and blessed.
- People who let me down.  If I don't do it myself, it doesn't get done right.  Frustrating.
+ Blogging.  It is a wonderful outlet for me and I value it more each day.

Hope you have a + kind of day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

I've Been Attacked!

We had an invasion last night.  When I woke up this morning, I found these assassins stationed throughout my home.

One was on the milk jug trying to catch me by surprise. 

Another was hiding out in the cereal cupboard planning a sneak attack. 

This is the new Lizard Game in my home.

For Christmas, Son #2 received this 4-pack of arctic fighters as a present.  He looked at me with an expression that said, "Mom, how am I supposed to act excited about this gift?  I outgrew action figures when I was 7!"  I made a big deal about how fun they looked in front of the giving relative.  Son had no interest in the toy but he apparently didn't know that his father and I have not outgrown action figures yet. 

When I went to bed last night, I stationed these soldiers in an attack formation around Hubby's cell phone.  He apparently evaded the battle and sent the men after me.  Luckily, I survived.  Keep me in your thoughts as I attempt to evade future attacks.  For now, I need to to plan a new battle strategy for Hubby's morning tomorrow.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

More Pet Peeves

I know you just love to hear me complain.  Here are some more things that get under my skin.  Feel free to chime in with yours today.
  • Getting 50 text messages a day that simply say "OK."  I hate getting up from my lunch, going in to find my phone because I can't remember where I left it to find a text that says "OK." 
  • Someone who literally overuses the word literally.  "It's literally one thousand degrees in here!"  Is it?  Is that even possible?  I literally don't think you know what "literally" means.
  • When someone folds a piece of paper in half then uses their fingernail to make the crease.  Eek...it's like fingernails on a chalkboard to me!
  • Again, I must mention people who don't use their turn signals.  One of these days I just might plow right into the back of them.
  • Dirty socks on the bathroom, living room, dining room, or kitchen floor.
  • Missing coupon expiration dates.  I lost a $10 Best Buy rewards coupon and a Shutterfly coupon code because I let the expiration dates pass.  Boo!
  • Forgetting my coupons when shopping.  I recently spent $30 at Bath & Body Works, remembering that I had a dandy coupon at home.  I don't know why I don't take them with me at all times.
  • An empty iced tea pitcher in the refrigerator when I'm thirsty.
  • Negative people who always see the grass as greener on the other side.  Just keep your own grass green and quit looking at your neighbor's!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Sighting

Please pardon the horrible clarity of this picture but we were moving in a car when I shot it.  I saw this sign on a storefront as we were sitting at a red light.  By the time I whipped out my camera, Hubby started driving.  But I thought it was worth posting anyway.

The name of the store is actually The Help Button.  But I thought The Help Butt was much funnier!  I wonder what one purchases there???  Ah, my corny sense of humor!  And pardon the harsh language today.

What's For Dinner?

I feel like I make the same things for dinner over and over!  So I am so thrilled when I discover a new recipe that at least two people in my family like.  As I mentioned a week or so ago, I started reading Paula Deen's memoirs.  I've been enjoying it so far and there are recipes at the end of each chapter.  She tells about her first big catering job when she chose to serve Beef Stronganoff.  She said she got so sick of that dish after preparing so much of it that she still can't eat it to this day.  But it sounded good to me so I decided to try it.  It was a success and will be added to our regular rotation.  I just can't make it too close to Beef Tips and Noodles.  The two dishes are similar but very different at the same time.  So here is Paula Deen's recipe.  Hope you enjoy it!

Beef Stroganoff
1 1/2 lbs. cubed round steak, cut into thin strips
House Seasoning (1 C salt, 1/4 C pepper, 1/4 C garlic powder)
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 medium onion, sliced
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 10 3/4 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 11 oz. can beef broth
1 C sour cream
Cooked flat noodles

Season the steak strips with House Seasoning, then dust the strips with flour.  In a large skillet, quickly brown them on both sides in the oil and butter.  Remove the steak from the pan.  Add the onion slices and mushrooms to the pan drippings.  Cook for a  few minutes, until the onion is tender, then sprinkle with 1 t flour.  Put the steak back into the pan with the onion and mushrooms.  Add the soup and broth.  Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, covered.  Stir in the sour cream.  Adjust seasoning to taste, adding salt and pepper as needed.  Serve over cooked hot buttered flat noodles.

Friday, January 21, 2011

More Pathetic Parenting

This post is actually a vent post.  But it fits perfectly under the heading of Pathetic Parenting.  It's a bit long so bear with me.

Son #1 came home from school visibly upset Tuesday.  He told me that one of his best friends since Kindergarten "pretty much got kicked out of his house."  What?  He's 12...there's no way his mother kicked him out of the house.  But first I must give you the back story.

When I first met this family, they were newly married and she had 3 sons.  I considered them a good Christian family.  The wife eventually had two more children with her new husband.  They were a very nice looking family.  My son quickly became close with the second oldest.  Two years ago, The Nice Family lost their third grade son to a horrible illness.  My son took it badly, as did I.  We tried to help out the family any way we could, financially, babysitting, and of course through prayer. 

The family had to have two separate funerals, one for the mother and one for the father.  They couldn't get along well enough to be in the same room for their son's memorial.  At the mother's funeral, the step-father was a wreck.  He sobbed and cried.  The mother walked around the room greeting people and smiling.  She even took her youngest to the bathroom during the service.  Several people offered to help but she refused.  I reasoned with myself that everyone deals with guilt their own way.  She wasn't outwardly grieving so she must have her moments in private.  But this was the first time that I noticed something odd with her behavior.

The son started hanging out with us more and more.  Maybe it was my imagination but it looked like the mother augmented herself after the death of her son.  Oh well, each to their own.

Then one day, Son #1 told me that the parents of The Nice Family were getting divorced.  I was so saddened for the children but explained to Son #1 that when a family faces a trauma in life, their marriage can often fall apart. 

Shortly after that, the mother showed up at my house in a Land Rover.  They had always driven modest cars and now they were separated.  But Son #1 explained that the car belonged to the mother's boyfriend who was a doctor.  They were living together.  Nice.  Now I'm starting to get a little judgemental.  It may be beside the point but this doctor would rank several slots below the mother and both fathers on an attractiveness scale.  Now, I'm not saying she's a gold digger...

So over the weekend, the two oldest boys were asked to move out and live with their natural father.  He wasn't available to pick them up at the time so it was the ex-step-father who temporarily took them in.  Something is just not right with this picture.  The step-father lives locally, the mother now lives approximately 15 minutes from the boys' school, and the father lives 30 minutes away.  The two sons will likely be pulled out of the school they've attended their entire life.

It saddens me so that I almost feel like offering to take them in myself.  Am I being too judgemental or is this mother totally out of line?  She seems to put her own needs and desires so far above those of her children.  Now, I've never walked in her shoes.  But I hope I would have seen the needs of my living children and tried to help them through.  They have also endured devastation. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Made Me Laugh

My little brother, the engineer, recently purchased a new Range Rover and he's extremely proud of it.  The only problem is his 5'1" pregnant wife has a difficult time climbing up into the huge vehicle.  So he took it to a shop to get running boards installed.  He showed up alone to drop his car off and asked about a rental.  The shop owner looked confused that my brother didn't have a ride home but politely offered him the only rental vehicle they had.  It was this...a beat up truck from the early 80s with 350,000 miles on it.  I had to laugh when I saw heard him pull up my driveway to pick up my son for Saturday errands.  Normally so stylish, he actually wasn't too bothered to be parading around town in this.  I got a kick out of it though.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Growing Up

Baby Girl has learned how to put her hands in her pockets. I think it's adorable to watch her walk around the house like this.

She has become quite independent lately...probably ever since potty training. If I try to help her do anything, her response is, "I DO IT!" From putting on her coat to pulling up her pants, she wants no help at all. She will spin in a circle trying to put her second arm in her coat. She looks like a cartoon dog chasing his tail. Yesterday, she spun for so long that she got dizzy and fell into the corner of the wall. That wasn't fun.

When she woke up today, she was very grouchy. I tried various techniques to make a grumpy baby smile to no avail. Finally, she looked at me and sternly said, "SUT UP!" My mouth dropped open at the surprise of such harsh words from my sweet, tiny girl. She's joined the others now...she's no longer a sweet baby. She's a grown kid.

But she has definitely learned her manners. It's so sweet to hear her say, "Dank You," when you hand her a napkin. She delicately wipes her face then continues on making a mess with her applesauce.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I stumbled upon the blog of a woman who so eloquently retells stories from her childhood. She said that to remember what she ate for dinner the night before would be a challenge. But she easily recalls thoughts, sights, smells, and how things felt from years ago.

I'm the second from the left.
I do not write eloquently but I share her ability to remember things from the past in great detail. Sometimes I wonder if I truly remember these events of if they were created in my imagination and recalled as true history. For example, I honestly think I remember the day my newborn brother came home from the hospital. Since we are only two years and ten days apart, I would have been very young. I can see the bald, tiny baby, dressed in light blue, lying in a cradle. I was playing with a balloon, probably either a gift to my mother or the new big sister. I was very interested in this new baby brother - a playmate for me. I threw the balloon to him in the cradle but he didn't catch it. Floods of people ran to the aid of my baby brother and scolded me for trying to hurt him. I meant no harm; I just wanted to play. That was the day he first got me in trouble and he continues to be an occasional nuisance to this day. Could it really be a memory or did I simply have a vivid imagination as a small child?

I remember the first day of Kindergarten well. I can tell you what I wore, but I'm sure that's only because of pictures. I remember crying, not wanting to part from my mother. My aunt, who was also bringing my Kindergarten cousin, was trying to distract me. She turned on the record player quietly and started dancing. I don't think the dancing calmed my nerves but class started soon after that. At circle time, the teacher noticed that the record player was spinning. She casually asked the class why it was on. A student pointed at me saying, "Her mom turned it on 'cause she was crying." I was mortified and thought I was surely in trouble. The teacher simply smiled at me and went on with the day. I remember other special things she did that year and she ended up being one of my favorite teachers. I tell her that sometimes; I run into her often at our favorite restaurant - Chipotle. Thanks, Mrs. Kraft...you're one of my earliest and best memories!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sisterly Bond

When the furnace kicks on, the girls like to huddle together at the heating vent in the kitchen to warm their toes. Baby Girl calls it Warmy. It brings back memories of my brother and I doing the same thing many moons ago.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Out My Window

I hope these birds are happy in their summer home with no plans to return to this one for a while. Three inches of snow on top of your home just are not welcoming.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Food For Thought

I bought Paula Deen's memoir today and I'm anxious to get into it. I would love to spend an entire day in the kitchen with that woman. We would cook up a storm, ya'll!

Why does food taste so much better when it's free? Hubby and I drove Mom's Lexus today while she toted around the grandkids in our minivan. She asked us to get her car washed, which Lexus does for free. They have a cute little snack area stocked with all kinds of things. I almost felt like I was on vacation, sitting on a leather couch with no kids, reading my new book, and enjoying a store bought cookie with a cup of Earl Grey. We were more than a little bummed when they said our car was clean.

Not to rub it in, but my lunch at Chipotle was so good that I nearly licked the burrito bowl clean! I feel truly sorry for those of you who do not have Chipotle in your vicinity.

What would you do for a Klondike bar?

I am still sad that the days of December cookies are behind me. Although my waistline and cholesterol are thankful. I think I'm going through home-baked withdrawal. Is there a patch for that?

What are you eating today? Or better yet, what's eating you?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ranch Salsa Dip

This is probably the easiest recipe I will ever post. In spite of its few ingredients, it is absolutely yummy!

Ranch Salsa
16 oz. sour cream
1 oz. ranch dip mix
8 oz. salsa

Mix all ingredients together. Dip will thicken as it refrigerates. Serve with tortilla chips.


I have a funny story about this dip. (It is much more pink in person than it is in the photo.) At a football party, we had a spread of food all over the table. My uncle took a healthy helping of this dip, not knowing what it was. He took a big bite with a spoon and let out a tremendous yelp. "Oh this is awful!" he exclaimed. "Who made this?" We couldn't figure out what was the great cause of drama. But when he explained that he thought it was a strawberry gelatin dessert, we fully understood. We now refer to the recipe as "Uncle Dip" in his honor.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Real Me

I am thinking of ditching the cartoon profile picture of myself and using a real photo. What do you think of this one? Does it represent me well? And yes, this really is me. I don't have many photo choices since I am always the one behind the camera.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Let it Snow!

When it looks like this outside, what more can you ask for than a cup of tea and good book?
The kids had their first 2-hour delay at school today. It was weird, getting up and dawdling until 10:00. We're usually rushed like crazy. But then the fighting started and I was glad that it was finally time for school to start.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Randomness of Today

  • This is who is watching over me as I blog today, thanks to Son #2.

  • I wish all restaurants had frequent diner programs. We eat at the same few places over and over again. I would love to be rewarded for that!

  • Of those same few restaurants we patronize, I order the same thing every time I visit.

  • I think Winter should last just through Christmas and Spring should start in January. Anyone else done with Winter yet?

  • I love listening to Baby Girl count. She says, "One, Tooo, Free, Foe, Fibe, Sick, Seben, AteNineTen!" Yes, the last three are all one number.

  • I am totally into Earl Grey tea right now. For some reason, I thought I didn't like it. Then I got stuck with a cup of it because I didn't have other options. Now I'm hooked. That should teach me to try new things.

  • I noticed my 2-year-old daughter attempting to change the empty toilet paper roll after she used the last of it. She seems to get it, when will her father get it?

  • Happy 1.11.11!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Creations

My kids enjoy playing out in the snow almost as much as I did when I was little. I love when they knock on the window to show me a snowman, angel, or perfectly shaped snowball. Here are some creations they have made lately.

This is a "snow shoe." Although I don't have to tell you that...it's pretty obvious.

I'm not quite sure what this is. Son #1 was trying to spill out the water and leaves that had collected in a plastic chair. To his delight, the water had frozen with the leaves in it.

A close-up view:

Studying geography, Son #1 chipped this out of the snow when we had an ice storm last year. He thought it resembled the state of Ohio. I have to say, I think he was right! (Pardon the through-the-screen-window shot.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ultimate Pathetic Parenting

This news story blew my mind when I read it. A 10-year-old boy fatally shot his mother after an argument last week. The mother simply asked her son to carry some firewood into the house. His uncle was quoted as saying, "He had anger issues, and she overlooked those anger issues." But here's the kicker: the 10-year-old had a gun rack mounted in his room! Why would any parent allow their young, hostile child to keep guns in his room?

The boy had various discipline problems at the schools he attended. At the age of 7, he was being taken to the school gym for a timeout due to unruly behavior. He grabbed a dustpan in the gym and hit the principal in the face with it. The boy was then transferred to a behavior disorder school. This is a boy you're going to allow to have four guns in his room?

Unfortunately, this mother paid the price for her own bad parenting. The equation is not difficult - a disciplinary problem child has guns in his room, he argues with his mother, he shoots her dead. Sad story, even sadder ending.

Now his family is asking for his release so he can stay with relatives. Yeah, that's a boy I would just love to find out is in my kid's class! What is he capable of next?

I guess the moral of this story is that pathetic parenting can be highly dangerous. Hmm...quite an understatement.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy Saturday!

I've been kind of wordy lately, so today I will just leave it to a picture. This is one of my favorites of the kids from Christmas this year. Hope you all have a great day!


Friday, January 7, 2011

Trust - Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about trust. That subject stayed on my mind. I realized other areas of my life that are affected by distrust. It is why I keep my blog so vague. I don't use my actual name. I've never disclosed where I live; I just claim residence in the Midwest. At first, I didn't show pictures of my children. I still don't use their names. I try not to give any identifying information anywhere on here. Am I paranoid?

When I see people reveal personal information on their blog, I cringe. I even saw someone once who stated their full name, home address, and pictures of all family members on their home page. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm too cautious. But my mind envisions a crazy stalker (he looks a little like Steve Buscemi in my mind) who uses personal blogs to seek out his victims.

Oh, here is a blog written by a woman with three cute, little kids. They would make a great target! They only live one state over...not too far but not too close to home either. The kids walk home from Springfield Elementary every day. I know what they look like and have viewed the school's web page. Oh, mom has an appointment to get her hair cut this Friday. I can make sure she runs late getting home...I can let a little air out of her tires at the salon. She so kindly left her home address here for all to see. I've already Googled it and saw an actual picture of the house. This is just too easy...I'm ready to strike! Maybe next time I'll pick someone who is a bit more of a challenge...

Maybe I'm just overly dramatic. But I can totally see something similar to this happening. Or maybe it's just that I was destined to become a mystery novelist. I don't know but I try to do what I can to protect my family and myself.

Stalkers, move on. This ain't a blog for you!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Trust - Part 1

Are you a trusting person? I ask this question because I have discovered that I am not. In most situations, I question the authenticity and look for an ulterior motive. Why did that stranger just smile at me? Is he planning on turning right back around to murder me? I wonder if the repairman I'm letting into the house is a descent fellow or if he is a rapist searching for his next victim. I always lock the doors if I sit alone in the car for any period of time.

It's not that I live in a state of fear, because I don't. Maybe it's the pessimist in me who always thinks something bad could happen. Or maybe it's the superstition in me that figures if I imagine the possibilities in advance, I can prepare for them and they won't happen. But I feel that the real reason for my distrust is the lack of character in people today. I have heard so many bad stories that a sense of paranoia has developed in me.

A woman who works with Hubby was shopping at Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve. She turned away for just a second and someone snatched her purse out of the cart. How could someone behave in such an evil manner toward their fellow mankind? The woman lost all her money and credit cards. On Christmas Eve. It causes great anger to stir in me and I lose a little more trust in humanity.
A close friend of mine recently learned that her father-in-law molested his own granddaughter. Their world fell apart. Just a year earlier, she and her husband took this man into their home and allowed him to live with them and their two small daughters. The girls were often left alone in his care. Although she has been assured that her daughters were not harmed, she will always have doubt and guilt. Their grandfather now sits in jail. It makes me question trusting anyone.

When I was growing up, I was occasionally allowed to spend the night with friends. I thought my mother was extremely over-protective because she was very selective about where I could stay. A couple years ago, a story came out about the father of one of my friends. He committed a sexual crime against two young boys. This was a descent man with a good job and happy marriage. It made me decide to never allow my children to spend the night anywhere.

So no, I am not a trusting person. But I'm not going to be embarrassed or secretive about it. Rather than considering myself untrusting, I feel that I'm just realistic and cautious. If my kids never attend a sleepover, then they will never get molested at one. If I never take my purse off my shoulder at a store, it won't get swiped from the cart.

I don't know what caused me to write this today. Maybe I'm supposed to warn someone to be cautious today. Just stop and think about who you are trusting and why. It could eventually save you.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Driving Me Crazy

Parenting a toddler tests one's sanity like few other experiences in life. Here is my list of how Baby Girl is driving me crazy today.
  • Indecisiveness

  • This child is not capable of making a simple decision. She demonstrates this most often at breakfast time.
    - "Which kind of cereal do you want?" I ask.
    - "Kind," she replies while pointing to a box. So I pour that kind into a bowl and set it on a table.
    - "Poon." Of course she needs a spoon...no problem.
    - "No, not DAT kind."
    - "Great, now you tell me. What kind do you want now?"
    - "Kind," she replies while pointing to another box. Depending on my patience level that particular morning, sometimes I oblige, sometimes not. You see, this child rarely eats. She is in the fifth percentile for her weight. So any time she shows interest in eating, even sugar cereal, we usually jump to meet her demands. But today, I gave her three choices of cereal before she decided not to eat any. Ugh!
  • Refusal to Swallow

  • Over the past week or so, Baby Girl has decided to hold the last bite of every meal in her mouth for an indefinite amount of time. She won't open her mouth or speak while the last bite lingers and she refuses to swallow. It usually results in a disgusting blog being spit in my bathroom sink. But today, she must have had a little tickle in her nose before she was able to spit. So she sneezed the partly digested final bite all over me. Ugh! (You will be thankful that I chose not to post a picture of this particular frustration.)
  • Forceful Urination

  • New to pottying, Baby Girl still doesn't have complete bladder control. Sometimes she pees so forcefully that the urine comes up and over the toilet seat, running down the sides of the bowl and forms a puddle on the floor. This, mixed with the occasional accidents she still has, has me cleaning up urine far too often. Ugh! Thank God for Lysol wipes!
  • Hair Curiosity

  • Baby Girl was not overly blessed in the hair department. Her hair comes just to the base of her neck and barely covers her ears. So she is very interested in her sister's waist-long, beautiful hair. So much so that she has taken to pulling the snot out of it lately. Every once in a while, I hear a scream followed by, "Baby, NO!" I run to find a grinning and happy Baby Girl with two handfuls of a crying Big Sis' hair. She only lets go when I pry her tiny, strong hands open. Ugh!

I think I need a vacation.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This is a Clean Post

I realized today that I have a slight obsession with good-smelling cleaning products. I stand in the cleaning aisle at Wal-Mart and study each bottle. If possible, I remove the lids and smell away. I have tried dozens of different products, tying to find the best scents. Here is my list of current cleaning products, for anyone out there who is smell obsessed like myself.

  • Swiffer Dust & Shine Furniture Spray- Gentle Breeze scent. Newly discovered by me, I've taken to dusting daily simply for smell purposes. Sometime I'll even just spray it in the air to get more fresh goodness out of it.

  • Fabuloso Multi-Purpose Cleaner- Lavender scent. Mopping the kitchen floor is almost a joy! I said "almost!"

          • Cascade Complete Dishwasher Detergent- Fresh Rapids scent actually smells good while my dishwasher is running! Although it doesn't work well any more, which is another story.

                • Softsoap Hand Soap- Pomegranate & Mango. So long, Bath & Body Works hand soaps! I think the Softsoap company has one up on you here!

                  • Snuggle Fabric Softener- Sweet Blossom & Pomegranate scent. I buy it in both liquid form and dryer sheets. It doesn't make laundry more fun but it helps take some of the stink out of it!

                  • As far as bathroom cleaners go, I've tried them all. I like most of them the same, as long as they don't have too strong of a bleach smell. One I totally hate is Kaboom by Oxy Clean, even though I loved Billy Mays. I guess he died before he could convince them into making it smell better. The current bathroom cleaner I'm using is Scrubbing Bubbles, which "easily removes Soap Scum" with "Orange Action."

                  • And lastly, I adore Palmolive Aroma Sensations dish soap, Lavender scent. It's the only dish soap I'll buy.

                  You would think that someone so obsessed with cleaning products would be a total neat freak and have a completely spotless house. You go right on ahead thinking that!

                  "Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing." ~Phyllis Diller

                  (All of these opinions are completely mine. I have not been compensated in any form by any of these companies.)

                  Monday, January 3, 2011

                  Potty Obsession

                  Baby Girl is totally obsessed with toileting and every aspect of it. She loves sitting on the pot and would have no problem doing it for 20-30 minutes every time.

                  She loves wiping. I guess this is an activity I've taken for granted as I have never quite found pleasure in it. But she has. She loves unwinding the toilet paper roll and tearing it off. And, of course, she wants no help.

                  Then comes the flushing. What could be more exciting than the loud KAWOOSH and watching "the business" swirl down the drain?

                  And to top it all off, she gets to climb on top of a cute, little, pink stool and play in water- another activity she would gladly spend thirty minutes doing.

                  But the only part of toileting she does not enjoy is the putting back on of the panties. She much prefers the freedom of running around with a bare tooshie. So I get to see a lot of tiny, naked butt these days. Oh, the joy of kids growing up!

                  Saturday, January 1, 2011

                  Crazy Cat Lady

                  Crazy Cat Lady is someone I will never be. I have never been an animal lover and we've never really had pets. We've tried fish a couple times but I'm just not capable of caring for them. But today I found out that we apparently have a pet cat.

                  Just a few minutes ago, two nurses from a nursing home behind our house knocked on my door. They said that they've heard a cat cry coming from my shed for a couple days. They thought a cat was stuck in there. We have a deep back yard with a shed at the back of the property. There's no way I could hear a cat in there. Although I did see one climbing UP the outside wall of the shed recently. It was four feet high before it fell off. I thought that was awfully strange.

                  So anyway, the women asked if they could rescue the cat. "Sure!" I said. I was glad they didn't ask me to do it. I watched as they walked all the way back to the shed. They opened the door and waited. One woman entered for a moment, then returned and waited. She walked to the side of the shed and knocked. A black cat came tearing out and fled to the neighbor's yard. The women followed the cat but I couldn't see past the trees. Moments later, I saw the cat returning home. Looks like we have an unwanted pet. I just hope there aren't any babies in there. And I can only imagine what it will smell like in there.

                  Two weeks ago, Big Sis stepped in cat pee with her snow boots. I've tried everything and cannot get the smell off her boots. Why do animals always pick those who don't love them to cling to? My aunt's dog loves to lick my feet and jump up on my lap. I've told her that I don't love her but she doesn't seem to care. The dog's love for me is unconditional.

                  I would love to find a way to repel animals without harming them. We have groundhogs, squirrels, skunks, and of course cats that have all been a nuisance. The rabbits and occasional deer have never been a problem.

                  So if anyone wants a free cat, I know of a nice black one. It's available to any good, actually to any home. :)
                  HAPPY 1.1.11!