~my thoughts about life~

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Toaster Talk

We have had some bad toaster luck around here.  We had a cheap-o one Hubby brought to the house when we got married.  It lasted several years and now I wish I would have hung onto it.  But no, I needed a toaster oven.  You ain't cool unless you have a toaster oven.  We went through our share of those too.  They always seem to have some sort of problem

A few years ago, my SIL had this fancy, red toaster/toaster oven combo.  I thought it was the bees knees and wanted one for myself.  It opens like a toaster oven in the front and also has a slot on top like a regular toaster.  I got mine in silver so it would match my kitchen.  Yeah, we broke that thing right away, I guess.  It has never worked well.  Any time you fire it up, the smoke detector down the hall is definitely going off.  And don't even think about putting toast or Pop-Tarts in the top...they will get stuck.

Lately, I've noticed that people have kind of switched back to regular toasters.  They make them so cute now in stainless steel to match the rest of my kitchen.  Hubby really wanted one so we bought it.  It was shiny and new looking and worked perfectly.  I was ready to pitch the half-working toaster oven but the kids threw a fit.  How else would they cook chicken nuggets?  True.  I sure don't want them heating up the entire oven for four chicken nuggets.

The toaster worked well for a year or more.  UNTIL- Hubby decided to try these frozen blueberry muffin (disgusting-looking) things.  The very first time, they got stuck in the toaster.  He went to war with a fork trying to get them out.  Meanwhile, a burning smell was overtaking my home.  I finally pushed him aside and worked on getting the half frozen, half burned muffin things out.  The battle left some scars.  Now, only the outside heating elements work in the toaster.  That means that one side of the bread gets perfectly toasty while the other side remains just regular bread.  So now, I have to push my toast down once, flip each piece around, and cook the other side.  This is getting plain ridiculous.  Anyone else think this poor lady is finally deserving of a new toaster?

It's the little things in life....

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in Review

I heard someone say that she "names the year" each year.  Hers was The Year of Yes.  I thought about it and determined that I don't want to name my year.  First of all, I don't think there was one ongoing theme for the year.  If there was, it would probably be The Year of Yelling as I did quite a bit of that.  But who wants to remember their year by such a horrible name?  We'll just leave it nameless and do a recap of All Things 2011.

We had snow, warm feet, and sneak attacks by action figures.  I also spent a bit of time trying to figure out my odd neighbor.

I did a lot of cooking and baking.  I guess that's what happens when you get stuck in the house during the winter months.  (Let's hope it doesn't happen again this year!)  Some notable things I made were cinnamon rolls, broccoli cheese soup, and chicken tortilla soup.  I just love comfort food!  We also booked a train vacation that later ended up becoming a nightmare!  Valentine's Day was celebrated with homemade chocolates and a gift that was not very well received!

I tried some new things.  I made homemade sourdough bread, which was a lot of fun while it lasted.  I haven't made any in a while and I really need to get back to it!  I planted tomato seeds, which yielded a fabulous garden in the summer.

I went on vacation and organized a sting op around my mailbox.  I enjoyed the spring flowers as they blossomed.

I celebrated 15 years of marriage with a trip to Las Vegas and had bad photos taken.  I also coordinated a Mother-Daughter Banquet for nearly 200 guests.

I had a birthday and remembered my younger days.  In my younger days, there was no such thing as texting.  I planted a garden and cleaned out my basement.  I travelled to Niagara Falls and made some poor parenting decisions that had traumatic results.

I discovered where I'm from, made S'Mores cupcakes, and saw a girl nearly take her life.

Potato Stories were discussed; cell phone pics were aired.  I did a lot of venting that you surely don't want to read again.  I must have been pretty grouchy in August.

Our big train trip was nearly cancelled but was redeemed with only a few glitches.  The school called 911 for my daughter, I made my own salsa, and ran a 10K.

We painted a room during our Staycation and I discovered how much I love homemade tortillas.  I also began my new time-consuming hobby of couponing.

I wrote a letter to my 18-year old self, began a new sourdough starter, and made pies.

I got really busy in December.  I had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit but finally found time to take my family's Christmas photos.  I also found time to bake up a storm and poke fun at Christmas Carols.

OK, maybe I will name the year...The Year of Busy! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Losing My Mind

Sure, we've all been guilty of walking into a room, stopping in our tracks, and thinking, Why did I just come in here?  I do it almost daily.  But have you ever been guilty of putting a load of wet clothes into the dryer, adding a fabric softener sheet, closing the door, and walking away without starting the dryer?  If not, you're doing better than me!  Luckily, I happened to realize it as I was halfway up the basement stairs earlier today.  If I  hadn't, I surely would have had some stinky clothes tomorrow!  I must confess, I've done it before and it's quite annoying.

I mentioned on my blog that the only Christmas gift I returned was an expensive pair of pajamas that I couldn't bring myself to sleep in.  Well, I only got that half right.  I somehow returned the top but not the pants.  "How can a person do that?" you might ask.  My only defense is that the material was really slippery and somehow the pants slid out of the box.  I found them behind a large Christmas present that was still in the living room.  I can only say, Wow, I'm dumb!  I am quite embarrassed to return to the store and offer my silly explanation.  I'm sure they thought that someone was trying to take them.

Feeling a little dopey today...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

+ & -

+ We finally have some snow around here!
-  We have snow here.

+ The kids are home from school which means all-day playmates for Baby Girl.
-  There is also a whole lot more noise around here.  At times, I must say the kids are driving me crazy!

+ Tonight, we have a double date with some new friends and I couldn't be more excited!  Going out with adults and no kids is something much to be desired around here.  We're even trying a new Italian/New York style restaurant that looks right up my alley!
-  Us going out means another non-homecooked meal for the kids.  I don't do much (any) cooking the week between Christmas and New Year's.

+ You can finally see the carpet in my house.  It's brown.  Remember, I requested "the color of dirt" when it was time to order carpet.
-  I still have a lot of stuff to put away.

+ I am dreaming about spending the Christmas money I received this year.  I think the list includes gray high heels, camel flat boots, a new scarf or two, anything from Forever 21, and a couple sensible things.
-  Finding time to shop is not easy.  I could take the whole family with me but they would drive me crazy, wanting to get out of there the entire time.  I am too nervous to buy shoes online.  I had toe surgery on both feet when I was in college.  Ever since, buying shoes has been a bit difficult.

+ New Year's Day is almost here!  After church, we will go to my mom's.  We will make a crazy amount of party food to snack on while the guys watch football and the girls play games.
-  The kids have to go back to school the next day.  Come on, couldn't have they given us just one more day off?

+ Hubby is off January 2nd (shocker!) so we have the day for just the three of us (Baby Girl comes velcroed to me.)
-  January 2nd is usually the day diet resolutions start.  Bummer.  Why even start a resolution if I know there's no way I'm going to keep it???

+ Dunkin Donuts chai.  Enough said.  I didn't realize it was that good!
-  I am totally frustrated with changing my blog layout.  I ended up using one of Blogger's backgrounds because I just could not get my own photo to look right.  They make you use such a small image that it won't fit all the way across the screen.  Tiling just does not look pretty, folks.  I have a snowy landscape picture of my own backyard that I am not able to use.  I am just not as technical as I'd like to be.

And to end things on a positive note:
+ Did I mention I'm going out with friends tonight?  Oh, yeah...sorry to bring that up again.  I'm just really looking forward to it!  I have a new friend and we seem to have been separated at birth.  She's a lot of fun and I'm really enjoying getting to know her.  I've had some bad luck when it comes to close friends.  Hopefully this one will be around for a while.

What pluses and minuses are in your life right now?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Glad it's all over.  It's amazing how much time you spend planning and how quickly it's all said and done, isn't it?

My house has seen better days.

Baby Girl is feeling much better and is back to running around the house like a banshee.  She was so precious to watch opening presents.  She enjoyed every moment.

The size of the trash pile taken to the curb yesterday morning was surprisingly small.  That means that there are still tons of trash in my house, somehow disguised by the rest of the clutter.

Hubby had to return to work, which makes me sad.  It was nice getting to spend some time with him.  He went from several work weeks of six days down to only four days this week.  Unfortunately, the upcoming paycheck will represent that.

I took back only one gift- a silky pair of pajamas from Victoria's Secret.  Big Sis helped Hubby pick them out and they were beautiful.  I just couldn't live with myself if I wore something that costly only to bed.  Even though one of my biggest pet peeves is people who wear their pajamas in public, these deserved to been seen outside of the home.  They were that pretty.  I scored some pretty big cash from Mom, MIL, and Grandpa, so some shoe purchases are in my near future.

Me, reading Luke 2 on Christmas morning
I haven't been able to read any books yet.  Maybe this week will allow some time for relaxing reading.  With four kids home all day long, I kind of doubt it.  I have three books on my side table staring at me, waiting to be read.

I have two (much younger) friends whom I have been trying to hook up for about a year now.  They are both amazing people that I respect and I could always see them as a couple.  Recently, they went out.  I think I was more excited than either of them!  Seeing them together makes my heart sing!  I know, I'm a sappy, hopeless romantic.  He sent me a text a couple days ago asking my opinion about a date for the two of them.  It was a local dinner cruise.  I thought it was a great idea and told him so.  Sadly, they couldn't get tickets.  I racked my brain all day trying to think of something equally adventurous.  This part of the country seems to shut down in the winter, unless you like to ski.  He finally decided to take her to a sports game, which I wouldn't recommend.  Nevertheless, I'm thrilled they are getting together and I wish them eternal happiness.  If it all turns out, I'd better be mentioned somehow in the wedding program.

I had a bad meal at Chipotle yesterday.  Yes, apparently it happens.  The person on the grill was new.  He burned the snot out of the chicken.  It tasted like when you get a hamburger at a company picnic that has been completely charred beyond recognition.  It even made the rice taste bad.  Hubby told one of our favorite workers as we were leaving, who apologized profusely.  Not everything is perfect.  Even Chipotle.

I can only imagine how much weight I've gained the past week or so.  Still, there are baked goods on my counter that I will surely indulge in after lunch, after dinner, and before bed.  Shame on me!  Remember that diet I was supposed to be on?  Ha!  (I did get to make Red Velvet Cupcakes and they were delish!)

Please share with me one totally random thing about your day or your extended weekend.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Vomit Christmas

I'm afraid this Christmas will forever life in infamy as The Vomit Christmas. 

All was well on Christmas Eve.  That was our true Christmas since that's the day we celebrated with the kids this year.  It was a perfect, relaxing day and we didn't feel rushed at all.  Hubby spoiled the kids with a PS3 (even though I felt they were getting quite enough).  He insisted that he was spending his extra money how he wanted since he worked so hard through Christmas.  He had me on a technicality.  I must admit that I was pretty excited about my new bath towels, dish towels, and cloths.  I hadn't asked for them so it was totally unexpected.  Does that make me sound old and boring or what???

December 25.  I woke up early and started making muffins for the family.  Baby Girl was crying from her bed so I went in to check on her.  She said she hurt her head.  I figured she bumped it somehow on her bed so I gave her a quick kiss on the forehead and tucked her in.  She felt warm to me but I assumed it was due to her many blankets and warm, new Dora pajamas.

As soon as the muffins were done, Baby Girl woke again crying.  I scooped her up and realized she was indeed fevered.  She said her head hurt again.  Lovely.  Her temp was 100.5 axillary so I gave her some Tylenol.  Twenty minutes later, she was up hopping around as happy as could be.

Since it was Christmas, I really wanted her to go to church.  I dressed the girls up so pretty (failing to get one photo) and carted the family off to church.  I kept Baby Girl with me instead of sending her to class.  She was fine the entire time.  Only when Hubby left to pull up the car did she begin to cry.  She always wants her Daddy.  I strapped her in her car seat and off we went with my mother-in-law.

I did some research online and found out that IHOP, Denny's, and Waffle House are open on Christmas Day.  Fortunately, we have all three of those restaurants right next to one another about fifteen minutes from our house.  With Christmas on a Sunday and the fact that we only had my MIL, we decided eating out was the best option.  She doesn't cook and I knew I surely wouldn't feel up to it.  Baby Girl fell asleep in the car, which I thought was a good thing.

First stop, IHOP.  Packed.  Not one parking spot.  We decided to move on.

Next, Denny's.  It looked more promising since the parking lot wasn't full.  We unloaded the van and treked into the restaurant.  The front lobby was packed so I stood right inside the door.  Hubby went to check how long the wait was.  Immediately, Baby Girl began vomiting.  I bolted out the door, turned the corner, and allowed her to finish outside.  She's not a skilled vomiter yet so it got all over me, all over her, and all over Brobee.  (The green striped alien may never be the same.)  I figured someone in my family would have come out to check on me...but no.  I found a package of Kleenex in my purse and did my best cleaning us up.  Then I went in the restaurant to clean up the floor.  Still no help from The Fam. 

I hollered to Son #2 to get the keys from Dad and I started toward the car.  He was nowhere to be seen so I tried the door.  Thankfully, it was open.  I piled in and continued cleaning up the vomit mess.  A couple minutes later, Hubby arrived at the car stating that the wait time was thirty minutes.  Um, nope.  They all got in the car and he asked for the keys.  "I don't have the keys."  #2 insisted he gave them to me.  "How in the world could have you given them to me?  I was holding a sick baby, cleaning up puke off the floor!"  Keys were nowhere to be found and he couldn't offer any more details than to say he gave me the keys.  After what seemed an eternity, I found the keys on my lap, under Baby Girl.  He apparently tossed them on my lap as I was maneuvering into the car.  We were less than thrilled.

Hubby drove next door to Waffle House.  I insisted that they all go in and eat while I stayed in the car holding the sick baby.  They refused.  Too tired to argue, I agreed that I would come in and hold the vomit-covered baby if there was a comfortable seat.  Hubby went into the restaurant to find it completely packed.  "We're just going home," he said.  "But I don't have anything to eat at home!  It's not like we can order a pizza!"  My MIL insisted and said peanut butter would be fine.  What a trooper.

By the time we arrived home, Baby Girl was conked out and it had been one hour since we had left church.  Tears were creeping into my eyes.  Not to mention, Son #2 was in A Mood and was about to get his face bashed in by grouchy me.  My mom came to the rescue, providing leftover salad, noodles, and hard boiled eggs from the day before.  Then, Hubby remembered the Honeybaked Ham in the refrigerator!  Ah, manna from heaven!  He had received it as a tip from a favorite customer!  I totally forgot about it because we were saving it for New Year's Day.  Isn't it amazing how things end up working out???

After one more vomit episode in her bed, I got Baby Girl down for a nap, changed my clothes, and settled down for a relaxing dinner.  We opened presents while Baby Girl continued to sleep.  Afterward, MIL watched Son #1 play PS3 for over an hour, laughing and laughing at the game.  It turned out to be a pretty OK day but it's not a day I would care to ever repeat.

How was your Christmas?  Hopefully there was no vomit involved.

Friday, December 23, 2011

All Things Christmas

I decided to snap a few pictures of what Christmas looks like around here so far. 

This is my undecorated tree and the presents that are wrapped so far.  I totally adore my polka-dotted paper!  I'm trying to figure out a place where I can send my kids so I can finish wrapping their presents.  One of Baby Girl's big gifts has been in my closet, covered up by clothes and pillows.  It's a wonder she hasn't discovered it yet.

If you turn around 180 degrees from the tree, this is what you see.  I received a beautiful selection of Christmas cards this year.  It makes the 70 cards I sent out worth the time.  In the background, you can see my present wrapping station and a couple gifts ready to be wrapped.  On the floor is my sister-in-law's KitchenAid mixer.  My brother had it delivered to my house. That sucker is heavy and should be lots of fun to wrap!

Remember that Tiny Prints promotion?  Well, this is the spectacular card I received from them!  Printed on high quality cardstock, it was the ultimate Christmas card!  I received phone calls and text messages from across the country declaring that my card was more awesome than words.  I had to agree.  See that black area in the middle?  I left it like that purposely so that I could handwrite personal messages with a fancy white pen!  And here's the back:

Yeah, I told you it was good!  This was the first time I had ever used a picture of myself on our cards.  Yeah, that picture is over a year old but...well, you know!  The picture on the left of all of us was just taken in August.  So I'm not like those 90-year-old people in the obituaries who have photos from when they were 29.

Finally, this is what is going to be the death of me.  Do you know what Buckeyes are?  I've found that many people who aren't from this part of the country call them peanut butter balls.  I store them in the refrigerator because they taste so delicious when the chocolate has hardened!  I hope I find time today to make Red Velvet Cupcakes

Today is our "Christmas Eve."  Since we're going to church on Christmas morning, we are going to wake up tomorrow and pretend it's Christmas Day.  Tomorrow evening will be spent with my parents and brother.  We will spend Christmas afternoon with my mother-in-law...we are all she has in life.  She was widowed twice and only had one child.  All her siblings have passed away.  I always feel sorry for her around holidays.  On Monday, Hubby is off!  We will have Christmas with my mom's side of the family, which will be our biggest event.  I love having a big family and I try to picture what life will be like in 20 years.  My four kids will hopefully all come home with their spouses and children.  I think I'm going to have to build a bigger house if I want them all to fit for holidays!

So, this is it.  It's nearly here.  Are you ready?  If so, here's my fabulous recipe for Buckeyes!

1 lb. creamy peanut butter (2 1/4 C)
1/2 lb. butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 lb. powdered sugar (5 2/3 C)

Blend peanut butter, vanilla, and butter together on low speed of mixer.  Add powdered sugar.  Mix by hand and knead.  Roll into balls 1" in diameter.  Put on waxed paper and refrigerate one hour. 

Chocolate dip:
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
6 oz. milk chocolate

Melt chocolates and paraffin in double boiler.  Insert a toothpick in the center of each peanut butter ball and dip in melted chocolate, leaving a small circle of peanut butter showing.  Place back on waxed paper to set.  When hardened, rub out the hole created by the toothpick.  These keep for quite a while in the refrigerator.  I've never had them around long enough to go bad!

*Parrifin is a wax used in candle making.  It's totally safe for cooking.  You can find it in the baking aisle at your grocery store.  It thins out the chocolate and makes it the perfect consistency for dipping.  I shave off little bits at a time with a knife until the chocolate pours easily from a spoon. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Baking With Mom

Yesterday was my perfect pre-Christmas day.  I was able to spend the day with my mom and we baked up a storm!

Every Christmas, we get together and make nutroll.  It's a recipe handed down from my great-grandmother and is my grandpa's very favorite thing.  It didn't look like we were going to find the time this year.  My mom gives any spare time taking care of her ailing mother.  Last year, we had Gram come over while we made nutroll.  That would not be a possibility at all this year since time with her is typically spent preventing her from running out the door.  My mom knows this will be her last Christmas with her mother around so she's trying to spend as much time with her as possible, making as many memories as possible.

Somehow, my mom found time to take a day off and spend it with me.  It was due partly to the fact that her car was in the shop getting some dings repaired and that she was recovering from having a skin irritation removed the day before.  We made nutroll, chocolate crinkles, chocolate fudge, and buckeyes.  After we were done, I had to run home and finish up some iced sugar cookies that people had ordered from me.  Note To Self:  Do not agree to make iced sugar cookies for people right before Christmas.  You are too busy.  Plus, you are not charging nearly enough!  The cost of butter alone eats up half the profits!  Raise your prices or get a backbone!  (Sorry, I had been meaning to have that chat with myself for a while now.)

After all that, my house is a wreck.  I still have cookies to decorate and peanut butter balls to dip in chocolate.  The kids are home on Christmas break and the presents aren't all wrapped yet.  I'm going to have to find somewhere for the kids to go when it becomes present wrapping time.  For now, I think it's time to turn back on some Pandora Christmas music and get this house back into shape.  You know me, I won't be able to enjoy Christmas at all if my house isn't clean.  Anyone want a cookie?

Here's my Christmas Gift to you- my nutroll recipe.  This is a family heirloom so you should consider yourselves lucky!  (Warning:  this recipe isn't for novice bakers.)


Bread Dough:
1/2 lb. butter (cold)
5 egg yolks (save whites)
3/4 C milk (warm)
2 T sugar
4 C flour
1 envelope yeast
pinch of salt
1 t vanilla

With your hand, work cold butter and egg yolks together. (It will look a bit like scrambled eggs when it's ready.) Add yeast to warm milk and sugar. Let stand until yeast swells in milk, about 5 minutes. Add flour and salt to to egg and butter, then add milk and yeast mixture. Add vanilla. Knead like bread dough. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.

Put on pastry board, work out a little, cut into 4 pieces, and let stand 20 minutes.

Roll each piece and fold over several times. Let stand 20 minutes more.

Roll thinly and fill each piece with nut filling.

Nut Filling:
5 egg whites
4 C powdered sugar
1 lb. walnuts (ground)
1 t vanilla

Beat egg whites until stiff.  Add nuts, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Spread 1/4 of the filling on dough and roll like a jelly roll.  Pinch ends to make sure filling doesn't seep out.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Repeat with other three.

My Notes:
*  We buy bread bags from our grocery store's bakery to store the nutroll in.
*  Nutroll freezes well.
*  If making more than one batch, be sure to wash the bowl and all the tools well that are used to make the filling.  The egg whites will not become stiff if there is reside from the last batch still in the bowl.
*  Specialty shops sell nutroll pans.  They are about the size of a cookie sheet but are curved to help shape the rolls.  We found several at an Amish shop and have used them for years.  You can bake them on a cookie sheet but they will flatten out a bit.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Another Monday

Another Monday- the last Monday before Christmas!  Just thinking that blows my mind!  The weekend was so busy but I'm so thankful I survived it still healthy!

Saturday, Son #1 was part of Tuba Christmas with several hundred other tubas and other low brass instruments.  He had a blast this year since he actually knows how to play the tuba!  Last year, he was the second youngest and had little clue what he was doing.  He sat near the edge of the stage with his Tuba Christmas stocking cap on, looking so small and handsome.  Our youth pastor (my first cousin) took him.  I love this tradition between them! 

Unfortunately, I missed the performance and had to rely on video and text messages.  I was at a luncheon where my Secret Angel from the past year was revealed.  It's a program my grandmother started many years ago.  She is the one who is currently afflicted with Alzheimer's.  My mom brought her this year and the current leader honored her.  We realize this may be her last Christmas so we're trying to make a lot of memories.  All the ladies at the luncheon posed for a personal picture with her.  It was so precious and many of them began tearing up.  Gram did great and smiled nicely in the photos.  A few times, we had to call her name to get her attention.  But everyone was so very patient with her.  As the Bishop's wife, she is loved and admired by all. 

After that, I went to the last choir practice before our Christmas concert.  (The concert was last night and went so well!  I was very proud to be a part.)  After choir practice, I sped to my dad's side of the family's Christmas.  We rented a community room at my cousin's apartment building since there are so many of us now.  It was actually quite nice.  I gorged on some awesome food and took home more baked goods than I came with.   (That's the way to do it!)

I'm having computer issues again.  Son #1 stumbled upon his first pornographic advertisement.  It made me want to throw up.  We were playing a game with Baby Girl and we were both laughing hysterically.  The game mentioned an object that we didn't recognize so I told #1 to Google it.  He apparently spelled Google wrong and the ad filled the screen.  I shouted at him to get away and I guess I startled him.  He quickly closed out the ad and, thankfully, more ads did not pop up.  I felt bad that he had to see something like that and it really seemed to affect him.  I immediately texted my brother (my personal IT guy) and he called me back within seconds.  Remotely, he set up stricter parental controls within a few minutes.  Those settings are so high that I cannot even check my email.  When I try to read blogs, I have to enter in the password to override the blocks about three times per page.  It's getting quite annoying but he hasn't had time to adjust it  yet.  Therefore, I'm very behind on my blog reading, which I don't like.  I feel a great need to stay caught up...it's funny.

My clean house didn't survive the busy weekend but all of my Christmas shopping is done!  Now it's time to start rapping as I wrap.  (No one seems to appreciate that joke...maybe it's because I try to beat box while telling it.  And let me tell you, I am WAY too white to beat box.)  So, I have a lot to get done.  I just wanted to post a quick update, despite how boring it may be.  If I don't find time to get back on this week, have a wonderful Christmas!  Enjoy your family if you have one; enjoy your time off if you're lucky enough to have it.  Relax, and let the peace of the season be with you.  Hopefully you know the true meaning of Christmas.  I'm thankfully blessed!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Goings On

I'm still here-- still not sick.  I was totally planning on getting sick through the night.  I even worked up a bit of hysterical nausea, I guess.  I ironed and layed out all the kids clothes, had the boys set their own alarm, and got everything ready for school.  This was all in case I was down, which I wasn't.  My brother's friend from work said 40% of his kid's school is out sick.  40%!  So, if it hasn't hit your neck of the woods yet, be prepared!  It's on it's way!  (Insert Jaws theme song here.)

Big Sis' eye is incredibly red and bloodshot.  She couldn't possibly have pink eye again after having an antibiotic shot only a week and two days ago, could she? 

You caught me...this is last year's tree.
Today is going to be present wrapping day...with Christmas Carols, of course!  Oooo...I just realized I have some chai tea latte in the fridge.  That might make things even better!  Pandora has me so spoiled right now!  When I hear a song on the car radio that I don't like, I start looking for the "thumbs down" button.  I wish life had it's own "thumbs down" button.  Wouldn't that make things much easier?

Today should be tree decorating day but I really don't want to do it.  I think I might be OK with a lights-only tree this year.  It is quite pretty that way.  Also, that will save me from getting all emotional over every little ornament I unpack from bubble wrap. 

I finally got my Christmas cards ordered and they are going to be quite spectacular!  I even paid for rush shipping since the cards were free.  Not a bad deal if you ask me!  I need to locate my calligraphy pen before they arrive in the mail.  Yes, I hand write calligraphy addresses on each card.  Do I really have time for that?  Absolutely not.  But I'm going to do it anyway.  Good thing my Christmas card list is in an Excel spreadsheet from years past.  I can be highly organized when I want to be.

By the way, most of you were correct, I did use the first Christmas picture for my cards.  My mom liked the second, with Baby Girl's head tipped, so she used that pic.  I made up a card for my parents with an adorable picture of them laughing, a photo I took of my niece and nephew, and the second photo from that post of mine.  There is nothing quite like photo cards, in my opinion.

I'm getting happier and happier as I think of these things!  I might have to bust out some Christmas cookies at some point today.  If you're looking for any new cookie recipes, check out my Recipes tab.  I posted quite a few recipes last year at this time, before I sprained my ankle.  Boy, am I glad I'm not trying to manage Christmas on crutches again!  That was truly horrid!

Baby Girl is presently eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the living room, where eating by children is strictly prohibited.  I think Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the #1 messiest cereal made!  I believe I will be chasing her down with the vacuum in about twelve seconds.  My house is still clean and I'm working my darnedest to keep it that way!!!

How are things coming along with your Christmas planning???

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stress Relief

I feel like I have breathed a huge sigh of relief, even though I'm not even close to being ready for Christmas.  But I've figured out what it is that makes me feel so much better:  my house is clean.  It's a wonderful feeling, a rarity actually, but it changes me into a completely different person! 

I hosted a Christmas party for my teenage girls group last night and things did not go exactly as planned.  First of all, it was Monday- grocery shopping day.  I considered letting it go until today but there were things I needed for the party.  I skipped breakfast for time reasons and turned it on high gear.  Then I noticed that Son #1 left his tuba mouthpiece at home.  I told the boys I am not coming to their rescue any more.  If they forget homework or gym clothes, they'll have to take the detention.  If they forget their lunch, they'll have to buy meatloaf or whatever else the cafeteria is serving that day.  I kept eyeing that mouthpiece on top of the piano and my heart grew two sizes like the Grinch's.  #1's band teacher has been awesome and has provided so many great opportunities for him.  I didn't want to let her down so I decided to make an unexpected detour to the school.

Grocery shopping went well, even though I went $5.19 over budget.  (EEK!)  I stacked 20 more cans of turkey and beef broth in the stockpile and breathed a sigh of relief.  1:00- time for Baby Girl's nap and my lunch.  She was in stall-and-distract-Mommy mode but I eventually got her in bed.  I turned it back up to high gear and started speed cleaning the house. 

Then I got a call from Big Sis.  She wasn't feeling well at school.  She just missed school last week and had a shot of antibiotics!  I gave her a pep talk and convinced her to tough it out for the remaining hour of school.  Her sister was sleeping and no one else on the street was home to pick her up.  She obliged.  An hour later when she got off the bus, she started bawling.  Her tummy hurt "real bad."  I sent her up to bed and continued cleaning the house.  She was supposed to have a party last night too so hopefully a bit of rest would make her feel better.

Then vomit happened.  Again.  Only a week after the last vomiting episode.  Same kid.  I was on the verge of tears as I cleaned puke off the toilet lid.  (She couldn't get it open in time....how sad!)  I again felt like a failure as a mother for not believing her that she was sick again.  I texted my mom who said she would immediately come home from work to help me.  She pulled into her driveway and immediately began vomiting herself.  It's like a badly written sitcom around here.  Now I have two kids without a babysitter, one of them sick, and a party in two hours.  I can't even think of a word or phrase sarcastic enough for the way I felt.

Believe it or not, I got everything done in time for my party and made two beautiful rolls of stromboli.  Once during the party, however, Big Sis came downstairs in her satin monkey pajamas to tell me she puked all over her floor.  We were just beginning the gift exchange so I had to make everyone wait while I cleaned up vomit.  I just hope all those girls don't end up getting sick. 

My tree is still not decorated; it only has lights.  When I opened up the Rubbermaid tub to get out the decorations, I noticed a bunch of fuzz everywhere.  The children's stockings were torn to shreds.  Yep, a mouse had gotten into the decorations.  Why?  What fun is there in climbing into my Christmas decorations and tearing up my stockings???  The stockings were very sentimental and I don't actually know how bad the situation is yet.  I put the lid back on and refused to deal with it. 

After all that, I still feel a sense of relief.  Maybe I'm just on my way to becoming insane, but I actually feel very calm.  I think it's all because my house is clean.  Sure, there were squashed brownie crumbs on the floor from the little piggies at last night's party but it's nothing a quick sweep with the vacuum can't handle.  Big Sis slept through the night and is still sleeping as I type this.  Tiny Prints emailed me and graciously gave me another code for free cards since I accidentally deleted the last one.  I told them they saved the day!  (Cards will just be a little late this year.)

So it's all good.  I am surviving!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Carols Gone Wrong

I can't help thinking about how old some of the Christmas Carols are that we hear every day this time of year.  Technology has changed the world so much and times are sure different.  For example, singing about one "dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh" sounds so much more romantic than "riding along in my Prius, getting 50 miles to the gallon."  It just doesn't emit the same feeling.

In Baby, It's Cold Outside, a woman spends the evening worried about what people will think about her being alone at night with a gentleman.  "My mother will start worry...My father will be pacing the floor...my sister will be suspicious...my brother will be there at the door..."  In today's world, we would simply ask, Well, why don't you just call them from your cell phone and let them know you're OK?  "The neighbors might faint...my maiden aunt's mind is vicious..."  A young woman today wouldn't be out of place at a man's home late in the evening.  They probably would have been living together anyway.  Why would her mother worry?  She probably got her daughter on The Pill at age 15 like all of her friends.

Dear old Rudolph.  Today, this would be a bully situation.  "All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.  They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games."  Well don't worry, Rudolph, those mean reindeer have been suspended from school because of the zero tolerance policy.  Just let the guidance counselor know if there are any more problems with bullies.  Now, run along to computer tech lab.

Don't even get me started on The Twelve Days of Christmas!  First of all, what in the world is this person supposed to with all the fowl their true love gave them over a period just shy of two weeks?  A partridge, two doves, three hens, four birds, six geese, and seven swans.  Maybe there is a bird farm or a small zoo involved.  Regarding the drummers, the pipers, leaping lords, and dancing ladies- were these gifts given for a one-time performance or do they all have to be housed and cared for indefinitely?  Personally, the only gifts from the entire song I wouldn't mind having are the rings (although I don't need five, just one huge square-cut diamond with a matching diamond encrusted band) and the maid service.  Hey, maybe that's an idea after all!

"He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake.  He knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake."  Santa must have surveillance cameras set up around the house.  Isn't that an invasion of privacy?  I'm calling the cops!

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. All I'm going to say about this song is that the kid is lucky that's all he saw his Mommy doing with Santa Claus. It could have been much worse, kid!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Photo Shoot

I finally found time to gather my kids together and snap their photo for our Christmas cards!  This is a huge relief for me!  Now, hopefully the printing company will get them done and shipped to me very quickly! 

It was 34 degrees outside when I attempted this but I really wanted outdoor shots.  My camera takes much sharper pictures in natural light.  Also, I didn't want them to wear coats.  So I put my kids through severe abuse to get good photos!  Baby Girl frowned in the first few because she was cold.  I told her I would give her a donut if she smiled pretty and she perked right up!

I thought it would be a unique idea to carry my loveseat outside for the photo.  Great idea, lots more work than I imagined!  It didn't fit through the doorway so Son #1 and I had to flip it on its side.  It ended up falling sideways onto the porch which scraped up the leather all across the back of the couch.  Oopsie!  At least nobody sees that side when it's against a wall.  (Don't any of you dare tell my husband what I did!)  The couch was heavier than I thought and we could not get it back into the house.  I was totally out of gas.  Son #1 got our buff 20-something, Army vet neighbor to help get it back in the house.

I snapped pictures as quickly as I could since it was freezing.  When I wanted to change shots, I had the kids put their coats back on.  At the end, I allowed Baby Girl to keep hers on.  I think we were outside for a total of four minutes.  Several of the shots were blurry due to my shivering and attempt to be quick.  But I think we got some descent results.  What do you think???

Did you notice Son #2's nasty tennis shoes?  I checked out everyone else's shoes but his.  After the pics, #1 asked "Why did he get to wear tennis shoes and I didn't?"  Crud.  And that's what seems to be the most noticeable thing to me in the picture.  Which one do you think I ended up using?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Just Stuff

  • Christmas Cards...
I am agonizing over the fact that I have not yet taken a photo for my Christmas card.  I know I'll end up rushing it and it won't be as good I would like it to be. 

Do you display the cards you receive from people?  I always hang mine in the doorway of my kitchen.  My mom always did it like that so that's how I do it.  This year, I've decided to hang them in the doorway between my living room and dining room.  It's a much wider doorway so we'll be less likely to bump into and knock down the cards.

Along that line, I have a funny story about Christmas cards.  A woman displayed the cards she received every year in her home.  One year, she was hosting an event at her home.  She felt like she hadn't received many cards so she retreated to the pile of cards she had saved from years past.  She mixed some of the nicer cards in with current cards.  A guest was browsing through the cards and started shaking her head slowly.  The hostess asked what was wrong.  "Poor Mary Johnson," she said.  "She must be losing her mind.  Bill passed away last year and she's still signing his name on their Christmas cards!"  The woman had to come clean and confess what she had done.  That story totally sounds like something my mom would do!

    FYI- this is NOT my drawer!!!
  • Organization...
Organization can sometimes be a bad thing.  I recently cleaned out the junk drawer in our kitchen.  Doesn't everybody have one?  I grouped together like items and put them in small ziplock baggies.  There's a baggie for matches, one for paper clips, and one for rubberbands.  The bad thing is when you lose the entire bag of paper clips.  I've been searching and searching for a stray paper clip anywhere in that drawer.  No luck.  We have no paper clips in this house.  Utter shame!

I bought two new packets of tabbed dividers for my coupon binder!  I get very antsy upon finding a better way to organize!

  • Babies & Parenting...
Baby Girl is into having a complete meltdown any time she doesn't get her way.  For example, when I put toothpaste on her toothbrush this morning, she became enraged that I only put a little bit.  "I don't want little bit!"  On the floor she fell, kicking and screaming.  It made me so angry that I ended up putting a ginormous glob of toothpaste on her brush and said, "There, are you happy now?"  And yes, she now is.  Wonderful parenting techniques I subscribe to, huh?

My little nephew is sick.  He's one of those babies who is either perfectly good or screaming bloody murder.  His mom suspects that he has an ear infection.  The Ask-A-Nurse told her to try propping him up on her chest while she slept because lying him down will put more pressure on his ear.  Therefore, my sister-in-law got no sleep last night.  I showed up at her house this morning, took the baby and the toddler, and told her to go take a nap.  I remember those days of trying to function on no sleep.  With no argument, she retreated to her room.  I must say, I really enjoyed snuggling with that sweet baby for a couple hours.  No, I do not want another baby....no, I do not want another baby!  I will keep repeating it to myself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Make Your Own Sugar Scrub

I know a lot of people who enjoy making their own Christmas gifts.  I do a little of that, if you count baking Christmas cookies!  Other than that, I'm not very crafty.  People would probably just toss whatever it is I've made into the trash.  Making your own gifts is a wonderful idea, especially for people you aren't super close to...the school secretary, crossing guard, mailman, or simply the older lady down the street who smiles when you pass by her house.

The best homemade gift I remember receiving is a spiced tea mix from my very crafty friend.  She made jars of the tea for all the Sunday School teachers at church.  I have also received hot cocoa mix and candles. 

Today while browsing my favorite thrifty blogger's page, I stumbled upon these directions to make your own Sugar Scrub.  I adore the aroma therapeutic sugar scrub I purchased from Bath & Body Works.  I use it sparingly to try to make it last.  It works wonders on skin dried out by cold winter weather.  When I saw these directions to make my own, I determined that this is something I would definitely try!

Here is what you'll need:
• 1 Jar
• 1 Cup White Sugar
• 1 Cup Brown Sugar
• ¼ – ½ cup Olive Oil
• 1 t Vanilla, Almond, or Lavender Extract (I think I'm going to use Tea Tree Oil.)


1. Mix white and brown sugar in a bowl until blended.

2. Pack sugar into the jar.

3. Slowly pour olive oil in a tablespoon at a time until it has reached about halfway down the jar, letting each tablespoon seep in before putting in the next.

4. Once the olive oil has reached halfway down the jar, add extract.

5. Pour mixture into a large bowl and mix it up until all the sugar is moist. Add more olive oil if needed.

6. Repack jar.

A few helpful tips:
• You can adjust the amount of sugar (both white & brown) and other ingredients to the size of your jar and your preferences. The mentioned amounts are a guideline. Just make sure you have even parts of white & brown sugar!

• If keeping this in the bathtub or shower, have something with which to scoop the sugar out. If you use your hands, it’s a good idea to keep the scrub in the refrigerator to keep bacteria at bay, unless you go through the whole jar in a couple of days! I wouldn’t know anything about that!

• You can substitute other oils in place of olive oil. Almond oil is another great option, just not as readily available as olive oil. Avoid mineral oil as it prevents your skin from absorbing moisture.

•Don’t forget to make a label! You can make a label on your computer using the sticky label sheets or use some fancy font on regular paper. Glue the paper to an index card (to make it rigid), cut it to resemble a gift tag, punch a hole in the top with a hole punch and use a rubber band or ribbon to tie around the mouth of the jar!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

You will be happy to hear that the Christmas spirit is slowly filling the She Says House.

* Red and white polka-dot wrapping paper is bought and ready to wrap gifts.  Scotch tape, white boxes, and tissue paper also lie in wait.

* Living room furniture is now rearranged to allow room for the artificial tree, once Hubby carries it up from the basement.

* Shopping list is getting closer and closer to being done.

* She Says House has been downgraded from a tornado site to just a little disorganized.

* Thoughts of Christmas cookies are filling my mind.

* Christmas party for my teenage girls group is scheduled for this Monday night at the She Says House.

* Kids rooms are heading in the right direction toward being clean.  (I can't stand attempting Christmas without a totally clean house.)

* Michael Buble' plays on the radio.

It's finally beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Just Mish-Mosh

I don't have any deep, humorous, or witty thoughts to share with you today.  I kind of feel like my brain has been dipped into pancake mixture and is all muddled and gooey.  I just hope no one puts me into the fryer.

  • Sick Kids.  You want 'em...we've got 'em!  Baby Girl led off with a hacking cough that just won't clear up.  Son #1 was second at bat with a sore throat and incredibly swollen tonsils.  Son #2 was up third with an ear infection and swollen tonsils, requiring amoxicillin.  Big Sis batted clean up and scored a home run with strep throat and pink eye.  It all went down Sunday morning when I noticed goop in Big Sis' eye.  I had to sing at church that morning so Hubby was responsible for taking the kids to Children's for meds.  What a trooper!  I was worried he would be left staring blankly when asked for the kids' dates of birth.  Luckily, he handled it all like a Professional Daddy!  He opted to give Big Sis a shot of antibiotics rather than eye drops and oral medication for ten days.  Her leg still hurts from the injection so she's home from school again.
  • It is not beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  We still do not have any decorations up yet.  I'm feeling a little Grinch-like.  It's not that I'm anti-Christmas, I just have not had any kind of time to get decorations out and up.  Who in the world wants to kick aside a pile of junk to put a Christmas tree where the junk used to be?  I need to do some serious house cleaning first.
  • Tornado Site.  Yep, that's what it looks like around here.  From all the sick kids to plans on Saturday night, I also had a church bake sale thrown in the middle.  Since the kids were sick, I only felt comfortable baking after completely sterilizing the kitchen.  I've wiped down cupboard handles and the refrigerator more times that I want to admit.  When I cook, I'm paranoid about germs....especially when that food is for someone else.  Luckily, all went well and Son #1 made $40 for his youth account at church.  I'll be really thankful for that come the next out-of-town trip.
  • Coupons.  I am almost ready to say I'm sick of them.  I'm not sick of them at all...I'm just sick of cutting them out and organizing them in my binder.  When I go to the store and save 50% on my entire bill, I realize how worth it this all is.  I have thousands of coupons.  Thousands.  They actually make me quite happy. 
  • Great Deals. They're everywhere! I have had so many brown boxes delivered to my doorstep the past few days! It just makes me happy that it's saving me time from going out shopping. Today's deal: another FREE Kindle book. O Little Town: A Novel. I have quite a few books waiting patiently on my Kindle to be read....maybe in mid-January when nothing's going on.
  • Triple Booked.  Tonight starts my holiday season of being triple booked for events.  Son #1 has a band concert, I have choir practice for our upcoming Christmas concert, and my sign language group has a performance tonight.  Not to forget the sick kids at home and the aforementioned tornado house.  Anyone remember that movie Multiplicity?  Sounding good right about now.

Well, I feel really guilty sitting here writing about all I have to do.  Today is grocery shopping day so there go a couple more hours.  Time to make the donuts!!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Boys are Fickle

Girls are supposed to be the fickle ones, not boys.  But I have one who is.

Over the weekend, we were shopping at a discount clothing/home furnishings store.  Son #2 is in need of some warmer shirts for school.  He's at that awkward size between medium and large.  (I seriously wish they had a M 1/2!)  New size large shirts are too big and new size medium shirts will be too small the first time I wash them.  What fits him best are his brother's hand-me-downs that have been washed several times.  But he doesn't want those. 

I picked out two shirts I thought Son #2 might like.  He's incredibly picky but I think I've learned his taste.  He liked the black and gray striped shirt but it was way too big for him.  Because it was only a few dollars, I bought it for Son #1 instead.  The other shirt was orange striped. 
"I don't like orange," was his reply. 
"You don't want this shirt because you don't like orange?"  I asked. 
"I don't like orange." 
So I put the shirt back on the rack.

Tuesday morning, he was getting dressed for school.  "Where is my new shirt?" he asked.  Being in the semi-confused state of early morning, I told him it was still in the bag.  He dug through the crinkly bag and declared it wasn't there.  I huffed down the stairs, irritated that he can never find anything.  I pulled the black and gray shirt out and handed it to him. 
"This isn't mine," he said, "it's too big." 
Oh, that's right...I ended up buying it for his brother instead.  "Well, I didn't buy you one then."
"You didn't buy that orange shirt?"
"No, you said you didn't like orange."
"So you didn't buy it?"
"No!  I thought you didn't like it!  Why would I buy something for you to wear that you don't like?"
Angry, he stomped away to look for something to wear to school.

And I thought women were supposed to be the difficult ones to read!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


This is a vent post about why I hate my husband's job.  Be warned.

I came home late last night to find Hubby passed out on the bathroom floor.  Literally.  The kids and I went to church before Hubby was home from work.  I had a practice afterward so I sent Son #2 and Big Sis home with my aunt.  She dropped them off at the house, apparently with their father.

I arrived home about twenty minutes later.  Son #2 met me at the door and said, "Dad's really sick."  I knew he was sick because he called home from work and asked me to set the NyQuil out.  He tends to be a bit dramatic when he's sick so I wasn't too worried.  I hung up my coat and Baby Girl's coat, took off my shoes, and put my bag away.  I walked upstairs to find my husband lying on the bathroom floor.  I called his name.  No response.  I called his name again.  Still no response.  I nudged him with my foot and called his name louder.  Still nothing.  Son #1 was already next to him when I got there and told me, "He has a pulse."  Well, I sure hope so!  This time, I leaned down, shook him, and yelled his name again.  He opened his eyes and stared blankly at me. 
"Why are you laying on the floor?!" I asked. 
"I don't know," he said. 
"You don't know?!?!" 
He kind of shook his head while still lying there.  He attempted to sit up and fell back down. 
I asked if he was asleep or if he passed out.  He said he didn't know but his head hurt. 
"Well, yeah, you probably hit it on the sink!"  He assured me he didn't hit his head, it was just a headache.

I finally got him up off the floor and into bed.  I asked again several more times if he was asleep or passed out.  He couldn't remember.  He said he was sitting by the toilet, throwing up, and that's the last thing he remembered.  I'll just be honest and say that I was totally freaked out.

I questioned Son #2 about how he found his father when he arrived home.  He said Dad was sitting on the floor with his back to him, leaning up against the sink.  #2 tried to talk to him but he didn't answer.  I told #2 he should have immediately called me.  He said he thought Dad was just feeling bad and didn't feel like talking.  He didn't notice if his eyes were open or closed.  Hubby apparently slumped over onto the ground from that sitting position.

Once in bed, he was making a bit more sense.  I asked if he had taken the NyQuil.  He said he had but threw up right afterward.  I told him he wouldn't be able to go to work and I would take care of it if he needed me to.  "No," he said, "I have to go to work.  It's peak season."

I slept on the couch to allow him to rest.  I was so worried about him that I hooked up the baby monitor in his room so I could hear if he needed me. 

So, a grown man was passed out from sickness, he was monitored during the night by a worried wife, yet he went to work in the morning.  That's just not right.

This morning, I got up when he did.  Again, I tried to talk him into calling off.  "She, you can't call off there!" he said.  (Which I know is true.)  I was worried about him driving into work but he assured me he would be fine.  I knew I was fighting a losing battle so I went back to bed for another 45 minutes.

Years ago, my husband was in the hospital.  I had to call into his work and tell them he wouldn't be in a for a few days.  Those people had the nerve to give me a hard time, telling me they wouldn't be able to cover for him.  I got quite rude and told them he was hospitalized and there was nothing he could do.  They acted like they were doing me a giant favor.  Gee, thanks.  Another time when he was in the hospital, they told him that he was in danger of losing his contract if he didn't service it.  Thanks, guys.

So that is why I hate my husband's job.  But in this economy, who has the right to complain?  At least he's employed.