Friday, April 29, 2011


We rolled into Cape Canaveral and 15 seconds later they scrubbed the launch. Typical. I am a NASA jinx.

All is well

BJ and the girls did drive through Tennessee on Wednesday, but they were through there and in Georgia before any tornadoes hit, and while BJ did have to drive through some rough weather, everyone is fine.

We are headed toward Cape Canaveral now. Wish us luck with the shuttle launch!

I got to see a bit of the royal wedding this morning at breakfast. Catherine looked radiant. I think she looks like my sister. We'll have to find Megan a blue wrap dress and a replica engagement ring for Halloween!

Don't worry about us. I'll post if anything bad happens. Max and Grandpa are guarding the house. :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Carrot Cake Pancakes

I adapted my favorite oatmeal pancake recipe to make carrot cake pancakes this morning.  They got four thumbs up!  (It looks like a long ingredient list, but it's mostly spices).

Happy Easter!

Carrot Cake Pancakes
Makes about 18 pancakes
3/4 cup oat flour (pulse rolled oats in food processor or blender - 1 c oats = 3/4 c oat flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash ginger
dash cloves
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or coarse salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup finely shredded carrot
2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs, beaten
chopped pecans

Whisk the dry ingredients (oat flour, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, spices and salt) together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the butter, milk, shredded carrot, honey and eggs together until thoroughly combined. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Don't overmix.

Cook on a hot griddle or in a skillet.  If desired, spoon batter onto griddle, then sprinkle raisins and/or pecans onto the top of the pancake just before flipping.

Serve the pancakes hot, straight from the skillet or keep them warm in a low oven.  Serve with honey and Greek yogurt, maple syrup, or sweetened cream cheese.

This is the best way to get a serving of veggies in before noon!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bad Blogger, No Cookie

Where have I been?

If you look at my color-coded Google Calendar for the past few weeks, it's like someone dumped a bag of Skittles all over the screen.  I can barely see what's going on, there's so much going on.  Doctor's appointments, playdates, experiments at the Baby Labs at the university, soccer practices and games, school functions, work meetings, birthday parties...  It's been mostly fun, but a little bit ridiculous with all the busy.  And in spite of all that, I find myself with not a whole lot to write about.  It's just been... life.  Life with three small kids and a business and a huge extended family.  Busy.  The mountains of laundry have begun to eclipse the sun.

Throughout all of this, the weather has been schizophrenic - 70 and sunny one day, 35 and rainy the next - which has led my sinuses to say, "Oh HELL no."  I feel miserable.  It settled in my chest overnight.  I sound like Kathleen Turner.

But I know I'm lucky that it's just a sinus infection.  There are much worse things to have to deal with. 

The kids are healthy.  I have antibiotics so I'll be fine in a few days. 

We're headed to Florida next week for the Shuttle launch and to visit family.  BJ and the girls are driving, Jack and I are flying - splitting the difference between dealing with a 4 month old in the car for 32+ hours and the expense of air travel and car rental.  It made sense at the time.  We'll see how it all ends up.

I turned 35. 

I'm teaching Jack sign language.  More.  Please.  Thank you.  I love it that 2/3 of his first communicable words will be manners, just like the girls.  I think that says something profound about my parenting.

He's trying to crawl already.  I need to tie his feet together.

Mary Grace and Claire had excellent parent teacher conference reports. 

I survived the audit at work, and it wasn't so bad. 

The end of the long fiscal nightmare is in sight. 

The girls are finally old enough that they can come to the office and I can still get work done. 

We're trying to figure out our childcare plan for the summer. 

We're getting a tax refund for the first time in a decade. 

I can't believe it's almost summer. 

35 sounds old.  Where do the years go? 

Jack's laugh lights up the world, but he makes you work for it.  He doesn't just laugh easily, but he smiles all the time. 

The girls are singing in the other room. 

Happy kids sing.

I'm singing too. 

It's all right.




Monday, April 18, 2011

Baby Cakes

My friend Sarah shared a VERY cute idea last time I saw her, and my friends Jim and Karen used it this weekend.

Instead of having the ultrasound technician tell them the baby's gender during their 20 week ultrasound, they had her write it in an envelope and seal it.  They kept the envelope for weeks, showing enormous restraint that I, personally, do not possess.  Finally, Jim brought it over to my house on Thursday, and I went to the nearest bakery as quickly as possible to remove the temptation to peek.  I instructed the bakery to make the filling between the layers of white cake pink for a girl and blue for a boy.

Then Saturday, BJ picked up the cake and again with the temptation!  I thought of half a dozen ways to peek, but I didn't.  Karen picked the cake up Saturday night when she dropped me off from my birthday celebration, and we waited some more (longest.  weekend.   ever...) until she cut it at her son's birthday party on Sunday afternoon.  I had sent an e-mail to the guests instructing them to wear pink if they guessed it was a girl, and blue if they guessed it was a boy.

Karen and Jim have three wonderful little boys.  And she's pregnant with...  A GIRL!

The best part was watching and hearing everyone react to the news.  Her oldest sons hugged each other and jumped up and down.  You would've thought they won the lottery!  And everyone cheered and cried and hugged and laughed.  It was such a cool moment.

It almost makes me want to have a fourth so I can have a baby cake!

Hooray babies!  Congratulations Jim and Karen!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When I Become Queen

I got involved in a conversation about politics, specifically about the national debt, yesterday.  It's kind of sad that I was able to come up with a bunch of ideas just standing in the lunchroom at the office, but the people in congress who get paid to solve problems can't figure this out.

#1 - Social Security is 6.2% of your gross income up to $106,800.  If it was 6.2% of everything, instead, how much of the problem would that solve?  Would I be able to count on Social Security being there when I retire if they removed the limit?

from Wikimedia Commons
#2 - It's my understanding that Bush paid for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan outside of the federal budget (I don't know how the hell that works, but that's what he did).  Here's what I want to know - whatever happened to war bonds?  In World War 2, if you supported the war and the troops you could go out and buy a bond to support them, which would mature in a set number of years.  Why aren't we selling Iraq and Afghanistan and now Libya bonds?  Let the people who think these actions are a good idea pay for them!

#3 - Congresspeople should not get sweet retirement deals.  They should get social security like everyone else.

#4 - When this country was founded, all the politicians had real jobs.  I think the only career politician should be the president - and everyone else should be a volunteer.  No, I'm not kidding.  Ok, fine, pay them a small stipend (minimum wage x the number of hours they work!) for their time.  But that's it.  And they're not allowed to vote themselves pay increases anymore.  Who came up with that idea? 

#5 - What if we all decided that in 2012 we would let the government keep our tax refunds, for the good of the country, and apply them toward the national debt?  What if we kept doing this until there wasn't one anymore?  Heck, what if we just did it in even numbered years?  Could we solve the problem that way?  How long would it take?

#6 - Various entities that get their funding from the government always spend as much of it as they possibly can - otherwise it will be removed from the budget next year.  How about coming up with non-financial incentives for entities that return unspent money at the end of the fiscal year?  For example, if the National Archives (just to pick on someone) manages to spend 97% of their budget, but they write the government a check for the other 3% at the end of the year, how about we give everyone who works for the National Archives an extra day off or something?  Government employees need some kind of incentive to NOT spend money.  Also, let's not take that money out of their budget right away, because things change from year to year.  Give them 5 years of being 3% under (and getting an extra day off or something) before that 3% is permanently cut, so they don't feel like they have to "spend out" their money each year.

#7 - Here's another idea from the past - the WPA.  We've got thousands and thousands of people collecting welfare and unemployment in this country, and meanwhile our roads, bridges, etc. are falling apart.  Let's put some of these folks to work 4 days a week fixing stuff!  The other day a week they can continue to look for a job in their original field.  "But Amy!" you say, "A lot of the people collecting welfare are taking care of children!"  OK, fine, start a WPA daycare in each town - employ a couple of (qualified) caregivers to look after the kids of the rest of the people who are at work.  Duh.  I know that our town has laid off teachers lately.  They're more than qualified to do daycare, right?  Wouldn't they rather be working?

#8 - This is kind of unrelated, but why don't we combine the retirement homes and the daycares into one facility?  So the older people could be around little kids, which would be good for them and keep them young and active, and the little kids could have one on one attention from loving older people, which would be good for them, too.  Also, it would be one less building.  There would have to be caregivers, too, for both the elderly and the kids (because the elderly would get tired, and the kids would need diapers changed and stuff) but from a purely social point of view, I think it would be good.  It's certainly more natural than dividing people up by age the way we do in this country.

#9 - This one is my dad's.  He says that every member of Congress should have to do their personal income taxes with a pencil and paper, and if they can't they need to simplify the laws.  I think that's BRILLIANT.

#10 - Twelve year term limits for every single elected official in the country.

There.  I fixed it.  Will you vote for me?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Today I...

Got up.
Fed the baby.
Changed his diaper.
Chose an outfit for Jack
...and dressed him.
Chose outfits for the girls.
Got the girls dressed.
Drank coffee.
Ate breakfast.
Checked e-mail.
Checked newsreader.
Checked Facebook.
Nursed baby to sleep.
Brushed teeth.
Put on make up.
Fixed my hair.
Fixed the girls' hair.
Cleaned the kitchen.
Moved the laundry.
Stripped the bed.
Washed the sheets.
Sent MG up to strip the girls' beds.
Moved some piles of clutter around.
Moved the laundry.
Went to work (left the kids here with Grandmother Diana).
Left messages for Mom and Megan about random things.
Checked work email.
Checked the mail.
Sorted the mail.
Paid bills.
Reconciled 6-1/2 bank accounts.
Found a problem.
Emailed the government about the problem.
Found another problem.
Emailed my accountant about that problem.
Entered debits.
Filed receipts.
Paid bills.
Ordered office supplies.
Ran home to pick up Jack.
Nursed Jack.
Stopped at the post office to file the state taxes for the business.
Stopped at the bank to drop off credit card payments.
Got lunch with BJ and Jack.
Stopped at the pharmacy to pick up a thermometer and tylenol for the bag because Jack felt hot.
Returned to the office.
Checked work e-mail.
Ordered materials for BJ.
Talked to three friends who also work in our office.
Unsuccessfully sent a fax twice.
Nursed Jack.
Changed a dirty diaper.
Scanned a fax and emailed it to business partner.
Ordered more stuff for BJ.
Responded to requests for information from our auditor.
Left the office.
Called my father in law on the way home to check in.
Came home.
Nursed Jack.
Put away a little laundry.
Put a couple dishes in the dishwasher, washed a few others.
Visited with my mother in law and gushed over all the cleaning she and the girls did.
Babysat the neighbor's daughter.
Laughed when the other neighbor's little girl let herself into our house to play with Max.
Nursed Jack.
Researched the answer to and sent another work email to the auditor.
Changed diaper.
Made dinner (spaghetti, meat sauce, garlic bread).
Ate dinner.
Played with Jack.
Nursed Jack.
Held Jack while he slept while BJ started the girls' bath.
Finished the girls' bath while BJ held Jack.
Got the girls dressed for bed.
Helped them clean their room and put their clean sheets on their beds.
Read two stories.
Completely forgot to have the girls brush their teeth.
Kissed them goodnight.
Came downstairs.
Made tea.
Nursed Jack.
Gave Jack Tylenol.
Checked email.
Checked newsreader.
Checked Facebook.
Made brownies.
Read 2 IRS publications.
Nursed Jack.
Blogged. the next time you see me and I have dark circles under my eyes, you'll know why.  This was a pretty typical day.  I'm beat.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Yesterday's soccer game was cold, wet, and rainy. BJ and Grandpa Bob took Mary Grace while I stayed home with the little ones. But we had amazing weather and a wonderful turn out today! Uncle Brandon brought Lucy and Jane, and Grandma Susan came down from Grammaland, and Grandpa Bob came again, and BJ, Claire, Jack, and I were there. All that support had an unfortunate side effect - Mary Grace was as likely to be smiling and waving at the sidelines as she was to be looking at the ball. At one point she gave us a double peace sign like Richard Nixon. I wish I'd gotten a picture of that!
Jack actually fell asleep for a while at the game. I'm looking forward to that reflex where they hold their breath when you blow on their face going away (within the next month or so). It makes it uncomfortable for him to be out in the wind.
"I... can't... breathe!"
Claire needs a little improvement as a cheerleader. I got her a pair of orange pom poms to match Mary Grace's team's shirts. She mostly likes to pick the individual strands of pom out of them.

It used to be twice that size.

All of this activity isn't doing anything for improving the girls' sleep. It's 9:30 and they're still upstairs yakking.

She's the tall one with the ponytail.
It was so cool for Mary Grace to have so much support on her first weekend of soccer!  What fun!

I feel like we've done nothing but eat and play soccer this weekend.  BJ decided that he wanted to make beignets this morning.  We started the dough last night, then put it in the fridge after it had risen.  We tried frying them in a pan on the stove this morning, but the oil got way too hot and they were burnt on the outside and raw in the center, so he ran out to Walmart to get a Fry Daddy. 

It probably would have been cheaper and healthier, in the long run, if he'd just picked up a dozen donuts instead.  I keep thinking of things I can fry.  It's a new toy!  The pamphlet that came with it had a recipe for quesadillas that I'm dying to try.  As if quesadillas aren't bad enough with all that cheese - let's deep fry them!  I told him before he left that it was kind of a foolish purchase for two people who had been dieting for a year and a half, but he was determined.

The beignets were awesome.

Next weekend I think we're going to try jelly donuts.  I remember my Grandma Betty making donuts once when we spent the weekend at her house when I was a kid, and I thought it was magical.  They can't be that much worse than pancakes, right?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thank You Planned Parenthood

I went to Planned Parenthood for reproductive care from the time I was 17 until I obtained health insurance when I was 28.

During that time, I obtained birth control, STD tests, yearly pap smears and breast exams, all the standard "woman stuff" that most of the folks who are so anti-PP don't have to worry about because they don't have pesky things like vaginas, breasts, uterusses, and ovaries.

Every time I went there, they asked me if I felt safe in my current relationships (in other words, was I being abused). They counseled me about safer sex, AIDS, and other STDs. They asked me if I was addicted to drugs or alcohol. They had dozens of pamphlets on the walls about a range of women's health and women's safety issues. Everything from where to go for WIC to how to deal with menopause.

They never gave me an abortion. They never needed to, because they gave me safer sex education and birth control pills instead.

And the care they gave me throughout more than a decade as their patient in four different cities was consistently affordable, compassionate, professional, safe, and reliable.

When I was 23 or 24 I found a lump. I was terrified. I called Planned Parenthood in a tizzy and they got me in immediately. Thankfully it was normal. They educated me about the difference between normal and abnormal lumps.

At Planned Parenthood, 97% of the services provided have nothing to do with abortion and everything to do with education, STD care and prevention, cancer care and prevention, contraception. And 0% of the abortions are paid for with federal funds. ZERO. It's already law.

I don't know why the republicans have women and children in their crosshairs. I don't understand how they can justify spending squajillions of dollars to kill people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, but not a $300 million on Planned Parenthood.

It doesn't make any sense, because the Planned Parenthood issue is a red herring. They are fighting over something that they know people have passionate feelings about to DISTRACT us from the real issues and to get people too stirred up to pay attention to what's really going on.

It's government theater, and it's shameful.

If the government shuts down, they'll have failed us all, and Congress should NOT receive pay or benefits (health insurance, etc.) as long as they continue with the shutdown.

The whether-or-not-to-pay-the-military thing was probably a red herring, too. They probably intended to pay them all along, but they were able to waste time writing a bill, getting it through, debating it, and then passing it at the last minute to look like heroes even as they're failing us.

When are people going to start paying attention?

What's Wrong with Food

I've read her book, The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick - And What We Can Do About It, but if you don't have time for that, here's a 20 minute summary:


This is important stuff, folks. We need to start paying more attention - especially those of us who are responsible for feeding growing children!  Yes, it hurts to spend $6 or $7 a gallon for organic milk, but having my children get cancer later would hurt more

Jillian Michael's latest podcast talked about how (and why) to find the money to afford organic food.  If you have another 20 minutes, you can listen to it here.  (It's at the beginning of the show).

We don't do all organic food, but we do spend the extra money on organic milk and humanely raised beef (we get it from BJ's uncle).  We avoid fast food.  I cook at home using whole ingredients as much as possible.  One person can't do everything (especially when our food supply is so completely saturated with these products) but everyone can do something.  We do our best to find balance.

I strongly encourage you to look at what you're feeding your kids, and think about what small changes you could make for the better, and to remember this issue when it's time to vote in the fall.

(video via Mrs. Q)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

An Open Letter to the Tea Party

Dear Tea Party,

First of all, your name is stupid.

Secondly, your grandstanding and inability to compromise is directly impeding my ability to get shit done.  I've had a meeting scheduled for Monday for over a week, and the person I'm meeting with had to call and cancel today because he can't put in travel requests due to the possibility of a shut down.  We're going to have to reschedule (again!), which is going to delay our getting under contract with the Air Force. 

Kindly STFU so those of us who actually do useful work in this country can get back to it.  

This stunt is going to end up costing this country money in the long run, and it REALLY pisses me off that our troops might not get paid this week.  That's some serious bullshit. 

Seriously, enough already.  I speak for basically everyone in this country who isn't a politician when I say, "The rest of us have work to do - get out of the way."

Love and kisses,

(PS - I know this isn't the usual tone or topic of this blog, but I'm too ticked off to keep quiet about this one.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tooth Fairies

Mary Grace just lost another tooth, and it reminded me of something I've been meaning to tell you all.

We give her a dollar coin every time she loses a tooth, but some kids get $20s (I'm guessing these are the parents who stop at the ATM on the way home from work!) and others get toys.  She noticed the disparity, and do you know what I told her?  I said that every family has their own Tooth Fairy - just like every neighborhood has their own mail carrier - and some Tooth Fairies are more liberal than others. 

I might have also mumbled something about how those other kids may or may not be able to go to college after their parents have spent all their money buying baby teeth...  but she didn't hear that part.  Heh heh!

So if you have a stingy Tooth Fairy like we do, feel free to explain it thusly when your kids notice.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Uncle Doug

Last time Uncle Doug visited, he read books to the girlies.  He hadn't been in the door for 10 seconds before the kids were handing him books to read aloud.  It doesn't look like he minded too much.

After he read the kids 27 books, we all went to Noodles for lunch and then to Red Mango for fro yo.  Then we played light sabers. 

You just never know what's going to happen when you visit the pretty babies.

To Whom It May Concern

Dear Weather,




Dear Body,

The baby is 3-1/2 months old.  Can we quit with the post-pregnancy hormones already?  I'm over it.  I have pimples like a teenager and I'm going bald.  Enough already.



Dear Van,

Next time I'm getting the self-cleaning model.  If they can make an oven that can heat up enough to incinerate the baked on crud, surely they can make a minivan that gets hot enough inside to incinerate goldfish and Grips cookies.



Dear Keebler,

Obviously you didn't test Grips on any actual children, or consult any parents.  Worst.  Idea.  Ever.

Please send some elves to clean this up.



Darling Daugthers,

If you're going to insist on cutting paper into teeny tiny pieces all day, please don't whine at me when I make you clean them up.  You're a lot closer to the floor, anyway.  Just like the elves. 



Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mission Accomplished

I'm feeling a lot more confident about our impending trip to Florida.  Yesterday BJ had tickets for a lecture, and I knew he wouldn't be home until midnight, so I packed the girlies and Jack in the van and we headed for Grammaland.

First we went to Uncle Stu and Aunt Kathryn's, where Jack had the most epic diaper ever.  It was so bad that we put him in the shower with Uncle Stu to hose him off (Uncle Stu had been working out when we arrived, so he was getting ready for the day).  Fortunately Jack loves the shower which is funny, because the girlies always acted like we were waterboarding them when we tried to shower with them.  Jack, on the other hand, hates the bath.  Can't say that I blame him.  It looks cold.  I hate to admit this, but the outfit he had on when the hazmat event occurred was so gross by the time I got home that I just pitched it!  It was almost too small, anyway, and it just didn't seem sensible to try to deal with the stain.  He has more than enough clothes.  I guess I am not frugal.

Speaking of not frugal, the girls decided what they want for Christmas:

I know how to iPad, Mommy.

If Kelly and Ian are my first cousins, are they my kids' second cousins, or are they first cousins once removed?  Genealogy is both confusing and difficult to spell (it should have an o before the l, shouldn't it?  Isn't the suffix "ology," not just "logy"?)  (Wikipedia is confusing, but I think they're first cousins once removed).  I got some cute pictures.  This is the longest I've ever seen Ian hold still:

Kathryn says, "Just you wait!"

We all went to Red Robin for lunch

 ...then we went to Uncle Stu's museum.

How cool is that?  Clyde McMillan was my Papa - my mother's father.  I've always been so proud of my family.  My favorite part of the museum was the mural by the stairs (not shown in the video) where there's a painting of my Uncle Stu looking out a window, and a painting of my Papa as a young man, headed toward the pole (and yes, you can slide down the pole).  Somehow I didn't get a picture of it.  This one is from the artist's website.

The kids had a fun time posing for pictures on the fire truck:

Hang on, Claire!  I'll drive!
These are my grandparents.  This picture makes me wonder if there will ever be portraits of us in our company's corporate headquarters someday.  And it makes me wonder if my grandparents knew what they were starting when they were my age. Probably not!

After the museum we visited Mimi at work, then we went to Grandma Susan's house for a visit.  The girls had a great time playing with the toys there.  I had to put the crayons from the new box of 64 in spectral order, which Grandma Susan thought was very weird.  It wasn't long before the girlies dumped out the box of crayons and messed up the order.  I tried not to get mad.

Uncle Chuck came over when he got done teaching, and we hung out for a while. 

Then I took the girls to visit Grandma Denna at work before we headed back home.  All three kids fell asleep in the car on the way home, which was nothing short of a miracle.

I was so tired that I went to bed as soon as I got the kids settled for the night.

I hope you had a fun April Fools Day too!