Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lunchbox Notes

In spite of what The Onion has to say on the topic, I'm having a really good time making lunchbox notes for the girls this year (so far).

I'll admit, though, that coming up with ideas for Claire, who is just learning to read, has been a challenge.  She didn't recognize that my birds were birds.  "What were those things on my napkin, Mommy?"

I completely suck at Arts & Crap. 

Tonight, though, I was brilliant.  I Googled "origami" and came up with dozens of ideas.  And napkins just happen to be square!

I did this one:

...and wrote "Love, Mom" on the inside.

I think it turned out pretty well for a first attempt!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Things I Do

Things I have taken on, in reverse chronological order:
  • Leading the Kindergarten Daisy Troop
  • Helping the Girls' Teachers (as-needed, at school)
  • Co-Leading the First Grade Daisy Troop
  • President of the Neighborhood Association
  • Writing a Book
  • Two Food Co-Ops, one of which I'm leading
  • Blogging
  • Raising a Young Family
  • Working for BJ/helping run our small business
Additional projects I can take on right now:
  •   (this space intentionally left blank)
Things I need to spend more time doing:
  • Exercising & Counting Calories (I did walk to and from school today, and BJ and I walked to lunch!)
  • Writing - especially that book (I have cleared the 5000 word hurdle, it's a start)
  • Cleaning (either that or we're going to have to start naming the dust bunnies)
Things I have spent less time doing in order to have time to do all the things:
  • Sleeping
  • Watching TV (not that I miss it much)
Things I wish I had more time for:
  • Sleeping
  • Reading
  • Watching the finale of True Blood (I'm 30 minutes in and I keep getting interrupted!  Can't exactly watch it when the kids are up...)
  • Cooking (no kidding.  I really enjoy cooking)
  • Playing with my kids (instead of just doing my thing and being near them while they're playing)
  • Being with my extended family (miss you!)
  • Being with my friends (miss you!!)
  • Dates with my husband (miss you most of all, Scarecrow!!!)
Things I'm doing a pretty good job of:
  • Staying Organized (so far, knock wood)
  • Keeping busy while the girls are at school
  • Maintaining morning and afternoon routines with the girls
  • Making lunches and choosing clothes for the girls the night before instead of in the morning
  • Juggling all these new responsibilities 
Things I'm looking forward to:
  • Bedtime
  • This Weekend (SPOONS!)
  • Any Weekend, Really
  • Seriously, Is It The Weekend Yet?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Whoosh Monday

Busy day! We are great. I am beat. Here is a random picture from a couple weeks ago. :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Words Hurt

I have mellowed a LOT over the past 7 years.  I used to be pretty judgmental when it came to other peoples' parenting.  Then I had kids of my own and friends with kids and I learned that there are a lot of paths to good parenting, and that we don't all need to make the same choices to raise equally happy, healthy, successful kids.

However....  When someone speaks of their own children with contempt?  I judge.

Everyone gets annoyed with their family.  Everyone.  I get that.  And we all need to bitch sometimes.  I bitch, too.

But there's a difference between some healthy venting and speaking with contempt about the people you're supposed to love the most.

Twice in the last year or two I've met people for the first time, and they've spoken about their small children with such animosity that I've been uncomfortable.  And honestly, I can't figure out what they're trying to communicate when they call their kids names (yes, really, and not pet names or nicknames - hurtful names!), or when they complain about their kids' personalities.

When it gets to the point where I feel like I ought to be defending their kids to them, what I'm thinking is, "This person and I are never going to be friends."

I just don't understand.  Is this some way that moms bond that I just really suck at?  It's one thing to complain that your kids are horrible sleepers (2/3 of mine are!) or that they're in a difficult phase, but it's another to speak as though you really don't like your own child.

I try not to say anything about someone that I wouldn't say to them.  The operative word is try.  I don't always succeed.  I'm a work in progress.  And if I do complain about somebody behind their back, I hope it's with a mind toward finding a solution instead of just complaining (for example, if another mom at school and I have a conflict, I might speak of the situation with other people who know us both to try to figure out what's going on).

When it comes to my family, I hope that the love I feel for them is evident, even when I might be complaining that I haven't had a good night's sleep in almost 8 years or that all four of them are sock droppers.

Women can just be so mean sometimes, but when they're mean about their own kids?  That's not someone I want to be around.

Has someone ever spoken hatefully about their kids to you?  What do you do?  What do you say?

Friday, August 24, 2012

One Week Down

The first full week of school made us tired.  Not tired enough to stop volunteering for new opportunities, not tired enough to skip any of our stuff, but tired.

The girls were so excited for pizza day last week, and then they were disappointed to find that 1) the pizza isn't terribly good, and 2) they only get one piece.  This week I said, "Well, you can buy your lunch another day, and we can get pizza Friday night.  Good pizza.  And you can have more than one piece!"  Sold.

So we got pizza tonight and now the girls are playing Star Wars with Daddy and Jack is watching Thomas and I'm sitting on the couch feeling very, very grateful for weekends in a way I haven't felt since I worked full time.

One week down, 17 years to go.  Hahaha!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Iron Chef

My husband (the tall, dark, and handsome, smart, funny, and kind black belt, rocket scientist, who makes me wonder what if I was Mother Theresa or something in a former life) now can add to his cooking resume (which includes crepes and stuffed French toast) 'makes sushi.'

Sadly, this skill is completely wasted on me. Nori is gross.

But certain friends of mine are going to faint when they see the 'pod husband' getting his sushi on.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pinterest is Stupid

Oh yes, I said it.

I just had something happen, again, that has happened to me enough times that I am seriously going to change the way I use Pinterest.

I suffer from a hereditary excess of recipes (I can't help it - I got it from my mother) and they're kind of everywhere.  I have recipes in books, recipes in emails, I have recipes in Google Documents and in Evernote.  I have recipe "boxes" on various websites like AllRecipes.  I have scanned copies of recipes in my grandmothers' and great-grandmothers' handwriting.  I used to have software that kept them all straight, but it required a ton of data entry and it became obsolete after a couple of computer upgrades (I think it ran on Windows 3.1).  I have recipes saved in random folders on random hard drives.  I have recipes in descriptions of Google Calendar Events on my Menu Planning calendar (this system is HIGHLY inefficient).  I even set up a separate email address for a while to which I could email recipes to myself so that I could keep them all without cluttering up my primary Gmail account (that was pre-Evernote).

Thus, if I want to make something a second time, I have to remember where I put it.  This is a stupid system.  One of these days I'm going to put all of my recipes into ONE system (probably Evernote).  Today is not that day.  I still have 14,000 pictures to catalog.  (The problem is I take photos faster than I catalog photos).

While getting ready to go to the grocery store just now, I decided to make Crock Pot Italian Chicken again, because we're going to be at the park on Wednesday and it would be nice to get home and have dinner ready.  So I went to Pinterest to find the recipe.

Found it!  Knew it was there.  Yay.  Until I clicked.

SON of a ....

Ok, fine, I remember that it had chicken and Italian dressing and bow tie pasta, so I Google, and I find a recipe, but it's missing an ingredient.  I knew there was more to it than chicken, cream cheese, and Italian dressing packets.  There was one more ingredient, but I don't remember what it is.

More Googling, and I finally find a recipe that has too many ingredients (who needs vegetables!?) but it's enough to jog my memory.  The missing ingredient is cream of chicken soup.  Ok, fine.  I can go to the store.

But now it's pouring.

This has happened to me more often than not when I've gone back to find a previously-used recipe in Pinterest.  It's almost like the pins expire over time.  I don't know, but I'm sick of it, so I'm not going to keep recipes in Pinterest anymore.

From now on, if I see a pin with a yummy looking recipe, I'm going to copy it to Evernote, because then I will know that can find it again when I want it.  It's annoying, because it's going to be more clicks between finding a recipe and keeping it, but hopefully I won't lose anything else.  I guess I should probably pick a permanent recipe solution and stick with it.  I've started using OneNote for other things (the Neighborhood Association, Work, Writing, rolling to-do lists) so maybe I can keep Evernote for recipes only, and use OneNote for everything else.

Jeez, first world problems, right?  How do you keep your recipes?  Has Pinterest lost your stuff before?  How do you deal with all the data in your life (pictures, recipes, things I haven't thought of yet but will bug me when I get around to worrying about them)?

Einstein on Pinterest

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Week 1 - Reflections

My darling children decided to wake me up at 7 am today, so I have plenty of time to tell you all about what worked and what didn't with school this week.
  1. Whoever decided to start on Wednesday instead of Monday is a genius. By Friday we were wiped out, and in desperate need of a weekend. 
  2. I did not make it to the gym. I knew I wouldn't. Maybe next week. 
  3. Making the girls' lunches and choosing their outfits the night before saves a lot of confusion and delay (as Sir Topumhat would say) in the morning.  (They can choose one day per week to purchase school lunch).
  4. My kids get their very! own! alarm clock! when they start Kindergarten.  This makes them feel very grown up.  Starting them out early at waking themselves up with an alarm will (hopefully) save me a lot of grief when they're teenagers and they don't bounce out of bed for school like it's Christmas morning.  Thanks, Grandma Denna, for the tip!
  5. Claire's teacher had appointments for each child to come in and meet her before school started. Mary Grace's teacher had an open house. Appointments are better. 
  6. Parents, I understand that your child's medical/transportation/learning/vision/hearing issue is the Most Important Thing Ever, but if there's a stack of papers on your child's desk, you might want to see if there's a place to write your concerns (so they're documented and the poor overworked overwhelmed teacher can refer to it again later!) before you bend her ear for 20 minutes at the 2 hour open house. If it's really that serious, maybe you could make an appointment or send an email.  "I'm going to email you about Precious's allergies, and if we need to meet next week to discuss it I'm available," is a lot faster and more respectful of everyone's time. 
  7. If your child's teacher has an open house, get there early to get a good desk. 
  8. Your child's bus will be at least 10, but probably 20, minutes late getting home on the first day. Do not panic.
  9. Transitioning two kids from half days to full days simultaneously was kind of a stupid idea.  Parents of multiples - I don't know how you do it.  I felt like the kids took turns having tantrums (from exhaustion and overwhelm) this week.  
  10. Make NO evening plans for the first week of school (see above: re: tantrums).
  11. We're working on an afternoon routine, too, to transition them to home.       
    The idea is to get them in the door, get their stuff where it needs to go, and get their homework done before they run off and play with the neighborhood kids.  The first day we fought.  The second day went better.  The third day, they did the whole thing without me while I got their snack!  Begin as you mean to go on!  Hopefully the good habits we're building now will last throughout their school careers.  (Plus, Jack and I really miss them all day and I don't want them to just take off right away!) 
  12. Now that the weather is starting to get cooler, I'm really looking forward to getting the crock pot out and making dinner early in the day so that I don't have to use the after school/early evening time for cooking.  Dinners were very simple around here this week - leftovers, grilled cheese and sliced tomatoes, and Friday we went out.
  13. I got Jack a little $5 toy car to distract him when the girls got on the bus and disappeared Wednesday morning.  I've also made sure that he had lots of friends around so he didn't miss his sisters too much.  He's too little to understand where the heck they went and why that big "nah nah" chews them up every morning and then spits them out every afternoon!  Poor honey.
Now, on to my questions:
  1. How do you deal with not having control over their diet?  For example, we like to get pizza on Friday nights, but the school serves pizza (from Papa John's) on Fridays, and both girls chose to buy their lunch that day.  It seemed excessive to have pizza for lunch and dinner.  Do you consider what they're eating at school when you make dinner, or do you just make your plans and figure that pizza twice a week won't kill them, even if it is on the same day?  I'm having a hard time not having dietary control (which is why they only buy lunch once a week as opposed to every day), especially when it comes to treats.
  2. Teachers - do you mind if parents send extra things for the kids?  For example, all the girls' extra supplies just kind of got shoved in the back of their desks, so I found these little plastic baskets at Target to send so they had a container for them.  What if I were to get them little notepads with their names on them or a cool set of markers?  I understand that you don't want boxes of 200 crayons, but do special off-list school supplies and containers cause a problem?  (We live in a pretty affluent area, so I'm not worried about other kids' parents not being able to afford the $1 container I found in the dollar spot at Target).
How was YOUR week?  Did your kids start school?

Friday, August 17, 2012


Today has been an exceptionally long day.  Jack got up at like 6 or 6:15 (at least an hour earlier than usual) and didn't fall asleep until like 9:15 (and not for lack of trying on my part).  He also pounded his milk and threw up on my shoulder during the whole bedtime routine, which didn't make for peaceful, pleasant parenting.

I'm too tired to be clever.

Chile (3), Patagonia, Road Y-50 towards Rio Verde

Thursday, August 16, 2012

School Stuff

I want to describe a few of the things I've done for and with my kids this school year, so that you can borrow my ideas if you like them.

First, I took a notecard.  On the outside I wrote "Information Inside" and then their bus number and their PIN, which is used at school for a variety of things.  On the inside I wrote, the kids names, address, phone number, and school.  Then I wrote our names, our phone numbers, my Dad's name and phone number, and any pertinent medical information (MG is allergic to amoxicillin, for example).  I stuck this notecard and some money (a $5 bill and a couple of dollars worth of loose change) inside a Ziplock bag in their backpacks.

So, if they get lost and they're freaking out and blanking on our phone number, it's there.  If they forget their PIN for lunch, it's there.  If, knock on wood, they're unconscious and someone is looking for identification in their backpack (after all, 5 and 7 year olds don't have state issued photo ID, right?) it's there.  I really doubt that anything will happen, but it's just a notecard...  No harm, no foul if it's there and they never need it.

As for the money, I don't think anyone should ever leave the house without some way of paying for things.  If they forget lunch and their account is empty, they have emergency lunch money.  If there's a bake sale or something unexpected at school, they have money.  I think they're old enough to handle a little pocket money, and I'm not worried about them buying $5 worth of ice cream from the ice cream truck because they think that it's a music truck that drives around in the summertime to make people smile.  I really need to quit lying to my kids...

Anyway, the other semi-brilliant thing I did is a little more of a commitment.  Since I'm going to be home about 175/180 school days to retrieve my kids, I let the neighborhood kids know that if they need a safe place to go and their parents aren't home, they can come to me.  The bus stop is on my corner and I'm there, anyway.  I gave the parents names of a couple references in our neighborhood - friends of mine who know that I'm trustworthy - and said, "If you get home and the door is supposed to be locked, but it's open, come to my house and we'll deal with it together.  If there's a car you don't recognize...  If there's a storm...  If you need help with your homework...  Any time you just don't feel right going home for WHATEVER reason, you can come to me and we'll figure it out together."  The parents of little kids know that if they are delayed getting home and aren't going to make it to meet the bus, they can call me and I'll grab their kids and feed them a snack and keep them at my house until their parents get home.

It's so much easier for everyone to arrange these things in advance.

Now I'm not saying you need to be the block parent for your whole neighborhood, but if you've got some neighbors who have kids and you're going to be around most days, why not let them know that you're a safe place to go in an emergency?  If you have kids who are out in the world, why not find a neighbor who is willing to be their safe place, too?

I know I'd rather have the whole neighborhood at my house every day than have some little kid alone and scared at home.  And there's a storm today, so we might just see who shows up!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First Day Of School

The kids woke me up at 6:45 this morning.  They might be a little excited.

I made them a hot breakfast (pancakes and bacon), got MG showered (Claire had a bath last night), got everyone's hair brushed, remembered to send all the things (lunch, smock, backpacks, etc.).

 They were outside in plenty of time for the bus.

And for just a couple pictures...  :)

We arrived at school at the same time they did, and met them outside their classes.  We wanted them to practice their routines.

Everything went perfectly.  They were confident and excited and ready to rock.  I managed not to cry until we got outside.

I can't wait to hear about all of their adventures.

First Grade!!!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Science Cafe

What we do on our summer vacation...

Time Warp

Lots of our friends are starting school today and tomorrow, and I'm sitting here having a cry about it.

I mean, it really was JUST YESTERDAY when they were born.  It was just yesterday that I wanted to hit old women in the store who said, "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast!" because I had a baby and a toddler and I hadn't slept in literal years, and now I'm the one telling Megan and her friends, who all have new babies, "It goes by so fast!"

Megan met her friend Shadle here as a halfway point for a playdate on Monday.  Kate is 3 months old and Kinsley is 7 months old.  Megan and Shadle were talking about swaddling and sleep routines and how to get the babies to go to sleep on their own (and it is, honestly, great in a lot of ways when that happens).  Even though I had told myself for a week prior to the playdate not to be that mom, I found myself saying, "You know, I was rocking Jack just a couple months ago and I realized how huge he has gotten.  He barely fits on my lap anymore.  His legs stick out on one side and his head on the other.  My arms get tired holding him.  But I realized that it won't be long before it's HIS 7th birthday, and I am never going to regret the minutes and hours I spent rocking him.  Just let them be babies!  Don't rush them to the next thing."

I had to actually get up and take the kids outside because I knew I was being obnoxious.

But from this side of it...  You can't see when you're in it how precious those hours of rocking will be, but they are.  It won't be long before they don't need you, before they make you walk 10 feet away from them in the mall, before they make you drop them off a block away from school so no one will see the goodbye kiss you make them give you.  When you're a new parent and you're sleep deprived and unsure of what you're doing, just trying to keep this tiny person alive until they can tell you what the heck they want it's impossible to fully appreciate how precious that time is - when they're innocent and the world hasn't made them cranky and hormonal, when they think that Mom and Dad are the center of the universe.  I can see it from here.  I wish I could go back and tell myself 7 years ago to CHILL, to ENJOY it more, to not rush them from milestone to milestone, to just let them be babies, and toddlers, and preschoolers.

Because before you know it, that school bus is going to carry your baby away, and you're going to be that obnoxious mom at the store saying, "it goes by so fast," to some poor sleep deprived new mom.

I hope she doesn't deck you.

Monday, August 13, 2012


The kids are fine, but I am getting very nervous about this whole school thing. Yikes.

BJ is going to stay home Wednesday to hold my hand.  *sniff*

I have about 10,000 things to do this week, so it may be light with the posting for the next couple.  Fear not, we are fine.  We are busy.  We are not sobbing into a pile of baby clothes and singing "Sunrise, Sunset*."  Promise.**

ICRE School bus

* Much.

** With my fingers crossed.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Last night after the party, BJ went out with his friends.  He got home at about 11:15 and reported that the skies were clear above our house, so we went outside and looked up.  I saw two of the biggest, brightest, longest meteors I've ever seen.

Perseid Meteor 8.12.09
Do you think this picture was taken with an iPhone??
They're still active tonight, so if you get the chance, go outside and look up!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Birthday Stuff

We recently survived Mary Grace's Friend birthday party.  Her Family birthday party is tomorrow.  There were 22 kids here from 2 - 4:30.  We've got 22 relatives coming tomorrow.  You can see why the parties needed to be divided.

I went rogue and I didn't plan any activities.  I didn't have goodie bags for the kids to take home, either.  I also asked our guests to bring donations for the food pantry in lieu of gifts.  With 22 relatives coming tomorrow, Mary Grace really didn't need gifts from her friends.  A couple of our friends have done similar things (donations of books or school supplies), and I thought it was a very good idea.  The kids just went nuts and played.  We served apples, grapes, watermelon, chips, snack mix, popcorn, and of course cake and ice cream (actually, we forgot to get ice cream so Colleen ran out to get some - thanks again!).  It was very simple and very nice.  The kids were really good.  Everyone got along.  Mary Grace had a great time.

Simple parties are where it's at, y'all.

Yesterday, on her actual birthday, we took her to Dave and Busters down in Indy, which would have been a lot of fun except for two 12 or 13 year old girls stole all of Mary Grace's tickets.  They came over and asked us "Who's winning?" while we were playing a driving game, and swiped the tickets while we were distracted.  I had a rough idea of their size and age from their voices, so I went looking around for them.  They made eye contact with me and then ran - guilty behavior if I ever saw it!  I told the girls, "Go find Daddy!" and took off after them.  They sat down in a booth and I said, "Did you come up and talk to my daughters and me while we were playing the driving game?"

"No, that wasn't us."

"Then why did you run when you saw me looking for you?"

"Because we're leaving, it's time for us to go."

"Really?  If you're leaving then why are you sitting at an empty booth looking guilty?  Where are your parents?"  I marched them over to the table where their family was, and when their mother appeared I told her what I suspected and why.  I said, "I don't want anything from you, but I thought you needed to know what they did."  She said, "I'm sorry that happened to you," but didn't accept responsibility.  I walked away feeling shaken and sick.  The hostess took me outside to calm down.  She said, "If some stranger was accusing your kids like that, you'd stand up for your kids, too, wouldn't you?" and I agreed that I probably would, but I would grill them later and extract confessions, and then I would punish them severely - once for stealing and once for embarrassing me in public!  I didn't expect her to beat them senseless right there in front of me or anything.  But I sure hope they were suitably punished when they got home.

After talking to the hostess, Danielle, I went back in to find BJ and the kids.  Mary Grace was sobbing, and even though the restaurant refunded her tickets (we guessed that she'd had between 500 and 1000, so they gave us 750).  She didn't understand at first that they'd put them on the debit card thing and that's why we didn't have a bucket of tickets anymore.  The whole thing cast a dark shadow over what was otherwise a really good time.

I just don't understand people.  I hope those girls learned a good lesson.

Monica was impressed, when I told her the story, that I had confronted them.  She said, "Weren't you afraid of getting punched or something?"  It never even occurred to me to worry about it.  The police and the manager were standing right there by the time I talked to the mother.  I guess the pain of getting punched would go away in a day or two, but the anger I would have felt if they had gotten away with what they did would have lasted a lifetime.

Teachable moment for the girls, too, about why we don't take things that don't belong to us, and why we need to take good care of what does belong to us, because there are dishonest people, etc. etc.  Ugh.  Heck of a lesson to learn on your birthday.

Anyway, I'm exhausted.  I have some new books downloaded, so I'm going to go lay on the couch in the family room and read until I can put the kids to bed.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mary Grace is SEVEN!

Dear Mary Grace,

Holy guacamole.  Seven.

Official Kindergarten School Photo
This is the part where I go on and on about how hard it is to believe that you're already seven, and you were just born yesterday, and so on.  It's all still true, but it's not very creative to repeat the same thing year after year after year.

I don't write about you very often, anymore, because you're getting so big and your stories are really your own now.  Don't ever think that it's because you're any less interesting than your brother and sister.  I just don't want to tell you who you are, anymore.  You are writing your story every day, and it's such a joy to watch.

I love to watch you when you don't know that I'm watching.  I love the way you lead when you're playing with other kids, but you're always careful to give everyone a turn and be fair.  You get your sense of right and wrong from your dad, I think, and you remind me of him in the way you treat other people.  I love to watch you work on something challenging.  You have such perseverance!  You get that from Daddy, too.

You and Claire and Jack are so close.  The three of you remind me of Aunt Mimi, Uncle Chuck and me.  

I hope that never changes.  It just melts me when you read to Jack.  You're such a lovely little mother hen with him, and it's a HUGE help to Dad and me.

You are exceptionally tall!  A full head taller than all the girls in your class last year, and you're already wearing size 8.

You absolutely loved your first year of school, and your teacher Mrs. O (and she loves you!).  Claire has her next year, too, and you're a bit jealous.  I know that first grade is going to be every bit as much fun as Kindergarten was, and that you're going to have another great year in school.  I can't believe school starts in 5 days.  It's going to be so quiet around here with just Jack, after I've had you three around all day all summer long.

You discovered Girl Scouts this year, and got to try all sorts of things you've never tried before, like archery.  You want to take up archery as a hobby, because of scouts and the movie Brave, which makes me a bit nervous.

Like your dad and Grandmother Diana, you are part fish.  You love being in the water, whether it's a pool or the gulf of Mexico like in this picture, and you are fearless.  You've been taking swimming lessons, and your swimming skills are really coming along.

You are so many awesome things, Mary Grace.  You are kind and helpful, you are funny, you are a hard worker and a great student, you are smart and insightful, you are beautiful, you are good at so many things...  Most of all you are adored by everyone who knows you, but especially by me and your dad.

Here's the checklist:

Your favorite toy for playing is: Star Wars guys, the toy bow and arrow you got for your birthday

Your favorite toy for snuggling is: your panda bears

Your favorite foods: spaghetti and pizza

Your favorite book is: Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew

Your favorite activity is: recess at school

Your favorite place to go is: Christos for birthday breakfast

Your best friend is: Claire and Nala

Something new that you're doing: learning to ride a bike without training wheels

Something you've mastered: reading

Something people say about you: "She's so tall!"

Something that you're saying is: you've been singing Christmas carols all summer, I still haven't figured that out 

Something Dad and I are proud of you for: I can't pick just one thing.  We're proud of EVERYTHING you are, Cuppycake.

Something surprising about you: you have a sense of style and you're very serious about your clothes.  I'm a jeans and t-shirt mom, so I don't know where you got that.

What you want to be when you grow up: an astronaut

Love you bunches, Peanut,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ideal Dinner Party

Once upon a time, before we had kids, as soon as we would enter the freeway I would start throwing hypothetical questions at BJ.  "Where would you be right now if we weren't together?"  "If you couldn't work in aerospace what would you do?"  and so on.  Until I asked, "If you had all the money in the world, what would you get me for Christmas?" and he replied, "A book of hypothetical answers."

The game stopped being fun after that.

For some reason tonight I'm thinking about dinner parties.  If you could host a dinner party and invite four living non-fictional guests, who would they be?  In other words, you can't invite Jesus or Luke Skywalker...  These have to be actual people you'd want to have an actual conversation with.  Bonus points if putting these people in a room together would result in a mind-blowing conversation.

I'll start.  My four living non-fictional dinner guests are:

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Jon Stewart
Henry Rollins
Ze Frank

I'm kind of sad that I can't think of any women.  Oh well.  So, friends, who would you invite to dinner?  And what would you fix?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Shovel of Doom

I'm sorry.  I can't not tell this story.  It's just too...  It needs to be told.  If nothing else, because I need to confess.

If you're a PETA member, or a mole enthusiast, or if you are squeamish or have a heart condition, you're going to want to stop reading now.

I mean it.

Ok, can't say I didn't warn you.

After Penny let the mole go yesterday I had 24 hours worth of "I shoulda killed the vermin" remorse.  You've got to understand, these little dudes have been wrecking our yard for a couple of years now.  Our lawn doesn't look so great to begin with, with the shade and the dog running around and the lack of give-a-crap, so the mole thing has just added insult to injury.  A couple of years ago, walking around in our front yard felt like walking through a cemetery because of all the tunnels they'd dug.

Foreshadow much, Amy?  Sure, don't mind if I do...

Right.  So I had a lot of time to feel stupid and wimpy about the fact that I hadn't killed Mr. Mole when I had the chance (sort of) by the time Mary Grace came in today and said, "PENNY'S GOT THE MOLE AGAIN!"

I threw on my sandals, because apparently I do not learn quickly from my own mistakes, and ran out through the garage, grabbed the flat shovel and headed into the back yard purposefully.

Penny didn't have the mole in her mouth when she looked up at me, and I was kind of relived for a second.  Then she proudly sauntered over and nudged at it with her nose.  "Look what I did, Mom!  Where's that steak you promised me?"

"Damn, I'm really going to have to do this."  I thought.

Did you know I used to be a vegetarian?  I did it wrong and my hair started falling out.  True story.  And yet, here I was, in my sandals in my back yard about to murder a (somewhat) innocent mammal.

At first it looked like Penny had done the deed for me, but as I got closer I realized that the mole was still breathing.  Granted, the breathing was labored, but it was breathing.

I looked at him for a few seconds as I gathered my courage.  I had left Mary Grace in the house with Jack, and the rest of the neighborhood kids were off somewhere with Claire, so Penny was my only witness.  I was pretty sure she wouldn't be traumatized by what was about to happen.  The mole was lying on its back.  "Sorry," I said, as I put the shovel in the middle of his body and pushed.  Hard.  Until I thought I felt something snap.

"I just killed the mole," I said to BJ on the phone moments later.  He asked if he could call me back in a few minutes but I totally ignored him and babbled out the whole story.  As I recounted the events to BJ (poor, saintly BJ) I scooped the corpse onto the shovel and carried him into the front yard (where the stupid dog wouldn't play frisbee with him anymore, because eeeww).  The motion of the dismount must have startled him out of his swoon, because when I put the shovel down outside of the back fence he started to twitch.

I hung up on BJ and asked Cami, who had appeared out of nowhere to figure out why I was screaming "Eeeew!  Eeeew!  Eeeewwwww!" to go find a box.  "What kind of box?" she asked.  "One that I can put a dead mole in, I'm not picky.  Check the recycling in the garage by the door!"  While she was busy with that and not watching the carnage, I flipped the mole over onto its stomach and pushed straight down with the shovel until I was sure I felt something snap.  "Eeeew!  Eeeeew!"  I cried as Cami brought back a box and threw it in my general direction.  I picked up the mole with the shovel and dumped it in the box.  Then I watched carefully for several minutes to be sure it was really, really dead.

I called Monica, "I just killed the mole and now I have to throw it in the ravine because BJ doesn't want it in the trash and I don't think I can because it is too gross and I've already been very brave by killing it twice and I don't wannaaaaaa!"  She said she'd come deal with it for me.  I told her I'd get the box out of the sun so it wouldn't start to stink while I waited for her.

After I hung up I started to feel very wimpy.  I thought of Ed Stark in Game of Thrones, and how he killed the men he condemned with his own hand and his own sword, because it's the honorable thing to do, and I thought, "If I can kill it I can throw it into the stupid ravine."

But I've seen enough movies to know that if you pick up the box with the dead mole, the zombie mole will come back to life and jump up into your face when you least expect it.  So I used a broom to push the box containing the mole all the way to the empty house (yes, Chelle & Brian, your house) and into the back yard.  I screwed up my courage, and in one smooth, swift motion I picked up the box and hurled the mole into the ravine.

Then I came home and washed my hands 500 times.

The end.


Penny and I have dispatched the mole.

There isn't a strong enough word for the YUCK!!!!!

Holy Moley!

Wikimedia Commons
Yesterday, Monica and her kids were here, and so was my wonderful neighbor girl who has been entertaining my children all summer.  The kids were playing outside, and Monica and I were inside talking, when the kids started screaming.  Someone came in and said, "Penny's got a mole!!"

"Yeah, right," I thought.

We live near the ravine that runs down to the river, our neighbors' yards back up to it but since we're on the corner ours doesn't.  We have all kinds of wildlife in this neighborhood.  This mole has been screwing up our yard for a couple of years, now.  We tried solar repellers like this, back when we still cared about being humane.  BJ finally got serious and bought a mole guillotine, and we thought we'd killed the little bastard.

Until yesterday.

Penny has dug up half the yard, especially around the edges of the patio and the house, trying to get at the stupid mole, so I was dubious that she had actually managed to catch it as I walked outside (wearing a dress and sandals and with nothing in or on my hands to catch the mole with, because I'm an idiot).  But sure enough, there she was, carrying an enormous mole around in her mouth.

I screamed.  The kids screamed.  Monica screamed, "What do I do?  What do I do?" and I was like, "I don't know!" because no one said anything about this in any of the parenting classes we took at the hospital.  There really are many topics they could cover, including, "How to Not Traumatize Your Kids With Wildlife."

I called BJ, but he had ridden his bike to work that day so it would've taken him 20 minutes to get home.  As I was calling him, Penny was trotting proudly around the yard with the mole hanging out of her mouth.  The kids were still screaming, and I was still hysterical, so it took him a while to figure out what was happening.  He agreed to come home.  I told him I'd try to catch the mole in the meantime.

I went into the garage and got a shovel and a plastic bucket.  These tools were grossly inadequate.  My first idea was to try to get Penny to drop the mole into the bucket.  That didn't work at all.  Then she put it down I tried covering the mole with the bucket, but I quickly realized that the mole would just dig into the ground and continue to destroy our yard if I did that.  I would have just bashed its head in with the shovel, except for the seven kids in the yard who would have thought I was a monster and had nightmares for the rest of their lives if I had.  That, and I was still wearing sandals and I didn't really want mole guts on my feet.  Also, I'm a wimp.

Penny continued to toy with the mole, I think she's part cat, dropping it and picking it back up.  She'd let it start to burrow into the ground and she'd grab it by the butt and trot around some more with it in her mouth.  I kept hoping that she'd shake her head and break its neck.  A couple of times it went stiff and I thought she had killed it, but no such luck.

Finally, after what seemed like hours but was probably only a few minutes, she dropped it near the patio and let it get away.  We spent some time encouraging her to get him back, but no such luck  The mole was gone.

I called BJ to let him know we'd missed the chance to kill the mole.  Then I called the vet to see if I could get a ringworm preventative, because Cinders (the dog we had before kids) had gotten ringworm from sticking his nose in mole holes, but the vet said there was nothing we could do, other than wait and treat it if she comes down with it.  Eeeww.

Of course, the first thing she did when I finally let her back in the house last night was lick me.  Ugh.

I couldn't write about this until now because I went to bed right after dinner last night.  I'd had enough, and I have a sinus infection which makes breathing a lot of work.  I guess I snored like a tractor all night long.  BJ's a lucky guy.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pinvestigating: Kitchenaid Chicken

The claim:  You can make restaurant-style shredded chicken in seconds with your Kitchenaid Mixer.
The result:


I got a package of 7 chicken breasts at Walmart for about $10.  The five of us at two for dinner (BJ and I split one, and the kids split the other).  I put the other 5 in the mixer all at once and hit go.  They were luke-warm by the time I got around to doing this.  The recipe is correct that it's better to do it when they're hot or warm.  My mixer did seize at one part, but I just turned it off, moved that piece lower, and turned it back on again and all was well.

That's a heck of a lot easier than using two forks.  I'll bet it would work on a cooked pork loin, too, if you cut it into a few large pieces.  

Now I have two bags of shredded chicken in my freezer and one in my fridge.  Each one has around two cups of chicken.  What to do, what to do...

I bought some wonton wrappers a hundred years ago, so I'll probably put some kind of sauce on some of it (buffalo?) and use those to make something yummy (buffalo chicken bites?  With buffalo sauce and cheese inside?  Hmmmm...).


Mary Grace and Claire start school in 9 days.

I am a little nervous about having the two of them gone all day, when I've gotten so used to them being around all the time.  I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with Jack.  Erin will come, still, and we've signed up for a class on Fridays.  That still leaves lots of hours every week to fill.  I really wish the Parks & Rec brochure for fall would arrive.  I've been watching the mail.  Maybe we can find another class or two.  Maybe we'll go to the gym.  He's bigger now, and I wouldn't worry as much about the profoundly inadequate childcare as I did when he was a baby.  It's only an hour, right?

This time of year I always get Grand Plans.  I'm going to get up every morning at 7, get the girls on the bus at 8:30, go to the gym for an hour to work out and then take a shower while Jack is in the child care room.  By Christmas I'll be a size 2, of course, because all this time I've just been waiting for the kids to go to school.  Then Jack and I will come home, and after lunch he'll take a 2 hour nap, and I'll write my novel while doing laundry.  I'll greet the girls at the door every afternoon with freshly baked cookies.  We will sit down together every day and do their homework together, and I will provide enrichment activities that will enhance their educational experiences.  I'll cook healthy dinners from scratch every night.  I'll give them a bath every evening before reading them stories that will open their minds and fuel their imaginations.  They'll be in bed at 8 pm nightly.  I will go to bed at 9:30, 10 pm at the latest.

This will last for approximately 11 hours, and then it will all fall apart and I'll fall back into the same habits that I do every year.  I'll spend too much time online.  I'll go to bed late and sleep later.  Chances are that BJ will be the one getting the kids ready for school.  I'll roll out of bed in time to comb their hair and give them a goodbye kiss.  If they get after school cookies, they'll be boxed - break and bake if I'm feeling really fancy.  My gym card will continue to languish, untouched, at the bottom of my purse.  Dinner will be frozen pizza, Hamburger Helper on special occasions.  They'll continue to get baths two or three times a week.  The laundry mountain will continue to grow.

But this time of year, it's hard to remember how deeply those habits are ingrained in me.  This time of year is my favorite, because life is ripe with possibilities.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

State Fair

As you might have guessed from my photos today, we spent the day at the State Fair.

We left right after lunch so that Jack would nap in the car, and as we got to Indy the sky opened up and rain poured down in sheets.  Not exactly fair weather <rimshot>.  We diverted to the Children's Museum for an hour or so, then headed over to the fair just in time for everything to be nice and humid.

That picture I posted earlier of Claire on the Tilt A Whirl?  Don't worry.  She screamed the entire time, then immediately wanted to go again.  Screaming is half the fun!

Grandpa Bob came with us, and BJ met us at dinner time (he went paintballing in Northwest Indiana for a friend's 40th birthday - he came back with a couple of very impressive bruises).  After we ate, Jack and Grandpa were getting tired and fussy, so I brought them home and BJ and the girls stayed and won fabulous prizes and rode more rides.

We were there for the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, so we got discounted tickets (yay) and unlimited ride wristbands (YAY) and a free milkshake from the Dairy Barn - that was funny.  The woman in front of me ordered a chocolate milkshake and was served soft-serve chocolate ice cream.  When she pointed it out to the woman at the counter, the woman said, "It'll be a milkshake soon enough."  Hahaha!  It was exceptionally muggy.  I didn't complain about the soft-serve "milkshake."  It was free.

We never did find the people who were handing out the badges for the scouts.  I've contacted them via Twitter and I'm hoping they will mail me one.  The only exhibit we were looking for was the 100 years of Girl Scouts History, but when we arrived at the building it was supposed to be in, we were told that it never showed up.  Oh well. There was a really cool Lego train set in that building that Jack enjoyed thoroughly.  The girls liked it, too.  There were a lot of characters from Star Wars, Toy Story, and other movies that they love worked into the landscape around the trains.  

We missed the deep fried Girl Scouts cookies.  We had chicken strips and a polish sausage, the aforementioned "milkshakes," lemonade, fried pickles, and other such fair food.  There was a company giving away samples of flavored handmade marshmallows that are made in Indiana with all natural ingredients.  They were roasting them over a portable burner.  The Key Lime flavor was amazing.  I wish we'd made it back to buy some of those.  I'm going to have to see if I can find their website.  I will report back if I do. (That was easier than I thought it would be!)

I'm exhausted now.  BJ, who plays as hard as he works, went to a midnight movie with Wright (the birthday boy).  I hope he doesn't snore so loudly that he disturbs the rest of the audience.

Tilt a Whirl

The State Fair

It is HOT

Friday, August 3, 2012


Sorry I missed yesterday.  I've been busy on Facebook yelling about the Chick Fil A thing.  I love my gay friends, and it just drives me insane that we're still fighting for basic human rights and equality in 2012.

For the record, when I'm arguing with a friend of a friend (FOAF) and they stop addressing my logical, factually correct, sources cited, calm and rational arguments entirely, I figure that I've won.  This has happened a lot of times in the past couple days.  Also, I count the number of "likes" that my comments get, and if my comments get more likes than theirs, I win again.

I'm winning the entire internet.

Sadly, I'm losing the laundry.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spouses and Work

People have hilarious reactions when they find out that I work with my spouse.  Generally I hear some variant of, "Oh, I could NEVER do that!"

It occurred to me this weekend that not only do BJ and I work together (doing rocket science), my sister and her husband work for my mom and HER husband (doing the weddings), and my brother and his brand new wife work together, too (they're teachers at the same high school)!

I wonder what the odds of that are?

But it makes sense...  My mom's parents worked together (making fire nozzles).  BJ's grandparents worked together (building things, owning apartments).  I would guess that the farther back you go in a family, the more co-employed couples you would find.

Does anyone know how to find out how many married couples in the U.S. are co-employed, or how one would calculate the odds of three siblings all being co-employed at different occupations?  I mean, it would make sense if we all worked for the same family business, but that's not the case.

I wonder what it says about us, as individuals, that we've all sought out marriages and jobs where we CAN work with our spouse.  Maybe we're all just gluttons for punishment?  Hahaha...