Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wine and Houses

Geez, another busy day!  Where does the time go?

We looked at an enormous 4000 square foot beautiful house with crazy furniture today.  There was this enormous wardrobe thing in the living room and Karen said, "I wonder what's in here?" and without missing a beat, BJ said, "Narnia!"  Hilarious.  It had a great party room in the basement and four bedrooms upstairs and a beautiful kitchen, but the yard wasn't terribly private and the laundry room left a lot to be desired (and when you do as much laundry as I do, that's important), but now we have a much better idea of what our max budget will buy in this town (dear Lord, that's a scary number).

Y'all need to start clicking the damn ads so I can afford a bigger laundry room, mmmkay?

Then we went to lunch, and we bought a really cute gift for someone that I have to wait to show you because we haven't given it yet, and we came home and the kids played and played, and then we went to Karen and Jim's and had a cook out and the kids played and played and I drank enough wine that we have to go get the other car tomorrow, and we played charades.  Charades is hilarious with 7 kids aged 6 and under.  Whenever anyone got one right, Jack clapped.

Back to the house, BJ looked at the guy's diploma, which was hanging on the wall of the family room, and it turned out that he was a grad of BJ's school with the same degree, just a couple years older than we are.  We don't know him, but when we saw a project made of PVC pipe in the basement, we knew he was a kindred spirit.  But we couldn't have more different taste in furniture...

(Confidential to Stu and Kathryn - if you ever need the throne to match the one that came with your house, we now know where to find it!)

Oh my goodness, Penny was in her crate too long today and she is completely insane.

The girls are not happy that we're in the very early stages of looking for a bigger house (we will definitely move in the next 5 years, but probably not for at least a year or two).  They don't understand that we're just moving across town.  Twerps.  I think when they see their very own toy room in the basement they'll like the idea more.

The dog won't stop licking my elbow.

If I had won the squajillion dollar jackpot, the first thing I would have done would have been to hire a personal trainer for my dog.  Someone to sit here and "dog whisper" her whenever she starts acting stupid.  Also, I would hire someone to do laundry.  In fact, if the dog whisperer could do our laundry, that would be excellent.  Hell, with that kind of cash we could hire someone to teach the dog to do the laundry.  Now THAT would be something.

What would you do with $500 squajillion?

(Sorry this post is silly, Karen kept refilling my wine glass....)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tuckered out

We've had a busy day. Somebody fell asleep while mom was making supper! Awwww....

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Missed again!

I missed another day.  I guess resolutions were made to be broken.  Yesterday was just crazy busy.  I worked until 3 pm, instead of my usual 11:15, because my friend Erin who watches Jack for me is amazing, and her kids are on spring break (I'm watching them for her today).  Then I picked MG up from her playdate and drove the girl she was playing with over to the school for her scouts meeting, had MG's parent teacher conference, picked Claire and Jack up from Erin, went to Karen's to watch Cam for her so she could handle a work thing, came home, made dinner, played outside with the kids for a bit, put them to bed, and then planted myself on the couch to recover.

Phew!

But tonight, tonight!  Tonight is Book Club (there's no book) and we're going to a wine tasting thing and then to a show and I'm just so excited!

Jack slept pretty well last night - from 8 pm until 5:30 am or so without waking up!  Please let this be a trend!

MG's conference was excellent.  She's reversing some numbers and letters when she writes, and we're going to work on that, but otherwise she's in great shape educationally.

The state funded full day kindergarten a few weeks ago - which means that we can send Claire to full day K without paying through the nose - we thought about sending MG for a whole day but decided it was just too expensive last year.  So we have another big decision about kindergarten to make.  On the one hand, she's even younger than MG was when she started, and that might be too long for her.  She had a long day yesterday and was a weepy disaster by the time we got home.  On the other hand, she might enjoy the activities and stuff, and it sure would free me up.  I just don't know.  We'll probably change our minds half a dozen times between now and August.

I really have trouble with decisions where there's no clear right answer.  When there are advantages and disadvantages on both sides, I get stuck.

Well, I ought to probably go get dressed before Erin and her kids get here!  We're going to go get MG from school and then do something fun - don't know what yet.  Depends on whether or not it warms up outside!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

List


It's blurry because they're all moving REALLY fast.
  • Too tired for actual post, you get bullet points.
  • The Children's Museum is RIDICULOUS during spring break.
  • We had a blast.
  • I'm exhausted.
  • Business trips suck.  Especially in the morning when I have to get everyone up, dressed, and fed by myself.
  • There's not enough coffee!
  • And it was garbage day.  
  • The dog ate 347 toys today.
  • I have a stiff neck and it hurts to look to the right.  I've had two glasses of wine.  How bad of an idea is it to take the muscle relaxers (that the doc prescribed for this problem) before bed?
  • I'll probably just have another cookie.
  • Pizza and cookies is a well-rounded diet.
  • The house I went to look at today sold yesterday, but the selling realtor didn't bother to tell my realtor, so we all just stood outside and talked houses.
  • Karen laughed really hard when we were talking about the expensive house down the street and I said, "Why couldn't I have been born rich instead of good looking?"  
  • We probably won't move for at least a year.
  • Moving scares me.
  • I got all the things that were on my to-do list done today.
  • If that is not behavior deserving of one more cookie, I don't know what is!
  • Talk to you tomorrow, internet.

Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Start a Meal Co-Op

The hardest part of cooking isn't the actual warming up of food.  It's the planning - deciding what you're going to make, shopping for the ingredients, cutting it all up, measuring everything...  The warming up is the easiest part, actually.  Well, what if I told you that you could get out of all the hard work, and get back to the family table (SO important - see below) almost every night?  And you can do it cheaper (because you're buying in bulk) and with less effort than cooking every night from scratch.  Interested?

Last fall my aunt Kathryn invited me to join her Meal Co-op. I had never heard of such a thing. It turns out that joining was one of the best things I've ever done, and I think you should do it too. Here's how it works:

You find five friends who have families approximately like your own. So, if you're a vegetarian, find five vegetarians. If you have a family of 5 like me, you want to find five other similarly sized families. It won't work as well if your families are all different sizes. And if you have three growing teenaged boys in your house, you don't necessarily want to co-op with people who have empty nests (although it could work, with some extra packaging and planning - you'd just divide the empty nesters' share into two or three packages instead of putting it all in one, I suppose). You can do it with more or fewer families, but fewer and it's not as worthwhile, and more and it's going to get overwhelming. 6 - 8 total families seems to be the sweet spot where it's do-able and worthwhile.

Each month you're going to make one thing six times and freeze it. For example, I just made a drunken pork tenderloin - I made the marinade in a one gallon pitcher with totally ridiculous amounts of food - 8 pork tenderloins, 32 cloves of garlic, 2 cups of Jack Daniels (woo woo!), and so on. I put each tenderloin in a one gallon ziploc bag, then poured the finished marinade over the meat, squeezed the excess air out of the bag, and froze them.

Marinades are easy to make in huge quantities.
If I ever find my blank labels, I'll print a label for each bag.  Since my labels have disappeared, I took pictures of last month's meals for the sake of examples:

This chicken is amazing!  I got the recipe from Kathryn.
Shepherd's pie tastes better sideways, right?
I printed out 6 copies of my recipe (my local group has seven families - I made two tenderloins for myself because somehow multiplying by 8 is easier than multiplying by 7).  I often take my extra meal to friends with new babies, my pregnant sister, my overwhelmed friend, etc.  Next weekend I'll get together with the other six families and each of them will have made 7 (or 8) of something, and we'll each give each other one "copy" of the meal. So I show up with 7 of the same thing and I go home with 7 unique meals!

And my freezer will look like this!  That whole middle shelf is filled with meals, all ready to rock!
You know how everyone brings casseroles after you have a baby, and it's so nice to have all that food already made?  Well, this is exactly like that, only you don't have to have a baby!

My co-op in Grammaland (the one I'm in with Kathryn) has fewer families than my local group, but we each make two, sometimes three meals. Each month I have about 3 weeks worth of meals in my freezer - then I fill in the other week with fresh stuff, or we eat out, or whatever.

I was concerned about the money aspect of it - if I make filet mignon and someone else makes chicken soup, how is that fair? Well, it is a simple matter of filling out a template lists all the ingredients listed, figuring out a cost per entree, then figuring out the total amount spent per "set" of meals.

Google Documents makes this super easy.
Then you subtract what you spent to make your meals, and if you spent more the banker writes you a check. If you spent less, then you write the banker a check.


The entrees generally work out to around $8 each. They usually feed us dinner with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

Before the co-op, I had gotten into such a rut.  I was making the same five or six meals every week, and we were all completely bored with all of them.  Well, since joining the co-op we've eaten a much greater variety of foods that we would never have tried otherwise.  (At the meeting we decide what we're going to make next time, so no one ends up with too much lasagna - as if there is such a thing as too much lasagna!)

We eat out a lot less because I have to plan ahead and get something out of the freezer the night before (generally I'll go out to the garage freezer to grab a vegetable to go along with tonight's dinner, and I'll grab tomorrow's dinner at the same time).  Since it's already thawed and almost entirely ready to go, I don't tend to get lazy around 5 pm (the hardest time of the day for parents of young kids) and say, "Let's just order pizza," or "Let's just eat out," the way I used to.

My kids are trying new things, too, which is so important.  I always make sure that there's at least one thing per meal that they will eat - so if I'm not sure that they'll like the entree, I'll make mashed potatoes and broccoli which everyone loves.  Or I'll make bread or rolls.  It's really easy to fill in and make sure everyone gets enough.  And if they totally can't stand it, there's always PB&J.

The great thing about it is that you set the rules - in my Grammaland co-op we prefer whole ingredients and meals made from scratch.  We avoid artificial sweeteners and other chemical ingredients.  We also have guidelines for cleanliness (I must have washed my hands 82 times - cooking for friends makes me a lot more careful than when I cook for my family!) that are in writing and agreed upon.  I'll be happy to email our guidelines and templates to you, if you want to start your own co-op (just email me) but the beauty of it is that you can shape it to fit your situation!

As for where to find the recipes, if you don't have an aunt Kathryn, try this fabulous cookbook (LOVE). All Recipes scales recipes up easily, too.  Or just do the math for your own favorite recipes.  Just remember that eights are easier than sevens!  Raw potatoes don't freeze well.  Undercook pasta so it doesn't get squashy.  Lettuce and banana also don't do well when thawed and heated.  But really, who eats hot lettuce, anyway?  Dairy products separate, sometimes, so be careful of sour cream based sauces and so on.  Most everything else, though, will freeze beautifully if you remove the extra air. It's easiest to freeze things flat so they transport and store easily.

My Grammaland co-op was so terrific, I started another one locally.  I encourage you to try it with your own friends.  Life changing stuff, here, folks.

From WebMD:
10 Benefits of Frequent Family Dinners
  • Everyone eats healthier meals.
  • Kids are less likely to become overweight or obese.
  • Kids more likely to stay away from cigarettes.
  • They're less likely to drink alcohol.
  • They won't likely try marijuana.
  • They're less likely to use illicit drugs.
  • Friends won't likely abuse prescription drugs.
  • School grades will be better.
  • You and your kids will talk more.
  • You'll be more likely to hear about a serious problem.
  • Kids will feel like you're proud of them.
  • There will be less stress and tension at home.
Sounds worth it to me!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Let's Start a Movement!

A few weeks ago Mary Grace's Girl Scouts leader was having a rough time.  And I have all this food (so much food - that's another post that's coming, I promise) in my freezer, so I pulled out some chili and added some fruit and macaroni that I had in the pantry and sent it to scouts with her, with a note saying, "Hope this helps..."

Today Claire was sick (fever, vomiting, probably from her shots yesterday) and I had to cancel plans with this same lady for lunch.  She said, "It's my turn to bring YOU dinner!" and brought us over this amazing lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and wine!

And it made me feel so LOVED.

I've done this a few times before with Facebook - I've seen people post that they're overwhelmed, or they have a lot going on, or they have health concerns, or whatever, and instead of just writing, "So sorry," I've said, "I'll be there at 5 with dinner."

I think we need to start a movement.

Because it feels GOOD to take care of people, and it feels GREAT to be taken care of, and it's not like it costs a thousand dollars or takes a ton of time - it's dinner, you're making it for your family anyway, why not double it? - but it really can make all the difference in someone's life.

So many of us don't go to church anymore, or we don't live near our families of origin, or we've moved around a lot and we don't have the sense of community that we used to have, and it's hard.  But we can make it easier on each other, one dinner at a time.

Will you join us?  Next time you see someone say, "I'm really struggling..." on Facebook, instead of just offering words, offer real help.  Offer supper.


Thanks again, Kristine!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Awesome

"Go take your brother for a walk!"

"Ok!!!"

Sweet!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tired

Still tired.  It's 7:10 and I'm going to bed.

My life is so stinking interesting.

I wonder if I have mono.

(If I had any energy I'd try to write this post as a haiku).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Leadership and Responsibility

I got four hours of sleep last night, so I was running on fumes and caffeine all day.  But the weather has been unseasonably beautiful here, and the kids wanted to go to the park.  I gave them the old "We'll see..." and said, "It depends on Jack's nap..."  Last time we went to the park we took the neighbors (N & S) because their mom is pregnant and is still puking in her third trimester and girlfriend needs a break, plus they're great kids and no trouble, and the girls play really well with them...  So it's a win/win/win.  Anyway, I told MG to go to the bathroom and get her shoes on, then Claire, then I realized we needed dog food so I was going to change the plan.  I was going to say, "Let's go to the fun pet store with all the critters and get dog food, and then we'll go to Sonic," because I knew they'd like that equally as much as they'd like going to the park, and it would require a lot less maternal energy.

Meanwhile, MG had gotten shoes and used the facilities and run outside in her enthusiasm to go.  And when she got out there she saw N & S and invited them along to the park.  So I come outside with Claire and Jack, prepared to offer this New and Improved Plan, and here come N & S running down the street.

"N & S can come with us, they asked their mom!" she said.

"Mary Grace!" I said through my teeth, "What did you do?"

"I asked them..."

"You KNOW you're not supposed to make plans or invite friends along without checking with me first!  I wanted to go to the pet store and Sonic instead, and now I have to disappoint your friends and be the bad guy.  I am not happy with you for putting me in this position!" I whispered, as the girls ran down the block.  "Now I have to tell them they can't come!"

Here's where it gets good....

"No, Mommy," she said, "I created this problem.  I'll take care of it."  She had this resigned look on her little face, and she kind of sighed as she undid her seat belt and started to get out of the car to tell her friends they couldn't come to the park.

And thank goodness I was able to take a step back and stop being tired and selfish for a minute, thank goodness I was able to say, "No, no...  Just...  It's ok.  Sit back down.  We'll go to the park," just as N & S got to the car.  "I have to go get Mary Grace's Daisy stuff," I said, "You guys get in, and I'll be right back."

I called BJ and told him the story while I was inside.  "Wow," he said.  "There are high school kids, college kids...  Heck, I know ADULTS who can't say, 'I made a mistake and I'll fix it,' and take responsibility like that!" he said.

"I know," I said.  "I was impressed."

Even though I was SO tired, we went to the park.  I even stopped and got drinks for the kids and an enormous coffee for myself (caffeine is almost like sleep, right?)  I called a friend and she met us there.  We met some other little girls at the playground who were about the same age as our kids and wanted to play.  And I got to stand back and see Mary Grace as the leader she's becoming - as someone who isn't afraid to make things happen and be spontaneous, someone who wants everyone around her to have a good time, someone who will take other kids who are shy or uncomfortable under her wing to include them in everyone else's fun, someone who is going to be a really cool adult someday (sooner than I think).

When I had a minute to talk to her privately I said, "I want you to know that I was really proud of the way you took responsibility for your mistake, today, and that was why I decided to go ahead and take you guys to the park.  You're growing into such a wonderful girl, and I'm really proud of you."

So we dropped her off at Daisies, I took the neighbor kids home, then Claire and Jack and I went to the pet store and got the dog food while MG was busy, and we picked her up on our way home.  It worked out better, that way, than it probably would have the other way.

It occurs to me that in order to raise a child, especially a girl, to be a good leader, you have to actually let her lead.  I am so grateful to the Patron Saint of Parenting (Erma Bombeck?) that I had the sense to let her lead today.

And now I am going to go to bed.

Sleep

It's 3:20 am. Jack has been awake for at least two hours. I have had an hour of sleep. I need to get up at 7:30.

This is NOT going to help the fussiness.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Situation: Fussy

The pretty babies are recovering from a long weekend of too much fun and too many late nights.  I'm putting everyone, including myself, to bed after dinner.  For real.

More later, when we're a little more cheerful and a little less whiny.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Global Warming, Zombies, Vampires...

It's another gorgeous day in Indiana.  71 right now, high of 80.  Sunny.  It's more like May than March.  It makes me afraid that someday we're going to say to our grandchildren, "There used to be this thing called 'snow.'  It fell from the sky, like rain, only it was frozen!  No, not like hail, this was soft and fluffy, and you could press it into balls and throw them at each other, or you could roll a ball around until it got really big and make a man out of it."

I jokingly sent this house plan to BJ last night, and now we're actually thinking about building a castle, because why the hell not?  You only live once, right?  And it's a very reasonably sized castle.  I especially like the "whatever" room above the garage.

That's really the problem with our current house.  It lacks a "whatever" room.  I figure we'll build it, then save up our money and mirror it on the left, turning the motorcourt (see below) into a courtyard, and increasing our defensive strength.


It would have to have a basement, because there's no place for important things like a furnace or a hot water heater in that drawing.  I suppose we could just use the heat from the fireplace to boil water from the moat.  The rest of the basement would be one huge room we'd call the "Great Hall."  The bathrooms would, of course, be called "privies."  It would need arrow slits and murder holes.  After all, our friend Ben is already planning a siege.  ("Kids, it's Saturday!  Time to boil the oil!") The master bedroom also needs a soaking tub.  It would have to be made a little larger.  And the hallway upstairs is goofy, the way the closets extend into the hallway.  I'd move them.  And I'd make the bedroom arrow slits windows larger.

The longer I think about it, the more building a castle seems like the only logical thing to do.

Hey, when the zombie apocalypse happens, you're going to feel stupid for not building a castle.

In other news, the Mediterranean bar at Kroger (where they have the best olives EVER) has roasted garlic.  I made the most amazing garlic bread last night.   I am addicted.  You may never want to speak to me in person again, but I'm totally safe from vampires.  An important consideration if I'm going to be living in a castle...


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sorry

I was going to post today, then this happened:

See you later!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy

I like to imagine that I'm pretty good with words, but I don't have any that adequately describe how terrified I was when I was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy.  There's really no way of explaining what it's like to land on the main page for your pregnancy complication and see the words "infant memorials."

I can't even go back and read the emails I wrote back then (pre-blog) without choking up.

And to make matters even less bearable, they knew practically nothing about ICP 5 years ago.  They didn't know why it happened.  They didn't know if it was likely to happen in subsequent pregnancies (for the record, it didn't for me).  They didn't know how to treat it (my doctor gave me phenobarbital).  They didn't know anything, at the time, except that our best chance of having a live baby was to induce at 37 weeks.  (They may know more, now.  I've stopped following the research.  I think, when I was pregnant with Jack, that the recommendation for induction had changed to 38 weeks.)

It turned out that my blood pressure went through the roof (whose wouldn't?) and they had to induce me at 36 weeks, instead.  And she was fine.  She's perfect.  And both of our livers are fine, now, too.  We have no lasting effects from it.  Isn't that bizarre?  That something can threaten your baby's life and then just disappear?  We watched her like hawks after she was born (it didn't help that she was a better-than-average-and-certainly-better-than-her-sister sleeper).  She'd be asleep and BJ and I both would check to make sure she was still breathing.


I just took some time to stop by the Itchy Mom's Facebook page, which is private so I'm not going to bother linking, to post a picture of Claire and say the following:
‎5 years ago today I was induced at exactly 36 weeks gestation because of ICP and pregnancy induced hypertension. Today, our lovely daughter Claire enjoyed breakfast out with Daddy, being "Helper of the Day" at preschool, going to the Pizza Hut lunch buffet with Mom and siblings for lunch, a birthday party with 9 friends at the movie theater (we saw The Lorax), her favorite "Panda Chicken" for dinner, and extra long stories and snuggles from Daddy again at bedtime. She got lots of lovely presents, calls from far-away relatives, and was generally spoiled quite rotten all day long.
Those of us who have had great outcomes after ICP aren't on here much, because we're busy raising our beautiful kids. But I wanted to share with you all who are still in the midst of it, today, that there are happy endings.
I hope each of you who reads these words can come back 5 years from now and share your happy ending, too. 
The chance of someone Googling ICP and ending up here are not insignificant.  And I just thought it was important to share my happy ending with the world.

Oh, and if you're trying to get the itching to stop... Try vinegar (applied to your skin, don't drink it!).  My Great-Aunt Carolyn was a nurse and used to take care of patients with "hepatic frost" - where the bile salts (the things that make you itch with ICP) would build up on the patients' skin, and they treated them with vinegar.  It was the only thing that really helped me, other than having the baby.

I'm posting this at 11:09 pm on 3/13/12 - exactly 5 years to the minute after she was born.  :)

Claire's Birthday - Five!

Pre-school picture - 2011
Dear Claire,


I'm not sure how it's possible that five years have passed since you were born.  I can't believe that you're going to be going to Kindergarten this year, and that you're so grown up already.  Where has the time gone?


I just went back and read your checklist from last year, and it's surprising how many things have stayed the same!  I promise that Dad and I didn't read it before filling out this year.  We copied and pasted your 3 year old list, because it came up first when I Googled.  I think that says a lot about you as a person - you're very consistent.  I'd guess that you'll still like spicy food and wrestling when you're a grown up.  You'll probably still love dresses and hate jeans (although you've lightened up on that rule quite a bit this year, and I appreciate it!).  


Something funny that I hadn't realized until re-reading those old checklists - when I was pregnant with Jack, we used to play "Ninja Baby" with one of your dolls (and that was still your favorite toy after he was born).  Now that he's getting bigger, one of his tricks is to do "Fruit Ninja," where he waves his hands around in the air like he's playing the video game.  I wonder if that started in utero?  You LOVE it when you can get him to perform, so you'll say, "Fruit ninja!" to him, or you'll say, "Jack, are you going to sleep tonight?" to try to get him to shake his head "no" and make everyone laugh.  You're such a terrific big sister.  You love your real "Ninja Baby" almost as much as you used to love the pretend one.  Maybe more!


At bedtime now, instead of playing Ninja Baby, we like to "talk to Biscuit."  I'll put on a silly low voice and pretend to be your stuffed cat, Biscuit.  I love making you laugh when we do this.  You have such a wonderful giggle.  It's gotten to be our little bedtime tradition.  


You're caught in between wanting to be a big girl like your sister and wanting to stay a baby.  You're excited to go to Kindergarten this year (I can't believe it...) but you don't want to leave your preschool behind.  It seems like you feel pulled in both directions, and that it's hard for you, sometimes, to figure out how you fit in.  I hope that this year Dad and I can help guide you to just be where you are, and to learn that you don't have to be big like Mary Grace or little like Jack - that we love you just as you are, and where you are, and when you are.  


Your favorite toy for playing is: Star Wars figurines and Peter Pan Polly Pocket-sized "guys" 


Your favorite toy for snuggling is: Biscuit


Your favorite food is: "Panda Chicken" (orange chicken from Panda Express)


Your favorite book is: Do You Do a Didgeridoo  


Your favorite activity is: Wrestle Night 


Your favorite place to go is: Chuck E. Cheese


Your best friend is: Mary Grace (and Cameron W., Juliet S., Caitrin D., Sarah P., Hudson M., Jack D.,  Sutton C., ... You have a TON of friends!)


Something new that you're doing: your drawing has really improved a lot this year, you're starting to draw recognizable things rather than scribbling!


Something you've mastered: sleeping through the night - please teach your siblings!!


Something people say about you:  Mrs. D at school told me the other day that you have prayed for Jack at preschool every single day since school started.  When he's sick you pray for him to get better.  When he's healthy you thank God for him.  I think it's wonderful that you love your little brother so much.


Something that you're saying is:  "Lovin' it!"  When I played the Adele CD for the first time, you would listen to each song for a few seconds and then say, "Lovin' it!"


Something Dad and I are proud of you for: that you love school so much and love learning.  You are always full of questions and we just love your inquisitive mind and how you soak everything up like a sponge.


Something surprising about you: You're absolutely fearless.  I don't think anyone would expect someone so young and so little to be as brave as you are.  Also, you're exceptionally good at using iPhones and iPads.  Technology seems to come very naturally to you!  I can't imagine where you get that...


Love you bunches, 
Mommy

Monday, March 12, 2012

Five

Tonight as I was putting the kids to bed, I said, "Next time I see you, you'll be a five year old!" to Claire.

I think that must have freaked her out.

She came down crying about half an hour ago, and said, "I just wanted to see you one more time when I'm four!"  (Boo hoo hoo, hug, etc.)

She came down again just now and said, "Do I even LOOK like a five year old?"

I told her she's going to be a great five year old, that she'll be the best five year old she can be, but right now she needs to go be great at going to sleep.

Mary Grace has always been really excited to get older - she's "almost" the next year older starting about 4 months before her birthday.  But Claire really really wants to stay little.  Is this a middle child thing?


Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Outcome

Mary Grace and her Girl Scouts raised over $260 and had 270 items donated in just two hours!


If anyone local has anything they'd like to contribute (the list of items they most need is copied and pasted below) I can take donations (including cash) to our troop leader until Tuesday.  I'll be happy to come pick up from anyone in our town today or Tuesday or in Grammaland on Sunday or Monday.  This is a great way to sneak in a visit with the Pretty Babies!  Give me a call!

I'm so proud of my Girl Scout!

image from Girl Scouts website



  • Gas Cards
  • **Flashlights and Batteries - Particularly Size C and D ** 
  • Vinyl Cleaning Gloves
  • Band-aids
  • Neosporin
  • Sterile Tape/Gauze
  • Benadryl
  • Aspirin
  • Advil
  • Sugar
  • Sugar Free Snacks
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Trash Bags
  • Shovels & Rakes
  • Heavy Duty Extension Cords
  • Duct Tape/Packaging Tape
  • Plastic Totes, Tote Bags and/or Boxes
  • Gatorade
  • Scissors
  • New Blankets
  • New Towels
  • New Socks, Underwear and T-Shirts (men's, women's and children's)
  • Brooms/Dustpans/Mops
  • Gift Cards to Major Stores (Walmart, Target, Kroger, etc.)
  • Axes
  • Kerosene Heaters
  • Chainsaw Bar Oil
  • Tarps
  • Hand Saws
  • 2 Cycle Fuel Mix
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Pallet Jack

Serving My Country

Friday, March 9, 2012

Good dog

Cinnamon Dolce Latte Recipe

Wikimedia Commons
I love coffee.  I love Starbucks.  My wallet, however, does not.

So when my sister turned me on to the delicious Cinnamon Dolce latte, I had to figure out a way to make it myself.

It's ridiculously easy.

Get yourself a small saucepan and melt a teaspoon of butter.  Add a tablespoon of brown sugar and cook it until it caramelizes.  Then add 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and 1/3 cup of milk.  Cook it until the milk just starts to bubble, stirring constantly.  Take it off the heat.

Next make coffee.  I was in a hurry so I used instant.  Blasphemy!

I used one of those big travel cups.  I filled it about halfway with strong coffee, then added the cinnamon mixture, then filled the mug the rest of the way with vanilla creamer (which I've been making, thanks to Pinterest, with a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, 14 oz of milk, and 2 t of vanilla - so easy).

It's exactly the same.  I can't taste any difference at all.  The whole thing has probably fifteen cents worth of ingredients, took less time than loading up the kids and driving to 'Bucks, and there are no delicious pastries to tempt me.

I may never leave my house again!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Waning Gibbous

Today was a MUCH better day.

The Girl Scouts are going to be at Marsh Supermarkets in Indiana on Saturday to collect donations for the tornado victims in Southern Indiana.  If you're local to me, Mary Grace and I will be manning the collection at our most local market from 10 - 10:30 this weekend, so stop and see us.

I'm really tired.  I'll be more loquacious tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Full Moon

If my Facebook friends are any indication, there really IS something to the whole, "a full moon makes everybody lose their minds," thing.

Claire had a really hard day.  It started at the park (yes, MEAN Mommy took them to the park!  With our friends M&M!  And I stopped to get the neighbor kids, N&S, too, to give their pregnant mom a break.  Gosh, I'm mean...)  I wouldn't put her in the baby swing, because she's almost five, for God's sake, and she lost. her. mind.

She cried so long and so loud that a little old lady stopped and asked her if she was lost.  I was literally 6 feet away, pushing Jack on the swing and selectively ignoring her temper tantrum.

To that I said, "You're scaring strangers now, Claire, you really have to knock it off."

The compassion drips from me.  I'm like Mother Teresa.

And, for the annals of Great Moments in Parenting, this was the second time in as many days that a stranger had approached my kids because they looked lost and/or abandoned.  I was letting Jack cruise around the playground at the school yesterday when we dropped MG off for Daisies (I honestly don't know how they can stand me, I am so horrible and rotten... taking them to playgrounds, on the way to fun activities?  How do they put up with it??)  Anyway, he was like 12 feet away, it's not like there were any cars around, or like he moves fast.  I was staying close to the dog so she wouldn't jump on any of the kids coming out of the school, and this little boy asked Jack if he was lost.  It was kind of sweet, if you ignore the part where I'm apparently so neglectful that it's obvious to 3rd graders...

Biscuit* has been charged as an accessory.
He was also sent to bed early.
ANYWAY, so we came home, and they went outside to play with their little neighbor friends, and I made Koolaid for everyone and let them finish half a bag of pretzels between the four of them (mean, mean, meanie mean meanyhead).  Mary Grace told Claire that she didn't want to do something, it's still not clear what, and Claire bashed her upside the head with Biscuit the stuffed cat.  He's one of those really large Beanie Babies, not just stuffing, so he packs a wallop.

Mary Grace started screaming, then Claire started screaming, and then I sent Claire to her room, where she proceeded to scream and cry for two hours.  Basically she cried constantly from 2:30 until 5:30.

I managed to stay calm and ignore her and speak clearly and calmly to her, until she peed her pants, just moments before BJ walked in, and I just couldn't take it anymore.

I won't go into great detail, but I got very loud and nasty (mainly with BJ, who had the great misfortune to come home in a calm, rational, good mood and therefore immediately became the enemy).  I summarily cleaned her up, made her a peanut butter sandwich, and sent her to bed without a hug or a kiss at 6 pm.

Oh, stop it.  A few minutes later when I had calmed down I went upstairs and we talked about why her behavior was unacceptable, and how when she behaves like that (especially when I'm trying my best to make a nice day for her and she's being an ungrateful little.....) it hurts my feelings and makes me angry, and blah blah blah and I read her a book and held her until she fell asleep at 6:30 (see?  She really did need a nap).

Does the full moon affect you or your kids?  Did you have a bad day today too?  Commiserate in the comments.



* Our Biscuit is more gray than orange, after having been literally dragged all over for the last couple of years.  He also has a scar on his back where I had to stitch him up after Penny got a hold of him about 6 months ago.  In other words, we'd better not lose that little bastard because he's identifiable, and I wouldn't be able to pass off some new Biscuit that I bought on Ebay as the real Biscuit in a million years.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012