Monday, August 31, 2009


Scene: My two daughters are playfully wrestling in the living room. Daughter the younger places her hands and feet all over daughter the elder.

Daughter the elder: Ouch! You're smooshing my boobs!

Daughter the younger: What are boobs?

Me (laughing): Just say chest. You are smooshing her chest.

The voice of my eldest son carries in from the other room: I can hear you! Oh how I wish I were in an isolation booth right now...

Daughter the elder and myself: BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Daughter the younger: What's so funny?


Scene: 18 four year olds are in a semi-circle singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." The teacher then launches into another body part song.

Teacher: Elbows and calves, baby 1,2,3. Elbows and calves, baby 1,2,3. Elbows and calves, elbows and calves, elbows and calves baby, 1,2,3.

One of the four year olds near me is singing enthusiastically but in all seriousness: Elbows and COWS baby 1,2,3.

Me: BWAHAHAHA! *snort! snort!*


Sometimes I just love my life.

How about you? Heard anything lately that made you laugh? Do tell--that's what the comments are for, right?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Photo Friday: Do You See It?

Last weekend, things cooled off considerably around here. And as the cold front came in, we were treated to a pretty awesome display of clouds. They were various shades of gray and blue and they were moving quickly and shifting around. I went outside to watch. Then decided to run back in and grab my camera and just take some shots to experiment with my camera settings.

Later that evening as I was looking through the pictures on my card, I noticed one that excited me. I quickly loaded my card onto the computer so I could get a better look. Then I called everyone in my family over and asked them what they saw. We all saw the same thing. Do you see it?

I didn't alter this picture in any way except to lighten the exposure just a little. What you see is what I shot. I think it's pretty cool. What do you think?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Love Thursday: I Really Do Love Her

I know that I often post my frustrations about the antics of my dumb dog. Believe me, though, I use the term "dumb dog" with utmost affection. Tilly is a great dog. She is silly and playful and loving--even if I'm afraid of someday fainting and having her gnaw my hands off while I'm passed out. Yes, she has her faults, but don't we all? And she's never once in her half year with us complained about any of my faults, while I've flaunted hers all over the Internet. If dogs had opposable thumbs and the brain capacity, believe you me, Tilly would certainly be able to tell you a thing or seventy about me! Let's just all be thankful that she can't, mmmkay?

After airing her crazy episode on Tuesday, I decided that I owed her one. So today's post is dedicated to Tilly.

She loves nothing more than chasing a ball. Seriously. She would do it until it killed me. She would chase it until it killed her! And if she did happen to die while chasing a ball, she would die HAPPY. And truly, throwing the ball and watching her run after it over and over and over again, completely joyfully, makes me happy. If I'm tired, I can pretty much guarantee that throwing a ball for her will wake me up. If I'm grumpy, watching Tilly chase down a ball will cheer me up.
If I just don't want to think about things that are troubling me, Tilly's enthusiasm and joy while leaping to catch an errant ball is certain to make me think of only that.

I may grump and grouse when she barfs in my car or pees on my floor or runs away, but my life--my family--would be so much less, um...interesting without her in it.

I love you, Silly Tilly!

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Now go fetch yourself some lovin'.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Little Crafty: Washer Necklaces

Recently I mentioned how I have returned to work part time. Well, I've been working for the last ten years, just not for pay in real money. Since I've been back at work, my time for trolling Goodwill and undertaking projects has been dramatically reduced. Not that I don't have a thing or seven lurking in my basement waiting for inspiration to hit and football and fall baseball season to end so that I am able to string together more than 8 minutes of down time each day in which to work on projects.

Don't think I've been slacking on projects, though! I have been making the most of my eight minutes of down time a day, y'all. I was inspired a few weeks ago to make necklaces. You see, I found this lovely project at Organize and Decorate Everything. You use washers--just regular old washers that you have in your tool box (or, if you are like me and don't have a tool box, in your husbands tool box) or that you can find at any hardware store for cheap. We're talking under 20 cents a piece, cheap! And you use scrapbook paper. Shoot--if you wanted to you could use pages from a book or sheet music. Then to finish the project you need Mod Podge, a glossy glaze, beads, and hemp.

What do you think?

I am in love. They are so easy to make, I can whip out a ton of them at a time, and they are cheap inexpensive. Let's see...check, check, check...this little necklace meets my criteria for a great project.

It's been fun to go through my work wardrobe and find papers and beads and buttons to match. I have been wearing the heck out of my new necklaces. I made a few in the smaller size for Maggie and she loves them too.

These would make a great gift if you know the intended receiver's style and color preferences. I have now made more of these than I can possibly wear. But I can't. stop. making them! I've mentioned that I don't often generate ideas for creative projects, but I sure can copy other people's ideas. I've seen these being sold on etsy as well, so there you go! You don't have to buy them from someone else, you can make your own!

Let me know if you want the particulars to make these, because as I said, they are extremely easy to make. Or really--I could just give you one...or three...of mine...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Dumb Dog Strikes Again

I know that many of you love to read about my dog. You love when she makes me look stupid. You think that she is cute. Some of you may even be able to relate to living with a dumb dog. If you can relate to any of those statements, read on.

On Saturday, I took a break from decrapifying my house and decided that a quick errand to buy dog food would be just the thing to break up the monotony of cleaning and yelling at my children. I grabbed Tilly's leash and loaded her into the van. I cranked the tunes, rolled the windows down a bit, and began to whistle, joyful about the simplicity of the errand and the sweetness of the dog.

We drove along, me, singing along to the radio, and Tilly, lying on the floor with her nose in the air, inhaling the magnificent melange of scents wafting through the window. As I was turning into the Petco parking lot, I saw a sign that caused me some unease: "Pet Adoptions Today!"

Uh-oh. Taking Tilly to the pet store when there are no other animals there is an aerobic exercise session for both of us. I couldn't imagine what it would be like knowing that plenty of people and several unknown dogs would share store space with us.

I parked and got out, telling Tilly "STAY!" through the closed doors of the van while I readied myself to block her from jumping out when I opened the back sliding door. Yeah. *snort* Like she knows "STAY!" A girl can dream...

I grabbed her leash and Tilly bounded out onto the concrete and commenced to sniffing and wagging. As we headed into the store, her back half took on a life of its own and I worried that if she wagged it any harder, her tail might actually snap off and go flying through the air like a boomerang. I retracted her leash to keep her close and cursed myself for forgetting to put her body harness on her, as now she sounded as if she were a 30 year smoker with emphysema.

Wheeze! Wheeze!


Wheeze! Wheeze!


We were attracting attention. And not in a good way. Tilly's paws scrabbled and slipped over the floor tiles as she pulled against the leash, straining to run while I cooed "Okay, Tills. Steady now! Let's just go get your food and get out of here! C'mon, now. There's a good puppy." Honestly, it was like Tilly had taken an overdose of Puppy Uppers and I was trying to talk her down from a bad drug trip. I thought about telling people to speak softly and make no sudden movements, but I decided that probably wouldn't help our case.

I dragged her back to the dog food aisle and grabbed a 25 pound bag of food, which I balanced on one hip, while juggling my purse and her leash in the opposite hand and tried to jump over the leash that was in constant danger of tripping me as Tilly ran in tight circles around my legs.

Then I headed to her favorite aisle--the BALL AISLE!! Tilly nearly went out of her tiny little mind at the sight of all those balls. I quickly grabbed two 3-packs and shoved them in my purse. Then I went back to my balancing/jumping jig as Tills tapped danced in the aisle. She looked at me expectantly like I should throw the ball. Then, she sat at the ready on her haunches, eyes never leaving my purse in case the balls should suddenly animate and hurl themselves down the aisle.

"C'mon, Silly Tilly," I commanded. "Let's go pay for your stuff and make tracks."

I led her down the aisle, only to discover that two women from whatever shelter was holding the adoption, were seated at the end of the aisle with dogs on leashes. Tilly had no idea what to do. In about 2.5 seconds she ran through all her options: "Should I bark? Should I growl? Should I cower? Should I bow? Should I raise my hackles? Should I show my belly?" My dog looked absolutely schizophrenic on the floor of that Petco, y'all. The bloodhound that was watching her had a quizzical look on his wrinkled face before he decided that he wanted no part of the Big Bag'o'Crazy that was in front of him. He immediately sat down, reared his head back and bayed. And my dog? She was a blur of fur turning in the other direction with her tail tucked between her legs. She nearly jerked my arm from its socket.

I led her around the other edge of the store trying to find a dog-free route to the registers. Everywhere we went, people were looking at me with a look that said one thing: "Look at that poor woman! I'm so glad we missed adopting that crazy time-bomb of a canine! Whew! Dodged a bullet there!" Meanwhile, Tilly put on her "Tilly the Attention Ho" persona and tried to walk up to every single person she saw and get them to pet her. Now, instead of her dragging me, I was dragging her.

We were a spectacle, y'all. Then again, aren't we always?

I finally got to the register where a gentleman took pity on me and offered to hold Tilly's leash while I paid for her food. Dog people are good people. I firmly believe this. Any person who would kiss my crazy, waggling, wheezing dog on the snout, and tell the dog "Belly rubs while your mama pays for your yummies," is either a truly kind-hearted person or certifiably insane. I'm going with kind-hearted.

I thanked the man and headed Tilly out the door. I repeated the loading process and got the van door closed. Then I started up the van, lowered the windows a bit, patted Tilly on the head, and we headed for home.

The ride home was magnificently uneventful and Tilly even waited patiently for me to open the sliding door. Then she jumped out and barfed all over the garage floor. Fabulous. My dog gets carsick. Fan-freaking-tastic. Remember when I took her in the car to my parents? Apparently that was not an anomaly. I have a goofy, crazy, light-chasing, attention grabbing, disobedient, counter-surfing, CARSICK mutt. I guess now we'll have to find someplace to board her when we go visit our family. I'll be adding "expensive" to the list of adjectives.

The best thing about the whole thing? It wasn't 95 degrees out and she didn't barf in the car. I'd like to think she did it out of courtesy for me, but I know better. She is a dumb dog after all. It's a good thing she's cute...

Oh! And if any of you have any ideas about how to travel with a dog who gets carsick, would you be so kind as to tell me? Thanks!

Monday, August 24, 2009

How To Be The World's Meanest Mom

My children have often declared me the meanest mom in the world. I do not understand this. Do they think this hurts my feelings? If they only knew how my heart swells when I hear it, they would never utter the phrase again. Indeed, it is completely reinforcing my Mean Mom Behavior when they say it. I figure I must be doing something right. Also? I come from a proud lineage of Mean Moms. And my mother says I've got nothing on her own mother. My mom says that my sweet Granny was the world's meanest mother. I think she is lying. I cannot reconcile the words Mean Mom with my Granny. But she insists it is true.

Over the weekend I was declared once and for all the World's Meanest Mom. Would you like to know how I achieved this status? The no fuss, no muss steps go something like this:

1. Declare the house a complete and utter mess.
2. Give your children the stink eye when they look around in bewilderment and ask what's wrong with it.
3. Pronounce each room worse than the one before it and insist that we are living in the Pit of Despair.
4. Tell them the maid quit.
5. Remind them that we NEVER HAD A MAID TO BEGIN WITH!
6. Charge each one with disorderly living and conduct unbecoming a human. Tell them that there are pigsties cleaner than their living areas.
7. Inform them that from now on, a fee will be levied for each shoe, article of clothing, or toy that you pick up from the floor.
8. Caution them that you will be keeping said items until the fine is paid.
9. Turn your back on their whining.
10. Smile as they bemoan how unfair you are being.
11. Let them know that if they would like a refund of their fine, they must do a chore of your choosing.
12. Laugh as they knit their brows together as they inform you that none of their friends' mothers would even THINK of committing such abuse to their children.
13. Keep a dry erase board in the children's' bathroom reminding them to pick up their clothing or they will pay.
14. Sign it "Love, Mom."
15. Tell them you will be doing random sweeps. Sometimes you will announce them, sometimes you will not.
16. Smile as you tell them you had several courses on behavioral psychology in college. Then pat them on the heads and call them your lab monkeys.
17. Listen to them mutter to themselves and each other about how you are the MEANEST MOM THAT EVER LIVED!
18. Walk away satisfied that you are living up to your heritage.

Yes, I know, I know. It seems so easy! Almost too good to be true, right? But if you are looking to claim your own title, this is a certain way to get it.

Tell me. Are you a Mean Mom? What do you do that make your children think that you are the Meanest. Mom. Ever! Was your mother a Mean Mom? (Mine was and I thank God for her daily!) Do you think that your children will appreciate your meanness at some point in the future, or do you, like me, hedge your bets with a healthy donation to your children's therapy jars?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Photo Friday: Puppy Love

"A dog is the only creature on earth
that loves you more
than you love yourself."
Josh Billings

Our dog, Tilly, photographed with a Canon Rebel xti 18-55mm lens.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Love Thursday: Love Keeps On

My eldest son James has started a new school this year. This is after starting a new school last year due to moving and changing school districts. Have I ever mentioned that James is not a fan of change? Well, there, consider it said. Since he was a toddler, he has had difficulty with transitions. You expect that sort of things with little ones, but it's a little harder to deal with when your little one isn't so little any more.

James has always been pretty laid back and mellow. He'll let others have a turn before him; he's pretty okay with letting others get what they want most of the time.He doesn't often lose his temper. And this is all great--most of the time. The problem comes when he's had it with letting others come before him or when he's been pushed to the limit by people who think that just because he's easygoing it means that they can put on steel-toed boots and walk all over him. It's not fun to watch, but I feel a weird sort of satisfaction in knowing that he does indeed have a limit, and that once it's reached, he becomes pretty darn immovable in his convictions. I am hoping that this will be one giant positive when it comes to peer pressure.

All of this is to say that sometimes my beloved boy squashes his feelings and that when they begin to bubble to the surface, well, let's just say that Mt. Vesuvius has nothin' on James.

One of the things that tends to happen when you squash your feelings and you don't like transitions, is that you harbor some anxiety. We saw this beast rear its ugly head last fall when James made the transition to his new school. It was tough for him. He was leaving a school where he loved the teachers and made many friends. He was headed into the unknown and that made him very nervous--as it would most people. When he got there, he was in an advanced math class, which was where he belonged, but they were slightly ahead of him and had covered some things he hadn't yet covered in his old school. This was a recipe for major anxiety and nightly meltdowns. Eventually, due to some kind diligence on the part of his teacher and patient work on our part, he caught up. But not before he spent many nights sobbing and shaking and many mornings sobbing, shaking, and refusing to get on the bus.

Pushing my sweet boy, who was trying so hard to hold back tears that he was shaking with the effort, on that bus in the mornings was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I was fortunate at that time to have my parents in town to help us work on the house. And they reinforced and encouraged Patrick and I as we struggled. This was an unbelievable help and blessing, to have people hug you and tell you that you were doing the right thing, even though it was the hardest thing.

We encountered a milder version of this anxiety as school started last week. Actually, the first three days were fine. James told me he had butterflies, but we talked and I reassured him that it was normal to be nervous. Even his teachers got nervous about the beginning of school. But Sunday night, as we were getting to bedtime, James started to come undone. He couldn't put his finger on any one thing that was bothering him. We probed and questioned, but he just couldn't come up with one thing that was causing him to be anxious, he just was. We spent Sunday night trying to quell his fears and calm his tears.

I tried to explain to James that his anxiety about the new stuff was pretty normal. I also explained that thanks to the fabulous fusion of his father's and my genes, he has some predisposition to worrying and being anxious. (From his father's side. I worry sometimes, but I am pretty much a "I'll deal with that when the time comes" kind of gal.) My dear husband is really good at many things. Unfortunately, worrying is one of them. His own mother is a pro at worrying. I've often said that my mother-in-law, whom I love deeply, is so great at worrying that I don't need to because she'll do enough for everyone.

We also told James that when it comes down to it, fear and anxiety are emotions. They aren't rational, but we have to try to master them. Just like trying to become the masters over our anger, or choosing joy, or opting to love people even when we don't want to.

We explained to him that it didn't matter to us if he was at the top of the class or the bottom, as long as he was giving his best efforts, we would be happy. We explained to him that our love is not performance based. That we would love him, no matter what. There was no way for him to undo our love. We told him he could never screw up bad enough to keep our love away.

Sunday night was a long night for the three of us. But Monday morning, James got on the bus--nerves and all. I reassured him that it would be okay and that many, many prayers would be offered up for him.

When I got to school that night for Meet The Teacher Night, I found a letter sitting on his desk. This is what it said:

Dear Mom,
I hope this letter will make you feel better about this school. All of my teachers are nice. I have all my school supplies. I get my locker open every time.

It did make me feel better. And he hasn't had any more problems all week. But you know what?
We're ready for the next time, because there most certainly will be a next time. Anxiety will likely tap James on the shoulder and ask him to dance. Until then, we'll keep reassuring, keep trying, and keep loving him--because that's what love does.

Say What?

Things that I have heard in my world this week that made me laugh.

"I have lots of muscles. I have muscles in my legs. I have muscles in my arms. And (pointing to his head) I have a BIG muscle here!"


"When our dog sits down, sometimes we can see his weewee." (This was not said by my children. Our dog is a she.)


Him: Wash your hands after you use the bathroom.
Her: I don't want to. I want to go play.
Him: But if you don't wash, you might have little bits of poo on your hands. And then when you touch your friends they get poo on their hands and when they touch people, then those people get poo on them and before you know it, your poo has gone around the world!! So wash your hands.


Words that I never thought I would string together in a sentence, that not only have been put together, but uttered out loud this week:

"You cannot put your fingers in someone else's sugar."

"Oh no! We don't eat the play dough."

"Seriously. Don't eat the play dough, honey."

"Stop. Eating. The play dough!"

"You may not cover someone's mouth with your hands just because you don't like what they are saying."

"I'm sorry you don't find me hilarious."


"I don't care about fairness or justice."

"Did a skunk crawl up in that dog's butt and DIE???"


How about you? Heard anything that cracked you up? Said anything lately that you couldn't believe you were actually saying out loud? Share!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blogging The Unblogable

If you have spent any time in the blogosphere, you know that one of the cardinal rules of authoring a personal blog is that you don't blog about work. Well, as a "mommy blogger," that's about the only thing I blog about. But what is my family going to do? Fire me? There are days when I think that might be a fantastic option...

Recently, I re-entered the work force. Before children, I was a teacher. I taught elementary special needs students and it was a job that I liked. Well, for the most part. There were parts of the job that weren't so great, but really, it was a good way to earn a paycheck. And, if I'm allowed to toot my own horn--and I am, because this is my blog and I'll toot if I want to--I was a pretty good teacher. I worked for about 8 years before having my second child and relocation caused me to rethink my priorities. So I have spent the last 10 years being a teacher within my own home. That's what we are as parents, right?

But this year when my last child started attending school five days a week for a good part of the day, I decided that staying home full time with no one to be home with didn't make much sense. I decided that working part time would be a good option. I am lucky enough to be working three days a week at the same school Mary is attending. It's a fabulous place. All of my children have gone there and over the last ten years or so, I have watched the school change and grow while still maintaining a loving and creative learning environment.

I am an assistant teacher and this is absolutely fine by me. It allows me to enjoy the children without the headaches that being a lead teacher can sometimes involve. I am a superb Indian, I have no need at this time to be the Chief. Plus, working three days a week allows me to have two days free to haunt Goodwill and find cute shoes clean the house, do laundry and make Martha Stewart look slatternly. I'm not being paid a king's ransom, but that's okay too. I bring in enough to support my Goodwill and shoe habit put into savings or buy the kids or myself some extras, and that's a good thing.

I tell you all of this to let you know two things: sometimes, I might fall behind in posting. I am doing my best to still post 5 days a week, because I really do enjoy writing and this is my place to decompress, but occasionally, as I work out this back to work thing, I might not meet that mark. Also, I may share something about work, and I don't want you sitting there scratching your head and staring at the screen wondering what you had missed, because I have always said I am a stay at home mom and now suddenly I'm talking about work and it doesn't involve the offspring that have previously had me in their employ. (Yeah, nice sentence. I'm too lazy to go back and fix it. Deal.)

So there you go. And now, I'll bet you are thinking the reason this is so late in posting is because I worked today and couldn't get the post up. WRONG!! The reason this is late is because my Internet service provider stinks and must be run by Lucifer's minions. I am telling you I lose service at least twice a day and it is driving me bonkers. (I know. That's not a drive, it's a short putt. Shut up.) It's a good thing I'm not trying to do paid work or I'd be out money. I'm thinking of charging Lucifer and Co. for each outage. What do you think my chances would be of collecting?

Uh-huh. A snowball's chance in hell...

Next Time, I'll Just ---No, I'm Not Sure There Will Be A Next Time...

I am not a big fan of clothes shopping. It is not in me to spend hours at the mall or time in a store browsing racks and racks of clothing. When I shop, I am single minded. I have an idea in my head of what I want. I want to get it and get out.

There is an exception, however, to my antipathy to shopping. Namely, shoe shopping. I hate to say that I am a cliche, but when it comes to shoes, I guess I am. I have sound reasoning behind my shoe adoration, though. Unlike trying to buy pants for my expanding booty, buying shoes is never confusing. When I buy pants--or shirts for that matter--it's a guessing game as to what will fit and how well. Even if I grab a fistful of clothing in the same size, chances are pretty good that I will find myself in the dressing room muttering, "What the hell? This is a size __? This can't be a size ___! The last size ___ I tried on I was swimming in and this thing is cutting off my circulation!" With a shoe, if you need a size 8, well, then it's pretty standard across the board. Plus, there's the added benefit of not needing a dressing room with the horrible lighting and the vision of myself in the mirror in my underwear. *shudder*

Shoes have never failed me. When I am bloated, my shoes still fit. When I am feeling skinny, my shoes still fit. A cute shoe makes me happy. Alas, I am shallow, but it is true.

So when my offspring whined and whined politely offered that their shoes were needing replacing, I was all over the idea of shoe shopping. I was on it like white on rice, folks. My four children and I piled into the van and headed to our nearest department store to find the perfect shoes. You may be asking where my husband was. He was home, working in the blast furnace that is our backyard. He deemed this infinitely preferable to shoe shopping, which he would call his seventh circle of hell. Whatever. He just doesn't know the joy of finding the perfect footwear, poor sap.

We entered the store and the older two headed off to find shoes to fit their flippers feet, and I took Mary and Sean to find suitable shoes. I had two rules as far as what constituted acceptable shoes: they could not be Sketchers, as every pair of those I have ever bought has fallen apart within a month, and they could not have a character on them. This last rule only really applies to Mary these days. I don't buy shoes (or anything else, really) with characters on them because a. I hate them with the passion of a thousand white hot suns (I cannot help this snobbery. Character clothing just gives me hives.) and b. It is no fun to argue with a child who has outgrown their love for a character before they outgrow the clothing. Also, I am mean and might just be Scrooge's niece.

Mary found a pair of acceptable shoes right away. We found her size, tried them on, and were met with success. Yes!! She wanted to hold her shoebox, so I let her. Then we were off to the next section to find shoes for Sean.

Sean is fighting a cold or allergies right now and is feeling pretty miserable. Nearly everything he said during this trip was said in a whine. Good times. After looking over every. single. shoe. five times, he declared that he didn't like any of them. Meanwhile, Mary had decided that since she had her shoes, the shopping should be over and we should exit the store IMMEDIATELY.

I made myself take a deep breath and offered Sean three shoe choices. He was not impressed and said he'd just wear his old shoes. You know, the shoes that an hour ago were too small and falling apart. Meanwhile, Maggie and James were coming to me with their choices and I was either okaying or vetoing them while also trying to convince James that he does indeed wear a 4 and that trying to smush his feet into a 3, even though he loved them, would not be a good thing.

Maggie took a break from her own search to help Sean find a pair he wouldn't gag over and I toted Mary, who by now was a clinging, whining growth on my arm, over to the men's section to help James navigate the maze of shoe choices. As Mary whined that it was TIME TO GO ALREADY, James found a pair he liked in his size and proceeded to try them on. Then Maggie came with Sean and his new found shoes. And guess what? They were a pair that I had shown him at least twice and he had said they were stupid. Whatever. I had accomplished 50% of my mission and I wouldn't be deterred.

James finished trying on his shoes and declared them well and truly good and I nearly whooped with joy. Maggie had found a pair of gym shoes and needed some "everyday" tennis shoes. Because apparently, when you are in 7th grade, they can't be the same thing. And duh! How could I not know this? So I followed her to the women's shoe section. I was trailed by a whining Mary, a tired and whining Sean, and James.

As Maggie and I perused the shoes I would alternately point out a shoe that might work for her and try to quell the growing rebellion. Finally, we found a pair that she thought would be okay and headed to the registers. We waited in line for a few minutes during which Mary whined that people were moving too slowly to suit her and Sean broke down in tears because he felt like crap. Then I paid my bill and hustled the children out to the van, all the while declaring that next time, I was taking them in shifts. It's not practical or environmentally friendly, but I figure it's worth a little impractical pollution to save my sanity.

The bonus? I found a couple of pairs of shoes for myself. I totally need them too. I'll wear them to work! I'll wear them to church! I'll put them in my closet and gaze at them lovingly while I stroke them and call them pretty.

Oh who am I kidding!? They were a reward for my perseverance.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Photo Saturday: Summer

"Summer afternoon...summer afternoon...
the two most beautiful words
in the English language."
Henry James

One of the ten foot tall sunflowers in our garden. Photographed with a Canon rebel xti 18-55mm lens.

Friday, August 14, 2009

When Will I Ever Learn?

Two things happened that made yesterday a Perfect Storm of emotional upheaval. The first was that my parents bought a home. While this in and of itself is a good thing, it also means that they are going to be selling my childhood home. It means that the home I spent 40 of my 41 years in is going to belong to someone else. (At least we hope this is the case at some point in the near future. Really. I'm not crossing my fingers when I say that or anything!) And this means some emotional turmoil. Not just for me, but for my parents as well. But you know, I can't blog about what they're feeling. I can only subject you all to the whining about what I'm feeling. There I go again, being a giver! Don't you feel loved?

The other thing that contributed to the Perfect Storm was the uprooting of one of my Joseph plants. I have two houseplants. Two. And both were given to me as gifts in sympathy and remembrance of my son, Joseph. They have lasted 9 years. And then Mary struck.

She had no idea what she was doing. Well, that's probably not totally true. She had to know that she was destroying my plant. But I don't think she had any idea of the plant's significance. In fact, when I was trying to explain the significance to her, through my big gasping hiccups, she said, "Who's Joseph?" Truly, she was bewildered.

And then, after sending her to another part of the house and having a big ol' ugly cry in which my eldest daughter came and rubbed my back and shed a few tears along with me, I was able to pull myself together a little bit.

I had to ask myself. What exactly was it that I was crying about? And after a few moments, it came to me. I was crying about memories. I was crying about memories made in a house that became a home because of the people and the love that resided within its four walls. I was crying about memories that would be shared by some in my family, but not others. I know, for instance, that I will always carry vivid memories of dyeing Easter eggs in my parents' kitchen--first as a girl myself and then watching my children do it. But I know that Mary will probably not have those same memories. And my brother's unborn child will have no memories at all of the home that has housed so many shared events.

And I was crying for memories that I never got to have with my son. I have so very few things to prove his existence--a baby ring, a plaster cast print of his tiny foot, a blueprint of his grave marker. The plant that was torn apart was one tiny thing that helped to prove that he made an indelible mark on this planet and on my heart. Seeing it ripped apart was a new grief. And yet, Mary didn't know the havoc she was wreaking in my already tender heart.

I sat down and explained to her the reason that I was so sad. I told her about her older brother. I explained why the plant was important to me. But I also let her know, that she was important to me. I told her that Joseph was in heaven and it was up to Jesus to take care of him and that I knew Jesus was up to the job. Then I told her that my job was to take care of her. I explained that while sometimes I might be sad because I miss her brother, I was always happy to have her as my little girl--no matter how many things she did wrong or right.

She cried and told me she was sorry she made me sad. I kissed her and told her that I forgave her and I loved her. Then she slipped off of my lap and skipped off to play.

Somewhere deep inside, I know that Mt. Everest is being recreated out of the molehills of my emotions. The logical side of me knows that the move my parents are making is good and right. I know that it's good for them to downsize on their terms and while they still have each other to help make the decisions. I know that it's preferable to have them well and truly ensconced in a home of their choosing before ill health and other ravages of old age set in.

But somewhere deep inside of me, my inner five year old is pitching a lulu of a hissy fit. I don't want things to change! And the 41 year old in me is trying to patiently explain to the 5 year old why all of this change is a good thing and will ultimately be okay. I'm not sure my inner 5 year old is ready to listen....

I keep thinking that I should have learned all these lessons--that God is in control, that our home here on this earth is not permanent, that we were created to long for better and higher things. And yet, I find myself in new situations that keep throwing up the same old questions--"What are you going to do? Who are you going to rely on?"

My brain knows the answer to these questions; "Whatever God asks. I will rely on and trust in Him." These are answers I have known in my head for a very long time. It's like the multiplication tables. It's rote. My brain doesn't need this lesson again.

Unfortunately, it seems that my heart is a slow learner. Apparently I need to learn and relearn this lesson over and over until my heart learns it as well as my head.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Love Is A Tasty, Tasty Pancake

I may have mentioned my youngest daughter's finicky palate. I have joked that she could survive on breadcrumbs, ketchup, and air. And actually, that's not too far from the truth. While there are few items on her list of foods she'll eat, when she finds something she loves, she is rabid in her love for it. Grilled cheese? She'd eat it every day if I let her. Macaroni and cheese--but only the neon kind in the blue box--oh, yes. She loves it. Yogurt. Yep. But one of her all time favorites is pancakes.

Actually, my whole family loves them and sometimes I fix them for dinner because they are quick, easy, relatively inexpensive. It's a bonus that I never hear "Ewww. Blechh! Pancakes!" Never.

Now if the truth be told, I am probably the one member of my family who isn't head over spatula about pancakes. Don't get me wrong, they're good. I just can't really eat more than one without feeling sick. They're too sweet or something. (I know! How can that be? Every tooth in my mouth is a sweet tooth!!) But I soldier on and make them anyway, because that's just me. I am a giver. Shut up.

Whenever I make pancakes, Mary just about swoons. She tells me fervently and frequently that she loves me when she is eating them. Apparently pancakes are my daughter's love language...

With school starting, mornings are becoming hectic again and making sure that the offspring eats a decent breakfast is in my Mothering Contract. So this weekend, I will be mixing up an enormous batch of pancake mix. I got this recipe years ago and cannot remember from where, so I can't give proper credit. I can tell you that they are light, fluffy, and yummy. And coming from someone who isn't overly fond of pancakes, that's a good review.

If Mary were giving the review, it would sound like this: "I LOVE THESE!!! Can I have another one? I LOVE YOU MOMMY!! Thanks for making these delicious, delicious pancakes. They are simply wonderful. YOU ARE THE BEST MOMMY EVER!!"

I am not even kidding. Those words have come forth from her mouth before upon consumption of these things. So here. Mix some up and show some love to your family. Just don't give 'em the Aunt Jemima Treatment...

Pancake Mix

8 c. flour (if you'd like an all whole wheat mix, use whole wheat pastry flour from health food stores)
2 c. whole wheat flour
**1 1/2 c. buckwheat flour (found at health food stores)
1/2 c cornmeal (stone ground)
1 1/2 c. oatmeal (blend in your blender until powdered)
2 c. buttermilk powder (found in the baking section of your market)
5 T baking powder
2 T baking soda
1 c. sugar
2 T salt

This will make 4 quarts. Mix all together in a very large bowl and divvy up into gallon sized freezer storage bags. I mark the date with a Sharpie and keep it in my freezer, although you can keep it in your pantry.

To make pancakes mix together:
1 c. pancake mix
1 egg
1/2 to 2/3 c. water (start with the lesser amount first and add if you need to)
2 T vegetable oil

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Yesterday I was driving Maggie home from an orthodontist appointment. As we were stopped at a stop light, there was a truck in front of us. It was a delivery truck for Keebler cookies and crackers. (mmmm....)

Maggie looked at the truck and then did a double take. "Oh my gosh!" she said. "I thought that truck said 'A Little Effin' Magic'!!"

I looked at the truck and read it as it pulled away. It said 'A Little Elfin' Magic.'

I nearly crashed the car and peed my pants at the same time. Then I immediately called dibs on the computer for when we got home so I could post it on Facebook.

Yes, I'm nice like that.


Hear that? That is the sound of silence. All of my children are in school. Granted, Mary doesn't start every day until next week, but still...

School back in session means that I will no longer be interrupted by whines of "I'm bored!" and "She/he is looking at me/touching me/not sharing with me/occupying my space/breathing wrong/annoying me simply by existing!" My house will stay picked up for longer than 2.5 seconds. I will be able to run errands without a tag along.

To quote the fabulous song stylings of Mr. Andy Williams--it's the most wonderful time of the year!!


When someone in this house celebrates a birthday, it is our tradition that whomever is being celebrated gets the last piece of their own birthday cake.

Maggie's birthday was the last birthday we celebrated and she chose an ice cream cake. There is a piece sitting in my freezer big enough for 2 slices. It is mocking me. It is tempting me. Do you think she would know if I shaved off a tiny sliver of the cake?

Who am I kidding! She's probably measured that cake and would bust me in no time flat.

Stupid delicious ice cream cake!! Why, oh why, are you so creamy and tasty? Must. Not. Give. In. To. Temptation....


My husband contracted poison ivy recently. Having never had it before, he was unsure of what it was. I've never had it either, but I am a mom and I don't know if you know this, but there is a clause in the mom contract that automatically qualifies you as a medical intern. (Ya'll can just start calling me Dr. Sara.)

Apparently after you have borne children, you are suddenly imbued with medical knowledge. You are able to detect ear infections without equipment, diagnose rashes and symptoms, and are able to dispense this medical wisdom with authority. So when your child comes to you whining that they are gravely ill, you simply look in their eyes, make them stick out their tongue, and then either declare that they will live or send them to their bed. One of two things will then happen: a. Said child isn't really ill and will whine when you tell them they will live or when they are sent to bed. If they are able to argue either point, they are well. Or, b. Said child goes directly to bed, in which case you know that a medical professional with actual credentials that they can hang on a wall and that haven't been marked up with crayon should be consulted.

After you've done the Doctor Mom thing for a few years, even your husband will be convinced of your medical knowledge. Then you will find yourself looking at angry, red, weepy, itchy bumps and declare it poison ivy. At that point, you will tell him he is only allowed to give you air kisses on your cheek until such time as his leprosy rash goes away.

Then as Dr. Mom, you will send your husband to the drugstore for OTC medicines to help him dry up the rash and alleviate the itchiness. Be sure to add earplugs to the list. These are for you, Dr. Mom, because bless your patient's heart, he will not be able to stop talking about how much his rash itches. If you forget to have him buy earplugs, it is at this point that you will tell him that you absolutely DO have an idea about how much it itches. Your patient will look at you skeptically and then you will say the magic words, ladies: "yeast infection." At this point the patient will cringe and make a face that says "Ewwww! Too much information" and he will quickly run away.

Then, you may want to call out "make an appointment with your doctor because I only play one in real life!" And if you've done your job as Dr. Mom well, he'll be on the phone quicker than you can say "Cortisone!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go (Crazy!)

I have four children. And this year, all four of my children will be attending four different schools. Hello, Ca-ray-zee!! We got a little taste of the insanity to come last night at the various "Get Acquainted/Ice Cream Socials." It was a madhouse.

My eldest three children will be attending schools next door and across the street from each other. The junior high where my daughter will attend is next to the elementary school where my son will go and right across the street is the intermediate school which will house my other son. Convenient, no? Well, yes. And no.

It's great, if say, you need to drop off or pick up all three. Not so great when the Back to School nights are all on the same night. Then it's the Seventh Circle of Traffic Hell. Honestly, I think we spent more time parking, navigating parking lots, waiting to cross four lanes of traffic, and saying "pardon me, excuse me, whoops!" in the various hallways. If the hallways in these schools were an artery, they would be a heart attack waiting to happen.

Patrick and I had to divide and conquer the duties as James had to head to football practice. It was important that he get there on time because they were passing out equipment. When they hand out the equipment, they start with the eighth graders and work their way down the grades. So as a fifth grader, he wasn't getting the rickety and questionable equipment that he got in third grade, but you know, if you snooze you lose. And I didn't want mah preshus baybee to get left with bum equipment. I worry enough about him when he plays.

So we wound our way through the corridors to find James' homeroom teacher, drop off his supplies and practice opening lockers. As we were doing this, Maggie and her friend were off on their own saying hello to their former teachers, Sean was asking if we could "go to his school already!" and Mary was alternating between hanging on my arm and whining that she was bored and starving. Good times.

After Pat and James took off for practice, we braved the traffic to cross the street and find another parking spot. Then, Maggie and her friend headed into the junior high to stash things in their lockers and find their classrooms. (Maggie had been there for a preview last week, but due to a technology glitch, her friend--and several other students--didn't get their schedules. So Maggie offered to help her friend with her locker and find her rooms. She also wanted to put her supplies in her locker so she wouldn't have to carry it all in on the first day.) Sean and Mary and I hiked across Hell's Half-Acre to get to the elementary school. Once there, we found his classroom and met his teacher. Then Sean made a tour of the desks to see if any of his friends from last year had made it into his class. Meanwhile, I sorted through his pre-ordered school supplies.

Do you know about pre-ordered school supplies? It is the Best! Thing! Ever! Last spring, order forms were sent home for this genius convenience. I quickly forked over money and signed up. It was fabulous to show up and have the necessary supplies sitting right there in a box all ready. There was no questioning if I had the right markers. There was no arguing over pencil boxes. I don't know who came up with this idea, but I might just have the weensiest crush on them...

After checking out the classroom, we fought our way to the cafeteria for ice cream. (Yippee for ice cream before supper!!) Sean ran into several friends along the way and while he and his buddies compared classrooms and teachers, we parents discussed the insanity of the traffic situation and contemplated the merits of staying long enough to wait out the snarled traffic versus leaving quickly hoping to avoid even more madness.

As we left we talked about how different things are this year. Last year at this time, we were in the process of selling our house and trying to find another one. Last year at this time, we were getting ready to live with friends for more than a month. Last year at this time, everything was a big bubble of uncertainty and anxiety.

This year, the kids were familiar with their schools. They've all made friends in the neighborhood and at their schools. Faces are familiar. Routines are set. We all did a little collective sigh of relief at the relative familiarity of things. Change is good, but sometimes knowing what you're in for is even better.

So tomorrow, it's on baby!! Summer vacation officially ends today. And the craziness begins...

Monday, August 10, 2009

13 Things I Want You To Know

Dear Peach,

So now you are a teenager. Life with you has always been interesting. Kinda makes me wonder how the teen years will play out. You are becoming such a lovely young woman. Hard to believe you could be like so many of those teenagers I see--I have named them Teenagericus Rabidinous Vulgaris (thank you Roadrunner/Coyote cartoons)--and I have a hard time reconciling the funny, sweet, intelligent, girl I see with the world's interpretation (and sometimes my own) of what a teen is. But I know that as you grow, I won't see you in all settings or with all people, so I wanted to tell you some things that might help you out in the next few years.

1. One of these days, there will be a young man in your life. You will be wildly fond of him. He will be wildly fond of you. Chances are good that you will like each other so much that you will want to spend all of your time together to the exclusion of your other friends. Don't do this. Don't abandon your girlfriends for any boy. Because even if you are wildly fond of each other, chances are also good that you and Boy X (known to your father as "Dead Boy Walking") will break up. You will want your girlfriends around you. The relationships you cultivate with your girlfriends can last a long time. Treat them right.

2. People will disappoint you. God will not. He may not give you everything you ask for, but He loves you more than you can imagine. He is big enough to handle your disappointment and anger. It will not change your relationship with him. He will love you at your most unlovable. Hold on to Jesus, because He's holding tight to you.

3. Laugh as often as you can. Try not to take things too seriously. You have your whole adult life to worry over things, should you choose to live that way.

4. You will mess up. We will mess up. Let's be forgiving and gracious to each other when we do.

5. Work hard. Play hard. Pray hard. Do your best. Don't let fear keep you from trying new things.

6. Don't trust department store mirrors. Keep your receipt until you get home and see how things look in your own mirror.

7. Find a passion. Pursue and embrace it.

8. Be silly. Don't grow up too fast and don't outgrow the ability to be silly.

9. Don't date anyone who doesn't treat you as well as your daddy treats you. Set the bar high! You are worth it.

10. Your dad and I always have your back. If you mess up, we're still here. Even if you think that you have no options or are afraid to tell us something, come to us. We'll do our best to put aside any upset feelings we have and listen to you. We are here to help you, no matter how big or small the problem. We're on your side. We'll always love you--no matter what.

11. Treat your siblings well. The relationships you have with them are the longest relationships you will have in your life. When daddy and I are gone (many, many, many years from now) you will want your brothers and sister in your life. I know that sometimes that doesn't seem possible, given how annoying you find them right now, but trust me on this one.

12. You can never have to many shoes, earrings, or rings.

13. You think you are invincible. You are not. Bad things can happen to you. Use your best judgment. Trust your gut. Be careful. You are precious and irreplaceable.

And here's one to grow on: Life's short. Sometimes it's good to eat your dessert first.

I know that there will be times that I want to dip you in ketchup and eat you. There will be times when you will not admit to knowing me. But I know that there will be many more times where I will be amazed by your talent, insight, courage, and maturity. Happy 13th birthday, Mags! I'm looking forward to the ride.

And always remember, you are my favorite Maggie.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Photo Friday: Dancing

I'm not much of a dancer. I'd like to be. Once upon a time, eons and eons ago when I was young, I took dance lessons. I went to dances in high school and loved to get out on the dance floor and shake my groove thang. I liked to dance in college too. But somewhere along the way, the opportunities to dance grew fewer and farther between. And at some point I became self-conscious about dancing. Now if I dance, it's when I'm by myself and I have my ipod on, and sweet cracker sandwiches, you'd better believe the blinds are closed!!

It's been a long time since I broke out in spontaneous dance on a sidewalk. It's hard to do that when your dance partner is Self-Consciousness and he's riding on your back.

My youngest daughter, however, doesn't have a drop of self-consciousness. If she's happy, you'll know it. There will be loud singing and joyful dancing. She doesn't care where she is or who's around to see or hear her.

She was bustin' her moves a few nights ago as we went on an evening walk.

It was fabulous.

Her joy was contagious and I was ready to jig along with her. I didn't. I was too chicken.

But I've decided that life is too short to be chicken about such things. I'm taking a page from my daughter's book. Next time she starts to dance, you'd better believe I will be a ready and willing partner. I can't promise it will be pretty and practiced, but I'd be willing to venture that it will be fun. So if you see me dancing down the street, and that sight doesn't cause you instantaneous blindness, join me.

We can have a dance party.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Wrong Map

There are days when I think that I must have taken a wrong turn in my life. I think that somewhere, somehow, the map I was given was the wrong one; that when Life Maps were handed out, the file clerk rather than the cartographer was on duty and I've been given somebody else's map. Sometimes I think that somewhere out there, some woman is leading a glamorous life filled with designer clothes, cocktail parties with A-listers, weekly massages, manicures, and pedicures. And that woman? Sometimes I believe that she got my map.

I find myself frustrated and ungrateful for what I have. I snipe at my husband. I gripe at the children. I crumple my heart into a woe-is-me heap. Surely, I think, this cannot be right. Surely, I think, I was destined for better things, higher things, nobler things. This, I mutter in my head, cannot be IT.

And then, Life catches me and socks me in the gut with its beauty.

"Hey you!" Life yells. "If you were at some A-list cocktail party, you would miss the beauty of walking hand in hand with your daughter. Soon she won't beg to hold your hand. If you were holding court with drinks in hand, your hands would be too full and your mind would be elsewhere. You would miss this."

"Yo, Knucklehead!" Life calls. "You have a man who has loved you faithfully for many years. He loves you deeply, provides for you generously, and would give his life for you. He doesn't care if you are wearing fabulous clothes. He sees you for what you are and he loves you anyway."

"Yoohoo!" Life trills. "Manicures and pedicures are nice, but they don't last. After a couple of weeks, your hands and feet look rough and chipped and you have to start all over again. But look at those children! Now there is some stuff that will last! Sure, sometimes they're aggravating and they drive you to distraction, but they are a legacy. There's some future there. That's the real deal."

"You have IT," Life whispers. "What is better, higher, nobler than being a helpmate and mother? What else could you want? There are plenty of people who would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Yes, things can get messy and loud and out of control. But sometimes there is laughter and hugging and hand-holding and whispered 'I love yous.' Sometimes there is undiluted joy. There may be days when you have to take things moment by moment just to be able to stand. But know this: the messiness of the day-to-day will fade and what will be left is the purity of the love that was shared."

"You have the right map," Life reassures. "You know, the file clerk might have been on duty, but the Cartographer has everything in order. Hang on to that."

I am...

I am.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Way To His Heart

My husband loves to eat. He's an appreciative diner. When I fix something he really likes, I can tell. My Grandpa Dick used to love to watch Patrick eat, because, as he said, "It's fun to watch somebody eat when they really enjoy it." If he likes or loves something I've fixed, he'll be sure to tell me. He's careful with his criticism if I've made something that doesn't rate so well. In short, I like to cook for him because he likes to eat what I cook.

(He just walked up behind me and started reading the above paragraph. When he got to the last sentence he said, "Damn straight!!" Then he said, "Put that on your blog. That I said 'Damn straight.'" So there. Hope he's happy.)

When we were dating, I once made him BBQ chicken breasts and a baked potato with cheese. Friends, I used Cheez Whiz for the cheese. That's right. Cheese--with a "z". Right there you know that this won't end well. The potatoes weren't cooked all the way through. The BBQ sauce was burned onto the chicken. He dug in and ate. He didn't say much, but he kept eating. I took two bites and discovered the absolute awfulness of my cuisine and told him he didn't have to finish it because I certainly wasn't going to. He ate it anyway. Right then, I knew that if he asked me to marry him, I'd say yes. Finding a man who'll eat your horrible cooking without a complaint is rare. I knew I'd need to snap him up.

After we were married, my cooking improved. I cooked more often and found recipes I liked and that helped. Practice makes perfect, right? Or at least, practice makes less inedible... It's not that I didn't have any cooking experience. I had some. Growing up, I loved to bake and mom would let me help make dinner. I just didn't have lots of experience with cooking lots of different things and I was confounded by how to time the dishes so everything was done at the same time. But as time progressed I learned.

Now here's the thing; growing up, our stove and oven was gas and the broiler was located in a drawer at the bottom of the oven. This is important to remember in the story I am about to relate to you.

When we'd been married a little over a year and were living in our first house in Minneapolis, our kitchen was equipped with an electric stove and oven. I hated that thing. It was hard to regulate and I was constantly boiling things over and setting off the smoke detector. But, I got used to it and could cook things just fine. Or so I thought.

One night I was broiling steaks for our dinner and the steaks just wouldn't cook. I kept checking the knob making sure the broiler was on, but when I opened the drawer, the drawer was as cold as ice and the steaks were blood raw. I did this several times before becoming exasperated and called to Patrick, "This stupid broiler is broken!!"

He came in the kitchen. " sure?"

Me: "Yes. I put the steaks in the broiler and they are not cooking. They've been in there forever and are still raw!"

He opens the oven and looks in.

Me in my snarkiest tone: That's the oven. The broiler is in the drawer.

Him: No. That's a drawer. The broiler is part of the oven and it is blazing hot right now.

Me: No it isn't a drawer! It's a broiler! I think I might know a little more about cooking than you do. I do it every night.

Him very patiently: No dear. That's a drawer. It's where you put your cookie sheets and stuff.

Me starting to become irate: Look. That. Is. The. Broiler. That's where it was on my mom's oven. The broiler is on the bottom.

Him: Honey, this is an electric oven. The broiler is part of the oven. See?

I'm proud to say that it only took about 5 more minutes of arguing to convince me that I was mistaken. I did have the good grace to apologize for my snarkiness. To this day, the story of the "drawer steak" is one that he loves to tell.

Thankfully, these days I know where all the parts of my oven and stove are and I use them rather well. Or so my family tells me.

So after all that, I thought I'd share a recipe that my long suffering husband absolutely loves. I fixed it for him last night. It's one of his favorites and it made his night that I made it for him. It's the least I can do after all the culinary mishaps that he has withstood for me.

Salsa Chicken
6 boneless chicken breast halves (I use chicken tenderloins instead because they cook quicker.)
3/4 c. onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T oil
1 1/4 c. chicken broth
1 c. salsa or picante sauce
1 c. converted rice ( I use Uncle Ben's.)
1 c. shredded cheese

Cook onion and garlic in oil in 10-12 inch skillet. Add chicken broth and salsa. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Arrange chicken over rice. Cover tightly and simmer 20 minutes. (Check to make sure your heat isn't too high. You don't want this to burn.) Remove from heat. Sprinkle cheese on top--cover again and let stand 5 minutes. Garnish with guacamole and chopped tomato.

Then sit back and listen to your beloved make "nummy noises" and smile in satisfaction. And the bonus? No broiler involved anywhere in that recipe!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Word Nerd

Do you have a particular word that makes you cringe? I do. In fact, I have several. Most of them cause me to cringe when I hear them, but one or two can give me a tic by just seeing them. Is this weird? (Shut up. I never claimed to be normal. I have blamed my weirdness on my children, but really, if you know me, you know that to be a complete and total fabrication on my part.) My family knows that if they want to get under my skin they can simply utter one or two words and I will get the heebie jeebies.

I actually keep a list of words that drive me crazy. Yes, I do. See? Weird. On the flip side, I keep a list of words that I absolutely love--to balance out the weird I Hate These Words List. The words I hate are not as numerous as the words I love, but they are twice as potent. If I hear a word I hate, then I have to cancel it out by thinking of two words I love. It's the Crazy Lady's Fuzzy Math Horrible Word Theorem. So let's say one of my ornery offspring says the word "moist" just to watch me shudder. (Truly, I shuddered just typing that word.) If I don't immediately follow it with two of my favorite words, then I get an ear worm of the word I hate. All. Day. Long. My kids love it. They yell "MOIST!" and immediately I must say something like "shenanigans adagio!" to counteract the Horrible Word. It can make me sound an awful lot like I'm at Hogwarts with Harry, casting spells.

I know that I am not alone in disliking the word "moist." I have discussed this with other people. See? I'm not such a freak after all. I'm not sure what it is about the word that is so distasteful, maybe it's the sound, I don't really know. I just know if you say it to me, I will hate it. It's not, however, the only word on the I Hate These Words List. Otherwise the list would be The I Hate THIS Word List and it wouldn't be much of a list, would it? I also dislike the words tinkle, fecund, ointment, wad, magma, and panties.

And now, to counteract all of the icky words that make me shudder, I will have to type and reread these words several times: soliloquy, chicanery, ephemeral, pedestrian, adagio, fisticuffs, kibble, shenanigans, snarky, spelunking, and ubiquitous.

Okay. Now it's your turn. Do you have any words that make you want to puncture your eardrums with a rusty knitting needle when you hear them? Are you a complete word nerd like me? Do you have words that you love to see and hear? Tell me about them in the comments. And if you've never commented before, here's an opportunity to chime in and join me in my word nerdery. C'mon Lurkers, de-lurk with your comments and tell me I'm not alone. Bonus points if you can string your words together in a sentence.

Ready? Go!

Monday, August 3, 2009

He Could Be A Star On The Nature Channel

It was a busy weekend. It involved the usual things, running errands, grocery shopping, yard work, chores, church. However, it also involved a bow and arrow.

You read that right. My 10 year old son made a bow and arrow. How cool would that be to say to your co-workers on Monday at the water cooler? They'd be all "Oh, this weekend I went to the movies," or "The wife and I went furniture shopping," but you'd nonchalantly slip in "Didn't do too much. Made a bow and arrow with my own two hands." And your co-workers would step back and say "Whoa. Dude."

A few years ago, James received The Dangerous Book for Boys as a gift. Never has a book been such a hit. All he saw was the word "dangerous" in the title and he was IN. Then, he started looking through it and saw all of the cool things to make and do. Immediately he was enamored of the idea of making a bow and arrow. I have to admit to putting the kibosh on that idea for a couple of reasons. Reason the first, we lived in our old house and the only place to find a branch for the bow was on the one tiny sapling in our front yard. Reason the second, he was just 9 and the idea of him playing around with a weapon (even one that he made--especially one that he made) didn't make me feel too warm and fuzzy inside.

Fast forward a bit to him attending scout camp and receiving instruction on handling a bow and arrow. I knew that I could talk and instruct and warn him until I was blue in the face, but it wouldn't mean nearly as much as it did coming from the instructors at scout camp. He was still intent on building a bow and arrow, but now he had some information about staying safe.

Fast forward even more to last fall when we moved into this house. Not only do we have twice as much yard space (nice when you're thinking of doing things like firing off arrows) but we have lots of trees.

Patrick was trimming a tree today and James got it in his head--did the idea ever leave his head?-- to build his bow with one of the branches. There was a perfect section that was nicely curved. He used his pocket knife and some string and made his bow. Then he whittled a point on a willow branch and notched the other end to make an arrow. It's perfect.

He has been out all afternoon shooting his one arrow. He's been instructing his younger brother in the art of archery. He offered the bow to me and complimented my form and then told me "nice shot" in an appreciative tone.

The arrow doesn't have an arrowhead or feathers, but he is on the look out for some flint to make the tip. He's also told me that he'll be scouring the treeline tomorrow to find more branches that are suitable to turn into more arrows.

It excites me to see him excited over something like this--something that keeps him outside and doesn't involve a controller of any kind. I'm having a ball watching him shoot his one arrow over and over and over again and not tire of it. I love to see the boost in his self-confidence.

James is a big fan of Survivorman on television. He watches it alot. He would love to do that kind of thing. Unfortunately his role models are few and far between. My husband's idea of camping is making s'mores over a campfire and then heading off to a hotel to sleep. And while I like to camp, I'm not so big on hunting and weaponry. So watching him with his handmade bow and arrow makes me wonder if that's how the Survivorman guy started out. Maybe before he was left alone in the Canadian wilderness as an adult, he spent his childhood building his own bow and arrow and shooting it in the yard.

There's been a lot of talk on James' part about an Air-Soft gun. There's been a lot of "LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!" on my part when he speaks of that gun. I'm hoping that this bow and arrow will buy me a little time.

Who knows? Maybe James will be the next Bear Grylls. In the meantime, I'm letting him use his bow and arrow. He can have a ball with his pocket knife. But I'm keeping an eye on him, just in case he decides to skin the dog to make a quiver for his arrow...