Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Have A Wedding to Wake Up For, But I Thought I'd Say Hello

So I just noticed I lost a follower.  How sad is it that I noticed that?  I'm so lame.

You know what else I am?  Tired.  I'm freakin' tired.

I'm shutting down for the day, but felt compelled to write a brief something before I crawl in to bed and attempt to read some of my book before falling to sleep. 

FYI I'm currently reading:  The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest and LOVE it.

I thought you all were probably desperate for that information. No?

So last night I got about two hours of sleep because all my children decided to alternate screaming and crying to wake me and/or one another up at a variety of hours. It was awesome. 

Actually, it was the exact opposite of awesome but it's 10:30 now and I swore I would be in bed by 9 and I'm feeling a little loopy.  Loopy might also mean boring or mentally challenged.  Take your pick.

I thought I would quickly let you know that my long ago promised look at a playroom makeover will be unveiled sometime in the next few days.  I'm serious this time.  I think, I haven't slept, I might have just hallucinated all this progress.

I also might have hallucinated this.  It was pretty amusing.






She is now using this as her method of escape from the house.  Great.


I also thought I would let you know that I am planning to the Austin Listen To Your Mother show on Saturday and you should too if you are around, have an extra $13 laying around and feel like getting out of the house to see some funny ladies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Might Make a Really Good Cobb Salad - It's a Recipe-Ish People

Shortly after I had Stella, my friend Jessica set up a Care Calendar for friends to bring me meals.  It was heavenly to not have to worry about what to fix for dinner, or having to fix it.  One of my friends, Tricia, brought over a Cobb salad. 

There was also a bit of an incident where I had to take my pants off while she was here and things went a little haywire, but the salad was awesome.  Oh, and she brought french bread.  Yum.

Now, I had eaten a Cobb salad many times in my life but I had honestly just forgotten about it.  How did that happen?  Didn't even enter my mind as an option.  Stella is now almost 11 months old and I have been making this approximately every other week since Tricia brought it back into my life.  What a good friend.

Speaking of good friends, I met my best friend Alissa in the first grade on the swings at recess...where most wonderful things happen during elementary school.  She's been on my mind lately because all sorts of life is happening to her right now.

When I think about Alissa now, I think about Cobb salad. It sounds really weird unless you know that her last name was Cobb until she got married. But, she's still Alissa Cobb to me. I love the Cobbs.  I love Steve and Cindy Cobb, Mark Cobb, Katy Cobb, all the little Cobb offspring. 

Mostly I love Cobb Salad.

Dear Alissa:


I know you have a lot on your mind lately so I thought it would be important for me to teach you how to make a Cobb salad.  That way you at least won't have to be worried about how you don't know how to do that.  Has this been worrying you?  Life's like that sometimes.


You might already know how to make a Cobb salad, because if you have ever eaten one you basically know how to make it, but it would be rude to ruin the entire point of my message so just pretend if you must that I'm changing your life here.
If you remember, your last name used to be Cobb.  Did you know there's a salad named after your Dad?  Or your Grandpa?  Or his Grandpa?  Probably not your brother because I think the Cobb salad has been around longer than Mark.  I think.


Anyway, there's a salad named after your family.  You are all basically famous like Waldorfs and Caesar and Chefs.  Congratulations.  The Cobb salad was started in Ft. Wayne, Indiana with your ancestors, so you should pretend to care about this recipe-ish.*


The best thing about this salad is that it has avocados, bacon, blue cheese and ranch dressing.  The worst thing about this salad is that there is a bunch of stuff you have to do before you actually put it together. 


Try not to be annoyed.  It was your family's idea, not mine. 


Here's what you are going to need to actually make your ancestral salad.


2 Hard Boiled Eggs, Chopped
Half-ish a head of iceberg lettuce chopped (Lettuce is actually optional. I like it, but if I don't have it, I don't let it keep me from the rest of the Cobb.)
2 tomatoes diced
1 large avocado diced
1/4 cup blue cheese (Totally making up the 1/4 cup thing. Just guess. Remember it's strong. Like all the Cobb woman of yester-year.)
6 strips bacon (You should cook this first, then chop it. I like it on the crispier side, but that's just me. I'm no Cobb. Also, a lot of recipes call for 4 strips, but who can resist eating one or two while cooking?)
1 green onion, chopped
Ranch dressing (Don't get the fat free, it's insulting to the Cobb.)


First, get some eggs and hard boil them.  You only need two for the salad, but I think you'd agree that a hard boiled egg is a pretty damn good thing to have around so go ahead and hard boil 6 to have some extra.


Here are some ideas for what to do with the extra ones.
  • peel them and eat them when you need a filling snack or quick meal like Valerie Bertinelli told me she does on Oprah one time.  Seriously, she's fit now so this must be a good idea.
  • purchase leftover Easter egg dyeing kits and color the leftover four eggs, but this sounds sort of pathetic.
  • Give them to Cindy, she will do something magical with them like serve them with those sticky buns she used to make.  Those are really good.  Why don't you make those for me?
If you don't know how to hard boil eggs, here's the short version. 


Put the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water, put on the lid, put it on the stove, turn the stove to high and then sing camp songs from our days at church camp for 15 minutes straight, then remove from heat and run under cold water until they feel comfortable to touch and peel. 


Suggested camp songs include:  Boom Chicka Boom, Bear Song, Green Grass, Dem Bones, and Little Bunny Foo Foo. 


Seriously, I just spent 15 minutes searching the Internet for camp songs and singing them, pretending I had a haircut like a young boy and huge buck teeth.  I need more to do more with my life.
After they cool down, chop them up.  Wait, peel them and then chop them up.


Take the head of lettuce and chop it in half.  Then wash it. 


To be honest, I have no idea how to clean lettuce.  Do you have a Salad Spinner?  I think they were all the rage for a while.  Basically it's a big ass bowl with a colander inside with a large push thing that spins your wet lettuce. All the water flies off the lettuce into the big bowl and you then have clean, dry-ish lettuce.


Unfortunately you also have a big ass bowl with a colander inside it and a large awkward top thing to clean.  It really sucks.  If you want one, you can have mine.  You can't tell my Mom though because I think she bought it for me and she really digs these things.  Ironically, any mention of iceberg lettuce also will earn you a large dose of information about how nutritionally worthless iceberg lettuce is. Your choice whether to discuss with her or not. 


I usually just run lettuce under the facet for a while and then dry it in paper towels since it's not worth anything anyway, it's certainly not worth time in the coveted Salad Spinner.  Sometimes I use a kitchen towel to dry it so I can be environmentally conscious, like after I watched Julia Roberts on Oprah or have seen a picture of Alicia Silverstone.  I want to do a better job of conserving, I just need a celebrity visual to remind me. 

Do you feel like I base too many of my decisions on what I hear on Oprah?  Do you feel like there is any chance that anything I hear from her is a bad idea?  I don't either. 

Do you think we could take a road trip like Oprah and Gayle did and argue over Paul Simon lyrics?  I want to do that.

Do you find it insulting that I'm instructing you on things like washing lettuce and the components of a Salad Spinner? 

What the hell was I saying?


Ok, chop up the lettuce.  Not into bits, but strips sort of.  Actually, do it however you like.  I think you could just let the Cobb in you be the guide. 


Then dice up two tomatoes.  Please get these from the massive garden/farm in your parents back yard.  It will only improve the authenticity of the Cobb and possibly your Mom would think it was so sweet you were making a big salad that she would just do it for you and that would be even better than having to read my half assed recipe to try to figure out how to do it yourself.  Just a thought.

Do not let the tomatoes drop in your parents' coy pond though because we all know Cole tried to pee in there and only didn't because we saw him.  Who knows what he has done in there when we weren't watching more carefully. 

Have I told you what to do with all this stuff?  I usually get a big bowl or large platter and line everything up like it's a restaurant here.  I am always professional with my food prep because I think it improves my marriage.  Just a tip.  If you need any other marriage tips just call me.


Dice up an avocado.  (Essentially a foreign food to me until I moved to TX so I hope you can access this up North.)


Get the blue cheese.  Amish blue cheese is the best because we're from Indiana and there are lots of Amish people up there.  I don't know why, but they are there.  There are some good TV movies about them and I believe an Amish Fair at the Indiana State Fairgrounds if you need more information on them.


Side note:  Remember when we went to your Grandparents house when we were like 12 and ran around a cemetery and danced to Monster Mash in their basement?  What the hell were we doing?  I'm a little scared thinking about it.


Additional side note:  Remember when we went to my Grandparents house and we walked all over town to some large monument on a river then went to the movie theatre alone at night?  Was my Grandparent's house in 1950?   Were my parents just really irresponsible?


Why did we have so many weird trips to Grandparents' houses? 


Moving on.  Fry up some bacon.  Feel free to sing that song about frying bacon up in a pan while doing this, it might make the process more interesting.  I'm not going to tell you how to fry bacon.  I refuse.


Chop up 4 strips of your fried bacon.

Wash and then dice a green onion. 

Then stir it together and pour on the ranch. Do not get fat free or it will just suck all the life out of your bacon and blue cheese.  I've tried it, it's like drinking and driving...it's just not worth it.  See how informative this message has turned out to be.  Changing lives I tell you!

You can also put diced chicken on this, which I do when I am feeling a little fancy.  Feeling fancy is also a good tip for the marriage.  Seriously, I'm like an expert, call me.

I love you!


*This entire paragraph is 100% bullshit.  I know nothing about the origin of the Cobb salad, I did not even take the 5 minutes to Google Cobb salad to try to find out the truth, and feel that claiming it is something created by my best friend's family makes my post more appropriate and fun so suck it if you disagree.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Despite Appearances, This Post Is NOT Sponsored by JCPenney

I used to think of JCPenney, or "Penney's" as my Mom taught me to call it, as Sears minus the cool lawn care department and connection to Lands End.  Last year though, Alex's Aunt gave me a fifty dollar gift card to JCP and changed my life....or at least my perception of JCP.

(I call it JCP now...because I've progressed, and I listen to all that hip hop and rap while I run.  It also sounds more street to say JCP and I'm super street.  Super.)

So I've had this gift card for a year now, not because I haven't made it to JCP or because I haven't found anything I liked yet, but because I have been saving this gift card to spend on something really special. It also was my ticket back to JCP.  As long as I had the card, I had to keep going back to try to use it.

(I do not claim to ever make completely logical and sane decisions.  I like to think I'm more exciting because of it.  You go on and keep an differing opinions to yourself.) 

So, today was a big day.  I used the gift card!  We have a family wedding in a few weeks and I purchased a new pair of shoes at JCP today for $40. 

But, I didn't use the gift card for those.  I had to order my size to be delivered to my house and using a credit card was basically the only way to do that so I couldn't use the gift card for those.  I also don't have a photo of those for you right now because they are probably in a warehouse somewhere.

(Do you like how I'm using parentheses after each paragraph?  I think this will be my new style.  Anyway, JCP will order you your size and send it to you for free.  I think a lot of stores to this, but I was super happy to hear that JCP does.)

So, I found a pair of shoes that I totally do not need, which is sometimes the best kind of shoe purchase, right? 


I then spent the next hour worrying about finding the perfect classy black shorts to wear with this with a fun white beachy, but not too casual, top.  I love building an outfit around wanting to wear a pair of shoes.  It makes me feel all fast and loose...wait....what does that mean? 

I must tell you folks, I was totally overwhelmed by JCP's ability to outfit my feet.  The shoes I didn't need but felt compelled to purchase were EVERYWHERE. It was scary.  It was fun.  It was VERY fast and loose. 

(Someone please define that.  Is that sexual?  Like slutty?  Because that's totally what was happening today at JCP.)

Thankfully, Grandma was with me and she has a super soft spot for my desire to dress like I actually have something to do other than take kids to preschool and run to the grocery store, so she got me this pair of shoes that I also totally did not need.


It was a really good shoe day at the JCP.  Thank you Mom!

Other fun points of the shopping at JCP experience? 
  • I used a $10 coupon mailed to me to be used on any purchase of $10 or more.  Awesome.
  • A Sephora inside the store.  Inside the JCP!
  • A friendly woman that wanted to talk to me about her not so fantastic "boyfriend."  I must wear some sort of sign that let's people know I really want to know all about their personal life.
  • MNG by Mango...I have no idea what this brand is, but they wanted $59.90 for this shirt at JCP and I sat and thought about it for about twenty minutes because it was that fantastic in person! It was on sale for $47.92  If I used the coupon it would be $37.92.  I am good at math! I still have visions of me wearing it basically everywhere and it was so soft I wanted to sleep and go clubbing in it.  LOVE IT!
  • Over hearing old ladies in the dressing room foyer referring to JCP as Penney's. 
So basically, if you haven't been to the JCP lately, I suggest you run on over.  Or drive, or walk, or whatever you do to get to the shopping places.  You could even bring your Mom or Grandma because they are totally catering to their market still too.  Something for EVERYONE!

Also, you should ignore all the cheesy floral dresses in their ads, it's much cooler inside. 

Well, it's cooler in some parts.  Not in the areas where ladies in leisure suits are calling it Penney's. 

For the record, my Mom was just trying clothes on near the ladies in leisure suits, not one of them... despite her propensity to actually refer to JCP as Penney's.  She's old school JCP.  It's in her blood.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Grandma And Tractor's Visit ROCKS

Last Thursday my parents drove 1,100 miles to visit me. 

OK, they drove 1100 to visit my children, but that's probably even better than coming to see me. 
Here's my top 10 reasons why I love having them here.
  1. The car load of random, but fantastic stuff that they load in to their car to bring to me.  This time consisted of lots of clothes for the kids, a bunch of dolls, Easter toys, and my childhood Garbage Pail Kid Collection.  I'm sure I'll be rich once I throw those on Ebay.
  2. Grandma's willingness to always nap with the boys, watch boring kid movies with them, or teach them something in a fun way that I never have the time or patience to sit and do with them.  It's really heart melting stuff.  It also keeps them away from me which REALLY melts my heart.
  3. Hearing Aiden try to casually suggest that Tractor should pick him up from school. (Tractor usually takes the boys out for ice cream if he picks them up....it's too cute to hear how nonchalant Aiden tries to be when mentioning that he wouldn't mind if Tractor wanted to pick them up.)
  4. Pedicures and shopping with Grandma while the boys are at school and Tractor babysits for Stella, and calls every thirty minutes to remind us he isn't changing her diaper if she poops.
  5. Having Grandma never tire of reading stories and playing board games or card games with the boys, giggling with Stella, or suggesting a different way for me to do....well, anything I'm doing.
  6. The smell of smoke that permeates from the guest room, frequent smoke breaks that lure my children outdoors, and Aiden and Cole's fascination with putting anything stick like in their mouth to pretend they are smoking like Tractor.  (He also spent about an hour trying to teach Aiden all the presidents on all the different dollar bills.  Do you know who's on the $500 bill?  Tractor does, so he's not just teaching them about the joy of smoking.) 
  7. Periodically checking to see if Alex is still involved in an hour and a half lecture discussion with Tractor on the organization of military rank in our armed forces, different weapons used in different wars and pretty much a run down of everything that happened in the Civil War.  Everything.
  8. Having adults around to have a celebratory glass of wine with after all three children are successfully put to bed.
  9. Watching my father take Stella for a tractor ride down the street and around the block, holding an umbrella over her so that the sun won't get on her.
  10. Being able to go to the bathroom whenever I want to go.  Alone.  Seriously, it's life altering.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Greek Gone Wild

A few weeks ago my sister-in-law called and asked if we would like to get together for the Easter holiday sometime this weekend.  I said of course and then offered to have everyone at our house today because clearly I had been drinking or gotten too much sleep the night before, which always makes me loopy these days. 

Twenty people at my house?  What a good idea!  Wait...when did I say that?

I get a lot of anxiety about having lots of kids in my house and my husband's family means we get an automatic 10 kids in the house. That's about 6 kids over my 4 kid limit. 

(The kids can collectively have one friend over to share from now until they are all 15.) 

I used to have trouble sleeping before everyone would come over because I was so anxious about it.  Sort of ridiculous. 

OK, not sort-of, totally ridiculous. 

It's not like my nieces and nephews destroy my house, particularly since I'm cranky Aunt Leslie and usually yell at everyone to go play outside. I just feel unsettled knowing there will be extra running around, noise, curiosity, fighting, toy destruction, etc.  I like peace, or noisy, fun adults.

So, I decided I would keep it simple with the food, put together an easy Easter egg hunt, and have some Dollar Tree toy entertainment to keep everyone busy while the adults hung out inside.  Ahhh....I would be so breezy, no anxiety at all.

Unfortunately, I started thinking about food for 10 adults and how I've made Greek food for a lot of my friends in the past few months and how it would be sort of nice to do a big Greek dinner for my in-laws.
I would be the best Greek wife EVER! 

My vision of the big table filled with all our family, drinking red wine, pouring feta on things and maybe even my father -in-law shouting about....well, anything, filled my head and my heart so I decided to go for it.  Moussaka, stuffed grape leaves, feta, big salad, lemon roasted potatoes.

So instead of breezy, it turned into a big windstorm.  A big freakin windstorm.

Friday, I decided I should probably go to the grocery store and buy all the goods to make all this stuff because if you haven't made Greek food...you're missing out on some time consuming stuff.  Seriously, it's a lot of standing by the stove and stirring for a stupid amount of time. 

But I decided to postpone really starting anything until around 4 pm, which turned out to be a poor decision.  At 6:00, things looked like this in the kitchen.

Messy...and I hadn't even come close to finishing one thing I  had to make.  I stayed up until midnight stuffing eggs and rolling grape leaves and organizing glasses.  Ugh.

I also hadn't figured out the table setting situation.  Despite an hour in the WalMart fabric section with Dimitri, seriously the best WalMart employee to have EVER lived, I didn't have an clue as to what to do with it.  Here's what the table looked like, basically until an hour before everyone arrived.

Basically it's a bunch of fabric and some trash on the end.  How festive!  Greek people love trash!

I could have just cooked a brisket.  I could have had a huge salad.  I could have made Alex do all the work and just grilled something.  But, I had to complicate things.  I went from breezy to full blown Greek Easter fast.  Why do I always get so out of control with entertaining?

Everyone arrived this morning at 10:30 though and...things were great.  My grape leaves were a little overdone but the joy of working really hard on a bunch of food for people you love was pretty wonderful.  I remember why I ALWAYS bring on the windstorm. 

Love.

And this....
And they didn't give me any anxiety at all.  In fact, they were all pretty damn fantastic. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

That Damn Hippo

As soon as I saw the stuffed Hippo in Aiden's arms at preschool pick up on Tuesday, I knew that I was about to embark on the emotional, absent minded roller coaster than accompanies his class mascot's visit to our home.  As adorable as Aiden's huge smile of joy was at being able to take Hippo home, I felt impending doom. 



Each time Happy Hippo stays at a class member's home they are to write in a journal about the Hippo's time with them.  I really suck at this journal entry thing.

I do think this is a cute way for the kids to share their home life with their friends.  I also love the idea of encouraging journaling starting at a young age.  I also think it has the potential to be a very interactive and engaging project to do with my son....it just doesn't usually turn out that way.

I immediately felt my usual anxiety over being responsible for something else, particularly a stuffed animal that probably is carrying the germ equivalent of a public restroom floor.  Why must my child cuddle with that thing? 

First order of business with Happy Hippo at our house is a healthy shower of Lysol.  I really hope this doesn't break any stuffed animal rights rules or violate something kids in the class are allergic too.  I feel OK with her presence only after this has been finished.

A few of the other parents have mentioned the expectation that Aiden's journal entry is going to be fun, possibly even humorous because I am a self proclaimed writer with a real life blog...those are only for the top tier of writers you know.  I also have had two, yes TWO, real life articles that were published in the way back section of the local Austin newspaper. 
But, I am the writer, not Aiden.  I do actually try to get him to tell me what to write.  (I am a fantastic mother.) Unfortunately he usually wants to include random and irrelevant facts just to make himself sound cooler to his friends like the mention of his Lego Firehouse he built or how he found four rolly pollys under the rock on our neighbor's driveway, but unfortunately these have nothing to do with Hippo and I'm not that good of a writer to work it in and convince anyone that this makes sense as part of the Hippo experience. 

I usually end up suggesting things and he finishes the sentence or lays his head on the table and whines about how he "doesn't know what to say!" and wishes I would just let him go play so he can just see his work completed later rather than having to really do it.  Me too buddy, me too. 

This is also a problem because I can't figure out how to write in this journal.  I'm all sorts of confused about whether or not I am supposed to be writing it from Aiden's perspective, my perspective as the Mom, or is the Hippo writing this?  Or, is it supposed to be a third person, all knowing sort of perspective? 

I usually give up and write a combo of all four of these, possibly creating a hodgepodge of story telling which is so convoluted that not even the preschoolers want to listen to the entry because it gives them a headache just trying to figure out who the hell is talking.

Sorry kids.  I have a few things going on, I'm easily confused by this project.

Though Aiden is very excited to have Hippo come home with us, his excitement does not usually translate into him actually remembering to take her with us anywhere.  This really jacks up the material available for our journal entry.

What our entry usually turns in to is a big fat lie, creating quite a predicament for me as an allegedly "good" parent.  In an effort to not make Aiden's entry look like his family sucks at participation in all things preschool, we usually pretend that Hippo went along with us on all sorts of things that we did, or stretch the truth a little as I like to call it.

A few parents use this Hippo experience as a chance to showcase their scrapbooking talents, but unfortunately that isn't happening for us, and I really wish it were. Not only do I not know what voice to write our journal entry in,  and can barely remember to include the Hippo in our life, I am also incompetent at even printing pictures for this event. 
Where are the pictures of Aiden and Happy Hippo you ask?  Aiden and I can't remember to take the Hippo anywhere which makes it difficult to photograph.  For some reason my printer also refuses to print any pictures from my camera.  It hates me, clearly.

I do have three pictures of Aiden and Happy Hippo on a bike from November that the CVS automated telephone reminder calls to remind me about every two or three days, but let's be honest, it's April, I'm not picking those up and cutting them to fit in to the journal. 
So, here is what I should have probably written this week...but I didn't because I don't like to scare small children or tragically disappoint my son.  If this weren't the last time to have Hippo this year, I would personally swear to do a better job with the Hippo next time. 

Oh well.

Hippo came home.  Sat in the van and would have died if she was actually a child due to extreme heat. 

She was sprayed with Lysol. Then she got shoved to the floor under a giant toy boat in the playroom. 

My daughter dragged Hippo around the house then crawled on top of Hippo and looked sort of inappropriate .  My apologies for any long term damage done to Hippo.  

She then spit up on Hippo and chewed on his leg. 

Hippo went to the garden and sat in the dirt, while we all pretended to care about which plant was a carrot and which was a weed. 

Hippo was strangled and fought over in the bathroom when my kids were supposed to be brushing their teeth, but had decided it was OK to instead ignore my shouts of fury and go ahead and wrestle with a stuffed animal.  I may or may not have violently thrown Hippo out of the bathroom.

Hippo slept with Aiden where sometime during the night she ended up under his bed where she stayed until we were 10 minutes late for getting into the car for school and I happened to remember that we had to haul the giant Hippo back to school so as to not disappoint a room full of 5 year olds.

The end.

This entry would be accompanied by a small sketch I drew of a Hippo being assaulted by a can of Lysol or thrown across the house, because kids love comics.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Might Make Really Good Sweet Tea - It's a Recipe-Ish

I know what you're thinking. Sweet tea?  Is that really a recipe?

Guess what people, it's a recipe-ish.  I never claimed to really know what I'm talking about here.

Ever since I graduated from Purdue and moved to Durham, NC, I've loved sweet tea.  I discovered it there and it is delicious.  Very, very delicious.

I'm from Indiana and there isn't a lot of sweet tea going on there.  Until Starbucks there really wasn't a lot of iced tea going on there. Or maybe there was and I just didn't know.  It's totally possibly something like that slipped by me, but for the sake of this post we're going to say people in Indiana just aren't that in to iced tea.

Living in Texas, tea is a hit here.  I see people serve tea to their kids all the time.  This weirds me out, because I am such a much better mother than those people because I don't do that, but I guess it's normal here so I won't judge.  Other than when I just did.

It's also stupid hot here and people probably just get tired of drinking water all the time and have had to force themselves to find something else that was fun to drink and could keep them awake when it's 200 degrees outside for six months of the year and the only thing you can do is nod off on your front porch in a pool of sweat. 

Have I told you about how much I despise the heat here?  My emotions about the sweaty months here can not be contained within this post.  I'm going to need to dedicate a whole entry to this.  It sucks.  I don't get why people keep moving here. 

Anyway, with the arrival of summer, I have been craving sweet tea and my friend Jenn was kind enough to teach me how to make it the other day so I can quit buying it.  Actually, I was kind enough to give her my shelving unit and made her promise to teach me how to make sweet tea in exchange for the free furniture.  Is that not the sweetest deal you have ever heard? 

Yes, I am a really good friend.

No, I don't have any other furniture to give away, regardless of what you can teach me.  (That's not true, deals could be made.)

So I was at Chick-fil-A the other day like all the Moms of the world because for some reason it feels like a step up in the fast food world, when really it probably is just the same old crap with a cleaner playscape than everywhere else, when the woman in front of me ordered sweet tea.  She was one of those Moms of young children that I, as a peer Mom, immediately developed a bit of a crush on her. 

She was cute, but not overdone.  She had a fun southern accent that made me think everything she had to say would just be strong and witty or reminiscent of lines from Steel Magnolias...before Julia Roberts got all sick and things were just so damned sad. 

She had three kids also so I felt we could relate to one another without some sort of who-has-it-harder competition.  (me)  None of her kids were over the top put together, like she wasn't worried about everyone looking fantastic so she could look fantastic or anything stupid like that.  She didn't look overwhelmed, but she didn't have a fake look of constant joy when her three kids started fighting over who got to stand next to the sign, which is ridiculous and should be treated as such.

I just wanted to sit and have some sweet tea with her.

But....Stella wasn't happy and Cole had already started to pee his pants so I just ordered and got the hell out of there before my family completely fell apart in front of this woman and she didn't want to say anything to me, much less all her fun Southern expressions about dead animals or moonshine.  I bet she had good things to say.

So I wrote her a little recipe-ish.
 
Dear Girl that Ordered Sweet Tea,

 I saw you at Chick-fil-A a few days ago and you seemed like someone that I would adore having as a friend.  No, I'm not desperate or pathetic or gay, just thought you'd like to have me teach you how to make sweet tea.  What?  That sounds weird? 

Southern people are supposed to be hospitable and friendly, and I don't know how to track you down anyway, so  fear not....but let's pretend you basically fell in love with me too and this sounds fantastic.  FYI, I'm basically going to assume a lot about you, including a lot of southern stereotypes, except that you magically don't know how to make sweet tea and can only order it at fast food restaurants until I came along and made your life worth living. 

You are welcome.

Here's what you need:

A saucepan.
4 black tea bags or 2 family size black tea bags
1/2 cup - 1 cup white sugar (depending on what kind of a sugar crackhead you are)
Big ol' spoon, like some mom would threaten to spank her children with down here in the heat lands

First ,get a saucepan, like 2 quart.  I think. Ok, I really don't know.  I'm abnormally horrible at measurements. 

I can't stand when people describe things in terms of yards or feet to me...I don't know what you are saying.  I don't have a clue how big a football field is and I don't think of things in terms of square anything.  Do people talk to you in terms of gun lengths or those weird, huge flowers I keep hearing about that all the high school girls wear here....mums I think? 

Just tell me it was really far, super close, big or small, I'll figure it out.  I'm smart. 

 I got the highest grade in my college algebra class....that's a 98%.  Algebra, yes.  Geometry, no.

Do you like me more because I could algebra the hell out of something?  I have no idea how that would work, but it seems like a skill I should be marketing more during the formation of new friendships.

Fine, the pan looks like this. 



So get the pan and fill it half way with water.  Put it on the stove to boil. 

Warning!!  Do not watch the pot!  A watched pot never boils.

That's a lie, it will totally boil if you watch it, you will just be really bored and you probably could be doing something much more worthwhile like organizing your smelling salts drawer or surfing the internet or gardening, because I totally see you with a huge garden and a big hat to go with it.

When it starts to boil put 4 regular black tea bags, or 2 family size tea bags in to the pan and take it off the heat.  Let it seep for 10 minutes.

Now, you have to find something else to do for 10 minutes.  Here are my suggestions:

1. Google Justin Timberlake and watch old videos of him singing Bye Bye Bye because he is superb.

2. Organize your junk drawer.  I can't be sure you have one, but if you don't then I am afraid of you and we might have to rethink our ficitous friendship. 

3. Think of your 5 top favorite Southern expressions and needlepoint them on something.

I feel like our friendship is growing.

Ok, now take the teabags out and throw them in the trash.  You could put them somewhere else, but trash seems to make the most sense.  Possibly you reuse things like this, which I find disturbing but I'm willing to press forward if this is the only quirk you have.

Now my friend Jenn says to add one cup of white sugar.  She's crazy!

(Sidenote: Do not ever admit to Dr. Oz or Oprah that you use white sugar like this, it's apparently really bad for you.  However, if you are talking to Dr. Oz or Oprah, that's pretty cool and you can say whatever you please to them.) 

I only let her add 3/4 a cup to my tea because I am super health concious, clearly.  In fact, I usually just drink Crystal Light lemonade, zero calories and only probably causes several forms of cancer due to the fake sweetner if I drink enough of it.  It sure is refreshing though.

Stir the sugar into the hot tea.  When it dissolves, fill the pan to the top with cold water and then dump it into a tea pitcher.  Did I forget to tell you to get a pitcher for the tea?  I'm going to have to assume that you aren't just cute and you were already thinking about that.  Pour it in Scarlett. 

Did I forget to tell you I named you Scarlett?  Love me some Gone With the Wind.  Have you thought about fashioning your curtains into a fantastic dress yet? Please say yes!

Refill the pan with cold water and dump that in.

Cool it in the refrigerator until it's cold.  Yep, that's it. 

Since I probably won't ever get to actually see you again, I hope you enjoyed my recipe-ish.  I am probably saving you thousands of dollars in sweet tea purchases.  See what a good friend I would be?

It's important for me to point out that I have been drinking way too much of this stuff the last few days and I am sure I will soon develop sleeping problems like Alex or gain an extra 100 pounds. But it sure does taste good when you're hot...and that happens a lot around here.

 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How My Husband Tried to Kill Me: Don't Worry, It Didn't Work

Last night I was having some trouble sleeping.  Nothing traumatic, Cole had been up a few times crying and Aiden was scared so I had been up a few times with them.  I also just started the third Steig Larson book and it keeps my mind spinning for a while after I put the book down.  I love books like that, love being consumed by the story.

Anyway, as I was lying on my back, trying to make my mind calm down, Alex turns over, picks up a pillow in both hands and puts it down very deliberately on my face.  He even held it there for a moment. 

Umm.  Was that a smother attempt?  Doesn't that only happen on TV?

"Alex!" 

He didn't even roll over.

"You just tried to kill me." 

(I was not being dramatic at all, and my assumption that this was a murder plot had nothing to do with me reading that book filled with approximately 10 dead people by page 65.)

"Hmpf."

Really, that was his reaction.  Attempted murder and all he has is, "hmpf."  

When I confronted him this morning about his "attack," he laughed.  He assumed I was just being funny.  (In his defense, I am usually hysterical all the time and super fun to be married to, so what is he to think?  At least, that's how I'm justifying his callous attitude about trying to kill me.)

It wasn't like he just threw the pillow and it landed on my face.  He picked it up and placed it on my face like he had a plan that he quickly aborted, probably realizing he would just have to raise all three kids alone and there isn't that much money on me in our life insurance policy.  I'm not that annoying, I do iron his shirts.

Actually, I am pretty sure he was asleep during the incident. It was more like a subconscious attempt to take my life, probably stemming from the fact that he had seen three huge boxes by our front door and I hadn't had the chance to explain to him that they were actually maternity clothes being returned from my sister-in-law, not purchases I made online.  Nothing angers Alex like frivilous shopping. 

(Note: all shopping is frivilous unless it includes stereo equipment, something advancing our children's skills at a sport, or lingerie.  Lingerie is always on the free to purchase list.  Unfortunately, my attempt to pass off things like adorable tanks as sexy sleep shirts or jeans as something a stripper would wear, have failed miserably.)

So, Alex has disturbed sleep.  I think the proper, medical diagnosis is crazy sleeper.  (See, I'm capable of creating medical terminology. You can too!) Alex talks in his sleep.  He jerks his arms and legs.  He jumps up and yells, convinced there are snakes or spiders or mice in the bed.  It's good times.

In our first apartment we had a large oval mirror over the head of our bed.  (Not over our bed, that's way more interesting than we are.  It hung on the wall at the head of our bed.)  One morning I woke up and Alex was staring at me.  He whispered, "I did something strange last night."

That statement alone scared the crap out of me...and why was he whispering?  I can only assume he was trying to add to the creepy factor. We hadn't been married that long, anything was possible.  My mind immediately raced through all the Oprah's I had watched about double lives and freaky things people found out about their husbands after marriage.  I didn't think he was gay, already married or actually a woman so I had no clue what was going on here.

(Sidenote:  I kissed Alex when he came home from work one day a few months after our wedding.  I pulled back and said, "You smell like smoke."  To which he replied, "Yeah, I smoke at work."  Good to know.  Good to know HUSBAND!  I have got to start paying closer attention to things.)

Anyway, he pointed to the large mirror which was now sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall. I looked up where the mirror had been and there was only a large black mark where it looked like something had scraped down the wall. I got up and looked at the mirror and the hanging wire on the back of the mirror was broken.


He quickly explained that in the middle of the night he woke up and was holding the mirror by the bottom edge, the mirror standing upright in his hands.  The mirror was probably 4'x2' and really heavy. He was still under the covers when he woke up and he had no memory of how it got into his hands. 

I believe that was actually the first attempt on my life. 

He's had a ton of other instances during sleep.  I've stayed awake after he goes to bed and have heard him saying, "shhhh" to no one and moving around the room.  He's ripped off our covers, convinced we are being attacked and actually swung at the air.  If it didn't scare me to death it would hilarious.

He has some really interesting conversations, usually about work, but not things he would really say at work....though I'm just guessing he usually doesn't curse about donuts to people at work, but I could be wrong.  Apparently he was smoking at work for over a year and I had no idea.  I'm clearly not in the know for the work life.  Maybe donuts are actually a large part of his work life?

So, I'm really writing this more as evidence if I suddenly die of "natural causes" during the night or anything like that.  I'm also writing this so Alex knows that if I am smothered in my sleep I fully intend to come back and haunt him with all sorts of ridiculous charges on his credit card. 

I'm pretty sure I'm safe, but I did buy a really pretty dress today and Alex had a rough day at work...not a recipe for sleeping success tonight.

Remember how great it was that we had separate beds on our getaway?  It probably saved my life.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Did I Forget To Mention That I'm A Bad Ass?


I did?  Well, I am.


Obviously.

Actually if you look closely my face looks severely contorted because I think I might vomit, or be snapped in half.  Even Aiden is looking on and wondering what the hell I am doing because all he ever hears me say is that even he's too big for me to pick up. 

I usually go to the gym two or three times a week. It is a fantastic break from the kids, they love it and I feel great after I'm finished.  On Tuesdays and Saturdays I do a crossfit workout that my police lieutenant neighbor Andy runs.  It's ridiculously hard, I'm frightened every time I go, but particularly when he wears his gun while telling us what to do, and I most often want to vomit when it's over. 

I really love it though. I also think this sounds crazy.  I shouldn't love anything that makes me want to throw up.  It's why I've averted roller coasters my whole life, or scary things like that Viking ship at amusement parks.

I've never been much into fitness.  I grew up playing tennis, but basically never went anywhere with it because I simply didn't have the drive.  I could play, but if I started losing a match I usually gave up mentally.  I mean, why make both of us fight it out when I could just look cute in my tennis skirt and go meet my boyfriend after the match?  See how driven I am?  So sad.

During crossfit I feel like I might die.  I feel like I'm going to vomit or just pass out or simply give up, but I don't and it is so gratifying to get finished and know that I did it.  I am usually last, and I am great with that.  I can't believe I am going to something like this when I could be drinking wine and getting my kids to bed. 

I actually only did the barbell you see in the photo above for a short time because I am not strong enough and had to be moved to squats with a weight ball. 

(In fairness to me, the bar and weights were like 45 pounds and I only weigh 115, it doesn't seem like I should be able to dead lift that, right? )

See how I threw in the phrase dead lift? I am so fitness smart.  I can totally work a kettleball and do about a million burpees.  (Ok, I can do like 30 and then anything after that really, really hurts.  But, I do know what a burpee is and that's a huge accomplishment for me.)

As I was running on the treadmill today I was thinking about how I am starting to sort-of enjoy the challenge of the workout.  I also have taken care of the peeing my pants while running problem so it's much more enjoyable to run.

I used to run to get sweaty and sort of feel like I did something to work off all the ice cream I eat (huge bowl nightly after dinner, it's a problem, it's a condition, it's super yummy,) but now I'm running my ass off.  I'm using the incline.  I'm climbing stairs for 20 minutes after a hard 4 mile run.  I did 75 sit ups and 30 push-ups, when I used to barely be able to lift my shoulders off the floor in a traditional push-up. I feel strong and I love it.

I think I feel so out of control with the kids sometimes that it feels great to be able to push my body a little to do something and suceed.  I can work hard and see results.  I'm stronger, my muscles feel tighter, and I am relearning all the words to my old favorite N.W.A. songs. What could be more valuable than that?

So here's a list of my top running songs.  These are the ones that I sing along too.  Seriously you should come to 24 Hour Fitness and run on the treadmill next to me, I'm super fun.  I also will periodically play these while cleaning and really bust a move. 

(I had planned to show you a video clip of me cleaning/dancing to these because I thought it might make your day brighter...but then I couldn't figure out the filming logistics so I gave up.  See how determined I am in everything?  Maybe some day. Send me your sob stories of why I should cheer you up and maybe I'll be movtivated to make a total fool of myself dancing to these for you. Maybe.)

Here's my list of exercise music.  If I weren't so lazy, as we established earlier, I would have linked to all the iTunes spots for these songs, but I am and we just have to accept me the way I come.

Get out and move people, it really does feel good...particularly set to explicit lyric raps. 

In Da Club - 50 Cent (I call him Fitty, because I am so street.)

Straight Outta Compton - N.W.A. (I really relate to their anger.)

Lose Yourself - Eminem (Greatest running song EVER)

Stronger - Kanye West (Still don't understand some of the things discussed in this song and need to get in touch with some of my dirtiest friends - Scott - to explain things to me.)

Love the Way You Lie - Eminem featuring Rihanna (A song about loving someone so much that you'd tie them to a bedpost and set the house on fire?  Just beautiful.  Sometimes I cry while running to this. Why can't these kids just work it out?)

Raise Your Glass - Pink (I LOVE Pink.  She rules and anyone saying differently will be kicked in the head by me, or Pink.)

Something 2 Dance 2 - N.W.A. (Surprisingly not that explicit so that's unfortunate, but an amazingly good beat and I have caught myself on many occasions actually trying to dance, sing and run while on the treadmill with this.  It's impossible not to move while listening to this.)

Any recommendations for what I should add?  What do you run to?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Here's a Helpful Tip Ladies...

If you have a fight with your husband and it ends in a good discussion about needing time away, and you can squeak out a few tears, your husband might be inclined to whisk you away less than 48 hours later for a 24 hour retreat.  It worked for me ladies, you too can get away.

Oh I REALLY recommend you getaway.  If you live in Austin I'll even watch your kids.  (Unless I don't like them.  Beware of a lot of random excuses from me.)

We only traveled about an hour and fifteen minutes away, but it felt like we went around the globe.  Things were so different, so blissful at this resort.  So absent of our children and so free.

It is difficult to describe how wonderful it felt to be without the constant presence, the constant concern for three other humans.  I felt lighter than air.  I felt 10 years younger.  I felt so very, very happy.

I didn't have to cook for anyone.  I was completely unaware and unconcerned with what time it was or how that related to feeding people, bathing people, or making people go to sleep. I drank a few adult beverages without concern for being able to get up in the middle of the night without feeling horrible.  I was free.  I was so completely free.

The best part?  I was able to really talk to Alex about things that we don't have the energy or time to really get in to here at home.  We laughed, and laughed, and laughed.  It felt amazing to feel so lighthearted.  I could start a conversation with Alex, and not once get interrupted by anything other than someone asking if I would like another mojito. Yes please!

We held hands and made out in the elevator.  We shared dessert.  We were just Alex and Leslie.  We were not Mommy and Daddy and we reveled in our independence.

Of course we talked about our kids, our dreams, our life together, what other topics are so dear to us?  But we also talked about a story Alex watched on the Sons of the Confederate Soliders (it was weird, but it was so fun to discuss something so random,) we talked about my writing, we discussed important things like fostering kids and how the hotel got the grass so green.  We were interesting and not so interesting.  We were us.

We ate dinner at 4:00 because we felt like it.  We took off our shoes and ran through the hotel's very pretty grass because Alex wishes so badly that we had it in our yard, and it felt so much like the grass I remember running through in Indiana as a child.  It was fun.  Just fun.

We went out for drinks and I discovered that I really like Bailey's on the rocks, which was almost the most exciting thing I took away from the trip.  We slept in separate beds (gasp!) because we could and it was really nice.  I think my Grandma and Grandpa were on to something.  We also spent a lot of time laughing about the fact that we each had our own bed on our romantic retreat. 

We slept all night without any one crying and waking us up.  No one shook my shoulder to tell me that they had peed the bed.  We woke up naturally in the morning, when we felt like it.  We got dressed and went out for a leisurely breakfast.   Oh how we love going out for breakfast....and how rarely we have done that in the last 5 years.

We wrapped up the weekend with a couple's massage at the spa (thank you Mom and Dad!!!!) and we both felt like we might pass out from the sheer joy of it.  It was so over the top relaxing with the amazing robes, the relaxation room, and then of course the massage that meant an hour of feeling like all our problems were being pressed out of our bodies.  I really think massage should be a part of our bi-weekly life to be healthy.  It was great. 

Driving back we stopped for lunch and began to get that itch to see our kids.  I know we weren't gone for long, and believe me, if we could have stayed longer we would have, but it did feel good to know we were going to see them again soon.  The break was enough to miss them a little.  It was nice to miss them.

Now that the kids have been tucked away for the night, I am still reveling in the residual affects of having gotten a much needed break.  I did feel that all that remaining joy might be sucked right out of me by the onslaught of demands and complaints the boys threw at me in the few hours before bed, but I'm hanging on to it.  I'm keeping the bliss tucked away tight.  I know it will probably leak out, but I just hope it goes slowly and I can still remember that feeling of freedom, that feeling of lighthearted joy...and possibly share it with my kids now that I am back.

Here are a few photos of how ridiculous we were acting.  Alex is incapable of a normal smile.  How happy we were.  How horrible we can look in pictures taken with an iPhone in poor lighting...particularly the one where it looks like my pale white foot is actually a prosthetic or possibly a ghost foot.  What?  You don't know what a ghost foot is?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Is This My Job?

I am going to go ahead and apologize for the disjointed nature of this post.  I have had this on me the whole time I have been constructing it and well, that makes thinking clearly really tough.




******
Alex and I had a bit of a disagreement last night.  I won't go into the details because I really don't think I'd be painting either of us in a very favorable light and I would like to maintain my status as the most awesome person you "know." 

The general idea of the disagreement was over asking for help, giving help, and the division of responsibilities.  I know, you have probably NEVER heard of a husband and wife fighting over this.  We are really ahead of our time.  Always on the edge of the next big thing. Brace yourself people, soon you will probably hear about all sorts of couples fighting over who does what in the house.  We might be booked for the Today Show next week.  Tuesday or Wednesday.

Alex kept referring to the things inside this house as my job.  Raising the kids is my job.  Cleaning and cooking are my jobs.  I have to say, I wanted my job to be to punch him in the face. 

But, did he have a point?

I think that what I do is fill a role in our life.  This can't be my job because a job implies pay, the ability to chose a different one, a seemingly temporary assignment.  I really don't remember filing my w-4 for wiping baby poop and I am pretty sure I can't just up and pick a different family....at least not without someone wanting to make a made for TV movie out of it. 

Wait a second, did I just come up with a brilliant idea to make some money?  Must explore further....

I could pick a different role because I could go get a "job" and find childcare for the kids.  I could say that I am paid in giggles and tantrums and hugs and tears...and the long term reward of hopefully raising a really great person, but do you pay taxes on that?  Also, isn't it just a little dis-genuine to say that this is the same as getting paid in actual dollars which you could spend on things like a new pair of jeans?

I feel that we decided we wanted someone to be home with our children all the time and I fit that role best.  I feel that while I am here I prepare meals and keep the house clean-ish and the clothes washed-ish.  I take people to doctor's visits and lessons to make them into more well rounded little persons.  I take the dog to the vet because, well these things tend to fall within the hours of Alex's job and the dog likes me more, of course.
Is it unreasonable though to think that after Alex returns from his job, that he should have to help with mine?  I know all sorts of women reading this are screaming at that question being asked, and filled with frustration at me and my husband.  Calm down, we're just talking here...just talking.

My husband works hard.  He works REALLY hard.  He's that employee that goes above and beyond.  He feels like he is doing a horrible job and feels consumed with guilt if he gives less than all he has to do his best for his position.  I wish he worked for me.  He's amazing.

I work really hard.  REALLY hard.  I am a good mom.  I am a pretty darn good housekeeper and an above average cook.  I think my husband would agree.  I think he thinks I'm amazing.

He is also frustrating.  He leaves early, misses dinner with us 90% of the time and has his blackberry attached to his ear for a good portion of his time here.  He is difficult to pin down for me to be able to go do things.  He has trouble sleeping or even talking if there is something going on with work that is worrying him. These are not so fun.

I am also frustrating.  I complain a lot.  I have high expectations that probably won't ever be met.  I am on my computer a lot...a lot.  I am wimpy about lack of sleep and I like to spend money that we simply don't have.  These are not so fun. 

His invests a lot of himself in his work, but I think that is very typical of males and of women that love their job and feel passionately about it.  I don't think Alex has a passion for his job, but I do think he has a passion of providing for us.  He worries about paying the mortgage, the awesome minivan payment and his ability to give us things like a family vacation or a new couch someday.  A huge portion of his working so hard stems directing from loving us so much.

I invest all of myself in this house and out children.  I feel passionately about what I do because I made these people, I'm can't jack them up...it would reflect poorly on me.  I don't think my role can be done half way for a "normal" Mom.  Sure, I can slack on the cooking and cleaning, but people need to be fed and pee needs to be wiped up.  Kids need to be disciplined, and loved.  Lots of time spent loving.

Crap, looks like we are even-Steven.  I thought for sure I would come out on top in the comparing and contrasting section of this post! 
So why is it so difficult to get him to change the sheets on our bed?  Or clean the dishes, which he normally does after dinner, if he's just too tired or doesn't feel in the mood?  I don't feel in the mood to make lunches or grocery shop....ever, but it's part of my role and I don't see an option since eating seems kind of important around here. 
Is it my job though to go to the grocery store?  Is it my job to change the sheets, not his?  If I need help with the laundry folding and he's watching TV and relaxing should he help me?

Is it any different if I spent 2 hours that day reading blogs?  What if I simply sat in a lawn chair and watched the kids run around the yard for 3.5 hours in the afternoon because I didn't feel like doing the laundry, I wanted to relax?  Should these things change the expectations I have for him that night when he comes home after working all day? 

I don't mind cooking.  I really don't want Alex to cook.  I like that he goes to work and brings in the bucks, not that I wouldn't like to bring in the bucks too, but this is sort of how I see us best situated right now.  I do hope that eventually changes and I can join the game again, but for now I don't see how we could make something different work.  Except for that made for TV movie about my double life of course.

I like that I can stay home with the kids and I don't want Alex to do it.  I think I'm better at it.  I'm not trying to insult Alex, I just am.  I'm also funnier, we all have our things.  He's really pretty to look at.

I think our argument stemmed from both of our desperate needs for a break.  We need to reconnect. We need to get away from these kids and we need to regroup as a team. We need a change of pace.  We need a winning lottery ticket.

(Ok, we don't need the lottery ticket.  But I bet it would at least change what we are disagreeing on for a while and we could probably go on a fancy vacation for the location of all our new fights.)

Thankfully my parents are coming to visit soon and that just makes everything better.  Everything.

He can call it my job if he wants to, it's really just semantics.  I am definitely, without question, responsible for all the child rearing, the cleaning, the cooking, etc, just like he is responsible for all the money making.  But, whether I ask him to help fold laundry or he asks me to help him work through an employee issue, we are a team. We each have specialities, but we should each ask for help when needed.  And we should get the help when we ask.

The moment we are fighting over things like folding laundry or who left the milk out (Alex) we both start losing.  The "who has it harder game" always results promptly in two losers.  It's a really crappy game. 

And my job is way more difficult than his job, Oprah says. 


PS  I didn't reveal the details of the fight because hopefully you can see just how ridiculous it was with all of my mentions of laundry and cooking. There was no bad guy, there is no weak woman.  There is no one to defend, no one to beat up.  We both sucked for a while and we are both back to freakin awesome.  Ok, freakin awesome-ish.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Might Make Really Good Greek Salad, It's A Recipe-Ish People

If you missed the first two weeks of my new series on Recipe-Ish.  You can check them out here.  Or here.  This isn't something where you have to read the first two to understand this one.  This isn't Twilight people, it's just dinner. 

I wrote this one to Amity because I love her.  I would marry her if I like women like that or could have an extra wife around here to hang out with me.  She gets me, I love her enthusiasm for trying to get her family to move all the time, her craftiness and her ability to sympathize with me over the most mundane and self-absorbed things that really bother me.  She rocks.

I wrote her a post on her birthday and you can read that here.

So, Amity doesn't eat meat because...I forget the reason actually.  I'm sure it has to do with Food Inc. or something like that because I think that film could make a vegetarian out of most people.  As could that gross video going around that shows the making of a chicken nugget. 

I did watch Food Inc, but was way too scared to watch the nugget video.  What the hell else would I feed my kids on desperate nights? I don't need extra guilt.  I come by plenty of it naturally.

Anyway, I told Amity I would send her the recipe for a simple Greek salad that basically sustains Alex and me when I don't want to cook.

Did she actually ask for this recipe?  Well, no. 

Is this really a recipe?  Probably not. 

Is this even a recipe-ish?  It's a bit of a stretch, but it's late and I'm pressing forward.

Did I subject her to a day of listening to me blabber on about all the ideas I have for decorating my house, my lack of money to buy a mini dress for a wedding I'm attending, and force her to pretend to be trapped in my children's booby trap about twenty times so that I didn't have to do it and by the time I asked her if I could write my recipe-ish to her she was willing to pretend to be interested in anything to get the hell out of here?  Yes, huge success.

Here's the message:
********************************
I almost feel like it's insulting for me to send you instructions on how to make this.  Almost.

I feel pretty confident in my ability to make a fantastic Greek salad because I married a half Greek and with that comes certain rights and abilities.  One of those abilities is to make a good Greek salad.  One of the rights is to make it all the damn time because it is so easy and delicious. 

Another ability is to learn to ignore random, seemingly irrational loud talking that sounds like your husband might be fighting with you, but you don't really understand that an argument has started... probably because one hasn't, that's just how he talks when he gets fired up.  It's good times here.  Good. Times.

Since you don't eat meat I think this is going to be perfect for you.  If you should decide that you want to sprinkle it with bacon or cut up a hot dog and just mix it in, NO ONE will judge you. I'm just saying, bacon pretty much makes everything better so you might want to think really carefully before you completely scrap the idea. 

(Also, you can't tell me that the new Sonic commercials for the different varieties of hot dogs don't make you sort-of wish you could go buy one covered in sauerkraut- isn't that danish or close to it?  and gobble it down.  No?) 

Here's what you are going to need for the salad:

1 Cucumber - I use the mini cucumbers because my kids eat them more readily than normal cucumbers and they just tend to taste better.  But, if you want your salad to taste like a pile of poo then go ahead and get the normal ones.  

(Sidenote:  Did I ever tell you that when I was in the eighth grade there was a HORRIBLE rumour going around about this girl that stuck a cucumber up herself?  It went on for a long time and it was rough for her.  You know what was rough for me?  That I had no clue what anyone was talking about or why or where she would be sticking a cucumber.  Yep, those were innocent, pre-running to explicit lyrics days.  Poor girl.  I wonder if it was true?)

Ok, so get a cucumber!
1 tomato - this is tough because store bought tomatoes really blow.  I've been using grape tomatoes this winter, in which case you need about a cup of them, sliced in half.  You could keep them whole, but then they roll a lot and that's rough eating.  You don't want rough eating do you? 

This is not going well.

Starting over.

One cucumber or two baby cucumbers, sliced
One diced tomato or one cup grape tomatoes sliced in half
One avocado, diced
1/4 a medium red Onion, diced
1/4 cup Olive Oil (Greek or die)
1/4 cup Crumbled Feta
1/4 cup* Red Wine vinegar
1/4 cup* Oregano
1/4 cup* Salt
1/4 cup* Pepper

*these are fictious amounts because I liked how streamlined things were looking.  If you put 1/4 cup of any of these things in the salad it will be a nasty, granular mess.  Don't do it...unless you want to of course.  It's just a recipe-ish and you bought the food so do with it as you please.

So, I also don't really know how much red onion.  What's medium? I don't know, but all the recipes I read have things like large or small onion listed with absolutely nothing to gauge what large or small actually means, so I thought I could do it too. 

There should be some reference to inches or at least comparisons to common fruits or rodents or something.  Like 1/4 medium (size of average mouse) onion.  Wouldn't that be more helpful?  I am totally writing a cook book.

So, slice the cucumbers.  You can take the skin off if you really want to, but I have this Facebook friend that puts healthy living facts in his status updates (thank you Peter Strack) - he also used to love the smell of my perfume and would smell me all the time, which sounds weird but it was really sweet and I wish someone wanted to smell me now, but I live in Texas now and I perspire for 80% of the year and usually smell like baby spit up, dirty diapers or feet so my perfume doesn't stand a fighting chance. I miss you Peter.  We also went to nursery school together.  

Yes, these are important facts for the recipe!

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, Peter's status update once stated that leaving the skin on the cucumber is really healthy because it contains almost all the vitamins you need in a day.   Seriuos stuff.  So, peel if you must, it's your crappy health, but I suggest leaving it on. Peter and I both recommend it.

After you slice the cucumbers, put them in a bowl.  You could also use a box or a baking dish, but that would be weird, just get a bowl Amity.

Add the diced tomato or sliced grape tomatoes.

Add the diced red onion - go light on this at first. It can give you heart burn for hours and you are really cranky when you are in pain.  Poor Philip shouldn't have to contend with that.

Add the avocado (confession, this isn't usually in a greek salad in Greece, but personally I think it should be and I plan on petitioning this next time I go, if I have learned Greek by then, also if I have learned to smoke by then because I want to look like I fit in and everyone there smokes all the time.  Everywhere.  Seriously, how have their people endured all these years?)

Add some crumbled feta - this might surprise you, but I don't know how much I add of that exactly either, just start with 1/4 a cup and build from there. 

Pour some olive oil in - can you guess what I'm going to say?  No clue how much, just pour so there is a little pool at the bottom of the bowl.

Dash of red wine vinegar. Ok, couple dashes, but not too more than two.

Couple pinches of oregano. (Extra points if your father in law brings this back to you from Greece.)

Sprinkle some salt - I use sea salt because I like the sea

Sprinkle some coarse ground pepper.  (Extra points if you use a broken pepper grinder from Costco like me because they are the coolest.)

Now mix.

WA - FREAKIN - LA.

That was supposed to be like saying Voila!  Not Washington to Los Angeles or anything.  Anyone else feel like the wa-freakin-la thing sounded very Kit from Pretty Woman?  She's a gem.

Now, I usually buy frozen mini loaves of rosemary bread, spread olive oil on the top, sprinkle with sea salt (go sea!) and then bake them to serve with this becaue I am AMAZING!  But you could just serve this with anyting I guess.  What, am I supposed to do?  Give you all the ideas?

That literally is our whole meal. Rosemary bread or french bread and greek salad.  It's divine and  I feel like I could eat it every night....but I won't because I would quickly start to hate it and I am smart enough to know that.
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 That's it people.  Make it. Make it often.

Confession:  Throughout this post I spelled tomato, tomatoe....isn't that a little embarrassing?

Also a little endearing too though, right?  How cute am I that I misspell words? 

I know that's not cute, it's late though and I can't seem to stop typing. 

Check out this picture of Stella with a box on her head. 


Funny, right?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Poison Pajamas: And Other Random Stuff in My Head

Am I the only person that believes in pajama mojo?  Because I do.  I really, really do.

We are on a sleeping streak with Stella.  I know it goes completely against the sleeping Gods to even mention this success, but she has been sleeping fantastic the last few days. 

(If that all goes to hell tonight, we'll know it's because of this blog post and I'll be forced to delete it from the blog permanentally in an effort to remedy my errors.) 

Clearly.

Do you know why she has been sleeping so well?  Because I threw out the jacked up poison pajamas she was sleeping in last week when she only let me sleep for two hours.  Seriously, I threw them out. They don't belong in this house anymore.  I can't handle the toxic no-sleep serum they pump into my baby.

Now, some of you may be confused. Am I talking about flame retardant pajamas? Synthetic materials?  No, I'm talking about the pajamas my kids sleep in on their worst nights of sleep.   I throw them out.  If I didn't think it would seem totally insane, I would burn them.

I know it might sound crazy, but seriously, there is something to this. 

(Also, this probably isn't the weirdest thing I do so it sounds pretty good to me.)

I am convinced that certain pajamas just do not lend themselves to a good night sleep for my kids, so I toss them.  Any pajamas that gave a questionable, but not horrible sleep performance are shoved to the back of the drawer until I feel like enough time has passed for the pajamas to be wearable again, and I give them another chance....because I'm such a good person.

Is this superstitious?  Maybe.

Is this practical?  Of course.  What is more important than sleep?

Is this wasting perfecting good pajamas?  No way.  They aren't any good if my kids don't sleep in them.

Am I the only person that does this?

I also hesitate to put on any pajamas that I have seen them crawl around in outside. I do actually wash them, but for some reason I can't get the image of them crawling around in the dirt out of my head when I dress them for bed.

Sidenote: Stella needs some new pajamas, and while at Sears on Sunday the woman working there in the children's clothing section told me they don't sell pajamas in a 12 month size.  Is that nuts?  Isn't that a sleeping market? 


***********************************

For all of Stella's awsome sleep, Cole has been back to his crazy sleeping habits.  I fully blame Alex and his ancestory because he and several others in his family have sleeping issues.  My family, of course, just lays down and goes to sleep without stirring unless stirred....so much more refined.

So, Cole has been waking up screaming and sweating and just simply out of his mind.  I know, night terrrors.  When will this end?  I have tried to blame his pajamas, but it just isn't flying anymore since he can pick out his own and his entire world hinges on whether he will be Superman, Batman or Spiderman to sleep each night and I'm afraid he would actually cobust if I threw any of these in the trash.

So tonight he woke up a few hours after bedtime and came up behind me while I was inhaling a bowl of pasta and watching HGTV.  He scared me to death and then acted so cute I let him stay up and share my bowl of pasta.  I know, reinforcing the bad habit.  He is scary cute sometimes though.

As he was eating I asked him if he liked the noodles. 

"Yeah, I like them."

Then he stopped eating, dropped his noodle back in the bowl and looked me square in the eyes.

"You know what I don't like Mommy?  Tigers.  They just keep saying ROAR."

He's really insightful like that.  Insightful or partially nuts, perhaps this is the sleep problem?

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I am officially obsessed with putting a cloffice in my master bedroom.  Unfortuantely it wouldn't be in a closet, but more of a nook so I guess it would be a nooffice, which doesn't sound very pleasant.

It also doesn't look very promising that I would actually ever complete this project since I am currently on day four of trying to paint the playroom.  It's not moving fast folks.  Not fast at all.

Here's a link to the blog post that started my obessession

Don't you want a cloffice too now?  It would make me feel better if I'm not the only one pining for this decorating task, but completely overwhelmed with starting it.

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I have rediscovered a love for N.W.A. while running.  It is raw and dirty and has the best beats.  If you are looking for some running music, check it out.  You might not be classy, or allowed to around anyone under the age of 17, but you'll be running like the police are chasing you.  Good times!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Turns Out, It's All Stella's Fault

First off, I'm a big fat liar.  I told you I would give you an update of the playroom's state on Sunday night and that just did not happen.  My deepest apologies.  I was really busy...with something I'm sure. I'm very busy.

So, all my playroom makeover dreams were basically shattered when Alex informed me that this would be the stopping point until NEXT weekend. 


Good Lord, we didn't even come close to a makeover weekend. We haven't painted the corners or the edges near the trim.  Oh, and do you see the curtains slung over the kid kitchen?  Even better, the rod is still in the box.  Good thing I have a party here Thursday night.  (Let me know if you want to come by the way.)

In happier news....Alex and I did a semi switch in roles this Sunday.  Ever since Stella was born I have been more or less glued to her. She obviously requires more direct care and attention than the boys do and when we do anything I am always holding Stella or waiting by the stroller with Stella while I watch the boys go off and do something else.  When we went to the rodeo as a family a few weeks ago, I felt like I had a completely separate experience there with Stella than Alex did with the boys.  It's just tough to all do anything together.  That baby really holds me back.

So Sunday afternoon I took the boys to a birthday party and a quick errand at Sears while Alex stayed home with Stella.  His plans were to finish painting the playroom, so clearly he needed to spend more time with her to realize that he wouldn't even be able to pee without her making a run for the fireplace and scattering the rocks all over the place, including a few in her mouth to choke on and die.

I was a little concerned about my daughter's safety, but pretty confident she wouldn't let him get too far off track.  She demands attention when she wants or needs it. 

And we all know how much painting he got done.  (See photo above.)  I think his lesson has been learned.

So I took the boys to a bouncing place for a birthday party.  I usually hate doing this sort of thing. I feel annoyed that I have to spend the weekend among even more children, I'm frustrated that I'm not getting more accomplished and I feel frantic the whole time that my children are being loaded with sugar and will probably be too tired to even function through dinner and bedtime without at least 83 meltdowns. I'm usually at least 30 minutes late, trying to strategically plot how and where to feed Stella and trying to manage a stroller while pulling tantrum having Cole out of the parking lot before he gets hit by a car.

Even at my favorite people's kids' birthday parties, it just sort of blows.

This was different though, very different.  Not having Stella attached to me changed everything. I actually walked around with the boys.  I got into the bounce houses and jumped, slid down slides and threw inflatable balls at Aiden and Cole.  (All balls thrown were in fun and surprisingly not a single one was thrown in a moment of aggression!)

The truth is, I had a great time. I loved being able to actually spend time with them...who knew?  It was fun to be able to run after them and move without just having to scream from the sidelines.  It was fantastic.

The best part?  I know that I can now blame Stella whenever I am feeling overwhelmed and not enjoying anything that I go do with the boys because really it's just her fault.  I love excuses for my negative parental behavior!

After the party we went to Sears to return my latest Lands End purchases and buy Alex some new mower blades.  It was as thrilling as it sounds.

I made the return, which involved a very kind young man that spoke with a lisp and had that skin condition where he loses the pigment so that he looks very splottchy.  I thought I was going to have a heart attack waiting for Aiden or Cole to point and loudly ask me what was wrong with this poor young man's face.  Thank the Lord, they both were too distracted by the escalator to worry about this boy's Michael Jackson issues.

After the return the boys and I headed for the always thrilling escalator.  We had no reason to go upstairs since the lawn care was on the first floor, but as a mother of only two I can make dreams like this come true. The escalator is something the boys have learned to yearn for because I usually have Stella with me in the stroller and can't handle all three of them and the stroller while riding.  We ordinarily are forced to ride the elevator and the boys' only joy is getting to push a button...lame!

We rode up the escalator and I discovered we were in the children's section.  $60 later the boys each had an obnoxious character t-shirt and Stella had a collection of bubble outfits and dresses that made me swoon. Fantastic. Who knew there was so much reasonably priced joy at Sears?

We headed back to lawn care.  Of course the guy that was helping us had no idea what kind of a blade Alex needed, nor where to find out the answer to that question...much less where such a blade would be if he did know.  Ugh. I started to wonder if I was actually talking to a Sears employee or just someone in a navy polo that thought it might be fun to mess with me.

The boys were happily playing among the fake garage equipment and lawn mowers though so I dug deep for patience. Besides, I only had two kids!  Life was easy.

After about 15 minutes though, we hadn't made a lot of progress and Aiden suddenly tells me his tummy hurts.  I tell him to sit down and we'll go in a moment.  Ten seconds later I ask him if he needs to go to the bathroom, to which he replies, "I already pooped in my underpants." 

Fantastic. The description of, "my tummy hurts," just didn't quite cover all the ailments there.

Now, this doesn't throw me too much, I mean these things happen right?  Except this is Aiden. He is very particular.  He overflowed our toilet this weekend because he used so many wipes after pooping.  He likes to go to the bathroom in my bathroom because there is a large full length mirror where he can bend over and check to be sure all the poop is gone. Particular doesn't even scratch the surface. 

I quickly told the clerk to find what he could and we'd be back.  Of course the bathrooms were all the way back upstairs.  We couldn't take the escalator again though because Cole had decided he was too weak to walk so I had busted out the stroller for him.  Back to the elevator.

After getting things cleared up with Aiden, and thankfully finding that things weren't as bad as I thought they might be, I threw Aiden's underwear away. This traumatized him since he hates throwing away even the smallest and most useless of things, like the broken piece to a toy he got in a Sonic kid's meal, but he did finally conceded and we were off toward the elevator again.

Right outside the elevator is this.

Which both of my children decided to spank several times and giggle about a "bad booty," while an elderly woman and her husband stared with horrific looks on their faces.  I assume they were appalled at my children's actions, but I like to think they just didn't approve of the undergarments.

Then, the boys turned and asked why I didn't want to look at these.


Because they thought they were pretty.  My kids have really good taste in lingerie.  I assume the elderly couple now thinks that these are the types of things I wear around the house while taking care of my 3 and 5 year old boys.  It was weird that they didn't ride down in the elevator with us.
We finally made it back to the lawn care area, picked up Alex's mower blades and headed home. 

Even with one child pooping in his pants, I felt calm and really happy with the day.  Is this what all people with two children feel? Is there something magical that happens once your children can all walk independently, speak in full sentences and more or less use the potty?  If so, I can't wait for Stella to get there. 

She sure is sweet, but she really divides the family now and makes quality time with the boys tough. I'm proud of Alex and me for mixing up the childcare for a day and giving him a chance with Stella (which he loved by the way, even with all the unfinished work it left,) and me a chance to just hang with the boys.  We are truly amazing parents, right?  I can think of no other reason for why our kids are so freakin' fantastic.*

*Please remember this sentence for giggles when tomorrow I resume my ordinary rants and ravings about how these kids drive me nuts.  Today, and today only they're great.