Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Mom and Stella Make For a Busy Week

Today is my Mother's birthday.  Happy Birthday to my Mom! 

She turns fifty again today!  This means that she was a mere sixteen when she had me.  It gets more interesting every year.  Mom, you totally could have starred in that MTV show Sixteen and Pregnant.  I'm confident you would have been a hit.

Wish I were there to celebrate with you!  We'll have a crazy party in July when I there where you can do keg stands and set off firecrackers and play a game of hoops in honor of your big day. 

Yes, I know you don't want that stuff but for some reason that is what came to my mind when thinking about celebrating you.  Did I mention your gift is coming?  It's going to be late, but it's coming? 

Hooray for extending the the time period to celebrate!

Remember what you were doing a year ago Mom?  Sitting around and waiting for a baby with me. Lucky you!  I'm reasonably confident that you are having a much better time with your husband, daughter-in-law and 2/5 of your grandchildren eating pizza and cupcakes. 

Happy Birthday!

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

I was desperate for Stella to get the hell out of me.  Seriously, she was due on the 30th and I was convinced I was going to have her early since my doctor kept marveling at how LOW she was...which is why she was born on June 2nd. 

Those last few days were filled with anxious anticipation and so much readiness to just get the painfully, uncomfortable pregnancy over with and start the painfully uncomfortable newborn phase.  I was beyond ready.  I was the Queen of Ready. 

I was also the Queen of Really Cranky.

(Perhaps all this news of my Royal status has you a bit overwhelmed.  Feel free to take a moment.)

I also was excited though.  It was tough to decipher in and among all the complaints that I had, and all the "For the love of God please someone ask Google how long the longest human pregnancy has lasted so I know the final end date!"  Then we did Google it and read that some lady from the Middle East carried her baby for 46 years and I started crying.  True story.

But I was excited.  This was my first girl.  (I also really love labor because I've had such easy ones and it's pretty darn exciting.) I loved my boys, but I was elated to get to experience something different.  I had high hopes that the newborn/baby phase would be different. 

Maybe this time I would get a sleeping baby?  Maybe she wouldn't have horrible acid reflux?  Maybe she wouldn't scream for hours on end on a daily basis?  Possibly I would be able to relax a little?  Dare to dream people...it all came true...and more.

Below is a re post of something I wrote about my Stella shortly after she was born while I was deep in the midst of being completely enthralled by her.  She has continued to be my most easy going baby, and the one that most easily can elicit a smile, even a fleeting feeling of sadness about her being my last baby....which speaks volumes about how much I adore her.  She's phenomenal.   

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

I stumble over the phrase, "my daughter" in everyday conversation. It shocks me when I walk into her room filled with pink accents and a closet full of dresses. Her feminine name still sounds awkward, but beautiful, coming out of my mouth. I am so very, completely in love with her. I feel drawn to her. I hold her and whisper my love for her over and over because I can't think of any other words worth saying to her in the moments that are just for the two of us, like rocking her to sleep or cuddling with her while the boys nap. It's beyond me...it's amazing.


Now, before my mother reads this and sends me an email explaining her concern for these types of blog entries because my boys might one day read this and feel less loved, I must point out what I feel is obvious. Stella is my third baby, not my only one, and I love and adore each of my children equally. I am in no way implying, or straight up stating, that I love her more than the boys. But right now...oh she's my favorite for the peace she brings. Aiden and Cole, if you are reading this and feeling less loved, sorry, but you should have cried less and slept more...I do love you immensely though.

Things are simply different with her, especially at this point, than they were with the boys. The boys had acid reflux and cried without any chance of consolation. They woke and ate constantly. They were restless sleepers when they were asleep and rarely slept more than 4 or 5 hours in a row until they were 4 months old. They consumed me. They drained me. I had to give all of myself to them constantly for the first 3 months of their lives and it was rough. I loved them desperately and would do it again for them (unless I could have them and skip that part, I mean why would I want the torture?), but I didn't have the opportunity to peacefully enjoy the first days and weeks of new life in one of my children, until now.

Everyone asks me if it feels different to have a little girl specifically. In a word, yes. But, why is difficult to pinpoint. I mean, some things are so clear, like clothing covered in hearts and baked goods versus construction vehicles, or as basic as pink versus blue, but that isn't it. At times, the differences resonate with me so profoundly in everyday moments, but I can't quite articulate them. Some of the differences I feel are truly because she is a girl, and some are probably more because she is my third and let's hope final baby which makes her the light at the end of my baby tunnel (maybe not a good expression because this definitely sounds more birth canal than part of an analogy, but you know what I mean,) thank goodness...I think.

I feel irrational pride over how adorable she is, though I do feel it is not even subjective, she just is adorable. While getting the boys' haircut last week a woman waiting next to us was staring at Stella. I turned and smiled at the woman and she half talked, half gasped, "your baby is beautiful!" She continued to comment on her delicate features and gorgeous skin. I felt an irrational surge of pride of my child's appearance that I never felt with the boys, and I think I have good looking boys. My little girl could be...pretty! It was ridiculous on so many levels. I was embarrassed of my pride about such a shallow thing, and even more embarrassed that I felt this about my daughter but never had felt this about compliments on my sons' looks. What's next? Would I start telling my boys to be smart, make a lot of money and be funny and they could have everything they would want in life? Ridiculous stereotypes.

I do love to dress her, something that rarely gave me joy with the boys. I feel like I have this smaller, much cuter version of me that I get to dress in crazy things like large bows on her head or bold print dresses that come with matching underwear covers. I could never wear that since no one wants to see my large butt covered in a bold print bloomer, but I love that my daughter can.

I had always felt that girls were more peaceful babies, though I do know there are exceptions to this. Stella is immensely peaceful. I find her lying in her bassinet, quiet and smiling at the ceiling, amused and satisfied by herself. Both my boys would have been crying and squirming to have someone come save them from this private moment. She fusses when she gets tired and is only pacified by me putting her down and leaving her alone to rest. I can not describe the immense joy I feel at her not needing me every moment. She is bliss.

I left her in the middle of my bed starting at a ceiling fan for 30 minutes today. Every time I walked by she was smiling at the fan. When I stuck my head over her to say hello she glared at me as if I had interrupted her private joy with watching the fan...how dare I? I love that she was that independent.

(Dear Lord, please help me remember this gratitude of independence during our first fight over makeup, clothing, curfew, etc.)

I could go on and on. She has been an immediate joy with no effort from me. I always felt I was working to love the boys in amongst all my work just to survive with them. This is heaven to just be with her, love her and feel like she is adding to me rather than trying to rob me of me. I know, this is possibly helped by this being my third and all the perspective that comes with that, but she is different. She is heaven. She is my little girl.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ten Things To Smile About Post

Not too long ago I was feeling envious of several of my friends.  It felt that I was the only person not going on a vacation or taking elaborate weekend getaways with their spouse.  Every Facebook status update or tweet that I read made me feel like I was missing out.

I know, it was pathetic.  I wrote a post about it here.

So, when I was doing my daily blog reading and read that Emmy was doing a Ten Things to Smile About blog link party, I felt like it was another opportunity for me to think of things to be happy about, even if I'm not on a luxury cruise with my man and no kids. 

Wait, I need a minute to think about how nice that would be.

OK, just like last time, I'm not going to include anything in the list like my three healthy children.  I feel like that's too obvious.  (Please read that carefully since last time I got a VERY angry comment.  You can read that on the post link above.  I love it when people decide to project their anger about their situation on to me.  It feel so good!)

My kids make me smile (and cry) all the time.  I'm grateful for all the wonderful people in my life, but this list is going to be more fun than that...and a lot more frivolous.

1. The Bachelorette.  It's just solid entertainment.  I love the drama that always accompanies these people's journey to find "true love."  I love all the fabulous one-liners that come out during each episode.  On this season  I love the mask guy in particular.  It's just good TV to see a man in an Batman type mask and a ski cap looking for love.

2. Stella's birthday gift, which we gave her today despite the fact that her birthday is Thursday.


I don't add this because it brings her so much joy, which is fun, but rather because it brings me joy. It brings me joy to know that there is a good chance that for at least the next few days she will be 100% entertained by that toy and it's going to buy me some time.  It's going to give me the ability to do all sorts of crazy things like cook dinner with both hands, make a phone call without fighting Stella for the phone and life changing things like update my Facebook status whenever I like.

3. My InStyle magazine.   I love this magazine for many reasons but I must say there are two things that bring me the most joy every time I read it. 

a) The section where they put together an amazing outfit for different events like, "backyard barbecue" or "day trip to the beach," which far surpass anything I would throw on for an afternoon in my friend's yard eating meat or to drive to a huge pile of sand next to water. I love it. 

b) The section where they put together a phenomenal look, all with pieces under $50!  This is so amusing to me because I am not impressed that they were able to find a pair of shorts or a pair of earrings for under this amount.  Give me the whole thing under $50 and then I'll swoon.

4. My mini-van.  I know, it sounds like I should be angry that I have to drive this. I should feel like less of a woman for having to trade in my mini-suv for a Mommy Mobile, but it's pretty phenomenal.  Do you know how far away my boys are from me?  I can't even hand something to them.  I can barely hear their conversations when they are talking in a normal voice.  It's fantastic.

5. Superglue.  This has transformed our weekend.  On Saturday, the boys each bought some small Star Wars figures which have tiny light sabers for these mini pieces of plastic to fight one another with for hours.  These figures and their weapons are fantastic until the sword falls out of one their "hands" and I have to deal with putting it back it 527 times in the span of an hour.  Oh the joy though of superglue, which enabled me to permanently affix light sabers and mini helmets on top of these things which I already hate, and fear I have several more years with since the boys are obsessed.  Thank you Superglue!

6. My Big-Ass Necklace.  I know this has a more proper name, sorry Jessica.  You can find it here.  I love this though. 


I should be happy because it was made by women trying to work their way out of poverty.  I should love it because a portion of the money I gave to buy it went to help fund the adoption of a child that will soon find their way to loving parents.  But...I think it's super fun and looks good with much more than I ever thought it would and I feel like I'm the coolest woman when I wear it.  I feel like there is no way people would believe I drive a minivan and have three kids. 

(I haven't felt like that since winning the position of junior class president at Carmel High School.  I had some power in those days people.  I helped plan PROM.)

I was scared to buy it at first because I am not a very big person and I tend to be frightened of large pieces of jewelry because they can swallow me.  I always feel like I look like I'm trying to hard to mimic my InStyle Magazine or cooler friends, but it's great.  It's just great.

7. HGTV.  It's just so fantastic.  Since the cancellation of our DVR service, I despise flipping channels when I sit down and feel like watching TV.  If I actually have the rare opportunity to sit and watch TV without the programming being geared to those under the age of six, I don't want to waste time looking for something that I'm OK watching.  I am never disappointed by HGTV.  I can either drool over the beautiful things done or laugh at how ridiculous people's choices are for decor, it's just good clean fun.  And House Hunters International makes me feel cultured without leaving the couch.  Win!

8. Alex and I Pre-Kids.  This photo was taken in Greece before we had kids.  I love how young and carefree we look...probably because we were.  We took it ourselves on the side of a road while we were driving around Santorini...on a moped.  Seriously, I couldn't even fit my diaper bag on a moped these days. I don't long to be without my kids (well, not without them forever, but another trip to Greece without them would not elicit a complaint from me,) but oh boy those days were fun...as is made clear by Alex's facial hair.  Love that.

9. Trips to Indiana.  I LOVE going home and there is no where that I feel more relaxed and more content than at my parent's house in Indiana.  All sorts of wonderful goes on there.  I see my family. I see my friends that have been with me since I was five, or before.  I rarely am in charge of cooking.  I get to see my children play in my parent's fabulous yard and do things like build a damn in the creek behind the house with my Dad or read ten million books with my Mom...while I swing on the patio swing with a glass of wine.  Oh the bliss.  I can not wait for the trip this year. 

The 2 days in that awesome minivan....not so much. 

10. Making $25 Off Craigslist.  I have a serious love-hate relationship with Craigslist lately. I've had some loony folks trying to buy my stuff recently.  It was definitely making me angry for a while.  I had had enough.

Full disclosure, I probably do not help the situation since I engage EVERYONE regardless of creepiness or lack of boundaries. This is a horrible trait for dealing with strangers that are purchasing your used goods for rock bottom prices. 

Today I sold some things that had been sitting in my closet for six months now and the woman could not have been more pleasant.  She came when she said she would, she didn't barter with me, she gave me cash, she tried to pay me more when I gave her stuff for free and she didn't once make me feel like maybe I should have let someone know I was meeting a stranger...just in case she decided to stab me or something.  It was painless and pretty fun to get some cash for junk in my closet.  I should head to the back of that place more often.

That's the list folks.  SMILE!

Hope you have a happy, and short, week!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dear Tantrum Throwing Offspring,

Dear Tantrum Throwing Offspring,

It seems I've upset you.  I get the feeling you think I'm mean and that you don't like me.  I even get the distinct impression that you believe I'm doing an extremely inadequate job in my role as your mother.

I mostly have extracted this information from your repetitious screams and cries of, "You're a mean Mommy!  I don't like you!  You're a bad Mommy!" 

I'm a lot like Nancy Drew in my ability to figure these sorts of things out.  A real cracker jack with the emotions.  It's a gift really.  Let's hope you inherit it along with my extra long colon.  I'm giving you so much.

I would apologize for my lack of dedication and attention to detail in this job, but that's just not going to happen.  I only apologize when I feel I've genuinely done something wrong and despite all of your very real emotions, I'm fairly confident I'm doing everything (perhaps in this moment alone) right. 

This is going to be confusing and appear to be backwards, convoluted, like an episode of Lost, but I'm pissing you off so badly because I love you so much.  I love you so much that I'm willing to listen to you scream and shout, throw things, and even try to hit me so that you have a really good shot of being a happy, non-asshole sort of person. 

There is no way in hell I'm giving you the juice/treat/toy/freedom you are screaming for right now because I love you.  You're welcome.  I know it's confusing and it really frustrates you right now because you think that if you don't get that thing you are so desperate for in this moment that your head might explode, but it won't and you're going to be fine. 

I'm making you a spectacular, non-head-exploding person.  You really should be smiling.

See, if I didn't care whether or not someday you feel like you should just get things like...oh say, a place to live, food, transportation, or even friends, I'd go on and let you do whatever you damn well please and give you anything your heart desires. 

(Yes, I realize that does sound really good, but it isn't.  I told you this would be confusing.)

If I didn't care, I wouldn't sit here and listen to your not so nice words and put off doing a million and one things that I would like to do, because I want you to learn that you don't get to throw a fit and have things magically fall in to line for you.  It's never going to work.

Sure, you could turn in to the person that screams at the 18 year old waitress for a wrong order or tries to beat up someone for taking your parking place, but those people suck.  I really don't want you to suck.
I don't want you to be crushed, paralyzed with disappointment when you aren't handed an A on paper or a place on the team because you simply wanted them but didn't quite get the idea that you had to work really hard first.  I want you to feel sad, a little let down, but never be so completely baffled by rejection that you can't persevere. 

See, this here is a lesson.  Isn't learning fun?

This morning it's just juice or a toy, but in a few years it'll be something bigger and you need to be ready.  You need to know that if you speed and get a ticket, it's yours to deal with and definitely yours to pay.  You'll want a job or a relationship and I want you to know you have to work hard for both, they don't just happen. 
I can not describe how deeply unsatisfied you would feel for the next 80 or 90 years.  How challenging it would be for you to feel happy and content with what you have and with the people around you if I just gave you what you want.  Oh you would be miserable. 

Contrary to all appearances currently, I really do want you to be happy.

I'm going to hold you accountable for your actions, intentional or not. I'm going to take away privileges when you refuse to help or cooperate. I'm going to expect you to do the right thing and make the right choices...and help you when you don't so you can learn from those mistakes by taking responsibility for them.  I'm going to teach you respect for other people, patience with other people, and the importance of being kind.

Oh it is really important to be kind.  It's very hard sometimes, but it is so much better than being angry.

I'm going to love you.  I'm going to love you so much it's going to make you very, very upset. 

You are welcome.

Love, Mom

P.S.  It would really help me if you would stop wiping your snot on the furniture, drooling on to the floor and knocking stuff down during these tantrums.  Thanks a bunch!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sad Stuff and Fluffy Stuff - Five Question Friday

A family friend unexpectedly passed away Wednesday night and I just can't stop thinking about the profound sadness of it all.  My age-ish, married, a little boy and such a good guy. Such an amazing guy.

I love his family and my heart breaks for all that they are having to go through right now.  I can't imagine walking through this type of grief and I pray for their strength, for their courage and for whatever else they need during this time...I don't even know.

Any time something like this happens I find myself unable to focus on other things, I stop in the middle of ordinary tasks like pouring a glass of tea and wonder how his wife is doing.  How his Mom and Dad are coping. I wonder about that little boy.

Oh that little boy.  I know a lot of people that have lost parents at a young age and it's affected all of them differently, but it's all sad. I pray he'll feel how loved he is by all the amazing people in his family and know his father's love through them.  I'm confident he will, but it still makes me so sad.

So, I spent most of yesterday with a pit in my stomach.  I fiercely watched my children at the pool, I was unapologetically smothering them in affection and attention yesterday, and I anxiously awaited Alex's arrival home from work so I could kiss him and thank him for being such a amazing husband and father.

It's also possible that I caused a whole lot of pain by letting Aiden and Cole jump off our ottoman onto bean bags and one another because I was caught up in being Fun Mommy and they bashed heads.  It wasn't pretty.

So, today, love your people.  Tell them. Show them. Feel grateful for them.
***************


And on a lighter note. I'm participating in Five Questions Friday for the first time.

I think you'll agree I'm really good at this.

1. Do you apologize to your kids?

Does a pig fart? 

I actually don't know if a pig farts, but it seems that if any animal were prone to have flatulence, a pig would be near the top of the list. 

So, of course I apologize to my kids. I wrongly accuse them of things.  I say something unkind. I'm human, right?  I freak out all the time and it require apologizing.  I am really trying to work on how frustrated I can get, but I am really hoping my kids will hurry up and just become fully functioning people that stop doing things like screaming and spitting on the floor because they can't watch Busytown.  Until that happens, I keep apologizing.
They deserve it and I like to think that I'm teaching them a valuable lesson of the importance of admitting when you are wrong, accepting responsibility and owning their mistakes.  I apparently believe I'm really inspiring them.

Dare to dream.



2. What color are your nails right now?

Toes are bright pink.  I forget the name, but it's one of those fun OPI names that makes me want to paint everything with the color so I can say the name over and over again when people ask me.

Fingernails are natural because I don't have time or money for a manicure and doing it myself is against the rules of nature.  Also, they look like Stella could have been painting my nails when I'm done and surprisingly, that means they look pretty darn crappy.


3. When you were growing up, how difficult was it for you to stay home from school sick? (As in, did you have to vomit or just say "I don't feel good".)

I basically had to have the Ebola virus or be unable to walk without falling down or vomiting.  My parents were not of the, "let's give her a day off" variety but more, "you'll feel fine once you start moving" team. 

My husband's experience  (not that you asked) was exactly the opposite.  If he mentioned he didn't feel like going, he could be home.  His parents also always sided with him rather than the teacher in all school related controversy where as mine basically assumed the teacher was always right.

I lean toward being more like my parents.  I'm obviously the better person.



4. When is the last time you bought a new comforter for your bed?

A year and a half ago when we moved into our new house.  If you wonder what it looks like, which I am sure you are dying to know, just watch Modern Family.  The Dunphey's (sp?) have the exact same one, which basically means our bed is famous.  At least that's how I see it.



5. Favorite website(s)?

Seriously?  I basically read a million blogs that I couldn't possibly list all of them here.  Refer to my I Read This Stuff page on my blog, which I actually need to update.  So, check it out in a few days.
 
Other things I frequent?  Amazon, Facebook, Lands End (I'm old!), Piperlime (to dream), and Google to find answers to everything in my life.  Seriously, everything you need is there.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Lasagna That Makes My Heart Sing....It Sings Lots of Neil Diamond

My glorious neighbor Sue called me a few days ago and said, "I'm making lasagna for Amy."  (Our other neighbor) "Would you like me to make you some?"

First of all, why are you asking me crazy questions Sue? 

She should know to not even ask me if she is in the mood to prepare my dinner for me.  She should proceed with confidence that I will most definitely never refuse a delicious, already prepared, dinner. 

I would probably even take a marginally delicious, already prepared, dinner. 

Fine, I would take any already prepared dinner regardless of taste in order for me to get out of having to be the one actually preparing food for my family for a night. 

She was making Amy the lasagna because Amy's had a busy week.  I live in a neighborhood where that happens.  You have a busy week with a lot to take on, and someone is making you dinner or taking your kids or buying you groceries. 

I live near good people.  Not just nice people, but really good people.

Yes, there are a few houses for sale around here.  Please come be my neighbor...provided you are willing to make me dinner at least once a month.  I think it's part of the HOA rules or something.  Right after not being allowed to park a boat in your driveway.

I don't live close to my family. The closest is my sister in law and she's even 45 minutes away with three kids of her own. My parents are in Indiana. My brother's in D.C. and Alex's family is in Houston....or Greece. 

Believe it or not, Alex's family in Greece has yet to help me with child care or dinner.  Greek people are apparently REALLY selfish.


We don't get a lot of day to day support from family, but I think that's how it is for a lot of people these days. Some are the fortunate few that can call their parents over to watch the kids while they rush to the doctor or go out for a desperately needed date night, or even just share in the joy of daily life. That sounds like heaven.

I moved in to my current house about a year and a half ago. Not a short time, but not a crazy long time either. I make friends (force people to be friends with me) relatively easily. I'm not shy. I'm not overly judgemental, usually. I appreciate a lot of different types of people. All these things are wonderful adapting skills for being in a new location, but however you slice it, things are lonely when you are the new person on the block.

If I haven't complained about it enough for you all to know by now, Alex works a lot. He leaves early, comes home after bedtime 90% of the time and I'm normally solo for anything that pops up during the day unless I'm on my deathbed...and even then it usually takes him about an hour to get home.

I can't tell you how fun it is to take your 2 and 4 year old to all your OB appointments, including the emergency ones that involve an exam. Aiden honestly sat in a chair, eating chocolate covered raisins and asked my OB a thousand questions during that one. He completely ignored my pleas to return to the chair closer to my head and kept asking, "what are you putting in her?"

I'm sure his therapy will cost a pretty penny one day.

Alex is not my go-to person day to day and that's just the nature of life. He's a worker. He's dedicated. He's just him, and I don't ordinarily begrudge him that. I try to admire the fact that my husband works hard, because I know he mostly does it for us. It doesn't take the sting out of nightly bedtime and dinner for three alone, or the frustration of having to haul two well kids to every one sick kid doctor visit, but I get it.  I really do.

At my last house I had developed a friendship with the neighbors around me and I felt supported. I knew that they could help me in a pinch. I could ask if they were going to be at the grocery, or near a pharmacy and I didn't have to feel guilty or awkward at all. They cared about us, I cared about them and we supported one another. I lost that when I first moved here and it scared me a bit.

I am definitely scared no more.  This week was a perfect example of how amazing the people around me are.  I am blessed beyond words by these people's involvement in my life.  I am supported.  I am cared for, and so are my children.  I am fed...amen.

What is also fabulous is that not only did Sue make me lasagna, but how the entire distribution played out.  See, Sue dropped off a HUGE lasagna for me.  She also gave me Amy's since Amy wasn't home and Sue had stuff to do (I couldn't believe she wasn't going to stay and serve my family, but...I guess she cared about something else more.)

Amy's kitchen was being renovated so she called me on her way home and I offered to bake the lasagna since her kitchen was less than desirable to even walk in at that time.  Then I called my neighbor Jenn and asked her if she wanted half of my lasagna since we had more than enough.  An hour later Amy walked down the street with hot pads to pick up her bubbly lasagna and Jenn's husband pulled in to the driveway to pick up his family's share of the yumminess. 

I loved this entire situation. I love my neighbors.  I love Sue's lasagna.

Who's making me dinner next?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Might Make Really Good Stuffed Peppers - It's A Recipe-Ish People

If you are new here, I write a recipe-ish every Wednesday.  It's not always brillant or particularly informative, in fact it might be a tad confusing, but you could probably piece some sort of meal together from it if you had to, like in an emergency. 

Well, an emergency that allowed you to sort through a lot of extra random thoughts and sidenotes about me.  I can't think of that type of emergency, but surely it exists.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about making a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich to the new Mom and I think all the new Moms really appreciated it.  I didn't hear from any of them, but I'm confident it was just because they were all too busy feeding their babies, trying to sleep, and grasping at stolen moments to do basic things like showering. 

Since this is my blog though and I can basically pretend anything here, I'm going to say that their appreciation and grattitude was deep and heartfelt.  I'm basically their go-to woman for all Mommy guidance. (See how I can just write things, I don't even need fact to back it up.  I'm basically US Weekly or Intouch!) 

I also was recently voted Best Mom on Earth.  I'm humbled and honored by the recognition.  It''s about damn time. 

Anyway, I really enjoy making people happy, so I'm going to go ahead and write another recipe to new Moms.  You're welcome ladies. 

Dear New Mom,

First, congratulations on getting into the kitchen and trying to cook.  It's a huge feat to prepare a meal while you have little kids so way to go! 

I'm not sure if anyone's told you yet, but it's really important that you cook home made meals for your kids.  If you don't a whole bunch of bad stuff will happen to them including, but in no way limited to; obesity, depression, anorexia, bulemia, headaches, high blood pressure, post traumatic stress disorder, dyslexia, diaherrea, and restless leg syndrome...it is a real medical condition! 

Seriously, you are only a good Mom if you cook.

Are you going to take that? This is a lesson ladies.

That is exactly the type of crap some one at some point might try to tell you and you are going to have to tell them they are looney tunes and throw a fork in their foot....which you probably won't have if you aren't cooking like you should. 

See how I came at you again?  Steel yourself!

I recently gave my children cheerios and fruit snacks for dinner, followed by a popsicle.  (DO NOT TELL MY MOM!) I am an awesome mother and actually scored all sorts of joy points with the kids for their high class meal.  I don't wish to do this nightly, but every so often makes it fun and quite simply, perfectly fine.

This is actually a picture from breakfast a few days ago, but I thought it would illustrate casual eating around here.

First rule of becoming a Mom, only have a small, kind circle of trust that you allow to advise you on your role as a parent.  This circle could possibly only include you and your pediatrician (please find one you love and trust,) and maybe your husband or partner if he's one of those guys with a particularly spectacular maternal instinct or extremely gentle heart, otherwise you can exclude him too.  You probably are doing a great job, listen to yourself and throw forks at everyone else.* 

(*Disclaimer:  I do not condone any type of actual fork throwing violence spurred by this post. I assume no responsibility for it and place all blame on the actual fork thrower themselves, society at large and the dynamic duo of Eninem and Rihanna, for obvious reasons.)

Moving on, let's make some food!

First, make sure your kid(s) are engaged elsewhere.  Feel free to put on a movie, start a show or shove them out the backyard while you work.  You are not responsbile for them 24 hours a day, you can make dinner. 

OK, by law and maternal nature you are responsible 24 hours a day for their well being, but not their entertainment, let Mickey Mouse take a turn.  Brace yourself again, this could be used against you at some point in Mommy judging.

Last night I made stuffed bell peppers for myself and my husband.  I love this meal.  It's my favorite combination for food that I have to prepare myself so I'm sharing it with you.

It's quick, the ingredients are pretty simple, it's filling, it's reasonably healthy, and it really doesn't require a side dish which means less clean up AND less work preparing the meal.  Hooray!

Here is what you are going to need:

2-3 bell peppers
1 pound ground beef
1/2 diced onion
1/3 cup rice
1/2 cup water
1 can diced tomatoes, any variety
1 tablespoon worcheshire sauce
salt
pepper
1/2 cup frozen corn kernals

Shredded chedder cheese (or whatever kind you like - you're the Mom, you're in charge!)

First, take a big pot and boil some water to boil the bell peppers.

Then take 2 or 3 bell peppers and cut the tops off of them, then rip out the insides to make a big cavern to stuff.  Most recipes call for green peppers, but I personally like yellow or red or orange just as much. 

I enjoy diversity so I can hang with any color.  Basically, if you are rascist then just get the green ones, otherwise just pick whatever looks good at the moment and enjoy it.

Oh, and preheat your oven if it takes 20 minutes or so to heat up like mine does.  Turn to 350.

Once the big pot of water boils, throw in the bell peppers for three minutes.  Remove them from the water with tongs and let them dry on a plate.  Or on a cutting board.  Or on paper towels.  You get it, right?  If not, now is a good time to heat the toaster oven for chicken nuggets.

Put a skillet on medium high heat, because it's the only way to cook, and pour a little olive oil in the pan.  Don't pour too much or you will ruin everything.  Just kidding, just pour a little bit, like the size of a quarter or a small lego man or the diameter of one of those balls from the amazing ball popper toy...you know what I mean. 

Dump the meat (hopefully you've chosen organic so your family doesn't turn into a giant mess of walking hormone surged toxic cancer balls - please put food toxins on your holy-shit-I'm-so-scared-of-that- since-becoming-a-parent list) and diced onion into the skillet. 

Do not break up the meat!  By this point you have taken out kitchen accessories, chopped an onion, cut up the peppers, started water boiling, and started the meat...surely something has gone wrong with your kid by now.  You should check.

My most common calamidies: fights over who had the car bean bag first, Stella has eaten a crayon/lego/screw/small ball of lint, need to tie some form of costume on to someone, baby has tipped over a chair and injured herself, or a desperate, paniced need for me to see what has been built or colored or ruined. 

I was recently called to the bathroom to see both my boys trying to pee into the same toilet.  These are good times around here.  Messy times, but fantastic.

This interruption will allow just enough time for the meat to get a little too cooked on one side before you have a chance to break up the meat and stir for proper browning.  Let's just say it adds to the flavor of the family meal.  So break up the meat and try to get all of it browned, but do not overcook any other part of the meat or the entire meal will taste chewy and slightly burnt, instead of just random bites tasting chewy and slightly burnt.  You must get your family used to "Mommy" cooking.  Nothing is exact.

Once all the meat is brown, add the water, rice, can of tomatoes, frozen corn, and salt and pepper.  Stir it up and then wait for it to boil.  Once it starts boiling, cover it and turn the heat down so it simmers for 15-20 minutes.

To kill the time while you wait for all that, here are some random things I'm thinking about:

  • Would I actually get into our storm shelter if there were a tornado here?  Should I be stocking it or conducting drills?  These tornados have me a bit scared.
  • Should I be withholding watermelon from my daughter?  She seems obsessed and I'm really afraid of her poop tomorrow.  Won't a massive consumption of watermelon rip things up?  What if we're in the tornado shelter when she has explosive poop?  Add diapers and wipes to supply list.

  • I received a mystery vegetable in my CSA box of produce today, how am I going to figure out what it is.  Maybe I should post a photo? 
What is this?
  • How old do you think all my kids have to be for me to be able to go to the bathroom alone, 99% of the time?
Back to the meal. If the rice is tender and most of the water is gone, go ahead and take the skillet off the heat.  Put the bell peppers...wait, you still have the bell peppers, right? 

Sometimes my kids try to "help" and things just disappear or get smooshed in the process.  As a newly cooking Mom you are particularly suseptible to this type of thing.  You have to be a little angry while making dinner or your kids feel too free to come around and participate.  This is never good. 

Stay a little angry, and they learn to keep their distance.  It's really a good system for everyone. I use it for other times too, genius.  They get really good at entertaining themselves.

Put the bell peppers in a baking dish and fill them with the meat mixture.  Put any remaining mixture around them.  Really savor the moment of arranging this meat, it's probably the first thing you're doing all day that has nothing to do directly with your kids, because let's be  honest, your kids aren't eating this.  Mine actually laughed at me and told me, "this looks HORRIBLE."

See why it's so important to cook for these young delights?  All your hard work is recognized and respected.  Do NOT take it personally, but feel free to cry to make them feel really guilty.  They might even start eating it and we all know that tying guilt and other negative emotions to eating is a really successful way to establish healthy habits for the future. 

Remember, they won't have Oprah to help them though so you're going to have to tread lightly on their need for therapy.  They won't just be able to lean on her 4:00 show every afternoon, they are going to probably have to pay a therapist or watch Ellen.

If they don't eat though, do not panic. Also, try to resist making them a peanut butter sandwhich or pouring a bowl of cheerios.   I know everyone says that it won't ever get them used to eating "real" food, but I think it basically just makes more work for you.  Do not ever try to make more work for you! 

If you cater to the ridiculous and whiny, you're going to get ridiculous and whiny every time. 

I am basically a parenting guru.  Please email me all your questions about how to solve any problems with your kids and I can help.  I'll type a few words about your kid that I've never met and everything will be fine.

Let's finish this! Sprinkle the entire dish with cheese and put in the oven for about 15 minutes. 

I recommend serving with some wine.  Actually, I suggest that you pour your first glass of wine when you preheat the oven for any dish.  It's a simple reminder that hey...it's more socially acceptable for me to have an alcoholic beverage right now. 

Don't drink more than one glass of wine while cooking unless your kids are already in bed because it can make you really cranky during the bath and bedtime drama if you do.  Not that this has ever happened to me.  I heard about this lady that did that once and she apparently didn't like it and neither did her kids.

Enjoy!  Which means, maybe eat without the kids every so often so you can actually sit down and taste the burnt, chewy sections of meat.  You deserve it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Should I Teach Hip Hop or Tap Class? And Other Deep Questions The Bachelorette Has Made Me Think About

First things first...I know that A LOT of you have been curious about what the voo-doo kid sleep gods did to punish me for talking about all three children sleeping all night on Saturday night. 

Well, all five of you can wonder no more.

Aiden woke me up around one to tell me that he wanted to sleep on the floor of my room.  Fantastic, I did not require this information.  About an hour later, Cole walked into our room crying and crawled on top of me, which allowed me to discover that he was on fire with fever.  Awesome!  Those voo-doo kid sleep gods are POWERFUL. 

I immediately took him to his room where I gave him generic Tylenol (and cursed myself for being cheap because I am convinced it doesn't work as well,) and a smidgen of Benedryll for his congestion(also generic, dammit!)  He had some serious seal barking cough going on and a lot of fever moaning for the next TWO HOURS PEOPLE! 

Seriously, do NOT talk about your kids sleeping well, you will be punished.  No one is above this. 

I will never talk about my kids' sleep on this site again, unless I am complaining about it.  (This is most likely a lie, but it feels like the truth right now so I'm going to let it stand.)

The Bachelorette just started and I have decided that I owe it to myself to watch this season.  I used to watch each season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, but then a horrible tragedy occurred and we had to get rid of our DVR. 

(Getting rid of the DVR was the tragedy, didn't want you all to think that I actually had something genuinely tragic occur.)

Without the ability to record these shows, it became rough to commit to watching each week. The show usually started at 7 pm here in the central time zone and that is right at bedtime for my kids so I almost always missed the first part of the show, or I would totally space watching at all because I would be focused on pouring my first kid's-are-in-bed glass of wine.  I have to keep focus!

I am so lazy. Where was my drive?  Didn't I owe it to Brad after watching him with DeAnna, after she was ditched by Jason, to then watch his second attempt at love?

I know I can do better.  I am not that flaky.

So, I'm committing to this lady. I have no clue who she is, apparently she loved Brad but just couldn't open up enough to really get him to love her (that's what everyone says lady,) likes to dance ballet on empty stages in empty theatres, loves to work inside people's mouths, and maybe teaches some sort of hip hop class? 

I really like the hip hop class part.  I would like to teach hip hop.  Hip hop and an adult tap class. 

Maybe a combo of the two?

I don't know.  I'm probably not figuring it all out tonight everyone, you'll have to check back. My dance career will have to wait.

OK, I'm going to talk about the show so if you haven't watched it and you don't want to know anything about it you should probably stop reading, print this, and keep it under your pillow until you see it.  Anywhere else would seem crazy.  I think you would agree.

But really, who cares?  This isn't the Superbowl.

I actually don't understand caring about that either, but maybe you do.

First and foremost I must express my love and devotion to Chris Harrison.  If I am ever tragically forced to look for my true love again, I would feel 100% confident allowing him to guide my journey to Mr. Right.  Wait, is he single?  That could work.

Could Chris Harrison and I really build a happy life together?  Yes.

I hate the part where the guys come out of the limo.  I can't stand how awkward the whole situation is and basically forces me to turn away, often.   I can't imagine being in that situation. 

My favorite cheesy guy is the one that tried to do the "Big Mac, Fillet-O-Fish hand shake thing." 

OK, it wasn't the McDonald's one from my youth, but it could have been, which is strange and clearly does not seem like a solid move for beginning a romantic relationship unless it is with a 5th grade girl and then you have a whole slew of other problems that not even Chris Harrison could help you through.

(By the way, I can't remember most of the guys names yet so I'm going to label them by their actions...which is more important, and fun, anyway.)

I genuinely think the guy that did the dental floss around the finger thing was the best.  Well done guy.  I unfortunately don't remember who he is now, but it was really good in the moment.

What is up with the guy with the mask?  Sorry Jeff, this isn't noble to not want to judge by looks.  That's sort of part of the beginning of this thing.  You didn't sign up for The Dating Game, this is "real" life.

I don't think the idea is entirely horrible, but Jeff was acting weird too so it's just making him seem like a freak.  Does he really have to wear it in the house with the guys?  Did the producers really have to keep that clip of him sitting on the toilet while wearing it?  Ugh, you don't have a chance dude.

I wish the other guys were nicer to him, and I think they are assholes for being rude, but he is really making it tough for people to be normal to him. 

Apparently Ashley digs the whole Phantom of The Opera Vibe, but I do not get it.  She's going to be even more fun to watch this season than I thought.  Her judgement is marred and that it is just good TV. Score for me jumping back in to the show just in time!

Where do I begin with the drunk guy?  What the hell was he thinking?  Why is he still drinking beer when he can't even keep it in his mouth?  I am really surprised that Ashley feels sorry for him (remember marred judgement,) but so glad she sent him home. She should have stolen his massive diamond watch before unloading you though, he probably wouldn't have noticed and it was HUGE!

First impression rose guy was pretty great.  Way too nice and clean for my taste, but I see why she was interested. I did feel like he was getting ready to offer her a great deal on solar panels though when they had their first conversation, and sort of wish he had because it would have made him more interesting.

I wanted to die when she admitted to PJ or JP or Bald Smiley Guy From NY that she wants her future husband to call her Cupcake. I think that's strange.  Maybe it's fun or something, but mostly it's weird to me. Possibly this is related to her hip hop roots?

Oh the Bentley situation.  Oh boy.  We've clearly identified our asshole for the season.  Fantastic.

Why, oh why, is she going to keep this guy around when she has already gotten a phone call warning her about him?  Aren't there enough guys to chose from that no one is warning you about?  Use your head lady!

I think she's going to like the bad guy though and Bentley has that written all over him.  He's already named his daughter Cozy, so he's prone to abuse. There's a history Ashley! 

He's really going to make this show a gem to watch this season though, I can tell.  Thank you Bentley.

As usual, I am shocked at the amount of emotion the guys not chosen feel upon leaving.  They are still infinitely more sane than the majority of women in this situation, but still.  Get it together guys! 

You don't even know her!  Do you leave the bars crying when a chick you talked to for 30 minutes doesn't decide to add you to her list of potential husbands?  Ugh.  It's so sad. I get that it feels like rejection, well because it is, but buck up and smile so you don't go on TV tearing up about this woman.

I'm officially hooked.  It only took one episode, but it's safe to say that I am committed.  No flaking out this time. I won't let you down. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

If You Go To Costco and Church Your Daughter Will Learn to Drive a Tractor At Age One...It's True

It was a good weekend.  We had no plans.  Our only goals were Costco and church.

(We were assuming we would still be around after the rapture and at that point church would be pretty important, and probably very interesting.)

Saturday we went to Costco and managed to spend $300 on mass quantities of our favorite* foods.  I've really missed Costco.  We hadn't been since the end of February and I felt all a twitter just being there.

Can you even use the phrase "all a twitter" anymore?  Does it automatically denote some passion of using social media?  Was this ever a phrase or am I just making stuff up?

Long Side Note: Speaking of Twitter though, I am really trying to tweet, but I sort of suck at it.  It feels so ridiculous.  I used to love the Facebook status update, but I allegedly know all those people.  Twitter just feels funny, and not in a good way. 

Here are my primary questions about how it works because I always feel confused:
  • What does the # mean?
  • What does it mean when someone types RT?
  • If I put some one's Twitter name in my post, will they see it?
  • What are the lists and why should I care?
  • Can I really answer questions that people like Oprah and Pink are asking?  Will they see my responses and then immediately want to be friends with me? 
I'm not even sure I want answers to these questions, but I guess it would be nice to know if I'm going to pretend to be someone that tweets. 

Anyway, Costco was amazing, more amazing than usual.  I highly recommend anyone that frequents the store to take a three months break and then go back...it's pretty phenomenal.  I do not however, recommend that you take my three children along right before lunch time.  (Any other time would be really fun for you to take my children, anywhere, just let me know and I'll have them ready.)

Unfortunately, at Costco, they will suck the majority of your joy away and will cry over every sample either being disgusting or so delicious that they need five, immediately.  They will confuse you with their tantrums, causing you to buy large quantities of food you don't normally eat. 

Why did we get three pounds of apple chicken sausage again? 
We also were successful in attending church this morning.  I was particularly excited about showing my gratitude for a full night of sleep!  All three kids slept without a peep from 6:30 pm until 6:45 am.  Hallelujah!

(Please note that I just broke my rule of NEVER talking about Kid Sleep.  I will accept the consequences of this mention, I felt it was important that you all know that it happened since my last post was basically how I was on the edge due to Cole's exhaustion.)

I may or may not have spent a good portion of the sermon day dreaming about where the lady behind me got her beautiful yellow purse, approximately how much it might have cost, and how I was going to smuggle $200 out of the grocery budget within the next few weeks to buy one exactly like it.

The good news is that the sermon was on how we are supposed to become more Christ-like through our lives and I am pretty sure JC would have LOVED this bag too so maybe I was just exploring a different side of Jesus?

Really, the bag is probably irrelevant because even if it were $20, I'm pretty sure it isn't sold at HEB, Costco or Target and those are the only retailers I foresee myself shopping at over the next few months since all shopping trips will include Aiden, Cole and Stella.  Surprisingly, Costco is not the only store at which they can destroy your love of consumerism.

So, I didn't ask the woman with the bag and I'll probably thankfully never know.  It is possible though that I just spent 45 minutes searching eBags.com to see if could locate a look alike.  No luck on the yellow bag, but I was able to find about twenty other designer bags in the $300 price range that I think would look really good holding diapers and fruit snacks and the occasional five dollar bill. 

It was actually a pretty sad 45 minutes. I felt a little desperate and a lot like I was wasting 45 minutes that I could be spending eating the huge box of chocolate covered caramel nut clusters I bought at Costco.  So, I did what JC would do and shut the site down, grabbed the box of candy and am now writing to you. 

Unrelated transition....

My Mother sent me this picture she took with her phone last year at this time and thought you all would like to see what I was up to one year ago.

Just hanging out with fake cows, peeing my pants, having trouble walking and waiting for this to fall out...
Thank goodness she didn't come out on this tractor. She definitely looks cute on it now though. 

Can't believe it's almost been a year. All those long days waiting by the cows for her to be born were rough, but I'm pretty sure she was worth it. 

Discovering Stella could ride the tractor was a huge hit this weekend.
Also, discovering how to upload videos to my blog today has been Earth shattering, I'm sure you agree. 

Please plan on viewing all sorts of crap my kids do in the coming weeks. 

You are welcome.

P.S. Watching the Billboard Awards makes me feel old. 

P.P.S. Don't you think I tied this post together nicely?  Costco, Twitter, Church, Pregnancy, Stella, Tractors.  Amen.

P.P.P.S Have a good week people!

*by favorite I mean food that we might eat and is available to purchase at Costco, or was packaged so nicely we couldn't not purchase it because we are a marketers dream.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bring It On Zombies

Right now, a zombie apocalypse sounds simply super.

Cole has been a wreck the last few days.  Tantrums and waking in the middle of the night and a complete meltdown at the first sign of things not being absolutely perfect.  It's really a hoot. 

I think most of it is that he is exhausted and we are currently in the middle of a sleep challenging time.  Yes, we are in that time often.  What prompted this sleep challenge time? 

Well, I talked to a friend of mine about how great all my kids were sleeping lately. 

Ridiculous explanation? Oh, you are so naive.

Kid sleep is like Fight Club.  First rule of sleeping kids, NEVER talk about sleeping kids. 

You'll be punished, severely punished.

Right now Cole is throwing books at his door and I think possibly the Bat Cave.  He and I have had several discussions today and now I've reached the end of my rope....possibly the end of my string since I wasn't feeling all that strong in my ability to deal with him from the beginning today. 

Go ahead and judge the door locking, or the tantrum for that matter, but I need a minute.  I need a minute to get out some of my insane frustration with this child or I am actually afraid I will hit him and it won't be a thoughtful, deliberate spanking, it will be rage. 

I'm taking a moment. 

I'm breathing.

I am trying to prevent tears from falling.

Today is the first day of summer, or possibly the last if all those zombies show up tomorrow, and I feel like we are all going to have a rough go of things if Cole thinks he can freak out and run around during rest time for the next few months.  I have no child care and no break in sight for the next three months, and I'm not going to spend our two hour daily nap/rest time fighting a three year old to stay quiet and in his room so we all don't attack one another. 

Cole is such a mix of things and elicits all sorts of reactions from me.  My middle child is so sweet, sensitive and funny, but so quick to anger and so very prone to throwing massive tantrums.  He can make me laugh faster than any of the three, but makes me want to scream faster too. 

I feel badly for him because sleep is such a challenge for him. He has night terrors, he hasn't napped hardly at all at home since he was just over two, and he often has a hard time going to sleep.  I know a lot of his behavior stems from his lack of sleep and I feel horrible that I can't get him to rest as much as he needs.

I'm a firm believer in at least 12 hours of sleep at night for my kids.  I move mountains to try to preserve this for them. They need it and I need them to have it, but Cole just doesn't give in to it.  I've tried EVERYTHING. 

I feel like I'm abusing my child.  I feel like his poor little brain and all his changing emotions and feelings are just jacked up when he feels exhausted, but won't relax enough to go to sleep.  I feel like I fucked up.  I feel like it's my fault, clearly I must have mis-stepped in the sleep world for my baby. 

Right now though, he's sobbing in his room and I don't know that anything I do other than just letting him come out and play will make him better.  Am I helping all of us in keeping him in his room for rest time and not giving in or is this just a futile task that ends with all of us feeling like crap? 

I want him to lay down on his bed and look at books and drift off to sleep.  I want him to listen to the sweet music I have playing on his CD player and let himself dream something happy. At night he doesn't want to go to sleep because of bad dreams and no amount of prayer or exercises in happy thoughts comforts him. 

I want to go hold him on the bed until he calms down and drifts off, like he's done other times when I have held him tightly and forced him to stay in one place...but I feel so frustrated that I don't want to go near him. I don't want anything to do with him right now. 

I want him to just stop acting like this and play in his room quietly for rest time, or go to sleep, whatever but give the house a full break from all the commotion and all the requests and all the needs. 

I need that.  I need this time.  I think he needs it too. 

Or maybe he just needs a zombie intervention.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Was Going To Write, But Then JT Showed Up And He's Difficult To Ignore

I swear I was writing all about how today was the last day of preschool and tomorrow officially starts summer and all my emotions about that.  Don't you love my emotions? 

But, then all of a sudden Justin Timberlake showed up, unfortunately just on my TV, and reminded me that I love him.  This sparked Alex and I talking about our favorite JT moments, which sparked a lot of YouTube watching.

I currently have a sore stomach from laughing so hard.  These are so funny...so very, very funny.  We watched all of them multiple times and died each time. Died.

First there are the Justin clips.  Our favorite is him on SNL doing the Single Ladies video with Beyonce, but for some reason NBC took down the clip so you have to watch it in three parts to get the whole thing, but still so funny.  He's fantastic.

http://youtu.be/Tpm4eNKdndE
http://youtu.be/xO4CLxtUiU8
http://youtu.be/AfWmpF42yrM

Then we always watch our favorite Ellen clips when we get on YouTube.  I really want her to be my friend.  Really, really.

This is one of our favorite Ellen pranks.  Dennis Quaid goes into Starbucks.
http://youtu.be/C64ZYuR7PuQ


This one is a close second for our favorite Ellen prank.
http://youtu.be/-Hf8uk7foSo

This is also Dennis Quaid on Ellen.  He's got some serious prank talent.
http://youtu.be/rN_U5Hrk6YU


So, sorry for the lack of a full emotional post, but this is seriously better.  These are just so funny. 

I really hope these links actually work.

I feel drained from all the laughter...best feeling ever.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Might Make Really Good Roasted Chicken, It's A Recipe-ish People

I roasted a chicken yesterday.  It did not go well.

I've roasted a lot of chickens in the last 9 months.  All of my preparations until yesterday have been a huge success. I discovered a really easy recipe in the Real Simple Family magazine that I absolutely love and have made it almost a weekly staple. 

(In case you are wondering, Real Simple Family is a spin off of Real Simple and I have seen exactly one issue of this.  I love it, but apparently Real Simple does not love putting it together.)

I love making it.  It's healthy, it's simple, it feels elegant, it feel complicated, and everyone in my family will eat it. 

Before I get a slew of comments about how the grocery store will sell me a rotisserie chicken for around $6 and I wouldn't have to mess with any of it, I know.  I do.  I just really like making my own. 

I like the potatoes and carrots roasting under the chicken, soaking in olive oil and simple spices.  I love how the lemon flavor is slight, but definitely there is every bite of chicken and veggies.  It's moist and absolutely divine, especially when I sprinkle feta over the whole things and pour a generous glass of red wine to go along with it.  It's over the top when accompanied by adult only companionship, or better yet...silence.  Oh holy silence.

Last night wasn't so much the pilar of success prior experiences have been.  The carrots and potatoes were either mush or raw and the chicken was perfect in some spots and straight up salmonella in others.

What the hell?

I figured this has been fantastic a million (or maybe just 20) times so I'd run through the whole thing today for my recipe-ish.  I'm going to spell it out so clearly, like I always do for the recipe-ish and maybe I'll nail down where I went wrong last night.

I decided my friend Jessica should be the target of my message because she's been so good to me lately, and me writing a recipe-ish to someone is a lot like giving them a winning lottery ticket.  In case you're new here, or just not paying attention, or really haven't cared, Jessica is my amazing friend that started Noonday Collection

Jessica is one of those people that can do anything she sets her mind to, and does it above and beyond expectation.  I'm pretty sure she's going to be on Oprah.  Possibly even before the end of her show this month, she's that good.  She always looks fashionable, but not like she's trying too hard.  She has the most amazing heart, and basically oozes joy.  She's full of faith, fun, feisty, and function. 

(No clue about the function, I was just enjoy the 'f' streak.  I'm sure she's functional too though.)

She also does this meal co-op thing with a couple of other women so she only has to make one big meal a week for herself and the two other families.  She talks about how life altering this experience has been, how great it is, and how anyone that isn't doing it is stupid.  (She doesn't really say that, but I needed three things.)  Anyway, my point is that she really likes it.

I thought it might be really fun for her to make three chickens at the same time....well, I really think it would be fun to watch her make three chickens at the same time, but it might work out great for her too.  The meals have to be gluten free for one of her friends, so in my usual caring fashion, I don't believe there is a lick of gluten in this.  The good news is that if I'm wrong, this is just a fictional exercise and no one will have gotten hurt.  I think at least.

Here we go.

Dear Jessica,

I know you're really busy changing the world with your company and all your jewelry sorting and do-gooding makes you exhausted so I thought I would take away your task of having to think of your co-op meal for this week.  You are welcome.

Also, as a side note, since you have so much going on....have you thought about starting a meth habit?  You could be up all night organizing accessories and stuffing mailing envelopes for shipments and then spend all day cuddling your kids and driving a co-op meal up north to me.  I'm just throwing ideas out here, feel free to edit what feels right to you. 

So, I know your co-op is uber fantastic but I know I have a difficult time thinking of a meals for my family each week so I imagine you hit a bit of a drought now and then.  Maybe not, but it makes the post make more sense if you are desperate for meal inspiration.   If I were you I'd probably be distributing grilled cheese and tomato soup  and ham sandwiches by now...on gluten free bread of course, without the use of PAM cooking spray and all it's hidden gluten.  So, I'm helping you.  Make roasted chicken! 

Other quick suggestions off the top of my head:
  1. Hobo dinners, we made these at Camp Tecumseh each summer (where I by the way was bestowed the honor of "sagamore" which basically means I'm a fantastic friend and all around person and get to wear an acorn around my neck so everyone knows I'm the nice one), ground beef, onions, carrots and ketup cooked on a fire.  I totally see you making this.  Be sure to get a little bug spray sprinkled in too for an authetic taste. 
  2. Lunchables, it might be awkward at first, but think about how much time you would save.
  3. Creamed tuna on toast - one of my Mom's favorite's when we were sick.  I still believe this might have actually caused sickness, but I can't prove anything.
I'll keep them coming. I know your friends are going to be excited if they see the above list, you'll clearly need more to keep the excitement coming.  Also, feel free to ask me more about being a Sagamore, you can't pretend you don't really care about me wearing an acorn around my neck when I was 12 forever.  We can have drinks and discuss.

For this meal, here's a list of what you are going to need.

3 whole chickens (not cut up) 3-4 pound-ish
3 pounds carrots - cut in 1/2'' slices
3 small bags of red potatoes
olive oil (a lot)
salt
pepper
oregano (a lot, this looks a lot like marijuana I think...you're the druggie now though, not me.)
thyme (a bunch?)
lemons (large) 10ish
kitchen twine

Preheat the over to 350.

First, dealing with raw chicken is nasty.  DO NOT give your family salmonella poisoning.  It sounds like a good idea, but soon everyone will be vomiting and have diarrhea and Joe will be so busy cleaning you'll never be able to rent him out for odd jobs in exchange for things you want to get and then you'll be all cranky.  So, wash your hands and counters frequently. 

Take each bag of potatoes and clean the potatoes.  I take a little brush and scrub each and every potato because I am really particular about that and it weirds me out to eat dirt.  You might think eating dirt sounds great so you can skip cleaning them if you like...just remind me to never, ever eat at your house.  Also, I'd like my Mother to pop in on you for a brief lecture on how gross you are next time she's in town. 

So, clean them or don't, your call.  I'll have MaryAnn waiting to talk to you.

Then, put one bag of potatoes in each pan. 

You could also have your kids do this, which I tried last night, and they thought it was a blast. 

They also tried to throw the potatoes in to the pan from a far and then got into a fight about who got to throw more potatoes and who stole the step stool up to the counter...so that sort of sucked all the joy out of including them in the process. This should not surprise me in the slightest and actually makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with me that I keep trying to include them in things like this.  As if they are suddenly going to be all easy going and fun, not likely.

In their defense, I'm not all that easy going, or fun for that matter.  I guess I should be more forgiving of my children's lack of being fun skills, they probably get it from me.  I used to dive behind shrubs while trying to sneak out of friends' houses during sleepovers growing up because I was so terrified of getting caught.  I usually just got a nosebleed.  I totally understand if you want to rethink our friendship.
 
Next, chop the ends off the carrots and then peel them.  You can not peel them if you are feeling lazy, but then they taste weird.  Do you want them to taste weird?  I never like that, but maybe you do?  Remember, I'm not all that fun so maybe carrott skin is a huge hoot and I'm just too uptight to enjoy it?

Slice the carrots in half length wise and then into 1/2 inch chunks.  Throw one pound of carrot chunks in each pan.  Now pour a bunch of olive oil on top and stir it all up. I have no clue how much.  Enough that everything looks a little moist (horrible word) but not so dripping that you are frightened of eating it.  

You know, that amount.

Now sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano all over it. Stir again.  

Take two lemons and roll them on the counter while you press on top of them.  Rachel Ray does this and tells me it gets the juices ready inside the lemon.  She talks directly to me.  She's so nice. I love me some Rachel Ray.  I think she's sort of dorky in a beautiful and endearing way.  Maybe I could remind you of her?  That would be a nice compliment to pay me some time soon....tuck that in your back pocket.

Now slice the "juice ready" lemon in half and squeeze it over all the vegetables.  Don't put the seeds in if you can remember to prevent that.  Contrary to what you may think, they do not taste as good roasted like sunflower or pumpkin seeds. 

Stir it all up again.

Is this getting complicated?  

Now for the nasty part.  Take one chicken at a time, because I think it's basically impossible to do it any other way, I think, and remove all the wrapping.  This is when I totally freak out. Brace yourself.

I usually put a big bowl down and put the chicken in it and then put the bowl in the sink.  But, you don't have to utilize the bowl if you have some sort of chicken process you are more comfortable with from previous bird related cooking situations.  

(I also usually have a spray bottle of a Clorox product next to me during this cooking process because I'm so scared of chicken juice.  I think bleach is supposed to be the product of the devil now or something but it kills germs and that makes me happy.)

Grab the bird by the legs and turn it upside down.  Now is when your faith is particularly helpful.  Pray, very seriously, that all the little organs and bag of guts falls out so you aren't forced to stick your hand into the chicken's body cavity to pull anything out, like a liver.  Did you pray hard enough?

Usually I fail, or God is busy with some sort of perceived more important item at the time and I am forced to pull some body part out of the bird.  I usually try to take the mature route and keep my squeals and shouts of disgust to a minimum, but sometimes that just doesn't work and I have to get all sorts of junior-high-school-girl-sees-something-gross-like-poop-and-is-forced-to-touch-it....because that's exactly how I feel.

I don't understand why the nice people at the organic chicken farm can't just keep all the guts for themselves.  Surely they can feed it to something or bury them or something?  What am I doing with them?  Why must I touch them? I genuinely would appreciate some information here if you have it.

Also, I am very interested in getting a chicken without all those hair follicles because just the thought of it right now made me vomit a little in my mouth.  Wait...how in the hell do I ever make this?  This is really gross. Maybe you should just quit and make your gluten free co-op Bambi tacos again.

I'm pressing on.

Rinse the chicken under water, including the now hopefully empty cavern inside.  Pat it dry with paper towels.  You can also use a reusable kitchen towel since you live in Austin.

Oh yeah, do that three times.  I keep forgetting you make food for so many people.  What are you thinking?

Put the chicken on top of the vegetables.  This weirds me out a little too.  Why aren't all those veggies now contaminated?  Why can they touch the raw chicken?  Yuck.  This meal is actually grossing me out now. Why do I make this?

Take another lemon and stab it with a fork or knife a bunch of times.  Pretend it's someone that is frustrating you. NOT ME though.  That would be mean when I'm sitting here writing you a gross recipe.

Stuff the lemon into the chicken.  For some reason this doesn't bother me.  Now stuff a bunch of salt, pepper, oregano and thyme up there too.

Tie the chicken legs up.  If you don't have kitchen twine I suggest looking for string.  I found some on Alex's workbench once and it worked just dandy.  (Dandy is totally a word that no one is using enough. Let's bring it back!)

Pour a bunch of olive oil all over the chicken and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano.  Sometimes I rub butter all over the chicken, including under the skin because it is good, like anything with butter all over it, but I guess olive oil is allegedly better for you.  Your call.  I'm still a little worried about all the hair follicles, perhaps we should be more worried about that rather than saturated fat.

Now, put the chicken in the oven for 1-3 hours. 

Confusing cooking time?  That's right.  I can't figure it out.

Last night the chicken was in for 2 hours and still wasn't cooked everywhere.  I can't tell you how delightful it is to prepare chicken, cut into it and see pink bird flesh still totally raw.  Something was wrong there.  Very wrong.

Usually it takes a little over an hour.  I also try to stir the veggies during the cooking time, provided I can find a time when I am confident I won't open the oven on Stella, which sometimes just doesn't happen and surprisingly life has gone on just fine. 

My best advice is just to fork the potatoes and carrots and cook everything until these are really soft. 

I can't be bothered with the exactness of this.  This is an art, not a science.  Isn't that what people say when they want permission for things to be unknown?  That's what I want right now.  I just don't know.

I usually sprinkle feta over the whole meal, because what isn't made more delicious with feta?  Or I make a greek salad to serve with it.  Yummy. 

I love you!  Good luck.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Of Course I Didn't Cry At That!

Aiden graduated from preschool this morning.  It was major. 

But, apparently not major enough for me to cry.  I told you this would happen. My emotions are all out of whack.  They are completely devoid of priorities....and yes I do perceive myself to be separate from my emotions in this situation.

I'm crying over reality shows about wealthy celebrities' weight issues, but a celebration of the last days of my oldest baby's preschool, not a drop.  The end of having all my children at home with me, at my feet while I bake and sing songs and knit things, and I can't shed one measly tear. 

(I don't knit or really sing songs, but I could bake.  I probably shouldn't do it with anyone at my feet though, it sounds dangerous.)

In my emotions' defense, this was really more of a happy occasion than a weepy one.  Cuteness did abound with small children singing in groups and walking self consciously across a stage, but it wasn't an emotionally charged ceremony.  I blame the chaotic nature of grouping 100 parents in a church sanctuary all fighting for space to film their child's apathetic expression as he or she sings a song about God making elephants or something like that. (I was focused on my video camera, I couldn't be bothered with listening to the words of the song.)

Here's a picture of the graduate.


Seriously, how is he going to kindergarten?  He's too cute.  He'll be eaten alive.

Here's a picture of the sibling support.  Cole actually didn't want to attend until he realized that there were cookies after all the name calling and singing, then he waited it out.

Stella only cared for the parts of the ceremony where she actually had an audience as well. 


We did manage to get a family photo. 

The family photo sort of makes me well up, we look so functional and together.  No one would know that I've been crying for days over ridiculous things like commercials for Oprah and have yet to get weepy over sending my child to elementary school.  Oh well.

Side note:  My Father called me tonight to ask what he and my Mother were supposed to buy Aiden for a happy graduation gift.  This is insane, but really nice.  I quickly explained that nothing was necessary, but that Aiden has been looking at some adorable purses at Nordstrom if he wanted to spring for one of those.  I've apparently played this game too long with my Father, he's not biting.  Dammit!

What's important after all this is that I bought a new nightgown at Target today from their Calypso line and I love it.  I do want to cry that I spent $25 on a nightgown, from Target, but it's adorable and cozy so I feel like it was the best decision. 

Also, I'm back to wanting to cry so apparently Target has restored my emotional insanity.

What?  You didn't think that was the takeaway of this post?

People, the fact that joy can ALWAYS be purchased at Target, no matter what you are crying over is almost always the takeaway. 
 
Happy Graduation Aiden! 

I promise to cry on your first day of kindergarten.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Don't You Cry When Chloe and Lamar Have An Emotional Discussion?

I used to be very quick to well up and surrender to a good cry, it made me feel better. Or at least I think it did, I can barely remember anything prior to a month ago. I'm easily confused lately.


In recent years I haven't been as prone to crying...until the last few weeks. Don't get me wrong, in those first days or perhaps months after the addition of each child (days for Stella, months for the boys) there have been a generous share of exhaustion induced bawling sessions, each time terrifying Alex and making me wonder why I never demanded anti-depressants from my obstetrician.

Overall though, I like to think I'm emotional more steeled than I used to be. I also like to think I'm smarter and more attractive than I used to be so perhaps I'm just progressively becoming more and more delusional and self absorbed. I guess either way I still think things are getting better for me so I must be winning!

During the last few weeks though I have been crying at the drop of the hat, or anything else that chooses to fall around me. And before you ask, yes, there have been female oriented times that have probably brought on a slew of additional emotions and such, but I don't think that's entirely it.

(I also think I might punch Alex in the head if he asks me again if I think "girl things" have to do with my tears. I assume he's referring to my period, but I guess he could be talking about earrings, makeup, giggling, or watching things like The Notebook - which I can not watch without melting into tears.)

What is going on with me?

Last week I sobbed off and on for days over an email from a family member telling me I disappointed them, I felt so hurt, judged and demeaned. (This clearly shows I'm nuts.)

I wept when my Mom asked me my comments about Aiden's Mother's Day mum because I felt horrified that she thought for a moment that I would perceive my child's gift to be weird (not the concept of mum giving that exists to here, and which I have had zero experience with ever, but I do think is sort of weird.) I was convinced everyone thought of me as a horrible mother, including myself. Could I be any more of a whiner?

I cried, unable to catch my breath after reading an article about a little three year boy that was beaten by his own Mother and her boyfriend for peeing his pants, then laid dying while they ordered pizza.

(Ok that one totally merits tears, lots of tears. My apologies if I just broke your heart too. Go hug your kid or something.)

But on Thursday and Friday, with Blogger unavailable to let me write, I reached a new low. I was crying at the most ridiculous things. Here are a few things I found pathetically stirring my emotions, and my tear ducts.

  1. The lady on Extreme Couponing had her little boy go with her to dig through dumpsters for coupons. This was sad to me. Don't make your kid climb in a dumpster so you can buy 40 boxes of frozen pizza snacks that you shouldn't be eating to begin with....even if you do give him gloves to wear during the search and they only cost you $.40.
  2. Alex offering to go to the grocery store for me Thursday night in preparation for my girl's weekend. So sweet. So helpful. So starting to cry now.
  3. Watching 16 and Pregnant. I cried for the baby, the ridiculously immature and NOT READY little girl, and her idiot boyfriend that really should be at the park riding his skateboard and not getting anywhere close to a newborn.
  4. Amity's return from her too long trip to Denmark and her visit to my house to just hang out! Tears of joy after she left because I'm so happy she's back.
  5. Chloe crying to Lamar about feeling fat. Or their fight over their fragrance bottle top.  Serious stuff.  I love Lamar. After Alex, I am totally marrying an African American NBA player. It could happen.
  6. Seeing Cole's year of artwork in his school journal. Breaking my heart.

I love that he's that he is thankful for his brother. I also love that Aiden shyly smiled and gave his look of suppressed joy when we were reading through the journal as a family. When he heard Cole be so enthusiastic about his gratitude for him the waterworks started immediately. 



Alex does do fantastic tricks!  He totally deserves recognition for this.

Some of the above items are sweet, some of them are just crazy. Why do I care about couponers or Chloe Kardashian's body image? I don't think I do, perhaps my delusion is spreading though? Why are they bringing me to tears?

Maybe I've just finally lost it?

During my girl's weekend I teared up while watching this baby goat desperately try to nurse from her mother, who really had no interest in feeding her child or kid or whatever you call a baby goat. I also heard that two other baby goats had died shortly after birth because their mother refused to feed them. This is just sad. The Mom ran away right after this photo.  Clearly this is worth crying over. Right?





Also, one goat tried to attack me. Probably because I was wearing this and hanging out with goats on my girl's weekend trip.  He felt I should be punished.  I thought I was having fun.


If only I had worn my "I Love Goats" tee.

Tomorrow is Aiden's preschool graduation ceremony and I am fairly confident my emotional string of waterworks will cease because it would totally make sense for me be emotional about this event as a mother.....which is why I will probably fail to show any sign of being stirred by this event.

I have little doubt though that I'll cry big tears over the important decisions of things like what I should wear to the event.  I'm doing such a good job keeping things in perspective these days.